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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!

Row by Row Winner and Upcoming News!

Winner Sue Lee — and Our New Batiks!

Updated July 26 to include batik and Rayna Gillman class links, now available.

For the third summer, Artistic Artifacts is participating in the Row by Row Experience, an annual shop hop event taking place throughout the U.S., Canada, and even many locations in Europe!

Sue Lee with her 2017 Row by Row Experience quilt, the prize winner at Artistic Artifacts

The theme this year is “On the Go,” and as always we enjoyed designing our unique “Pinwheels In Motion” row, created using our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik. On July 20, 2017 we awarded our prize for the first completed (quilted, bound, and labeled) quilt using at least 8 different 2017 row patternsto Sue Lee…who used 9 row patterns including ours. Sue extended our row and included it on the back of her quilt, making it reversible.

The back of Sue Lee's 2017 Row by Row Experience quilt, featuring the Artistic Artifacts row.

Sue purchased one of our kits (currently available to in-store visitors only; when the event ends this fall we will be able to sell them online) Each kit includes a June Tailor® Charming Circles Ruler to easily cut accurate circles, Avalon Bleached Muslin for background, Mistyfuse® lightweight fusible and a sample spool of WonderFil Specialty Thread. There are so many beautiful color combinations possible with our batiks that we allow kit purchasers to pick the two they like; Sue chose Shapes-Pinwheels, Fuchsia and Color Sponge Solid: Berry.

Detail, of Sue Lee's 2017 Row by Row Experience quilt, featuring the Artistic Artifacts row in our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabric, also used as binding.

Sue so loved our fabric that after buying our kit returned the next day for more to create the row extension and to create her quilt’s binding. Sue was happy to receive her prize of 25 different fat quarters of Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics, plus a gift certificate to our shop (pictured below). Congratulations, Sue!

Sue Lee with her Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabric prize for being the first to turn in a completed Row by Row Experience quilt.

New Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik Fabrics!

And we have exciting news to share about our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik: new patterns and colors have arrived from Indonesia! We are in the process of getting these news designs on our website: stay tuned to our weekly enewsletter to see! They are making their debut at Quilt Odyssey this weekend!

Some of the new colors and designs of our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik, coming soon to our online shop!

(updated 7/26) Above, some of the new Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik, NOW AVAILABLE to order on our website: shop now. We have new colors of some of our established designs, and new patterns for you as well!

Rayna Gillman Workshop September 23

And more good news to announce! Our first year of participating in The Row by Row Experience was 2014, and a key design feature in that inaugural row design was Rayna Gillman’s wonky strip piecing technique.

Create Your Own Improv Quilts: Modern Quilting with No Rules & No Rulers by Rayna Gillman, coming November 2017

Rayna has written several books teaching her design concepts, and has influenced so many art quilters… so we’re delighted to announce that Rayna Gillman will be visiting Artistic Artifacts on September 23-24 to teach her amazing techniques!

Back in April our enewsletter included a photo of our customer Laura Geiser’s modern, graphic quilt, featuring many of our wonderful Australian Aborigine fabrics interspersed with many black and white designs as well as modern cottons.

Once she received her copy, Rayna emailed us, “This is exactly what I have done in my new book… using some of the Aboriginal fabrics I bought from you, modern fabrics, and some solids. Time for us to schedule me to teach a 2-day class from my [upcoming] new (modern) book!”

That new book will be published in November. Titled Create Your Own Improv Quilts: Modern Quilting with No Rules & No Rulers, you can pre-order a signed copy from her website.

Updated 7/26: Learn more about this class and register now »

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!

Fabrics Unveiled at Spring Quilt Market

Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics

View of Gateway Arch from hotel

There are two Quilt Markets (credentialed trade show for shop owners, fabric companies, etc.) each year. The biggest is each fall, always in Houston just before the huge International Quilt Festival (which takes place November 2-5, 2017). The Spring show changes locations each year; and this year it was in St. Louis; a fact that was reinforced each time we had the chance to take a look from our Hotel to see the iconic Gateway Arch!

My “partners in crime” for this trip were Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Ruth Chandler, author of one of my favorite instructional books, Modern Hand Stitching. (Remember, Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts next month with her immersive Stitch Journeys class — a few seats are still available for this 4 Day Creative Retreat, so join us!)

Architectural detail in St. Louis

Our walk from the hotel to the Convention Center included passing by buildings featuring beautiful architectural details (see above and in my gallery below). Most of these were likely built in the 1920’s and 1930’s and unfortunately, many of them are empty. So sad!

New fabrics in the Woodstock design, Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

Artistic Artifacts was there with a booth exhibiting and selling our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics (pictured at the top of this post and here), handpainted batik panels and our artist quality textile paints. From our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik, I’m excited by our new Woodstock 2 fabrics (pictured above)!

New colors coming of established Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

I also have new colors (pictured above) of established designs, Folk Life-Paisley Leaves and Color Sponge. All of these new Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks will be available to our customers in approximately two months.

Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle demonstrating how to create Silk Fusion

The first day of Market for many of us includes the “School House” event. These are short (15 to 30 minute) presentations, sales pitches, and educational sessions. Liz and Ruth have done many of these for companies such as Treenway Silks and Rockland Industries. Artistic Artifacts currently carries products from both of these companies: Silk Roving/Sliver in gorgeous colors from Treenway and from Rockland Industries, muslin, Osnaburg and Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth. Above, Ruth Chandler (left) and Liz Kettle are demonstrating how to create Silk Fusion. (Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts, join me in October for our How Do I… evening: we’ll be making silk paper, a similar technique!)

