Journal 11

My Thread Painted Quilt Goes To Market (Spring 2016)!

I was awe struck when I first met Tula Pink in November. But I was even more overjoyed to find out that she loved the thread painted mini quilt I made her so much that she said she would be in contact with me.

In early January I was so excited to open my email and find a message from Tula Pink. It felt like a dream! In Tula’s email she explained that she wanted me to make a thread painting using her newest Ultimate Thread Collection for Aurifil Threads. She sent me the design for the cover of her thread collection and I immediately recognized it as the owl from Full Moon Forest. She said I had to include the owl as the focal design and maybe incorporate flowers from various lines, but that the ultimate design was up to me. 

I got to work on my design and actually used my Tula Pink coloring book to figure out how I wanted to color the designs and which flowers to use. I decided to include flowers from Chipper, Elizabeth, and Moonshine. I thought it was important to utilize as many colors as I could in the design to best represent the vast range of colors in her threads. My favorite colors are pink and aqua so I wanted those to be the main colors in the thread painting with splashes of purple, orange, yellow and green. Tula mentioned that it would cool if I could thread paint the colors with an ombré effect, so in almost every large section that’s exactly what I did! I was very nervous to send her my colored design because what if she said she didn’t like it and I’d have to start all over again. I felt a huge sense of relief when she said she liked my design.

Now I had to figure out exactly how large to blow up the design so that the the thread would make an impact from far away (but also that I could realistically thread paint in the time I had and with the amount of thread I was given). My next challenge was determining how I was going to transfer this large design onto my fabric (Tula Pink True Colors grey daisies). I thought my best bet would be to use a light box, except that the light box was very small compared to the size of my design. I decided to keep tracing even though it was like seeing through mud and every time I moved onto a different area I had to shift the design/fabric on the light box (this was very frustrating since most of the time my previous lines did not match up!!) Despite my frustration I finished tracing onto my fabric with pencil. 

After adhering the Peltex 72F (double-sided fusible stabilizer) and SF101 to the back of the fabric I retraced the design with frixon pens. Now I was ready for the thread to arrive!

I was relieved to know the thread colors were very close to the colors I used in my design (because I had no idea what colors were in the collection when I made my design). Wow it is gorgeous!! 

I began the actual thread painting in mid March. I started by thread painting the thin grey outline on the owl. 

I began filling in the owl in all the blue sections. If they were ombré I always started by applying the darkest thread first and ending with the lightest thread. I was tired of thread painting blue and was so glad when I could move onto all the pink/purple sections. 

I filled in the pink and purple sections and even the smallest sections near the eyes. Whew, those were tiny sections that only needed 4-5 stitches to cover!

Next, I added the coral, orange and yellow accents.

Now to add a gorgeous rainbow of color around the paisleys (which means 24 different thread and bobbin color changes!) But I absolutely love it, it’s one of my favorite parts of the thread painting.

Next up was the green leaves around the side and head of the owl. 

Time to start the flowers! For the middle flower from Elizabeth, I chose my darkest colors, navy, purple, and dark pink. I started thread painting the petals first instead of the navy outline. By doing it this way the dark thread of the outline can go over and hide any imperfections in the petals. I love how the dark navy outline makes this flower appear to be popping off the fabric!

 I moved on to the flowers from Chipper in pink, coral, and orange with hints of blue and yellow to transition between other flowers.

 For the flowers from Moonshine I thread painted them in yellow and orange with hints of pink. 

Now the thread painting was complete! It took me almost an entire month (on and off) to thread paint just the owl. In total it took me around 50-60 hours to thread paint the entire design. 

I had 2-3 weeks left to piece and quilt the mini quilt. I wanted to keep my piecing to a minimum to draw the attention to the thread painting. I decided to modify Tula’s Stacks quilt pattern by adding flying geese (my favorite paper piecing designs) and shrinking it down. Tula and I both thought rainbow order was the obvious choice for the borders. 

So I began pulling all my Tula Pink stash out and making sure it was in rainbow order. (Wow I own a bunch of Tula fabric!) I used some of my mom’s stash too and combined we had nearly all of her previous lines represented (also some treasured fabrics like my Prince Charming Frogs). 

