Sew Many Colors: Pattern Launch & Contest

270 Colors by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

270 Colors by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

On Thursday, we introduced you to Aurifil’s new hero quilt, 270 Colors by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio. The quilt is a celebration of Aurifil USA’s 10th year and is a remarkable presentation of all 270 of our available vibrant colors. The quilt will was on display in our booth this past weekend at QuiltCon East in Savannah, GA, and will travel with us to both Spring & Fall Quilt Markets this year.

Many of you have asked about a pattern, eager to make something of your own. With that in mind, we are absolutely thrilled to introduce Sew Many Colors, a brand new mini quilt pattern drafted by Sheri that features 10 life-size Aurifil Spools in Sheri’s signature circle style.

THE PATTERN
Sew Many Colors is offered as a downloadable PDF pattern both on Aurifil’s website and on Whole Circle Studio. You may also download a copy by clicking on the image below.

Sew Many Colors Pattern Image

THE CONTEST
What to do with such an amazing pattern? Get involved with the Sew Many Colors Contest + Giveaway! Create your “favorite 10” with the Sew Many Colors pattern by Whole Circle Studio, available here.

Share your progress on Instagram using the tags below to encourage and support fellow quilters!

#sewmanycolors   #aurifil   #wholecirclestudio   #robertkaufman   #konacotton

Then enter your finished mini via the Linky Party below by 11:59pm on March 31, 2017. Voting runs from April 1 – April 15, 2017. Our top three winners will be announced on April 20, 2017.

Finished minis must use Aurifil threads and Kona® Cotton by Robert Kaufman to be eligible to win. We’d love to hear all about the colors that you use! The top 3 Minis will be showcased here on our blog. Winners will receive a fabulous prize package including goodies from Aurifil, Robert Kaufman, The Warm Company and Whole Circle Studio, and will be given the opportunity to showcase their mini in the Aurifil booth at Spring Market.

THE INTERVIEW
We were thrilled to have a chat with Sheri, to learn a bit more about her and how she felt about the process of creating this epic quilt!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in this fabulous industry of ours?
Design and making have always been a part of my life, even as a kid. I went on to college and received my BFA with a concentration in graphic design and have twenty years of experience leading creative teams to create award-winning identities, products, and environments. I’ve worked in small design studios, a dot com and the exhibit department at a children’s museum. I’ve been an admirer of quilts for a while, and collected books about them, but didn’t make my first quilt until the summer of 2012. The first few quilts I made from patterns and gave away as gifts. I soon realized that with my graphic design skills and computer software knowledge, I could create my own patterns and design.

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Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
It’s impossible to pick one! I’m often inspired by what’s around me. When I was an undergraduate, one of my graphic design professors drilled a specific mantra into his students. It sticks with me today and I often recite it, especially if I’m feeling a stuck: “What do you like? What do you love? What do you care about?” It so simple, but I find it really helps drive my thought and decision process.

How did you first discover Aurifil thread and what do you love most about it?
I learned about Aurifil thread from other friends who are quilters and members of my quilt guild mentioned it during meetings. I love how consistent the color is and how it glides through my Juki while piecing and quilting.

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How did the idea for your original mini quilt, So Many Colors, come about?
Each year the Quilt Alliance announces a theme and asks quilters to make a mini quilt as a donation. They then auction off the quilts and all proceeds support the important work that they do. The theme in 2016 was “playing favorites.” I designed and donated a few mini quilts, including the original “Sew Many Colors” (originally named “So Many Colors”). The mini quilt was a tribute to my favorite brand of thread, shown at actual size and proportions, using one of my favorite piecing techniques–foundation paper piecing.

The original design had 12 spools. When I discovered that Aurifil was celebrating their 10th anniversary in the US this year, it made sense to update the design to feature 10 spools.

So Many Colors by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

So Many Colors by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

How did you develop the idea for 270 Colors and what did you love most about pulling that project together?
When I found out that 2017 was a big milestone for Aurifil and that they wanted to celebrate it in a big way, I thought about the how the threads are presented. Whether it’s at a conference or trade show or in a local quilt shop,  the spools are always arranged beautifully. The arrangement of colors and the texture of the thread wound on the spool draws quilters in. I thought it would be really fun for makers to see all 270 colors at the same time.

