Aurifil Artisan 2022: A Mini Thru-Hike of My Quilting Journey

In case you weren't able to tune into my weekend takeover of Aurifil Thread's instagram account, I've compiled it below for a quick and delightful read with your morning cup of coffee. Enjoy this curated mini thru-hike of my works, including details about my inspiration, my various approaches to quilt making, and an easy step-by-step appliqué wall quilt tutorial. 

ships and violins canadian hiking quilter modern quilt patterns


Introduction to My Quilting Journey

(1/8) Hi! This is Cristina De Miranda, the designer behind @shipsandviolins, and I’m *super* excited to be taking over Aurifil's IG account this weekend.

If you’ve heard my lecture or if you've been following me for a while, you know that I thru-hiked the Colorado Trail in 2015 and the East Coast Trail in 2017/2019. Together that’s nearly 700 miles of… well, let’s just say a LOT of feelings *and* life changing experiences. Simply put, I learned what I was capable of. I used this new-found courage to prioritize creativity in my life and, in 2019, I chose to pursue quilting as my craft and career.

I’ve looked to my hiking experiences for guidance on how to prepare for what would certainly be a marathon, including how to choose a path that suits me, how to honour my process and pace, and how to create a support system that gets me through the bad days and celebrates with me on the best days.

Over the next two days I’ll be looking back and sharing significant legs of my journey ‘thru’ quilting, as well as a new tutorial and an upcoming project I’m excited about.
We’ll start with my Alentejana quilt (ATJ, for short) in the next post. See you there!
Pictured is #alentejanaquilt / #atjquilt pieced using #Aurifil50wt, and longarmed by Melissa McIntosh @lakesidelongarmer.

alentejana quilt pattern canadian quilter woven patchwork modern pattern row quilts ships and violins cristina de miranda 

First Leg of the Journey: Woven Patchwork

(2/8) Hello, Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins here again. I call this leg of my journey: "Woven Patchwork."⁠

It was the middle of the pandemic - right around the holiday season - when I decided to recreate a traditional Portuguese woven blanket called "manta alentejana" or "Alentejo blanket" in patchwork. I sought some comfort in this project during a time where I could only see my family from a distance.⁠

My designs usually lean toward the modern and graphic, so this was an interesting challenge for me. While mocking it up I realized that the piecing would need to be relatively small (but not so small that I – or you! – couldn’t piece it comfortably) in order to capture the repeating motifs of the woven inspiration. I settled on repeating each motif 10 to 12 times using 1 1/4" and 1 3/8" wide strip sets. Once sewn up, the smallest square on the quilt measures 1" x 3/4".

Pictured (above) is the pattern I designed using the same inspiration. The red fabric played an important role in this version. Reds and blacks are commonly used in Portuguese textiles - just Google "rancho folclorico" (Portuguese folklore dancing) and you’ll see what I mean – so, it was important that I stayed true to the imagery I know so well. ⁠

What’s on the horizon? Well, this project was relatively true to its inspiration, hence its traditional feel, but I’ve been planning some ways to incorporate a modern edge into this row quilt. …And how timely that I set upon another one just as the holidays approach again. ⁠

Follow @shipsandviolins to see my progress over the next few weeks.⁠
Pictured is #alentejanaquilt pieced using #Aurifil50wt, and longarmed by Melissa McIntosh @lakesidelongarmer. ⁠

woven patchwork small quilt canadian toronto quilter cristina de miranda

First Leg of the Journey: Woven Patchwork Continued

(3/8) Hello again, Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins here. The second piece from my “Woven Patchwork” phase is called “Wicker and Woven I” (above).⁠

This small quilt (measuring 15 1/2" square) zooms in on the narrowing neck of a wicker basket with a bottle-green demijohn peeking through the uneven weave. The subtle curve of the basket brings a softness to the linear design. I used foundation paper piecing for this project, but I'm confident improvised piecing could work too. ⁠

It was a quick study for a larger more intricate piece that I hope to make someday soon. The dream piece would incorporate more colours in varying values and, if I were to aim high, the illusion of sunlight glimmering on the glass. ⁠

Let's toast to dreaming big! *clink*⁠

Pieced and quilted using #Aurifil50wt.

nesting phoenix ships and violins cristina de miranda foundation paper pieced stars canadian toronto quilter

Second Leg of the Journey: FPP Constellations Series

(4/8) Hi, it’s Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins here. Let’s take a fork in the road and check out some of my more graphic work. ⁠

The Constellations Series has been an incredibly fulfilling project for me. The first star in the series, The Square of Pegasus (#tsoppattern), was designed in response to a Toronto MQG president's challenge. I didn't know it then, but that single star set me on a new and exciting course! ⁠

The series features foundation paper pieced star blocks from 18" square to 36" square. Pictured above is Nesting Phoenix (#nestingphoenixquilt), which was revealed via a mystery quilt event in July (swipe for a close-up of the quilting!). I published some blog posts to help guide participants through the FPP process. If you're interested, you can visit to check out my "8 Tips for Assembling FPP Patterns With Success."⁠

I've designed 5 stars to-date, and the collection is ever-growing. When I need a breather from my larger pieces, I sit and design another star pattern to add to the quilty universe.⁠

Pieced and quilted using #Aurifil50wt.

