Cut Straight, Sew Straight

Connections quilt pieced by Christine Vinh

        Post by Christine Vinh for Artistic Artifacts

In early August, the Artistic Artifacts Facebook Live, Cut Straight, Sew Straight with Stripology Rulers was all about using the right tools for cutting and sewing your quilts, featuring both Creative Grids Rulers along with other useful tools and notions — you can watch our archived presentation on our YouTube channel. I showed two projects using GE Design patterns and the rulers in early stages, a lap quilt using the Coral pattern and a Lil’ JoJo Table Runner. Both projects used fabrics from the Connections collection by Maria Carluccio for Windham Fabrics and are now finished to share with you!

Products used in the ut Straight, Sew Straight with Stripology Rulers presentation

The Coral quilt pattern is from Stripology Mixology by Gundrun Erla and the Lap Quilt size calls for 42 10-inch. Squares. The Connections Fat Quarter Bundle has 18 pieces so I used some of the backing fabric to make up the difference.

Cutting the Connections by Maria Carluccio fabric

Using the Creative Grids Stripology XL ruler, I was able to get two (2) 10-inch squares per fat quarter. For the background fabric, I chose Dear Stella’s Moonscape in Bellini.

The Connections quilt blocks in progress

The directions in all of the GEDesign patterns are very clear as to cutting specifics, assembly, and pressing directions. I like to use DecoBob 80 wt thread for piecing, as it allows the seams to lay flatter when pressed. It’s one of the many quality products by WonderFil Specialty Threads.

Planning the layout of the Connections quilt

I then laid the blocks out according to the layouts shown in the pattern and played a little to get a pleasing blend of colors and patterns before sewing the horizontal rows together and added the border fabric. Once finalized, then it was off to the quilter to work her magic! Susan Bentley of suZquilts always finds the best quilt pattern and thread color to go with the quilt design and fabric!

Sewing on the Connections quilt binding

I had already picked the Connections Color Story 108 in. wideback for the backing and Strokes, Brown for the binding. The Master Your Stripology Rulers by Gudrun Erla came in handy when cutting the binding strips at 2.25 in., with specific instructions on how to cut with the Stripology Squared Ruler that has markings at the half inch. Just one of the many helpful tips found in this new book!

Just imagine lying under those positive affirmations included in the Colorstory backing! The completed quilt:

The completed quilt by Christine Vinh using Connections fabric and the Coral quilt pattern

Never one to let such beautiful fabric go to waste, I used much of the leftover fabric to cut the smaller blocks for the Lil’ JoJo pattern (below) using the new Stripology Quarters Mini Creative Grids Ruler.

Sewing on the Connections quilt binding


Fabrics used in my projects:



Make Your Mark with Mixed Media!

Pens, inks, paper and more for mixed media on display at Artistic Artifacts

The goal of Artistic Artifacts is to be the source of Creative Finds for Creative Minds, and today we ask — are you ready to make your mark with surface design techniques and mixed media art? Whether you are a beginner or an expert, Artistic Artifacts has everything you need to unleash your creativity. In addition to being an authorized BERNINA dealer and known for our wide selection of fabrics for the sewing and quilting enthusiast, we have a wide selection of products and materials for beginning and experienced artists!

Use stencils or wooden printing blocks for surface design

Above left, TCW stencils are a fun way to add patterns and textures to your art — apply to fabric, paper, stretched canvases, art journals, and so much more. We have a variety of stencils from TCW that you can mix and match to create your own unique designs. And right now (and for a limited time) if you buy four new stencils in any combination of 12 in. x 12 in. or 6 in. x 6 in. sizes, we will add a surprise 6 in. stencil to your order for free! (Clearance stencils are excluded from this offer.)

Add dimension and shine with TCW Stencil Butters

Another way to enhance your art with stencils is using Stencil Butters from TCW. These are creamy pastes that have a metallic shimmer and can be applied through stencils or with a brush or palette knife. They add texture and sheen to your art and work well on a variety of surfaces.