It was a lot of fun to literally work with EVERY Aurifil color. Of course this means that I wound all 270 colors of thread on bobbins. I wonder how many other quilters can say that?

Quilting both 270 Colors and Sew Many Colors were also skill building experiences for me. I typically only use my walking foot while quilting. This project was a great way for me to push my boundaries and get over my free motion quilting anxiety!

Lastly, it was wonderful working with the Aurifil team. They were extremely supportive and trusted my design and creation process.

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What excites you most about the release of Sew Many Colors?
I hope that quilters get really excited about customizing the pattern with colors that appeals to them. I also hope that those who have never tried (or those who are challenged by foundation paper piecing) dive in and give it a try. While I don’t give basic paper piecing instructions in the pattern, I do give lots of tips. With all of my patterns I give lots of diagrams and break down the steps. I strive to make complicated looking patterns easy to make.

What first drew you to work with Kona® Solids from Robert Kaufman?
As is the case with Aurifil, I love how many colors Robert Kaufman offers. I often work with solids in my quilt designs and I love having lots of options. When I designed and created the 270 Colors quilt, this was especially important as I wanted all 270 colors of Aurifil thread to match the fabric background perfectly! I carried those matching thread and fabric selections to my Sew Many Colors mini quilt samples.

If you had to select your Top Ten colors for Aurifil and Robert Kaufman, what would they be?
My number one go-to for thread is color 2024 and Kona White. I’m a big fan of white backgrounds! After that, it’s tough to pick.  My favorites change from project to project! At this moment, I’ll go with what I used for the rainbow version of the Sew Many Colors: Aurifil thread: 2250, 1154, 1135, 1147, 2870, 1148, 2810, 2725, 2520, 2479, 2024 and Kona® Solids: Red, Tangerine, Corn Yellow, Lime, Grasshopper, Breakers, Lagoon, Blue Jay, Crocus, Blush Pink.

What do you love most about working with Warm & Natural batting?
I love the weight (not too thick, not too thin), the feel and the fact that  I’ve never had a problem with it. It works well on my machine. I’m a big believer in if it’s not broken, stick with it!

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What are your hopes for presenting the pattern in this way, with an accompanying contest?
In the pattern, I call out what materials I used, but I love to see how makers who use my patterns make the pattern their own. I always think it’s interesting to see how makers put their own spin on the same pattern. For this reason, I really enjoyed seeing all of the variations of my pattern testers as they came in. I’m excited to see what everyone makes! Be sure to use those hashtags and don’t be shy. The prizes are awesome… you can’t win if you don’t try!

Can you offer any tips for participants who are new to paper-piecing?
Have your seam ripper and tape close by. You will use it! Even the most experienced paper piecers will make mistakes. Don’t get frustrated. If you find yourself making a lot of mistakes,  it’s time to step away and take a break!

Any final words of encouragement to makers just getting started on their Sew Many Colors journey?
Play with color and have fun! This is a great pattern to treat as a color study. Play with color combinations that you’ve never worked with before!

SEW MANY COLORS — TESTER MINIS
In talking with Sheri about the process of pulling this all together, she raved about her testers and we thought it would be fun to share their minis here. Pattern testing is such an incredibly important part of pattern release process and we are ever grateful! Also, look at these gorgeous minis!!

Laura McDowell Hopper
WebsiteInstagram
The “Sew Many Colors” mini quilt was so fun to make. Like all of Whole Circle Studio’s patterns, it is well designed with clear instructions. The quilt was a fast make and is the perfect addition to my craft room Aurifil storage! Thanks to Sheri! I loved making her pattern, and boy does it look cool in my quilt room with this new Aurifil shelf!

Sew Many Colors as sewn by Laura McDowell Hopper

Sew Many Colors as sewn by Laura McDowell Hopper

Wendy Birmingham
Instagram
I had so much fun making this Sew Many Colors mini quilt!  Such a great pattern that all fit together perfectly!  I chose to make this with the orange spools that I love, using Alison Glass Insignia fabric that matches all the beautiful Aurifil threads!  Happy Anniversary Aurifil!

