Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sew it with Aurifil


Hello!  My name is Jamie and I blog at Busy Bee Quilts.  When Lynne offered up a challenge to use Prism Aurifil Designer Collection thread for a project, I knew exactly what I’d like to use it for.  The Sometimes Crafter had posted a free embroidery pattern called Happy Little Houses I wanted to try out.  Thanks, Lynne, for picking my project!

prism thread

I had never embroidered before, so I stocked up on some basic embroidery supplies from Pink Chalk Fabrics like an iron transfer pen and needles. 

iron transfer pen

I also bought several size embroidery hoops from Joann’s.  The sizes are 4”, 6”, and 15”.  I picked plastic over wood mostly because I liked the colors, but also they felt more sturdy.  If you are thinking of trying embroidery for the first time, I recommend getting the 6” size.  It was the one I used the most.  I also liked the 15” for doing big sections like a border so you can see all of it as you go along.


When I printed the pattern, it was quite small on an 8 1/2 x 11” sheet of paper, so I took it to Staples and had it enlarged to fit an 11” x 17” sheet of paper.


I simply traced over all the lines of the pattern and ironed it right onto the piece of linen I chose for the background of the embroidery.  Using the pen couldn’t have been easier once I read the directions.  It transferred the pattern perfectly and quickly.  One thing to keep in mind if you try this iron transfer method is that the design will be reversed on your background fabric.  This wasn’t a big deal for this pattern, but for certain designs you might need to adjust your printer settings.


Because I was new to embroidery, I bought a few books by Aimee Ray, who is an embroidery guru extraordinaire.  She has a great blog with lots of tips and tutorials.  I accidentally bought a copy of her book Doodle Stitching:  The Motif Collection twice, so I will be giving the book away at the end of this post!!!

I started my embroidery adventure with the backstitch.  The variegated thread was exactly perfect for concentrically filling in shapes, like these little trees.  It also worked great for filling in the houses to look like bricks and making the tree trunks.  After using backstitch a lot, I attempted the stem stitch to outline this cloud.


These little circles made perfect filler for this tree.


And I love the look of these v’s to fill in the cloud.


The Aurifil thread was so amazing to sew with!  It comes in different weights and the 12wt. I used was perfect for embroidery.  It didn’t tangle or separate, and I didn’t need to use any kind of thread conditioner.   I wasn’t sure how to embroider the pine trees between the two houses, so I ended up augmenting my Aurifil collection with a variety of Aurifil 12wts: solid greens and brown, purple, blue, orange, and yellow for outlining.  Now I have quite the selection of threads to choose from!


The grass at the bottom of the forest was made with a blanket stitch, which was a lot easier to sew than I expected.  I used the 15” hoop for the forest section so I could try to keep the grass level and use different greens for each tree.


I deviated from the pattern a little at the end.  I had bought a special pom-pom yellow trim to use around the pillow and somehow had to incorporate yellow into the stitching, so I embroidered a sun in the sky.


This is where I really had fun!  I used the variegated thread to make concentric circles in the center, then scallop stitched the orange.  After making the sun’s rays, I thought they needed a little more embellishment so I tied French knots at the tips.  One thing I’ve learned from all this embroidering is that my stitches won’t always be even or perfect, and that’s okay because they will still look pretty.  The other thing I learned is you can never be done! I kept thinking I could add more details, but then I would never finish.


After embroidering the Happy Little Houses design, I made it into a pillow.  I framed the embroidered panel with small black gingham checks by Riley Blake.  Then I added a yellow polka dot print to the top and bottom to make an 18” square. 

Since I didn’t get a chance to use all the spools of thread from the collection, I did some machine quilting around the panel with a purple, orange, yellow, and cream variegated spool.  I switched out my needle from a size 80 to a size 90 to accommodate the thickness of the thread and used regular all-purpose white in the bobbin.  Not only did this thread work great for hand embroidery, it sewed like a dream in my machine.  I quilted three straight lines to frame and secure the embroidery panel to the batting and backing.


I like to make my pillow cover a little smaller than the pillow form so it doesn’t get saggy after use.  I basted the trim onto the front and then added the envelope back.  The cover finished at 17 1/4” square.


Thanks, Lynne and Aurifil, for the chance to try out this amazing thread!  It is super high quality and beautiful.  I will definitely be using it for both hand and machine sewing projects in the future.
Now for the giveaway!  Please visit my blog and leave a comment telling me if you could embroider something, what would you make?  I am looking for some ideas for my next project!


  1. Oh, my! You were the right person to win the thread! I never thought about Aurifil for hand embroidery, so I am happy to know that.
    I am creating a Row by Row quilt using lines from my favorite poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. It,s a poem I used to have my second graders memorize. I,m stitching the lines with white DMC on a black background between each machine appliqués row.

  2. Gorgeous! Embroidery is on my list to do. for sharing and adding the embroidery guru's blog link!

    1. I would like to see if I could embroider a square where you could not tell it was not a quilt block. Thanks for sharing your work with the threads.

  3. I would make a pillow,but use a pattern from Tasha Noel:)

  4. Fabulous embroidery and cushion

  5. That was a lovely, informative post. Thank you.

  6. So gorgeous! I love seeing all the details.

  7. So lovely! I find embroidering relaxing... you just inspired me to pick up that book and do some work, right now. :)

  8. What an adorable pillow - you did a fantastic job.

  9. If I could embroider anything, I would do some fun embroidery and frame it with gingham to make soft cuddly pillows!

  10. I've been eyeing embroidery and would love to make a whole fabric quilt with Anna Maria Horner's totem fabric and embroider around the flower and embellish them. I would also love to make my daughter a hugh reading pillow that has the letter R on it, using a variety of stitches. Thanks for the chance.

  11. I just finished my 1st embroidery piece this week!!! I am starting my next with a cute quote with a pic of a boy hugging a dog. I would love this book! Thanks!

  12. I think an embroidered potholder would be really cute.


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