Combining Colors for Quilts

Dudley is one of the Artistic Artifacts staff members, always happy to assist a customer with choosing fabrics. She has helped start many talented quilters on their way through her classes. Enjoy her thoughts on fabric selection! — Judy

Guest post by Dudley Shugart

Yellow Brick Road quilt pattern by Atkinson Design

I have been asked many times to teach a class on color theory to help people select fabrics to make a quilt. Since I am not a color wheel user, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how I go about selecting fabric for my quilts in this post.

First off, I do begin with a quilt pattern I want to use, deciding on two colors, or a particular fabric to build around.

Let’s start with my favorite quilt pattern — Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs. I have used this pattern probably more than fifty times! It is my ‘go-to’ baby quilt and other occasions when I want to gift a quilt.

Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs fabric requirements

The pattern calls for six fat quarters to make a baby quilt size. Having made many of these quilts over the years, in my opinion the quilt looks better featuring three different colors (with two different shades or variations of each of your three colors) rather than six completely different colors.

Yellow Brick Road quilt tops and quilts by Dudley Shugart
Made for Leo Madden Grandy by Dudley Shugart

For a baby quilt gift, I usually begin with a fun children’s or novelty pattern or focus fabric, then find a complementary fabric with similar colors to go with the focus fabric. I have examples of some of my Yellow Brick Road quilts included in this post, and pictured here is the one I made for a special little boy, Leo, the son of my Artistic Artifacts coworker Katelyn — her baby shower was dinosaur-themed and she was in love with this focal fabric.

After selecting the first two ‘busier’ fabric patterns, I select two colors that enhance the focus fabric I initially selected. From this point, selecting different scales of print and lights and darks add interest too. As a personal rule, I try never to use the same print twice. Also, I like to not use fabrics from the same fabric collection or line if I can get away with it!

Fabrics selected by Dudley Shugart perfect for a Yellow Brick Road baby quilt.

I took a trip through Artistic Artifacts to assemble this example six-fabrics selection that would be the basis of a beautiful Yellow Brick Road quilt. Of course many other quilt patterns, or repeats of your favorite patchwork block patterns, would look great with fabrics like these too.

Fabrics from Artistic Artifacts

Fabrics from Artistic Artifacts

  • Fabric four: Another green. After trying out several, I ended up with Hopscotch- Stitched, Pickle. It’s the perfect lighter shade of green to accent the trees in my focus fabric, and the white line pattern has a fun interpretation of flower and leaves.
  • Fabric five: Now to bring in black, for contrast. Another Australian Aborigine-designed fabric was my choice: Land of Utopia Black by Anna Pitjara is a beautiful fabric with visual flow.
  • Fabric six: The blender line Moonscape by Dear Stella is a real favorite here in the shop — it goes with so many fabrics. Asphalt is a new color choice for us, a nice medium gray.

The three pairs of fabric colors I discussed earlier are, in this instance, white, green, and black. Remember too that variation of print is as important as color for the final effect.

Yellow Brick Road quilts and quilt tops made by Dudley Shugart

And here’s an additional tip. You’ll know you have a successful combination when you move the fabric bolts or swatches around in order on your cutting table or work surface, and the fabrics still look good together. If you find that you’re considering a fabric that only looks good paired with one other fabric, and/or with a shift in order it stands out, try again.

Dudley Shugart's curated Fat Quarter Bundles

When Artistic Artifacts staff created their own curated 10 fat quarter cut bundles to sell during our April 28 Facebook/CommentSold live sale event (some still available in our CommentSold store), I expanded the six-fabric idea to create mine.

We were challenged to mix lines and designers, even to incorporate fabrics on sale and to consider bolts that hadn’t gotten enough attention when released, not just the newest arrivals. Here are my thoughts behind my selections.

The fabrics in Dudley Shugart’s curated Fat Quarter Bundles

This is my approach, and it is just one way to explore combining colors. Remember that your projects are yours, so choose fabric you love!

