Thread Painting with Aurifil

I am NOT an artist – as far as drawing and thread painting goes.  Nope, not me!  So, this was a very challenging and intimidating challenge for me to attempt!

I started with an idea … and started it and … it sat, because it wasn’t quite right …

I had this circle on the design wall for the longest time … I had cut 2 wedges out of each of the Deco Revival fabric package that I was sent in my July Island Batik box. Many of the pieces were directional and I needed to piece them to get the wedges to go in the direction I wanted.  

I hesitated in piecing the wedges together, because I just wasn’t sure … and so they sat some more, were rearranged a few times and sat … and sat …

I had NO problems at all with the fabrics … I love them, but my idea … parts of it were good … parts of it were not …

So, the wedges sat.

By the way …. this fabric should be in quilt stores now … make sure you ask for it!

I had been thinking about my time in Africa last September and how I loved seeing the elephants and was in awe seeing them in the wild! I wanted to add an elephant in the centre, but what I started with wasn’t going to work.

And so the wedges sat!

The picture below was taken in Etosha National Park in Namibia. (A small country on the African west coast, about a 90 minute plane ride north of Cape Town, South Africa).

So, my circle sat and sat and sat on the design wall. Finally at 3 am one sleepless night, the perfect solution hit me … elephant and zendoodle … that’s a type of thread painting – right?

I have a beautiful grey Island Batik solid … that can be my elephant … and the border …

The wedges were quickly stitched together, the border added and the base quilting done.

I stitched the wedges in the ditch and with straight or wavy lines with various colours of Aurifil thread …

  • #2000 (light beige) for the wedges to the top
  • #2600 (light grey) for the top 5 wedges on each side
  • #2793 (dark blue) for the bottom 5 wedges on each side
  • #4225 (purple) for the bottom wedges.

I found a colouring page of an elephant and traced it on to the grey fabric. I made sure I had the eye and the ear placement and the rest I left.

I then spray basted the grey fabric onto Hobbs 80/20 batting and started stitching … I used Aurifil black #2682 to outline the body, and then did the ear and eye. The rest of the elephant was zen-doodled with Aurifil dark grey #5004. I wanted white for the tusks and used Aurifil white #2021.

Many of the doodle patterns that I used were from when I did Helen Godden’s flower power quilt. (See HERE) You can see most of them in the lower body and legs.

I had a LOT of fun doing this and was sort of sad when it was finished.

Then I carefully trimmed the elephant and placed it on the circle. I use Elmer’s purple disappearing glue to stick it on. Using the black thread, I satin stitched the outside and a few defining parts of the elephant. I used the white thread to outline the tusks. I had to go over the tusks twice to cover up the black thread I had used to outline the elephant.

I used Hobbs 80/20 for the elephant (traupanto) and also on the whole quilt. This piece measures 36″ x 36″.

The binding is scrappy, with the light pieces on top portions and the darker pieces on the lower portion.

Thank you

Disclaimer:  All products used for this wall hanging were generously provided by Island Batik and the industry partners: Hobbs batting, Aurifil and Schmetz needles. Thank you!

One who sleeps under a quilt is covered by LOVE!

Happy Quilting!    


42 thoughts on “Thread Painting with Aurifil

    • Thanks Andrée!
      I guess it’s when I compare myself to others that I figure I’m not an artist. I need to quit comparing and just continue to admire other’s work!
      Happy Quilting! 🙂


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  2. OMG, Gail: this is beautiful! I’d love to know how closely you trimmed the fabric around your elephant when you cut him out from the grey? The wedges, combined with your fabulous quilting, really make him the focus. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karen!
      I trimmed the elephant at about 1/8″ … and then I had to widen the satin stitch … in some areas I trimmed a bit wider than an 1/8th and I did some micro trimming after the fact … but I much preferred where I was more accurate at 1/8″. It was all eyeballed … no measuring.
      I’m glad you like the quilt! 🙂


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  4. WOW Gail! I hope this came out as you vision because it sure is beautiful. The background is so inspired and your quilting really brings this lovely elephant to life. The satin stitch really does the job of highlighting the piece, too. Really great job and I sure did enjoy reading about the whole process. Thanks for sharing that with all of us. ~smile~ Roseanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Roseanne!
      I do LOVE the background fabric!!! It is really great to work with! (Of course, all Island Batik fabric is great!)
      I’m glad that you enjoyed reading how it all came about!
      Happy Quilting! 🙂


  5. OMG — I love it Gail…your elephant surround by rays is stunning! The quilting is stunning – I’ve never tried trapunto free hand only with the embroidery machine– was it difficult? The fabric is gorgeous I’ll need to get some to add to my batik collection♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karla,
      The trapunto was not hard … mostly because the elephant was quilted on extra batting and then layered on top of the rays. The purple disappearing glue held it in place and then the satin stitch did the final work!
      Happy Quilting! 🙂


  6. Wonderful! It is always a great bonus when the mind’s image and the final product come together. Thanks for sharing the process including the “sitting” part.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely love how this turned out. And hearing about the creative process is always a nice bonus. Love, love your zendoodled elephant! This is really beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Incredible in its finished state! Very fascinating that you allowed us through the process. Now something I could never DUP might be attainable. Would be fun to try! Thanks again!!

    Liked by 1 person

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