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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!

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.

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!

Block Printing as the March Artist for The Printed Fabric Bee!

Posts in Judy’s March Artist for The Printed Fabric Bee series:

  1. Block Printing Intro
  2. Creating and Embellishing Block Printed Textiles
  3. A Sampling of Block Printed Art Quilts

Earlier this year I directed you to the “reboot” of The Printed Fabric Bee where, instead of creating monthly themed fabrics for the Bee members (with 6″ x 6″ swatches as a prize for those who commented on the posts), in 2016 members of the Bee are each taking a turn hosting a month focusing on a technique of their choice — resulting a year of free tutorials and classes from national and internationally known surface design artists and teachers!

I wrote then that you should mark your calendar for April for me, but turns out, I am representing the month of March! The focus of my posts for The Printed Fabric Bee will be on Block Printing for art quilts and other fiber projects. My first post is copied below:
___________

A wooden printing block being hand-carved by a master craftsman in India

Block printing is one of the most ancient forms of decorative art. We carry a very wide range of wooden printing blocks in our shop. These blocks are hand carved in India and are part of our free trade products: we are proud to be a part of the support of 40 families in India!

For my first post, I’m including a video below that was taped while I was running my on-site “pop-up” shop at the recent Art & Soul creative retreat in Portland, Oregon. The video begins with me answering a question from my audience: where do wooden printing blocks come from?, and then moves into the basics of how to block print.

While traveling around the US vending at shows and teaching, I hear many of the same questions over and over, so I am using this opportunity, below and in the video, to briefly answer the most common ones.

  1. What type of wood is used?
    The wooden printing blocks are carved out of shisham wood, which is a locally grown, sustainable hard wood.
  2. Will the white paint come off?
    The white marking is there to give the carvers, or as they prefer, Block Makers, visual guidance as to where to chisel and carve the wood away.
  3. How do I care for wooden printing blocks?
    Do scrub them with soap and water once your printing session is over. Use a soft nail brush if necessary to get paint out of the fine lines. However, don’t let your blocks soak in the sink or a container water. I dry them face down on a dry towel.
           Know this: they will never be ‘clean’ again — embrace that! (We find them beautiful with the hints of paint and use; see photo below.)
  4. How can I use them?
    … well, the answer to that is for the next blog post!

Wooden printing blocks that have been used multiple times

Wooden printing blocks that have been used many times with many colors of paint have their own special beauty.

My next blog post will give you a few ideas of how to embellish your block printed fabric.

Comment to Win!

NOTE: Prize has been awarded. In addition to the surface design tutorials posted here on The Printed Fabric Bee blog, each month, the specified artist offers a fabulous giveaway. Simply leave a comment on at least one of the blog posts during that month to be eligible. I have selected a beautiful circle design wooden printing block, an orange foam printing mat (critical to successful block printing), and a jar of True Blue PROfab Opaque Textile Paint as my prize. However…if you are selected and are local to the Virginia/DC/Maryland area (or are willing to travel), you can instead choose to attend my Woodblock Printed Art Quilt class on June 11 for free!

March Printed Fabric Bee prize: wooden printing block, textile paint and foam printing mat

Leave a comment below to be eligible for this block printing prize!

P.S. If you would like to travel to India and meet the families who carve our wooden printing blocks, visit the Colouricious website in England to learn about the Textile Trip of a Lifetime!

Transforming Chipboard Shapes

Chipboard does for shapes what particle board did for furniture. The options are limitless. Chipboard is a lamination of layers of paper pulp — it comes in many thicknesses, shapes and sizes. Our most recent session of our How Do I…? monthly demonstrations was on the versatility of chipboard; we used both commercial shapes as well as cutting into large sheets of thin utility chipboard in our experiments.

Chipboard embellishments available at Artistic Artifacts

We carry some great chipboard shapes and embellishments, but otherwise, the most common place to find chipboard is in the scrapbooking aisle of your local craft store. A simple material, but what you can do with chipboard is anything but ordinary!

Covering a chipboard frame with fabric

This blog posting will touch on just a couple of techniques — know that this is only the tip of the iceberg! We used fabric, washi tape, embossing powders and VIVA products: Inka Gold, Ferro Special Effects Paste, Croco Crackle Paint, Precious Metal Colour to alter our chipboard.

