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String Pieced Aussie Quilt

Australian fabric string pieced quilt by Judy Gula

Click photo for a larger view of Judy Gula’s completed quilt above »

In conjunction with our big Australian fabric sale, I wanted to revisit this blog post, originally published in 2015. The above quilt is one of the most-asked about samples we have hanging in the shop and never fails to garner compliments.

Bonnie K. Hunter spoke at my local quilt guild, the Burke chapter of Quilter’s Unlimited of Northern Virginia years ago, and I loved her quilt samples, patterns and fabric choices. As you all know by now, I have a very eclectic task in fabrics, from vintage to contemporary to ethnic… and I have always done a lot of repurposing of items at Artistic Artifacts. Bonnie hit the upcycle/repurpose interest that I have by using fabric salvaged from old clothing in her quilts. After hearing Bonnie talk, the very next day I ordered her book: Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle! The Art of “Quilting Green.” Bonnie’s book was so popular that she wrote a long-awaited sequel, Scraps & Shirttails II, which continues the art of quilting green with 13 new projects that help you reuse, re-purpose and recycle your scraps into beautiful quilts.

Paper template for my Australian fabric quilt; four of these blocks are joined to create the star

Fast forward several years after hearing her speak, and I had finally acquired enough scraps of Australian Aborigine designed fabric to try my hand at string/paper piecing. One of my aims for this project was to illustrate that many traditional quilt patterns are perfect for our ethnic fabrics, including batiks (like our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik) and Australian.

As for paper piecing, at the time I had no clue how to do it, only that needed I print out the template in Bonnie’s book. I chose her Virginia Strings block* for this quilt. Since I knew I wanted something smaller than a full size quilt, I printed the quarter block templates to create six blocks in total. To help me while sewing, I folded my template along the lines (pictured above). Others choose to trace over the lines with a Sharpie marker to make them bolder, if they don’t show through to the back of the paper.

Judy Gula beginning to string piece

I began with the smaller part of the kite shape, although I think that Bonnie advises that you begin at the wide end. You begin by sewing the right sides of fabric strips together covering the pattern shape. Then flip the last strip added back down, so that the right side of the fabric is facing up. Pictured above, you can see the wrong side of the fabric still facing up, not flipped down.

Completed string piece center of quarter block template

Below, reverse of the paper template, showing the stitch lines of the fabric strips.

Stitching lines show on the reverse of the paper template

Below, I am beginning to strip piece the sides of the quarter block, using lighter fabrics so that the final block design will show.

Judy Gula string piecing the sides of quarter block template

Below, The reverse of a completed string pieced quarter block.

The reverse of a completed quarter block string pieced by Judy Gula

My timing was such that after I pieced a couple of blocks, I brought them, my book, tools and scraps (along with a couple other projects) to my chapter’s annual quilt retreat in order to get “in-person” training. Lucky for me, a fellow Burke member at the retreat had already used this block and offered some advice, which I want to share with you:

  • Make your stitches short in order to make pulling the paper off easier.
    This step makes a big difference! Bonnie also offers this advice in her books and on her blog. Note that her Quiltville website has a number of free patterns available.
  • Create your block somewhat larger than you want it, and cut it down with a square template.
    I was creating 8" squares and used my 8½ in. square ruler, my rotating cutting matand jumbo Havel’s Rotary cutter to do the trimming.

Using a square ruler to trim the quarter block

Above, using my 8½ in. square ruler to trim the block from the back.

A trimmed quarter block string pieced by Judy Gula

Pictured above, one of the trimmed blocks. I loved the look and was getting a hang of the technique, so I made a few more. After all, with my stash, it wasn’t like I was going to run out of fabric!

Trimming the edges off the stitched fabric strips

Trim the ragged fabric edges, as pictured above, for neatness and ease when stitching your quarter units into blocks.

