Know Your Needles

Visit the we all sew blog from BERNINA to learn all about machine sewing needles

We want to share the very informative “All About Sewing Machine Needles” from BERNINA’s we all sew blog. It begins by pointing out how impactful an object so small can be on a fiber project. “The right needle for your sewing project can create perfectly even and beautifully made stitches. The wrong needle (even a worn or damaged needle) can create all kinds of headaches — like skipped stitches, crooked stitches, frayed and broken threads, and holes or tears in your fabric.”

According to the history of sewing needles compiled by Schmetz Needles, the needle is one of the earliest tools developed by man. Hand needles have been in use for thousands of years, and with the advent of the industrial age, inventors worked to develop a machine. In 1755 a two-point needle was developed that in basic form is still used in modern industrial machines for certain uses. In 1790 the hook needle (or protruding) needle was invented, and again, hook needles are used in some embroidery and saddle-stitch machines. These developments led Balthasar Krems of Germany to move the needle’s close to the point in approximately 1800. Schmetz notes that this simple feature was a sensation at that time, and paved the way for the mechanization of sewing around the world.

Diagram from Know Your Needles by Liz Kettle

A sewing machine needle is manufactured with very distinct areas:

  • Shank (which seats into your sewing machine)
  • Shaft (tapers down from the shank)
  • Groove (runs in the front of the needle to the eye)
  • Eye (where the thread passes from the front to the back)
  • Scarf (located on the back of the needle, a smooth indentation behind the eye)
  • Point (the first part of the needle to penetrate the fabric; different points are engineered to work best with specific fabrics)

The diagram right is from Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles, authored by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution (more about Liz below). This pocket/purse size guide, 4 in. x 6 in., is a complete reference tool to 30 of the most commonly used needles — both machine and hand needles — and the tasks they perform. This is an invaluable resource to any fiber artist, and handy to keep on hand as you shop for needles.

Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles by Liz Kettle

Remember that sewing machine needles do not last forever. Many consider that as a rule needles should be replaced after 4-8 hours of stitching, and/or at the beginning of each sewing project. BERNINA notes that if you experience skipped stitches, or hear “a pop, pop, pop sound (some people say it’s a whoop, whoop, whoop, or like a knocking sound) when the needle penetrates the fabric, it’s time to load a fresh needle.”

BERNINA’s blog points that the high speed of sewing, with the needle point moving rapidly up and down, means it’s important to “choose the right needle/thread ratio. The thread should pass smoothly and snugly through the eye of the needle. If the thread is too tight in the needle, or very loose, it can create problems when stitching.” BERNINA offers the following tip, pictured below, to help you determine if you have the correct needle to thread ratio:

BERNINA offers an easy test to determine if you have the  correct needle to thread ratioBefore you insert a sewing machine needle into your machine, “pass it through a length of thread you have selected to sew your project. Hold the thread tightly at a 45° angle with the needle at the top, and let the needle slide down the thread. It should slide steadily down the thread. If the needle hops, skips, or gets stuck on the thread, the needle is too small for the thread you have selected. Move up one needle size and try the test again.”

Visit the “All About Sewing Machine Needles” posting to learn more about:

  • Needle Sizing (describing the European and American size sizing system and basic needle sizes)
  • Sewing Machine Needle Types
  • Worn and Damaged Needles (with another handy test for you to determine if your needle is damaged)

The below video tutorial by BERNINA will educate you on the many BERNINA sewing and embroidery needles, and how and when to use them correctly for perfect results.

Learn from Liz at Artistic Artifacts this June!

Liz Kettle from Monument, CO is a fabric and mixed media artist with a passion for teaching others the joy of making art and the creative process. Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts June 15-18 for a wonderful 4-Day Creative Retreat: Stitch Journeys — Your Guide to Amazing Stitching. Don’t miss this rare East Coast opportunity to learn from Liz… this retreat is suitable even for beginners, and a high-end sewing machine isn’t a requirement. Liz will teach you the tricks of using all of the unusual/specialty threads out there (such as the beautiful metallics from WonderFil Specialty Threads). Gain mastery of your machine, adjust tension settings, sew from the bobbin and much more as you develop the confidence to sew with any thread. Register now — this retreat is limited to just 20 students!

