Christa’s Quilt Along – Abacus Week 1

Welcome to my Fall 2014 Quilt Along – Abacus! Join me as we make a modern applique quilt perfect for the wall, floor, or any place you’d like to add some color! My version of Abacus finishes at 32″ x 32″. Please feel free to tweak the size, colors, and fabrics to make it yourself and make it your own!

Abacus-Finished-for-BlogAbacus by Christa Watson, 32″ x 32″, made from Kona Solids.

At any time, you can click on the Abacus main page which will has the supply list, the quilt along schedule, and links for all the tutorials as they go live. It took me a total of 3 hours to complete this week’s steps. This is not a race, so please, work at your own pace. :-)

Now, let’s get started! All fabrics are based on 40″ of useable fabric width. I recommend washing and starching all fabrics prior to beginning. Wash lights and darks separately with dye magnet sheets such as Shout Color Catchers.

Step 1 – Cutting the Colored Bead Strips (1/2 hour)

  • 1 – 5″ x 40″ strip of 4 different fabrics (solids 1-4 below)
  • 1 – 5″ x 20″ strip of 4 different fabrics (solids 5-8 below)

Step 2 – Cutting the Background Fabric (1 hour)

From the background (grey) fabric, cut: 5 strips, 5” x 42”. Crosscut them into a total of 36 squares, 5” x 5” each. You should be able to get 8 squares per strip. These are cut oversized for now and will be trimmed down later.

cut squaresCut a total of 36 squares, 5″ x 5″ each.

Also, from the background fabric, cut 4 strips: 4 1/2” x 42.” Cut these into 7 different rectangles that will form the negative space above the abacus strips.

The measurements are 4 1/2” wide by:

4 1/2”; 8 1/2”; 12 1/2”; 16 1/2”; 20 1/2”; 24 1/2”; 28 1/2”

Background-Strip-NumbersCut background strips according to the diagram above.

Step 3 – Fusing and Cutting the Bead Fabrics (1 hour)

Cut 12 strips of paper backed fusible web, 4 3/4” x 15”. (You will get 3 circles per strip.)

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, adhere full and partial fusible web strips to the wrong side (back side) of your bead fabric strips.

fusible webAdhere fusible web to the back side of your “bead” fabrics.

Cover strips of fabric with fusible web:

  • 40” of fabric strip 1;
  • 35” of strip 2;
  • 30” of strip 3;
  • 25” of strip 4;
  • 20” of strip 5;
  • 15” of strip 6;
  • 10” of strip 7; and
  • 5” of strip 8.

Cut additional strips of fusible web if needed.

fusible squaresCut your fusible backed fabric strips into squares approximately, 5” x 5”:

  • 8 squares of fabric 1;
  • 7 squares of fabric 2;
  • 6 squares of fabric 3;
  • 5 squares of fabric 4;
  • 4 squares of fabric 5,
  • 3 squares of fabric 6,
  • 2 squares of fabric 7,
  • and 1 square of fabric 8.

For Die Cutting the Circles (1/2 hour):

Note, using a die cutter is super fast. If cutting the traditional way by hand, allow additional time. Run the fusible backed squares through your die cutting machine, using a 4” diameter circle die. Repeat to cut all 36 circles.

die cutterUse a 4″ diameter circle die if using a die cutter. I used the Sizzix.

20140908_sizzix6Repeat to cut a total of 36 circles.

For Traditional Cutting of the Circles (Time May Vary):

Click the picture below to print off the circle template onto a piece of stiff cardstock. Or print in onto plain paper and trace it onto template plastic, cutting carefully on the line. Use a lightbox or window if needed for tracing. Be sure to print at 100% scaling and measure the diameter to ensure it is 4”.

White CircleCircle Template – be sure to click the picture, save it, and print at 100% scaling.

Trace around your circle template on the back of each fused square and cut the circles out on the line slowly and carefully, for a total of 36 fused circles.

20140908_sizzix7Congratulations! You are now ready to assemble an awesome quilt from just circles and squares! Come back next week for block assembly and easy, yes easy machine applique!

Here’s a hint: choose thin blending cotton threads such as Aurifil 50 weight in colors to match your fabrics for quick and beautiful machine applique!

Something new I am adding this year is a parade of quilts! If you finish your quilts by November 10th, you can email me a picture of your quilt (along with a blog link if you have one) and I’ll feature them on my blog on November 12th.

I also invite you to share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #abacusqal, or on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along

Let’s share the love! Please grab a quilt along button and add it to your blog.

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Christa's Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Quilt Alongs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kaufman Solids Bundle Winner and a Few Tidbits

Thanks for all your sweet comments during the Kaufman Bundle giveaway. It’s great to know that so many of you are still making quilts from my Quilt Alongs. I love it!

Abacus starts tomorrow and I can already tell it’s going to be fun to see how everyone interprets it in their choice of fabrics and colors. And now, on to the winner!


Congratulations to Abby L. who is my random winner for the fabulous Kona Solids bundle!! I will have another giveaway later this week, so stay tuned. :-)

See you tomorrow for Abacus!! (The pic below shows the EQ7 drawing and then my sewn quilt top. )


P.S. In other news, I got an email today letting me know that Craftsy’s super big fall sale has been extended one more day. So check it out if you haven’t already.


