Posts Tagged ‘Judy Gula’

With my apologies to the Muppets (Muppet Fans, sing along, using the tune from the show’s opening song):

It’s time to get out fabric!Red Fabric Ready to Sew into Bags
It’s time to cut and sew!
It’s time to make some gift bags
For my presents —  Ho ho ho!

I look forward to this time of year. Yes, part of me dreads it, too, since there’s not enough time to do the things I want to do. And what is that, you ask? I want to make presents for all of the people I love. Do I have time to do that? More to the point, do you?

Okay, lean in. I’m going to tell you a secret. This is just for you, so don’t tell anyone else. I’m going to tell you the secret of how I find time to make gifts for everyone.

Ready? Here it is.

I buy gifts and then present them in handmade gift bags. Yup. It’s that simple. The bags are quick to make, can be made assembly-line style if you group the fabrics according to thread color, and you can use any fabric that suits you. And while I still think the gift is important, I find my family and friends are sometimes more excited about the gift bag. In fact, several family members hoard them in the fear that I will stop making them. I give them a gift bag filled with other gift bags so that they will actually use them. Plus a personal gift in, yes, a gift bag.

Why do I make my own gift bags?

  • I have a lot of fabric.
  • People love them.
  • I don’t have time to make personalized gifts for everyone I care about, but I can give each person a little homemade love in a bag.
  • I have a lot of fabric.
  • It’s faster to wrap a gift in a bag than it is to use paper, tape, and a bow or ribbon.
  • It’s a green alternative. No need to throw out piles of paper after the gift opening frenzy.
  • I have a lot of fabric.
  • The gift bags can (should!) be given away by the recipient to keep the love moving around.
  • Or the gift bags can be kept and used in other ways.
  • I have a lot of fabric.

Gift Bag CollectionAnd so I’ll steal time between writing projects and teaching and family stuff to play with my fabric and sew, sew, sew…guilt-free!

If you want to join my handmade gift bag movement, march yourself into your studio and start pulling fabric! Want more structure than that? You can order my gift bag pattern by clicking here or you can buy my pattern at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, on Saturday, December 3, 10am-5pm (I’ll be there until 4pm) during their annual Holiday Open House. I’ll be there, demonstrating Paintstik techniques and chatting about upcoming classes.

For pictures and more information about my gift bags, visit this previous blog post.


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Power Suit Exhibit with Spectators

Power Suit Art Quilt Debut

Saturday, October 22, 2011 was a big day. We unveiled Power Suits: An Art Quilt Challenge at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, to a bustling space filled with artists, family members, friends, and newcomers to the art quilt world.

About the Exhibit

When Judy Gula and I issued this art quilt challenge in April, we could not have predicted the number, variety, or quality of quilts that were sent to us. Every day was Christmas as we opened boxes and registered the 18″ x 18″ treasures! 105 artists responded with 108 quilts, addressing topics as varied and unexpected as playing cards, super heroes, swim suits, ancestors, robots, politics, and animals. And there were, of course, quilts that focused on men’s suits and women’s equivalents to the power suit wardrobe. As our guests moved from quilt to quilt, reading artist’s statements and reacting the artwork, I repeatedly heard comments like, “How did they do that?” and “I would never have thought of that!” Surprisingly, while some topics were addressed by multiple artists, each quilt was unique.

Power in Any Suit by Marilyn Owendoff

Quilts will remain on exhibit at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, through November 23, 2011. They are available for viewing during shop hours or by special appointment.

Viewers’ Choice

Judy and I agreed to put out ballots for Viewers’ Choice Awards, not to judge the quality of the quilts but to celebrate the reactions the quilts evoked. Thanks to my hubby for that idea. We found that people (read: people who are not quilters but came anyway) seemed more engaged in really looking at the quilts. I loved watching the discussions!
The Viewer’s Choice Made Me Laugh Award went to Marilyn Owendoff for her quilt Power in Any Suit. I watched as people led their friends over to see Marilyn’s quilt. It certainly had lots of people smiling as the bikini-clad body on the quilt clutched her smart phone while enjoying the rays on the beach.
Ellen Flaherty's Quilt

The Real Power Suits by Ellen Flaherty

The Viewers’ Choice Made Me Think Award went to Ellie Flaherty for her quilt The Real Power Suits. The quilt featured three nuns made in the image of her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother. I love the play on words: The Real Higher Power Suit.

