Sometimes the heavy thread work isn't necessary.
With the careful choice of mottled or Batiks, you can do away with the need to get those smooth blends.
Your topic of choice also plays a role.
Where the theme is whimsical, careful anchoring and minimum highlighting might be all that's necessary.
If this isn't pure whimsey, I don't know what is.
Cut from a single piece, the only additions were:
the eyes - a piece of grey material slipped behind before fusing,
the chest feathers - a piece of batting,
the mouths - a sliver of yellow fabric.
The eyes and a small amount of brown, 3 colours, are the only serious thread work.
These "babies" were fused directly to the background and with the minimal thread work, quilting the background isn't necessary as there was no distortion.
However, as these piece will probably all be displayed together, having micro quilted one, conformity means doing them all. Its a quick do.