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Block Printed & Slow Stitched Quiltlets

Judy Gula flower quiltlet, block printed and stitched

We recently welcomed a customer in the store and discussed some of the modern stitching methods, such as the Stitch Meditations we wrote about last week. She fell in love with one of my projects, which is displayed with our wooden printing blocks, and I realized this was the perfect opportunity to update you on the completed project, published in progress in June 2015.

The Slow Stitching Movement has become very hot over the last couple of years. Mark Lipinski modeled it after the international Slow Food movement, open to all fiber and needle artists to prepare them for a higher form of creativity and important work in the needle and fiber arts.

I have really enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with hand stitching! I was inspired by my stitching gurus, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, and renowned stitch/fiber artist Ruth Chandler, both of whom were interviewed by Mark about the Slow Stitching movement — listen to their podcasts!

Cover of Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler

Another catalyst for my renewed interest was the publication of Ruth’s book Modern Hand Stitching, which gives you instructions for how to create basic stitches, and then shows the multiple ways you can use and alter it for a fresh new look. It is amazing! Now I comb through used book stores looking for European hand stitching books — especially the Scandinavian ones. It’s official…I am hooked!

At one of the monthly Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meeting, a show & tell project by member Karen Scudder caused such a stir that she was asked to give the group a short demo at a future meeting. Karen had used a creative hand stitching and quilting technique often attributed to Teesha Moore (see the end of this post for more info and tutorial links). That demo has led to many little hand stitch quiltlets appearing at JAMS meetings, and a number of dedicated new fans of the process!

Judy Gula small quilt sandwich makings

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, and wanting to use the samples I have accumulated from many block printing demonstrations using our wooden printing blocks and Artistic Artifacts textile paints, I embarked on my own slow stitch project! Here’s my method:

I used shirting fabric samples as my backing — despite giving literally scores of them away over the years, I still have a huge number remaining! Using these samples also gave me a starting point as to the size of my blocks. I matched up the stamped fabric with backing of cotton shirting approximately the same size. For this technique, it’s often recommended that your backing fabric be a bit larger, so it can be turned over to the front to create the distinctive rolled edge.

Judy Gula small quilt sandwich -- edge stitched for stability

I used Nature-Fil™ Blend quilt batting (a blend of bamboo and rayon; stitches beautifully) and cut it slightly smaller than my front and back pieces of fabric. See the beginning of my quilt sandwich above.

Step 2 is to stitch around the block, by hand or machine (example right), to hold the pieces together. While it is possible to skip this step, I have found it does help stabilize it all for the subsequent steps.

The next step is to roll the edges and stitch around them, as shown in the photo below of quiltlet blocks ready to be embellished with hand stitching.

Block printed swatches ready to be embellished with hand stitching
Judy Gula small quilt: rolled and stitched edges

Once you have your small quilt or quiltlet put together, it’s time to break out your floss and stitch away, using as many embroidery stitches as you desire. For this project I kept it simple with variations of straight stitching using a variety of threads and floss.

Detail, Judy Gula quiltlets hand stitched together

You use the same hand stitching to join individual units together, as seen above. These quiltlets can be joined together in stages, so you can always add to a project if you want to.

I have seen examples that are done with more precision, and they are beautiful too… for mine, I didn’t worry about the units lining up accurately — in fact I welcomed the free form nature of it. Another in progress view:

Judy Gula small quiltlets in progress

Many people choose to add buttons, beads and charms too. Note that that kind of additional embellishing should take place after you have stitched the block completely — your stitches shrink the entire block somewhat; beads applied too early in the process could loosen or pucker.

This is a fun and portable project — as you can see in the bird block pictured above, I carried the needle with me everywhere!

And now, finished!

After beginning this in 2015, I continued to enjoy adding to my project. I knew I wanted to join the blocks together to create something, but when I began wasn’t sure what that something would be. I considered a journal cover as Teesha has done, but ultimately had so much fun I just kept going, enlarging and embellishing to end with a wall hanging.

Variegated thread accents this stitched block

Adding to my enjoyment was the fact that Artistic Artifacts is now a WonderFil Specialty Threads “Threaducation” Center… so I have even more yummy threads and fibers to use! Variegated threads like those from Sue Spargo’s collection of Eleganza are beautiful.

Pictured below, I added some beading for another pop of color and texture.

Once all the blocks have been attached together, you can add beads to embellish

My completed wall hanging, below. I encourage you to try this technique for yourself… it really is addicting! Scroll down for instructions by the originator of this method, Susan “Lucky” Shie, and a YouTube tutorial for a fabric journal by Teesha Moore, who popularized Susan’s technique.