Yellow Brick road quilt top in progress by Dudley Shugart

Above, while I focused on the baby quilt size of Yellow Brick Road, the instructions are included to create six different sizes — it’s an easy pattern to stitch and gives you a fun scrappy look.

Modern Squares Quilt 2022

Creative Mind Chris Vinh has created another beautiful quilt while giving our free pattern Modern Squares (which she designed) an update. Enjoy her guidance in creating your own version! — Judy

Guest post by Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts

Click image to download your free Modern Squares quilt pattern courtesy of Artistic Artifacts

Finding some special fabric often sparks an idea for a new quilt. I’d had my eye on the “Earth Made Paradise” collection by Kathy Doughty and one day I decided to revisit a pattern design I had used for some shop samples several years ago. As I worked on the project, I made some changes to my initial pattern used for the first quilts I made, which we used in our booth at Quilt Market to showcase fabrics current at the time.

Our updated “Modern Squares” pattern — download your PDF copy — instructs you to pick two feature fabrics, 6 to 8 additional fabrics, and one (1) solid color for your quilt top (border not included). For the feature fabrics, I chose one (1) yard each of Abundance in cool colorway and Budgie Babies, and half-yards of the rest of the Earth Made Paradise Collection. I chose my one (1) yard solid color fabric from the wide variety of Marcia Derse Palette Solids, Cloud (a creamy white)

Cutting squares and strips of Earth Made Paradise fabric designed by Kathy Doughty

Following the pattern’s cutting directions, I cut the required squares and strips from the feature fabrics (pictured above). I used the entire yard of the solid for 2-inch strips, and for the half yard pieces, cut two 8-inch squares and then the rest into 2-inch strips.

Having cut all the fabric, I laid out the 8-inch squares and selected two different fabric strips to go with each square, making sure to vary the combinations. There will be some duplication, but variety was what I was aiming for as I played with the options.

Using the BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and Sew Steady Grid Glider for piecing accuracy

The blocks were pieced using the squares and strips using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. I love using my BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and the Sew Steady Grid Glider to help in making sure my seams are straight!

I use the full width of the fabric for the strips and trim the extra before pressing at each step of the piecing. This is where a Oliso Mini Project Iron and Felted Wool Pressing Mat come in handy!

While I usually strip piece when sewing patchwork, for this project I made one square at a time, which helped me to keep track of my fabric selections.

Constructing the blocks for the Modern Squares quilt

In piecing the blocks, it is important to keep the same sequence of adding the strips — first to the left and right of the block, and then the top and bottom. Use the same order/sequence when adding your second row fabric strips.

Following the same order for all squares will make for nicer finished blocks when you piece the quilt together.

Once all the blocks were sewn, I squared them up to make sure they were all the same size.

The next step is to cut each block into four smaller blocks by cutting in half from top to bottom, and then turning to cut again. Using my 12-inch OLFA Rotating Self-Healing Rotary Mat came in handy here — I didn’t have to reposition the pieces as I cut. Following our pattern, you will end up with a total of 92 blocks.

Pieced blocks before cutting into fourths

For me, the next phase of laying out the blocks to create the design is the fun part! I find I can get lost for hours repositioning blocks to get just the right layout. I focus on making sure there is a balance of color and pattern, trying not to have similar blocks next to each other. I knew this would be larger than my design wall, so I used the top of our bed to lay out the pieces.

Some may decide to lay the smaller blocks out randomly, but I chose to start with placing four of the smaller blocks from the same large one near the center. I then worked my way out towards the sides and tops, adding partial blocks in some case, only a single block in others, or adding several more ‘complete’ blocks to get a design that was pleasing.

At this point, I recommend taking a picture of what you think is the final layout and stepping away from your design process. Often I see something that stands out in the picture that may need to be moved around to assure a good flow of colors and patterns. This may take several tries, but it is worth the extra effort!

Laying out the completed blocks to finalize the quilt’s design

Once I have decided on my layout, I carefully stack the blocks by row. I begin with the top row, with the block that would be located at the far right side placed on the bottom. When I get to the last two blocks for that row, I pin the second block to the first where the seam should be. This helps to keep the blocks in proper sequence. I number each stack with a Post-It, adding an arrow indicating which direction is the top of the block.

