Christa’s Soap Box – More Thoughts on Machine Quilting

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments on last week’s Soap Box. I love that we can have conversations about hot-button quilting issues in such a respectful manner, even if we differ in our opinions.

Thanks to the online quilting community, I know I have become more open-minded, even though I am still passionate about my ideas. I actually wrote the essay below several months ago, but didn’t have a chance to share it. Now is the time, and I’d love to know your thoughts about it, as I continue to explore my own feelings on the subject.

Machine Quilting Gloves From the archives – a baby quilt I made for a friend several years ago.

You Can Be the Quilter

I am constantly inspired by attending and entering quilts into shows, both locally and nationally. I learn so much from the judges’ comments and after I show them, I love to use them!

When I first began sharing my quilts locally, I lamented that there weren’t more quilters entering their own completed quilts for judging. It seemed like a majority of the quilt entries were quilted by the one or two professional quilters in the area.

While it was wonderful to see Teri Topper’s beautiful blocks, and Patty Piecer’s perfect points, Lucy Longarmer’s gorgeous quilting always stole the show, yet she seldom got the credit for her work. Nowadays, I’m happy to see more quilt shows sponsoring separate categories for individual entrants, and it warms my heart to see professional machine quilters earning ribbons for their beautiful work.

Over the years I’ve tried to do my part to encourage others to learn and enjoy the machine quilting process, whether their machine of choice is a long arm, short arm, or somewhere in between. This is so that when others look at their beautiful quilts and ask who the “quilter” is, they can say, “I am!”

 

 

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Fabric Friday – What’s Trending

For this week’s Fabric Friday, I thought I would share with you what have been some of our top sellers. I know other shops follow my blog so I don’t mind sharing what is working well. Plus, isn’t it fun to know what your fellow quilters are trending towards? Maybe you will see a bundle of yummy color you didn’t notice before!

20140909_aurifilSome of my own personal Aurifil collection – I love color!!

First up – Aurifil Thread!! My goodness, adding Aurifil thread to our lineup has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. The colors are so vibrant, the thread is such high quality, and it’s perfect for both piecing and machine quilting.

20140909_seascapeSeascape collection by Sheena Norquay – one of our best sellers!

I love the smaller thread kits for machine applique, bindings, or when I’m just using a small amount of a particular color on my quilt. The larger spools are perfect for lots of custom quilting or when I want to quilt the heck out of anything! :-)

20140909_amy_butlerForver Amy Fat Quarter Bundle – Love It!!

Next – anything from Westminster and FreeSpirit.

Kaffe Fassett fat quarters, Amy Butler design rolls, Anna Maria Horner precuts – I cold go on and on. The bold contemporary prints are a perfect choice, every time!

20140909_true_colorsTrue Colors by Anna Maria – I recently made a quilt from some of these.

Finally, solids, solids, solids! When I first started carrying solid precuts it was mainly for selfish reasons. But I think they have been so popular because they are so versatile.

20140909_kona1Kona Solids Classic Palette by Robert Kaufman – Yum!

We sell a lot of solid charm packs along with print bundles and I think people are mixing them together to make a larger quilt. Also the Jelly Rolls and Rollups are perfect for sashings and bindings, and you just can’t go wrong with a stack of colorful fat quarters, arranged in rainbow order!

20140909_elizabeth_harmanElizabeth Hartman Designer Bundle

What do you have your eye on?

Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 8 Comments

Sizzix Fabric Cutter Tutorial and a Giveaway!

This summer I had fun playing around with a Sizzix Fabi Personal Die Cutter and thanks to the generous folks at Sizzix, it’s now your turn to win one of these handy machines!

20140908_sizzix1Here’s what I did to test it out:

To use the die, you simply fold the fabric and place it on top of the cutting pad, then sandwich it between the two plastic safety plates.

20140908_sizzix2Hand crank it through the machine and voila! Perfect shapes every time!

20140908_sizzix3Comfortable that I knew how this machine worked, I was ready to try it out on some circles backed with fusible web. (This is for my upcoming Abacus Quilt Along which I mentioned in yesterday’s post.) I thought, if this can work for machine applique, I may never go back to using scissors!

20140908_sizzix4To make the job easier, I ironed strips of paper backed fusible web to the back of my chosen fabrics. I cut each strip about an inch wider than the die. I then rough cut them into squares before running them through the machine. There seemed to be less waste cutting this way.

20140908_sizzix5I stacked 3-4 layers of fusible backed squares and fed them through the machine. Oh. My. Gosh. That was so fast!

20140908_sizzix6Now I have a pile of perfect circles, all ready to be made into a quilt!

