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.

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

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