Hand carved wooden printing blocks and Artistic Artifacts textile paints

We also carry beautiful wooden printing blocks, available as single designs and in themed sets. Hand carved for us by artisans in India who are continuing this heritage art form, our blocks are not only great for printing, but also for displaying as art pieces themselves.

Artistic Artifacts textile paints

Artistic Artifacts Textile Paints are available in two varieties. Our heavy-bodied textile paint (above left) is ideal for block printing and screen printing and are available in opaque, pearlescent, and transparent finishes and a lovely range of colors. Our Fluid Textile Paints (right) were created to be the perfect paint for monoprinting on gel plates: easy flow consistency right out of the squeeze bottle, high pigmentation that mixes beautifully, and permanent on fabrics with heat setting.

Use wooden printing blocks on fabric and paper

Our wooden blocks and Artistic Artifacts Textile Paints are not only for fabric, but also for paper, wood, leather, and other porous surfaces. You can use them to create beautiful cards, journals, collages, scrapbooks, and more. As shown above, wone of our favorite things to do is to print on the ephemera in our Found Paper Collage Packs, which contain vintage papers from around the world that you can use as collage fodder.

Monoprinting on Gel Press printing plates with Artistic Artifacts paint

Pictured above right, a Gel Press representative demonstrating at the 2022 International Quilt Festival using Artistic Artifacts paint. Gel Press Printing Plates are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, including the large 12 in. x 14 in. size, ideal for surface design and fabric printing: Create your own custom textiles for quilts, garments, home décor and more! Easy to use and clean, Gel Press plates capture an incredible amount of texture and details due to the sensitive polygel surface.

Artistic Artifacts textile paint used in monoprinting on a Gel Press plate

Monoprinting is a fun and easy technique that allows you to make unique prints with different colors, shapes, and textures. All you need is your choice of Gel Press plate, some paint or ink, a a brayer or other tool, and some stencils and stamps, textures such as bubble wrap or sequin waste and soft tools like rollers and scrapers to create impressions on the plate. Then you just press your fabric or paper onto the plate, rub gently, and lift the print. You will be amazed by the results!

Select Seth Apter stamps on sale now

We recently shared that select Seth Apter stamps are now on clearance (and going fast so shop now) as well as Cover-a-Card brand. Use rubber stamps with acrylic stamp mounts for exact, detailed impressions, or without a mount to get bits and pieces of the design for more abstract images.

Gwen Lafleur stamp sets from PaperArtsy

We are also proud to offer gorgeous stamp sets from Gwen Lafleur, created from her hand-drawn images. Gwen’s stamps are versatile and can be used on their own or combined and layered to make backgrounds for art journal pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards or your own collage papers.

Choose from a variety of stamp pads and ink formulations

We have a wide range of Stamp & Ink Pads for different uses and effects. Whether you want to stamp on fabric or paper, use heat embossing or watercolor techniques, or create vibrant or subtle colors, we have the right ink for you.

Click for the Artistic Artifacts video tutorial Embossing Powder Seals with Gwen Lafleur

Home to a wealth of fiber and mixed media demonstrations and tutorials, visit our YouTube channel to learn how to make faux wax seals from Gwen using her Boho Blends powders and rubber stamps, plus a technique to create marbled effects.

Mark your calendars for our 2024 Creative Minds Summit, April 19, 20 & 21, 2024 at our shop in Alexandria, VA.


Join Me for Creative Retreats


Plan to join us for the 2024 Creative Minds Summit! If you want to learn from some of the best mixed media artists in the world, mark your calendars for April 19, 20 & 21, 2024. By popular demand, Gwen Lafleur, Liz Kettle, and Libby Williamson will be returning for our second edition, joining me for what promises to be another amazing event — we’ll have more information for you soon!

Student work created in Italy while on a Creative Retreat with Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

As recently mentioned in our newsletter last week, if you are looking for an unforgettable artistic adventure, join here’s room to join me and Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution for our September 25–October 2 session in Ischia di Castro, Northern Italy! You will get to explore the beautiful Italian countryside, visit historic sites and museums, enjoy delicious food and wine, and of course create stunning mixed media art in a relaxed and inspiring setting. Above are pages from the art journal that one of our students started during last fall’s Creative Retreat. Don’t they look amazing? Contact Lewis Gautieri of Italian Culture Tours to reserve your spot for this dream vacation!


