Work in Progress – Optical Illusion Quilting Update

I’m plowing my way through the quilting on Optical Illusion this week. I hope to get it finished in time to enter it into QuiltCon. No pressure, right? (One of the things I love about entering quilt shows is that they light a fire under me to actually get things done.)

quilting_overviewDon’t you always match your clothing to your quilts when you sew?

I first created a small practice piece so that I could try out a couple of quilting variations with the same fabric, thread and batting as in the real quilt. I’d rather trouble shoot issues now, and know what I’m in for before starting the big quilt.

practice_pieceSmaller practice piece, sewn to scale using the same materials as the big quilt.

One tweak that I made to my spray basting method was to omit dragging my big tables downstairs and outside. I realized I could just lay a large sheet out on the patio and spray the layers of my quilt on the sheet, then take them back indoors for final assembly.

bastingI prefer to spray baste the top and backing separately, rather than the batting.

I tried out several different stitch textures before opting to go with Boxes, the squarish stipple design on the upper left hand of the picture below. After some practice, I realized that the design is really the star of this quilt, so I didn’t want to over-do it on the quilting.

texture_practiceThese textures were quilted on my practice piece so I could see how they looked “in the cloth” before picking a final design.

I realized that I prefer to add texture to my quilts with the quilting, so that I can enhance the piecing rather than overwhelm it. I quilted all of the black areas first in a matching thread, starting and stopping the quilting in each black box.  It was a lot of tying off, to bury my thread tails. But it really didn’t take that long, since I did a few rows each night while watching TV.

black_boxesI really like the texture of the boxes. I’m quilting the same motif right now in the white squares and I really like the effect. I chose Quilter’s Dream Orient batting which is super soft and I like the feel of it. However, the batting beards which means there is a lot of white fuzz showing through on the black fabric, so I’m constantly cleaning it off with a lint roller. (I’m still figuring out which battings I like best.)

I should have it all quilted soon and I plan to enjoy the holiday weekend hand stitching the binding on while visiting with the extended family.

Here’s wishing you a Happy Turkey Day!

Posted in Christa's Quilts | Tagged | 13 Comments

Craftsy Discount: Save 50% on Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design

Do you have a quilter’s crush? I do, and my crush is on Jacquie Gering. Seriously, I love everything this woman does! After viewing her class Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot, I knew I wanted to go back and watch her first class, Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design.

20141118_improv_piecingThanks to my friends at Craftsy, you can enroll in Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design for 50% off the regular price, making it only $19.99 for this class. What a bargain!  Just be sure you click through this link for the discount to apply. (It’s a special discount I got just for my blog readers because I asked super nicely!!) But here’s the catch – it’s valid for one week only (expires 12/1/14 at 11:59 pm MST) so be sure to sign up quickly.

I love bold “irregular” quilts and I’m warming up to improvisational piecing, which I had never tried before I discovered the modern movement. In fact, here’s a sneak peak of some “crazy pieced” yardage I made for a quilt in my upcoming book.

crazy pieced yardageSome of my Improv Piecing using Kona Solids

If you’ve ever met Jacquie or taken a class with her before, I’m sure you’ll agree that she’s a natural speaker! For those of you who have yet to get to know Jacquie, let me tell you – she’s as genuine as they come! She has a background in teaching so she’s very comfortable explaining her methods and techniques. Her presentation style is very calm and and she puts you at ease right away. She’s sincere and affable and you can’t help wanting to be her best friend. :-)

In this class, you will learn fun methods such as Jacquie’s signature “slice and insert” technique, her take on stitch-n-flip triangles, and a modern version of crazy piecing.

20141118_jg_swirling_starsDetail of Jacquie’s Swirling Stars Piecing, Using the Flip and Stitch Method

Here’s an overview of the class outline: (I’ve included the time for each segment in minutes so you can see how easy it is to watch this class on your own schedule, at your convenience.)