Below, four quarter blocks ready to be seamed. Simply rotate your blocks as needed so that the widest point will be in the center to get the four pointed star look.

Complete four blocks and align them to create the whole unit

Below, four completed units sewn together created my quilt top. Once I reached this stage, I let it sit for a bit, unsure whether I would create additional blocks, or simply finish it up with a border and stitching… which is what I did end up deciding to do, as per the image at the top of this post. See my post Quilting with a Walking Foot for additional details on completed this quilt.

Judy Gula string pieced Aussie fabric quilt top, before borders

I’d love to see your results of taking a favorite “traditional” quilt pattern and sewing it with non-traditional fabrics! Send us your photographs, whether a completed quilt, top, or pieced blocks, and we will share them on our Facebook page.

** This block is traditionally known as the Rocky Road to Kansas, but in her book, Bonnie Hunter notes that because she pieced her quilt while in Northern Virginia teaching, and backed it with a bargain purchase of University of Virginia fabric, she was inspired to name the finished quilt Virginia Bound.

Fabrics Unveiled at Spring Quilt Market

Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics

View of Gateway Arch from hotel

There are two Quilt Markets (credentialed trade show for shop owners, fabric companies, etc.) each year. The biggest is each fall, always in Houston just before the huge International Quilt Festival (which takes place November 2-5, 2017). The Spring show changes locations each year; and this year it was in St. Louis; a fact that was reinforced each time we had the chance to take a look from our Hotel to see the iconic Gateway Arch!

My “partners in crime” for this trip were Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Ruth Chandler, author of one of my favorite instructional books, Modern Hand Stitching. (Remember, Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts next month with her immersive Stitch Journeys class — a few seats are still available for this 4 Day Creative Retreat, so join us!)

Architectural detail in St. Louis

Our walk from the hotel to the Convention Center included passing by buildings featuring beautiful architectural details (see above and in my gallery below). Most of these were likely built in the 1920’s and 1930’s and unfortunately, many of them are empty. So sad!

New fabrics in the Woodstock design, Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

Artistic Artifacts was there with a booth exhibiting and selling our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics (pictured at the top of this post and here), handpainted batik panels and our artist quality textile paints. From our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik, I’m excited by our new Woodstock 2 fabrics (pictured above)!

New colors coming of established Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

I also have new colors (pictured above) of established designs, Folk Life-Paisley Leaves and Color Sponge. All of these new Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks will be available to our customers in approximately two months.

Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle demonstrating how to create Silk Fusion

The first day of Market for many of us includes the “School House” event. These are short (15 to 30 minute) presentations, sales pitches, and educational sessions. Liz and Ruth have done many of these for companies such as Treenway Silks and Rockland Industries. Artistic Artifacts currently carries products from both of these companies: Silk Roving/Sliver in gorgeous colors from Treenway and from Rockland Industries, muslin, Osnaburg and Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth. Above, Ruth Chandler (left) and Liz Kettle are demonstrating how to create Silk Fusion. (Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts, join me in October for our How Do I… evening: we’ll be making silk paper, a similar technique!)

Sue Spargo hand-stitching

A lot of time is spent walking the aisles looking for inspiration, like the above beauty by Sue Spargo (take a look at the gorgeous colors she selected for her WonderFil Eleganza collection). You can view a lot more eye candy from Quilt Market in my gallery at the bottom of this post!

A sampling of new designs of popular Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics

I made my usual stop at the M&S Textiles booth to see what is new with our popular Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics. I ordered 22 new patterns! You can get an idea of what’s coming in the photos above and below. Stay tuned to our website — they are expected in approximately two weeks.

More new designs of Australian fabrics on the way to Artistic Artifacts from M&S Textiles

I was able to have a quick trunk show with fiber artist and fabric designer Marcia Derse. I have always loved her work!

Marcia Derse Treasure Hunt fabric line

Marcia’s Treasure Hunt line (pictured above) will be available in the shop in October. We hope to add her solids to the store (pictured below) in the future as well.