I like to sew the rows together as I go along, referring to my photo, in the event that I might have turned a block or not sewn in the right sequence. If it’s necessary, it’s much easier to rip out one row at that point!

For the layout in my sample, there are seven (7) small blocks across each row, and a total of 10 rows. I never fret over left over blocks as they get pieced for use in the backing (see photo at the end of this post)!

At this point, I decided to add a border with a complementary fabric, and chose Dear Stella Moonscape in Burgundy (Moonscape is a favorite blender fabric of mine!). It helped to contain a busy quilt a bit and pulled out colors in the several of the fabrics. I purchased 1-1/2 yards of this fabric, as the remainder would be used to piece my backing.

Completed Modern Squares quilt, designed and pieced by Christine Vinh, featuring Earth Made Paradise fabric from Kathy Doughty. Machine quilted by Sue Bentley

Above, the completed Modern Squares quilt, designed & pieced
by Christine Vinh, featuring Earth Made Paradise fabric
from Kathy Doughty. Machine quilted by Sue Bentley.

For the backing, I used all leftover blocks, any leftover uncut focus fabrics, and the Dear Stella. My quilt’s binding is from one of my focus fabric. My only scraps from this quilt project fit into a zip-loc bag!

For the final finishing touch, Sue Bentley of SuZquilts added the perfect machine quilting to my quilt, as she always does!

This pattern is a modification of Simply Styled Stacked Square Quilt, a free pattern by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting. Visit our previous blog posting to see Erica Jackman’s original version that used precut fabric bundles, a lap quilt that finished to 68 in. x 76 in.
The pieced backing of Chris Vinh's Modern Squares quilt

Above, a view of my Modern Squares quilt — I love to piece my quilt backings (they are an improv quilt on their own) and this was a perfect use of leftover fabric squares.

Fun with BERNINA Feet / Creative Quest

Artistic Artifacts is proud to be a BERNINA authorized dealer and now you can purchase BERNINA presser feet and BERNINA accessories directly our secure online shop! Give your creativity free rein with the wide range of presser feet and specialty accessories for sewing, quilting, embroidering and serging.

Judy Gula watches as Leslie Gill-Aglah demonstrates BERNINA presser feet

For our most recent Facebook Live presentation, I asked Leslie Gill-Aglah to share some of her favorite BERNINA Presser Feet. Since I’m an art quilter and art quilter, Leslie is a garment maker, I enjoyed the different opinions and perspectives on what makes a favorite presser foot. In our video Leslie demonstrates how she uses five of the feet on a variety of the BERNINA sewing machines available at Artistic Artifacts.

We’ll be happy to special order a BERNINA accessory for you if you don’t see what you need — email us with your request! Join Leslie’s Facebook Group, Textile Adventures of a Prima Dona — she will be producing a series of Five Minute Feet videos to educate and inform!

Join Us for Our Creative Quest!

Visit Artistic Artifacts for our Creative Quest!

And if you love demonstrations and live near our shop, please visit us for the holiday weekend for our Creative Quest, beginning this Friday! We will be open for special hours on Sunday and Monday. Enjoy a 15% shopping discount on most store products, door prizes and fiber and mixed media demonstrations, including our hosting of a Handmade Market with lots of local artisans selling their wares held on the second floor (note: access is via stairs only).

Creative Quest Demo Schedule:

Download a PDF Copy of this schedule to print.

