2023 Thread Matters: Baltimore Style Stitching with 12wt

Greetings fellow thread lovers! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m excited for us to host Aurifilosopher Sarah Maxwell of Designs by Sarah J. Sarah is one of those magical unicorns in the textile industry. She is a designer for Andover Fabrics with a new collection coming in 2024, an Aurifil Designer, a pattern designer, and an author. Sarah will dazzle you with her pattern designs in both traditional and contemporary aesthetics and is incredible with all weights of Aurifil thread. Today Sarah is sharing a few tips for hand stitching with Aurifil’s stunning 12wt threads. Huge thanks to Sarah for sharing her ideas with us!

Is your shop, group or guild looking for insightful, inspiring and educational information on thread? Consider booking a virtual or in-person program with one of our skilled Aurifilosophers. Learn more about Aurifilosophy and find your favorite Aurifilosopher here

Happy Stitching!
Karen L. Miller ~ Redbird Quilt Co.

Hi everyone, Sarah Maxwell here from Designs by Sarah J. Like most long-time quilters, I have a bucket list of projects that I hope to get to “someday”. At the very top of that list is a Jacobean or Baltimore-style applique quilt. I’ve drawn out lots of blocks and experimented with some techniques, but never have the time to fully commit to the project. 

This year, I was determined to bring one of my drawings to life and I decided to stitch out my design with a rainbow of my favorite Aurifil 12wt thread. 

Using these threads and hand quilting stitches allowed me to combine many passions—hand stitching, color play and the Jacobean style floral elements I love.

One of the main appeals of hand stitching is the minimal equipment needed to get started. Good quality needles, a thimble and thread are the essentials. After experimenting with a lot of different needles, my current favorite is the Super Glide Gold Eye quilting needle from Colonial. This needle has a large enough eye to accommodate the 12wt thread but it’s still the small, thin shape that I love.

When using threads as your crayon or paint, select several different shades of a color to add detail and interest. For my leaves, I selected 3 very different greens—colors 1114, a bright lime green, 2665 a classic Kelly green and 2892, a dark green. Using different greens within the leaves and stems mimics the look of real plants.

Varying thread shades within different parts of the flowers also adds interest. Here, I paired two golds—1135 and 2145 to add depth to layers of petals. 

For a whole cloth piece like this, I lightly draw my design onto the fabric using a regular mechanical pencil. Layer the top with batting and a backing fabric. My go-to batting for hand work is Hobbs Tuscany Silk Batting. The silk makes this a very lightweight batting that can easily be hand quilted. For small pieces I generally use a spray adhesive to baste the layers together and I quilt without a hoop.

Another secret weapon in my handwork arsenal is 80 wt thread. I love using it to stitch down my binding. The thin thread vanishes and with 80 colors to choose from, I can always find one that matches by fabric.

For this piece, I wanted my stitches to stand out since they are the focus of the design. Using a stitch length of 6-7 stitches per inch created the necessary definition.

A whole cloth handwork piece is a great way to experiment with hand stitching. Because the background has no seams, you can focus on developing an even stitch spacing. The process can be a fun way to adapt applique designs. With the extensive array of colors, you can build a palette of 12 wt thread to bring any project to life. 


  1. I find coloring books (simple ones) to be a good source. Sometimes I add a second flower by recooking one in the picfture.

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