Alex Fox
Instagram
The design, with its feature Aurifil spools, is definitely a winner – who wouldn’t want this beautiful mini on the wall of their sewing room? This is the second of Sheri’s patterns that I’ve made and it didn’t disappoint. The draughtsmanship of the pattern is excellent, with all the pieces fitting perfectly and that makes assembling your pieced segments a pleasure rather than a chore.  The instructions are easy to follow and she provides good planning tools to help you keep track of your fabric choices and positioning whilst you paper-piece.

Sew Many Colors as sewn by Alex Fox

Sew Many Colors as sewn by Alex Fox

Joanne Harris
WebsiteInstagram
I loved making this quilt first of all because the designer is such a talented designer. When I saw the design I thought it would be a good colour exercise. I wanted to show a gradation in one colour. I think I captured it for blue.

Jenny Nault Meeker
WebsiteInstagram
Having only done one foundation paper piecing quilting project prior to testing the “Sew Many Colors” pattern, I was extremely very grateful that the pattern included multiple tips to help less experienced foundation paper piecers navigate working with smaller piecing components.  Also, the pattern instructions were so well laid out and clear that it was virtually impossible to do any of the steps incorrectly or out of order–along with the reassurances in the pattern that even highly experienced foundation paper piecing quilters still make mistakes, making the whole process incredibly enjoyable.  My favorite inclusions, however, were the diagrams that showed the finished mini’s front and the back, which made it easy to audition/select colors and make sure they correlated to the correct spool location when the mini was completed.

Rebecca Makas
WebsiteInstagram
I loved that this pattern challenged my paper piecing skills, using small pieces along with much larger pieces.  It was a lot of fun making such a familiar shape and using prints for the colors to make it “my own”.

Tiffany Horn, Village Bound Quilts
WebsiteInstagram
This pattern, as with all of Sheri’s patterns, was well written and easy to follow. I really enjoyed learning a new skill (as this was my first FPP project), and ended up making it a second time, resulting in this moon phase pillow. The biggest takeaway as a rookie FPP would be to take your time – go slow and enjoy the process!

ABOUT SHERI
Website — Blog — Facebook — Instagram — Pinterest — Twitter

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photo courtesy of Craftsy

Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill is a designer, maker and self-taught modern quilter. Sheri graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BFA in Graphic Design. She has twenty years of experience leading creative teams to create award winning identities, products and environments. She has worked in small design studios, a dot com and the exhibit department at a children’s museum.

Sheri’s quilts have gained national recognition including awards from QuiltCon, Quilt Week/Paducah and the Quilt Alliance. They have been featured at art centers and galleries across the country. In addition to publishing her patterns, her quilts have been featured in national publications such as Modern Patchwork. She also teaches quilting techniques.

Sheri was awarded the first annual Craftsy Quilt Designer Fellowship in 2016. This fellowship enabled her to debut Whole Circle Studio’s first booth at International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas in October 2016.

Sheri works from her home studio in the suburbs of New Haven, Connecticut—a hop, skip and jump away from New York City. She loves to chat about design and quilts. Contact her at sheri@wholecirclestudio.com.

[Images courtesy of Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill with exception to tester mini images]

Bringing Tips & Tricks to Life!!

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Last week, we welcomed Kristi McDonough (also of Schnitzel & Boo) to the Aurifil family and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to her here! As our Technical Creative Specialist, Kristi will wear a LOT of hats! From being the voice of tips & tricks, to posting tips and answering questions via Thread Matters (a monthly blog series on Auribuzz), to filming live demo videos, to working with us for shows throughout the year, and more, Kristi will be an active part of our Marketing team. We wanted to take a moment to get to know her a bit better, learn about her background and expertise, and give you all the outlets to reach her when needed!


Yay Kristi! Welcome to the Aurifil team! To kick things off, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in this fabulous industry of ours?
Thank you!  It’s a pretty “pinch-me” thing to be a part of Aurifil!  I’m thrilled to join such a well-respected and loved company.  I got started in this industry by learning how to sew when I was five years old.  I can remember being fascinated by the balance wheel (now called a handwheel) on my Mom’s old Singer.  It was so shiny and I liked to reach out and stop it when she was sewing.  She put a stop to that pretty quickly and asked if I wanted to learn how to sew.  Of course, I told her yes, so she had me sit on the opposite side of the table as her (far out of reach of that glorious, shiny, spinning wheel) and said I was allowed to pull the pins out of her fabric.  (That just goes to show you we’ve always been sewing over our pins, right?)  Eventually she taught me how to sew for real, and I grew up taking apart my clothes so I could figure out how to put them back together.  I went to college for fashion design and eventually found my way to pattern design.  I was lucky enough to work with a fabric designer on a collection of patterns, which helped put my name out there.  The patterns were never released, but I do have just over 30 of them ready to go at any given moment!

