My Adventurous Week at Girl’s Camp

Last week, Jason and I had the opportunity to serve as volunteer cooks for our church’s annual youth girls’ camp. It was our daughter’s first year to attend, so it was fun to see her there and make sure she was having a good time, but not hover. And boy, did we work our tails off! It was good, fun service, though.

girlscamp_1When you have a bad hair day from not showering at camp, just wear a wig!

The theme for this year’s camp was based on Dr. Suess and went something like this, “Oh the places you’ll go and the service you’ll do.” So naturally Jason and I had to ham it up and get into character. We wore our Thing One and Thing Two costumes while we helped serve Roast Beast for dinner on one of the nights.

So what did we do? We washed lots of dishes…

girlscamp_2Washing dishes for 250+ girls was no small feat. Thank goodness there were lots of helpers!

We learned a great way to make instant mashed potatoes. The secret ingredients? Butter, cream, and mayonnaise! (Oh – and a mixer attached to a drill to make it all go much faster!)

girlscamp_3Girls with power tools!!

 And Jason had a great time cooking ALL THE BACON for a delicious breakfast of egg burritos with all the toppings! One of the benefits of helping on the cooking crew was being able to sample before, during and after each meal!! To say we were well fed is an understatement.

girlscamp_4

You can never have too much bacon!

While we cooked, cleaned, and cooked some more, the girls participated in scheduled activities like first aid, crafts, camping skills and several fun physical activities like zip lining.

girlscamp5Our daughter’s favorite activity was zip lining. We are not surprised at all!

The craziest part of our week was on the last full day of camp. Just after lunch, a torrential flash flood swept through camp, causing us to evacuate for safety. There was muck and debris everywhere and the girls had to wade through mud up to their knees to get to higher ground for safety.

girlscamp_6Flash floods are common in Las Vegas – they come quickly and without warning!

Fortunately, due to quick thinking and good leadership from those in charge, there were no injuries and all made it down the mountain safely. Other than a few tears, the majority of the girls were proud of the story they could now tell and are already looking forward to next year’s camp.

girlscamp_7Yes, I will volunteer for treats! The white chocolate version of green eggs and ham were divine!

Once Jason and I were home, dry and unpacked, I unwrapped this lovely thank you gift that the organizers gave to each of the cooking crew. In spite of the flooding, we had a great time and look forward to helping out again in the future. :-)

New Work in Progress – Feathered Chevrons

I’m super excited to start working with my Kona Cotton designer palette from Robert Kaufman. I’m revisiting my Charming Chevrons design in a new way, something that has been on my to-do list for awhile.

feathered_chevrons_precutsChrista Watson designer palette plus Kona solids in Coal

I’m going to turn the precuts above into the quilt below and I can’t wait to get started! I’m using 4 charm packs of my designer palette along with 4 charm packs of Kona Coal to make a nice throw-sized quilt measuring 64″ x 80″.

chevrons6Feathered Chevrons Layout from my Charming Chevrons Pattern.

I just love how the bright citrus colors pop against the dark grey background – don’t you? My designer palette will be available this October in quilt shops everywhere. :-)

 

Introducing My Very Own Kona Designer Palette

I have exciting news to share today! I’ve been working with Robert Kaufman to curate my very own Kona Cotton designer palette in my favorite shades of red, orange, yellow and green.

Christa Watson Designer PaletteChrista Watson Designer Palette – Kona Solid Precuts Coming Soon!

I chose these fabrics for the  Facets quilt from my book Machine Quilting With Style. You can see a sneak peek of the quilt in the photo above.

Christa Watson Designer PaletteI never thought I would see my name on precuts – such a dream come true!!

My precut palette will include 5″ charm squares, 10″ ten squares, 2 1/2″ wide roll ups and a 28 piece fat quarter bundle. They will be available for purchase in quilt shops everywhere this fall, including my precut store.

Probably one of the best things about having my own precut bundle is being able to explore the possibilities. I already have two additional quilts I will be making, and I will share my progress with you – so stay tuned!