The Viewers’ Choice Hands-Down Favorite Award went to, well, me! I created a quilt called Power Suited Him from a portrait of my father. This image of my father has been a favorite of mine and I loved using it for our Power Suit Challenge logo. I tried to develop a different idea for my challenge quilt, but I kept coming back to my father’s picture. I’ll try to blog a little about process later. In response to requests for a class in this technique, I will offer a Studio Tech class in photo-inspired art quilts at Artistic Artifacts in the coming year.  

Cyndi Souder's Quilt

Power Suited Him by Cyndi Zacheis Souder

Exhibit Travel and the Power Suit CD
I’m thrilled to say that our quilts are scheduled to travel! We currently have two quilt shows on our calendar and we are looking for more opportunities to share these treasures with more quilters. If you are interested in showing our quilts, please contact me. We’d love to hear from you!

Look for Power Suit Quilts at these shows:

We’ve created a Power Suit Quilts CD that includes the quilt images and artist’s statements. We’ve included two formats on the CD: a PowerPoint presentation that requires PowerPoint on your machine to view and a PDF that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download that comes loaded on most machines) to view. These will be available at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, at the Artistic Artifacts booth at the IQA Festival in Houston, TX November 3-6, 2011, and on the Artistic Artifacts website after the second week in November.

Next Challenge
While we had a captive audience, Judy and I announced our next challenge: Arts & Old Lace!

Arts & Old Lace LogoUnlike the Power Suit Challenge, we’ve limited the number of packets we’re distributing. After the feeding frenzy at the debut, we continued to receive calls for the packets. We’re taking whatever we have left to the IQA Festival in Houston, where I believe they will disappear in a flash. More about the next challenge in a future blog. For now, thanks for following our Power Suits Art Quilt Challenge. We’ve had an unbelievable amount of fun and we hope you have, too!

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Power Suit Challenge LogoHave you ever walked a quilt show, seen challenge quilts, and wondered how you could get in on the fun? Wonder no more! This is your official invitation to participate in Power Suits: An Art Quilt Challenge.

A few months ago, I received a call from a local tailor asking if I would like his outdated fabric swatches. When I said yes, I had no idea how many swatches he had! Let’s just say it’s a good thing we had a truck when we went to pick them up.

Initially, I wanted to share these treasures with my art quilt students. Once I saw the boxes (and boxes and boxes), I knew this was bigger than my classes. And so I teamed up with Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts to offer you this art quilt challenge.

Pallet of Boxes

Boxes of Swatch Books

What does “Power Suit” mean to you? Does it conjure images of smoke-filled rooms where deals are made? Is a Power Suit a garment or a person? Do you plug in a Power Suit? What if a Power Suit gave you Super Powers? Using Power Suits as your inspiration, create an art quilt that expresses your point of view.

1. Finished quilt size: 18” x 18”

2. The finished quilt must have a top, a middle, and a backing with some method of connecting the three layers.

3. The finished quilt must be labeled and have a hanging sleeve.

4. There may be no internal or external structure, rods, or hangers.

5. Just have fun.

Challenge Packet in Bag

Challenge Packet


August 31, 2011: Quilts are due. Ship to Artistic Artifacts, 4750 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304

Oct 22, 2011: Debut, Artistic Artifacts

Jan 2, 2012: Quilts shipped home

E-Mail: Cyndi@MoonlightingQuilts.com
Call: 703.407.0916

The Fine Print
You are responsible for providing your own insurance from the time the quilt leaves your hands to the time you get it back. We reserve the right to refuse quilts that we feel are inappropriate for the exhibition.

How to Participate
Ready to get started? Great!