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Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
This is a challenging question to answer.  So many things pop into my head: color, my daughter, Vincent Van Gogh, my mother, nature, my sister, other sewists and quilters. Katy Jones is a huge inspiration to me.  She’s actually responsible for my crossover from garments to quilting…I guess there isn’t any one particular greatest inspiration, I find that everything presents itself differently, so my creativity is challenged in it’s own way every time.

Kristi's daughter Remy with her first quilt!

Kristi’s daughter Remy with her first quilt!

You are part of a pretty creative family with a quilting mom and a daughter, whom you taught to sew when she was three. What do you love most about creating as a family?
I am quite lucky in that aspect!  My daughter and I are finally at a stage where I don’t have to hover over her and watch her every move.  I can sit at my sewing machine, and she can sit at hers, and we can both work independently.  I think that’s pretty cool, especially because she’s only eight years old.  Mom and I are known for calling each other during a sewing project and leaving each other on speaker.  Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we’ll watch the same movie while we’re sewing and “talking”.  Sometimes we’ll just bounce ideas off each other or ask advice.  I especially love those kinds of sewing sessions, it’s the next best thing to being able to sew in the same room!  It’s nice when everyone “gets it”.  Now that he’s a woodworker, even my husband understands when I say “Honey, I need to go to the fabric store! I don’t have the right fabric for this project!”  I can’t tell you how many times he’s come up from the wood shop and said “I have to go to Home Depot, I don’t have the right color stain!” I just smile and nod.

What is the very first thing that you remember sewing? Do you still have it?
I wish I could remember!  I can tell you one of my earliest sewing-related memories, though. (Aside from pulling pins, I mean.)  I had a little bright red polyester jumper that fit my favorite stuffed animal (a monkey).  The jumper had a blue plastic puffy bunny sticker on it, right in the middle of the chest.  My mom was sewing and had the ironing board set up.  I had been playing in the room while she was working and I thought that little jumper needed to be ironed, too.  So, I placed it on the board and set the iron right on top of the sticker; just in time for my mom to turn around and watch me place that hot iron onto the plastic.  When she pulled the iron away, a millisecond later,  the bunny was melted to the iron and there were strings of the plastic connecting the iron to the jumper.  It was so sad for both of us.  Not only had I ruined my monkey’s outfit, but I had also ruined her iron! I definitely learned how to use an iron properly after that!

What is your favorite thing to sew now?
I love really, really love quilting, foundation paper-piecing, bags and anything challenging.

The Betsy Travel Bag (pattern available on Craftsy)

The Betsy Travel Bag (pattern available on Craftsy)

How did you first discover Aurifil thread and what do you love most about it?
I heard the buzz on Instagram several years ago but didn’t catch on until I received a few spools in some retreat goody bags.  I love that it comes in so many different colors and options from wool to 80wt and that it is such a high quality product.  I’m a perfectionist when I sew, and I’m a total quality snob.  If I’m going to take the time to make something, and I’m going to spend my money on supplies for a project, then I’m going to get the best.  If you want a beautiful result, you use beautiful products!

If you could be one spool of Aurifil thread, what would you be?
I’d be 50wt in color number 6723 on an iconic orange spool because I’m a rule breaker and that’s my neutral! (6723 is a pretty shell pink, by the way.)

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What are you most excited about in the coming year?
I’m really looking forward to traveling, both for work and with my family.  I’m excited to see how my role with Aurifil develops, and where it will take me.  I have a few other exciting things that I’m working on, but can’t really say what they are.  I told myself that this would be the year that I would finally start accomplishing my goals, and so far it’s been successful!

Sweatshirt made by Kristi with Priory Square fabric by Katy Jones for Art Gallery Fabrics

Sweatshirt made by Kristi with Priory Square fabric by Katy Jones for Art Gallery Fabrics

Where will we see you out and about in the quilty world?
I will be at QuiltCon this coming weekend, possibly the Chicago Quilt Festival in April, Quilt Market in St. Louis in May, maybe teaching in Seattle in June, Houston in October and hopefully some other places in between.