The only tricky option is applying fabric to the chipboard. I ironed fusible web to the back of the fabric and then made my cuts into the fabric (similar to wrapping a package) to cover the frame and fused with an iron in place. Another option is to apply a thick glue like Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue to the chipboard and then wrap the fabric smoothly on the top and around the edges.

Products used to color and alter chipboard

Washi tape is one of the simplest ways to add interest to any paper (or other) project. Mixing different strips to a chipboard frame that still has its center in place is a fun twist: then simply run your craft blade around to cut the tape and pop the center out. Replace it in a different orientation, or use the center shape separately.

Chipboard frames covered in washi tape

Embossing Powder is really magic! Using a stamp paid with “embossing” glue (we used the EMBOSS Embossing Stamp Pad) I stamped the glue onto my precut chipboard frame. Working on a sheet of deli paper, I sprinkled Tim Holtz Distress Embossing Powder in the gorgeous Peeled Paint shade of green.

Mixed media tag by Judy Gula with a chipboard frame transformed with Tim Holtz Distressed embossing powder

Working on deli paper, it’s easy to pour the unused granules of powder back into the jar. I moved my heat tool over the embossing powder until it melted and fused, creating a unique surface. Tim’s Distress powder is formulated to giveyou a worn , weathered finish, as you can see with my tag above.

Metallic embossing powders will ‘wow’you when the heat is applied. They sprinkle on looking rather flat and dull, but after a few seconds turn to looking like molten metal! You can see an example with my journal page below with the gold frame. I love creating a “peek a boo” element by framing a cutout on one page to look through to the next (see below and inset detail).

Judy Gula journal page with a peek a boo cutout framed with embossed chipboard

The journal pages you see here are from “How Do I Use This?” Meets the Art Journal Page, a fun class I’m teaching on April 23-24 where students create original and layered journal pages and bind them into a custom art journal…all supplies provided!

Ferro Special Effects Paste, Croco Crackle Paint, Precious Metal Colour and other paints and mediums can all be applied with a brush or spatula to the chipboard.

Art journal page by Judy Gula
Chipboard tags and frames, painted, embossed and more

Our hands down favorite surface finish for chipboard was to use a die-cutter or paper punches to create shapes, then texturizing the shapes by running them through the diecutting/embossing machine with different embossing folders. The created texture comes alive with paints and Inka gold.

Plain chipboard, die cut into shapes and embossed with texture

Just a tiny amount of Inka Gold is all that’s needed, applied with a fingertip, baby wipe or paper towel.

Embossed chipboard with Inka Gold highlights

The Box Challenge

One of the original display box frames used in the Box Challenge

Most of you know the story about the building that now houses Artistic Artifacts. In its former life housing high-performance auto parts, we had a huge display wall with dimensional wood box frames that showed off product. During a recent warehouse cleaning, I uncovered a box full of these frames, most approximately 5×5 inch square (as pictured) I offered these up to Barb Boatman of Cut Sew Create studio, a dear friend and JAMs member, to come up with a project.

Barb challenged members of JAMs to use these surfaces to create small artworks that incorporated products from Artistic Artifacts that they had in their stashes that could then be used in the shop and at events as samples.

The big reveal of the boxes was this past Sunday at JAMs. We shared some photos on our Facebook page…you will certainly be seeing more of these in this space, as they were all so beautiful and are great examples of mixed media and fiber art techniques! Here are two that use chipboard.

Artwork by Sharon McDonagh: embossed chipboard highlighted with Inka Gold colors

Coming off the How Do I… evening, Sharon McDonagh embossed a chipboard square and then used Inka Gold in blue, copper and violet colors to bring out the texture of the pattern, and green paint topped with a bit of Inka Gold on a chipboard frame with a vintage photo.

Below, Lindy Millman used the Leaf Stems chipboard frame, lightly sprayed with a gold metallic ink, on a base of Tim Holtz fabric (the Entomology design) and accented it with her own ephemera and a skeleton leaf.

Artwork by Lindy Millman: Tim Holtz fabric, chipboard shape, skeleton leaf, ephemera

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