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Making Handmade Cards

Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts demonstrating how to add foil accents to handmade cards

This summer at the shop we’ve been sharing ideas for handmade gifts and décor for the holidays. Manufacturers ship their seasonal fabrics in the early summer, and we have some beautiful ones available for you! Their arrival was the catalyst for our “don’t get your tinsel in a tangle” attitude — beginning holiday projects during the summer and knowing your homemade gift list is taken care of already really reduces end of the year stress! Visit the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel for these archived videos of our Saturday morning Facebook Live presentations, including my demonstration (pictured here) of using foil products and my Holiday Paper vintage paper collage pack and more to make mixed media cards.

A foiled card example and supplies from Artistic Artifacts

Along with new cards created this year, I’m sharing from past blog postings as we celebrate our Summer Start = Holiday Peace concept.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I often use gel printing plates to create layered backgrounds (see my post A Peek at Gel Plate Printing for more on monoprinting). The above includes stamped fabric strips layered atop block printed found paper.

Mixed media greeting cards using ephemera and more created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts
Detail of a mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Our Found Paper Collage Packs are full of themed paper ephemera for you — all original pages (not photocopied). I also make scans of many vintage items in my collections such as cabinet cards and other photographs, postcards and more, enabling me to use them more than once or resize them for projects. Greeting cards or Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are the perfect place to use up treasured scraps and bits. I used a scrap of a vintage handkerchief as the base/background for my elegant woman photograph and contrasted it with a trimmed piece from one of my fabric postcards. You can see the dimension added by the batting and machine quilting in this detail photo. Visit this blog post for my tutorial on making fabric postcards.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

New to our Found Paper Collage Packs is a vintage photo pack. Another favorite ephemera are antique ledger pages. I love combining fabric and paper scraps for these collages.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, I revisited the ephemera that inspired my Blue Fish Quilt.

Block printed cards created using wooden printing blocks and textile paints sold by Artistic Artifacts, accented with paper ephemera

Above, our wide variety of wooden printing blocks includes a variety holiday designs, including some really fun sets! Block prints combined with book text, sheet music and other found paper are collaged to make holiday cards.

Block printed cards with sketching created by Celia Middleton

Several years ago my niece Celia Middleton embellished her block prints with fun sketching details using her favorite pens and markers, then turned her artwork into handmade cards and tags!

Greeting cards by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Many of you know I got my start as a weaver and I often weave both fabric and paper strips into small compositions I adhere to cards. The cards above are from my December 2018 post Using ATCs on Greeting Cards.

Woven paper and ephemera greeting cards created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, these cards are examples from my Greeting Cards with Woven Paper post in December 2015. Both fabric and paper strips are satisfying to weave together. Or mix them! It’s so easy to accumulate remnants resulting from straightening ragged edge fabrics, trimming from wonky/improv piecing, strips left behind after using your paper cutter, etc.

The result from weaving together fabric strips

My fabric weaving instructions were originally shared in 2014 — that card post also included these are little mixed media collages, 4 in. x 6 in.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I was testing a set of blank Strathmore mixed media cards, using spray inks and stencils. I created backgrounds on the cards and after they dried, stamped over the inks with paints in a different color. Then I found my collection of retro sewing patterns and began cutting out and pasting figures and text from the cover packages.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I hope this post and the tutorial links give you some inspiration for your own handmade cards and collages!

Sewing Dresses for Children

Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy continues her sewing posts for us. She previously shared her experience with sewing the Urban Princess dress by Olive Ann Designs; here are additional sweet dress patterns from the same company. — Judy

Guest post by Nancy McCarthy

Geo Dress/Tunic & Leggings

Two dress versions of the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern by Olive Ann DesignsI’ve sewn three different Olive Ann Designs little girls’ patterns at this point, each one twice, and the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings is the easiest, most straightforward one so far. It would be great for anyone looking for a quick make and especially for someone less confident about their garment making skills. And it’s super cute with lots of design possibilities!

