Dresses from Sally Kelly Fabrics

Dresses sewn by Natasha Tung using Sally Kelly fabric, modeled by her beautiful daughters

Dresses sewn by Natasha Tung using Sally Kelly fabric, modeled by her beautiful daughters.

My resolution not to neglect the blog hasn’t turned out very well in the first half of 2023… so I’m delighted to have this guest post to share with you all. Sally Kelly is one of our favorite fabric designers, and we challenged our friend Natasha Tung of Auschick Sews to use them for garments for her beautiful daughters. All photographs are courtesy Auschick Sews, all rights reserved.

     Guest post by Natasha Tung

Hi everyone! This is Natasha from Auschick Sews. I’m based in Centreville, Virginia and have three kids whom I love to sew for. With the arrival of summer and the latest Little Mermaid Movie hitting the screens, the new Atlantis fabric collection by Sally Kelly was perfect for creating some new dresses for my two girls!

I knew Nettle Dress and Rosemary Dress from Peony Patterns would be perfect for showcasing these stunning prints.

Peony Patterns Rosemary Dress sewn from Sally Kelly Fabrics

Peony Patterns Rosemary Dress sewn from Sally Kelly Fabrics.

My youngest loves being able to button herself up, so I used the Rosemary Dress pattern with Flower Bed Black (from the Sally Kelly Paradiso collection), pictured above. This fabric perfectly coordinates with Ripple Coral from the Atlantis collection, which I used to create a belt secured with belt loops, one of the options the pattern offers. The 100% cotton fabric is easy to sew, and the colors are so vibrant and fun!

While you can’t really see it in these pictures, the sleeves have a facing to encase the elastic. I also used the Ripple Coral for the facing — there’s definitely something enjoyable about using unexpected fabrics inside clothes where only the wearer (and maker) knows about it. Since I had some scraps, I also made a Bluebell Bow, a free accessory pattern by Peony Patterns. I like to keep this pattern (which includes four different sizes) at my cutting table at all times so that I can whip up a coordinating bow whenever I’m making an outfit for my girls!

Peony Patterns Nettle Dress sewn from Blue Lagoon in Cream, a jersey knit from the Sally Kelly Atlantis fabric collection

Peony Patterns Nettle Dress sewn from Blue Lagoon in Cream, a jersey knit from the Sally Kelly Atlantis fabric collection.

My eldest has basically decided she will only wear knits these days, so I was very happy to see some jersey knit (95% Cotton, 5% Spandex) options in the Atlantis collection — pictured above, the Peony Patterns’ Nettle Dress sewn from Blue Lagoon in Cream. Also available in a Multi (dark) colorway, this fabric is so soft and comfy, and not difficult to sew either. The colors are amazing too; my daughter gets so many comments whenever she wears this one — and it’s in frequent rotation!

Sleeve detail of Peony Patterns Nettle Dress sewn from Blue Lagoon in Cream by Auschick Sews

The Nettle dress has two gorgeous sleeve options: short with a twist, which is what I choose (see photo above) and long with a billowy look. Surprisingly, the twist in the sleeve isn’t hard to do, and I love that it makes such a great statement! I did some of the construction of this dress on my BERNINA sewing machine, and most of it on my serger. But if you don’t own a serger, never fear — as long as your sewing machine can make a zig zag, you can sew knits!

Happy sewing! I can’t wait to see what you make with this new collection!

Dresses sewn by Natasha Tung using Sally Kelly fabric, modeled by her beautiful daughters


It was already the end of January as I begin this, just sitting down to reflect on the year past. And then a few social media memories popped up which caused me to look back even further to appreciate how far Artistic Artifacts has come to become who we are today.

An older store layout configuration.An early post on Instagram, before I really knew what social media was all about, was dated January 28, 2012 when my husband and I were in Indonesia and purchased Batik Tambal from Trish and Owen Hodges. “Today we purchased batik panels which are wonderful paintings done using the batik process. Many of the designs require 8 dye colors and tons of wax. Each panel signed by the artist.” 11 years later and we are planning a Creative Retreat to Indonesia for early 2024, where we will revisit some of the artist along with other textile adventures!

Along with the panels came our own line of batik fabrics (seen here in an old photo, and on sale now) and a decision to bring in Aborigine-designed fabrics from Australia along with products for mixed media, hand dyed fabrics, ephemera and vintage finds, which is where my early love of art quilts started. There have been so many changes to our store configuration over the years as we’ve grown and expanded, and you’ll see some included here.