Completed block printed andhand stitched art quilt by Judy Gula

More About This Method

Art quilt by Susan "Lucky" Shie

Susan “Lucky” Shie (pronounced “shy”) is an amazing artist, and created a number of heavily stitched and embellished art quilts featured in Quilting Arts and elsewhere. For years she taught her methods; in 1999 she taught a class in her techniques that included Teesha Moore (see Susan’s online diary, scroll approximately halfway down the page). Susan wrotes that Teesha,
         “…who had never made fabric art before, took to it really fast! She is primarily a stamp artist and journaler, who self publishes a wild stamp art quarterly. Her ability to translate her creativity over to fabric textures was wonderful!”

Although Susan ceased teaching this in 2006, she documented her methods in writing and continues to keep that tutorial online. Learn this fun technique from its originator by visiting the Lucky School of Quilting Techniques »

Fabric journal by Teesha Moore

With Susan’s permission, Teesha and others began teaching their own takes on this stitching technique, using it to make art dolls, fabric journals and more. Teesha offers a free set of tutorial videos to create one of her fabric journals, constructed from units she calls pillows. (Teesha stuffs her fabric with polyfil stuffing, rather than using batting.) Watch these videos for her own methods on constructing a sewn and embellished fiber art book:

P.S. As you may know, Teesha suffered a stroke in April. In June Tracy Moore, her husband, posted the following good news on Facebook, that she “keeps improving day after day. She is bright, funny, and beautiful. She continues to inspire me every second of every day. She is working hard on gaining her strength back in her right arm and hand so that she can whip up new wonderful art to share with the world soon.” Please send her positive vibes for her continued recovery!

Sharing Stitch Meditations

Stitch Meditations created by students in July's "How Do I..." session

We were going to take an August vacation from our monthly product/technique demonstrations and play-time, but due to demand we are repeating July’s popular program!

Participants in the July session of "How Do I... Create a Stitch Meditation?"

Above, the July session of How Do I…Create Stitch Meditations: we had a full house! At the top of this post are the amazing pieces created by students that night. Join us Thursday evening, August 10 to create your own: using WonderFil Specialty Threads (all supplies provided), participants learn the approach originated by my dear friend Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution. Previous sewing or embroidery experience isn’t necessary, so if you are local, please plan to join us.

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Inspired by Liz, I have also become addicted to this practice. I have posted many on the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page, and wanted to share some of my recent creations in this post. Visit Liz’s website gallery to see her own beautiful examples. Liz has also put together a 17 minute video she hopes inspires others to begin their own stitch practice: learn more.

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, I was inspired by a bit left over from a batik panel by the artist Rusli.

In our 2015 post Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Creativity, Liz shared that managing stress can be difficult for her, and that “The best medicine I have found is what I call Stitch Meditations. I tried for years to do ‘real’ meditation. It just never took and I always felt like I was doing it wrong. But, I knew I needed a stress reducer that was simple and didn’t take much time to do. I love both machine and hand stitching and I find both very relaxing. However the tactile nature of hand stitch won over and I started creating simple small collages using only hand stitch. These meditations are really important to my mental health not only because I slow down and enjoy the meditation, but they give me a sense of connection to my art on a daily basis…even when life has me otherwise occupied.”

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Liz creates her stitch meditations in the morning, but after experimenting, I have found that stitching in the evening after work is what best works for me. It’s a calming, restful way to end the day. I make a point of traveling with a small stash of supplies so I can create in my hotel room each evening.

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

In addition to Liz, in terms of inspiration I also have to thank Ruth Chandler, author of Modern Hand Stitching … she has taught so many of us how to add a creative, freeform spin on hand-stitching! I can’t count how many times I have recommended her book to my customers: it is an invaluable addition to any stitcher’s library.

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, this small corner of a hand-dyed handkerchief really spoke to me. Proof that you don’t have to work large! I’m thinking it might fill the blank corner of the long work pictured above it.

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Now that Artistic Artifacts is a WonderFil Specialty Threads “Threaducation Center” I have relished learning about the different weights and properties of their threads… perfect for hand stitching as well as using in your sewing machine!

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

If you are one of those people find themselves saving scraps of fabric and lengths of thread because they’re just too pretty to throw away, you have the makings of the perfect stitch meditation stash!

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Part of the technique is not to fall into the trap of agonizing over your choices. Quickly choose a few pieces, whether color-coordinated or completely contrasting, and get to work.

