Sarah Fielke is an extraordinary quilter, teacher, fabric designer and author. She is a licensed designer with Windham Fabrics and has long been an Aurifil ambassador and champion of our threads. Likewise, we’ve long been admirers of Sarah’s work. It’s like a match made in heaven and we couldn’t be more thrilled to present Big Stitch Quilting, her second thread collection with Aurifil. A stunning lineup of colors in our 12wt thread, it’s perfect for Sarah’s signature hand stitched details and quilting.
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
Big Stitch Quilting
100% Aurifil Cotton
Large – 12wt, 356yds each, 12 colors, Large Spools
2692 – 2024 – 5004 – 2615 – 2784 – 5006 – 2888 – 5018 – 2510 – 2260 – 2530 – 2423
Small – 12wt, 54yds each, 10 colors, Small Spools
2692 – 2024 – 5004 – 2784 – 5006 – 2888 – 5018 – 2510 – 2260 – 2530
To view this info on our website, click the images above. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in the world of sewing & quilting?
My mother was a stitcher all kinds, including quilting. She taught me from a very young age to use a sewing machine, hand sew, hand embroider and knit. It wasn’t until my first baby was born that I started stitching professionally – I made everything for Charlie’s nursery, including all his little wraps and pram blankets. That was at the time where everything for babies was pink, blue, lemon or mint, and covered with lambs. My things were made of gingham and had fun appliqué and lettering, so all the other mums in my mothers group wanted to know where I got them. They were my first customers, and then later my first class! Charlie is 19 this year and so I will have been teaching patchwork for 19 years in December.
When did you first begin with the art of hand quilting and what do you love most about it?
I hand quilted my very first proper quilt, when I was 12. I made it for my mum’s birthday. It has since vanished into the unknown – I have a sneaking feeling it may have fallen apart. I hand quilted pretty nearly every quilt I made until I owned a shop (Material Obsession, which I co-owned for nearly 10 years). When we opened Material Obsession I taught machine quilting for a while, and I can machine quilt quite capably, but I don’t enjoy it. If I’m going to spend the time to quilt something myself, I hand quilt it. If I don’t have time, I have a wonderful machine quilter who does a fantastic job! I love hand quilting because of the quiet hours spent with the quilt itself. It’s amazing how each hand quilted piece will bring back memories of what I was doing when I quilted it (which very often is something like a season on Downton Abbey). The thing I love most though is the texture and character that hand quilting, especially with thicker thread like the Mako 12 weight, gives to the quilt. There is a drape and softness that machine quilted quilts don’t have, and the thicker coloured thread gives the quilts an extra punch and personality.
What are your greatest challenges and your greatest joys with hand quilting?
My greatest joys are sitting on a cold winter’s day with something that needs quilting urgently – that means I can abandon everything else, binge watch Poldark and drink endless cups of tea with the quilt (and the dog!) in my lap. My greatest challenges are that there is never enough hours to hand quilt everything I want to hand quilt any more.I make too many quilts on deadlines to enable me to hand quilt them all. I’ve also got an issue with my hands (that, funnily enough, wasn’t caused by hand stitching!) and so I can’t quilt the endless hours I used to be able to without pain, and I have to stagger myself.
What project would you recommend for a hand quilting beginner?
I think the best thing you can do is to make a lap sized quilt, something you aren’t attached to or want to be perfect, and quilt the heck out of it. People often think that the best way to start is with something little like a cushion. Actually those kinds of things can be more difficult to quilt because you can’t get them in a hoop properly, and it’s hard to develop your technique and gain confidence. Bite the bullet, sew together a whole lot of charm squares or something, and jump in on the deep end. You need to give your hand a chance to develop some stitch memory.
We love that you are such an active educator, both online and off. What do you love most about the practice of teaching?
Hands down, seeing my students achieve. I love the friends I make and the social aspect, I love doing the big shows and retreats. But my favourite thing is seeing a student who has proclaimed she can’t hand sew, or has trouble with colour, or Y seams or whatever it is, proudly hold their finished work up for everyone to see. I have students who I’ve taught patchwork and hand quilting, who are now teachers themselves, or who win prizes in quilting competitions. Hearing those things, no matter how small, just makes my day every time.
What is your favorite technique to teach and why?
I love teaching hand appliqué and hand quilting. My technique for hand appliqué is quite unusual, and it’s been developed over a long time to make appliqué easier for people. Quilters often assume that hand appliqué and hand quilting are these incredibly difficult, time consuming, boring things to do. Showing them tricks and tips to make their hand stitching rewarding, accurate, quicker and less painful always makes for a fun class.