Marcia Derse solid fabrics

Maker’s Home by Natalie Barnes (pictured below) of Beyond the Reef Patterns will also arrive in the shop in the fall or early winter. This is her second line for Windham Fabrics and includes her signature hand drawn flowers and fun black &white prints (and you know how much I love black & white fabrics). I’ve been looking for the right kind of floral fabric to add to the shop and thought my customers would love this line (more views in the gallery).

Maker's Home by Natalie Barnes of Beyond the Reef Patterns for Windham Fabrics

And we spent time in Art Gallery’s booth (their booth photo below with my detail shots) touching and feeling their knit, voile, and cotton fabrics. We’d like to add knit fabrics to Artistic Artifacts…what do you think? Good idea? Let me know in the comments!.

Art Gallery Fabrics booth

Below, my photo gallery for more from Quilt Marke — click on any photo for a larger view or to see it as a slideshow.

WonderFil Threaducation!

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula is enjoying her time in sunny California at the WonderFil Education Center Summit…

Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts, participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

…as is perhaps obvious from the big smile on her face in the photo above! It was taken by her friend Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, another attendee at the Summit. Liz (pictured below), a certified “Threaducator” with WonderFil, will be visiting Artistic Artifacts in June for her 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys. Suitable for beginners, attendees gain mastery of their sewing machine and develop the confidence to tackle any kind of specialty thread and tame their tension fears as they create a sample fabric workbook that serves as a permanent, creative reference tool. This is her only time teaching on the East Coast this year, so if you can, plan your vacation around traveling to Virginia and attending!

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

Judy and Liz are collaborating in the development of an upcoming Threaducation Center class.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil

They used a handpainted batik panel by Rusli, which is enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil. Konfetti and Tutti are both 50wt, 3ply 100% long staple Egyptian cotton threads that are double-gassed (burning off the lint from the thread two times) and mercerized to create a soft, clean, and lustrous finish.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Konfetti™ thread by WonderFil

Additional detail views above and below.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Tutti™ thread by WonderFil

Below is Judy’s favorite thread sampler, posted on the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page. When she returns we’ll have to get the details from her!

Judy Gula's favorite WonderFil thread sampler

More Threaducation going on…

The WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

But you know fiber artists…even after a full day of studying, they are still up for more fun! You can see Liz and Judy, plus Bernadette Kent and Alicia Campbell in the background of this selfie taken by Libby Williamson of Blue Denim Design at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA.

Fiber artists having fun at the Blue Denim Studio at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA

They were busy having fun with block printing and thermofax printing on fabric. Judy never misses the opportunity to share her love of wooden printing blocks!

Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts can further your own Threaducation! Join us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promises that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Kay Kapps Cross quilt stitched with WonderFil Specialty Threads

And on Saturday, March 25, we are delighted that Kay (who quilted the above beauty as she demonstrated various WonderFil threads during the recent AQS show) will be sharing her knowledge during our exciting WonderFil Boutique Show & Tell event. Sponsored by WonderFil™ Specialty Threads, we will hold two complimentary seatings, morning and afternoon, of this inspiring and informational session. Get inspired with samples of threadwork and demos using the many specialty threads by WonderFil! Reservations are required as seating is limited, so don’t delay and claim your spot!

Using Color Magnet for Screen Printing

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Hope you are enjoying a sweet treat, whether that’s candy, flowers, or new supplies for your favorite creative hobby!

In our February 10 enewsletter, we announced the addition of Color Magnet™ for Screen Printing by Jacquard to our online shop. I had heard about this product before, but the catalyst for stocking it was the most recent Printing with Thermofax Screens class, taught by PG Fiber2Art. PG Fiber2Art is Susan Price and Elizabeth Gibson. (They always teach together; unfortunately for this session Elizabeth was out of town).

