Journey to the Light
As an Aurifil Artisan, I had a particularly exciting opportunity to participate in the "Stitch Pink 2023" Program, where Moda Fabrics and Aurifil Thread have teamed up to help bring awareness and support for breast cancer research. I received a charm pack of special fabric "Lighthearted" by Camille Roskelley for @modafabrics and 4 spools of coordinating Aurifil 50wt thread. In this blog post I will share my process and journey on designing this project.
This theme has a deep personal connection for me, since both my close family member and a friend are both at this moment going through chemotherapy. It has been a very difficult time, filled with uncertainty and fear since they were diagnosed. However, hope is something that has been helping us all keep going and not giving up.
For me, hope is just like a light at the end of a tunnel and this was the starting point of my design. After some thinking I knew that I wanted to picture a woman's face looking at a light and a pink ribbon showing the way towards the light. This was definitely quite an ambitious project considering the short period of time I had.
I chose my favorite blender Grunge fabric by Moda, color Black Dress for the background.
As soon as I saw a beautiful graphic design by Wojciech Zasina, I knew I wanted to feature it as a part of my quilt.
First, I thought I would make a patchwork face and use foundation paper piecing. Then I realized that I only had 5" x 5" fabric squares, therefore it would have been really difficult to make those skinny stripes.
Instead, I decided to embroider the face and use those 4 spools of Aurifil 50 wt for embroidery (only 3 are pictured below): 2270 (Paprika), 2435 (Rasin), 2415 (Blush) and 2885 (Medium Spruce).
I used 4 strands of the 50wt Aurifil thread and Clover Golden eye embroidery needle #7 because it has a big eye and is easy to thread. To keep the tension of the thread even, it is very important to thread the needle in a certain way. If you simply cut 4 strands of the same length it would be very difficult to keep the tension of all 4 strands even (guess how I know that?😊).
I cut a long piece of thread (approximately 46 inches), folded it in half, threaded the 23 inches (double stranded) long piece through the needle eye, evened the ends and tied a knot. I had approximately 11 inches long thread (4 strands).
I was very impressed with how beautifully the thread stitched. I didn't use any thread conditioner, and there was no fraying or twisting. You can definitely tell the quality of thread by how it stitches. You can find the video of the simple straight stitch I used here. I absolutely love how the face turned out and that sheen of the thread is simply beautiful.
Light was the next design element and the most difficult to execute. I had my doubts and even posted a photo on IG asking what people saw there. I restricted myself to 4 different colours and weights of Aurifil thread: 12 wt 4060 (Silver moon), floss 2625 (Arctic Ice) , wool 12 8090 (dark green) and 40/3 2021 (Natural white, not pictured).
For the pink ribbon I picked the red/pink fabrics from the charm pack to create a colour wash effect. I drew my own EPP templates and used 3 different colours of Aurifil 50 wt for hand stitching: 2270 (Paprika), 2435 (Rasin) and 2415 (Blush).
I appliqued the ribbon to the background with Aurifil 80wt 2692 (Black).
To tie all design elements together I decided to add the words "there´s hope". For hand embroidery I used an outline stitch and needle turn applique for "hope".
Quilting has always been my favourite part of quilt making. It completely transforms a flat surface, adds dimension and brings it to life. I often use 2 layers of batting to enhance the texture. There are 2 layers of Hobbs Premium Cotton batting in this project.
I used variegated Aurifil 50wt 4665 Graphite at the top and 1246 Dark Grey in the bobbin, Titanium topstitch needle 80/12 for free motion quilting on the background. I also had to decrease top tension on my Pfaff Quilt Expression 720 to prevent breaking the thread.
I started with the face by outlining the embroidery lines. It was fascinating to see how the outline completely changed the look of the face. I stitched simple wavy lines on the background. It was my first time using a variegated Aurifil thread. I am very happy with the result. It lightens up the dark background but at the same time it takes backstage and lets the design elements shine. However, solid coloured thread in colour matching the background fabric is the best for outlining applique or embroidery as it hides all imperfections in your stitching.
For the final touch I opted for facing instead of binding. In my opinion it is the best finishing option for modern textile art.
Here is the finished piece “Journey to the Light”, an art quilt 25 3/4" x 25 1/4" (65.5 x 64cm).
This project made me think of those strong and beautiful women I have met throughout my life; those who have been fighting cancer, as well as those who unfortunately lost their battles. However, the one thing that unites all of us is hope. Hope truly is what helps us go through all the dark times in our lives. For me, hope is indeed just like a light at the end of a tunnel and this is exactly what I tried to capture in this project.
I encourage you to look at the meaningful and beautiful Stitch Pink projects created by Aurifil Artisans. They have been featured at @aurifilthread and @modafabrics on Instagram throughout October. Moda Fabrics has also set up a fundrising page for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.