Christa’s Soapbox – Do the Work

So back at the end of 2012 I set some pretty lofty goals for my business. That summer I discovered the modern aesthetic and decided it was time to go pro with my quilting. It’s been 3 years of hard, but enjoyable work and I’m finally starting to see the fruits of my labor. This had me reflecting on the idea of how there’s really no such thing as overnight success. It takes dedication, organization and WORK to get to where you want or need to be.

I listen to a lot of craft business/entrepreneurial type podcasts and enjoy reading trade magazines and attending industry events where I get to talk shop with other makers and business owners. One theme that continually comes up is “Do the Work.” You can set all the goals in the world, make up pretty charts, keep a business journal and go to conferences for inspiration. However, unless you actually buckle down and do the work, it’s not going to happen.

20150721_wipJust a few of the behind-the-scenes projects I am working on….

I feel like I’ve finally reached a turning point with my business over the last year. In that time, I’ve (1) finalized my book, (2) been accepted to teach at QuiltCon, (3) created my first set of professional looking quilt patterns and (4) curated a selection of precuts that successfully sell.

But what has led up to that point is a lot of HARD WORK behind the scenes: (1) It took months of researching and brainstorming to come up with a really good proposal. (2) It took years of teaching experience to craft a good set of class offerings (not to mention determination to try again when I wasn’t accepted the previous year). (3) It took nearly a decade to decide how to produce my patterns and get some help making that happen. (4) It took a leap of faith to completely change our retail business model.

In this world of instantaneous communication, it’s often hard to work on long-term projects behind the scenes that can’t be shared until much later. But I made a promise to myself that no matter how busy things get, I would still take time to stop and reflect. So I write this post today not only to encourage others to do the work to make things happen, but also as a reminder to myself to keep doing the hard work that eventually pays off.

What goals are you working towards? I’d love to know!

Things to Read While I’m Hiding out in my Studio

When I’m busily working behind the scenes without much to show, it’s a great time for me to share a little bit about what my blogging friends and colleagues are up to. So in no particular order, here are a few things you might be interested in:

Check out some great tips on blogging from Yvonne at Quilting JetGirl, as part of the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers blog hop. I love how she dissects several Pain Points when it comes to blogging and how to overcome them!

20150720_blogging-pain-points

The always lovely Pat Sloan is hosting a sew along for one of the patterns in her new book Teach Me to Applique. To join, just buy a copy of her book and head on over to her blog and facebook group for all the fun!

20150720_farmersmarket

Abby Glassenberg from While She Naps is running a feature on her blog this summer entitled, “The Pattern That Changed My Life” and it’s a very inpsiring series. She hosted it last year and it was so successful that she’s repeating again this year. In fact, she’s invited me to be one of the contributors in August and I can’t wait to share that story with you!

 

20150720_patternthatchangedmylife

I think good thing come in threes so I hope you enjoy those recommendations. If you are an avid blog reader like me – what other interesting things have you been reading? I’d love to know!

Christa’s Soap Box – Take a Break and Have Some Fun (Memories of Hawaii)

I hope you are having a great summer! I find myself knee-deep in deadlines this summer, but it’s all in good fun! I did get a chance to travel with my family to Hawaii last month so I thought I would share highlights of that with you. This was my third trip and I have to say, it is my favorite place to go. (So if any of you out there want me to come teach a quilting class in Hawaii – the answer is YES!)

hawaii-family-pic-2The Watsons do Hawaii

And as to why I labeled this one of my soapbox posts – I implore you to take a break every now and then and have some fun – no excuses!!

hawaii_ziplineWe did the obligatory ziplining through the jungle and it was SO much fun! Of course, since I was the one taking most of the pictures, I’m not actually in many of them. :-)

hawaii_kayak

I love this shot of my daughter and my husband – everything is so GREEN!

We are a pretty active family, so we like to do fun outdoorsy things like hiking, kayaking and exploring. For this trip, we stayed on the island of Kauai which is definitely my favorite of all the islands we have visited so far.

hawaii_scenicThe view from our hike along the Napoli Coast. Looks like something from a movie, right?

