Encouraging Fiber Arts in the Next Generation

Girl Scout Troop #776 volunteers for the Fun with Fabric project

Girl Scout Troop #776 volunteers for the Fun with Fabric project. Organizer Celia Middleton is standing, top row, left.

My niece Celia Middleton from Girl Scout Troop #776 recently organized a free* quilting educational activity for her Girl Scout Silver Award, and I was proud to support her as a sponsor!

Celia’s Fun with Fabric – Make Your Own Mini Quilt activity took place on Sunday, May 31 at the 42nd Annual Quilter’s Unlimited Quilt Show in Chantilly, VA.

She developed this project so that participants began with creating a stamped fabric with wooden printing blocks, added batting and backing and then completed the “quiltlet” by hand stitching, which kept the three layers together. These little pieces of fiber art thus illustrated what a quilt is. This event was open to all ages, and all ages participated!

Instructions and illustrations created by Celia Middleton for her Fun with Fabric project

Celia had to organize and administer this project on her own, including documenting her hours of work related to the project, to begin achieving the levels needed to qualify for her Silver Award.

Advance work included an initial meeting with a quilt show representative, lots of practice of the techniques needed so that the steps could be taught, creating samples for display, developing signage and information/illustration boards (pictured above), preparing the supplies of fabric, batting, needles and thread (donated by Artistic Artifacts) and training her helpers, which included her younger sister, Layla.

Learning to block print

Learning to print with wooden printing blocks

Fun with Fabric at the Quilters Unlimited 2015 Quilt Show

A young show visitor displays her finished quiltlet

The pride of learning new creative skills shows as this young participant displays her finished quiltlet.

In addition to this educational activity, Celia is planning to make quilts and donate them to charity as part of her Silver Award project. She asked participants to donate wood block printed squares to be used in these quilts that she will sew. Celia also hosted a fundraiser for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital SHARE program. The SHARE (Share Her Annual Real Expenses) program helps pay for membership fees, camp and other Girl Scout activities. Celia collected $20 in donations from workshop participants and is planning to continue collecting donations for this worthwhile cause!

Ellen West and her committee co-chair Carla Lounsbury of the Annandale chapter of Quilter’s Unlimited were our quilt show liaisons and created a great space for the project. I hope you enjoy the photographs included here of the girls in action. I know they enjoyed welcoming many participants and teaching them the joys of quilting!

Girl Scout volunteers teaching hand stitching

The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who arrived wearing their uniforms on that Sunday were admitted to the show at no charge. We hope that the quilt show admin will consider allowing the Scouts in uniform free for all 3 days of the show. It is so important to encourage a love of traditional arts such as quilting in the next generation, and demonstrations like Celia’s and programs such as free or reduced admission to shows and events are steps to achieving that goal.

Girl Scout volunteers block printing

Girl Scout volunteers block printing. That's the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth in the background. I had a birds-eye view of the action in the demonstration area!


All ages enjoyed the Fun with Fabric project

* Donations were accepted for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital SHARE family giving campaign.

Create a Felt Covered Journal

Natural fiber felts are perfect for needlefelting (by hand or machine), or as in the following example, a hand-stitched cover for a journal or a needlecase. As an artist who sold my artwork, I learned early in that you always make multiples of your project, and then add customization to make each piece of art one of a kind. In these photographs you will see that you can easily make four covers at one time, rather than one. A great process for making gifts!

Folding felt for cutting lines

Artistic Artifacts used to stock XoticFelt, which came as a large 20" x 22" swatch. I folded it in half, ironed the fold line, folded it in half again and ironed that fold. This created easy to follow cutting lines to cut my four book covers. Because I used the entire piece, these covers measure 10" x 11". This is a bit unusual in size, but I didn’t waste any felt! You can choose to make your cover in any size you like.

Rotary cutting along fold lines

The next step is to cut a backing for the felt. This surface will serve as your inside front and back cover. My favorite to use is Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth™. Comparable to canvas, this 70% Polyester/30% cotton material is flexible, soft, prepared for painting and collaging. Cut the Multi-Purpose Cloth (or your desired material) the same size, or a “smidgen” smaller than the size of the felt.

You will also want to cut the papers, fabric, and cards to go on the inside of the book. You can cut all your paper for your page signatures the same size, or you can, like in my example, incorporate different sizes for interest.

Pages for the journal interior

This is an ideal way to recycle junk mail, wrapping paper scraps, and more. You can also incorporate sheets of fabric into your pages — you can stitch inside your book, or pin or fuse items to the fabric. The sky’s the limit!

You now have three elements working: felt for the front cover, multi-purpose cloth for the inside cover, and your pages.

The Felt Cover:


Cut small pieces of contrasting felt to create a design, and hand-stitch with floss using straight or embroidery stitches, as in this example. You could also choose to machine stitch your cover. There are a huge number of online and YouTube resources for learning embroidery stitches, and Artistic Artifacts carries a number of crazy quilt and other stitch books.

Once you finish all your stitching of your motifs, the felt cover will be fused to the multi-purpose cloth, which will give it some additional weight and stability.

Inside Cover:
Next is the multi-purpose cloth. You can leave this plain/white, or create some surface design with paint or inks.

I’ve used stencils and spray inks to quickly pattern the inside cover of the multi-purpose cloth.

Spray inks and stencils atop multi-purpose cloth inside cover

When working with spray inks, make sure your work surface is well covered, or place your item in a box. In the photo examples here, I have used a red plastic tablecloth to protect the table surface, topping it with tissue paper.

Stencil removed, leaving ink design

I add the tissue paper because then it builds my stash — I can use any of the oversprayed tissue in other mixed media projects! Spray your first color of ink lightly through the stencil.

After I lifted the stencil off, I let it dry (spray inks dry quickly) and then continued the process, spraying all four of my multi-purpose covers at the same time, using different colors of ink. I also added a small stencil and used another color ink.

Adding additional colors of ink and layers of design

To continue, the non-sprayed or plain side of your multi-purpose cloth needs to have Mistyfuse applied to it. I’ve often mentioned using Mistyfuse in projects; you know I love it! But remember, it requires the use of a teflon or other non-stick craft sheet, or parchment paper, to cover the surface while ironing.

Once the Mistyfuse has been applied, all the pieces are ready:

  1. Outside Cover: the felt has a pattern and color stitched to the front
  2. Inside Cover: the multi-purpose cloth has color on one side (or was left plain) and Mistyfuse on the other side.
  3. Pages: Paper and fabric is assembled for the interior of the book.

Stitch the paper to the multipurpose cloth. I found the center by simply folding all the papers and fabrics. I also folded the multi-purpose cloth and lined everything up according to that fold and straight stitched down the center.

Set your sewing machine to sew a long, straight stitch — shorter stitches too close together can cause the paper to perforate and then fall out.

This is also a great place to use your favorite washi tape: apply the tape over the stitching!

Your last step is to fuse your stitched felt cover to the interior cover (multi-purpose cloth). Trim any edges, if needed, and enjoy your new journal!

I am linking to Nina-Marie’s blog, Off the Wall Friday. This is new for me and very inspiring!