When did you first discover Aurifil thread and what do you love most about it?
I met Alex Veronelli at Market quite number of years ago and he gave me some Mako 50 weight to try for hand appliqué. I went home slightly dubious (you always love the things you’re used to), tried it out and immediately ditched all my old thread to the basting basket and became an Aurifil junkie. The 50 weight is so fine and smooth – but having now tried the 80 weight I am simply desperate for it to be available in all the colours because – OMG! Thats a discussion for another time though as it isn’t yet available, so I will wax lyrical about it at a later date
[editor’s note: Aurifil’s 80wt thread is due for limited release this Summer and full release this Fall, 2016]
I did an appliqué collection for Aurifil called Folk Story which I love desperately – but funnily enough the appliqué collection came about because I was harassing Alex to produce some 8 weight Mako for hand quilting. I tried REALLY REALLY hard peeps, and Alex kept insisting that the 12 weight was beautiful and I should try it…. Finally I gave in, tried it, proceeded to hand quilt two entire books worth of quilts with the 12 weight and realised that of course Alex is the Mako thread guru and I should always heed his wisdom. You learn something every day.
How did you go about selecting colors for Big Stitch Quilting?
I find choosing the colours for these collections so difficult, they are all so pretty and I want everything! I thought really hard about which colours I use the most, for hand quilting both pieced quilts and appliqué. Neutrals were of course essential, so there is black and white, light and dark grey. I wanted a light and a dark in each colour because I like to highlight what I am quilting rather than blend, i.e. dark pink around a light pink flower or visa versa. Pinks and reds are so versatile because they can be beautifully blended with yellows and oranges as well as with themselves. Navy is my black, I always use navy unless the fabric I am quilting is actually black. I had to also add a cheery clear blue and some yummy greens for quilting around leaves and stems to round everything out nicely.
Do you have a favorite thread color/weight or does it truly depend on the project at hand?
It really does depend on the project, as I use lots of different Aurifil thread weights for different projects, including the 50wt in cream in my machine, 50wt for hand appliqué and the 12wt for hand quilting. I also love to do EPP, I use a lot of Lana Wool threads for my wool appliqué, and I love to embroider and the Aurifloss is gorgeous!! How do you ever choose a favourite? If you’re going to make me, though, I’d have to say that 2888, which is the light green in my Big Stitch Quilting Collection, is my favourite colour for both quilting and appliqué. I always seem to be running out of it! However, my absolute favourite thing at present is the set of three different shade spools of blue 80wt thread I was sent to try out. I’m hand appliquéing a quilt that is ALL blues at the moment and the 80wt just disappears into thin air!
SARAH’S CRAFTSY HAND-QUILTING TUTORIAL
To enter-to-win 1 Large Big Stitch Quilting Thread Collection and one copy of Sarah Fielke’s latest book, Old Quilts New Life, click here to head to the Rafflecopter entry page, or simply click on the image above. You do not have to complete all the options to be entered but the more options you choose, the more entries you have! Entries will be accepted from now through 11:59pm Eastern Time on Saturday, July 2! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Sunday, July 3. Good luck!
Update (7/3): This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jo Hobson!!
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Sarah Fielke has been a passionate stitcher ever since her mother first taught her to sew 30 years ago. It was when she was pregnant with her first child years later that her sewing skills became a career. She made little gifts for her friends’ newborn babies, decorated her son’s nursery, and began selling what she made and teaching her friends to sew.
Sarah is an award winning quilt designer. In her 15 years in the quilting industry, her four best selling quilt books have sold over 100,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into 5 languages. Sarah’s quilts have roots in both modern and traditional quilting, making her a firm favourite with quilters new and old. She describes her quilts as “contemporary traditional”. Her first book, Material Obsession, is widely described as having been at the forefront of the Modern Quilting movement, and is a staple in many quilter’s libraries. Her other books include: Material Obsession 2, Quilting From Little Things, Hand Quilted with Love, Little Quilts, and her latest release, Old Quilts New Life.
She exhibits her quilts at quilts shows in Australia and internationally. Sarah has designed fabrics for Lecien, Japan, and is now working with Spotlight Australia and Windham Fabrics to design fabric for both the major craft stores and patchwork shops. Her 6th fabric colletion, Snippits for Windham Fabrics is out now in quilts shops worldwide.
[For more, please visit Sarah’s website]
** Images and all biographical text are courtesy of Sarah Fielke.