I made the cutest micro 2 inch pinwheels! 

As I was laying out my strips, pinwheels, and flying geese, I was surprised at how many pieces I had to add to make my sides the correct length. (Thank you mom @kbcjohn for helping with the layout) I actually had to go buy fabric that would go in specific spots to add length and remain in color order. In the corners I chose major focal fabrics since these were larger squares. I wanted the stacks to look as if they were floating so I used the same tone on tone grey daisy fabric.

Time for quilting! I knew I wanted to attempt feathers that would wrap around the owl thread painting to create a cohesive finished design. But I had never done feathers other than on a few samples. I watched Angela Walters feather tutorials on Craftsy to get the motion down. I decided I didn’t want to free hand the feathers so I used a water/air soluble pen to draw the feathers on the quilt top. For the remainder of the grey background I quilted simple straight lines. In the stacks I sampled all different quilt designs, from pebbles to swirls. I left the pinwheels and flying geese unquilted to add dimension to the quilt. I hand bound the quilt in the same grey fabric so it wouldn’t distract from the thread painting/borders. The quilt finished 28 inches by 30 inches. 

I absolutely love the way it came out. This is the largest and best piece I have ever created! 

I’m so honored that Tula asked me to make this piece to represent her Ultimate Thread Collection. (This photo is the thread debut at Schoolhouse)

 I can’t believe that my quilt will be hanging in the Aurifil booth at Quilt Market and then go on to tour with Aurifil at quilt shows. (This all still feels like a dream!) I can’t wait to see it hanging in the booth!

See you at Market!

Happy Quilting!

Xx Casey


Journal 10

My First Fitted Dress!

I knew when I spotted the Emery Dress (pattern by Christine Haynes) on Indie Sew that I had to make it. This would be my first attempt at a fitted dress but I loved the silhouette and classic/vintage style. I really wanted to make it using my Tula Pink Free Fall fabric I bought back in the Fall. I thought my small pink floral print by Liberty of London (that I have been hoarding) would be perfect for the collar and bow accents.  

 I decided to go with the PDF pattern that you print at home and tape together. I had no idea I would be taping an 8ft long sheet of paper together. I haven’t decided whether I will be using a PDF pattern again in the future.

Thanks to a great teacher at Sewingly Yours, Camille, who measured me, reviewed the bodice pattern pieces and figured out exactly what size I would need to make. With her expertise the fit was perfect the first time with no alterations needed! 

I modified the pattern to be a sleeveless dress rather than short sleeves (mainly because I was on a time crunch and it looked cute without sleeves). I also didn’t line the bodice because I was on a deadline and the fabric was thick enough that it was not necessary. 

I loved the way it came out! I love the hot pink exposed zipper and the Liberty zipper tab! I will definitely say making garments is not at all similar to making quilts, there are a whole new set of skills and lingo I need to learn! But I will absolutely be making more Emery dresses and garments! I can’t wait to wear it at Quilt Market!
Happy Sewing!

XX Casey

Journal 9 – Chalk and Paint Blog Tour!

Chalk & Paint Thread Painted Mini Quilt!


I was excited to find out that I was chosen to participate in the Chalk & Paint blog tour to showcase Sew Caroline’s newest fabric collection Chalk & Paint. I have always admired the vibrancy and whimsy that shines through in her fabric design and clothes patterns.
I fell in love with the Sprightly color way because of the mix of soft pastels and pops of bright colors, and I knew this was the perfect color way to show off my mini quilt.

IMG_4123   When I began designing this mini I challenged myself to go outside my box, to not just create a traditional mini quilt that consisted of perfectly symmetrical borders in a square shape, but to embrace the modern style and leave my comfort zone. I really took into consideration Sew Caroline’s inspiration of street art and tried to encompass that essence throughout my design. I knew I wanted to delve into mixed medias and improv quilting.   IMG_4156  IMG_4158  IMG_4164 IMG_4168  IMG_4170

I started by capturing the circular motion and fluidity you feel from the Sprayed Blooms print and translating that into a fun and whimsical thread painting. To create the same motion in the thread painting I actually applied the thread in the exact same motion your eye follows, so that if you look closely the thread flows in the same direction as the pattern. I used Aurifil 50 wt thread for the thread painting!