Posted in Giveaways | Tagged | 1 Comment

Craftsy Class Review and a Free Class – Creative Quilt Backs

I’m so excited to partner with Craftsy and kick off my fall roundup of online classes to share with you. For starters, why don’t we start with a free class? As of this writing, I counted 35 free “mini” classes offered by Craftsy and my favorite has to be Creative Quilt Backs by Elizabeth Hartman.

Creative Quilt BacksThis class was the first one I watched when I first discovered all that Craftsy has to offer and I became a huge Craftsy fan right away!

In Creative Quilt Backs, Elizabeth walks you through the basics of how to calculate the size needed for various types of pieced backings. She includes very detailed step by step directions that help you get comfortable with the dreaded “quilt math!”

She also gives great tips on how to use large scale prints, and how to use up those leftovers by making a secondary composition on the back. I love making scrappy back art, and here are just a few of the fun quilt backs I’ve made since watching this class:

modern _logs_backingThe Back of Modern Logs

Strips of Color

The back of Colorful Chevrons

Pieced BackingThe back of String of Pearls

Craftsy’s free mini classes are very similar to the regular paid classes with well produced step-by-step videos from some of your favorite teachers. They are just a tad shorter and don’t include the back and forth teacher communication, but they are a great way to check out the Craftsy Platform.

Be sure to check out Creative Quilt Backs with Elizabeth Hartman and jazz up your finishes!






Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | 4 Comments

New Precuts in the House (er, Warehouse that is!)

Since I missed Fabric Friday, I want to share a few of my newest precuts with you on Showcase Saturday! Cheezy, yes I know, but what can I say, I love alliteration!

I also love the bundles of Windham fat quarters we are starting to accumulate. At last count we had 15 different collections. Here are three of my favorites:

20140920_mormorMormor by Lotta Jansdotter is an ecletic mix of colorful modern florals and geometrics. The bundle includes 20 prints and 3 solids in shades of eggplant, coral, grey, teal, blue, and citron.

20140920_enchantedI’ve recently become a fan of Sarah Fielke and her whimsical, colorful style. Enchanted is a 17 piece bundle that includes 13 prints and 4 solids. Don’t you just love that peacock print?

20140920_playtimeThe story of Emma and Bobby deciding what to play is the subject of this delightful collection of storybook prints. With classic 30’s colors and inspired playful images of bears, ducks, dolls and other toys, plus beautiful florals, Storybook Playtime by Whistler Studios is sure to inspire your next retro quilt.

Click here to see all Windham Fat Quarter Bundles. Enjoy the eye candy!!



Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 2 Comments

Giveaway Featuring Kona Solids and Abacus Quilt Along Schedule

Thanks to my fabulous friends at Robert Kaufman for donating this lovely bundle of Kona Solids for one of you to win!


This is to get you guys jazzed about my upcoming Quilt Along which starts next week!

Included in the bundle are 8 fat quarters of the exact same colors I am using in my version of Abacus. They are: Navy, Turquoise, Baby Blue, Jade Green, Berry, Cerise, Petunia and Pomegranate. Also included is a nice sized chunk of Medium Grey which is what I picked for my background and binding.

Abacus Full Res

Now, you don’t have to quilt along to enter and win, and what you make from these fabrics is entirely up to you! The contest is open to everyone through next Tuesday at noon.

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me which is your favorite quilt along that I’ve offered (or one you’d love for me to do in the future).

Click here to see all of my quilt alongs.

I know we don’t all have time to do every quilt along, but isn’t it fun to dream, or follow along virtually?

Abacus Quilt Along Schedule, Posted Each Wednesday:

  • Week 1 – Fusing & Cutting (September 24)
  • Week 2 – Machine Applique (October 1)
  • Week 3 – Sewing the Top (October 8)
  • Week 4 – Backing and Basting (October 15)
  • Week 5 – Machine Quilting (October 22)
  • Week 6 – Binding to Finish (October 29)
  • Parade of Quilts – November 12

New this year – a parade of quilts! If you finish your quilt by November 10th, email me a picture and I’ll feature it on my blog on November 12th!

Click here for the Abacus Quilt Along supply list.

Start gathering (or winning) your fabrics and I’ll see you next week!

EQP.S. I’ve also made Abacus available as a free EQ7 download. Click here to import it into your Electric Quilt software.

P.P.S. For a bonus entry, please share my Quilt Along logo on your blog, instagram, flickr, facebook, or social media of choice. #abacusqal

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Christa's Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Posted in Christa's Quilts, Giveaways | Tagged , | 355 Comments

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Better late than never, I’m happy to announce the winner of last week’s Sizzix Die Cutter giveaway!


Congratulations to Elizabeth M. aka catskillquilter who said,

“Amazing! Circles take a LONG time to cut correctly with scissors! I am following Sizzix on Facebook. Thanks for the chance!”

I agree – it was such a breeze to cut all of my circles with the Sizzix circle die!

Watch out for the next giveaway coming up on Thursday for your chance to win another fabulous prize! (Hint: look at the picture above – what other goodies do you see?)

Posted in Giveaways | Tagged | 3 Comments

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!”



Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 33 Comments

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

This summer I had fun playing around with a Sizzix Fabi Personal Die Cutter.

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_sizzix7Try It Out

20140908_sizzix8If you would like to use the Fabi Personal Fabric Cutters to make my Abacus quilt, click here for the tutorials.


Posted in Favorite Tools | Tagged | 331 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 week.

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="" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="" 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 #2610

 Who’s ready to have some fun?


Posted in Christa's Quilts, Quilt Alongs | Tagged , , | 18 Comments