Printing with Thermofax Screens class at Artistic Artifacts, taught by PG Fiber2Art

Basic Color Magnet Directions

1) Apply Color Magnet directly from jar to fabric by screen printing, stamping or stenciling.
2) Let dry thoroughly. Drying can be aided by the use of a hair dryer or heat tool.
3) Dye according to dye package instructions (immersion dyeing is recommended as the best method). The more diluted the dye, the greater the contrast.

Susan showed the class a number of fabric samples that had been created using Color Magnet for Screen Printing, and everyone wanted to be able to buy the product themselves. We were happy to oblige!

We also asked PG Fiber2Art to assist with this blog posting to help you understand the product. All images here are copyright by PG Fiber2Art (unless otherwise noted) and used with their permission.

Color Magnet is a dye attractant that “magically” attracts more dye where it is applied. Apply Color Magnet directly from jar to your fabric by Thermofax screen printing, or by stamping or stenciling.

Using Color Magnet for Screen Printing by Jacquard

The Color Magnet product is yellow in color and will be visible on your fabric as it is applied. This yellow doesn’t show permanently, nor does it change the color of the dye you choose to use. The coloring is there to make it easier to see where you have applied the Color Magnet.

Applying Color Magnet for Screen Printing to fabric through a PG Fiber2Art Thermofax screen

Above, Sue applies Color Magnet through the PG Fiber2Art screen Sewer Cover to print an all-over design — in these photos it is wet from the applications. (Visit the PG Fiber2Art blog for a thorough tutorial on How to Print with Thermofax Screens if you are unfamiliar with the process.)

It is very important to let the applied Color Magnet product dry completely before you immerse your fabric into the dye. Sue often lets her fabric sit overnight to dry; Jacquard notes that you can use a blow dryer or a craft heat tool to speed the drying process.

Color Magnet for Screen Printing applied to fabric through PG Fiber2Art Thermofax screens--before dyeing

Above, a detail photo of the same fabric after it was over-screened with Color Magnet using their popular Circles screen, available in the PG Fiber2Art Etsy shop. Below, a detail of the fabric after dyeing it teal.

After dyeing, the fabric that has had the Color Magnet for Screen Printing applied shows darker, having attracted the dye particles

The full length of fabric after. (Click the photo for a larger view.)

Full length of PG Fiber2Art fabric -- click for larger view

For the stronges/darkest tone on tone contrast, use a diluted dye solution. You may want to experiment with differing strengths of dye solution to see how you like the effects achieved.

Below are two additional fabric pieces that Sue screened with Color Magnet and then dyed. The top image is Tree Bark and the bottom is a mustard flower.

Tree bark Thermofax screen by PG Fiber2Art

Mustard Flower Thermofax screen by PG Fiber2Art

“I’m really pleased with how they turned out,” writes Sue. “I wanted the mustard flower to be an all over pattern, but it was really hard to see where I had already printed so I missed some spots. The base fabric was a pale blue/green and the Color Magnet is yellow, so it really blended in as it dried.”

Using Color Magnet does not alter the hand of your fabric. This softness makes it ideal for using on garments. Below, Sue prepped a t-shirt and screened it around the neckline with the Lazy Daisy screen, and let it dry overnight.

Color Magnet applied to a T-shirt, before dyeing

And here’s the shirt after:

Color Magnet T-shirt after dyeing

“The shirt is 45% polyester and 55% natural fibers,” writes Sue. “I wasn’t sure how well it would take the dye, but it did better than I expected.”

Although the results shown here from PG Fiber2Art are all from using their beautiful Thermofax screens, Color Magnet for Screen Printing can also be used with wooden printing blocks, stencils, applied through Fineline Needle Applicators and more.

Imagine the possibilities!

Additional Color Magnet Resources

    • For a demonstration of and instructions on using Color Magnet for Screen Printing, visit YouTube.