To participate, you’ll need a packet of swatches. Your swatches will include suit fabric and shirting. To round things out, we’ve thrown in a tie and some random buttons. You may use all, some, or none of the materials we are giving you. The idea is to embrace the theme and express your opinions. What does “Power Suit” mean to you?

You can get your challenge packet from Artistic Artifacts or directly from me (if you’re local). If you plan to pick up your packet at Artistic Artifacts, visit their website for hours. If you’d rather receive your materials in the mail, click here to order your packet from Artistic Artifacts. If you order the packet alone, then a $5 shipping charge will apply. If your order includes other items, then you pay shipping only for the other items and Artistic Artifacts will throw in the swatch packet for free. If you have trouble, you can also order the packet through my website.


Contents of Challenge Packets
Challenge Packet – Contents Will Vary

Judy and I hope you will join us in the fun. Sign up now and get started!


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Give a Little Gift Bag Cover ImageWhat’s better than a gift? A gift that’s wrapped in a gift!

I love pretty gifts. I appreciate the time it takes to wrap a beautiful gift. All my life, I’ve taken time to wrap pretty gifts, and I’ve gone through a lot of paper. I have nothing against wrapping paper, but it seems like a one trick pony. You buy it, use it once (or more if you’re really careful), and throw it away. Make one simple gift bag, and you’ll realize how quickly you can make a stash of bags large enough to wrap an entire year’s worth of gifts!

Stack of Fabric with Red Thread

Ready to sew!

For years I’ve wrapped holiday gifts in fabric bags. I started small, using the bags only for special gifts and then I ramped up production and started to use the bags exclusively. What started as a whim has become a bit of an obsession, and I want to share that with you. There are lots of benefits to using fabric gift bags for your wrappings:

  • Fabric gift bags are green. These gift bags can last for years, creating traditions among your family as the bags travel back and forth between households. There’s no waste beyond the gift tags and any tissue paper you may choose to use.
  • Fabric gift bags can be really personal. When I shop for gift bag fabric, I watch for fabrics that will appeal to specific family and friends. Dinosaurs and trucks for my great-nephews, cardinals and snow-covered trees for my mother-in-law, anything less froofy for the men in my life.
  • Fabric bags are the perfect canvas for trying out new things. You have lots of special stitches on your sewing machine; why not use them? Are you hoarding variegated thread? Use it up! They’ll make more!

    Bag with Bernina Specialty Stitches

    Pretty Bernina Stitches

  • Fabric bags are convenient. My family has begun to build up their own gift bag supplies as they receive the bags each year. My niece, my mother-in-law, and my husband all commented this year about how easy it was to wrap gifts.
  • The bags are great for travelers who can’t wrap gifts before they clear pre-flight security. Grab a stack of bags and wrap your gifts when you get to your destination. No paper to wrinkle, no shopping for tape or ribbon.  
Miles of Drawstring

Making Miles of Drawstring

The pattern’s a great stashbuster, as you begin to pick through your fabric collection with a new perspective. You know that fabric that you don’t want to cut up because it’s too pretty? Make a bag. Only have a fat quarter? Make a bag. Have over a yard? Make a BIG bag! And don’t forget you can sew your own drawstrings! I use my Bernina binding attachment to fold and sew it closed. Yes, I make miles and miles of the stuff!

I still make a nice supply of simple cotton bags for my gifts every year, but now I’ve started making a few special bags with some very special materials.

Hand Dyed Fabric and Trim

Treasures From Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts creates wonderful hand-dyed collage packs and I have fallen in love with them. I choose a color, pick a collage pack, and then augment the contents with vintage linens, doilies, and trim that Judy Gula (Artistic Artifacts owner) has lovingly collected and then hand-dyed.

Hand-Dyed Gift Bag

2 Doilies, Fabric, Rickrack & Lace, All Hand-dyed

One more thing: don’t keep the bags to yourself. I tried that in the beginning, but it felt selfish. The bags are part of the gift. Give them away and encourage the recipients to do the same. I put labels inside my bags for everyone to sign so that each bag has a record of who has used it. It’s that simple. Give away the bag, get a smile, and save some trees that would have become wrapping paper. Give a Little Gift Bag and help change the world, one gift bag at a time.