The pattern comes in sizes 2- 8 and the photos show my just-turned-four year old granddaughter wearing a size four. The gold and coral shop sample is also a size four. The pattern can be sewn as either a dress or a tunic and includes a pattern for leggings, and as all the girls’ Olive Ann patterns do, it also includes a version to dress an 18 inch doll.

Reverse views, Geo dress by Olive Ann DesignsThe fabric choices for this dress are endless — it could be super fancy with lace panels or a school dress, as I imagined for my two examples. I chose whimsical prints kids will love and geometrics that I thought coordinated well (our Modern Cottons fabrics section has lots of amazing choices). I didn’t choose fabric from just one line, and in fact one of the fabrics I chose was a sale fabric. I used one of the Marcia Derse Palette Solidsfor the trim on the gold version, which includes four different fabrics. The green one has three fabrics including the trim and the Tula Pink Linework, Tent Stripe was perfect for that one. It reminded me that black and white prints are a sewist’s secret weapon. (I didn’t make the leggings from this pattern, but the instructions looked easy.)

Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern with the dress and flange fabrics chosen by Nancy McCarthy

Sewing notes: This pattern has 1/2 inch seam allowances! The front panels have bias edges and should be carefully cut on grain. In particular, the lower right panel will take more fabric than might first appear. I seem to choose directional prints without realizing it, so it’s a good thing the pattern layout is set up so that if you’re not focused on that, as I am often not, you won’t go wrong.

Completed dresses sewn from the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern The pattern calls for baby piping between the blocks of color. I decided to make flat flanges instead – MUCH easier to handle! I cut 1-1/4 inch STRAIGHT grain strips because the seams of the color blocks are bias seams. I folded the strips in half with a hard press and sandwiched the edges of the strip at the cut edges and between the wrong sides of the garment pieces. The flanges show 1/8 inch on the outside of the garment when the seam is completed, similar to the width of baby piping. I serged the finished seams and pressed them in the direction the flange wanted to lay.

Follow the pattern instructions to stitch the shoulder seams, install the facings and pull the front and back right side out through the facings, and THEN sew the side seams — this is a brilliant way to get a great finish and the pattern instructions are spot on. If this is your first time to use this method, it may seem a bit tricky, but trust me, it works!

You’ll need to make a loop of some sort to fasten the top back with a small button. The pattern calls for a tiny bias fabric loop, and quite frankly, I hate making those! So I tried an old-fashioned crochet thread loop, but it didn’t seem robust enough. Then I remembered how the loop on a dress-up costume of my granddaughter’s was done — a narrow elastic loop. But currently I’m not home in my own sewing space with access to my stash, and I didn’t have the option to run to the store. Here’s the hack I used: the ear elastic from my used surgical mask! It’s plenty stretchy, flat and narrow, and EASY to pin in place and sew through — it worked like a charm! Give it a try and see what you think and give this little dress a try for some summer fun!

Gigi Dress

Gigi dress by Olive Ann Designs sewn by Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy for her granddaughter

The GiGi Dress and Dolldress by Olive Ann Designs has what every girl wants — POCKETS! A super cute summer dress for any girl in sizes 2-8 (you see here a size 4 on a just-turned-four-year old). This dress has two surprises — first, the great pockets in both side seams and second, a breezy pleated open back tied with a sash, so it’s not too bare.

Fabric options listed on the pattern include double gauze and lawn. This version is in Kokka Blue Birds Double Gauze, found in the Fabrics for Garments section at Artistic Artifacts (more about sewing with this fabric later). Artistic Artifacts also has some charming lawn fabrics with prints very reminiscent of Liberty designs, and of course any of the quilting cottons would be appropriate. It would be great in a kid print and stunning in a wild Kaffe Fassett floral!