20140908_sizzix7Enter to Win:

20140908_sizzix8To be entered to win one of the Fabi Personal Fabric Cutters plus a 4″ circle die, click here to follow Sizzix on Facebook.

Then come back here and leave me a comment saying you did so. I will choose one winner at random next Tuesday, September 16th at Noon PST, and Sizzix will send you the cutter and some dies. How cool is that??

Posted in Favorite Tools, Giveaways | Tagged | 328 Comments

Announcing My Fall 2014 Quilt Along: Abacus

Ok guys, I’m super excited to bring you another fun quilt along! With my new quilting schedule, I’ve decided I can still fit in a couple of quilt alongs twice a year – one in the fall and another in the spring. As with all of my Quilt Alongs, I will post tutorials for each step of the quilt-making process from start to finish. Abacus features simple machine applique and fun machine quilting that anyone can do!

Abacus_EQ7Abacus, designed in EQ7 by Christa Watson – 32″ x 32″

Below I have listed the supply list, and I’ll post the full quilt along schedule next Wednesday.

I’ve also lined up a few sponsors who are going to give away some fabulous prizes. But don’t worry – you don’t have to quilt along to enter the giveaways – they will be open to all followers of my blog. :-) Check back tomorrow for the first one!

I will officially launch the quilt along on Wednesday, September 24th, so that should give you plenty of time to start planning your colors and fabrics. If you’d like to help spread the word, please grab the quilt along button below and share it on your blog!

<div align="center"><a href="http://christasquiltalong.com" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="http://christaquilts.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/christas-quilt-along-175-2.png" alt="Christa's Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Abacus Supply List

  •  1 – 5″ x 40″ strip of 4 different fabrics (solids 1-4 above, blue through teal)
  • 1 – 5″ x 20″ strip of 4 different fabrics (solids 5-8 above, burgundy to pink)
  • 1 3/8 yard background fabric (grey above)
  • 3/8 yard fabric for binding (I will probably use the same grey)
  • 1 1/8 yard of fabric for backing
  • 36″ x 36″ square of batting
  • Thread for machine quilting (I recommend Aurifil 50 weight cotton)
  • 2 yards of 17″ wide light paper backed fusible web. Note: you can use (9) –  9″ x 11″ sheets instead, but there will be a lot of waste.
  • Sharp Scissors for cutting through paper and fabric
  • Optional: 4″ circle die cutter (only if you have one – otherwise you will trace and cut out the circles by hand)

Fabrics and Threads Used

Because I know some of you are going to ask, these are the Kona Solids fabrics and Aurifil 50 weight cotton threads I will be working with (going left to right from blue to pink):

  • Kona Solid 1243 Navy; Aurifil #2785
  • Kona Solid 1376 Turquoise; Aurifil #2810
  • Kona Solid 1010 Baby Blue; Aurifil #5007
  • Kona Solid 1183 Jade Green, Aurifil #4093
  • Kona Solid 1016 Berry, Aurifil #4030
  • Kona Solid 1066 Cerise, Aurifil #2535
  • Kona Solid 24 Petunia, Aurifil #2560
  • Kona solid 1295 Pomegranate #Aurifil #1100
  • And the grey background is Kona Solid 1223 Medium grey, with Aurifil #2605

 Who’s ready to have some fun?

 

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Quilt Alongs | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Christa’s Soap Box – More Thoughts on Modern Quilting

I just finished the biggest WIP of my life – my first manuscript, and the quilts are on their way to the publisher this week. So hopefully I’ll be back to a more regular blogging and sewing schedule.

I’ve been thinking a lot about modern quilting lately, why I love it so much and why it’s having such an influence in the quilting community. So here are a few of my random thoughts on the subject. I’d love to know what your thoughts are too – even if you agree or not. It’s always fun to discuss quilting, isn’t it?

20140905_optical_illusionA new design I am just itching to start, now that  I have a little more free time!

The Influence of Modern Quilting

I think modern quilting is gaining in popularity partly as a pushback to what I call the “fast-food-ization” of quilting. Although it’s fun to finish a quick project, many who embrace modern quilting seem to enjoy the process of slowing down, taking it one step at a time, and completing the entire project from start to finish.

On the other end of the spectrum, modern quilting’s influence could also be a response to the abundance of bedazzled perfectionist quilts that may take hundreds or thousands of hours to complete and, although beautiful, are usually not allowed to be touched. Many modern quilters embrace utility along with creativity, and feel that a quilt from the heart doesn’t have to be computer-perfect to be both functional and beautiful.

The current modern quilting movement was born online out of a need to share one’s own work and be inspired by the artistry of others, whether they live around the corner or across the globe. It has enabled quilters to break down communication barriers as well as redefine what constitutes a quilting bee or sewing guild. I’m excited to be a part of this growing community and I’m excited to see where the future of modern quilting is headed!