Meet Seth Apter!


Click to buy your ticket for an Evening with Seth Apter, Friday, September 8, 2023 at Artistic Artifacts

P.S. Mixed media artist Seth Apter is a surface design master, and his Storyboard fabric collection has just arrived! And if you live near us (or will be vacationing or working in the metropolitan DC area on Friday, September 8, you can hear, directly from Seth, how he created the artwork that FreeSpirit Fabrics digitally converted into 100% cotton fabric! We’ll have special shopping hours after 5:00 pm, appetizers & drinks, extra discounts to accompany Seth’s lecture, including a quilt trunk show and Q&A! Visit our website for details and to purchase your ticket »

Fun with ByAnnie!

Katherine Nichols’ completed Travel Essentials 2.0 bag with the pattern from ByAnnie

Join me in welcoming Katherine Nichols to the staff of Artistic Artifacts — I’m happy she’s sharing her experience of creating a ByAnnie bag with us!

     Guest post by Katherine Nichols

The Travel Essentials 2.0 bag pattern from ByAnnie is the perfect project to show off Anna Marie Horner’s Echinacea fabric and Kaffe Fassett’s 85 and Fabulous Blue Chevron print. With the happy prints, accent zippers, and specialty stitching, the bag really stands out. While the bag is perfect for travel, it could also be used to carry hand stitching and sewing supplies. The mesh pocket would be perfect for threading your spools of thread through to contain the spools while on the road, and other pockets can contain paper piecing templates, glue sticks, scissors, tools, and supplies.

Katherine Nichols’ completed Travel Essentials 2.0 bag with the pattern from ByAnnie

This bag was my first experience sewing a ByAnnie pattern and I’m really pleased with the professional looking finished product. The inside seams are finished, hardware is conveniently attached to make the bag very serviceable, and the ByAnnie Soft and Stable stabilizer provides the bag with its shape. The Travel Essentials pattern is clearly written, has diagrams for each step, and provides links to helpful online tutorials for certain steps. I recommend this pattern for an experienced intermediate or advanced sewist.

Artistic Artifacts has the fabric and all the other supplies needed for the bag, as well as BERNINA machines and presser feet. I used my BERNINA B570 QE, which worked beautifully. I wanted to share a few tips if you’d like to make your own:

Supplies — I needed all the supplies listed in the instructions, including a nonstick/Teflon presser foot, Wonder Clips, removable marking tools in both a light and dark color, a stiletto, washable glue, and a fabric tube turning tool and bodkin.

Labeled fabric cuts for Travel Essentials 2.0 bag pattern from ByAnnieCutting — The Echinacea print is directional, so I was careful to cut with the design oriented vertically. I centered the chevron print. The pattern includes a sheet of labels to cut out and pin to each piece as you cut it, and it’s very important that you label the many pieces. (I’ve included a photo of what my labeled cut and quilted pieces looked like.)

Quilting — I used my BERNINA walking foot to do the quilting for the main body and some pocket pieces. I marked a vertical line in the center of the pieces to be quilted, quilted that line with the walking foot, and then used the guide bar included with the walking foot to evenly space the other lines of quilting. I used a stitch length of 3.25, and the walking foot made quilting through the foam very easy. Both quilted pieces were larger than needed, so I was able to center the fabric designs on the pieces as I cut them out.

Details of the Travel Essentials 2.0 bag using the pattern from ByAnnie

Sewing with Vinyl — Two of the pockets are made from vinyl, which can stick to your machine feed dogs and presser feet while sewing. When sewing with vinyl on the top (fabric or zipper tape underneath), use a BERNINA presser foot with a non-stick sole such as a #52/52C/52D zigzag foot or #53 straight stitch foot. When you sew with the vinyl on the bottom, stitch through a piece tissue paper placed under your work to prevent the vinyl from sticking to your machine bed. The tissue will easily tear off after stitching. I used one full sheet of tissue paper for this project.