Lynda Heines experiments with using varying amounts of dye powder

  • Lynda Heines of Bloom, Bake & Create was a guest blogger for Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Textiles Studio, with a tutorial on how to use Color Magnet. Of particular interest are Lynda’s documentation of her experiments using varying amounts of dye powder (detail pictured here).
  • Explore step-by-step instructions and tips for using Jacquard’s Color Magnet in this Quilting Arts magazine article by Sue Bleiweiss (PDF provided by Jacquard). A sampling of Sue’s fabrics dyed using Color Magnet are below.

Sue Bleiweiss fabrics dyed using Color Magnet

Fabric Collage Photo Book

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, standing in 3-D

Click on the above photo for a larger view.

Cover of fabric collage photo book by Judy GulaIt is pretty well-known in my family (and friends) that I love vintage photos and their stories. My fabric collage book has been created using photographs that came from my cousin Mary of her mother.

Part of the story is sad — Mary’s mother had an older sibling that unfortunately had passed away without any photographs ever being taken. So when Mary’s mother was born, her parents took lots of photographs of her.

The agreement was that I would scan all of Mary’s photos and in exchange for a DVD of the scans, I would be able to use them in my art…cool deal! (Mary also received a fabric collage book of her own as a surprise.)

My posting today is more of a show and tell than a full-on “how to” tutorial, but I hope it inspires you! You can also take a look at our 2011 tutorial, A Marvelous Memory Book by Liz Kettle, with instructions on creating another version of a fabric photo book, to get you started.

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, inside pages

Detail, fabric collage photo book page by Judy Gula

Fabric collage books are a great place to use up scraps of ribbon and trim, and to try out the fancy stitches on your sewing machine (detail photo above). I love the way the bold print of the fabric “peeks” through her coat and leggings.

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, inside pages

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, inside pages

Detail, fabric collage photo book page by Judy Gula

Above, vintage buttons are the perfect embellishments.

Detail, fabric collage photo book page by Judy Gula

Above, I couldn’t resist adding wings to this sweet little face!

This fabric collage book is designed to be three-dimensional: it can stand (see photo at top), hung on a wall, or enjoyed as an accordian-folded book.

When creating a fabric collage book I generally use the following products:

  • EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn Inkjet Fabric — This is a high quality, tightly woven paper backed fabric sheet that can be run through your computer printer to reproduce photographs for quilting projects. The tighter the fabric weave, the more details that you can get on the fabric. The product is pretreated to ensure the archival quality of the photos and gives you beautiful, reliable results.
  • Heavy Duty Stabilizer — I use whatever I have on hand, whether double-sided fusible or not; Pellon 805 Wonder Under Web is the choice we have for the store. (You might find that a lightweight fusible is enough, and because our Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 has a repositionable adhesive, you can experiment with your design and how the fabric scraps are placed before fusing it permanently.)
  • Mistyfuse — this fusible is so lightweight that I can even fuse lace in place quickly and with no adhesive showing.
  • Non-stick Ironing and Craft Sheet — invaluable to use when working with any fusible. We carry Goddess Sheets in various sizes, and The Bo-Nash Amazing Sheet…I have multiples (brands and quantities) of these types of craft sheets and simply wouldn’t be without them!
  • Vintage Fabric and Linens — if you don’t have these in your stash and you want to create a similar look, we offer “scrap packs”of Vintage Linens and Creams/Pales Silks: these are the perfect size for a fiber collage project.

Cover, fabric collage photo book by Judy GulaThe following photos are of the book I gifted to Mary.

Both of these fabric collage books featured in this posting have the photos on one side of the page. Each reverse/back side is covered in fabric, trims and stitching to create a finished book no matter how the book is displayed or viewed.

Another fabric collage photo book is in my future: I was just gifted with several vintage photo albums that include photos from the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900’s. I can’t wait to begin working with these treasures!

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, photo side

Click on either photo to view larger: gift book opened and gift book back.

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, reverse side

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