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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

Beaded Embroidery Stitching on Panels

Cover of Beaded Embroidery Stitching: 125 Stitches to Embellish with Beads Buttons Charms Bead Weaving and More by Christen Brown

It’s Friday, April 12, Artistic Artifacts’ day to celebrate the publication Beaded Embroidery Stitching: 125 Stitches to Embellish with Beads, Buttons, Charms, Bead Weaving & More by Christen Brown!

Please comment on our posting of this blog tour — use the field at the bottom of the page and be sure to include your email address — to be eligible for our random drawing to win an e-book copy of this beautiful book from us!

Color Batik Panel Quilts by Judy Vincentz Gula

I have long been a fan of beading and have often incorporated it into my art quilts (you can visit past blog posts here and here for some examples). When Artistic Artifacts was selected as a 2018 Top Shop by Quilt Sampler magazine, our magazine exclusive project was a batik panel quilt with beading! Our Artistic Artifacts Quilt Sampler kit is available in several colors and includes a Hari Agung batik panel, coordinating Australian Aborigine Designed fabrics and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks, plus beads, Silamide thread (my favorite) and a needle to embellish!

Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: 28 Quilting and Embellishing Inspirations from Around the World, is my first book and was published at the beginning of this year — here’s a link to my blog post about it (which also features beading). Colorful Batik Panel Quilts features a section on embellishing: “Beading on panels is one of my favorite embellishing techniques. Beads and crystals can add sparkle and texture to enhance the design of the panel and make it your own,” I wrote. “Single stitch and back stitch are two techniques I use most.”

Beaded Embroidery Stitching from C&T Publishing features 125 bead embroidery and bead woven stitches, and readers can search both stitches organized by type with a complete visual guide or the A-to-Z stitch index. There is a wonderful assortment of beautiful dimensional stitches that I thought would be perfect for my project.

Hari Agung batik panel quilt by Judy Gula

Above, my quilted batik panel quilt before I started beading. The center floral panel is another from Hari Agung. I gathered my other supplies, beads, beading needles (Tulip brand, which are in my opinion the best quality), a beading awl (useful to reposition beads or clear the hole of coatings so your needle can go through) and Silamide.

Beaded Pistil Stitch from Beaded Embroidery Stitching by Christen Brown

An obvious choice when working on a batik panel featuring flowers was exploring Christen’s Beaded Pistil Stitch. I enjoyed learning this technique and am thrilled with the dimension it adds!

The beaded pistil stitch adds wonderful dimension to the center of the flower in this Hari Agung panel

I wanted to try out her Feather and Fly Stitches to accent one of the leaves in my panel.

Fly and Feather Stitches from Beaded Embroidery Stitching by Christen Brown

Despite Christen’s very clear instructions, my attempt went a bit awry with this one — I told you I was used to freeform stitching! But even so, I love the way the bead embroidery enhances the leaf in my panel. Christen begins her book with explaining, and illustrating, how beads come in many different shapes and sizes, with seed beads are numbered from low to high: the higher the number, the smaller the bead. My preference is for mixing colors and sizes of beads together (that’s what you find in the Artistic Artifacts bead mixes I’m using here), but a uniform line of beads would also be perfect on my leaves.

Accenting flower petal edges with beading

Above, I added tiny striped beads to accent the edge of the petals.

Batik panel art quilt by Judy Gula, including beaded details

Christen’s chapter Where Do Designs Come From? (page 30) points out that a fabric with a strong print can be “used as the focal or base of an embroidered design. The embroidery and embellishments can follow the lines and shapes of the print and enhance any open spaces.” I offer the same advice about free-motion quilting — follow the lines of your fabric design — and one of the pleasures of beading a batik panel is that there is so much ‘guidance’ in the fabric. The above project from my book illustrates that point — as well as Christen’s belief that “Adding larger beads, charms, and buttons gives interest and definition to your project.”

Beaded brooches by Christen Brown and Judy Gula

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge lover of vintage beaded textiles and accessories, so I enjoyed learning more about how these influenced Christen’s work. I used to create pins and brooches by the handful (see more here) so her Beaded Brooches project (page 94, one example above left) was of interest. Beaded Embroidery Stitching includes instructions on creating beaded edges, which as you see are beautiful on dimensional shapes!

Beaded Embroidery Stitching includes detailed diagrams

I’m thankful to Diane Herbort, who often teaches at Artistic Artifacts — she and Christen are long-time friends and Diane recommended us to her for this blog tour. Beaded Embroidery Stitching is a resource all embroiderers, crazy quilters, craft sewists, jewelry makers and more will want to add to their library. I was interested to learn more about how Christen achieves her beautiful work, and this book didn’t disappoint. The plentiful photographs are truly eye candy, and each project includes clear instructions, plus a photo ‘map’ so you can see exactly what stitch is used where (example here).

Christen Brown, author of Beaded Embroidery Stitching

Below is the complete Beaded Embroidery Stitching Blog Tour lineup — please visit each blog each day to see their reviews, how they have been inspired, and more. Follow each blog’s directions for how to be eligible to win — if you aren’t our winner, you have several chances to be someone else’s!

You can learn more about this beautiful book and order your copy on our website. Also by Christen Brown:

  • Embroidered and Embellished: 85 Stitches Using Thread, Floss, Ribbon, Beads & More. The complete visual guide to hand embroidery and embellishing and an essential embroidery reference for everyone from beginners to experts. This richly illustrated reference guide from embroidery expert Christen Brown covers everything you need to make beautiful magic with needle and thread.
  • The Embroidery Book: Visual Resource of Color & Design. A step-by-step visual guide to 149 embroidery stitches, motifs, and extras with robust color charts that take the guesswork out of choosing thread, buttons, and trims. Stitch classic seam treatments and stunning stand-alone designs as you go beyond the basics to learn what embroidery can do for you.
  • Embroidery Stencils, Essential Collection help you create unique designs to embroider: hearts, flowers, baskets, butterflies, spiderwebs, vines, feather stitches, and more using the 4 in. x 8 in. stencils that combine to create 90+ embroidery designs.

Remember, leave a comment and your email address to be eligible to win an ebook copy of Beaded Embroidery Stitching!

Beading supplies ready for the next session

Above, my supplies and tools are ready for my next beading session!

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