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Modern Squares Quilt Tutorial

Modern Squares Quilt designed and quilted by Christine Vinh for Arttistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal
Modern Squares quilt in cool colors created by Chris Vinh for Artistic Artifacts

It’s not too late to create a quilt as a welcome holiday gift if you pick the right pattern! We wanted to re-share this popular tutorial. Designed, pieced and quilted by Christine Vinh, whenever these quilts have been on display, people have raved (including when it was on display in our International Quilt Festival booth a few years ago).

Chris has a beautiful instinct for mixing colors and patterns, and combined fabrics, including from our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik collection, to create both the above pictured quilt as well as a cool color version shown here — she says this is one of her favorite patterns. Here’s how to make your own!

Modern Squares Quilt Pattern

Designed and quilted by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

Modern Squares Quilts designed and quilted by Christine Vinh for Arttistic Artifacts

This pattern is a modification of Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt, a free pattern by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting. For the Artistic Artifacts version, Chris reduced the measurements to 8-inch squares and 2-inch strips.

Fabrics from Frond Design and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik to create the Modern Squares Quilt

Instead of using the Jelly Rolls and Layer Cake fabrics that Erica used for this Moda project, Chris cut the fabrics she wanted to use from yardage. This is a great option for using fabrics you love — but feel free to take advantage of the convenience of precut fabrics as described by Erica.

The following are details to get you started — use our instructions for cutting (download a PDF to print for reference) — and review Erica’s tutorial for Moda Bake Shop as necessary for sewing and placement.

Our Modern Squares Quilts are made up of 23 squares, using one large square and two pairs of strips for borders around each square. Fabric requirements for a lap quilt, approximately 56 inches x 64 inches:

Cutting 2-inch strips the width of the fabric

  • 1 yard each of two (2) focus fabrics (as mentioned, we used fabrics from Frond Design and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik)
  • 1 yard white
  • ½ yard of 6-8 fabrics
  • ½ yard fabric for binding
  • 2 yards fabric for backing

Cutting:

From the two focus fabrics and the white fabric, cut 2 (two) 8- inch strips and 2-4 (two to four) 2-inch strips the width of the fabric (WOF).

modernsquare8in

  • Cut one of the 8 inch strips into 5 (five) 8-inch squares.
  • From the second 8-inch strip, cut 2 (two) 8-inch squares
    • and then 4 (four) 2-inch strips from the remaining width of strip long.

From your assorted ½ yards of fabrics, cut 2-inch strips, or a combination of 8-inch strips cut into blocks and strips.

If you have chosen fabrics with stripes, cut the fabric with the stripes running the length of the strip.

Modern Quilt Squares block completed

Once cut, randomly select one 8-inch square and two sets of different fabric strips to create each block. Vary the selections so your blocks will all be different.

Sewing the Quilt Top:

Erica chose to cut the strips for inner and outer borders around the square; Chris instead used her WOF strips, and trimmed them square to the block as she proceeded.

An assortment of completed Modern Quilt Squares blocks

Sew two strips to top and bottom of a square, press, trim. Repeat the process of sewing the same fabric strip to the opposite sides, creating a square within a square.

Repeat these steps for the second border.

Once all squares are sewn (assortment shown here), cut each square in half vertically, and then in half again horizontally.

With the horizontal cut, you will then have 4 (four) identical quadrants of your original square.

Cutting a completed Modern Quilt Squares block into halves vertically Cutting the Modern Quilt Squares block horizontally for four identical blocks

Designing the Modern Quilts Squares layout

Once all of the blocks are sewn and cut, the real fun begins! Lay out the blocks into a rectangle eight (8) columns wide by nine (9) rows tall using your design wall or open floor space.

Chris used a placement that used a selection of both the Frond fabric blocks and the Batik Tambal Exclusive fabric as “whole” squares, to feature the fabric. Carefully arranging the other quarter squares around these intact blocks is what gives the stacked illusion.

You could also choose to be completely random without having any “whole” blocks. The design is all up to you!

Identifying and sorting your blocks and rows as you begin to sew

Once you have an arrangement you love, mark/sort your blocks in whatever method you’d like so that your layout will be intact.

Sew your rows together using a standard ¼-inch seam allowance.

The Artistic Artifacts sample is borderless, but you may add one or more borders if you desire.

Finishing:

Note that you will end up with some unused strips and small blocks. Erica suggests that these be pieced together to add interest to your backing fabric (see her photograph below).

Once your top is layered with batting and backing fabric, machine or hand quilt as desired.

Use leftover fabric from the yardage to piece your binding, or you may choose to use a complementary fabric. Bind your quilt using your choice of techniques.

Below, Erica Jackman’s original version, a lap quilt that finished to 68 in. x 76 in.

Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting

Simply Style Stacked Squares Quilt by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting;
photographs courtesy of the Moda Cutting Table blog.

The reverse of Erica Jackman’s quilt, which shows how she used her leftover blocks to accent her quilt backing fabric.

Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt (reverse) by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting

   • Print/PDF version of Erica’s tutorial for Moda Bake Shop »

 

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A Special Anniversary…

Mixed media art assemblage created by Judy Gula to celebrate her parents 50th wedding anniversary
Judy Gula sharing her mixed media art and quilts at the March 2019 Judy's Altered Minds meeting

We are holding an anniversary for my parents tonight, November 23, 2019. Chet and Pat Vincentz have been married for 60 years! As pictured above, one of the treasured items decorating the room is the mixed media assemblage I created as a gift for their 50th Anniversary.

In March of this year I presented a collection of my mixed media and art quilts to JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds) and enjoyed sharing the story of this piece, and others I have created, with the group.

Detail, 50th Anniversary mixed media art by Judy Gula

Describing and sharing photographs of this special artwork was one of my earliest blog posts and 10 years later, I want to share it again with you as I celebrate another of my parents’ milestone anniversaries!

50th Wedding Anniversary
Orginally published January 23, 2010

My parents 50th Wedding Anniversary was in late November. I am very close with my parents, both geographically and emotionally. Many of you have met my Mom while vending at shows, but might not know that I worked with my father for over 20 years.

Detail, 50th Anniversary mixed media art by Judy Gula

I have great love, respect and admiration that they successfully stayed married, started and grew a business while raising three kids.

And I think they still love each other!

So they deserved a special anniversary gift. I had a vision a couple of years before their anniversary and began gathering stuff, some with emotional meaning and others that worked with my vision.

We have only four photos of my parent’s reception from an old pocket camera. Copies of these photos are collaged to the back of the clock case, and one is stepped out. Some of the meaning behind the embellishments:

  • My Mom’s birthday is June = the pearls.
  • We vacationed at the beach each and every year in August =the shells.
  • My father raced Porsches professionally for many years = the monopoly race cars.
  • My parents now spend the month of February in Florida = pink sea shells.

Later we added the drawer to hold anniversary cards, photos and documents.



Mixed media art assemblage created by Judy Gula to celebrate her parents 50th wedding anniversary

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Block Printed Wonky Scrap Quilt

Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Pictured above is one of my most recent complete projects, my block printed wonky scrap quilt. I love it! This is the largest quilt I’ve made featuring block printing (see info links at the end of this post). Click to view larger photo »

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

It was beautifully quilted by Susan Bentley of suZquilts. I’m always so pleased with when I receive my quilts back!

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Most of my log cabin blocks in this quilt feature the block print as the center, and you can also see some block printed fabrics in the rows. I have a never ending supply of block printed fabric scraps, from the many, many block printing demonstrations I’ve held over the years while vending at quilt and art shows, teaching classes here and the shop, etc.

Wonky Log Cabin block for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

And of course, as a fiber artist of many years now, I have a ton of fabric scraps! This quilt features a wide range of the beautiful Modern Cottons we feature in the shop. Leftovers from a quilt project, strips remaining from the bolt end of a sold out fabric — no scrap goes to waste!

Wonky Log Cabin block for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

I love wonky, and letting the fabrics dictate the size and shape of the blocks. If you haven’t tried wonky log cabin piecing, I have previously recommended a post from the blog Quilt Dad — he created a wonderful Wonky Log Cabin tutorial that is illustrated with step by step photos, making the process so easy.

Designing the layout for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

So after stitching together a pile of blocks, it’s time to figure out a layout. Rather than squaring mine up and seaming them together precisely, I played around with layouts using my studio floor (forgive the uneven lighting) for a design wall. I knew I would “fill in” the gaps with a unifying fabric.

Designing the layout for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Above, more layout decisions, and the beginnings of stitching together block units.

Wonky log cabin block unit for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Trim straight edges on your blocks and rows to seam together. Because these are intentionally wonky, there is no worry of pattern or block matching.

Trimming wonky log cabin block units, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Working improvisationally is a lot of fun, and is a great exercise in thinking creatively as you use the scraps you have, a variety of block sizes, and make it all come together.

Completing and laying out wonky log cabin block units, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Here’s my introduction to block printing that includes additional links if you’d like to explore this art form further. Artistic Artifacts carries a large variety of wooden printing blocks that are hand-carved in India. We also have our own line of textile paint, which gives you beautiful results on fabrics (and other surfaces) and can be easily heat set for permanence — you can wash and dry your quilt and the colors will stay bright and true.

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

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Quilters’ Quest & Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts filled with Quilters' Quest 2019 shoppers

Quilters’ Quest is a free annual shop hop event that encourages fiber artists to explore quilt shops located in Maryland and Northern Virginia over the course of 10 days. Artistic Artifacts was delighted to be invited to participate this year for the first time and our shop in Alexandria, VA was added to the roster! The 2019 dates were October 11 through October 20.

