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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.

Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: My First Book!

Colorful Batik Panel Quilts by Judy Gula on display at Artistic Artifacts

I’ve begun the new year as a published author, with the release of Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: 28 Quilting and Embellishing Inspirations from Around the World — it’s so exciting to see it come to fruition and hold the tangible product in my hands! I’ve been working on this project for quilt some time now, and for those who purchase my book and who are readers of this blog, you will recognize some of the projects that are included!

Pictured below, School of Fish is featured as one of the book’s projects, with complete instructions on my wonky log cabin method. Plus, a closeup of one of the the wonderful hand-drawn fish by Jaka ended up as the cover star (see below) of my book!

School of Fish quilt by Judy Gula, included in Colorful Batik Panel Quilts by Judy Gula

This quilt was designed and created for our 2015 Row by Row Experience project, which had H2O as its theme. It was the topic of this post, where I expressed the unexpected difficulty in adding a new row to an already completed quilt!

Sisters batik panel quilt by Judy Gula, in progess, included in Colorful Batik Panel Quilts

Jaka is one of the most well known batik artists in Indonesia and his “postcard” quilts (9-up grid of animals and designs) are popular and versatile. To create the wonky log cabin strips in School of Fish, I combined our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik with many Australian Aborigine designed fabrics — I love the play of patterns and colors.

My piano keys border method, included in the book, is pictured (right) in progress and was described in this post. Sisters (a portion of which is pictured here) began with the choice of an expressively painted panel by Bambang Dharmo. The border used silk pieces from our Silk Fat Quarter Assortment from India.

Mahyar batik panel  awaiting border

A completed Three Sisters (shown in progress above) is included in my “embellishing” section. I introduced you to this quilt in this post, which began with a batik panel by Mahyar. I loved hand-stitching on this panel, using Eleganza pearl cotton by WonderFil Specialty Threads and my trusty chenille needles from Tulip. Colorful Batik Panel Quilts contains instructions on my favorite embroidery stitches.

Instructions on how to add beading to your projects is included in Colorful Batik Panel Quilts by Judy Gula

In addition to embroidery stitches, my book also teaches you the basic beading stitches. Batik Flowers, a quilt shown in this post (portion shown above) and included in the book, began with a floral batik panel by the very talented Hari Agung. As the book notes, “My idea was to use a variety of beads and stitching to create a hydrangea-type flower. I used the beading and stitching to extend beyond the doily and batik flower….” I used my yellow bead mix and Silamide thread to embellish this quilt.

I hope I’ve tempted you to add my book to your shelves and create your own Colorful Batik Panel Quilt! If you are local or able to travel, in addition to a book signing party at Artistic Artifacts on Sunday, February 3, I will be teaching my Create a Batik Panel Art Quilt class on January 26 and would be delighted to have you join us. I also include this class in my offerings to quilt guilds and art groups around the country too — learn more about booking me for your own event!

Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: 28 Quilting and Embellishing Inspirations from Around the World by Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula

Block Printing Holiday Cards

Holiday themed wooden printing blocks for sale by Artistic Artifacts

Above, holiday-themed wooden printing blocks available at Artistic Artifacts.

the Shop Small x District Rebel Supported by Amex & Etsy at Union Market in Washington, DC

It’s no surprise to write that one of our favorite techniques is block printing using our wooden printing blocks, which are hand carved by artisans in India, ethically sourced using sustainable wood.

We planned a “make and take” for our shop as part of our celebration of Small Business Saturday. Then, we were delighted to be asked to participate in the District Rebel Market, which was as Shop Small event supported by Amex & Etsy at Union Market in Washington, DC by hosting a make and take demonstration. (District Rebel “seeks to curate a collection of artists and makers that put a unique, modern spin on traditional art + craft.”) Since this event also took place on Small Business Saturday, we once again recruited Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts (pictured here at left in photo) to represent us. We set up a wide variety of wooden printing blocks, our Artistic Artifacts line of textile paints and blank notecards and envelopes at both locations for holiday card making.

Union Market attendees enjoying the block printing make and take opportunity

Above, at Union Market, both children and adults enjoyed learning to block print. It’s fun to introduce a new generation to art techniques, and simple block printing is quick and easy!

 Applying paint to the wooden printing block

Above, use a sponge to apply paint to the wooden printing block — pictured here is WB163 Reindeer. Pounce the paint on lightly but evenly.

Applying pressure to the block placed atop a foam printing mat

Working on a foam printing mat is essential, as it allows the necessary amount of give to ensure a crisp and complete impressions of your block. Place the fabric or paper you are printing on top of the mat (here we are printing on tissue paper) and apply strong, even pressure with the heel of your hand. Remove the block for your print, which will dry very quickly. Since our tissue paper was thin, and fabrics have a weave, you can see that your foam mat will not stay clean (pictured above, right). The layers that will build up have their own kind of beauty!