Decorative Stitching — I added decorative stitching to the Pocket D Border piece (which shows on the outside of the bag), and the Pocket E Facing piece (which shows on the inside). I tested several of the decorative stitches on my machine, and decided on stitch #167 because I didn’t have to worry about centering the stitching design on the pieces. I used a 12wt thread (examples include solid colored Spagetti and variegated Fruitti from WonderFil Specialty Threads) and a size 100 needle to make the stitching more visible, and inserted heavyweight stabilizer under that fabric as I stitched.

Below are photos of the Travel Essentials bag hanging both closed and open, plus a shot of me at my machine sewing it. I enjoyed making this, and as a bonus, I have enough fabric, stabilizers, and hardware left to make a ByAnnie Clam Up zippered pouch!

Completed Travel Essentials 2.0 bag both open and closed, sewn from a ByAnnie pattern.

Island Vacation by Denise Burkitt

My excitement when the latest fabric collection from Denise Burkitt arrived in the shop was off the charts — and I wasn’t alone! I’ve asked Chris to share her thoughts on her latest quilt project — she was the first recipient of our new fabric kit to make Island Vacation Basket Weave Quilt.

Some Tips on Making the Island Vacation Basket Weave Quilt

     Guest post by Christine Vinh

I knew when I first saw the Basket Weave Quilt at the Trunk Show in May when Scott Fortunoff, President of Jaftex (the parent company of FreeSpirit Fabrics) visited the shop that I wanted to make the quilt using the complimentary pattern from Free Spirit Fabrics.

Christine Vinh loving the new Island Vacation by Denise Burkitt fabrics

After fondling the fabric when it arrived at Artistic Artifacts, I downloaded the pattern and cut the required amount of the beautiful designs that make up the Island Vacation collection by Denise Burkitt. Above, the fabrics that make up the Artistic Artifacts quilt kit so you can create your own.

Island Vacation fabric strips to make the Basket Weave quilt, a complimentary pattern from FreeSpirit Fabrics

Following the Weave Blocks Table in the pattern, I then cut required number of squares and rectangles for one block at a time. I started with Block 4, which required enough cut pieces for four blocks. It was easier to start with the four blocks to get the pattern steps down and decide how to best piece the blocks.

Reviewing the Island Vaction Basket Weave quilt pattern

After reading the entire pattern and cutting instructions, I chose to cut the 4½ inch strips the WOF (width of fabric), but not to sub-cut into the squares and rectangles all at one time. I preferred to cut for each block design as I went.

Piecing components of the blocks that make up the Island Vacation Basket Weave quilt

Once I was ready to piece, it was easy to string piece the number of 4½ inch squares and rectangles as well as the 2-inch squares and rectangles. I used my BERNINA #97D foot and the Sew Steady Easy Glide Mat  to chain piece the block components.

Careful pressing and Wonder Clips make the quilt go together precisely

Careful pressing towards the rectangles made piecing the strips together much easier, allowing the seams to butt together. And using the Mini Wonder Clips made the piecing of the strips go smoothly. Before I knew it, the first four blocks were done! Each of the other block combinations required fewer blocks, so it all went together quickly after that.

Continuing to piece the Island Vacation Backet Weave quilt

When I put the blocks together, I did repress the horizontal rows, again to be sure I was able to butt the seams together. I was not able to do that for piecing the rows together, but since I had used DecoBob 80 wt thread in my bobbin and top thread, the seams were fairly flat and stitched together well.

Quilt blocks that make up the Basket Weave top

I added the border rows to finish the quilt top, which is now off to our quilter, Susan Bentley, who will work her magic with her long arm machine. Below, FreeSpirit Fabrics’ photograph of the Island Vacation Basket Weave quilt.

Basket Weave quilt featuring Island Vacation by Denise Burkitt, a free quilt pattern from FreeSpirit Fabrics

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