  • Lesson 1 – Meet Jacquie (2:45)
  • Lesson 2 – Stitch and Flip Technique (18:30)
  • Lesson 3 – Love Knots, a Scrappy Quilt Demo (20:08)
  • Lesson 4 – Swirling Stars with Stitch and Flip (15:40)
  • Lesson 5 – Slice and Insert Improv (16:58)
  • Lesson 6 – The Unparalleled Quilt (19:39)
  • Lesson 7 – Crosscut Quilt with Slice and Insert (16:51)
  • Lesson 8 – Crazy Piecing (15:49)
  • Lesson 9 – To the Point with Monochromatic Crazy Piecing (24:16)

In additional to the lessons presented above, the class includes materials lists and instructions to make 5 of the quilts, plus direct access to Jacquie via the class platform. (In fact that’s one of my all-time favorite perks about Craftsy classes – being able to interact with the instructors by asking them questions which they are usually pretty quick to answer.)

20141118_lime_iceLime Ice Quilt, made by student Lisa H. and shared in the class gallery.

Although Jacquie is best known for making Modern quilts, you can still apply her techniques to fit your style of quiltmaking. So be sure to check out Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design. I highly recommend it!

This post was sponsored by Craftsy. :-)


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Fabric Friday – Pointillist Palette by Robert Kaufman

If you haven’t already guessed, I sort of have a thing for precuts. I also love saturated color and fabrics with a bit of printed texture. The latest grouping I’d like to share with you is the Pointillist Palette from Lunn Studios for Robert Kaufman.

20141120_pointillist_primaryFirst up is the primary colorway. Doesn’t that just look scrumptious? It reminds me of colored sugar!!

20141120_pointillist_earthThe earth colorway is right up my alley. I love the warm undertones and the subtle color shifts!

20141120_pointillist_sorbetAnd who can go wrong with the sorbet colorway – pretty pastels in soothing shades!

As of this writing, all three colorways are available in skinny strips (1 1/2″ wide), regular roll ups (2 1/2″ wide) and a new size: charm rolls (5 1/2″ wide), all by the width of the fabric.

So which colorway is your favorite? Click here to see all of the Pointillist Palette Precuts (and say that 3 times fast!)

Posted in Fabric, Miscellaneous | Tagged | 19 Comments

Quilty Math Update and a Resource

Hey guys – just a quick note to let you know the Fun With Figures lecture is now up on the Modern Quilt Guild community site for members.

I also updated a couple more things on my Quilty Math page here, based on some questions and feedback I got yesterday – so thanks for your input!

20141120_quilt_plannerQuilt Planner Image – Photo Courtesy of Amy’s Creative Side

Also, my friend Amy Ellis from Amy’s Creative side came up with this brilliant PDF worksheet packet call the Quilt Planner that helps you keep track of your numbers when calculating yardage requirements.

So get your thinking caps on and create something great!

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How to Calculate Quilty Math – Cheat Sheets and a Free EQ7 Design

I had a fun time presenting my MQG webinar topic, Fun With Figures: How to Calculate Quilty math. If you are a Modern Quilt Guild member and you missed it, it will be available as a recording on the MQG community site.

For the presentation, I put together a few formulas and cheat sheets of numbers I use to help me in my calculations. I’m happy to share those with you.

Click here to view my Quilty Math page.

Ice CrystalsIce Crystals, designed in EQ7 by Christa Watson. (C) 2014 for Personal Use Only.

Just for fun, I also designed this easy quilt design called Ice Crystals. During the presentation, I went through step-by-step how to calculate the yardage to make this quilt. Since I designed it in Electric Quilt I thought I would share it with you as an EQ7 download.

EQClick here for the EQ7 download (you must have the software for this to work).

If you are inspired to make a quilt from this design, I’d love to see it!



Posted in Quilt Events | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Christa’s Soap Box – There are Many Paths to Success

Ok, so I was really feeling the love from all of your great comments from my last soapbox post about giving yourself permission to succeed. Many of you took encouragement from what I had to say (yay!) One reader (Lauren) left this comment which I thought would make a great followup post:

What would be really helpful to others out there is to tell us about the “paths” that were successful and those “paths” that were not.