I decided to showcase the hydrangea using cutouts from a variety of Chalk & Paint fabrics for the petals. I loved how the mix of fabrics in the hydrangea paired so well with calming solids in the thread painting.

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For the background I really wanted to keep it subdued and modern but with a twist, so I chose to add improv chunks of the Writings on Walls print and coordinating AGF solids. (This was way outside my comfort zone!) I thought the solids would keep the background subtle, yet the text print (which I love!) would add unexpected pops of texture.

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So my favorite part of the whole design might be surprising but it was not the thread painting! My favorite design element was the triangles.


From the moment I saw the Triangle Brush Varnish print I knew I had to figure out a way to recreate that into a block. I decided to paper piece tiny strips of the Chalk and Paint fabrics to make the triangles.


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I wanted the triangles to look as if they were falling off the edges of the mini quilt. Some of the triangles I left whole to truly show off the gorgeous fabric, while others were chopped and pieced to appear floating. (If you look closely you will actually see a few triangles that are made of Chalk & Paint selvages.)

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For my quilting I stuck with the freeform, street art theme and did my version of graffiti quilting. The improv piecing created many seams and intersections in the background, so I decided to enhance that by free motion quilting a different design in each space. I decided to leave a few blocks and triangles unquilted to add dimension. I quilted he mini with Aurifil 50 wt thread.

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To finish off the Chalk & Paint mini quilt and tie all the elements together I bound it in the Dripping Paint print (stripe binding of course!). The mini is roughly 24 inches by 26 inches finished.

Here are a few extra photos of the mini hanging by street art, I am not sure what could be more perfect. (Don’t you just love the gum ball machine!)

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I am thrilled with my finished mini quilt! Now what will you be inspired to make?

Check out the other stops on the Chalk & Paint Blog Tour for your inspiration!

Cristy Stuhldreher

Katie Skoog

Jenn Thurston

Robin Hill

Alicia Bruce

Holly Hughes

Christopher Thompson

Alexis Wright

Adrianna Appl

Taylor Urban

Hayley Crouse


And last but certainly not least..the Instagram GIVEWAY!
Do yo want to win a full Fat Quarter bundle of Sew Caroline’s Chalk & Paint fabric?

Here is how:
• Post/repost on Instagram your favorite image from the blog tour (any photo from any blog post) crediting the maker/photographer OR the giveaway image.
• Use the hashtag #chalkandpaintgiveaway and tag @sewcaroline
• You can enter once per day
Want more info about the giveaway? Go to:
Happy Quilting 🙂

xx Casey

Journal 8

Secret thread painting for a sweet friend!


When I met Katy Jones (@imagingermonkey) at Glamp Stitchalot I thought she was so nice and helpful. She was even sweet enough to give me her adorable Olfa rotary cutter pin from Quilt Market when I mentioned how cute it was. A few weeks after Glamp I emailed and asked her questions about the industry and she was so quick to respond with suggestions and advice. I knew I had to do something for her generosity, so of course I had to thread paint her a mini quilt.


I looked at all the patterns in her Priory Square fabric collection and tried to decide which one would work best for the thread painting. I chose to use the fabric Sunday Clippings for the mini. I love the “ugly bird” (as Katy would say) and the collage looking cutouts. I especially love the way the soft watercolor flowers mix with the rigid harsh lines.


I figured the perfect design to thread paint was the watercolor poppy with the bird. I started drawing out the bird and flower design using a chalk pencil and eraser so that it would be visible on the dark navy background fabric. I thread painted with Aurifil thread colors in 50 wt.

I began thread painting the bird and started with the maroon outline. I then went back and filled in with the ivory around the outline, which was a little tricky not to accidently go over.

Next up was the flower, which I was eager to start! I thread painted the flower in layers from the bottom color to the top color. I loved how the colors mixed together and overlapped creating different color values.

I decided to add the stem and leaves behind flower and bird to tie the whole design together.


