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Block Selection for Beginning Quilting

Sampler quilt by Dudley Shugart of Artistic Artifacts

We asked Artistic Artifacts’ staff member and instructor Elizabeth “Dudley” Shugart to explain what skills are learned with her block choices for her Beginning Quilting class. (The next session begins February 1 at the shop — join us!) Thank you for your guest post, Dudley!

My goal in teaching beginner quilting is that a student learns the process of making a quilt from start to finish. Learning to quilt is like learning to write. That first quilt will be a sampler of learned techniques and will be beautiful, but likely not perfect. A true heirloom quilt can be made with additional practice and experience.

Cozy, a quilt project included in FreeSpirit Block Party

Cozy is a sampler project included in FreeSpirit Block Party — it features both the Solitaire and Compass quilt blocks that are taught in our beginning quilting class.

I have chosen the book FreeSpirit Block Party: 40 Quilt Blocks, 5 Samplers, 20 Modern Designers to use as our text and instruction manual and each student is required to purchase the book. Created as the result of a partnership between C&T Publishing and FreeSpirit Fabrics, this book features a number of their designers and a wonderful array of quilt blocks to choose from. My class is structured into four different sessions:

  • For the first class I choose three blocks for the students to make.
  • The second class additional techniques are taught, then the student chooses blocks they would like to make to add into their sampler quilt.
  • Session three is taking the blocks and putting them together in a quilt top.
  • The last class is preparing to machine quilt, start machine quilting and lessons in how to bind.

Image identifying the names of quilt blocks taught in class

After finishing all four sessions, each student has a completed quilt and can branch out into making more complex and interesting quilts.

The first block I selected is Derailed, contributed by Jane Sassaman. This block is and ideal one for teaching students how to rotary cut strips, as well as how to sew longer strips together, checking their sewing and seam allowances. Selecting three fabric that each student likes together is an easier decision for them to make before they move on to more complex blocks that require multiple fabric choices.

The second block I chose is Spun by Margot Elena. The reason for this selection is to introduce large squares and triangles. If you want your quilt to piece together so the top is flat, precision cutting is the key. We discuss how important grain and bias are while cutting squares and triangles. Students also learn pressing tips to make the intersections of the pieces go together so that the seams match.

Student from Artistic Artifacts' beginning quilting class taught by Dudley Shugart preparing her top for quilting

Previous student from Artistic Artifacts’ beginning quilting class taught by Dudley Shugart preparing her completed top for quilting

To finish out the first class I introduce the Solitaire Block, contibuted by Heather Bailey. We discuss fabric selection, as we have now moved on to a block with seven different fabrics. Cutting and pressing skills are also emphasized again.

Class two then brings on two more techniques as we construct two additional blocks, Snowbank by Denyse Schmidt and Compass by Sharon Thornton. While stitching the Snowbank block, I teach how to piece the triangle corner. The Compass block introduces the paper piecing technique.

I encourage students to let me know if they find a block they absolutely want to try within the classs structure. I am always happy to teach other techniques, tips and tricks as they make their sampler of blocks.

For my example quilt, I choose Corsage by Kerri Thomson and Sunset by Joel Dewberry (center of quilt) as the final blocks to complete my sampler. I choose Corsage to bring in more squares and triangles. (I wonder if anyone noticed my quilt is not perfect — I made the center a star. The flowered piece is pointing the wrong way. Oh my!)

Sunset was added after my daughter Ashley and I decided the quilt would look better with an odd number of blocks. I choose Sunset because it is one of my favorite blocks. In fact, as shown below I have made an entire quilt using this block only.

Quilt by Elizabeth (Dudley) Shugart using the Sunset block throughout.

I tell all of my students there is no such thing as the quilt police! But fair warning if you take any of my classes: my one and only rule is you must close your rotary cutter after each use!