So I thought I would give you more of an insight into my path thus far. Just remember, there are many paths to achieve your goals and not everyone’s will be the same. So here ya go:

20141101_jcAs long as I’m with this guy – I’m happy! The Watsons – 1993

I started quilting about 20 years ago as a newlywed and (poor) college student. I was getting my degree in business at the time and knew I always wanted to own my own company. I immediately saw the potential to make money from this great hobby of mine and set off on a path to figure out how to do so.

I first began by selling quilts and quilted items at a local craft cooperative. Although I loved the excuse to make things, and it gave me a ton of machine quilting practice, in the end, it really didn’t make much money. But it did allow me to get my wholesale license so that I could buy fabrics in bulk, at a discount.

 20141101_quiltedbearMy booth at a local craft mall in the mid 90’s. I always did love color!

During this productive crafting time, I began teaching quilting classes locally, first at a small quilt shop that’s now out of business, then at the nearest JoAnn’s. I absolutely loved teaching and thought that I had found my true calling. I created original designs, taught my students how to make a complete quilt from start to finish, and reveled in the friendships I was making with women who spanned all ages and walks of life. I was very successful doing this for several years until my third child came along (11 years ago). Jason was a CPA by this time and those tax seasons were long and hard on both of us. I realized something had to give and I needed to focus more on working from home.

At the same time, the corporate structure of JoAnn’s changed so that they no longer wanted original ideas for their classes. Instead, they wanted to go with a one size fits all approach with each store teaching the same curriculum. That did not interest me in the least since I didn’t want to teach other people’s ideas; I preferred to teach my own. So it was a good time to make a change. One of my students suggested I begin selling fabric on ebay, so I took her up on that suggestion.

Working from home quickly became a family affair.

This led me on my next path which lasted for a good 10 years – setting up and running a full-service online quilt shop with my own independent website. The first couple of years I did it all on my own, as a side business while Jason worked full time. Until one day he came home and said he was tired of crunching other people’s numbers and he wanted a change. So I made the suggestion to take our business full time with both of us fully invested in it. We had only ourselves to rely on now and it was a bit of a scary ride, but we were all in.

We came to a crossroads sometime after the great recession of 2008-2010 (yes it lasted that long for us). We either had to go big or go home, or change the fundamental way in which we were doing business. At about this time I started feeling anxious about my lack of quilting time. As any shop owner knows, when you run a full-time gig, you rarely have time to actually sew!

 Christa Quilts and Appliques!Teaching is still my absolute favorite thing to do in this industry!

So we started kicking around ideas of what other products/services we could promote within the quilting industry that would get me back to sewing. I began teaching again because my kids were older now. I started throwing around the idea of designing patterns professionally or maybe writing a book. However I sat on that idea for a couple of years, because I didn’t feel like I had quite found my voice. That is until I discovered modern quilting in 2012.

All of a sudden I tired of cutting and selling traditional fabrics (no offense please – I finally admitted they weren’t my style but I loved that they were other people’s style). On a whim, Jason decided we should try selling precuts, freeing us from the daily grind of cutting fabric day after day, order after order. It was a pretty big risk and we had to sink quite a bit of savings into it to give it a go. But it has given me back my fun time: time to teach, time to design, time to write, and time to quilt. So far so good, and I’ve never been happier.

20141101_kidsWe do it all for them. :-)

I’m not exactly sure where the current path will lead. My hope is to produce enough content and secure enough educational work that our business can truly be “Christa Quilts” rather than “Christa Sells Fabric.” As I always say, the joy is in the journey and I sure have enjoyed the ride!

Posted in Soapbox | 18 Comments

Work in Progress – Optical Illusion Quilt

I’m making really good progress on my Optical Illusion quilt I designed several months back. It’s based on the optical illusion called “Cafe Walls” but with a vertical setting rather than a horizontal setting.

fabricI’m using Riley Blake solids in black, white and grey and decided to cut all of the long skinny strips parallel to the selvedge so they would stretch as little as possible.