Finished reindeer print on tissue paper

Above, the finished print using the Copper color of Metallic Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint. Clean your wooden printing blocks with soap and water when you are finished printing.

Using reindeer print to create a holiday card

Finish your card as desired. Here the tissue was torn for an organic edge and adhered to the card with GOLDEN Matte Medium. Adding additional paper scraps, fabrics, ephemera, glitter and more are fun ways to embellish and complete your cards.

Block printed cards created using wooden printing blocks and textile paints sold by Artistic Artifacts, accented with paper ephemera

Below, watch as Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula gives a brief tutorial on using wooden printing blocks and Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint on fabric.

Fabric Embellishing Inspiration

“It’s easy to take advantage of the creative offerings available that allow you to participate in the convenience of your own home,” wrote Art & Soul founder Glenny Moir** on the Art & Soul blog last year. “But there’s nothing like being amongst your tribe of like-minded souls, having a teacher right in front of you to answer questions as they arise [and] walking around a classroom to see what others are doing.”

We love that sentiment, as it really sums up our experience hosting classes at Artistic Artifacts. Much of the fun is in the mix of students and their own approaches and styles, favorites colors and themes. Plus most of our instructors report back to us that that learn as much from their students — and yes, even beginners and those inexperienced!

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

The photos shared here are student work from our 6-session class Fabric Embellishing Workbook with Judy Gula, which uses Fabric Embellishing — the Basics and Beyond as the text. And we’ve just scheduled a new session of this class beginning in February, 2019!

This is a great opportunity to try fabric embellishing: walk through various techniques, create a reference book of beautiful examples, and enjoy the company of, and learn from, others in the class. We will learn multiple fabric embellishing techniques as we create a beautiful fabric book. Class sessions consist of demonstrations as well as hands on activities; you will complete your pages and “homework” at home. Note, each student must own a copy of Fabric Embellishing — the Basics and Beyond and bring it with them to each session. We will cover techniques from Fabric Embellishing, as well as Judy’s own, resulting in an artful book you will refer to time and time again.

More student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts points out that “The difference between taking a class and working on your own using a book is the inspiration you get from the others working through the same exercises. The details in the Fabric Embellishing — the Basics and Beyond book are wonderfully done and easy to follow. But the show and tell of the folks taking Judy Gula’s class using the book as a guide adds so many ideas to push us out of our own comfort zone and explore new options within our own work.”

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Inaugural student Suzanne Meader agrees: “I participated in the first session of this class at Artistic Artifacts that started last fall, and it is FANTASTIC! As Chris Vinh says, you not only learn new techniques, but seeing how the students in the class interpret and create ‘pages’ based on the techniques learned in the class sessions are so inspiring. It was really interesting to see how each student developed their own style for their pages…great class, and I highly recommend!”

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Enjoy these many examples of fabric manipulation and embellishing techniques and be inspired to create your own too!

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class
Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

** P.S. We included the following information in one of our recent enewsletters: Art & Soul founder Glenny Moir recently announced that the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel was purchased by Marriott, and the planned $25 million renovation means it will be closed for all of 2019 —“exciting news for the property and wonderful staff, but it means that we will NOT be in VA next year… Therefore, if you have been wanting to see what it is we love about this location on the beach — now is the time to register! Virginia Beach is an east-to-get-to destination for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic region, and the off-season weather still lets you enjoy walks on the beach just outside your classroom. The International Sand Sculpting Championship will take place September 27-October 7, part of Virginia Beach’s annual Neptune Festival— another exciting draw! Remember that Artistic Artifacts sets up an on-site “satellite shop” filled with fiber and mixed media supplies, and it’s open to anyone, not just retreat attendees. Visit the Art & Soul website to register for your choice of classes.

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Student work from Judy Gula's Fabric Embellishing class

Revisited: Dye. Layer. Collage. Art.

I’m doing some springtime travel: presenting my Batik Adventure lecture and trunk show to the Colorado Quilting Council on Saturday, April 28, and also teaching my Woodblock Printed Collage Art Quilt for the group on Sunday, April 29. (FYI, this class will also take place May 19 at Artistic Artifacts.)

Lady with Brooch mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula

The workshop will take place at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, in Colorado Springs, also home to Textiles West and my oft-mentioned friends Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Ruth Chandler, who are both are on the Textiles West board. I’m reminded of a Colorado visit nearly eight years ago, teaching a class titled Dye. Layer. Collage. Art. at a Textile Evolution Retreat. The quilt I made there is pictured above, my “Lady with Brooch.”

