My favorite thread weight: The Value of Coral

What is your favorite thread weight? When I was asked this question recently, my first thought was 12wt Aurifil because it is my favorite when I want the thread to take center stage. However, it only took a moment to realize that my favorite thread weight is the one I go to most consistently and incorporate into virtually every project.  This go-to thread is 50 wt Aurifil, and I have two drawers dedicated to storing it in my studio space.

I recently quilted The Value of Coral using five colors of thread, and the weight of the thread creates depth, texture and interest without overshadowing the optical illusion created in the piecing of this design. Matching thread color to fabric was very important to maintain consistency in the design, and Aurifil has a huge number of colors to choose from for this very purpose.  Fortunately, I already had what I needed in one of those drawers.  For this project, I used:

  • Red (2250)
  • Salmon (2225)
  • Bright Pink (2425)
  • Light Beige (2310)
  • Eggplant (4225)

This design came about as a way to showcase the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year, Living Coral.  The four main colors are value gradients based around the coral.  The darkest color is a deep violet that recedes into the background.  I like to incorporate these rich violets into designs that need a shadow.  In real life, shadows often have a violet cast to them, so it works well as a shadow in quilt design as well.

If you are interested in reading more about the design of this quilt, check out this post!

Quilt Stats

Title:  The Value of Coral

Size: 56″x 70″

Techniques:  Traditional Piecing

Quilting:  Ruler work quilting on an A-1 longarm

Fabric:  Five solids from assorted manufacturers

Batting:  Double batted with Hobbs Tuscany Wool and Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend

Thread: Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in five colors

Binding:  Tula Pink stripes cut on the bias, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back


100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 11-20 and the Initial Design Process

My quilt of yellow hexagons has continued to grow over the past ten days, and I’m excited to share the newest blocks with you today. (You can check out the first ten blocks here.) These blocks are constructed using fabrics mostly from my stash, and my mom contributed some of her scraps and yellow fabrics from her stash to the project this week.

This quilt is mostly improv, but there is some structure within the overall design.  Before beginning block construction, I used AutoCad to determine a very rough direction of the overall quilt design.  I wanted the hexagons to remain fairly small, but have enough space to include some interesting piecing.  There is also a chance that I will enter this quilt into a few shows, so it was important to make sure that the overall quilt size would work with a few potential categories.  Given these parameters, the ideal hexagon size was 4″ across from side to side.

The quilt layout will have 95 full hexagons and ten half hexagons.  Each day of the project will consist of one full hexagon or two half hexagons.

Most of the hexagons in this quilt are improv pieced into a larger piece of fabric and then cut into their final shape using a template.  The templates are drafted with the 1/4″ seam allowances and printed onto card stock. The inner line on the templates indicates the stitching line, and I punched a very small hole at each corner to make them easy to mark the points for the final assembly.

Here are blocks 1-20! The layout will evolve throughout the 100 days, and it is exciting to see how the quilt is coming together.

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I construct these 100 blocks in 100 days! Here’s the previous post and some of what’s coming up:


100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 1-10 and Fabric Choices

Every year in early April many people in the creative community launch a 100 day project simultaneously.  Prior to this year, I had never participated in the event because it typically overlaps before my personal 100 day project ends.  This year that overlap was only two days, and with current social distancing efforts, I thought that it may be helpful to me to have a project that rewards continuity.  It is also fun to be working on a project that has the same timeline as other peoples projects.

Awhile back, a friend mentioned that one of the “quilting rules” she had once heard was to only use yellow fabric sparingly. I’m not one to believe in these mythical rules, so of course I got it into my head that I needed to make a yellow quilt. I initially thought that I would do an improv project, but I wanted to give it a bit more structure than my 100 Day Improv Log Cabin Quilt.  I contemplated a lot of different shapes, and as soon as I considered the hexagon, I knew it was perfect- A yellow honeycomb! There is still a lot of improv within each 4″ hexagon, but I always know the size and shape that I am going for.

My stash is reasonably well balanced among all colors (except brown- I rarely use brown!), but yellow is a smaller stack than the rest.  There tend to be fewer yellow prints that I like, so I actively seek out fun yellows at every quilt show I attend. To start this project, I went through my yellow fabrics and cut a strip approximately 3″ wide to use for hexagon production. I also picked out the yellows from charm packs and mini charm packs to add more interest to the quilt.  One of the best parts about using charm packs is the fact that they contain prints that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to buy yardage of, but have more personality than my go-to tone on tone prints.  They really help to break things up and keep your eye moving around the design.