We are fortunate to be located in an area with many fiber and mixed media enthusiasts and it was a no brainer for me to start a group called Judy’s Altered Minds — commonly known as JAMS — to meet in our small shop on a monthly basis to share ideas and techniques. There were group challenges and sharing of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) along with demonstrations of new techniques by members.

The first location of our WonderFil Specialty Threads

The first location of our WonderFil Specialty Threads collection.

As I began to travel to quilt shows and to Houston for International Quilt Market and Festival to sell our panels and fabrics our creative community continued to grow. It was at Quilt Market in 2016 that we decided to become a WonderFil Specialty Threads thread education center. Suddenly we were outgrowing our existing space and moved our classroom into another room!

First BERNINA Location and moving cubicles to open up display space.

One thing leads to another and we became an authorized BERNINA dealer in 2017 and we really out grew our front room and classroom. In 2018 we moved our office space into a third room which also serves as the area for our BERNINA technicians and our classroom. And it wasn’t long that the first classroom was taken over by fabric as we brought in new lines, including our block printed Indian Cottons, African fabrics, Tilda, Tula Pink and more! And jump forward to 2023 and our Products on Sale area is encroaching on classroom space!

Judy Gula signing her book; batik panels on display at Artistic Artifacts

And while we were growing, I decided to write a book! Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: 28 Quilting & Embellishing Inspirations from Around the World was launched at Quilt Market in 2019 — here’s my blog post introducing it. The ‘writing’ portion the book was hard, but making the quilts to show off the panels and sharing ideas with creative friends to showcase the many ways the panels can be used was a wonderful experience.

Our first attempt at a Creative Retreat was in 2020 – and then the pandemic hit! I was actually in India with a group when travel restrictions were imposed, flights cancelled and plans changed. At the same time, the staff at home switched gears from being a local quilt shop to an online source for fabric for the thousands of mask makers around the country! Staff and customers alike adapted to that new normal: local curbside pickup for orders placed online; limited scheduled appointments requiring masking and social distancing, JAMs and our BERNINA Mastery classes meeting via Zoom, and more.

Filming a Facebook Live demonstration

My son Kyle filming me conducting a Facebook Live demonstration.

Fortunately that experience is behind us, but we did gain lots of new followers and customers during that time. I started what has now become a weekly Facebook Live video on Saturday mornings where we share new products and techniques to inspire our creative community, and we have added a YouTube channel to save those videos for future reference. We also started our Live Sales during this time and moved to using the Artistic Artifacts CommentSold app to facilitate a better experience for our customers as well as on our end for processing your orders.

Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably at Artistic Artifacts in October 2022

Kaffe Fassett autographing his limited edition BERNINA models and greeting students; Brandon Mably (right) works with a student on fabric selection during one of the two quilt classes they led.

And somehow we get to 2022! With all our growth, it was time to update our website, phone lines, and email system. And not being one to shy away from challenges, it was decided to take on all three at one time!! And in the past several months, add in winning the Jaftex video challenge thanks to your votes (this year we’ll be hosting Scott Fortunoff as part of our prize — details to come), being one of the exclusive stops on the Quilts in Wales tour hosting Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mabley, a Creative Retreat to Italy and another one to India!

But we didn’t stop there! We started 2023 with our first ever full-store inventory and some renovations in the shop (a before and in progress pictured above). And that’s just the beginning – we have our Indian Bazaar weekend coming up where I will be able to show you all the fabulous things I found in India when I was there in November. We have a mixed media Creative Minds Summit planned for May with my good friends Liz Kettle, Libby Williamson, and Gwen Lafleur joining me for a 3-day weekend of classes. More classes on the calendar (the Zoom BERNINA Mastery worked so well we have continued it; opening the classes up to those who do not live near us and another Creative Retreat to Italy planned for September.

I’m sure I will find much more for the staff to do and to inspire you, so stay tuned. (One of our new year’s resolutions is to keep this blog updated more frequently!)

Anticipating Kaffe’s Visit

Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Wales book cover

Goodness, where does the time go? We’ve had a hectic summer at Artistic Artifacts, resulting in blog neglect… and we’re also gearing up for what promises to be a busy autumn! As our customers know, we’re so excited to have been asked to host Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably as one of just five stops on their book tour — their first visit to the US since 2019. And since Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in Wales, his 24th of the series, has just arrived in the shop, so I thought I’d share more on our plans here.

Kaffe has inspired people across the world with his colorful work in fabric, knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting and mosaic, and our long holiday weekend with he and Brandon will begin Friday, October 7 with Kaffe’s Color Inspiration Lecture (tickets still available) at 7:00 pm in Old Town Alexandria. Everyone who registers for the lecture will receive a copy of Quilts in Wales, and there will be an opportunity to have your book signed by Kaffe that evening!

