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Artistic Artifacts’ Holiday Stockings

In preparation for our annual Open House weekend, held on December 1-3, 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 amongst 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, 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!

Know Your Needles

Visit the we all sew blog from BERNINA to learn all about machine sewing needles

We want to share the very informative “All About Sewing Machine Needles” from BERNINA’s we all sew blog. It begins by pointing out how impactful an object so small can be on a fiber project. “The right needle for your sewing project can create perfectly even and beautifully made stitches. The wrong needle (even a worn or damaged needle) can create all kinds of headaches — like skipped stitches, crooked stitches, frayed and broken threads, and holes or tears in your fabric.”

According to the history of sewing needles compiled by Schmetz Needles, the needle is one of the earliest tools developed by man. Hand needles have been in use for thousands of years, and with the advent of the industrial age, inventors worked to develop a machine. In 1755 a two-point needle was developed that in basic form is still used in modern industrial machines for certain uses. In 1790 the hook needle (or protruding) needle was invented, and again, hook needles are used in some embroidery and saddle-stitch machines. These developments led Balthasar Krems of Germany to move the needle’s close to the point in approximately 1800. Schmetz notes that this simple feature was a sensation at that time, and paved the way for the mechanization of sewing around the world.

Diagram from Know Your Needles by Liz Kettle

A sewing machine needle is manufactured with very distinct areas:

  • Shank (which seats into your sewing machine)
  • Shaft (tapers down from the shank)
  • Groove (runs in the front of the needle to the eye)
  • Eye (where the thread passes from the front to the back)
  • Scarf (located on the back of the needle, a smooth indentation behind the eye)
  • Point (the first part of the needle to penetrate the fabric; different points are engineered to work best with specific fabrics)

The diagram right is from Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles, authored by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution (more about Liz below). This pocket/purse size guide, 4 in. x 6 in., is a complete reference tool to 30 of the most commonly used needles — both machine and hand needles — and the tasks they perform. This is an invaluable resource to any fiber artist, and handy to keep on hand as you shop for needles.

Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles by Liz Kettle

Remember that sewing machine needles do not last forever. Many consider that as a rule needles should be replaced after 4-8 hours of stitching, and/or at the beginning of each sewing project. BERNINA notes that if you experience skipped stitches, or hear “a pop, pop, pop sound (some people say it’s a whoop, whoop, whoop, or like a knocking sound) when the needle penetrates the fabric, it’s time to load a fresh needle.”

BERNINA’s blog points that the high speed of sewing, with the needle point moving rapidly up and down, means it’s important to “choose the right needle/thread ratio. The thread should pass smoothly and snugly through the eye of the needle. If the thread is too tight in the needle, or very loose, it can create problems when stitching.” BERNINA offers the following tip, pictured below, to help you determine if you have the correct needle to thread ratio:

BERNINA offers an easy test to determine if you have the  correct needle to thread ratioBefore you insert a sewing machine needle into your machine, “pass it through a length of thread you have selected to sew your project. Hold the thread tightly at a 45° angle with the needle at the top, and let the needle slide down the thread. It should slide steadily down the thread. If the needle hops, skips, or gets stuck on the thread, the needle is too small for the thread you have selected. Move up one needle size and try the test again.”

Visit the “All About Sewing Machine Needles” posting to learn more about:

  • Needle Sizing (describing the European and American size sizing system and basic needle sizes)
  • Sewing Machine Needle Types
  • Worn and Damaged Needles (with another handy test for you to determine if your needle is damaged)

The below video tutorial by BERNINA will educate you on the many BERNINA sewing and embroidery needles, and how and when to use them correctly for perfect results.

Learn from Liz at Artistic Artifacts this June!

Liz Kettle from Monument, CO is a fabric and mixed media artist with a passion for teaching others the joy of making art and the creative process. Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts June 15-18 for a wonderful 4-Day Creative Retreat: Stitch Journeys — Your Guide to Amazing Stitching. Don’t miss this rare East Coast opportunity to learn from Liz… this retreat is suitable even for beginners, and a high-end sewing machine isn’t a requirement. Liz will teach you the tricks of using all of the unusual/specialty threads out there (such as the beautiful metallics from WonderFil Specialty Threads). Gain mastery of your machine, adjust tension settings, sew from the bobbin and much more as you develop the confidence to sew with any thread. Register now — this retreat is limited to just 20 students!

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