Gigi dress by Olive Ann Designs sewn by Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy for her granddaughter

Sewing notes: Intermediate sewers should not find this pattern too challenging. I am one of those sewers who likes to preserve my pattern so I can make it again and again as my four granddaughters grow. So I fold back the larger size cutting lines or cut out the size I want by running my scissors under the paper pattern. Yes, I always cut garments with scissors — that’s the way I learned! On this pattern I got confused when I couldn’t find the pattern markings for the back panel pleats. I eventually realized that the size adjustment for the back panel changed at BOTH the top and bottom of the panel, and I had just folded away, or would have cut away, the pleat markings.

The bodice has a full facing that goes down below the amscye* and in back extends to the depth of the back pleat facing. You attach the facing by sewing up the back, around the front neck, and back all the way to the bottom of the pleat facing. This is a bit acrobatic but it can be done! If it doesn’t make sense to you, just sew it as far around as you can and press in the the rest of the facing seam allowance at the pleat facing and slip stitch it in place.

* (Editors note: as per Wikipedia, “in sewing, the armscye is the armhole, the fabric edge to which the sleeve is sewn… the length of the armscye is the total length of this edge; the width is the distance across the hole at the widest point.”)

The GiGi Dress and Dolldress by Olive Ann Designs for children sizes 2 thru 8, and double gauze fabric, Kokka Blue Birds

The instructions have you sew the side seams and then insert the short sleeves, the classic way to tackle this part of garment construction, and this was my biggest challenge because the armhole openings are quite small. I also wanted to serge those seams… argh! The second time I made this garment (using quilting cotton) I sewed the sleeves in flat and then sewed the side seams — much easier! I think if I made this a third time, I would make it sleeveless.

I chose double gauze for my fabric for a couple of reasons — first because Artistic Artifacts has some really nice pastels and second because I had never sewn with double gauze before. If it is a new fabric to you, consider washing it more aggressively than you think the final garment will be treated — it shrinks!

You may notice that it is actually two thin cotton gauze fabrics with a very fine binder thread that moves between the layers to hold them together so you might see the two separate layers of fabric at the cut edges of your pieces. The fabric is sort of ‘sponge-y’ and really different from quilting cotton.

I used my favorite BERNINA 34D foot with the dual feed engaged. I like the 34D because it is clear, so I can see everything. As in other Olive Ann patterns, the seam allowance is 1/2 inch. I topstitched the neckline and the sashes at 1/4 inch. Using the 34D allows me to choose between using the throat plate markings to determine my seam allowance or moving the needle right or left and sewing with the edge of my fabric at the edge of the foot. Setting the needle at 4 clicks to the right gives me a nice robust 1/4 inch, or at 5 a scant 1/4 inch, for example. Setting my needle to the left a couple of clicks can give me the 1/2 inch seam. (A walking foot is also an option for these double gauze fabrics.)

I hope this post encourages you to surprise the special little girls in your life with one or both of these up-to-the-minute spring and summer looks!

Mandarin Vest Pattern by Indygo Essentials

I was recently thrilled with a new garment sewn by Nancy McCarthy for me! I’ve asked Nancy to share her thoughts on the pattern for you. — Judy

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula in her Mandarin Vest stitched by Nancy McCarthy from an Indygo Essentials pattern

Guest post by Nancy McCarthy

Judy wore this vest in a recent Facebook Live session (Saturdays, 9:30 am ET) and got lots of positive feedback. I hope you are inspired to try this sophisticated look for yourself!

To me, this Mandarin Vest pattern by Indygo Essentials looks like it is inspired by traditional clothing silhouettes. I love the versatility of these basic shapes. The possibilities for your garment fabrics and embellishments are endless — from casual to dressy casual to dressy. What a great way to use a batik panel for the back and create pieced fabric for the rest of the garment! Or as the ground for an ever-evolving stitch meditation! I’m including other images from Indygo Junction so you can see the vest in the two lengths as well as different fabric choices.