Editor’s note: Did you know that all C&T Publishing proceeds from the sale of FreeSpirit Block Party go to Project Night Night? Project Night Night delivers 25,000 Night Night Packages each year to homeless children 12 and under. Each contains a new security blanket, an age- appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag. The aim is to give children an increased exposure to high-quality literacy materials and a source of security during their time of upheaval.

Below, Neighbors, a quilt sampler project also included in FreeSpirit Block Party.

Neighbors, a sampler project included in FreeSpirit Block Party.

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.

A Peek at Gel Plate Printing

Monoprinted fabrics

It’s been a busy summer. Heck, it’s been a busy YEAR. And that can mean falling behind on tasks, such as keeping this blog and the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel updated. So I wanted to pop in with a quick surface design demo — watch as I monoprint on a Gel Press-PolyGel Gel Plate on fabric.

As you see, monoprinting is easy — and I can tell you it is addictive! Simply apply your paint, ink, etc. with a brayer or other tool, make your mark with textures and press your substrate onto the plate and rub gently. Then just lift the print and admire!

Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints and gel printing plates

Below is a view of the fabric monoprint I created in the Creative Clip. I worked with the manufacturers to formulate our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints so that it had the qualities to make it an ideal paint for gel plate monoprinting: an easy flow consistency right out of the squeeze bottle, high pigmentation, and permanent on fabrics.

Fabric printed on gel plate with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint by Judy Gula

When brayering, your paint colors can stay somewhat distinctive as in my red and yellow swatch, or you can blend them together to create a completely new color, as in the below example.

Adding paint to a gel plate and brayering it smooth

While acrylic-based paints such as our paints are the most popular choices, a wide variety of medium can be applied. The manufacturer of the Gel Press Plates notes that they have seen prints created with everything from tempera to oil pigments sticks (such as Shiva Paintstiks), alcohol inks and more. They offer this tip: if you can wash the media off the plate with materials you would use to clean your hands, then it should work well on the plate.

Rubbing plates and stencils impart texture on a round gel printing plate

You have so many options to create texture and pattern in your paint before you pull your print! Pictured above left is a rubbing plate impression (Cedar Canyon Rubbing Plates are sold in sets of six and are deeply embossed with patterns); right is a stencil in place on a round printing plate.

Monoprinted fabric created on a gel printing place with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint and wooden printing blocks.

And we all know my love of wooden printing blocks… their texture means they are wonderful to pick up paint off the plate, as in the example above, leaving a design behind. And of course that loaded wood block is immediately stamped onto another piece of fabric or paper!

Jamie Malden of Coloricious block printing on monoprinted fabric

I thought you might enjoy seeing this photo of the quilt pictured at the top of this post (in detail; the full shot is below) while it was in progress. That’s Jamie Malden of Coloricious adding the white wood block prints to our gel plate printed fabric blocks. I borrowed this photo from Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution’s 2013 “3 Artists + 3 Days = Creative Frenzy.” blog posting. Jamie was in the U.S. and we were lucky enough to host her for a block printing class; Liz was in town too, so the three of us set aside a few days to do some creative collaborating here at Artistic Artifacts. (My March 2020 Block Printing Tour of India is a Coloricious Holiday — join me for this once in a lifetime experience!

I hope this post inspires you to try monoprinting or other surface design technique — creating your own fabric or paper is very satisfying and ensures your finished artwork is truly unique.

Art quilt created in collaboration: Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Jamie Malden of Coloricious

Judy’s Sacred Threads 2019 Quilt: Joy In Things Remembered

Artistic Artifacts is a proud sponsor of Sacred Threads, a biennial quilt show that opens on Thursday, July 11 and continues through July 28, 2019 in Herndon, VA. There were a record number of quilts submitted for consideration this year, and Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula was pleased to have her beautiful mixed media quilt “Joy in Things Remembered” juried in for this year’s exhibit. While she is currently in Italy teaching her creative retreat, we wanted to share some of the gorgeous details of her special quilt! Below, she points out some of her quilt’s elements during a presentation for Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs)**.

