Aurifil Color Builders Thread Club - Blue-Throated Macaw

Aurifil Color Builders Thread Club - Blue Throated Macaw

We hope you've been having a wonderful Summer, whether you're working, vacationing, or a little of both! Thank you again for joining us on this remarkable, year-long thread journey. We're so excited about the 40wt Aurifil Color Builders! Our year long quest to direct attention to 12 remarkable endangered species continues with the Blue-Throated Macaw.

The Blue-Throated Macaw Color Builder features 3 shades of 40wt thread in 2835, 1148, & 4093... cool and vibrant representation of one of the world's most recognizable feathered friends. Throughout this year, Aurifil will work to generate increased awareness of and compassion for some of the most critically endangered species. We're collaborating with Earth League International and would encourage you to follow along with us via social media to learn more about the featured animals and how you can get involved each month.

We're happy to welcome HollyAnne Knight back to share her mad quilting skills! Let's dive in to a bit of her blue-throated macaw inspiration.

Blue-Throated Macaw Quilting Inspiration

For eight months now we have had the delight of quilting together, and each month I’ve provided you, Rockstar, with a number of pre-designed quilting plans for the block based on skill level. Don’t worry-- I’m still going to do exactly that this month and through the end of the year. BUT, I also think it is time to start teaching you how to make your own quilting plans. If you are stitching along on the Endangered Species BOM, chances are you have other quilts to finish as well, and these tips will help you decide what to quilt where and banish any fears of “ruining” your quilt with the “wrong” or a “bad” quilting motif idea. 

How to Make a Quilting Plan

First of all, you may be wondering, “What exactly IS a quilting plan, and why do I need to make my own??” Great question! You’ve seen examples of quilting plans month in and month out as part of this BOM, but here’s a working definition: A quilting plan is a “road map” for what to quilt where, and sometimes even the order in which to quilt different motifs, on your quilt. A quilting plan allows you to make all the decisions about what motifs you want to use on different parts of your quilt before you actually start stitching. This is ideal because a plan cures any anxiety you might have about starting to stitch, hating it, then having to tediously unpick free motion quilting. 

Supplies for Making Quilting Plans

Quilting Plans can be created both physically and digitally. The easiest way to draw a quilting plan is to literally draw it on a picture or diagram or drawing of your quilt top. You can use graph paper to draft a likeness of your quilt or snap a picture of the top and print it out to draw on. If you have an iPad, I use the app Procreate to digitally import pictures of quilt tops and draw on them with my Apple pencil. Some of my students also enjoy using a piece of plexiglass or a clear table cloth to draw right over the quilt top. I recommend 1) being very, very careful not to mark on your quilt and 2) using this method more to check the scale of motifs than to do the original plan-- otherwise you’ll have to erase and redraw every time you want to “audition” a new idea. 

Questions to Ask for Choosing Motifs

First, consider the job of your quilt. Quilts that are going to be used more heavily are great candidates for simpler quilting plans (think: an all over design or just a couple motifs). Quilts that will be displayed as decor or submitted to a show will likely “want” a more complicated or custom quilting plan. 

Next, go section by section and consider what motif may compliment the piecing (or that just sounds fun to quilt!). Common “parts” of the quilt to choose motifs for are: the background, the blocks, the sashing, the borders. For the Endangered Species BOM, I looked at each block as “background” and “foreground/ critter” and chose two motifs. Because I drew my quilting plans digitally, I could “mix and match” to create a variety of quilting plans, then pick my favorite to quilt. 


Always remember that drawing quilting plans is a time to “audition” different ideas. Don’t be afraid to draw out multiple plans for the same quilt before deciding exactly what you want to quilt where. It is a lot easier to iterate on paper than it is to iterate on fabric! 

Also, making quilting plans can be challenging because there are a lot of options and a lot fo decisions to narrow down. Just like with free motion quilting, practice makes progress. I recommend starting with just a few motifs to mix and match-- maybe the meander, swirls, and switchbacks-- and slowly expand your “palette” as you get the hang of drawing out your ideas. 

Finally-- shameless plug-- I’ll be hosting a free workshop this month from August 23-27 all about creating quilting plans. If you want to dive deeper into how to decide what to quilt where, you can sign up with your email at 

Suggested Quilting Plans

Today I spun around in my chair to my executive assistant and half screamed: “Oh my gosh, these macaws are THIRTY-THREE INCHES LONG!” Just wow, y’all! Blue-Throated Macaws are native to Bolivia and are critically endangered in the wild. 

Introductory Level Quilting Plan, #1

Introductory Level Quilting Plan, #2

If foundation paper piecing can be “fluffy,” this gorgeous Blue-Throated Macaw designed by Cassandra Beaver is definitely it. The larger pieces are perfect for quilting plumage! At the introductory level a combination of switchbacks and meanders create the directional texture of longer feathers and the “floof” of shorter ones. 

Beginner Level Quilting Plan, #1

Beginner Level Quilting Plan, #2

One way to make the Macaw stand out even further from the background is to choose a denser filler motif for the negative space and to keep the feathers more loosely quilted with simple motifs. I considered paisleys as an option for the macaw to create a plumage-like look without quilting full feathers. I didn’t like the effect as much, but it is worth doodling out if you want a feathery effect without quilting actual feathers. 

Intermediate Level Quilting Plan, #1

Intermediate Level Quilting Plan, #2

Intermediate Level Quilting Plan, #3

Finally, this block is the PERFECT opportunity to show off some feathers. I chose classic bump-back feathers here, but peacock plumes would look excellent as well. Pair with a fun background motif for all.the.texture!


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