Two views of the Mandarin Vest by Indygo Essentials

Mandarin Vest pattern and fabric chosen by Nancy McCarthy

For a casual garment, I chose a Marcia Derse fabric in a canvas weight (now sold out) as mentioned in the suggested fabrics on the pattern envelope. I also chose to underline the vest, again according to options listed on the pattern, because I wanted a bit more weight in the garment and to conceal the wrong side of the main fabric.

The pattern includes instructions for underlining, if you are not familiar with this construction process. It’s easy! You just cut identical garment pieces from both the fashion fabric and the underlining fabric and stack them WRONG sides together, then treat as one. (Do maintain the grain in both fabrics.) I used a coordinating color — there are so many to choose from! — of Marcia Derse’s Palette Solids. I used a machine basting stitch to sew the edges together — hand basting also works.

Purse pocket on the Mandarin Vest

The pattern offers both regular side pockets and the super cute little purse pocket on the outside. (Talk about embellishment possibilities!) I toyed with the idea of inserting the side pockets, in addition to using the purse pocket, but decided I liked the interior clean. The purse pocket has a self-lining that forms the casing for the drawstring and finishes the edges. It is top stitched on — I used my BERNINA #10 edgestitch foot. Read the instructions carefully and do use all the pattern markings provided. I purchased double fold bias binding to use rather than making my own, and just edge stitched it before using it. Note that the drawstring is caught into the construction seam of the pocket!

Note that for this pattern seam allowances are 1/2 in., not 5/8 in. as usually seen in garment patterns from the ‘big four’ (Simplicity, McCall’s, Vogue, and Butterick) companies. I serged the seam edges after sewing regular seams. I also serged the armhole hems, the front facing edges, and the bottom hem rather than folding them a 1/4 in. to clean finish. The armhole edges are topstitched in place. I used my BERNINA #5 blindstitch foot to blind stitch the bottom hem and the front facings in place.

Another Indygo Essentials view of the Mandarin Vest

The collar may be higher than you are used to, but I think it really adds to the look. The pattern instructions for the collar are typical and work just fine, but if you have sewn other garments you may have a favorite way to install the collar that will also work. The pattern offers the option of a button and loop closure near the neck — if you have a fabulous large button, this would be a great place to use it. You can see a beautiful frog closure in the Indygo Essentials example pictured here. You could also put the button and loop anywhere along the front edge that pleases you.

Notes on the pattern:

  • Do follow the pattern when choosing your size! Use your bust measurement, even though you may think the garment will look generous. Because of the shaping and the way the shoulders are cut, it is better to go a little bigger than a little smaller.
  • Once you have chosen your size, I would strongly recommend using a highlighter to mark the cutting line for your chosen size on the pattern pieces. I found that the size markings on the cutting lines were very confusing around the shoulders and neckline! In addition, I carefully compared the sizes of the collar pieces to each other by stacking them up in relative size order and determining which one matched my chosen size rather than trusting the marking on the paper.
  • And remember — 1/2 in. seams!

I hope this pattern joins your other tried and true patterns!

Pattern information, Mandarin Vest by Indygo Essentials

TAP Fragment Dolls

Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts films a video sharing the Fragment Doll project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley
The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

We were happy to be a part of The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley Instagram book tour for — our ‘stop’ was Thursday, April 22! Visit our Instagram page for our video post of how this new guide inspired our latest Transfer Artist Paper projects! Commenters there were eligible to win a free ebook version of this Ultimate Guide, specific to the new TAP formulation with many new techniques and project ideas: our randomly selected winner was Gerri Congdon — congratulations Gerri!

There was a new prize drawing for each stop. The Transfer Artist Paper Instagram Book Tour participating artists were:

We were inspired by Lesley’s ‘Fragment Dolls’, one of the projects in the book. It was coincidental timing since our Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) group (meeting via Zoom during the pandemic) had issued a Spirit Doll challenge — we’ll be sharing those results soon!