RowsI used my railing in my sewing area to keep all of the rows lined up in order. That’s probably the trickiest part!

topI like the illusion it creates when you stare at it for too long! Now I have to decide if I want to make it any wider, and how I’m going to quilt it. That’s half the fun!



Posted in Christa's Quilts | Tagged | 35 Comments

Abacus Show and Tell

Half the fun of hosting a quilt along is seeing all of the different quilts. Here are a few of the awesome variations that you guys shared via instagram (#abacusqal), flickr (christasquiltalong) and email!

For those just joining my blog, click here for all of the Abacus Quilt Along tutorials.

Elizabeth QuiltElizabeth aka Catskill Quilter with her rainbow colored version.

Elizabeth BibsElizabeth even made matching bibs. How cute!

sluslcaySusan C. (slusclay on instagram) chose blue, green, and purple solids for her version. She did a fantastic job on the quilting!

Susan Farm QuilterSusan aka farmquilter chose a darker grey background for her top. I love it!

sconehead1Sconehead1 changed up the bead count and used an awesome background!


Sewstitchingcute incorporated Cotton & Steel prints into her pretty piece! She also put the quilt on an angle and quilted more circles in the background. Isn’t that great?

Joanne-P_2Joanne P used batiks and made it her own with an extra bead and borders!

This quilt along was so fun and I can’t wait to do another in the spring!

Posted in Quilt Alongs, Sew and Tell | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Another Craftsy Class Giveaway – Fresh Applique Techniques

It’s time to wrap up my giveaway series that coincided with my Abacus Quilt Along. (For those of you who quilted along – be sure to email me pics of your progress and I’ll share showcase them here on Wednesday.)

Since the quilt along was all about easy applique, I thought you may want to learn more about this fun technique. My friends at Craftsy are giving one lucky reader the online class, 20 Fresh Applique Techniques with Amanda Murphy. You may remember not too long ago I fell in love with Amanda’s book on color. As much as I love quilting books, video classes are even better!

20141110_fresh_ideas_appliqueIn this class, Amanda walks you through 4 fun applique projects that cover a total of 20 different techniques. The class is divided into 7 lessons that run about 20-30 minutes each. As a bonus, she even includes tips on free-motion quilting and trapunto.

Here’s an overview of the class agenda:

  • Lesson 1 Swirls Quilt: machine applique techniques with concave and convex turns
  • Lessons 2-3 Garden Runner: learn about fusible web and tips on using a lightbox
  • Lessons 4-5 Flower Power Pillow: work with bias tape and variety of stitches
  • Lesson 6 Hawaiian Table Topper: practice trapunto techniques and yo-yos
  • Lesson 7 Emphasis Your Applique with free motion quilting techniques

Check out her Swirl Quilt below, where she demonstrates one of my personal favorites for machine applique – the blanket stitch.

20141110_swirl_applique_amandaSwirl Quilt by Amanda Murphy

Amanda’s style is whimsical and fun, her manner is easy-going and she has a soothing voice, which is always nice to listen to!

All patterns and templates for the projects are included in the class materials and she goes over some of her favorite fusible products, stitches and threads. The Q&A section (off to the right) also has a wealth of information including suggestions for troubleshooting as you sew.

Here are details on how to win this class:


Posted in Giveaways | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Fabric Friday – Stonehenge by Northcott

Right now, I’m away at Sewtopia, a super fun modern quilting retreat in Salt Lake City this weekend. But thank goodness I can still share some fabulous fabric finds with you on this lovely Friday!

Let’s take a look at Stonehenge from Northcott, a beautiful collection of marbled basics, some with a bit of sparkle!

20141110_stonehenge_metallicThis metallic bundle features cheerful reds, greens and blues combined with warm neutrals in gold, cream and tan.

20141110_stonehenge_singaporeSingapore Sling includes my favorite warm colors of red, orange and yellow with a touch of pink.

20141110_stonehenge_sandsurfSand and Surf showcases the ever popular combo of green and teal with a hint of tan.

Aren’t they just delicious? These are just a few of the combinations available. Click here to see them all!

Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 7 Comments