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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!

Virginia’s Quilt

Completed Virginia’s quilt by Judy Gula including fabrics and blocks by Virginia Aribe

This quilt began with a box full of 1 in. wide stripcut Japanese fabrics from a friend, Virginia Aribe, who sadly passed away in January 2019. Virginia was a beloved member of the same chapter of Quilters Unlimited that I am (Burke). The box also contained some quilt blocks using the fabrics that Virgina had already started.

Blocks by Virginia Aribe incorporated into the quilt

Japanese fabrics have long been some of my own favorites, so I thought I would challenge myself to take Virginia’s squares (some pictured above) and create some of my own to combine into a new quilt.

Small log cabin blocks by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I began to make small log cabin blocks from the strips. I’ve joked that the log cabin block is the only one I know how to make! But it’s my go-to for a reason, it’s easy, showcases fabric well, and there’s so much you can do with your layout depending on how you structure the block’s colors.

More blocks originally completed by Virginia Aribe

I wanted a hint of red to contrast with the beautiful shades of blue and white, so I made sure that some of the blocks I created had a little included, from Chinese Red to Brick Red – not a lot, but little touches so the eye searches for it. Above, you can see my smaller log cabin blocks to the right of more of Virginia’s original blocks.

Log cabin quilt blocks from Japanese fabrics pieced by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

More of my blocks are above. I squared them up, kind of …

Originally I tried to combine Virginia’s blocks and my new one with another piece that I had been working on that contains indigo.

Test layout including a separate Judy Gula project

Longtime readers and customers will know we often like to say that fabrics “play well with others.” Pictured above, I decided my addition was not going to play well, so I removed it from the assortment of quilt blocks.

Working on layout, Virginia's Quilt

So with a pile of small blocks, I began trying layouts, assembling them into larger blocks, and then rows, and then the quilt.

Puzzle like assembly, Virgina's Quilt by Judy Gula with contributions from Virginia Aribe

This kind of improv piecing and assembling is something like building a puzzle without having the boxtop photo to refer to.

Detail, free motion quilting by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts using a BERNINA Q20 longarm

Once I finally had my layout completed, I layered my backing and batting and got to work quilting it. I used the BERNINA Q20 and a variety of free-motion designs.

Detail, free motion quilting by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts using a BERNINA Q20 longarm

In addition to blue thread, I threw in some red (seen above) too.

I completed Virginia’s quilt this spring — the Japanese scraps from her had been calling me for quite a while. While she has passed from this life, her creativity, kindness and strength carries on… thank you, Virginia!

Using Stripology Rulers

One of my favorite Creative Minds has authored this guest post — Chris has converted me into a Stripology fan too!

The Best Thing Since Rotary Cutters!

Guest post by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

Not being a notions junkie, I’ve limited my purchase of new sewing and quilting tools to pretty much the basics. That is, until I picked up one of the Creative Grids Stripology Rulers designed by Gundrun Erla of GE Designs to make a shop sample last year. The ruler slides easily over the fabric until pressure is applied. Then, the exclusive gripper holds the fabric in place while cutting through the slits in the marked increments, eliminating slipping and miss-cuts!

Emma quilt pattern designed by Gundrun Erla of GE Designs, cut using the Creative Grids Stripology rulers

Combining the precision butting using the rulers with the well written patterns by Gundrun means I can no longer claim that I cannot cut or sew a straight line. Above is my Emma quilt — I would have never considered the Emma quilt pattern if I had not already had success following the very clear instructions with great visuals on ruler placement for the cutting instructions! I didn’t realize I had forgotten to turn alternating blocks, but like how they mimic the hummingbird’s spread wings — fabric by Valori Wells. I used some Victoria Findley Wolfe fabric in this quilt too.

Use the Stripology rulers to cut yardage into popular precut charm square sizes

Stripology rulers are available in several sizes and configurations. You can cut full-width fabric and fat quarters into the most popular pre-cuts on the market, 1½ and 2½ inch strips; 5 and 10 inch charm squares. There’s no math required — simply follow the easy-to-read markings: squares for 2 inch cuts, and stars for 1 in. cuts! Above, the Stripology Squared Ruler cutting 10 inch squares of batik.