Stitch Meditation by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Below, a larger completed piece created by Suzanne Langsdorf, who just gifted it to Sharon McDonagh of Artistic Artifacts. At last month’s session, Sharon kept picking out fabrics and fibers and walking around to participants to tempt them to start another piece. Suzanne took one of her handfuls and added to it, ultimately creating this gorgeous fiber art.

Stitch Meditation by Suzanne Langsdorf

Below, a detail photograph. Such amazing color and texture!

Detail view, Stitch Meditation by Suzanne Langsdorf

Hari Agung Floral Batik Panel Quilts

One of my favorite ways to put together a fast, but beautiful, art quilt is to start with a handcrafted batik panel and add one of more border strips log cabin style. This one just needs the binding.

Small red floral batik panel by Hari Agung bordered with Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

To complement this gorgeous red floral panel by Hari Agung, I used two fabrics from our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabric line: top and left is Fruit Sours, Green Apple, and bottom/right is Fronds, Mocha.

Detail, Small red floral batik panel by Hari Agung bordered with Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

I machine quilted the borders with simple angled straight lines, and the center panel with a free-form meander.

French knots accenting the flower centers of the Hari Agung batik panel

Above, I accented the flower centers with French knots. I love using a variegated thread like our beautiful Eleganza from the Sue Spargo Collection by WonderFil Specialty Threads for French knots: you end up with different colors without changing threads!

I used a medium size Hari Agung panel for this next quilt in progress.

Medium Hari Agung floral panel art quilt ready for quilting and then binding

This one is framed with simple log cabin-style nested borders, including Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik in Connections, Red and the Crosshatch Gold from the Marks by Valori Wells collection, a gorgeous modern cotton. The next step is to add quilting using the BERNINA Q20 sit down machine and then bind it.

Detail, medium Hari Agung floral panel art quilt ready for quilting and then binding

This simple construction technique — batik panel framed by log cabin strips —is easy enough for beginning quilters, but impressive: get started on your own version!

Paper Solvy Image Transfer

This blog post was originally published in 2011, but in the ensuing years and web/blog redesigns, it accidentally went missing. Our most recent enewsletter discussed stabilizers, and so we wanted to offer this to readers again. This many years later, still a great transfer technique! Watch Liz Kettle demonstrate her technique on YouTube: Image Transfers with Water Soluble Paper »

Image Transfer with Water Soluble Paper

Thumbnail version of finished fiber art by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution

by Liz Kettle, Textile Evolution

One of the frustrations of image transfer techniques is the propensity of manufacturers to ‘improve’ their products to retain the ink, making it difficult for those of us who want to transfer the ink to another surface. If you share this frustration, you can imagine my excitement when Laura Cater-Woods and I were discussing some of her innovative surface techniques using water soluble paper stabilizer meant for foundation piecing and embroidery.

Laura wasn’t using the paper with imagery, but the gears in my brain started turning… and in a true light bulb moment I found a new way to transfer inkjet printed images to fabric or paper. Best of all, this product probably won’t be ‘improved.’

Supplies to create an image transfer with water soluble paper

Supplies:

Steps:

Before you begin, print your image onto a sheet of the Paper Solvy or other water soluble stabilizer. This process works with both pigment and dye inkjet printers. [Ed. note: one of the uses of Paper Solvy is to reproduce multiple foundation and paper piecing designs; it is manufactured to go though a printer or copy machine without jamming or sticking. Remember that if necessary, reverse your image so that your final transfer will be oriented as you wish (necessary if your image contains text.]

Step 1, Image Transfer with Water Soluble Paper

1.) Use a foam brush to apply a layer of matte medium to the fabric. You need enough medium to cover the fabric evenly without excess.

Step 2, Image Transfer with Water Soluble Paper

2.) Apply a thin coat of matte medium to the Paper Solvy printed image.

Step 3, Image Transfer with Water Soluble Paper

3.) Lay the printed image down on the fabric and brayer firmly. Hold the paper firmly to keep it from wrapping up on the brayer or shifting as you roll the brayer over the Paper Solvy.

Step 4, Image Transfer with Water Soluble Paper

4.) Wait for a count of 5-7 seconds, and check to see if the image is transferring by pulling up one corner of the paper. If you don’t see the transfer happening, lay the paper back down, brayer again or wait a few moments longer.

Step 5, Image Transfer with Water Soluble Paper

5.) Peel up the paper to reveal your image. Some times the paper will come up in one piece. The longer you wait, the more the paper will begin to break down and come off in multiple pieces. In this example, the paper came off in three strips.