Friday, October 8 (Store Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

  • 11:00 am Gelatos by Faber-Castell with Sharon McDonagh (repeats 11:30)
  • 12:00 noon Quilting with Rulers with Tina Wujick (repeats 12:30 pm)
  • 1:00 pm Mixed Media Tags with Diane Herbort (repeats 1:30 pm)
  • 2:00 pm Art Journaling with Ellen Taylor (repeats 2:30 pm)
  • 3:00 pm Hand Stitching with Suzanne Langsdorf (repeats 3:30 pm)
  • 4:00 pm Stripology Rulers by GE Designs with Chris Vinh (repeats 4:30 pm)

Saturday, October 9 (Store Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

  • 11:00 am Woodblock Printing with Judy Gula (repeats 11:30)
  • 12:00 noon Monoprinting with Gel Plates with Susan Gantz (repeats 12:30 pm)
  • 1:00 pm Postcard Book with NiYa Costley (repeats 1:30 pm)
  • 2:00 pm Beading with Amy Castine: upstairs at Handmade Market (repeats 2:30 pm)
  • 3:00 pm Creating Silk Paper with Judy Gula (repeats 3:30 pm)
  • 4:00 pm Sashiko Stitching with Chris Vinh: upstairs at the Handmade Market (repeats 4:30 pm)

Sunday, October 10 (Special Store Hours: Noon – 4:00 pm)

  • 12 noon ‘Burrito’ Pillowcase Method with Leslie Pfieffer (repeats 12:30 pm)
  • 1:00 pm Thermofax Printing with Sue Price (repeats 1:30 pm)
  • 2:00 pm Artistic Artifacts Fluid Paints with Judy Gula (repeats 2:30 pm)
  • 3:00 pm Hand Stitching with Suzanne Langsdorf (repeats 3:30 pm)

Monday, October 11 (Special Store Hours: Noon – 4:00 pm)

  • 1:00 pm Gelatos by Faber-Castell with Sharon McDonagh (repeats 1:30)
  • 2:00 pm Stripology Rulers by GE Designs with Chris Vinh (repeats 2:30 pm)
  • 3:00 pm Woodblock Printing with Judy Gula (repeats 3:30)

Making Handmade Cards

Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts demonstrating how to add foil accents to handmade cards

This summer at the shop we’ve been sharing ideas for handmade gifts and décor for the holidays. Manufacturers ship their seasonal fabrics in the early summer, and we have some beautiful ones available for you! Their arrival was the catalyst for our “don’t get your tinsel in a tangle” attitude — beginning holiday projects during the summer and knowing your homemade gift list is taken care of already really reduces end of the year stress! Visit the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel for these archived videos of our Saturday morning Facebook Live presentations, including my demonstration (pictured here) of using foil products and my Holiday Paper vintage paper collage pack and more to make mixed media cards.

A foiled card example and supplies from Artistic Artifacts

Along with new cards created this year, I’m sharing from past blog postings as we celebrate our Summer Start = Holiday Peace concept.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I often use gel printing plates to create layered backgrounds (see my post A Peek at Gel Plate Printing for more on monoprinting). The above includes stamped fabric strips layered atop block printed found paper.

Mixed media greeting cards using ephemera and more created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts
Detail of a mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Our Found Paper Collage Packs are full of themed paper ephemera for you — all original pages (not photocopied). I also make scans of many vintage items in my collections such as cabinet cards and other photographs, postcards and more, enabling me to use them more than once or resize them for projects. Greeting cards or Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are the perfect place to use up treasured scraps and bits. I used a scrap of a vintage handkerchief as the base/background for my elegant woman photograph and contrasted it with a trimmed piece from one of my fabric postcards. You can see the dimension added by the batting and machine quilting in this detail photo. Visit this blog post for my tutorial on making fabric postcards.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

New to our Found Paper Collage Packs is a vintage photo pack. Another favorite ephemera are antique ledger pages. I love combining fabric and paper scraps for these collages.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, I revisited the ephemera that inspired my Blue Fish Quilt.

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

Above, our wide variety of wooden printing blocks includes a variety holiday designs, including some really fun sets! Block prints combined with book text, sheet music and other found paper are collaged to make holiday cards.

Block printed cards with sketching created by Celia Middleton

Several years ago my niece Celia Middleton embellished her block prints with fun sketching details using her favorite pens and markers, then turned her artwork into handmade cards and tags!

Greeting cards by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Many of you know I got my start as a weaver and I often weave both fabric and paper strips into small compositions I adhere to cards. The cards above are from my December 2018 post Using ATCs on Greeting Cards.