Judy Gula Fragment Doll, a project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

Above, my first doll. I used TAP to transfer the vintage photograph and lots of scraps, stitching and embellishments to complete her. Of course I dug out my beads and our leaf vine ribbon was perfect for her. I really enjoyed spending time with this project! I have another one in progress:

Judy Gula in progress Fragment Doll, a project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

In our video I explain the vintage jewelry piece you see — I’ve glued it to a small piece of Ultra Suede, which will give me a surface I can stitch so I can add the brooch later by trimming and stitching. This is one of my favorite tricks to incorporate jewelry or found objects.

Chris Vinh Fragment Doll, a project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

Above, Chris Vinh of StitchesnQuilts shared her beautiful doll during our April 18 JAMs Zoom call. I was delighted to see that she had reduced a photograph of one of her batik panels by Mahyar to use as her face! Chris shows us that Eyelash Silk, one of the products by Painter’s Threads (formerly known as Tentakulum) makes perfect hair for an art doll! She also used the handpainted pearl cotton from Painter’s Threads for stitching and French knots on her Fragment doll.

Chris Vinh Fragment Doll, a project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

Chris also enjoyed this project and created another gorgeous doll using hand dyed silk fabrics accented with her hand stitching — this time using Eleganza variegated perle cotton by WonderFil Specialty Threads. You can see a bit of a line in the face — she transferred her TAP onto silk, and the silk had a slub thread. Lesley makes the point in her book that the TAP is very sensitive and any bit of unevenness in your surface can show. I love it for the vintage feel it gives. In her IG book tour post, Liz Kettle even mentions trying to intentionally distress a TAP transfer to get that worn feel.

Sharon McDonagh Fragment Doll, a project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

Sharon McDonagh of our shop was eager to explore TAP’s ability to take a variety of art media to add color, whether paint, inks, etc. She printed her TAP transfers out (remember, inkjet printers only) in just black and white, and then added color using her favorite product, Gelatos by Faber-Castell and loved the results! She also ‘dyed’ her mermaid’s cheesecloth wrap with Gelatos — visit our YouTube channel for her method and more in Using Gelatos. (Note Sharon’s doll was stitched but not turned due to its design; she painted the visible white edges with blue acrylic paint.)

Sharon McDonagh Fragment Doll, a project from The Ultimate Guide to Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley

For her Sun doll, she transferred onto yellow cloth, and so just added a touch of orange Gelatos to the checks and the rays, with a blend of red. She loves uses small pieces of our Web Weave Ribbon for texture in fabric collage and mixed media.

Some of the supplies available at Artistic Artifacts used to create our Fragment Dolls

Our Fragment Dolls are all fabric, but TAP can be used on many substrates — Lesley’s new book includes instructions on transferring onto canvas, metal, mica and more. In addition to the book and TAP itself, we have so many wonderful supplies for fiber and mixed media art: our Inspiration packs full of hand-dyed fabrics, linens and trims, sari ribbon & yarn, specialty ribbons, WonderFil Specialty Threads Sue Spargo products for hand stitching (an Eleganza thread pack is pictured), buttons and more — our Fabric & Fiber Packages are a wonderful way to build your stash with a variety of textiles.

(Our video is also available on our YouTube channel.)

Creative Organizing

I’ve asked Cliff Wilson to share his tips on organization, which have made his creative experience more satisfying. We’re delighted that Cliff and his husband have become part of our Creative Minds family! — Judy

tiny flower brightening Cliff Wilson's sewing space

Guest post by Cliff Wilson

I have landed on the other side of the realization that life likely won’t be “normal” again this year. Being on the other side makes it a lot easier to figure out what you need to get through. One of the most valuable things for me is safeguarding my creative space. This isn’t a reference to square feet in a craft room, it is a view into empowering the creative mind to flourish. I found this empowerment through organization.