If our followers have a question for you, what is the best way to contact you?
I can be reached via email at kristi@aurifilusa.com. For Aurifil questions, problems or concerns, you can find me at tipsandtricks@aurifil.com. If you’re on Instagram and need to ask a quick question, you can tag #askaurifil and I’ll be there!!

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Any top tips to share?
When garment or toy sewing, instead of clipping notches wherever your pattern indicates, use a pair of pinking shears to cut the seam in half.  You will reduce bulk in the seam and produce a more professional result in the process.

And, to draw inspiration from our Aurifil DOM Queen, Pat Sloan, a few fun questions to round things out — 

What is your favorite…
Book? “Coming Home” by Rosamunde Pilcher and the entire “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon.
Band? Jonny Lang, Lynrd Skynrd, Eric Church, Notorious B.I.G., Alt-J, Zero 7.  My taste in music is all over the place!
Drink? Homemade lemonade, and cheater moonshine-but only if I’m with a few certain friends.
Place to Visit? England. I haven’t been there yet, but it’s still my favorite!  Otherwise Italy and wherever my mom is.

If you’d like to follow along with Kristi’s adventures, you can find her in the following places:

BLOG INSTAGRAMFACEBOOKPINTEREST — TWITTER


Thanks so much Kristi! We are thrilled to have you on our team and are looking forward to the coming year:).

Thread Matters: Choosing the Right Color

Welcome back to Thread Matters with Aggy Burczyk!

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“To see or not to see” – that is the sewer’s question when deciding on the right thread color for a project.

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In my classes I frequently get the question: “What is the best ‘invisible’ thread?” It’s not in reference to a monofilament thread, but rather a polyester or cotton thread that will match the color of the fabric perfectly and remains “invisible”.

As sewists, and especially quilters, we seem to have less of a problem choosing a thread color that values our work and highlights certain areas or shapes. Nonetheless there are certain rules which must be followed for best results and the color wheel is our best tool for this.

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There are different color wheels with more or less detail available based on different primary colors. Please do not get confused searching the internet!

For the sewer’s purposes the RYB color wheel suits well, as it is also predominantly used in art and art education. It is made out of the three primary colors (Red, Yellow and Blue) and three secondary colors (orange, violet and green). While the primary colors cannot be mixed from any combination of other colors, the secondary colors are mixed from two primary colors. [Just in case you were wondering now about the six other colors in this color wheel: they are made by mixing a primary and a secondary color and are usually called tertiary colors.]

Do remember art class in school when somehow all of the colors that you mixed turned out to be a brownish color? I certainly do! Who would have thought that paying a little bit more attention would have been so helpful for our preferred hobby?

Now think about appliqué and giving your shapes a nice (visible) finish by machine or with a beautiful hand stitch. You have several choices, which rarely can go wrong applying the basic concepts of the color wheel:

  • Use the complementary color of the predominant color of the background fabric or the appliqué piece. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel.
  • Use an analogous color of the predominant color of the background fabric or the appliqué piece. Analogous colors are adjacent to one another on the color wheel.
  • Use a triad harmony when dealing with a very distinct colored background fabric (like in the photo of the sample piece below). In a color triad the colors are evenly spaced and build a triangle.
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Triad Red / Yellow / Blue

  • Use a different value of the predominant color in your appliqué piece.
    Value basically describes how dark or light the color would be if you took a black and white photo of it.
  • Use a different saturation of the predominant color in your appliqué piece.
    Saturation basically describes the brightness or intensity of a color. By the way, using a thicker thread of the color will often do the trick (Aurifil 50wt à 40wt à 28wt à 12wt)

It is fair to say that “value” and “saturation” are the hardest to differentiate, but with a little practice it will become more and more clear and natural to you

ThreadMatters-ColorRange

In this sample I played a little bit with above suggestions using five variations of blue in two different weights (the 40wt on the left and the 50wt on the right), a matching yellow color and the same color with a higher value and a background matching red color. All stripes are exactly (!) 1” – but look what a difference in appearance and subjective width the choice of the thread makes!

Still confused?