Woven paper and ephemera greeting cards created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, these cards are examples from my Greeting Cards with Woven Paper post in December 2015. Both fabric and paper strips are satisfying to weave together. Or mix them! It’s so easy to accumulate remnants resulting from straightening ragged edge fabrics, trimming from wonky/improv piecing, strips left behind after using your paper cutter, etc.

The result from weaving together fabric strips

My fabric weaving instructions were originally shared in 2014 — that card post also included these are little mixed media collages, 4 in. x 6 in.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I was testing a set of blank Strathmore mixed media cards, using spray inks and stencils. I created backgrounds on the cards and after they dried, stamped over the inks with paints in a different color. Then I found my collection of retro sewing patterns and began cutting out and pasting figures and text from the cover packages.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I hope this post and the tutorial links give you some inspiration for your own handmade cards and collages!

Sewing Dresses for Children

Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy continues her sewing posts for us. She previously shared her experience with sewing the Urban Princess dress by Olive Ann Designs; here are additional sweet dress patterns from the same company. — Judy

Guest post by Nancy McCarthy

Geo Dress/Tunic & Leggings

Two dress versions of the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern by Olive Ann DesignsI’ve sewn three different Olive Ann Designs little girls’ patterns at this point, each one twice, and the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings is the easiest, most straightforward one so far. It would be great for anyone looking for a quick make and especially for someone less confident about their garment making skills. And it’s super cute with lots of design possibilities!

The pattern comes in sizes 2- 8 and the photos show my just-turned-four year old granddaughter wearing a size four. The gold and coral shop sample is also a size four. The pattern can be sewn as either a dress or a tunic and includes a pattern for leggings, and as all the girls’ Olive Ann patterns do, it also includes a version to dress an 18 inch doll.

Reverse views, Geo dress by Olive Ann DesignsThe fabric choices for this dress are endless — it could be super fancy with lace panels or a school dress, as I imagined for my two examples. I chose whimsical prints kids will love and geometrics that I thought coordinated well (our Modern Cottons fabrics section has lots of amazing choices). I didn’t choose fabric from just one line, and in fact one of the fabrics I chose was a sale fabric. I used one of the Marcia Derse Palette Solidsfor the trim on the gold version, which includes four different fabrics. The green one has three fabrics including the trim and the Tula Pink Linework, Tent Stripe was perfect for that one. It reminded me that black and white prints are a sewist’s secret weapon. (I didn’t make the leggings from this pattern, but the instructions looked easy.)

Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern with the dress and flange fabrics chosen by Nancy McCarthy

Sewing notes: This pattern has 1/2 inch seam allowances! The front panels have bias edges and should be carefully cut on grain. In particular, the lower right panel will take more fabric than might first appear. I seem to choose directional prints without realizing it, so it’s a good thing the pattern layout is set up so that if you’re not focused on that, as I am often not, you won’t go wrong.

Completed dresses sewn from the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern The pattern calls for baby piping between the blocks of color. I decided to make flat flanges instead – MUCH easier to handle! I cut 1-1/4 inch STRAIGHT grain strips because the seams of the color blocks are bias seams. I folded the strips in half with a hard press and sandwiched the edges of the strip at the cut edges and between the wrong sides of the garment pieces. The flanges show 1/8 inch on the outside of the garment when the seam is completed, similar to the width of baby piping. I serged the finished seams and pressed them in the direction the flange wanted to lay.

Follow the pattern instructions to stitch the shoulder seams, install the facings and pull the front and back right side out through the facings, and THEN sew the side seams — this is a brilliant way to get a great finish and the pattern instructions are spot on. If this is your first time to use this method, it may seem a bit tricky, but trust me, it works!

You’ll need to make a loop of some sort to fasten the top back with a small button. The pattern calls for a tiny bias fabric loop, and quite frankly, I hate making those! So I tried an old-fashioned crochet thread loop, but it didn’t seem robust enough. Then I remembered how the loop on a dress-up costume of my granddaughter’s was done — a narrow elastic loop. But currently I’m not home in my own sewing space with access to my stash, and I didn’t have the option to run to the store. Here’s the hack I used: the ear elastic from my used surgical mask! It’s plenty stretchy, flat and narrow, and EASY to pin in place and sew through — it worked like a charm! Give it a try and see what you think and give this little dress a try for some summer fun!