Kay Kapps Cross and WonderFil Threaducation

Kay Kapps Cross conducting her WonderFil Specialty Threads Show & Tell at Artistic Artifacts
Spools of WonderFil thread, quilts and other projects awaiting the beginning of Show and Tell

Sometimes posting on your blog gets away from you…the last entry was about attending the WonderFil Education Summit in California to learn more about these magical threads, and finally posting again, we are STILL talking about WonderFil™ Specialty Threads!

Kay Kapps Cross (pictured above) is a certified WonderFil Threaducator, and we were delighted to welcome her to Artistic Artifacts on March 24-25 for our WonderFil Boutique official opening celebration. On Saturday, March 25, Kay held two show and tell sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to show off beautiful quilts and projects that featured all of the many WonderFilSpecialty Threads. Pictured right are Kay’s samples as she set up.

Nancy Karst is delighted to be one of the randomly drawn raffle winners!

These show and tell sessions were sponsored by WonderFil, who also provided us with product samples for our random raffle drawings. We had many excited winners, such as Nancy Karst pictured above, thanks to their generosity!

One of the most helpful aspects of her presentations was passing out an opened spool of each specialty thread. To be able to see and feel the weight and finish of the threads added immeasurably to everyone’s understanding.

Kay Kapps Cross demonstrates WonderFil Specialty Threads in the Artistic Artifacts BERNINA sewing machine studio

Kay also demonstrated many of the threads in use in our BERNINA showroom, including bobbin work!

Finding Your Voice Lecture/Class with Kay Capps Cross

Kay began her weekend with us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promised that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Finding Your Voice Lecture/Class with Kay Capps Cross

Kay taught attendees to sort fabric scraps by color values, and then issued a variety of challenges. A wide array of art supplies were on hand to explore.

Cutting paper and fabric and using a variety of color tools during the Finding Your Voice lecture/class with Kay Capps Cross

Cutting paper and fabric and using a variety of color tools during the Finding Your Voice lecture/class with Kay Capps Cross

The last activity, which built upon all that came before, was to generate three possible sketched ideas for a quilt block (which could use any material or supply and didn’t have to be fabric) that illustrated your artistic voice.

Student sketches during Finding Your Voice with Kay Kapps Cross

Below, some finished quilt block as students found their voice.

Student blocks from  Finding Your Voice with Kay Kapps Cross

Visit the Artistic Artifacts website to view the wide variety of fiber and mixed media classes available and join us in finding your own voice! BERNINA mastery classes are on the way too!

WonderFil Threaducation!

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula is enjoying her time in sunny California at the WonderFil Education Center Summit…

Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts, participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

…as is perhaps obvious from the big smile on her face in the photo above! It was taken by her friend Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, another attendee at the Summit. Liz (pictured below), a certified “Threaducator” with WonderFil, will be visiting Artistic Artifacts in June for her 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys. Suitable for beginners, attendees gain mastery of their sewing machine and develop the confidence to tackle any kind of specialty thread and tame their tension fears as they create a sample fabric workbook that serves as a permanent, creative reference tool. This is her only time teaching on the East Coast this year, so if you can, plan your vacation around traveling to Virginia and attending!

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

Judy and Liz are collaborating in the development of an upcoming Threaducation Center class.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil

They used a handpainted batik panel by Rusli, which is enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil. Konfetti and Tutti are both 50wt, 3ply 100% long staple Egyptian cotton threads that are double-gassed (burning off the lint from the thread two times) and mercerized to create a soft, clean, and lustrous finish.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Konfetti™ thread by WonderFil

Additional detail views above and below.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Tutti™ thread by WonderFil

Below is Judy’s favorite thread sampler, posted on the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page. When she returns we’ll have to get the details from her!

Judy Gula's favorite WonderFil thread sampler

More Threaducation going on…

The WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

But you know fiber artists…even after a full day of studying, they are still up for more fun! You can see Liz and Judy, plus Bernadette Kent and Alicia Campbell in the background of this selfie taken by Libby Williamson of Blue Denim Design at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA.

Fiber artists having fun at the Blue Denim Studio at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA

They were busy having fun with block printing and thermofax printing on fabric. Judy never misses the opportunity to share her love of wooden printing blocks!

Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts can further your own Threaducation! Join us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promises that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Kay Kapps Cross quilt stitched with WonderFil Specialty Threads

And on Saturday, March 25, we are delighted that Kay (who quilted the above beauty as she demonstrated various WonderFil threads during the recent AQS show) will be sharing her knowledge during our exciting WonderFil Boutique Show & Tell event. Sponsored by WonderFil™ Specialty Threads, we will hold two complimentary seatings, morning and afternoon, of this inspiring and informational session. Get inspired with samples of threadwork and demos using the many specialty threads by WonderFil! Reservations are required as seating is limited, so don’t delay and claim your spot!

Lines & Squares and more…

We have had the Stacked Squares Quilt Pattern, designed by Sarah Gustason, in the shop for some time, but had hesitated to add it to our online store. It calls for beautiful fabrics from Frond Design Studios that we no longer carry. (While we love ALL of the beautiful designs Frond comes up with, in order to be able to add new lines by them —or any other fabric manufacturer —we have to retire other favorites to make room.)

We decided to make up a sample using other striped fabric to show how well the pattern works with different fabric choices, and put Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts on the job. While Chris has an amazing talent for seeing a fabric’s potential and in mixing fabric lines, for this project she didn’t need to look far, deciding to experiment with the strong linear lines of the Barnboard line by Frond.

Materials to create a Stacked Squares art quilt

The pattern calls for one yard each of four fabrics to piece the top (plus additional for binding and backing) to create a 48 inch x 60 inch. quilt. Chris chose ½ yard of the following Barnboard colors: Afternoon, Autumn, Summer and Sunlight.

Chris Vinh sewing her Stacked Squares art quilt

Chris posted the above photo on Facebook, writing “Shop sample for Artistic Artifacts under the needle. Perfect combination: Bernina machine, WonderFil Mirage thread, and Frond Design Studio Fabrics fabric and pattern. Add a little music, and this girl is happy!”

Stacked Squares art quilt front by Chris Vinh

And she was even happier with the final result — above, her completed top, waiting for binding.The Barnboard is showcased beautifully with this pattern! Chris arranged her stacked squares to create a 30 inch square wall quilt or table topper. And from the 2 yards of fabric she began with, she had enough to piece a beautiful backing, making it reversible!

Stacked Squares art quilt back by Chris Vinh

To match and complement the various colors, Chris selected Mirage™ Color #27, Green/Honey/Red. Mirage is a 2-ply, 30wt rayon that’s randomly space dyed in variegated colors so that every spool unique. “The Mirage was perfect for this project,” Chris said, noting how far a spool will go…she “barely made a dent in her wound bobbin after free motion quilting.”

Chris has been on something of a “line” kick lately. It started when she wanted to give paper piecing a try. She selected the Sew and Fold on a Roll, Flying Geese & Braids and, while initially daunted by the concept, quickly realized how easy these gridded products are to use, giving you precise results.

Paper pieced braid quilt by Chris Vinh

She had some left over Australian Aborigine-Designed fabrics in her stash and put the above beauty together. It was such a perfect result that she decided to turn it into her entry for her quilt guild’s challenge. Chris is a member of the Arlington Chapter of Quilter’s UnlChris Vinh quilt label, Arlington QU Alphabet Challengeimited (QU), a large local guild that has 11 chapters throughout the Northern Virginia region.

Arlington QU often issues group challenges to its members, and this year members randomly drew a letter of the alphabet and are making an 18 in. x 18 in. quilt inspired by that letter. Chris drew the letter L, and realized this quilt was perfect: L is for Lines! (Pictured right, Chris’ quilt label.

The Alphabet Challenge quilts will hang together at QU’s 44th Annual Show, which takes place June 2-4, 2017 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA. The QU Quilt Show is always well worth the trip!

Chris is also enjoying using her new paper piecing skills on her latest work in progress. As mentioned above, she is a whiz at pulling together beautifully coordinating or contrasting fabrics. There are quilters who stick to a particular fabric collection for inspiration, and then others who look for colors and designs that, as she puts it “plays well with others.”