We just couldn’t get over how green the trees were and how crystal blue the water was. Just looking at these pictures makes me long to go back.

Hawaii-shave-iceHawaiian Shave Ice – an island tradition!

By far, our favorite treat was Hawaiian Shave Ice, which we got nearly every day. We learned that it’s called “shave ice” not “shaved ice.” And it was pretty delicious, with a scoop of ice cream in the mix.

We had such a great time that we are already discussing when we can go again. It really is as beautiful place as it looks and I can’t wait to return.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

 

Paper Pieced Quilt Along #8 – Spray Basting Tutorial

I have been a quilter for over 20 years, but I’ve only been using basting spray on my quilts for about the last 2 years and it’s now my favorite go-to method. Although there are a few drawbacks: it’s more expensive, you need to do it outside or in a well-ventilated area, the convenience of not having to remove pins while machine quilting more than makes up for it!

Be sure to share your progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa!

qal_basting_spray

I can usually baste about 2-3 throw sized quilts from one can of basting spray.

Tips before starting

  • My spray basting method works best for quilt batting that is mostly or all cotton.
  • I use 2 large plastic tables that fold up and out of the way for storage. You can also use just one table for this method.
  • Make sure your batting is at least 2″ all around all four sides of the top (4″ larger than the finished measurement).
  • Make sure your backing is at least 3″ bigger all around (6″ larger than the finished quilt top).
  • If using a lot of black like I did, consider using a black batting (I used an 80/20 blend).
  • Grab a helper and a long acrylic ruler to help smooth things out.
  • If the quilt top or backing sticks to itself, you can easily pull it apart to reposition as needed.

Step 1

Press all 3 layers – quilt top, quilt backing and batting with a dry iron. This works best for 100% cotton or a cotton blend, but yes, you can iron your quilt batting. If you are worried about the batting sticking to your iron, put a piece of clean fabric on top of the batting and iron on top of that. If you have stubborn wrinkles, lightly spray the batting with water before pressing.

Step 2

Cover your table or work surface with a clean bed sheet or cardboard to protect the table from overspray. If it’s not windy outside, you can place pieces of white paper around the edges of the fabric and then remove them easily once the top and backing have been sprayed.

qal_basting_top

Spray outside to let the fumes dissipate. I used sheets of paper to catch the overspray.

Lay out the quilt top, wrong side up on a large table outside. Gently and evenly spray the entire top with 505 basting spray. (This is the brand I recommend.) I will usually spray in sections, following the pieced design of the quilt. Set aside the quilt top.

qal_basting_top_detailYou want the adhesive to completely cover the back side of the quilt top – just don’t overdo it.

Step 3

Lay out the quilt backing wrong side up and repeat the process to spray the entire backing. If the backing hangs over the edges, spray the center first and then the sides. Remove the bed sheet or papers and leave the backing on the table.

quilt backingBy using paper to catch the overspray, it’s easy to remove and leave the backing in place.
Dead summer grass and dirty concrete patio optional!! :-)

Step 4

With a helper, lay the batting on top of the quilt backing. It may help to fold the backing in half and then in quarters first. Lay it on the corner of the backing and then unfold it and smooth it out as you go.

With a long acrylic ruler, smooth the batting across the backing, working out any lumps and bumps.

Step 5

With a helper, lay the sticky top right side up on top of the batting and backing piece. Again, smooth it out with a long ruler if needed. Flip the quilt sandwich over to ensure there are no wrinkles on the back and that the entire top has batting and backing underneath. Trim the excess batting and backing with batting shears leaving only an inch or two all around.

basting a quiltSmooth the layers out the best you can with your hands and a ruler.

Step 6

Bring all 3 layers inside and iron it from the back of your quilt to set the glue. If you have an oversized board that fits on top of your regular ironing board, this comes in really handy! Once the backing is smooth, flip the quilt over and iron it again from the front side.

If spray basting isn’t your thing, here’s a link another quilt along with my pin-basting tutorial. :-)

You are now ready to quilt! Start choosing  your thread colors and meet me back here August 26th to begin the quilting. Or get a jump start on it now if you can’t wait!