Use the Stripology rulers to precisely cut your fabric for piecing.

The Clarissa quilt pattern by GE Designs

Above, Stripology XL Quilt Ruler lined up to cut strips from Art Excursion, New Life fabric designed by Denise Burkitt (now sold out, see other fabric designed by Denise).

Shown here, the Clarissa quilt pattern, sewn with Wild Acres by Victoria Findley Wolfe fabric and a bit of Uppercase Volume 3 (fabrics now sold out). I used the Stripology Squared ruler, which includes markings to square up half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and blocks up to 12 inch. While Clarissa calls for assorted 10 inch square precuts (plus an accent fabric), one of the things I love about the Stripology Squared ruler is how easy and fast it is to cut precise charm squares out of any fabric you fancy!

The Lil’ Stella table runner pattern by GE Designs using a Jennifer Sampou Sky ombre paired with Atlantia by Studio RK;

Above, I pieced this Lil’ Stella table runner pattern using a Jennifer Sampou Sky ombre paired with Atlantia by Studio RK (sold out) ; the fabric to the right will be the backing.

Using Stripology ruler to cut fabric for the Lil’ Stella table runner pattern by GE Designs

Left, the Stripology Squared Mini Creative Grids Quilt Ruler cutting 5 inch squares of Atlantis for the Lil’ Stella pattern. Right, the ruler turned for cutting angles required by the pattern.

Precision piecing using a BERNINA with #97 Patchwork foot and the Sew Steady Grid Glider

Using my BERNINA with #97 Patchwork foot and the Sew Steady Grid Glider, combined with the accurate blocks cut by the Stripology rulers, makes precision piecing easy!

Below, I paired Kaffe Fassett fabrics with a Designer Essentials: Solids Fat Quarter Pack by Tula Pink. Trinity’s triangular blocks are easily made from precut fabrics — 10 in. squares, 2-1/2 strips, or fat quarters — using the Stripology XL ruler.

Trinity Stripology Mixer Pattern by GE Designs sewn by Chris Vinh and machine quilted by Alexandra Lush Benson

This shop sample quilt was made using the Trinity Stripology Mixer Pattern by GE Designs, and beautifully machine quilted by Alexandra Lush Benson — detail below.

Detail of free motion machine quilting by Alexandra Lush Benson

Below, Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula made her niece Layla an Emma quilt for a Christmas 2019. Always known for her freeform blocks, now Judy also raves over the Stripology rulers!

Emma quilt by Judy Gula, a gift for her niece Layla

Below, Layla’s sister Celia also received a quilt from Aunt Judy — wonderful improv!

Improv quilt by Judy Gula, a gift for her niece Celia

Artistic Artifacts’ Holiday Stockings

In preparation for our annual Open House weekend, held on December 1-3, 2017, the staff of Artistic Artifacts decided to make Christmas stockings (which were stuffed with product) to go to the winners of a random drawing. We planned to use the same pattern for consistency but to each use different fabrics or techniques to showcase different Artistic Artifacts products.

Judy Gula’s completed holiday stocking

Above, Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula challenged herself to just use scraps from her stash — predominately Australian Aborgine-designed prints, with some fun modern cottons mixed in.

Below, Judy’s sister Julie Middleton used traditional red and green colors, but twisted tradition by using our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks.

Julie Middleton’s completed holiday stocking

Below, Julie made her stocking reversible by concentrating her patchwork to a specific color. She used Velvet Rick Rack to embellish the cuff — a perfect finishing touch!

Julie Middleton’s completed holiday stocking, reverse side

Chris Vinh’s completed holiday stocking

Above, Chris Vinh used Effervescence Border, Fiesta for her stocking. She used the contrasting border design portion of the fabric for her cuff and thought she might add some hand-stitching… but the exuberant print and colors on their own were so beautiful she decided she was done!

Denise Reuter’s completed holiday stocking

Above, Denise Reuter selected a cool color palette and used a variety of fabrics: our batiks, Australian, bits of Tim Holtz and Frond Design Studios fabrics. Her stocking is another that can hang in either direction, as both sides are beautiful. The wonderful blue faux fur cuff was a lucky find among the materials on the “free table” featured at each JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds) meeting — our next is Sunday, December 17.