Work in progess by Chris Vinh

Pictured above, a paper pieced braid that uses several fabrics from the new Figment line designed by Pam Goecke Dinndorf. This piece also has some choices from the Marks collection by Valori Wells, also available in our Modern Cottons section, and complementary Australian Aboriginal Designs.

Quilt top by Artistic Artifacts customer Laura Geiser

We also wanted to shared these, perfect for this post’s theme of lines and patterns! Recently one of our customers, Laura Geiser, brought the two beautiful quilt tops (pictured above and below) by the shop. She told us she had been really inspired by the Australian Aboriginal design fabrics we carry and our Paper Pieced Aussie Blocks quilt on display, as well as our variety of black and white prints. She was shopping for additional fabrics to create a third quilt in this series!

Quilt top by Artistic Artifacts customer Laura Geiser

Watch Artistic Artifacts Demo Techniques on Great Day Washington!

Artistic Artifacts is ready for its Great Day Washington taping

Demonstrating surface design techniquesMonday, January 30 was an exciting day for Artistic Artifacts as we appeared live on Great Day Washington, a local morning show on Washington DC’s WUSA*9 TV (CBS affiliate).

Lifestyle Correspondent Meaghan Mooney and her cameraman arrived early in the morning and ran four different “live hits” from 8:55 to 10 am. This amazing opportunity came about because they saw that our customers give us top ratings on Facebook and Yelp…what gratifying news to hear!

For those unable to watch live, we wanted to share the segments from the Great Day Washington portion of WUSA 9 website here.

Click to watch block printing and other surface design techniques

For the first segment — watch online now — Judy demonstrated block Printing on fabric and paper, using hand-carved wooden printing blocks and Artistic Artifacts’ own textile paints. (Join us this weekend for your own opportunity to experiment with this centuries old technique in Block Printing with Cyndi Souder.

The Artistic Artifacts line of Fluid Textile Paints were used for all surface design demonstrations

Additional surface design techniques were also showcased in this segment. Pictured below, Susan Gantz (left) is demonstrating monoprinting on a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate, while Sue Price of PG Fiber2Art is demonstrating Thermofax screen printing — join us February 18 for Printing with Thermofax Screens with PG Fiber2Art to learn how to create your own screen printed fabric.

Susan Gantz demonstrating monoprinting and Sue Price of PG Fiber2Art demonstrating Thermofax screen printing

Susan Gantz didn’t think she was a big metallic fan, but experimenting with the Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint set of Silver, Gold and Copper while demonstrating (see some results below) has now changed her mind!

Monoprint by Susan Gantz in progress and completed

In the second segment, Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts, Ambassador for BERNINA, demonstrated foundation paper piecing to create quilt blocks using a BERNINA sewing machine — watch online now.

Click to watch Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts demonstrate paper piecing

Cyndi Souder shows Meaghan Mooney of WUSA9 a paper pieced block

The paper piecing technique offers complete accuracy: precise points and a visually complex design become easy to execute. Join us on Saturday, February 11 for Cyndi’s class Beginning Paper Piecing Row By Row. Above, Cyndi shows Great Day Washington Lifestyle Correspondent Meaghan Mooney (right) a completed block from our 2016 Row by Row Experience pattern kit.

Click to watch a discussion of, and examples of, mixed media and upcycled art

The third segment — watch online now — featured Judy talking about mixed media techniques and upcycling with members of Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs), a group that meets at Artistic Artifacts monthly. Judy began by showing off results from the JAMs Box Challenge conceived by Barb Boatman of Cut Sew Create studio (see more photos of the results in our past Facebook album), repurposing dimensional wood box frames formerly used on a display wall of automotive products.

Meahgan Mooney meeting Artistic Artfacts customers and members of JAMs

Members used these surfaces to create small artworks that incorporated products from Artistic Artifacts that they had in their stashes, and/or that they had purchased new. JAMs member Beth Richardson explained the sea turtle box she created, and viewers also get a chance to some of the pages of an art journal that Beverly Hilbert has created.

Click to watch a demonstration of hand-stitching on a batik panel and learn more about how they are created

The final demonstration was Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts discussing how batik panels are handcrafted in Indonesia as well as demonstrating hand-stitching on one by the popular batik artist Jakawatch online now.