Posted in Sew and Tell, Soapbox | Tagged | 33 Comments

Quiltique Fall Teaching Schedule – More Modern Classes Coming Up!

I’m excited to announce my fall teaching schedule at Quiltique in Las Vegas. Based on the the popular response from last trimester, I will once again be teaching Modern Logs and Modern Machine Quilting. Check out the pictures below from last season’s classes – my students had a great time and made some gorgeous modern quilts!

modern_logs_purpleModern Logs looks great in blues and purples with a pop of green!

Here are the dates and times if you’d like to learn with me:

  • Modern Logs – Saturday October 4, 11, 18 from 2-5 PM
  • Modern Machine Quilting – Thursday, December 4, & 11 from 6-9 PM

modern_logs_studentsYes, you can quilt it yourself, and I’ll teach you how!

If you are in or near the Local Las Vegas area, I invite you to stop by to Quiltique’s Back to School Carnival on September 5th from 5-8 PM to check out the projects and sign up for classes! You can also sign up online after Sept 6th.

sara_fussy_logsFor even more variety – you can fussy cut your centers!

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Sew and Tell, Teaching | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Around the World Blog Hop – My Turn!

My friend Becca from Bryan House Quilts invited me to join the Around the World Blog hop. What fun! Each Monday, different bloggers answer the following questions and then pass the ball onto someone else! It’s been going on for awhile and is literally having worldwide reach. You can click the links at the beginning and end of this post to find more fun blogs to follow and get to know other fun quilters in the process!

20140828_wip_bookI’ve been slaving away on the computer while work starts to pile up in the background.

1. What am I working on?

Currently I’m finishing up the manuscript for my first book, sneak peeks of which I shared previously. After that, I’m ready to launch a fall quilt along, prepare new teaching samples and even finish up a few patterns in the works. It’s never a dull moment around here!

2. How does my work differ from others?

That’s an interesting one. My work has evolved over time and probably the biggest difference I’ve seen is my preference to make my quilts completely from start to finish (including the designing). I don’t think there is anything wrong with only piecing, or only quilting, etc. (Remember there’s room for everyone in this journey!) I just enjoy every step of the process, so it’s been natural for me to always make the whole thing.

It’s definitely a slower process, (especially when one is trying to publish their work), but I’m ok with that, too. It’s been very satisfying to find like-minded souls within the online community, and to not feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t mind spending hours and hours on their quilts. :-)

20140828_thread_countI’ve recently begun keeping track of how much thread it takes to quilt a quilt. I count by the bobbin and each of my large Bernina bobbins holds about 80-100 yards of thread.

3. Why do I do what I do?

The first answer is because quilting is my business. From nearly the first moment I took up this glorious hobby 20 years ago, I thought that if I could make money from it,  I could justify the cost. (Not that I really needed to, but I was a poor starving college student back then!)

But the real answer is that it feeds my soul. Creating to me is as important as breathing, and I would be lost in a world without art. Also, I’ve found that I have nearly as much fun participating in the community of quilting as I do making the actual quilts. I enjoy it just as much when my quilting buddies receive recognition for their work as I do for my own projects.

20140828_colorful_fabricsI love working with color! Pearl Bracelet fabrics courtesy of Andover.

4. How does my creative process work?

I usually have an idea of a quilt I want to make and I sketch it out roughly in EQ7 first. At this point, I am brainstorming, so the quilt can go off in many different directions. I save all of the different versions and often use them in future projects.

201406010_eq_artistI am a planner, so I have to know what the quilt looks like before I ever cut the first fabric. If I know for sure which fabrics I’m using, I’ll import them into the program and create a pattern for myself to follow. If the fabrics aren’t important and it’s more about the colors, I’ll create the design in solids, then use prints when I sew. Of course many times I end up loving the solid version and make an exact copy of that, too!

It’s hard for me to make a quilt just for the sake of making. Each quilt needs to have a purpose. Whether that purpose is learning a new technique, preparing a class sample, or making the quilt for an intended recipient, I can’t start on it until I know where it’s going to end up.

Rainbow Bridge

Here’s a recent sketch I came up with when I was messing around with half-square triangle layouts. I’m not sure if it will ever become a quilt, but it was fun to design!

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about what makes me tick! I’m inviting my friends Stacy from Farm Road Quilts and Cheryl the Quilter Chic to play along next week!

Posted in Personal Life, Sew and Tell, Soapbox | 6 Comments

Fabric Friday – Quilt Market Arrivals

Even though Jason and I didn’t attend quilt market this past spring, we were still able to order boxes and boxes of fabulous new precuts which are starting to arrive in stores now. (After an 8 year absence, we are headed to Fall Market again in the fall and I can’t wait!)