Please don’t be, as in reality all this theory is much easier in practice. When choosing a thread color “To See” I simply use my AURIFIL color card. The Mako 100% cotton range comprises now 270 colors and the color card is made with real thread.

ThreadMatteres-ColorCard

I can hear you now: “Just opening the color card will make me want them all!” RESIST!!

After consulting the color wheel and deciding on how much effect I would like to give, I will take different small fabric left-overs from my project and try to find the complementary hues (this simply translates as the color itself, e.g. red, blue, green, etc.) and will then decide on value and saturation.

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Now what about the “Not To See” thread color? Strangely enough this seems much more of a problem.

Let’s first speak about sewing and piecing.

Why is the perfect thread so important for sewing or especially piecing? Think of a four patch or better an 8 point star where all of those seams have to come together in one point. We are just human and some of the seams will inevitably spring open a bit – e voilà, I can see the thread used for piecing. This will attract the viewer’s eye even more and imperfections will become very visible.

When asked to bring a “neutral” thread to patchwork class students often will happily present a brand new spool of bright white thread on their machine. White seems to be considered of having “no color” and should therefore by definition be neutral! Or maybe not?

Where is white “invisible”? Yes, correct, only on white itself!

Many times our work is composed not of an analogous color scheme (colors next to each other in the color wheel) but of fabric in several complementary colors (triad or tetradic, etc.). By definition, would I use a matching thread color of any of these it would be very much visible in some areas.

What is needed is what I call a “chameleon” color which adapts to all.

First evaluate whether your fabric colors are predominantly warm or cool.

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The best thread color to choose for piecing and sewing would be a light (low value) only slightly saturated color in a warm or cold hue depending on your predominant fabric colors. Remember these terms? Here is how I translate this.

My preferred warm “chameleon” Aurifil thread is an earthy tone, the # 2312 – my preferred cold “chameleon” Aurifil thread is a grey tone, the # 2620.

Actually these are among the most sold threads within the 270 to choose from, but you might prefer to go up or down in value and/or saturation a bit, depending on the specifics of your project.

Aurifil-ChameleonColors

“Chameleon” colors are very important to have in your thread stash (yes, dear husband – I do not only have a decent fabric stash but I am also a proud owner of a beautiful thread stash). Did you know that Aurifil offers this beautiful AND useful collection from Mark Lipinski? It’s truly all your heart needs.

If a Large, 12-spool collection is no in your budget, consider “Aurifil’s Best Selection” with 4 large neutral spools.

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Have fun choosing your thread colors and remember: Thread Matters and with that – also its color.

Ciao e a presto,
Aggy

SCHMETZ Needles, Part 2

Caring for your sewing machine needles is a key part of successful quilting. We went straight to the source for a few tips & tricks and are pleased to present Part Two of our guest series with Rhonda Pierce of SCHMETZ Needles.  Thank you, Rhonda!

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Sewing machine needles do NOT last forever!  The tips get dull and burrs develop in the eye.  Needles work hard at fast speeds.  They penetrate not only the fabric, but fabric dyes and finishes.  Mix in our personal techniques of nudging or pulling fabric while sewing and you realize that little 2” piece of steel, the SCHMETZ needle, endures a tough life.  Look and listen!  When the needle gets dull or has a few burrs from working so hard, not only will you see compromised stitches, but your machine will talk to you.  Watch this SCHMETZ video for a few simple clues to when to change the needle:

Just to recap these are the clues to changing the needle:

  • Threads are breaking or shredding
  • Skipped or uneven stitches
  • Puckered or damaged fabrics
  • The sewing machine makes a little clicking sound at stitch formation.  The sound graduates to a popping sound, then for really dull needles, escalates to a clunking sound.

The solution is easy.  Change the needle!  The sewing machine needle is NOT a permanent machine part.  The needle is meant to be changed.  Changing the needle is the easiest and most economical way to improve the quality of your stitches.  The rule of thumb is to change the needle after every 8 hours of sewing.  If you are a power quilter, this may be too infrequent.  In fact more than a few power quilters have whispered that they change the needle every 3 to 4 hours.  See what works for you.  Start each project with a new needle.  A good practice is to change the needle with every bobbin refill.

Remove pins BEFORE sewing over them. Sewing on a pin will bend, damage or break the needle.

Remove pins BEFORE sewing over them. Sewing on a pin will bend, damage or break the needle.