Sue Spargo hand-stitching

A lot of time is spent walking the aisles looking for inspiration, like the above beauty by Sue Spargo (take a look at the gorgeous colors she selected for her WonderFil Eleganza collection). You can view a lot more eye candy from Quilt Market in my gallery at the bottom of this post!

A sampling of new designs of popular Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics

I made my usual stop at the M&S Textiles booth to see what is new with our popular Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics. I ordered 22 new patterns! You can get an idea of what’s coming in the photos above and below. Stay tuned to our website — they are expected in approximately two weeks.

More new designs of Australian fabrics on the way to Artistic Artifacts from M&S Textiles

I was able to have a quick trunk show with fiber artist and fabric designer Marcia Derse. I have always loved her work!

Marcia Derse Treasure Hunt fabric line

Marcia’s Treasure Hunt line (pictured above) will be available in the shop in October. We hope to add her solids to the store (pictured below) in the future as well.

Marcia Derse solid fabrics

Maker’s Home by Natalie Barnes (pictured below) of Beyond the Reef Patterns will also arrive in the shop in the fall or early winter. This is her second line for Windham Fabrics and includes her signature hand drawn flowers and fun black &white prints (and you know how much I love black & white fabrics). I’ve been looking for the right kind of floral fabric to add to the shop and thought my customers would love this line (more views in the gallery).

Maker's Home by Natalie Barnes of Beyond the Reef Patterns for Windham Fabrics

And we spent time in Art Gallery’s booth (their booth photo below with my detail shots) touching and feeling their knit, voile, and cotton fabrics. We’d like to add knit fabrics to Artistic Artifacts…what do you think? Good idea? Let me know in the comments!.

Art Gallery Fabrics booth

Below, my photo gallery for more from Quilt Marke — click on any photo for a larger view or to see it as a slideshow.

What Could Have Been: Quilt by Elayne Logan Currie

It’s flattering when we learn that people who have traveled to the Alexandria VA area (to visit family, while on business trips etc.) take the time from their busy schedule to come visit us in person. One recent visitor was Elayne Logan Currie. Last November she was in town to visit her mother-in-law and purchased one of our handcrafted batik panels by the renowned artist Jaka. Elayne visited Artistic Artifacts again recently and told us about her community’s amazing Read Together program. She showed us a photo of the quilt she made with that Jaka panel, inspired by the 2017 book, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. We begged her to share, and she did… so now we want to share with you!

Quilt by Elayne Logan Currie featuring center batik panel by Jaka, inspired by Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

View larger image »

“A Novel Idea… Read Together“ is the largest annual community reading program in Oregon. Thousands of Deschutes County residents share the common bond of reading a selected book and participating in related cultural and literacy events each spring. Among the events, the Deschutes Public Library creates art exhibits for display, inviting artists to create and submit original art inspired by the selected book. The following is Elayne’s quilt submission details:

What Could Have Been
by Elayne Logan Currie,
March 2017 (quilted by Sue Shimke)
Inspired by the book Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

While visiting my mother-in-law in Alexandria, Virginia I have discovered a quilt shop near her home that dyes a lot of their own fabric and has unique pieces of material from around the world. I fell in love with the centerpiece of this quilt last November, anticipating that it might be perfect for a Novel Idea in our community somewhere down the line. I would never have imagined that only a few short weeks later, with the announcement of Homegoing as our community read this year, that this panel would be put to use immediately.

The book Homegoing is a heart-wrenching novel that clearly links the history of slavery to today’s injustices still perpetrated on the backs of our black citizens. I am left wondering how the African American people have survived all that has been placed in their way.

This quilt is my attempt to wave my magic wand and go back to the beginnings of the half sisters Effia and Essie. How different would their worlds have been if they had known each other and had each other’s backs in a sisterly love? How different would our world be if slavery had never existed to begin with? The trees symbolize the family lineage we read about in Homegoing. The two leaves in the bottom left hand corner of the quilt represent the fallout of the family trees in the persons of Marcus and Marjorie. May their love blossom into goodness and may the world support their union and the cultures of their offspring.

Detail, What Could Have Been, quilt by Elayne Logan Currie featuring a batik panel by Jaka

Above and below, detail views of What Could Have Been, Elayne Logan Currie’s quilt inspired by Homegoing.

Detail, What Could Have Been, quilt by Elayne Logan Currie

More About Homegoing

A Novel Idea 2017 PDF program cover by the Deschutes Public Library Foundation

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed — and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation. (Read an excerpt of Homegoing, courtesy Penguin Random House.)

Homegoing won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, the John Leonard Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. It also was the recipient of the John Leonard First Book Prize, a New York Times 2016 Notable Book, NPR’s Debut Novel of the Year, and included as Time Magazine’s top novels of 2016.

Homegoing author Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, AL. Recently named to the 2017 Forbes "30 Under 30" list, she holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in New York City.

Download the Deschutes Library Homegoing PDF, which includes a Yaa Gyasi interview by Hope Wabuke of The Root; a reader’s guide/discussion points, The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Capitalist Enterprise by Dr. Carmen P. Thompson; and Connecting Points: Tracing the History of African American Literature through Homegoing by Dr. Annemarie Hamlin

Detail view of What Could Have Been, Elayne Logan Currie’s quilt, inspired by Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Thank you so much for sharing, Elayne — we love how you have used the Jaka panel, and Sue Shimke’s quilting highlights the entire piece beautifully!

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