Batik art panels at Artistic Artifacts

Christine Vinh and Suzanne LangsdorfAbove, our batik panel “station” set up for filming. Chris used Tulip needles, a selection of WonderFil Specialty Threads, and was inspired by Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler. This segment also includes a walk-through of the shop back to the BERNINA machine embroidery demonstration by Denise Reuter of Artistic Artifacts, who has several years experience as a manager and educator for BERNINA Sewing Machine USA. Artistic Artifacts is a new BERNINA dealer!

In her segment Chris wore her beautiful Schoolhouse Tunic, which was sewn for her by JAMs member Suzanne Langsdorf using Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik in Woodstock, Jam and fabric from a sarong imported from Indonesia. Pictured right, Chris preps for her filming with the caffeine boost of coffee while Suzanne teasingly waves to the camera.

And as if the “official” taping didn’t keep us all hopping enough Judy’s son Kyle also streamed video content live (archived below) on Facebook!

In this livestream “you can hear me talk about my latest artwork (at time mark 15:40 in the video) about my written meditation on forgiveness,” writes mixed media artist Wendy Sittner, pictured below, “when I got to participate in Artistic Artifacts’s appearance on WUSA9 Great Day Washington live with Meaghan Mooney. Owner Judy Vincentz Gula did amazing and Meaghan was so friendly and made us feel so comfortable on camera.”

"Wendy Sittner with her written meditation on forgiveness

For Artistic Artifacts, this really was a "Great Day" — we extend our deepest gratitude to WUSA9 for visiting our store and showcasing the fiber and mixed media talent and techniques of our creative minds!

Artistic Artifacts staff and customers during the Great Day Washington filming

Below, machine embroidery by Denise Reuter.

Always color outside the lines -- machine embroidery by Denise Reuter

Stitched Photo Quiltlets

Photo stitched quiltlets, a holiday gift to my son, nephew and nieces

A number of years ago I took a photo of my son Kyle with his cousins Meghan, Carleigh and Reid (my brother Scott’s children) during an ice skating outing, and it has always been a favorite of mine…and I always intended to use it in my art and share it with each of them. Now that they are all young adults, this past holiday season was finally the year!

My first step was to print the photograph out on EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn Inkjet Fabric. I fit two images per sheet. I then used Mistyfuse, my favorite fusible (so sheer and lightweight) to fuse the images to Pellon Heavyweight Stabilizer.

Emphasizing the children by stitching over the photo's background

Since I wanted the kids to be the focal point, I decided to stitch the background out using Fruitti™ by WonderFil, a 12 weight cotton thread. First, I stitched an outline of the group, and then I went back in and added freeform vertical lines to eliminate the distraction of the photo’s background. The thickness of the thread gave me the look I wanted, and I choose one of the more subtle of the variegated colors available to add additional interest without pulling attention away from these adorable kids.

Trimming corners to lessen bulk once turned

I created a small quilt to stitch my photos to, using the Pillowcase Turn method. You can download a free instructional PDF on this technique from Susan Brubaker Knapp’s website…she writes it’s “the fastest and easiest technique for finishing an art quilt.” Above, trimming the corners to lessen the bulk once the “pillowcase” is turned.

Small slit to enable the pillowcase turn method

Above, a small slit is necessary to enable the pillowcase turn method. My fabric label, shown at the bottom of this post, is fused on and hides it.

Satin stitching around the photo

For some of the quiltlets, I used a satin-stitch around the photo (above)…

Zig zag stitching around the photo

…for others, just a simple zig zag finish.

Pockets hold a dowel for hanging the quiltlet

I wanted to make it easy on the recipients to be able to hang these up for display, so I added triangle pockets to the back, which hold a lightweight dowel. As these are small and lightweight, they really can hang with just a pushpin! There are a lot of tutorials out there on this easy process — try this one.

I loved popped these in the mail this holiday season and imagining the smiles as they were unwrapped — grab a favorite photo of your own and turn it into an art quilt, for yourself or for others to display.

Using WonderFil Threads to Accent Block Prints

Block printed table runner bordered in Australian fabric, prebound

The center panel of my block printed table runner, pictured above pre-bound, began as a sample cloth. When I exhibit at quilt shows, I demo block printing (remember that this blog contains a Block Printing Introduction tutorial) and this length of fabric contains multiple prints accumulated over a show. I decided this was an ideal piece to continue with, challenging myself to work in a subdued palette.