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula with her 2019 Sacred Threads submission

Readers of this blog and those who know Judy know her love of vintage items: photographs and other ephemera, textiles, embellishments such as millinery flowers and more, and she used all that and more for “Joy in Things Remembered.” Below, her focal point vintage portrait was given an ethereal quality by scanning it, printing it once on EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn Inkjet Fabric and then topping it with a print on ExtravOrganza.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

From Judy’s Spotlight interview with Create Whimsy: What inspires you? Are there recurring themes in your work? Do you do series work? How does that affect your approach?

“I am excited and inspired by materials. My true love is vintage textiles. So I am the orphan collector – I love photos, textiles, clothing pieces that tell a story of an older time. People bring me their treasured family textiles when no one wants them because they know that I love and cherish them. Why did they have their photo taken that day, what did they do, was the family loving?

“I have been known to incorporate 3-D items within my quilts to help tell the story including vintage jewelry, framed photos, keys, charms and beads. I will also hand dye vintage textiles and use them in my work.”

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Flanking the portrait, vintage buttons and beads are some of Judy’s favorite embellishments. You can also see the detail in fabric that Judy rust-dyed to include in this quilt.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Judy loves to dye vintage linens and use them in her art. There are always several tucked into her hand-dyed Inspiration Packs.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Her embellished elements could serve as small art quilts themselves! Below, we love her use of ephemera as an embellishment.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Below, Judy couldn’t bear to cut this amazing vintage textile…

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

…so she didn’t, gathering it into a swag!

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

You can see in the full-scale photo at the beginning and end of this post that Judy created a truly amazing rust print from a large iron bracket. The wonderful dark tones set off this tiny vintage photo surrounded by lace.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Judy’s sister Julie has very clear memories of playing with the vintage fan pictured below.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

We hope you’ve enjoyed this close up view of Judy’s beautiful art! (Judy’s son Kyle Gula took the wonderfully detailed photos.) We encourage those of you who can to make time to visit Sacred Threads — we can promise you it is a quilt show like no other!

**JAMs normally meets on the third Sunday of the month at Artistic Artifacts. Note that JAMs will not meet in July 2019, in order that members can volunteer for Sacred Threads, and that our August meeting will also shift because of Seth Apter’s classes.

Below, Joy in Things Remembered, mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula. View larger image of quilt »

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

My Mixed Media Art Journal

Flower inspired Mixed media art journal by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I wanted to share some of the pages of my flower-inspired mixed media art journal. This particular journal has been in the works for years now! You know how some projects are like that, especially journals and mixed media where another layer and an extra dose of ephemera can always been worked in!

Above, the back of the closed journal with a flower charm added to the fabric ties.

Above, the wraparound flap hides another flower image as you begin to open the journal.

You know my love of wooden printing blocks… I thought the bird was a perfect addition to the butterflies and ephemera.

Multiple pages include pieces that were completed in the shop to show off a technique or product. The altered book page on the left has an image transfer, to show how you can get the transparency where the text peeks through.

In a previous blog post I wrote about transforming chipboard shapes — the above page spread is shown in that post!

Another previous blog post: Journaling, a Mixed Media Affair: Fabric Included features a number of pages now found in this journal in their initial stages, such as the above. I wrote then, “…And I need to add the same disclaimer I have before: these pages are not finished yet…there is more to come.” (I didn’t promise how QUICKLY they would be finished!)

I would begin working on both sides of paper: standard letter size piece of mixed media paper or watercolor paper, or a sheet torn from a blank journal. Folded in half, they were then stacked up and stitched into signatures, as shown above.

I’ve added some treasured and thematic Artist Trading Cards received during Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meetings, Art & Soul Creative Retreats, etc. to my journal too, as seen above and in the detail below:

Below, bringing in my love of vintage ephemera with a vintage postcard.

Below, “hinge” of washi tape means the postcard’s charming message can be viewed.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at this updated project!

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