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, VA

We’re thrilled to have booked the George Washington Masonic National Memorial for this exciting event — it’s a National Historic Landmark and listed on the United State government’s National Register of Historic Places. We’re sure Kaffe & Brandon will appreciate the history and architecture, and it’s across the street from our event hotel, the Hilton Alexandria Old Town (located at 1767 King Street — book your Kaffe Tour Hilton Hotel stay now.)

Artistic Artifacts will have a pop-up shop on site at the Memorial, with beautiful Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric and products such as his books, puzzles, branded notions (on the way), and more — we will even have our Kaffe Fassett Special Edition BERNINA models available for purchase that evening! (Learn more about them below.) Our two quilt design classes with Kaffe and Brandon sold out very quickly! Bubbly from Quilts in Wales with Kaffe Fassett & Brandon Mably will take place at Artistic Artifacts on Saturday, October 8, Mediterranean Hexagons from Quilts in Morocco on Sunday, October 9.

BERNINA Sit & Sew: Kaffe Fassett Hatbox Quilt

We’ll finish up our tour events with a Monday, October 10 BERNINA Sit & Sew: the Kaffe Fassett Hatbox Quilt. The project was specifically designed by Kaffe, showcasing his fabrics (pictured above is a 4-block version). This all supplies provided event will be led by our BERNINA Ambassador Kathy Lincoln and our Sit & Sew students will us the beautiful new Kaffe Special Edition models during class! There will be a short morning meet & greet appearance by Kaffe and Brandon — this BERNINA Sit & Sew is a great opportunity if you weren’t able to join their other classes: you’ll have the chance to wish them well as they depart for their next tour stop!

Limited edition BERNINA models from the collaboration with Kaffe Fassett

I attended BERNINA University 2022 last month and enjoyed the big announcement of his new partnership with BERNINA — everyone was abuzz with unveiling of these beautiful machines and to hear from Kaffe, who attended with Brandon. Visit our website to learn more about these limited edition models, available for pre-order and arriving this fall.

The new BERNINA 770 QEE PLUS Kaffe Edition and its free gifts with purchase bundle

Above, the new B770 QEE PLUS Kaffe Edition is equipped with the most advanced sewing and embroidery features,and will arrive with an exclusive free gifts package — an exclusive Kaffe Fassett fabric bundle set; a trolley in Kaffe Fassett design, dust cover in Kaffe Fassett design, and the Embroidery Module with Smart Drive Technology (SDT) that includes many decorative stitches which are exclusive to the Kaffe edition and were hand-drawn by him!

The BERNINA 475 QE Kaffe Edition

Made for makers, the B475 QE Kaffe Edition pictured above is BERNINA’s first completely colored Special Edition: a tribute to Kaffe’s art and an invitation to commit to the power of color! Despite its small size, it’s powerful enough to handle the thick layers of even your biggest quilts. Featuring exclusive Kaffe Fassett stitches and jumbo bobbin with 70% more thread, perfect precision is achieved with each stitch with speeds up to 900 stitches per minute.

We’ll have additional announcements about exciting Tour opportunities in our shop, so keep checking our newsletter and website for the latest updates. We often hear from our online customers that they’d love to visit the shop in person… if you’re one of them, naturally we think Kaffe’s visit is an ideal excuse to plan an autumn vacation to Alexandria, VA!

If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit the shop, or it has been awhile since you did, you can get a current look in my latest video tour! Please help Artistic Artifacts with the #JaftexVideoChallenge by liking and sharing this Facebook post — the winning store is the one whose video receives the most views at the end of August into very early September 2022.

Artistic Artifacts is located just minutes from the Nation’s Capitol, and both Alexandria and Washington DC offer you an abundance of history, architecture treasures, world class museums, sports, and arts activities, a perfect getaway for singles, families, quilt guilds and more. Visit Alexandria and Destination DC can help you arrange the perfect trip — we hope to see you!

Combining Colors for Quilts

Dudley is one of the Artistic Artifacts staff members, always happy to assist a customer with choosing fabrics. She has helped start many talented quilters on their way through her classes. Enjoy her thoughts on fabric selection! — Judy

Guest post by Dudley Shugart

Yellow Brick Road quilt pattern by Atkinson Design

I have been asked many times to teach a class on color theory to help people select fabrics to make a quilt. Since I am not a color wheel user, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how I go about selecting fabric for my quilts in this post.

First off, I do begin with a quilt pattern I want to use, deciding on two colors, or a particular fabric to build around.

Let’s start with my favorite quilt pattern — Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs. I have used this pattern probably more than fifty times! It is my ‘go-to’ baby quilt and other occasions when I want to gift a quilt.

Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs fabric requirements

The pattern calls for six fat quarters to make a baby quilt size. Having made many of these quilts over the years, in my opinion the quilt looks better featuring three different colors (with two different shades or variations of each of your three colors) rather than six completely different colors.

Yellow Brick Road quilt tops and quilts by Dudley Shugart
Made for Leo Madden Grandy by Dudley Shugart

For a baby quilt gift, I usually begin with a fun children’s or novelty pattern or focus fabric, then find a complementary fabric with similar colors to go with the focus fabric. I have examples of some of my Yellow Brick Road quilts included in this post, and pictured here is the one I made for a special little boy, Leo, the son of my Artistic Artifacts coworker Katelyn — her baby shower was dinosaur-themed and she was in love with this focal fabric.

After selecting the first two ‘busier’ fabric patterns, I select two colors that enhance the focus fabric I initially selected. From this point, selecting different scales of print and lights and darks add interest too. As a personal rule, I try never to use the same print twice. Also, I like to not use fabrics from the same fabric collection or line if I can get away with it!

Fabrics selected by Dudley Shugart perfect for a Yellow Brick Road baby quilt.

I took a trip through Artistic Artifacts to assemble this example six-fabrics selection that would be the basis of a beautiful Yellow Brick Road quilt. Of course many other quilt patterns, or repeats of your favorite patchwork block patterns, would look great with fabrics like these too.

Fabrics from Artistic Artifacts

Fabrics from Artistic Artifacts

  • Fabric four: Another green. After trying out several, I ended up with Hopscotch- Stitched, Pickle. It’s the perfect lighter shade of green to accent the trees in my focus fabric, and the white line pattern has a fun interpretation of flower and leaves.
  • Fabric five: Now to bring in black, for contrast. Another Australian Aborigine-designed fabric was my choice: Land of Utopia Black by Anna Pitjara is a beautiful fabric with visual flow.
  • Fabric six: The blender line Moonscape by Dear Stella is a real favorite here in the shop — it goes with so many fabrics. Asphalt is a new color choice for us, a nice medium gray.

The three pairs of fabric colors I discussed earlier are, in this instance, white, green, and black. Remember too that variation of print is as important as color for the final effect.

Yellow Brick Road quilts and quilt tops made by Dudley Shugart

And here’s an additional tip. You’ll know you have a successful combination when you move the fabric bolts or swatches around in order on your cutting table or work surface, and the fabrics still look good together. If you find that you’re considering a fabric that only looks good paired with one other fabric, and/or with a shift in order it stands out, try again.

Dudley Shugart's curated Fat Quarter Bundles

When Artistic Artifacts staff created their own curated 10 fat quarter cut bundles to sell during our April 28 Facebook/CommentSold live sale event (some still available in our CommentSold store), I expanded the six-fabric idea to create mine.

We were challenged to mix lines and designers, even to incorporate fabrics on sale and to consider bolts that hadn’t gotten enough attention when released, not just the newest arrivals. Here are my thoughts behind my selections.

The fabrics in Dudley Shugart’s curated Fat Quarter Bundles

This is my approach, and it is just one way to explore combining colors. Remember that your projects are yours, so choose fabric you love!

Yellow Brick road quilt top in progress by Dudley Shugart

Above, while I focused on the baby quilt size of Yellow Brick Road, the instructions are included to create six different sizes — it’s an easy pattern to stitch and gives you a fun scrappy look.

Modern Squares Quilt 2022

Creative Mind Chris Vinh has created another beautiful quilt while giving our free pattern Modern Squares (which she designed) an update. Enjoy her guidance in creating your own version! — Judy

Guest post by Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts

Click image to download your free Modern Squares quilt pattern courtesy of Artistic Artifacts

Finding some special fabric often sparks an idea for a new quilt. I’d had my eye on the “Earth Made Paradise” collection by Kathy Doughty and one day I decided to revisit a pattern design I had used for some shop samples several years ago. As I worked on the project, I made some changes to my initial pattern used for the first quilts I made, which we used in our booth at Quilt Market to showcase fabrics current at the time.

Our updated “Modern Squares” pattern — download your PDF copy — instructs you to pick two feature fabrics, 6 to 8 additional fabrics, and one (1) solid color for your quilt top (border not included). For the feature fabrics, I chose one (1) yard each of Abundance in cool colorway and Budgie Babies, and half-yards of the rest of the Earth Made Paradise Collection. I chose my one (1) yard solid color fabric from the wide variety of Marcia Derse Palette Solids, Cloud (a creamy white)

Cutting squares and strips of Earth Made Paradise fabric designed by Kathy Doughty

Following the pattern’s cutting directions, I cut the required squares and strips from the feature fabrics (pictured above). I used the entire yard of the solid for 2-inch strips, and for the half yard pieces, cut two 8-inch squares and then the rest into 2-inch strips.