Shoppers admiring the Artistic Artifacts quilt created using Quest Cuts from the 2019 Quilters' Quest Shop Hop event

Book Room Stylish was selected as the 2019 color theme, with traditional colors in hues of blue, green, red, and brown. Each participating shop created Quest Cuts, a set of six 10 in. fabric squares coordinating with the theme. We used our beautiful and unique Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik for our packs! Shoppers could earn a free Quest Cut pack with a purchase of $40, or you could purchase it for $6.00 (limit two packs per in-store customer). Each shop designed an exclusive quilt (using some or all 60 Quest Cuts squares that could be collected throughout the Quest), offering a free copy of their quilt patterns. Pictured above are shoppers admiring the Artistic Artifacts quilt.

Artistic Artifacts welcomed so many new quilters and friends during Quilters' Quest

We enjoyed preparing the store for this event and have had so much fun meeting so many new quilters and friends! Each participating chartered a bus (or two!) for their customers’ convenience — purchasing your seat on the bus meant you saw all participating shops in two days while leaving the stress of driving and traffic to a professional!

Bus chartered by the Traditions of the White Swan shop in Hagerstown, MD full of Quilters' Quest shoppers

When the busses were due (pictured above are customers of Traditions of the White Swan in Hagerstown, MD), it was all hands on deck for staff!

Quilters' Quest shoppers at Artistic Artifacts

During the Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop we demonstrated block printing, letting shoppers have a try at using our hand-carved wooden printing blocks and our Artistic Artifacts textile paint for surface design.

For Quilters' Quest Shop Hop we demonstrated block printing with our hand-carved wooden printing blocks and our Artistic Artifacts textile paint.

We thank our volunteers who stepped up to help with with demonstrations, stamping Quilters’ Quest passports and more — we couldn’t have done it without you!

Helping a customer select fabric during Quilters' Quest 2019

Above, our Australian Aborigine-designed fabric and Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander in Orangeade were the perfect complement to one shoppers batik log cabin blocks — we hope she shares a photograph of her finished quilt with us!

Fabric and batik panels on display at Artistic Artifacts

Above, seasonal fabric display and hand-drawn Indonesian batik panels available at Artistic Artifacts.

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My Italian Vacation Journal

An inside spread from art journal created in Italy by Artistic Artifact's Judy Gula

This summer I was thrilled to embark on the first Artistic Artifacts creative retreat, headquartered in Ischia di Castro, Italy, an amazing medieval city approximately one hour northwest of Rome. The artistic goal was create custom art journals — one of my page spreads is shown above and I include additional images here.

Everyone on the tour had accommodations in apartments in the village, and gathered each morning for a variety of mixed media lessons to create original and layered journal pages.

Our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints used with wooden printing blocks and on gel printing plates

All the necessary supplies were shipped ahead to Italy and were waiting for everyone to play! Above, our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints used with wooden printing blocks and on gel printing plates.

Mixed media art supplies available during the Artistic Artifacts creative tour of Ischia di Castro, Italy

Above, a variety of rubber stamps and ink pads, as well as a variety of pens, markers and more (including Gelatos).

Students working during the Artistic Artifacts creative tour of Italy
Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts used Kraft-Tex for her journal cover

I taught my students my favorite journal format, as shown in a previous blog post. My cover is shown here — I cut a piece longer than my page spreads intentionally, so the extra (seen right) can wrap around to the front to form a closing flap. My journal is tied shut with sari silk ribbon.

One key difference from journal I’ve featured in in the past was the substitution of Kraft-Tex Kraft Paper Fabric for the cover. I had previously used and loved Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth, but unfortunately it has been discontinued by the manufacturer. The Kraft-Tex took paint and ink beautifully and was easy to sew (to bind the page signatures), and has a wonderful, leather-like feel — it’s ideal for a journal cover!

Click through this gallery to see my journal pages (shown randomly). I wanted mostly Madonnas, as there were many in Italy — and beautiful! St. Francis slipped in there too (we can always use a Saint on our side).

 

After our morning studio sessions, we spent our afternoons and evening with guided tours, sightseeing and of course delicious authentic Italian cuisine. One visit was to the town of Fabriano, where papermaking was demonstrated for us in a private tour: fascinating! We all gathered ephemera from these excursions to include in our journals.

A favorite afternoon excursions was to The Tarot Garden envisioned by Niki de Saint Phalle (she was assisted by a large team of master craftsmen) and located in Tuscany. You can see images of some of her beautiful outdoor sculptural art featured in my journal pages. Here are a few photographs I took in the garden. (In the photo captioned Wheel of Fortune, my husband Dave Gula is seated with me in front of The High Priestess; the Wheel of Fortune is to the right.) What a beautiful, inspirational day!

 

Traveling is really inspiring to your art and soul. I’m looking forward to my block printing tour in India in March 2020 — there’s room for you to join me too!

The 2020 Italian Creative Retreat will take place in September and will focus on stitching. One of my best friends, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, will be joining me for this exciting trip! Email Italian Cultural Tours to indicate your interest in traveling with us in 2020! Details will be posted on the Artistic Artifacts website as they are finalized.

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