I used the Peltex 72F double-sided fusible to stabilize the thread painting and keep it flat and not pucker, especially with two separate designs.

When I was trying to figure out how to piece the mini I thought about what she liked, half square triangles (HST) and hexies. I of course I knew she liked hexies because that was the class she taught at Glamp Stitchalot. I used fabrics from her Art Gallery collection Priory Square and other fabrics that I thought coordinated well. I wanted to give the borders more of scrappy look by using a variety of patterned fabrics for the HSTs and hexies.

I decided it would look awesome to thread paint the Priory Square logo like the one from the Aurifil box.

Image 1

I quilted around the thread painting using a tiny micro stipple, to keep the balance between the size of the designs and the quilting. For the HST border I did matchstick quilting in alternating directions. On the hexie border I quilted them in a grid pattern in all directions, which gave them volume. I knew for the last border I wanted to find a quilt pattern with fluid movement to compliment the floral fabric. So I began researching the quilting Katy liked. I found out that many of her quilts were quilted in a ribbon stipple pattern. So I knew that would be the perfect quilt pattern to use.


I absolutely love the way the mini turned out and I really hope you love it too, Katy!

Happy Quilting!


Xx Casey

Journal 7

Bee Thread Painting!

In the fall of 2014 I decided I wanted to join a quilt swap. I had seen all the beautiful swap creations on instagram and I knew I had to join in on the fun. I signed up for the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap. I was so excited when I got the scoop on my partner, so I of course began social media stalking her and realized she loved Heather Ross. I was thrilled to learn that she liked Heather Ross, because I did as well, so I had plenty of fabric to choose from.

I decided I wanted to thread paint her a Heather Ross design for her mini quilt. I chose to thread paint the bee from the Briar Rose collection. I at first wanted to choose the bee holding the baby bee and quilt, but I figured I should try a less detailed bee, so I chose the one collecting pollen.


I began by drawing the design out onto an orange fabric that was close to the shade of orange she used in the fabric collection. Next, I started thread painting the face; I layered the Aurifil thread down lightly to lessen the puckering. Heather Ross’ designs present a certain challenge because she uses dark, thin, sketch lines in the designs to add detail. Thin small details are the most difficult to thread paint because they are usually made up of only one or two stitches at the most and if you stitch too much the design will not be proportional. (You can see in the scarf on the bee’s head there are a few of these dark sketch lines.)


I thread painted the bee’s body next and finished with the wings.

Now I had to make a decision, “What was the piecing/ border going to be?” I stuck with the simple route as to not distract from the thread painting. I had a 2.5” mini charm pack of Briar Rose that I knew I wanted to incorporate. I had the idea to make it appear that the orange background fabric was shattering into the border. To do this I added random corner pieces of orange fabric to the Briar Rose 2.5” squares. I then decided on the most balanced layout and sewed the squares together with the orange corners facing inward toward the thread painting.

Now to figure out how I should quilt the mini. I quilted around the thread painting in a micro stipple to take up the puckering and extended this quilting into the orange points. I really wanted to show off the chevron-like design that the orange points created so I echo quilted on both sides of the seam. For the border I kept it simple yet unique by matchstick quilting. I bound the mini in the strawberry print with white background.

Although this mini was a little guy at only 13” in diameter, I loved it so much and it was so hard to give away! I know it has a good home with Cassie (@sassypants12). Here is the entire package of goodes that I sent.


Happy Quiilting!


Xx Casey


Journal 6

Ex Libris Thread Painting

I knew when I found out who was going to be teaching at Glamp Stitchalot that I wanted to make a thread painting for each teacher. I soon realized that making six thread paintings was probably no going to happen in time for Glamp, so I started with Alison Glass and Tula Pink.

I researched which print would work best for Alison and settled on the butterfly from her Ex Libris collection in the warm colorway.

butterfly croppedI thread painted the butterfly using Aurifil thread on a light lavender solid fabric. I started thread painting with the white thread and put down a base layer. I then moved on to the citron green color in the wings. Next I thread painted the plum and raspberry colors of the dots, body and outlines.