Having cut all the fabric, I laid out the 8-inch squares and selected two different fabric strips to go with each square, making sure to vary the combinations. There will be some duplication, but variety was what I was aiming for as I played with the options.

Using the BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and Sew Steady Grid Glider for piecing accuracy

The blocks were pieced using the squares and strips using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. I love using my BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and the Sew Steady Grid Glider to help in making sure my seams are straight!

I use the full width of the fabric for the strips and trim the extra before pressing at each step of the piecing. This is where a Oliso Mini Project Iron and Felted Wool Pressing Mat come in handy!

While I usually strip piece when sewing patchwork, for this project I made one square at a time, which helped me to keep track of my fabric selections.

Constructing the blocks for the Modern Squares quilt

In piecing the blocks, it is important to keep the same sequence of adding the strips — first to the left and right of the block, and then the top and bottom. Use the same order/sequence when adding your second row fabric strips.

Following the same order for all squares will make for nicer finished blocks when you piece the quilt together.

Once all the blocks were sewn, I squared them up to make sure they were all the same size.

The next step is to cut each block into four smaller blocks by cutting in half from top to bottom, and then turning to cut again. Using my 12-inch OLFA Rotating Self-Healing Rotary Mat came in handy here — I didn’t have to reposition the pieces as I cut. Following our pattern, you will end up with a total of 92 blocks.

Pieced blocks before cutting into fourths

For me, the next phase of laying out the blocks to create the design is the fun part! I find I can get lost for hours repositioning blocks to get just the right layout. I focus on making sure there is a balance of color and pattern, trying not to have similar blocks next to each other. I knew this would be larger than my design wall, so I used the top of our bed to lay out the pieces.

Some may decide to lay the smaller blocks out randomly, but I chose to start with placing four of the smaller blocks from the same large one near the center. I then worked my way out towards the sides and tops, adding partial blocks in some case, only a single block in others, or adding several more ‘complete’ blocks to get a design that was pleasing.

At this point, I recommend taking a picture of what you think is the final layout and stepping away from your design process. Often I see something that stands out in the picture that may need to be moved around to assure a good flow of colors and patterns. This may take several tries, but it is worth the extra effort!

Laying out the completed blocks to finalize the quilt’s design

Once I have decided on my layout, I carefully stack the blocks by row. I begin with the top row, with the block that would be located at the far right side placed on the bottom. When I get to the last two blocks for that row, I pin the second block to the first where the seam should be. This helps to keep the blocks in proper sequence. I number each stack with a Post-It, adding an arrow indicating which direction is the top of the block.

I like to sew the rows together as I go along, referring to my photo, in the event that I might have turned a block or not sewn in the right sequence. If it’s necessary, it’s much easier to rip out one row at that point!

For the layout in my sample, there are seven (7) small blocks across each row, and a total of 10 rows. I never fret over left over blocks as they get pieced for use in the backing (see photo at the end of this post)!

At this point, I decided to add a border with a complementary fabric, and chose Dear Stella Moonscape in Burgundy (Moonscape is a favorite blender fabric of mine!). It helped to contain a busy quilt a bit and pulled out colors in the several of the fabrics. I purchased 1-1/2 yards of this fabric, as the remainder would be used to piece my backing.

Completed Modern Squares quilt, designed and pieced by Christine Vinh, featuring Earth Made Paradise fabric from Kathy Doughty. Machine quilted by Sue Bentley

Above, the completed Modern Squares quilt, designed & pieced
by Christine Vinh, featuring Earth Made Paradise fabric
from Kathy Doughty. Machine quilted by Sue Bentley.

For the backing, I used all leftover blocks, any leftover uncut focus fabrics, and the Dear Stella. My quilt’s binding is from one of my focus fabric. My only scraps from this quilt project fit into a zip-loc bag!

For the final finishing touch, Sue Bentley of SuZquilts added the perfect machine quilting to my quilt, as she always does!

This pattern is a modification of Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt, a free pattern by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting. Visit our previous blog posting to see Erica Jackman’s original version that used precut fabric bundles, a lap quilt that finished to 68 in. x 76 in.
The pieced backing of Chris Vinh's Modern Squares quilt

Above, a view of my Modern Squares quilt — I love to piece my quilt backings (they are an improv quilt on their own) and this was a perfect use of leftover fabric squares.