I used an assortment of our beautiful, collectible wooden printing blocks, hand carved by artisans in India for this runner. Most the designs you see in use here are currently out of stock, but we have another shipment arriving any day now, so keep checking in with us!

GRABAROO’S® gloves and Konfetti™ threads by WonderFil

Above, using a pair of GRABAROO’S® gloves gives you extra grip when you are free-motion quilting — you will really feel a difference in handling and moving your quilt sandwich. Pictured center are the Konfetti™ threads I chose: from top to bottom, 101 Soft White, 905 Sterling Grey and 902 Medium Grey. Konfetti, one of the many specialty threads by WonderFil we now carry, is 3-ply, 50wt cotton low lint thread, ideal for use in free motion quilting and more. In the hopes of making my runner reversible, I used the Konfetti in both my top and bobbin thread. I loved the feel of it… very easy to use

Using the fabric pattern to guide free motion quilting

A simple way to freemotion quilt is to just follow the design printed on the fabric!

Block printed center bordered with Australian fabric

I used Bush Coconut Dreaming Brown by Audrey Martin for the borders. This is one of the amazing Australian Aboriginal fabrics we carry; the color combinations and authentic tribal designs are so inspiring!

Freemotion quilting with Konfetti thread by WonderFil

Above, a detail of stitching the design that was created by the wooden block print.

Block prints free motion stitched with Konfetti thread

Additional views. At this stage, all the thread needs to be pulled to the back and hidden yet.

Block prints free motion stitched with Konfetti thread

So, what do you think?

Block Printed Ornaments Featuring Terial Magic

Block Printed fabric snowflakes created by Judy Gula using Terial Magic spray

No matter how busy the holiday rush is, I want to handcraft at least one gift or ornament each year. But because of that very sameholiday rush this year, I wanted a project that could be done quickly and easily!

I created these ornaments using Terial Magic™ (a fabric stabilizing spray), an assortment of our wooden printing blocks, WB171 Snowflake, WB393 Snowflake and WB394 Snowflake; Opaque Textile Paint by Artistic Artifacts, various shirting scraps and WonderFil Dazzle thread.

Supplies used to create Block Printed fabric snowflakes

I trimmed the shirting fabric to the size of the wooden printing block plus ½” each side. After trimming, the fabric was treated with Terial Magic. The simple steps to use Terial Magic are 1) Spray to saturate (photo below), 2) Dry until damp and 3) Iron to set. (Last summer we wrote a review of Terial Magic and included complete details about how to apply it and its many uses: a useful and versatile product!)

Treating fabric swatches with Terial Magic spray

Once the treated fabric was dried and ironed, we stamped using the snowflake wooden printing block and one color of paint. I’ve provided many block printing tutorials in the past, but as always I want to emphasize the importance of using a dense foam printing mat under your fabric to achieve the best results. Each ornament requires four snowflake stamped fabric pieces.

Block printing onto Terial Magic treated fabric swatch

Block printed snowflake on a Terial Magic treated fabric swatch

After the paint has dried the fabric is ironed and trimmed closer to the shape of the snowflake pattern (photo below). The snowflake prints, now cut out, are stacked with snowflake print up and then alternate snowflake print down, snowflake up, snowflake down.
Trimmed fabric block printed snowflakes

Sew a straight stitch down the center line of your neat stack, which holds all the snowflakes together.

For a bit of festive sparkle, I cut a piece of Dazzle Thread by WonderFil to use for the loop to hang the ornament, zig-zag stitching to hold it in place (photo below).

Adding Dazzle thread by WonderFil to stitched fabric snowflake

Finger press your fabric sections open, and there you have it! My finished ornaments are pictured at the top of this post…you can also see a resin cookie cutter ornament created by my niece in a recent class held here at the shop by Leslie Brier.

P.S. We are making progress getting the wide assortment of WonderFil threads up on our website — keep checking in with us! The Threaducation Center is your place to interact with like minded people, develop new friendships and be inspired! Schedule your next fiber arts group activity with us at the Center today!