Next time you buy Aurifil thread from your favorite quilt shop, remember to pick up a couple packs of SCHMETZ needles.  If you are like me, there is nothing more irritating than being in the sewing groove at 2AM and not having the right needle.

For more information visit www.SCHMETZneedles.com.  While on the site download the SCHMETZ Color Chart for posting in your sewing room.  iPhone can users download the free SCHMETZ App.  The SCHMETZ Android version is expected soon.

Sew SCHMETZ!
— Rhonda

To view Part 1 of this series, please click here 

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RP15-125-sendRhonda Pierce has a dream job . . . teaching sewing and quilting enthusiasts about the most important 2” piece of steel in the sewing machine – the SCHMETZ needle.  As  spokesperson for www.SCHMETZneedles.com and Marketing Director for Euro-notions, Rhonda enjoys sharing needle knowledge in classrooms and sewing shows throughout North America.  She is delighted with the ingenuity and remarkable creations that sewing enthusiasts share.  Next time you see Rhonda with her SCHMETZ “Super” Needle, it’s 17” tall, tell her which SCHMETZ needle is your favorite.

SCHMETZ online:
Website — Blog — Facebook — Pinterest — YouTube — Inspired to Sew

SCHMETZ Needles, Part 1

Using the right needle in your sewing and quilting is just as important as using the right thread. The two are gorgeously intertwined, so to give you the best information possible, we went straight to the source. Today we’re thrilled to share the first in a two-part guest series by Rhonda Pierce of SCHMETZ Needles.  Thank you, Rhonda!

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You acquired an amazing collection of fabrics for a quilt you have been itching to start.  You selected beautiful Aurifil thread.  Your sewing machine is newly cleaned.  Now… what needle should you use?  SCHMETZ of course!  No other needle can match the quality and variety of needle types and sizes.  Let’s review specific needle types, because even though SCHMETZ manufacturers 17 different needle types for home sewing, my travels and conversations with quilters have taught me that there are really five SCHMETZ needles frequently loved by quilters.

What’s YOUR Favorite Needle?

What’s YOUR Favorite Needle?

  • Topstitch and Metallic:  Needles with an extra-long eye.  This is important to know because there is less friction on the thread as it passes through the eye.  Less friction means less thread breakage or shredding.
  • Microtex:    When precision stitches are a must!  This needle has a very slim acute point that works well with all cottons and especially batiks.  Use the Microtex for applique, piecing and quilting.
  • Quilting:  Just as the name suggests, use this needle for piecing and quilting.  The Quilting needle has a special taper designed for easier fabric penetration and elimination of skipped stitches.
  • Jeans/Denim: Surprised to see this?  Well for all those raggy quilts made from flannel this is a great choice, because the Jeans needle has a reinforced blade to penetrate through heavier fabrics with less needle deflection.
  • Universal:  This work horse needle does it all and very well, but many times one of the above needle types will result in a more precise stitch.  With SCHMETZ, you have options!
The Dynamic Duo! SCHMETZ Microtex 70/10 & Aurifil 50 wt

The Dynamic Duo! SCHMETZ Microtex 70/10 & Aurifil 50 wt

After determining the needle type, decide on the needle size.  My rule of thumb is the 40/80 rule.  When using a 40wt thread use a  80/12 needle.  For a finer thread, use a smaller needle size.  If using a heavier thread, use a 90/14 or larger needle.  Sometimes experimentation is needed because fabrics have different weights and finishes.  My favorite needle for piecing is SCHMETZ Microtex 80/12.  Last year I ran into a situation where the needle pushed the fabric into the throat plate.  How odd!  I was using the Aurifil 50wt Quilting & Embroidery thread.  I tried another Microtex 80/12 and the same thing happened.  I then tried a Microtex 70/10 and … Voilà!  The fabric and machine loved this needle and thread combination… like sewing through butter.  Just changing the needle size made a huge difference in my sewing experience.

Next time you buy Aurifil thread from your favorite quilt shop, remember to pick up a couple packs of SCHMETZ needles.  If you are like me, there is nothing more irritating than being in the sewing groove at 2AM and not having the right needle.