Before the pandemic, and buried deep in the back of the closet, was a simple sewing machine gathering dust. My husband and I both have several beginner quilts on our crafting resume, but it was far from a regular hobby. A month into being socially distant at home every day and we had not only dusted off that sewing machine but knocked out five baby quilts, finished several unfinished objects, and started to learn about an obsession with quilting fabric I didn’t know I had.

Cliff Wilson's Tula Pink Limited Edition BERNINA 770QE

Since that first month, we have added a Brother straight stitch machine, a unicorn of sewing with the BERNINA 770 QE Tula Pink edition (pictured above), and a BERNINA Q16 stationary longarm machine (below). A special shout out to Artistic Artifacts for their continued help and BERNINA inventory — a great relationship we never would have had without the pandemic. [Editor’s note, while the Tula Pink limited edition is sold out, you can learn more about the B770QE on the Artistic Artifacts website.]

Cliff Wilson's BERNINA Q16 and machine quilting example

With the new machines, we have created many more quilts and learned so many lessons. We have also found ourselves with a pretty healthy fabric hoard conservation practice. Most hobbies seem to be similar in that there are many things we “definitely need”…and that stuff can accumulate quickly!

All of these supplies quickly take up space and managing all the things can bring stress into the creative space. For me, I learned that if I didn’t have the ability to focus only on the creative and not also on a mess of supplies that it was a much more fulfilling experience. I am excited to share a bit of my approach to organization that has made my creative process enjoyable.

Fabric shelves with touches of whimsy in Cliff Wilson'e sewing space

Make it magical: Think of your favorite shops you visit to source supplies and how you feel when you are on the hunt for the next must-have supply. You get to decide how your creative space feels. I like to add funny items around the space that spark a bit of joy and keep things light.

Scissors on display on a jewelry stand repurposed by Cliff Wilson

You can also use things you may already have around the house as a sort of shop display. Take scissors for example — I love seeing scissors on display, so we repurposed a jewelry holder we already had and it became a magical scissor station!

Find your balance: Take the time to figure out how organized your creative stuff needs to be for you to maximize your creating time. I enjoy organizing, but I also know just the thought of organizing ignites stress in others. Make it work for you.

Beautiful fabric storage shelves from Cliff Wilson's sewing studio

Cliff Wilson uses comic book boards and fabric clips to keep his fabric stash neatly on display and easily accessible

An example of what brings me joy in the organization space is how we manage our fabric collection (pictured above). I like to see what we have and it feeds my inspiration. It is also a secret weapon when I need a little pick-me-up on those tough days. This spark happened when I read about using comic book boards similar to how fabric is wound around a cardboard bolt. I partner these with Pals Bolt Buddies and it easily provides a consistent process to have fabric on display and ready to be used.

There is a sort of internal alarm for me when the organization of something needs to be tweaked. A recent tweak was with how we store our machine quilting rulers. These are one of those hobby items that aren’t cheap, so they fall higher on my organization radar. Our machine quilting rulers are now organized within arms reach of the longarm and within protective envelopes with laminated labels (pictured below). Sometimes organization is a crafting process all on its own!

Cliff Wilson's machine quilting rulers are stored within protective envelopes with laminated labels

Make it easy to maintain: My creative spark can leave me as fast as it arrived. I have found that using totes helps me keep everything together for a project so I can easily put everything away. This helps keep my creating area ready for the next spark that comes along.

Cliff Wilson favors clear plastic totes to organize his current and planned projects

An added bonus is it makes things feel more organized with minimal effort! I am partial to these clear totes you can find at a certain store that pretty much only sells containers…and “container” may be in the company name 🙂

I hope you are all able to find the magic in your creative space this year and find joy in creating all the things. Stay safe!

Quilt featuring Tula Pink fabric being machine quilted on Cliff Wilson's Q16


Judy here again… thank you Cliff! I’m sure our readers will enjoy your ideas — you’ve got me inspired!

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