Detail, Denise Reuter’s completed holiday stocking

Of course, our in-house BERNINA expert couldn’t consider her stocking done until she had added beautiful machine embroidery — detail pictured above. She used a built-in snowflake design and hooped it on the B790, using WonderFil’s Spotlite metallic thread in 8831 Ice Blue.

Sharon McDonagh’s completed holiday stocking
The Artistic Artifacts holiday stocking template

Above, Sharon McDonagh decided to represent the mixed media side of the business. She created a paper-cloth base of tissue over muslin, colored with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints and Gelatos and Wooden Printing Blocks accents.

How We Did It

We found a Christmas Stocking Pattern & “How To” on the Stitchin’ Post blog from an online search. After printing out the template pages and taping it together, we felt it was too large for our needs, so we cut some off from the top of the stocking, and also shortened the toe by tracing a round tin a couple inches in and correcting the edges.

We then transferred our new shape onto chipboard (pictured above right) to make it more durable for multiple tracings.

Chris Vinh sewing in progress

Although our original pattern link contained a how-to, Chris discovered this Christmas Stocking Tutorial on the FabricWorm site and used it since it included instructions for incorporating a cuff. As the first one to complete her stocking, everyone else followed suit.

Chris Vinh creating stocking cuff and lining

Above, Chris used Pomegranate Squared Elements for her lining — a beautiful contrast to her base fabric.

Sharon McDonagh’s paper cloth base drying

Above, Sharon began with a piece of Nature’s Way™ UNBLEACHED by Roc-lon® muslin and layered printed tissue and papers such as those found in our Found Paper & Collage Packs — book text, sheet music, maps, etc. You can download a PDF tutorial Making Fabric from Paper by Beryl Taylor from the Cloth Paper Scissors blog for complete how-to’s — the article appeared in the very first issue of the magazine.

Sharon McDonagh adding paint, block printing and Gelatos to her paper cloth

Above, Sharon layering color and block prints onto the paper cloth. Below left, she adds the seam allowance to the reverse of her paper cloth. While it stitches easily, she attached her cuff section as a separate element. Below right, she uses the Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Pen in white to add embellishing to her cuff block print. If you register for Noir Magic — Lettering, Flora and Fauna with theresa mARTin the next time the class is held at the shop, you will learn how critical a tool this pen is!

Marking paper cloth

We hope these ideas have inspired all of you to create your own! Our lucky winners, randomly drawn were Ann Kuipers, Sharon Rosenblatt, Judy Seitz, Susan Stelow and Ursula Yeo. Congratulations, ladies!

Hari Agung Floral Batik Panel Quilts

One of my favorite ways to put together a fast, but beautiful, art quilt is to start with a handcrafted batik panel and add one of more border strips log cabin style. This one just needs the binding.

Small red floral batik panel by Hari Agung bordered with Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

To complement this gorgeous red floral panel by Hari Agung, I used two fabrics from our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabric line: top and left is Fruit Sours, Green Apple, and bottom/right is Fronds, Mocha.

Detail, Small red floral batik panel by Hari Agung bordered with Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

I machine quilted the borders with simple angled straight lines, and the center panel with a free-form meander.

French knots accenting the flower centers of the Hari Agung batik panel

Above, I accented the flower centers with French knots. I love using a variegated thread like our beautiful Eleganza from the Sue Spargo Collection by WonderFil Specialty Threads for French knots: you end up with different colors without changing threads!

I used a medium size Hari Agung panel for this next quilt in progress.

Medium Hari Agung floral panel art quilt ready for quilting and then binding

This one is framed with simple log cabin-style nested borders, including Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik in Connections, Red and the Crosshatch Gold from the Marks by Valori Wells collection, a gorgeous modern cotton. The next step is to add quilting using the BERNINA Q20 sit down machine and then bind it.

Detail, medium Hari Agung floral panel art quilt ready for quilting and then binding

This simple construction technique — batik panel framed by log cabin strips —is easy enough for beginning quilters, but impressive: get started on your own version!

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