Third Leg of the Journey: Thinking Outside the Quilt Rectangle

(5/8) “Hello again, it’s Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins. We’re onto the next leg of my journey ‘thru’ quilting aptly named “Thinking Outside the Quilt Rectangle.” 

This piece (IG reel above) was created in response to an Aurifil artisan challenge. I used needle-turn appliqué to attach the bubbles to the main quilted top, and machine appliqué to add the glistening accents. The placement of the bubbles informed the final shape of the piece - a tipsy figure-eight! I really enjoyed finishing each piece with bias binding. Have you tried binding curved or scalloped edges before?

Rectangles and squares are our quilt shape defaults, but there are so many other shapes to explore. In my mind, the shape of a project can also be a powerful tool to tell its story. I expect there are some funky quilt shapes in my future…

Appliquéd and quilted using 
#Aurifil50wt thread.


Third Leg of the Journey: Thinking Outside the Quilt Rectangle Continued

(6/8) Hello there, it’s Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins. ⁠

This is PinkBomb 88, a project that was born from challenging myself to use a single appliqué shape from my Fountain View quilt (#fountainviewquilt).⁠

Fountain View contains several interesting appliqué shapes that I wanted to explore on a one-on-one basis. I started with the ‘petalette’ shape you see here. I duplicated, rotated, and scaled it until I landed on a design I wanted to use for another Aurifil artisan challenge. And, because we’re still on the “thinking outside the quilt rectangle” leg of my journey, I used the appliqué design to create a scalloped edge.⁠

Read more about how I approached PinkBomb 88 by browsing my step-by-step tutorial here. Feel free to borrow a technique or two for your own quilty explorations!⁠

Quilted and appliquéd using #Aurifil50wt.⁠ 
The colour pink has grown on me over the last few years, and I'm always looking for an opportunity to include it in my projects. Check out Aurifil's Pink Land Iguana color builder set here.


Fourth Leg of the Journey: Experimentation

(7/8) “Hello! It’s Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins.

Full disclosure: I get a bit cagey when I put myself into a design box. Experimenting with different techniques and aesthetics is an important part of my creative process. How about you?⁠

Many of my designs are digital mock-ups that get engineered into patchwork. Fountain View (#fountainviewquilt) was one of those projects – a graphic and bold design that I couldn’t help but make into a quilt top.⁠

And - because telling a quilt's story is part of the creative fun - here's an excerpt from the inspiration:⁠

"[...] It's likely that at some point you've peered over a fountain's edge into its shallow pool and wondered, 'What if?'"⁠

"You've probably glimpsed into your own unwritten future and filled it with aspirations. The aspirations that feel slightly out of reach, but not impossible. The aspirations that pull you through another day with the greatest of expectations." ⁠

"That's the Fountain View."⁠

"It's the single thought contained between a coin jumping from your hand and landing in the replenishing waters of a fountain. It's the act of hope - of seeing things a little differently than they are."⁠

Pieced and appliquéd using #Aurifil50wt. ⁠


Cristina De Miranda, designer of Ships and Violins, faces a patchwork block on her design wall.


The Journey Continues: Woven Patchwork Series

(8/8) Hey there, it’s Cristina De Miranda @shipsandviolins signing off. ⁠

Thank you for spending some time with me during this weekend takeover – it’s been so fun to share a little more about my journey ‘thru’ quilting with you. ⁠

As I mentioned yesterday, the next couple of months I'll be focusing on my second design inspired by Portuguese woven blankets. I’m re-inventing it by disrupting the repeating rows and scaling up some of the sections.⁠

Pictured is one of the larger sections that’ll be incorporated into the design. Follow @shipsandviolins to see this piece (and many others!) come together. ⁠

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Cristina De Miranda

Cristina De Miranda has been crafting and creating since her early years watching Art Attack. A tactile world of colour, pattern, and design appeared before her when a colleague introduced her to quilting in 2018. Cristina quickly dusted off her sewing machine and dived into a plethora of designer fabrics. Today, she is totally and irreversibly immersed in a whimsical world called Ships & Violins.