Click here for all of the Paper Pieced Quilt Along Tutorials

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WorldWide Kindness Anthem – Vote for My Friend!

My friend Lacey Newbry is a talented musician,  songwriter and budding quilter. She’s written a song titled “Along the Way” which she hopes will be selected as this year’s WorldWide Dance for Kindness anthem. If chosen, she will  get to perform her song live in NYC Times Square and it will get played in 30 countries around the world.

Lacey_alongtheway

Lacey is one of only eleven finalists and at last check, she’s been going back and forth between first and second place. There haven’t been a huge number of votes, so if you, my loyal blog readers would vote for her, it could put her over the top!

Click here to listen to Lacey’s song and cast your vote!

Here’s How to Vote:

  1.  Click vote
  2. Create a new account
  3. Click vote AGAIN!
  4. You will get a confirmation that you voted.
  5. The direct link is: http://www.lifevestinside.com/contestants/lacey-newbry/

Thanks so much! Voting runs through July 8th at 11:59 PM Eastern time.

flagsforever

Fabric Friday – The Patriotic Edition

With all of the Independence Day celebrations this weekend, I thought it would be fun to showcase precuts in patriotic colors of red, white and blue!

Here’s a lovely grouping from Sandy Gervais called Red, White and Free. Don’t you just love the clever title? At last check I only had a couple of the fat quarter bundles left which includes one of each of the prints, plus the oversized panels (which would make a great quickie quilt!) I also have it in layer cakes and jelly rolls.

Red White and Free FabricRed, White and Free bundle by Sandy Gervais for Moda

Fabri-Quilt’s version of Jelly Rolls are called Snack Packs. Isn’t that cute? Enjoy a high fiber-zero calorie “treat” when you try out this lovely color bundle below, aptly titled “Flags Forever.” I love the fact that the colors together are patriotic yet the individual fabric designs are very universal.

flagsforeverFlags Forever – Bella Casa Snack Pack from Fabri-Quilt.

Red is a great color any time of year, and Moda knows that! I love that they have put together several Bella Solids that are duplicates of the same solid color fabric. The gorgeous red below is 9900-16. Naturally the solids are also available in white and blue.

bella-solids-red

Bella solids in red from Moda

What are your holiday plans?

I’ll be sewing like crazy all weekend! Oh yeah, and shooting off some fireworks, too!

Paper Pieced Quilt Along #7 – Pieced Backing

I love a good pieced backing! There’s something about creating a secondary composition on the back that makes me giddy. Of course, you don’t have to make a pieced backing, but what follows are brief instructions for how I made my backing for the Paper Pieced Quilt Along:

backingdiagramThe backing design is interesting to stand on it’s own as a quilt top, too!

This backing finishes at 68″ x 84″ which is exactly 4″ bigger all around than my quilt top. That’s cutting it close, so if you’d like a bigger backing, just add more rectangles or make them slightly bigger.

Yardage needed – 18 assorted fat quarters (18″ x 22″ each). Note: solids tend to be a slightly wider useable width so they are closer to a true 18″ x 22″. Print fat quarters may result in less useable yardage. To use up scraps, feel free to piece sections together to get the desired rectangle sizes.

Trim 14 of the fat quarters to 17 1/2″ x 21 1/2″. Trim the remaining 4 fat quarters to 17 1/2″ x 11″

backingsquares

Lay out the rectangles on a design wall or other large surface, into a pleasing color arrangement.

Sew 4 rectangles together on their short ends to make the first and third pieced columns. Sew 3 rectangles and two half-rectangles on either end to make the second and fourth pieced columns. To reduce bulk, press all seams open.

Join the columns to create the pieced backing. Once the quilt is basted, trim off some of the excess fabric and batting around the quilt top.

backingpiecedPieced backing after it has been spray basted and trimmed.

It’s ok if the sides don’t look even at this point. Once the quilt has been quilted, it will be squared up.

Once your backing is finished, you are ready to baste your quilt in preparation for machine quilting. Have fun creating your own unique backing!

Click here for all of the Paper Pieced Quilt Along tutorials.