The pattern is available on my website: www.MoonlightingQuilts.com or click here to go directly to the Pattern Page. Send me pictures of your gift bags…Thanks!

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I don’t know what the scariest stage of a quilt commission is: getting the work, doing the work, or delivering the work. I think perhaps the delivery is the toughest part.

Steve's Photo

Untitled by Steve Alterman

Longer ago than I’d like to admit, some former neighbors decided they wanted me to make them a quilt. Steve and Lynne are avid art collectors and possess an unerring sense of style. I was particularly inspired by one of Steve’s photographs and the commission took shape from there.

As an artist, I sometimes need a shot of confidence. The idea of creating an art quilt to hang in this wonderful house on the beach was, well, intimidating. I had the concept, but I didn’t know if I could take the quilt from concept to reality at the level I felt they deserved.  Finally, I made them promise to tell me if they didn’t like it so that we could work together toward something they did love. That promise helped unstick my quilter’s block and I was able to complete the quilt.

GQH wielding a level

My GQH working on quilt placement

On the appointed day, my husband (GQH, see previous post) and I packed our tools, the quilt, and the dog and headed to the beach. The quilt was designed to be hung above a set of stairs, which created its own logistical challenges. Two ladders, a strong board, and a bunch of bungee cords later, we had a makeshift scaffolding that was more than up for the task.

Eric marked the placement with tiny bits of masking tape until we all agreed that we had found the perfect place for the quilt. He fine-tuned the arrangement with a level and a tape measure and then we (he) drove two anchors into the wall to support the surprising weight of the quilt.

Dressing the Quilt

Dressing the Quilt

Once he finished securing the quilt, I picked my way along the scaffolding and dressed the quilt, removing any lint or dog hair or stray threads and straightening the quilt on the hanging rod. (Did I mention that five dogs supervised this process?!)

The quilt itself is quite heavy. The “swoosh” down the length of the piece is comprised of stones and glass and shells and beads and silk scraps. The embellishments are piled and layered for a lush effect but the added weight posed structural problems. For added stability, I incorporated a layer of buckram behind the quilt top. Then, to encourage the quilt to hang true and straight, I added a second rod pocket, this one along the bottom, for a flat metal slat. This plan worked and the quilt hangs better than I could have hoped.

The Finished Quilt in Place

"Windswept" hanging in place

The result is a quilt that pays homage to Steve’s photo and incorporates the colors and textures they have used to decorate their home.

Windswept (the quilt)


Okay, if you’re a quilter, you may want some detail:

  • The border fabric is Dupioni silk, channel quilted to mimic a gallery frame
  • The background fabric is a hand-painted cotton piece I commissioned from Mickey Lawler of Skydyes.
  • The “swoosh” is made up of glass, Swarovski crystals, pearls of all shapes and sizes, amethyst, Peruvian opal, and a variety of other beads. There is one shell that came from their beach and one black pearl to honor Lynne’s love of pearls.
  • The soft texture that is especially evident along the left of the swoosh is silk “Frazzles” purchased from Judy Gula’s Artistic Artifacts.

The clients are happy. My GQH is happy. I am…thrilled. The stress of creating art for friends was almost my undoing. I probably won’t do that again, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to make this quilt for this couple.

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Cyndi Souder, Lynda Prioleau, Kathy Lincoln

Cyndi Souder, Lynda Prioleau, Kathy Lincoln

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could combine the activities we love and then spend time sharing them with friends?

I’m a big fan of tea. No, not drowning a teabag in a mug of hot water; I mean tea in a china cup with delicate munchies and wonderful friends with whom to share it all.

I’m also a big fan of special clothes. I love clothes, but I have a hard time finding things that I think look good on me while being appropriate. I think Stacy and Clinton (You know who I mean!) would have a field day in my closet.