Art and inspiration are timeless, so while my original blog post about this 2010 event is no longer available, I wanted to share again, this time including additional photos taken by Liz.

Dyeing fabric in Colorado, Textile Evolution Retreat 2010The first day of class we were immersed in making what I called “bits,” the base materials for our creations. We began with dyeing fabrics, vintage linens, trims and more. In the high-altitude Colorado climate, we could dye in jars, set out in the sun for three hours, rinse and line dry, and use in our quilts — all in the same day! (While the process is not that speedy on the East Coast, I have several Dye Days on the schedule now that the weather is warming.)

Show and TeJl at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010Day one also found us using fabric, tissue paper and paints to create fabric paper. You can download Making Fabric from Paper by Beryl Taylor, a PDF tutorial from the Cloth Paper Scissors blog to learn how youreself. During the retreat we would finish out each day with show and tell, and in this photo (right) you can see finished sheets of fabric paper and piles of hand-dyed fabric being passed around. It was fun to see what students in the other classes were up to each day!

Judy Gula demonstrating making silk paper at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

In addition to the daytime classes, each evening the instructors would take turns doing another fiber arts related demonstration and hands-on activity. Pictured above, I demonstrated making silk paper using silk fibers, Angelina, Jo Sonja Textile Medium and more, adding to our stash of bits to use. (View my tutorial on creating silk paper on the Artistic Artifacts website)

Lady with Brooch art quilt by Judy Gula, detail

The 'bits' used in  the Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010The above detail photo of my Lady with Brooch quilt shows some of the fabric paper and dyed trims, as well as the vintage brooch referenced in my title.

The second day of class, my students had a choice of continuing to make bits (a glimpse of which are pictured right; including some of the student work begun), or to immediately start in on designing their quilts. They had to do so without pencil, paper, or preplanning — just letting the materials speak to them.

This was scary for all, but thanks to Cass Mullane and Laura Cater-Woods, every retreat attendee was issued a ‘permission slip’ to try something scary!

Students beginning to design their collaged art quilts

By beginning with an inspiration item such as a pin, photo or found object, they all were able to create a small art quilt that could be easily finished (if necessary) after the retreat concluded. Above you can see students beginning to experiment with layering fabrics and textiles to find the design they wanted to complete.

Student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

I was very proud of my students — they all stepped into the scary land of intuitive designing! Unfortunately I didn’t capture all of the work, but they all did a fabulous job. Above and below, student work experimenting with possible layouts.

Student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

Below, Cathleen “Cat” Mikkelson’s collage composition.

Cat Mikkelson’s student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

Cat’s inspiration was a “Famous Woman Card” that was included in the retreat Goodie Bag and her newly dyed fabrics.

Ruth Chandler at work designing her fiber collage art quilts

Above, Ruth Chandler at work composing two different pieces.

Ruth Chandler’s student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

The beginning of another piece by Ruth Chandler from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy GulaRuth’s inspiration was the beautiful dyed and surface designed fabric she created combined with the photo, one of many I brought with me for student use.

Here you see more of Ruth’s fabric, but for this piece, the inspiration was a 12 in. × 12 in. piece of scrapbooking paper! Other Artists who taught at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010 were Laura Cater-Woods, a wonderful art coach, artist and friend and Carol Sloan.

This was the first time I had met Carol and I wrote then that she was “a new friend who draws wonderful designs, creates very cool rusted fabrics and loves found objects… wonder why we get along!”

My mother Pat Vincentz accompanied me on the trip to the retreat. While I was busy teaching, she took Carol’s two-day mixed media class Scraps, Fragments and Artifacts. She enjoyed herself, met new friends and then surprised me with the most wonderful quilt ever!

There was a photo of me and my mom holding it, me sweaty and sobbing. With my first blog post, I wrote that my readers were to “Keep in mind this quilt was a surprise and I was crying like a baby! I also had been working outside in 90 degree sunshine…you are supposed to be looking at the quilt!” This time around, I’m going to spare myself that embarrassment and just post the beautiful keepsake.

Pat Vincentz student work from Scraps, Fragments and Artifacts by Carol Sloan at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

You can see my mom used some of Carol’s rust dyed fabric in her quilt. I used a wonderful piece too in my quilt; the detail photo below shows it as well as the free motion thread painting/quilting I used. I now sell my own Rusted Fabric Collage Pack — it adds such a great touch to fiber projects!

Lady with Brooch art quilt by Judy Gula, detail

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk down memory lane and are inspired to create your own art quilt!

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