We first met Fran Gulick of Cotton + Joy at QuiltCon last year. While we’d been following along with her online for a few years already (it’s impossible not to get sucked into her IG feed) we’d never before had the privilege of meeting her in person. It’s always a beautiful moment to connect with someone face to face, particularly when it is someone is as lovely as Fran. She is creative, talented, engaging, and entirely fabulous.
We’re so delighted that she proposed a collaboration, her first curated Aurifil thread set, to bridge the gap between her two gorgeous fabric collections (Daybreak & South Hill) with Riley Blake last year.
Ten small spools of 50wt thread in colors that perfectly complement both collections are everything you need to make some magic with all of Fran’s designs.
We’re certain that Fran will find new and magical ways to work these hues into her designs throughout this year so be sure to follow along with her for a hefty dose of creative inspiration.
She’s also taking over the Aurifil Instagram account today and tomorrow (Jan 31 & Feb 1 2023) so hop on over there to get a closer look and check out her interview below to get to know her a bit more — the woman behind the art! Thanks so much to Fran for chatting with us!
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Fran! We know that some of our readers may be meeting you for the first time. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started with quilting?
Thank you so much for having me – and I’m happy to introduce myself! I’m Fran Gulick of Cotton and Joy. I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile and I currently call Spokane, WA home.
I started quilting when I was pregnant with my oldest son. I met a wonderful group of quilters in El Paso, TX and they took me under their wing, as it were. One of them taught me all the basics to quilt – from cutting fabric to sewing my quilt top together. Then I dabbled a bit, but it wasn’t until I found the modern quilting community on Instagram that I really became obsessed with quilting.
It was around March 2018 when I started my quilting instagram account so I could interact with members of the community and I haven’t looked back!
Do you remember the very first quilt you made and how completing it made you feel?
I do! The very quilt I made was a baby quilt for my oldest son – same with my second quilt, a quilt for my second son. Both of those quilts I made with the guidance of my teacher. Then, the first quilt I made completely on my own was a Valentine’s Day quilt.
Completing those quilts was incredible. It was such a wow moment, especially the Valentine’s day quilt. It was a sense of accomplishment I couldn’t quite describe. It was this thing I made from scratch and no one could take that away from me.
Have you ever had one of those ‘aha’ moments in quilting and if so, what was it?
I’ve had a lot of aha moments throughout my quilting journey. For me the one that sticks out the most, though, was the first time I sketched a quilt design and then put it together as an actual quilt.
I initially dabbled with quilt design because I kept wanting to create somewhat specific quilts, but couldn’t find a pattern that worked for what I wanted. Then one day it dawned on me that I could design my own quilts? It seemed like a strange thought at first and I had to do a bit of research into the math that’s involved (those pesky seam allowances!) but once I got that down, it was such a revelation to be able to take an idea that’s only in my head and turn it into a tangible item.
Do you have a favorite technique?
This question always trips me up because I enjoy all parts of quilting (except maybe binding) for different reasons, same with specific techniques. If I absolutely had to name something, I think it’d be sewing curves? Seems kind of crazy to say that since so many quilters are scared of them, but I find so much satisfaction in taking these two pieces of fabric that don’t look like they’ll fit together and having them come out perfectly into a block.
I also cannot live without chain piecing – it’s the only way I can get as much quilting done as I do!
When did you first discover Aurifil Thread and why is it your go-to?
I first discovered Aurifil through Instagram, a few months after joining the community. I saw other quilters recommending it and after a particularly difficult day when another thread kept breaking, I got some Aurifil and I never went back! My go-to is always an off-white for piecing and quilting. I always get a cone to make it last as long as possible. I find this color blends beautifully with both darker fabrics and my go-to white backgrounds.
Your debut Aurifil collection, Joyful Threads, was curated to complement two fabric collections that you released this year with Riley Blake Fabrics. Can you tell us a bit more about Daybreak and South Hill?
Absolutely! So, accidentally both of these collections sort of act as bookends of my life. Daybreak was inspired by time spent in the family garden during my childhood. Whereas South Hill was inspired by the first year spent in our “forever” home in Spokane. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but looking back it’s kind of funny how it worked out that way.
Both collections feature my favorite colors – pinks and blue, with a touch of yellow and grey – and flowers are quite prominent as well. Overall, I aimed to create sweet, modern fabrics, using colors that bring joy.
How did you go about selecting the threads for Joyful Threads and why was it important for you to include Aurifil’s 50wt?
50wt is always my go-to for piecing and quilting so I knew I had to go with it. It’s truly the perfect weight for piecing a quilt top and it quilts beautifully!
What excites you most about getting this collection out into the world?
I cannot wait to see what people make this collection, how they use each thread separately or together!
What is your absolute TOP QUILTING TIP?
It’s somewhere between “let go of perfection” and “just do it”. I think so many times quilters get really into their heads about making something exactly perfect or not being quite ready to try something and it takes all the joy away from this beautiful craft. That, and always trim/square up your HSTs and blocks. It can be a little tedious but you’ll be much happier with the end result.
What’s coming for you in 2023? Where can fans find you?
I have another fabric collection coming, Moonchild, and one more being announced that will be shipping early 2024. I always have new patterns in the works and I’m looking forward to adding more products to my shop like needle minders and quilt inspired stickers. You can always find me on my website/blog (www.cottonandjoy.com) and Instagram @cottonandjoy!