When my friend Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts started talking about offering clothing patterns in her shop, I was very interested. I started sewing a very, very, very long time ago by making a pink short sleeved dress with a stand up collar embellished with a floral ribbon. Honestly! I continued to sew until I realized that I liked quiltmaking more. Flat is easier to sew, believe me. Now I think it’s time to revisit that decision and try to find time to make some of my own pieces.

Judy rolled out her new program, which she calls Artistic Couture, a little while ago with a tea and pattern party. Many of us made garments for the occasion and I managed to create a top. The pants and jacket are off the rack, and the top represents more un-sewing than I’ve done on one project for a long time.

TeacupThe pattern is the Mimosa Top from The Sewing Workshop Collection. It’s sleeveless and comfortable. It should have been really easy to make, but I’m clearly out of practice.  Okay, details. The fabric is a lightweight rayon from Britex in San Francisco, purchased ages ago. Great drape, nice hand. The band that forms the neckline is made from ombre silk (brown to black), pintucked and topstitched — and bought that way from Bohemian Elements last year at the Houston show. The silk wasn’t wide enough, of course, so I had to figure out how to piece it while maintaining the little rows of tucks. Sigh. More ripping commenced. I added length to the front and back and will probably sew the fronts together (eliminating potential gaps and slippage) before I wear it again. All in all, I like it and I’ll use it. And I’ll probably go on to make something else. It was fun.

And, yes, I know that’s the face my grandmother warned against making, lest it freeze that way. Sorry, Nana!

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Finally Ready to Quilt

Finally Ready to Quilt

I’ve had quilter’s block before. I’ve had dry spells, but I’ve never had a quilt fight me.

Here’s the deal. I have a deadline.  Tomorrow. I’ve been thinking about this quilt and planning it in my head. Trees. Trees in winter. I have this amazing midnight blue batik with irregular white dots that look to me like snow at night. I pictured pale tree trunks — just a few — in the nighttime snowfall. Easy enough? Not when the quilt fights back.

I took everything I thought I’d need to my quilt guild’s fall retreat this past weekend.  There, in the company of supportive friends and quilters, I planned to create this 24″ x 24″ quilt based on a pattern I created. Easy. Or at least that was the plan. The center panel was easy. Light grey and white batik with a subtle pine pattern for all three trunks. Simple. Elegant, I hoped.

Problem Child with Original Borders

Problem Child with Original Borders

The borders were the first hint of trouble. I needed a narrow stopper border that would define the center panel, stopping both the dark background and the light trees. That sounds way easier than it actually was. Since I was working with blue rather than my old friend black, I had to find a grey with just the right amount of blue in it. None of my greys worked. Neither did the greys my table buddies packed. When Capital Quilts (Gaithersburg, MD) showed up as our visiting quilt shop, they had just the right one! Susan Fernandez snatched it up (I was down the mountain fetching tasty coffee drinks) and presented it to me upon my return. Thanks, Susan!

The second border defied me. I had several fabrics, but nothing was great and I was away from my studio where I could continue to rummage and, perhaps, create the perfect candidate. In desperation, I added more of the snow fabric. Mistake. I put it up on the design wall and tried to get to to talk to me. All I got was the silent treatment. And so, I took it down and tried to forget about it. It seemed like this quilt did not want to be made.

Once I got it home, I tried again. My friend Mary Kerr put her finger on the problem. It’s too matchy-matchy.  If this quilt was supposed to represent what I do as a quilter, I had failed miserably. Off came the outside border! I found what I thought was the perfect fabric at Judy Gula’s Artistic Artifacts Annex, but it didn’t make me happy once I got it home and on the wall. After much experimentation (When I should be finishing the quilting, not the piecing!), I came up with borders I like.

Now I’m looking for quilting inspiration. Nothing. Again, the quilt’s giving me the silent treatment. And so, I’ll start with what I know. I’ll do all the ditch work (stitching in the ditch) and hope that something comes to me before it’s time to freemotion. Wish me luck! Tomorrow’s coming faster than you think.

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