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I construct these 100 blocks in 100 days! Here’s some of what’s coming up:

If you would like to see the block I make each day, check out my Instagram at cassandra.beaver

To see more 100 day projects from a variety of artists and makers, take a look at #the100dayproject

100 Day Improv Log Cabin Quilt

A couple years ago I figured out that my birthday falls on the 100th day of the year in most years, and I decided that it would be fun to make a 100 day quilt between New Year’s Day and my birthday. The first quilt resulting from this project was Resonance, and this log cabin inspired improv quilt is my project for 2020.

In the last year, I have been doing a lot of foundation paper piecing, which I love, but the process is tedious. For my 100 day project, I wanted to do something more freeform, and do a project that would use my scraps and stash. I had collected a lot of lovely blue prints over the years, but lately I have done work mostly using solids, so I saw this as an opportunity to use all these fabrics that I have curated over time. I started mulling this project over in November, and I was delighted that, in December, Pantone named Classic Blue the color of the year.

The construction of the quilt top is mostly block based, with each section being loosely based on a log cabin block.  The blocks all vary in size, and the shape of each is somewhat wonky. I created an average of a block a day for almost two-thirds of the project.  While the block designs grew organically, I did use rulers along the way. This was especially necessary to incorporate 1/8″ wide slivers into the design.  Most of the blocks feature at least one of these slivers.

Once the majority of the blocks were sewn, they all went up on the design wall to determine how they would best fit together. For me, this is the most challenging part of improv. Blocks are added to or trimmed to help them align with the surrounding blocks. Occasionally a new block is constructed.  There are also a few inevitable partial seams to finish the construction of the top, but ultimately the top came together and laid relatively flat.

The back of the quilt was pieced using scraps from the construction of the quilt top, including one block that didn’t end up fitting into the design. I also came across a quilt top that I had made in a workshop and decided to include it in the quilt back as well.

The quilting technique was a first for me. I have done lots of straight line quilting, ruler work, and organic free motion, but I have never done organic “straight line” quilting.  I decided to give this style a try because I thought it would accent the organic feel of the improv design. The grid that is formed has lines that are between 1/4″ and 1″ apart.  It is quilted on the longarm, and all of the lines were quilted in one direction prior to removing the quilt from the frame, rotating it 90 degrees, and reloading it to quilt the perpendicular lines.

The majority of the quilting is done in Light Turquoise Aurifil (5006), with Magenta Aurifil (2535) and Dark Cobalt Aurifil (2740) as accent colors.  All of the quilting was done with 50wt thread. The Light Turquoise and Magenta are go-to colors for my quilting.  It is amazing how well these two colors can meld with a wide range of colors.

Scrappy binding is a big favorite of mine, and a lot of the lighter binding came from the leftovers of previous quilts.  I mixed in some freshly made navy binding, and placed the pieces around the quilt so that the binding would roughly coordinate with the adjoining value in the quilt top.

I am absolutely in love with this quilt, and I adore the concept of the 100 Day Project. It is wonderful to have a project come together, almost by magic.  This process helps me to remember that even a few minutes a day can lead to big things.

Quilt Stats

Title:  100 Day Improv Log Cabin

Size: 84″x 91″

Techniques:  Improvisational Piecing

Quilting:  Organic “straight line” quilting on an A-1 longarm

Fabric:  Fabrics from my stash, mostly blue and white prints

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend

Thread: Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in three colors

Binding:  Scrappy bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back


Aurifil and Kaffe Hand Stitching Challenge

The most recent challenge for Aurifil Artisans was to use Aurifil thread and  Kaffe Fassett fabric to create a project featuring hand stitching. I have been needing a mid-sized cross body purse just large enough to hold a wallet and a bottle of water. This will be the perfect size to carry to the zoo once social distancing is over.

I used nine colors of 12 wt Aurifil thread to hand quilt the fabric panels prior to constructing the bag.  I hand quilted the Kaffe Fabric to a layer of Hobbs Thermore batting with no backing prior to flat lining the pieces to Annie’s Soft and Stable. The Thermore batting is a thin polyester that worked really well to give the quilting some dimension without being too thick when paired with the foam Soft and Stable.

I chose to change the direction of the quilting stitches to add more interest to the design.

The front of the bag features a diagonal zipper pocket that will be great for easy access to my cell phone.

The bag back is a solid panel of fabric, and I added a cork bottom to the bag for added durability.  The bag strap is adjustable to go from regular to cross body.

There is more Kaffe fabric featured inside, and an additional zipper pocket, too.

The finished bag measures 7-1/2″ wide, 9″ tall, and 3″ deep, and I am looking forward to carrying such a cheerful accessory!