Aurifil Color Builders Thread Club - The Sumatran Tiger

Aurifil Color Builders Thread Club - Sumatran Tiger

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

Sumatran Tiger Quilting Inspiration

The dreaded WONKY BLOCK. We've all made quilts where there is that one block that came out a little weird and needs a little extra love to look nice when finished. With all the seams of foundation paper piecing, it’s pretty likely that could happen during this block of the month-- and that’s not a knock on you, Rockstar, it’s just how it goes sometimes. Instead of stressing about all the work it would take to fix the piecing, let’s talk about how to use free motion quilting to coax it into lying flat and pretty during the quilting process!

Massage Quilting

Yep, you read that right. When I’ve got a wonky block, rather than being mad at it or thinking about keeping it in line (so violent sounding!), I massage it. Coax it. Cajole it. (This is kind of like the principle of sweet talking a finicky printer. Surely I’m not the only one who has had one of those??). FMQ “shrinks” or “eats” fabric, making it an ideal way to charm those wonks and wrinkles flat. 

First step: the sooner you can identify a weird block (or section), the better.

The hardest thing is when you don’t realize something funky is up until you’re part of the way through the block. To be honest, this is where a longarmer has a bit of an “advantage” because if something doesn’t lay flat, it will show up on the frame pretty quickly. If quilting on a domestic, pay attention during basting. Keep your quilt as square as possible and notice if there are any blocks that are a little wonky or have extra fabric.

One common situation is for a block to be about 1/4-1/2” too big, but trimming would cut off points or important edges. I generally choose, even if I know this before putting the quilt top together, to ease it into the other blocks or sashing of the quilt and anticipate the need to massage it during quilting to hide the extra fabric.

When you get to the weird block during your quilting, stitch in the ditch around the block to hold it square and in line with the rest of the quilt.

After stitching in the ditch, it is likely the center of the block will be puffy or wrinkly with extra fabric. That’s okay! We are going to use a dense quilting motif to “eat” that ease. Now, honesty moment: this technique is harder with looser/ all over designs, and you’re more likely to get pleats and puckers that way. It’s not impossible, but a denser motif will work better.

Next, secure any major areas of the block, especially if you plan to leave them unquilted. In other words, decide what part of. the block is going to “carry” the extra fabric and corral it there with more stitch in the ditch.

Densely quilt the areas with the extra fabric in order to massage it into the stitching. My favorite dense motifs include woodgrain, switchbacks, tight meanders, pebbles, and small swirls.

Continue quilting the rest of the block, alternating between stitch in the ditch and other motifs as fitting.

Ta da!

Quilting Plans

The Sumatran Tiger is the last living tiger species in the Indonesian islands, severely threatened by habitat loss due to expanding palm plantations and poaching for teeth, bones, and furs. It is distinct because of its close black stripes, dark orange coat, and fluffy beard and mane. Conservation efforts include captive breeding programs and, in Indonesia, a religious fatwa (ban) on poaching. (Source: National Geographic) 

Introductory Level Quilting Plans

Introductory Level Quilting Plan, #1

Introductory Level Quilting Plan, #2

Introductory Level Quilting Plan, #3

This month’s intricate Sumatran Tiger foundation paper piecing pattern by Cassandra Beaver keeps the viewer’s eyes on the tiger’s stripes and captivating eyes, with much less space for intricate FMQ. A simple meander or loopy meander background with stitch in the ditch or a few switchbacks on the tiger is perfectly sufficient for securing and showing off your piecing. 

Beginner Level Quilting Plans

Beginner Level Quilting Plan, #1

Beginner Level Quilting Plan, #2

If you’re like me, I understand the urge to add more texture to the background. I like pebbles to offset all the angles of the tiger’s stripes or square spirals to echo the regal quilting I chose for the tiger’s feline cousin, the Iberian Lynx. 

Intermediate Level Quilting Plans

Intermediate Level Quilting Plan, #1

Intermediate Level Quilting Plan, #2

Finally, why not a feather “halo” to “crown” this majestic tiger and to imitate the dense forest centers where it prefers to live? And, for the brave and glide foot owning among us, a few ideas if you want to McTavish part of the tiger’s face for some extra texture besides stitch in the ditch.


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