Artistic Artifacts & The Tale of the Frog Princess…

Staffed by Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle with support from WonderFil Threads, The Thread Lab: WonderFil Threaducation Center is a learning center devoted to teaching a textile classes, both hand stitching and machine sewing, that use the variety of WonderFil™ Specialty threads. Located at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, the Thread Lab is also frequented by The Frog Princess.

The Frog Princess of Colorado Springs

Reigning over the Thread Lab and the artist studios at Cottonwood, and inspired by her own garments full of color and texture, The Frog Princess found she had a natural affinity for recommending thread choices to customers and students.

The Frog Princess choosing thread colors

And so, like Ruth and Liz, she studied for her Thread Certification. (Because every princess wants to be a Thread Goddess! photos above and below by Terza Ekholm) The Frog Princess found that Threads, The Basics & Beyond: The Complete Visual Guide to Thread Techniques & Creativity by Debbie Bates and Liz Kettle is an amazing resource.

The Frog Princess studies Threads, the Basics & Beyond by Debbie Bates and Liz Kettle

And so all was well in the land. Until November 30, when Ruth Chandler sent out the alarm:
“The Frog Princess is AWOL!”

Any disappearance of royalty is of course critical, and so the emergency security plan was immediately put into effect. “I called out the troops to find the Frog Princess,” notes Ruth:

Rallying the troops to find The Frog Princess

But then a message arrived from 1,700 miles away, Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA: The Frog Princess had been found! (And there was much rejoicing.)

Yes, craving a change of scenery, The Frog Princess decided to stow away, taking advantage of the trip Liz undertook to assist Artistic Artifacts with the set up and launch the fifth WonderFil Threaducation Center — the only one on the East Coast of the U.S.!

The staff at Artistic Artifacts was delighted to have her as a guest…Friday morning she awoke early to have coffee with Judy, but with so much to do to get ready for the Annual Open House and Pop-Up Holiday Market, we quickly put her to work.

Coffee with The Frog Princess

With her eye for color, The Frog Princess gravitated toward pricing the inspiration packs, popular bundles of hand dyed found textiles and fibers Judy incorporates with two fat quarters of woven cotton, perfect for fiber collage.

The Frog Princess with fiber collage inspiration packs put together by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Below left, she put her stamp of approval on some store rearranging (our ribbons are now nicely showcased, much to her pleasure). At right she poses with Liz on a break from showing off the beautiful WonderFil threads to customers at the Annual Open House on Saturday, December 3, where Liz demonstrated stitching and furthered the “threaducation” of many.

The Frog Princess enjoys visiting Artistic Artifacts with Liz Kettle

Sunday found Liz and students hard at work in the Magical Stitches class. Below you can see that The Frog Princess got herself involved in class discussion.

Magical Stitching class with Liz Kettle at Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts is usually closed on Mondays, but on December 5, we were all hard at work. Our gorgeous threads and fixtures finally made it through customs and delivery from Canada, so we spent the day putting together the Threaducation Center! Frankly, we thought the tiny little hands of The Frog Princess would have been a bigger help when it came to the WonderFil Thread cabinet construction! But then again, she IS royalty; supervising is really her strength…

The Frog Princess supervises construction of the WonderFil thread cabinets and display stands

Below, everyone wanted to get close to the Sue Spargo collection! WonderFil™ teamed up with the author, teacher, embroidery expert and artist to bring out a new line of colors in the Eleganza™, Razzle™, and Dazzle™ thread lines! These colors have been selected by Sue Spargo to offer an array of beautiful and inspirational choices, including variegated colors that are only available in her line.

The Frog Princess helps Chris Vinh put away the Sue Spargo Collection of WonderFil threads

Below, The Frog Princess poses at the end of a productive workday with the new WonderFil Threaducation Center located at Artistic Artifacts.

The Frog Princess poses with the new WonderFil Threaducation Center located at Artistic Artifacts

Finally it was time to return to her own kingdom. Before she left The Frog Princess took one final lap around the store to soak in some memories:

Come back anytime, Princess — you and your friends at the Thread Lab are always welcome! In fact, consider this a formal invitation for next year, when Liz returns to Artistic Artifacts to teach a 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys — Your Guide to Amazing Stitching, June 15-18, 2017. The cost will be $495, which includes provided lunch each day, and payment plans will be available — please email us to make arrangements. Complete information will be posted soon on the Artistic Artifacts website. Plan to join us!