Since the thread painting wasn’t very large I wanted to make the piecing and borders detailed to make up for it. I decided I want to piece the borders using Alison’s quilt patterns. I shrunk down the feather blocks for the first border and I shrunk down a few of her tessellations blocks for the second border. For the final border I chose to use the bookplate petal fabric to give a comparison to the thread painting and to tie the whole mini together. I used Handcrafted and other AG fabrics that coordinated with the Ex Libris bookplate petal fabric for the piecing.

butterfly quilt crop


For the quilting I did matchstick quilting on the feather and tessellations and left a few sections un-quilted to add dimension. I quilted in micro stippling around the thread painted butterfly. For the final border I quilted in a hydrangea floral pattern to compliment the fabric.

butterfly quilt whole

I love how this mini quilt came together. I think I like the piecing just as much or if not more than the thread painting. I was sad to give this one away but I know it has a great home!


Happy Quilting!

Xx Casey

Journal 5

It’s a Thread Painting Kind of Christmas!

In Christmas 2014, I decided I wanted to thread paint something for my mom. My immediate thought was that I should thread paint the Melody Miller typewriter. I knew I of course had to choose the aqua color way of the typewriter because that is my Mom’s favorite color (and mine too)!IMG_3218_2

I thread painted this piece using Aurifil threads in black, ivory, teal and green to match the design. After I started the thread painting and realized the actual letters on the keys weren’t going to happen, but I still love the way it turned out.

Now I had to decide how to make the mini quilt. This was the same time as the start of the Schnitzel and Boo mini swap so there was plenty of inspiration all over Instagram. I found this block and I thought it was the perfect pairing with the thread painting. Thanks to my friend Sarah Lidbom (@sarahlidbom) for figuring out the quilty math for this block just by sending her a screenshot.

For the mini, I chose to mix some of my Mom’s favorite colors blue, navy, aqua, gray and green with one of her favorite designers Cotton & Steel.


I wanted to have fun with the quilting and also highlight the star design. So I decided to keep it simple, micro stipple around the typewriter, and echo inside each half square triangle. For the dark “V” I wanted to straight-line quilt to accentuate the shape and directionality. On the outer gray background I chose to quilt with an overall stipple. To finish it off I added a label and hand bound it (Yes, I said hand bound. I knew she would especially love it if I hand bound the mini).

My mom loved HER thread painted mini quilt (there was crying involved)! One of the perks about this gift is that I also get to enjoy the thread painting since we share a sewing space.

Happy Quilting!

Journal 4

First Commission…Goes to Market!

At this point I had accomplished a few thread paintings and I was getting the hang of the process. In the fall of 2014, I took a bag workshop at my local quilt shop with Sara Lawson (@sewsweetness). Throughout the class I was very eager to chat with her about the quilting industry and my thread paintings. I showed her the red barn and the Heather Ross gnome I thread painted.


She said that she was having her own booth at Quilt Market (which was the next month) representing her new fabric collection, Fantasia, and she needed something eye-catching for her booth. She asked if I would thread paint her a mini quilt to hang in her booth. I of course agreed! I was so excited and in shock that something I created would be at Quilt Market, how cool is that!

For her thread painting I wanted to capture a couple of different designs from her collection, I knew I had to include the unicorn and a few different mushrooms. By the time I had all the materials I needed, I had only about two weeks to complete the entire mini…whew. I first drew out the designs on the fabric with a pencil and then began thread painting.


After all the thread paintings were complete I had to decide how to piece the mini to showcase the designs and also show interest. So I determined to keep it simple, I pieced a simple light pink (Art Gallery solid coordinate to Fantasia) border around each mushroom to get them to same height as the unicorn.

But I still needed a colorful border to bring together all the colors in her collection, so I decided on a candy cane style top and bottom border using all the coordinating Art Gallery solids!


Now onto the quilting, first I had to micro stipple around each thread painting to take up the puckers. I stitched in the ditch around the solid borders. My favorite quilting design of the mini quilt was the Fantasia logo. I drew out the Fantasia design in the top gray border and wanted to create a trapunto effect around the letters. To do this I once again, micro stippled around the letters, leaving the letters un-quilted so they would have a 3-D look. And just in case this idea really didn’t show up I chose to quilt on the gray in a soft pink (it still wasn’t really visible from afar). That’s ok because I knew it was there! 🙂


And with one night to spare before I had to ship it out…I hand bound it (Thanks mom @kbcjohn for the help) and attached the personalized label on the back.


