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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.

Modern Squares Quilt Tutorial

Modern Squares Quilt designed and quilted by Christine Vinh for Arttistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal
Modern Squares quilt in cool colors created by Chris Vinh for Artistic Artifacts

It’s not too late to create a quilt as a welcome holiday gift if you pick the right pattern! We wanted to re-share this popular tutorial. Designed, pieced and quilted by Christine Vinh, whenever these quilts have been on display, people have raved (including when it was on display in our International Quilt Festival booth a few years ago).

Chris has a beautiful instinct for mixing colors and patterns, and combined fabrics, including from our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik collection, to create both the above pictured quilt as well as a cool color version shown here — she says this is one of her favorite patterns. Here’s how to make your own!

Modern Squares Quilt Pattern

Designed and quilted by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

Modern Squares Quilts designed and quilted by Christine Vinh for Arttistic Artifacts

This pattern is a modification of Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt, a free pattern by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting. For the Artistic Artifacts version, Chris reduced the measurements to 8-inch squares and 2-inch strips.

Fabrics from Frond Design and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik to create the Modern Squares Quilt

Instead of using the Jelly Rolls and Layer Cake fabrics that Erica used for this Moda project, Chris cut the fabrics she wanted to use from yardage. This is a great option for using fabrics you love — but feel free to take advantage of the convenience of precut fabrics as described by Erica.

The following are details to get you started — use our instructions for cutting (download a PDF to print for reference) — and review Erica’s tutorial for Moda Bake Shop as necessary for sewing and placement.

Our Modern Squares Quilts are made up of 23 squares, using one large square and two pairs of strips for borders around each square. Fabric requirements for a lap quilt, approximately 56 inches x 64 inches:

Cutting 2-inch strips the width of the fabric

  • 1 yard each of two (2) focus fabrics (as mentioned, we used fabrics from Frond Design and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik)
  • 1 yard white
  • ½ yard of 6-8 fabrics
  • ½ yard fabric for binding
  • 2 yards fabric for backing

Cutting:

From the two focus fabrics and the white fabric, cut 2 (two) 8- inch strips and 2-4 (two to four) 2-inch strips the width of the fabric (WOF).

modernsquare8in

  • Cut one of the 8 inch strips into 5 (five) 8-inch squares.
  • From the second 8-inch strip, cut 2 (two) 8-inch squares
    • and then 4 (four) 2-inch strips from the remaining width of strip long.

From your assorted ½ yards of fabrics, cut 2-inch strips, or a combination of 8-inch strips cut into blocks and strips.

If you have chosen fabrics with stripes, cut the fabric with the stripes running the length of the strip.

Modern Quilt Squares block completed

Once cut, randomly select one 8-inch square and two sets of different fabric strips to create each block. Vary the selections so your blocks will all be different.

Sewing the Quilt Top:

Erica chose to cut the strips for inner and outer borders around the square; Chris instead used her WOF strips, and trimmed them square to the block as she proceeded.

An assortment of completed Modern Quilt Squares blocks

Sew two strips to top and bottom of a square, press, trim. Repeat the process of sewing the same fabric strip to the opposite sides, creating a square within a square.

Repeat these steps for the second border.

Once all squares are sewn (assortment shown here), cut each square in half vertically, and then in half again horizontally.

With the horizontal cut, you will then have 4 (four) identical quadrants of your original square.

Cutting a completed Modern Quilt Squares block into halves vertically Cutting the Modern Quilt Squares block horizontally for four identical blocks

Designing the Modern Quilts Squares layout

Once all of the blocks are sewn and cut, the real fun begins! Lay out the blocks into a rectangle eight (8) columns wide by nine (9) rows tall using your design wall or open floor space.

Chris used a placement that used a selection of both the Frond fabric blocks and the Batik Tambal Exclusive fabric as “whole” squares, to feature the fabric. Carefully arranging the other quarter squares around these intact blocks is what gives the stacked illusion.

You could also choose to be completely random without having any “whole” blocks. The design is all up to you!

Identifying and sorting your blocks and rows as you begin to sew

Once you have an arrangement you love, mark/sort your blocks in whatever method you’d like so that your layout will be intact.

Sew your rows together using a standard ¼-inch seam allowance.

The Artistic Artifacts sample is borderless, but you may add one or more borders if you desire.

Finishing:

Note that you will end up with some unused strips and small blocks. Erica suggests that these be pieced together to add interest to your backing fabric (see her photograph below).

Once your top is layered with batting and backing fabric, machine or hand quilt as desired.

Use leftover fabric from the yardage to piece your binding, or you may choose to use a complementary fabric. Bind your quilt using your choice of techniques.

Below, Erica Jackman’s original version, a lap quilt that finished to 68 in. x 76 in.

Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting

Simply Style Stacked Squares Quilt by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting;
photographs courtesy of the Moda Cutting Table blog.

The reverse of Erica Jackman’s quilt, which shows how she used her leftover blocks to accent her quilt backing fabric.

Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt (reverse) by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting

   • Print/PDF version of Erica’s tutorial for Moda Bake Shop »

 

Block Printed Wonky Scrap Quilt

Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Pictured above is one of my most recent complete projects, my block printed wonky scrap quilt. I love it! This is the largest quilt I’ve made featuring block printing (see info links at the end of this post). Click to view larger photo »

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

It was beautifully quilted by Susan Bentley of suZquilts. I’m always so pleased with when I receive my quilts back!

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Most of my log cabin blocks in this quilt feature the block print as the center, and you can also see some block printed fabrics in the rows. I have a never ending supply of block printed fabric scraps, from the many, many block printing demonstrations I’ve held over the years while vending at quilt and art shows, teaching classes here and the shop, etc.

Wonky Log Cabin block for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

And of course, as a fiber artist of many years now, I have a ton of fabric scraps! This quilt features a wide range of the beautiful Modern Cottons we feature in the shop. Leftovers from a quilt project, strips remaining from the bolt end of a sold out fabric — no scrap goes to waste!

Wonky Log Cabin block for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

I love wonky, and letting the fabrics dictate the size and shape of the blocks. If you haven’t tried wonky log cabin piecing, I have previously recommended a post from the blog Quilt Dad — he created a wonderful Wonky Log Cabin tutorial that is illustrated with step by step photos, making the process so easy.

Designing the layout for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

So after stitching together a pile of blocks, it’s time to figure out a layout. Rather than squaring mine up and seaming them together precisely, I played around with layouts using my studio floor (forgive the uneven lighting) for a design wall. I knew I would “fill in” the gaps with a unifying fabric.

Designing the layout for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Above, more layout decisions, and the beginnings of stitching together block units.

Wonky log cabin block unit for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Trim straight edges on your blocks and rows to seam together. Because these are intentionally wonky, there is no worry of pattern or block matching.

Trimming wonky log cabin block units, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Working improvisationally is a lot of fun, and is a great exercise in thinking creatively as you use the scraps you have, a variety of block sizes, and make it all come together.

Completing and laying out wonky log cabin block units, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Here’s my introduction to block printing that includes additional links if you’d like to explore this art form further. Artistic Artifacts carries a large variety of wooden printing blocks that are hand-carved in India. We also have our own line of textile paint, which gives you beautiful results on fabrics (and other surfaces) and can be easily heat set for permanence — you can wash and dry your quilt and the colors will stay bright and true.

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

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

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