Meet the Sea Turtle

There are seven different species of sea turtles within our ocean waters, living in areas from the Indian Ocean and the Coral Triangle to the Eastern Pacific. While these highly migratory species periodically come ashore to either bask or nest, sea turtles spend the bulk of their lives in the ocean. The World Wildlife Fund reports work with five of the existing species: green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and olive ridley.)

Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture—known as bycatch—in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites; it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

Click here to learn more about the Sea Turtle, what is being done to help their populations, and how you might get involved. (source: WWF)

Aurifil’s Sea Turtle thread set was created in tribute to these adored water creatures. It features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 green hues— a warm, a medium, and a dark— 2908, 1147, & 2890. When purchased via Shop Aurifil, this set includes a custom designed foundation paper pieced PDF pattern by Aurifilosopher and pattern designer Cassandra Beaver / the (not so) dramatic life

This block finishes at 16″ x 16″ and is incredibly stunning!

We enlisted HollyAnne Knight of String & Story to share some tips and tricks for quilting this block. With her help and expertise, you’ll have this stitched up and on display in no time. This post was originally shared with program subscribers as a part of our full series. To check out our full series of Endangered Species posts, click here.

Sea Turtle Quilting Inspiration

Hey there, Rockstar! This month marked the official quarter of the way through the Endangered Species Block of the Month? I’m so excited to be joining you on this quilting journey!
Practice makes progress, so I bet you’re noticing some growth in your skills. You’re getting a little faster at the foundation paper piecing, you’re ripping out fewer seams, and you’re really starting to enjoy the process. If you’ve been quilting your blocks individually along with me, I bet you’re feeling more confident as a free motion quilter. Even if you’re saving your blocks to assemble as a sampler at the end of the year, it’s likely you’re having more vision about how you think you want to quilt them as a result of reflecting on the inspirational quilting plans I’ve been drawing for us. I, of course, have more tips and quilting plans for you this month, but before we get there I want to pause and say: CONGRATS! The progress you’re making on this quilt and on these skills is fabulous and worth celebrating! Way to go, Rockstar!
This month, I want to discuss tools for marking your quilt. Confession: I almost never mark my quilts. I like to jump in with both feet and trust the quilting plan I’ve made, but I get asked about marking tools often, so if you’re starting to have vision for more complicated quilting plans for your Endangered Species, and you’d like to mark things out a bit first, I’ve got you!

No Ink

First, and most importantly, I never ever ever ever ever (“don’t have enough ‘evers’ memorized,” as Brian Regan would say) put ink on my quilt. No Crayola Markers, no Frixion pens, no water soluble ink— nada. I know many Quilting Rockstars who do, who swear by their favorite product, and who will put certain inks on their quilts all day long. But for every quilter who swears by marking with some form of ink, I know at least one quilter whose quilt was damaged by the ink not coming out as expected. Therefore, NO INK (Feel free to read that in Edna’s voice). 

Marking Tools I Love

Fortunately, there are three really excellent marking tools that I love to recommend:

The Hera Marker uses simple pressure to make a crease on your quilt. This is ideal for marking straight lines, cross hatching, or other walking foot quilting styles. Plus, if you make a mark and don’t love it, a quick steam and press will lift the marks right out. 

Basic chalk is affordable, easy to brush off a quilt, and doesn’t stain. It is my go to for dark and medium toned fabrics, and you can buy it in pencil form both at your local quit shop and the big box store, and, unlike those expensive water soluble markers or vanishing ink markers, it won’t dry up on you between uses. Be sure to only use the white chalk as the blue and pink varieties can stain. 

Yep, the yellow wooden kind you might have used in school is my favorite way to mark light fabrics. Graphite is similar to chalk in that it’s pretty “soft,” so you can lift it off your quilt with a putty eraser or it will come out in the wash. Keep the pencil at a soft point so you don’t damage the fibers of your fabric, and mark with a light hand. 

When Might You Mark a Quilt

There are two main instances in which I’ll mark a quilt:

Like the walking foot quilting/ straight line quilting example given above, sometimes you want to be able to literally trace with thread. Marking your design ahead of time helps make sure everything is spaced and positioned as you desire and that it stays that way as you stitch. 

If I’ve created a quilting plan that is “outside the lines,” aka it will be difficult for me to use my seams and piecing to space and position my quilting motifs as I’ve planned them, I’ll mark, using as few lines as possible, the major point of references I need. I don’t, however, draw out all of the free motion quilting plan on the fabric and then trace it— I keep marking minimal and trust my skills with each free motion quilting motif for that part of the stitching process. 

Let’s take a look at this month’s quilting plans, and I’ll mention an example at each quilting level where I might use a bit of marking to get myself started. 

Introductory Level Quilting Plans

Cassandra’s elegantly designed paper piecing makes it so easy and flattering to use simple designs to quilt the endangered species blocks. A meander is a classic choice, while walking foot waves add a thoughtful touch, calling to mind the ocean this sweet turtle is swimming. I recommend pairing these, and the more complex quilting plans, with simple stitch in the ditch quilting on the turtle itself as the seams are very bulky.

Beginner Level Quilting Plans

If you have a little more experience under your belt, check out the textures we can create with this Beginner level quilting plan. Swirls continue the allusion that walking foot waves started, but by adding a more complex texture.

Intermediate Level Quilting Plans

As our piecing already creates a gorgeous visual of a swimming sea turtle, why not add to that with the texture of the quilting? You can do this pretty simply just by pairing swirls and wavy lines. But if you want to take it to the next level, some bubbles and a more wave like swirl paints the picture of this charming sea turtle swimming buoyantly beneath tropical waves.


Aurifil’s 40wt Color Builders

If the Sea Turtle has you feeling inspired, don’t forget that it’s one in a series of 12 mini collections, dedicated to some of our world’s most Endangered Species. Each collection features 3 large spools of our 40wt thread in 3 hues– a warm, a medium and a dark– and comes with a coordinating FPP pattern custom-designed by Cassandra Beaver. 

Thanks so much to Cassandra Beaver for her stunning block design and to HollyAnne Knight for giving us all the quilting confidence to turn these blocks into a dazzling quilt and minis this year! We’ve had so much fun with the whole series!

Don’t forget to tag us in your project images on Instagram– we love the opportunity to celebrate your work! 

** If today’s quilting plans inspired you, but you’re brand new to free motion quilting, check out HollyAnne’s Intro to FMQ Mini Course to learn the basics!

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