20140828_modern_neutrals_1First let me tell you about Modern Neutrals by Amy Ellis. I love this line and I’ve been a long-time fan of Amy’s. In fact, I was able to get advanced yardage of some of this line for a special secret project I’m currently working on. My favorite print is the one on the top of the precut stack that reminds me of Star-Trek insignia. (Yeah – we are trekkies!!)

20140828_modern_neutralsHere’s what Amy has to say about her debut line for Moda:

“While writing Modern Neutrals (the book), I fell in love with the calming sense that was found in each of the quilts. Later, when selecting a color palette for my first collection of fabric designs, I kept coming back to the neutral palettes and decided it was meant to be! I added a touch of color that can be used, if desired, in your quilts to liven up the subtle neutrals. I hope you enjoy the neutral palette as much as I do.”

Yes, Amy, I do!

20140828_modern_neutrals_2

Next, take a look at Best Day Ever by Amy’s pal and podcast co-host April Rosenthal. If you remember, I interviewed April about her experiences in becoming a fabric designer earlier on my blog.

20140828_best_day_1I love the fun bright prints and the story behind them. Now that April’s fabrics are out, I think they would make some of the Best Quilts Ever!

20140828_best_day_2

Finally, I’d like to introduce you to LOL by dynamic duo Me and My Sister. This talented pair has been releasing fabulous collections as long as I’ve been in business and have consistently been one of our top sellers. :-)

20140828_lolTheir cheery bright pastels never fail to please!

20140828_lol_1

This is just the tip of the iceberg of all the fabulous precuts that are arriving each week. Click here to see them all!

 

Posted in Fabric | Tagged , | 6 Comments

A New Wip, A Few Finishes and Some Sneak Peeks

Before I get into today’s post, I need to congratulate Karen P. from North Carolina for winning my mystery fabric box! Thanks to all of you who enter my giveaways – I will be hosting a few more in the fall so be on the lookout! :-)

I have been busy all summer finishing this stack of quilts. It’s been such a pleasure to work on them! Although it will be quite a while before I am ready to reveal them in public, I can truly say I’ve grown as a quilter while creating them. It’s been a little tricky blogging and sharing on Instagram (@christaquilts) when there’s nothing to show, but I’ve been enjoying posting a few little sneaky peeks now and then.

20140827_quilt_stackWhat I did over summer vacation. Now it’s time to get busy on the design wall again!

I can show you the backing of another fun finish which will be revealed in the Winter issue of Quilting Quarterly this December. This is the magazine published by the National Quilting Association – a group that has been around for over 45 years. Can you believe it?! Be sure to join NQA to get your quarterly subscription so you don’t miss out on the fun! Here’s a hint: think small!

20140827_mini_backHere’s the back – can’t wait until I can show you the front!

Finally, here is a WIP that I can show. I’m working on “Abacus,” an easy machine applique project that will be my next Quilt Along! Yay!!! I started it earlier in the year before I got serious with deadlines, and I’m now excited to return to it. I’m finalizing details now, and I plan to launch the quilt along mid to late September.

20140827_abacusQuilt Along with me again in September!

Who’s excited for the fall quilting season? I know I am!

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Publishing, Sew and Tell | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Christa’s Soapbox – 10 (or 11) Quilty Little Secrets

Amy Garro from 13 Spools wrote up a fun piece about her dirty little quilting secrets, so I thought I would play along, too! In no particular order, here are mine:

20140823_quilt_secrets

  1. I don’t save my scraps! I just throw them away or try to give them away. (I hear the quilt police coming for me now….)
  2. I prefer new fabric over using my stash and I don’t like hoarding fabric.
  3. I’d choose solids over prints, any day.
  4. I can’t work in a “creative” mess – my studio has to be cleaned up before the start of each new project.20140820_cq_clutter My sewing space after a recent finish. It’s time to clean up and start again!
  5. I have clutter issues so I can’t handle too many WIP’s at a time. I gave my old ones away last year, and now I only work on one or two quilts at a time.
  6. I’m not into quilting traditional feathers on my quilts. (I’d love to try some modern ones, though!)
  7. Quilting for business and quilting for personal enjoyment are one and the same to me.
  8. I prefer the look of hand binding to the convenience of machine binding.
  9. I consider myself a modern quilter though not all of my quilts are.
  10. I enjoy quilt math!
  11. Hexagons make me sick. You can read this older post to find out why.

I actually have 11 quilty secrets. :-) I hope you enjoyed reading them and want to share a few of your own! Please add your list to the comments below or create your own blog post to join in the fun!

 

Posted in Soapbox | 35 Comments