Sharing Some Peeks of Quilt Market/Quilt Festival

I am still catching up after being away for more than two weeks away for the Quilt Market and the International Quilt Festival, in Houston, TX. In order to get a blog post up for the first time in muchtoo long, I am shamelessly stealing from my Printed Fabric Bee buddy Lisa Chin!

Judy Gula presenting her Selling Hand Drawn Batik Artist Panels session in Houston, TX, photo by Lisa Chin

I last wrote from Market, the largest “trade show” for fabric and quilting (it’s not open ot the public), which takes place annually several days before the Quilt Festival. Lisa wrote that she “had the opportunity to attend a number of Schoolhouse presentations during market. These very short classes are designed to help store owners learn more about the products available, as well as how to use the products and share them with their customers.”

I taught a Schoolhouse, and Lisa took the photo of me pictured here during it, and wrote a blog posting that included it. My presentation is titled Selling Hand Drawn Batik Artist Panels. Most fabric stores carry commercial batik fabrics, which have long been popular with quilters and seamstresses. My presentation hopes to open shops up to selling one-of-a-kind batik artist panels as well. (Note: while this presentation was to industry, I also have a lecture and trunk show I present to guilds and art groups titled Batik Adventures.) At Artistic Artifacts we sell beautiful panels from ten different Indonesian artists, which are wonderful incorporated into unique quilts, home decor or mixed media art projects.

I’m so fortunate to have a local home to stay in during the duration of my trip to Houston. Several of my quilting buddies gather there too; fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt generously welcomes us in. (Remember Judi? She used my wooden printing blocks and fabric paint to transform an upholstered chair!

On a “play day” before everything began, I led the group in a fabric dyeing session. My ‘bible’ is Color by Accident by Ann Johnston…I swear by her low-water Immersion method. Here are Lisa’s quart canning jars full of luscious color steeping. I always love photos of this portion of the process! Visit Lisa’s blog for a shot of her finished fabrics, as well as photos of our Cyanotype sun-printing experiments.

Lisa Chin's dyed fabric setting in the sun

I could never get through a long trip like Houston without the help and support of friends and colleagues. Joining me at Judi’s beautiful home were Chis Vinh, Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle. Chris was a godsend to me; sharing the driving duties to and from Houston, helping me with set-up and take-down (twice! If you exhibit in both shows as I do, you can’t leave your booth from Market up for Festival!) and staffing my booth. And Ruth and Liz had their own extensive schedules with teaching duties.


Lisa Chin demonstrating monoprinting techniques

We all came together for a “Take & Teach” sponsored by Rockland Industries. Artistic Artifacts sells its Roc-lon® Multi Purpose Cloth, Osnaburg 100% Cotton and Nature’s Way Muslin. Take & Teach sessions are 90-minutes long and take place each morning before the Market opens, led by current Market exhibitors about their product. Like my schoolhouse presentation, these sessions serve to let quilt and fabric shop owners know what can be done with a product. I demonstrated block printing and mono-printing on the various fabrics, using my wooden printing blocks and our new fluid textile paints. Lisa, pictured here, used stencils and found objects to explore additional monoprinting techniques. We hope we made some converts to this creative fun.

I have to say thank you to Lisa, for her lovely testimonial on her blog:

“[We] used some great new fabric paints from Artistic Artifacts. I bought the complete set to bring home after using them in class. They have a nice long open time, meaning they won’t dry too quickly on the gel plate, and they have a soft hand on the fabric! Two ideal attributes for fabric paint in my book!”

Since Lisa has been far more productive writing and taking photos than I have, here are links her blog posts relating to Quilt Market and Quilt Festival:

P.S. We’ve just finalized plans with Liz to visit Artistic Artifacts early next month: she’ll be teaching a Friday evening class on her beautiful Stitch Meditations, and a Sunday class on Magical Stitches. In between, Saturday, December 3, she’ll be joining us for our Annual Open House and Holiday Market. Stay tuned for a big announcement about a new venture then too!