Fiber art by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, featuring a Paper Solvy image transfer

Above, another version of a finished transfer (note that for this piece my starting image was reversed so that the finished art had the girl facing left) has been layered and stitched with embellishment fabrics on top of a piece of painted Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth, block printed with wooden printing blocks and textile paints.

Helpful Tips:

  • If you wait too long to pull up the paper or have too much medium, the paper will start to dissolve. If this happens, lay the paper back down and let dry completely in place. Use water to dissolve the paper and rub it off with your fingers.
  • If there is paper residue on the image after removing the paper, simply wait for the transfer to dry. Dampen your finger with water and rub the area to remove the paper fuzzies. Or, the image can be soaked in water while you rub off the excess paper. Do not rub too hard, or you will remove the image.

About the Author

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution is a fabric and mixed media artist with a passion for teaching others the joy of making art and the creative process. After acquiring the skills for success in the traditional quilting arena she began to delve into art quilting and discovered a world of freedom and fun in mixed media. Liz is the co-author of Fabric Embellishing: The Basics & Beyond and Threads: The Basics & Beyond, and the author of First-Time Beading on Fabric and Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles.

Dreamtime Stories to Share

The M&S Textiles Booth at Spring Quilt MarketIn my last blog posting I wrote about visiting the Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis and gave you a taste of some of the beautiful fabrics and products exhibited there.

One of my first stops, as always, was to see what was new from M&S Textiles (booth pictured here). Their Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics are consistently one of our biggest sellers, and I simply can’t resist them. The 2017 line of new designs has just arrived in our shop, and I’m sharing a few here. As we mentioned in our most recent newsletter, the Australia’s indigenous art tradition by Aborigines is more than 50,000 years old. In ancient times the Aboriginal people created cave paintings, rock paintings, and sand or ground painting, and more. We love to learn the stories behind these colorful patterned fabric designs and wanted to share some of them here.

Bush Food Dreaming by Tanya Price, available in black, ecru and mint

M&S Textiles, the company that licenses these designs from the Aborigine artists and prints the high-quality cotton fabrics, shares that most of the Aboriginal designs have a “Dreamtime” story to tell. Aboriginal mythology recounts that Dreamtime is the time when the world was dark and nothing was on the earth. Soil was soft; then their forefathers sprang up from underneath it and began building most of what their future generations would require: mountains, rivers, waterholes, trees, light gardens and many more.

The Dreamtime is a philosophy of living. Body painting, corroborree (ceremonial gatherings of Aboriginal people where they interact with Dreamtime ancestors through dance, music, and costumes), men’s and women’s business (certain customs and practices are performed separately by male and female groups) are strictly obeyed by the Aboriginal people.

Aborigines used to be nomadic, collecting foods from nature by hunting and gathering. They never hoarded food or water, or spoiled nature, always honoring their ancestral lands and environment.

Bush Food Dreaming, pictured right, is a design by Tanya Price Nangala, available in (from top to bottom) black, ecru and mint. Tanya learned painting from both her parents and grandparents, and depicts a number of foods important to Aborigines: oranges, bush plums, bush berries, lemons and more. She is illustrating a corroboree where people are happily eating, dancing and discussing various social matters, enjoying each other’s company. Like many Aborigine artists, Tanya uses fine dotting techniques in the background of her precise, vibrant drawings.

Winter Spirits by Faye Oliver, available in brown, black and purple

Winter Spirits, pictured above, is designed by Fay Oliver. It is available in brown (top), yellow (left) and purple. The Sounthern hemisphere’s winter weather is hot and sunny like our northern hemisphere’s summer (in Australia each season begins on the first day of the calendar month: summer runs from December 1 to the end of February, autumn from March to May, winter from June to August, and spring from September to November). Fay uses vibrant winter colors to illustrate her painting, which depicts spirits watching over Dreamtime creatures, the bush and camp from the sky.

Sandy Creek by Janet Long Nakamarra, available in yellow, black and purple

Pictured above is Sandy Creek by Janet Long Nakamarra, available in red (top), black and purple. Sandy Creek is located in the Northern Territory of Australia and is home to Tjaynera Falls, located within the Litchfield National Park. The Falls can only be reached by a 4-wheel drive vehicle and an approximately 1.4 kilometers from the car park, which is on the site of a timber cutting camp used during the mid 1900’s. There are some Aboriginals who interact with tourists to the area, telling Dreamtime stories and involving them in timber-cutting activities. Janet is illustrating the plain land under the waterfall and some of the surrounding area. The semi-circles depict people walking the land as well as sitting in a circle around waterholes.

Artistic Artifacts is known for its large selection of Australian fabric, and these new designs are wonderful additions. We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the meaning behind the designs.

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