For more information visit www.SCHMETZneedles.com.  Check out the videos, especially videos 3, 4 and 5 on how to read the needle package, needle selection and clues to change the needle.  While on the site download the SCHMETZ Color Chart for easier needle identification by type and size.  iPhone users can download the free SCHMETZ App.  The Android SCHMETZ App is expected soon.

Sew SCHMETZ!
— Rhonda

To view Part 2 of this series, please click here 
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RP15-125-sendRhonda Pierce has a dream job . . . teaching sewing and quilting enthusiasts about the most important 2” piece of steel in the sewing machine – the SCHMETZ needle.  As  spokesperson for www.SCHMETZneedles.com and Marketing Director for Euro-notions, Rhonda enjoys sharing needle knowledge in classrooms and sewing shows throughout North America.  She is delighted with the ingenuity and remarkable creations that sewing enthusiasts share.  Next time you see Rhonda with her SCHMETZ “Super” Needle, it’s 17” tall, tell her which SCHMETZ needle is your favorite.

SCHMETZ online:
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Thread Matters: Aurifil Spools

Welcome back to Thread Matters with Aggy Burczyk!

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In this issue of Thread Matters I would like to give you my preferred tips and tricks to using Aurifil spools.

Don’t you sometimes really (!) feel frustrated when unwrapping a wonderful new large spool of Aurifil thread and you turn the spool in your hand to enjoy the color and to get to the beginning of the thread … and turn and turn … and you cannot find it?

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What now?

Be honest: Have you ever tried to ‘wring’ the spool to find the loose end? Are you ever so desperate that you actually take your embroidery scissors out and try to cut into some thread?

No, no, no – it’s so much easier than that!
Simply wiggle the base of the spool a bit (whether 50wt, 40wt, 28wt or 12wt) and it will actually come off.

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Et voilà, here is the beginning of the thread. Easy as that!

First tip: I even use the reverse to secure the loose end of the thread when storing the spool. I just wiggle the base off, wrap the loose thread end once around the spool core and snap the base on again. Et voilà again, no more loose thread ends getting all tangled up.

Second tip: Since we survived the challenge of actually having a thread end that we can use to thread the machine, now we have to decide where to put it on our machine.
Horizontal or vertical spool pin…  that is the question as most machines will offer both!

Let’s have a look at the Aurifil spools.

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You can see from the picture, that the thread crosses itself in a regular pattern around the spool. Aurifil’s Mako, Lana Wool and Poly spools, whether cone size, large or small spool, are cross wound. For best sewing and embroidery results the thread should come off the top of the spool.

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The best way to use a cross wound thread is actually in a horizontal spool holder, but it is absolutely crucial to sorrow free sewing to hold the spool in place between a spool cap and a sponge base. Usually they come in two or three different sizes with the sewing machine.

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Third tip: The spool cap should not be larger than the diameter of the spool itself, as otherwise it may lead to the thread getting entangled. Upper thread tension might change due to added friction. Or even worse, the thread could even break.

Since the small and large Aurifil spools have such a small diameter, I really prefer the little button spool cap on my Bernina, which actually fits just right into the tip of the large spool itself. No interference whatsoever with the thread coming off the spool.

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Some of us love or would love to use the big cones. These are certainly worthwhile, especially in neutral colors which are used more often for piecing. Some of you might not buy cones as they cannot be placed on the horizontal nor on most of the vertical (upright) spool pins as they are just too big. Many sewing machines offer optional add-on or even built in spool holders with a vertical telescope thread guide. These are just perfect for these large spools.

Your machine does not have a telescope thread guide and you do not want to invest in one for your machine? Well, there is a way!

Last tip for today: Place the cone in a big glass or plastic container at the back of your machine and have the thread come up to the first guide, which ideally should be a hook as you can see in the picture. This method works well under two conditions: the cone should be steady and not fall over and the thread must not catch on any edges of the machine, otherwise it will break.

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What if you have a parallel-wound (straight-wound or also called ‘stacked’) thread? This spool should definitely be placed on a vertical (upright) spool pin. The spool needs to turn to unwind the thread. Therefore the Aurifil invisible monofilament thread on the small spools for sewing machines are on a vertical spool pin.

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I hope you enjoyed these little tips all around the Aurifil spools. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have other problems or need to know anything else.

I’ll be with you again in around a month. And remember:  Thread Counts!

Con un caro “Ciao”
Aggy