Now it was on its journey to Sara at her hotel for Quilt Market. I was so eager for her reaction. Here are a few photos taken by Sara @sewsweetness.


Oh and Art Gallery posted my thread painting in their look book for Fantasia on Instagram… how awesome is that!!

Journal 3

“I’m Hooked…on Thread Painting!”

I knew I was hooked on this whole thread painting thing after finishing my first piece. I wanted to try something more complicated and larger to see how it would go, and then the perfect opportunity arose. In the summer of 2014, our Modern Quilt Guild was having Dana Bolyard from @oldredbarnco and the author of Imagine Quilts come and speak. The guild started making gifts for each speaker as a ‘thank you,’ so of course I jumped on board to make Dana’s gift. I knew the perfect thing to thread paint for her, her barn logo! The tricky part was that the logo I was using as a guide was very small and on my phone :/ but I went for it anyway; I figured it’d be fine; I can draw just about anything.

Old Red Barn Co. labels, logos and photos 018

So I drew out the design with pencil onto my fabric and backed the fabric in embroidery stabilizer. I used embroidery thread to thread paint this piece and I used a TON of it!


I really enjoyed this one because the barn almost had a watercolor effect so it was really fun to treat it almost like a painting. I layered it the exact same way I would layer paint or colored pencil for a piece, starting with the darkest areas first and then layer the next lightest and so on until all colors are applied. I also experimented with doing a light base layer of thread all over in the specific area to cover and then coming back with the next layer to decrease the amount of puckering. I don’t think it really helped though it still puckered.


Once I finished the thread painting I had to make it into a mini quilt. I decided to make it look like it was a picture frame, so the simple border would not compete with the thread painting (since that was to be the focus). In an effort to reduce the puckering around the edge of the barn, I tiny stippled the heck out of it!

Side note: I think thread painting has improved my free motion quilting, especially on tiny close quilting. I have more control on the piece to make sure the needle goes in the precise spot I need.


I absolutely loved the finished thread painted barn and I could not wait to give her this piece. She was so surprised!

I think gifting my thread paintings is the most fun part of all! I loving seeing the reaction on their faces when they open the mini quilts. Now onto more thread painting!


Happy Quilting!

Journal 2

How I Started Thread Painting.

A few years ago I attended the Sew South retreat in Charlotte, North Carolina. I enjoyed sharing my passion for quilting with other quilters just like me! One of the most inspirational moments at Sew South was when Kati from The Blue Chair (@thebluechair) played this video ( as the intro to her improv-quilting lesson. (If you want to be inspired…watch this video!!!) This video got me thinking, “You know, I could essentially paint with thread. I can draw out different designs and apply thread using the freemotion technique.” So, I was very excited when I returned to home to try out this technique I had contemplated in my mind.

The first thread painting I tried was on a Noodlehead 241 tote from a flower design I created.modpoppies1.JPG

I was trying to decide how to begin and I thought it would be best to treat this technique just like machine embroidery. So that’s what I did. I backed the fabric with multiple layers of stabilizer, hooped it with an embroidery hoop and used embroidery thread. Here are a few progress photos:IMG_2494IMG_2495IMG_2496IMG_2522

As I was working on the thread painting, I loved the way it was coming together but I did notice that there was some puckering around the edges of the design. What was even more irritating than the puckering was the thread continually breaking and shredding every few stitches. It probably took double the time complete because of the countless times I had to rethread the needle. It also was much harder to layer the thread once it became so dense and hard in spots. That is when I learned at some point you have to settle for the way it looks because the needle will simply not go through the thread/fabric anymore. But in the end when my first thread painting was finished, I loved the texture that was created with the layers of silky thread.

And although at times it was frustrating, it was obvious to say I was hooked!

And most importantly the recipient (@vt_ellen) of my bag was very appreciative and loved it as much as I did!

Now onto my next thread painting!

Happy Quilting!