Gigi Dress

Gigi dress by Olive Ann Designs sewn by Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy for her granddaughter

The GiGi Dress and Dolldress by Olive Ann Designs has what every girl wants — POCKETS! A super cute summer dress for any girl in sizes 2-8 (you see here a size 4 on a just-turned-four-year old). This dress has two surprises — first, the great pockets in both side seams and second, a breezy pleated open back tied with a sash, so it’s not too bare.

Fabric options listed on the pattern include double gauze and lawn. This version is in Kokka Blue Birds Double Gauze, found in the Fabrics for Garments section at Artistic Artifacts (more about sewing with this fabric later). Artistic Artifacts also has some charming lawn fabrics with prints very reminiscent of Liberty designs, and of course any of the quilting cottons would be appropriate. It would be great in a kid print and stunning in a wild Kaffe Fassett floral!

Gigi dress by Olive Ann Designs sewn by Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy for her granddaughter

Sewing notes: Intermediate sewers should not find this pattern too challenging. I am one of those sewers who likes to preserve my pattern so I can make it again and again as my four granddaughters grow. So I fold back the larger size cutting lines or cut out the size I want by running my scissors under the paper pattern. Yes, I always cut garments with scissors — that’s the way I learned! On this pattern I got confused when I couldn’t find the pattern markings for the back panel pleats. I eventually realized that the size adjustment for the back panel changed at BOTH the top and bottom of the panel, and I had just folded away, or would have cut away, the pleat markings.

The bodice has a full facing that goes down below the amscye* and in back extends to the depth of the back pleat facing. You attach the facing by sewing up the back, around the front neck, and back all the way to the bottom of the pleat facing. This is a bit acrobatic but it can be done! If it doesn’t make sense to you, just sew it as far around as you can and press in the the rest of the facing seam allowance at the pleat facing and slip stitch it in place.

* (Editors note: as per Wikipedia, “in sewing, the armscye is the armhole, the fabric edge to which the sleeve is sewn… the length of the armscye is the total length of this edge; the width is the distance across the hole at the widest point.”)

The GiGi Dress and Dolldress by Olive Ann Designs for children sizes 2 thru 8, and double gauze fabric, Kokka Blue Birds

The instructions have you sew the side seams and then insert the short sleeves, the classic way to tackle this part of garment construction, and this was my biggest challenge because the armhole openings are quite small. I also wanted to serge those seams… argh! The second time I made this garment (using quilting cotton) I sewed the sleeves in flat and then sewed the side seams — much easier! I think if I made this a third time, I would make it sleeveless.

I chose double gauze for my fabric for a couple of reasons — first because Artistic Artifacts has some really nice pastels and second because I had never sewn with double gauze before. If it is a new fabric to you, consider washing it more aggressively than you think the final garment will be treated — it shrinks!

You may notice that it is actually two thin cotton gauze fabrics with a very fine binder thread that moves between the layers to hold them together so you might see the two separate layers of fabric at the cut edges of your pieces. The fabric is sort of ‘sponge-y’ and really different from quilting cotton.

I used my favorite BERNINA 34D foot with the dual feed engaged. I like the 34D because it is clear, so I can see everything. As in other Olive Ann patterns, the seam allowance is 1/2 inch. I topstitched the neckline and the sashes at 1/4 inch. Using the 34D allows me to choose between using the throat plate markings to determine my seam allowance or moving the needle right or left and sewing with the edge of my fabric at the edge of the foot. Setting the needle at 4 clicks to the right gives me a nice robust 1/4 inch, or at 5 a scant 1/4 inch, for example. Setting my needle to the left a couple of clicks can give me the 1/2 inch seam. (A walking foot is also an option for these double gauze fabrics.)

I hope this post encourages you to surprise the special little girls in your life with one or both of these up-to-the-minute spring and summer looks!