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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 »

 

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

My Mixed Media Art Journal

Flower inspired Mixed media art journal by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I wanted to share some of the pages of my flower-inspired mixed media art journal. This particular journal has been in the works for years now! You know how some projects are like that, especially journals and mixed media where another layer and an extra dose of ephemera can always been worked in!

Above, the back of the closed journal with a flower charm added to the fabric ties.

Above, the wraparound flap hides another flower image as you begin to open the journal.

You know my love of wooden printing blocks… I thought the bird was a perfect addition to the butterflies and ephemera.

Multiple pages include pieces that were completed in the shop to show off a technique or product. The altered book page on the left has an image transfer, to show how you can get the transparency where the text peeks through.

In a previous blog post I wrote about transforming chipboard shapes — the above page spread is shown in that post!

Another previous blog post: Journaling, a Mixed Media Affair: Fabric Included features a number of pages now found in this journal in their initial stages, such as the above. I wrote then, “…And I need to add the same disclaimer I have before: these pages are not finished yet…there is more to come.” (I didn’t promise how QUICKLY they would be finished!)

I would begin working on both sides of paper: standard letter size piece of mixed media paper or watercolor paper, or a sheet torn from a blank journal. Folded in half, they were then stacked up and stitched into signatures, as shown above.

I’ve added some treasured and thematic Artist Trading Cards received during Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meetings, Art & Soul Creative Retreats, etc. to my journal too, as seen above and in the detail below:

Below, bringing in my love of vintage ephemera with a vintage postcard.

Below, “hinge” of washi tape means the postcard’s charming message can be viewed.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at this updated project!

Graphic & Improv Modern Scrap Quilt

Modern scrap quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

One of my latest projects is a fun modern quilt that is just back from suZquilts and ready for binding (pictured above). suZquilts owner Susan Bentley did an amazing job with the longarm quilting!

Scraps of colorful printed fabrics ready to go into the quilt

I often profess my love for black and white print fabrics. I love them as is, and I love to overdye them too — you’ll find swatches in my Inspiration Packs, which also include hand-dyed found textiles and fibers for art quilts and other fiber projects. For this quilt I left my graphic black and white prints alone and added color with long strips that were pieced from coloful fabric scraps (above) from my stash.

Strips of fabric sewn into larger pieces to further cut into strips

I began by freehand cutting strips (including some of my black and whites) and sewing them together randomly to create larger pieces of fabric. I embraced the wonkiness and worked without rulers or stitching perfectly straight lines. You can see at the bottom of the photo above that I was able to use strips that weren’t all the same length — nothing goes to waste.

Randomly cut strips of colorful cotton prints

My cuts from the pieced fabrics were also free-hand and random, resulting in different widths. You can see the variety of fabric used, but I did focus on my modern cottons stash versus the batiks and Australian Aborigine-designed fabric I often gravitate to.

Cutting a black and white print block to inset the color strips

Working improvisationally, I sliced my black and white fabric blocks (not perfectly square and again, different sizes and widths) and sewed my colorful strips in.

Black and white print block with two color strips inset

I don’t think any two blocks are the same — some have one strip, some two or more, some strips intersect — and there’s a wide variety of angles involved.

Blocks and their inset strips are all random

As you can see in the photo above, I also didn’t worry about having each block the same height. I played around with the blocks until I had a layout I liked.

Laying out finished blocks to come up with a layout and to square the quilt up

As I finalized the layout, I started making the adjustments to “smoosh” the blocks together, stitching vertical rows. (FYI, the lighting in my studio shows the colors unevenly here.)

Adding vertical strips to the finished blocks for the final quilt design

I had so many scraps pieced into strips that I was able to inset vertical rows of them too.

Finished quilt, missing only the binding

Most of my work are small art quilts or medium wall hangings, so working large for bed-size quilts is still somewhat rare for me. I love how this came together!

Striped border accents the improv blocks

The striped fabric worked perfectly for the border — it continued the look of the colorful inset strips without the time necessary to piece them. This closeup also lets you see the beautiful quilting by suZquilts.

Detail of improv blocks and longarm quilting by suZquilts

This freeform, improv method of construction was a lot of fun and I love my final result. Give it a try!

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

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