Christa’s Soap Box – Is Modern Quilting Just a Fad?

Is Modern Quilting a Passing Fad?

(No time for pics – words only today!)

I certainly hope not! Two recent instances have inspired me to explore this topic a little more, and to shout out an emphatic, “NO!”

(1) Recently I attended a local fabric trade show. I noticed one of the big distributors (a larger wholesale company that sells and distributes many different fabric brands to retailers such as myself) wasn’t carrying a certain newly created company’s fabrics with a modern flair (think horses and strong geometrics).

When I asked why not, they told me they had seen many fabric fads come and go and they weren’t hopping on that bandwagon any time soon. I was in shock. I was wondering where these people had been. Did they not see the huge spring market debut of this particular company? Did they not get online and hear the buzz and excitement surrounding this new company’s fresh ideas?

(2) I was recently emailing a friend and lamenting the fact that one of the larger quilt show venues I participated in this year is not including modern categories as much in their shows next year. At first I thought it was due to poor participation in that category this year. Upon further examination though, I found out the powers that be thought that modern quilts are just a passing fad. What the what?!

Tell that to the thousands of people that will be attending QuiltCon next year, and the thousands more who have created a vibrant online community that is not going away any time soon. Like I and thousands more are going to suddenly wake up one day and think, “Nah – I’m bored of these bold, geometric quilts. I think I’ll quit quilting.”

Seriously, what are these people drinking??

I totally get that the word “Modern” may be a little overused these days, and I acknowledge that the debate is still raging as to what may or not be considered a modern quilt. In fact, when I was doing some research on writing a book, I learned that some publishers feel that putting the word “Modern” in the title may alienate or split their target audience before they even open up the book to take a look. (Let’s save that discussion for another day.) So some of the hesitation to embrace modern quilting may stem from the fact that these large companies are looking to their bottom lines and are worried about the numbers.

However, I think the very same growing pains that the modern community is going through right now is exactly what happened in the art quilting community some 20+ years ago (um, yeah, I was there!) Although I’m not an art quilter, I certainly can appreciate the vibrancy of the art quilt community, the empassioned quiltmakers that are a part of that community, and the hugely profitable segment of the quilting market it has become.

Don’t these people learn from (quilt) history?

Posted in Soapbox | Tagged | 21 Comments

Craftsy Class Winner

Congratulations to Sue A. who won the Craftsy Class, “Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot” by Jacquie Gering. Thanks to all of you who participated! My friends at Craftsy told me that 407 of you entered so that’s quite impressive. Sue – they will be in touch with you shortly with the free link to claim your class.


If you are new to my blog, be sure to check out my review of Jacquie’s class here. And for those of you who have yet to check out what Craftsy has to offer, my recommendation would be to try a free mini class and see what all the excitement is about. :-)

Have a happy quilting weekend!

Posted in Giveaways | Tagged | 2 Comments

Fabric Friday – New Tonga Treats

I’ve always had a thing for batiks. And even though there is currently some debate, or shall we say “thoughts” in modern circles about the use of batiks in modern quilts, I certainly love them! (They are some of Jasons’ favorites, too, and he keeps pushing me to use them more!)

This week we just received a treasure trove of new Tonga Treats from Timeless Treasures: precut batik fat quarters, charms, strips, squares, and six-packs! Take a look:

20141017_hawaiiThe Hawaii colorway features the popular combination of aqua and red, with a pop of peach, cream, teal and light blue for sparkle. I especially like the geometrics – they remind me of free-motion quilting designs!

20141017_cabanaCabana reminds me of the beach with surf and sand colors of blue, green and warm tan!

20141017_reefReef includes gorgeous tones of purple and blue. Hmm, do you see a theme here? I think whoever named these groups wanted to get away for a little vacation, don’t you think?

Click here to see all of the luscious Tonga Treats!

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Christa’s Quilt Along – Abacus Week 4: Basting

Good news: Abacus is now available as a stand alone pattern for just $4.95! Click here to purchase. (You don’t need the pattern for the quilt along, but I know many of you would prefer to print it off and keep by your sewing machine.)


Basting is probably everyone’s least favorite part of the quilt-making process, and I think I know why. Recently I helped my friend make a small baby quilt and we basted it on her kitchen floor because she didn’t want to scratch up her table. What an awful process! I would never do that again, LOL!!

spray_basting_5Tables are the best for basting – use one, two, or your kitchen table – just not the floor!

Yes, it takes up a lot of room to baste on a table, and in my friend’s case, you may not want to scratch up your table. I suggest getting some plastic folding tables like those above that can be stashed in a garage or closet. Or keep some large pieces of cardboard to protect your kitchen table if needed. You don’t need a huge table – you can move the quilt around as needed, but please, get up off the floor! :-)

For today’s basting tutorial, it took me a total of 1 1/4 hours to safety pin baste the three layers. Click here for my tutorial on spray basting (outside or in a well ventilated room – on a table!)

Step 1 – Prepare your batting and Backing Fabric (1/2 hour)

You want to make sure there are about 2-3 extra inches of backing and batting around all 4 sides. My quilt top is 32″ x 32″. Therefore my batting should about least 34″ x 34″ and my backing should be about 36″ x 36″.

table_baste_1Dining Room Table Basting – Checking to see that my backing is bigger than my top.

If using cotton batting, give it a quick press to work out any wrinkles. You want the quilt sandwich to be as flat as possible. Also, starch your backing fabric before you baste to make it extra slippery. This will come in handy when machine quilting.

Step 2 – Pinning the Quilt (3/4 hour)

Lay your backing right side down on a table. Tape down the edges of the quilt with masking tape or painter’s tape. You can also use binder clips if your table isn’t too thick. You want the backing to be secure but not taut. Only tape down the backing, not the other layers.

table_baste_2All 3 layers ready to go for basting! I will smooth out the wrinkles next.

Lay your batting on top of your backing. Get someone to help you if possible, so you can lay it down smoothly. Add your top, right side up. Before pinning, take a few minutes to smooth out the layers with your hands or a long ruler.

table_baste_3Using a ruler to smooth out the wrinkles and align the rows into place.

Starting anywhere on your quilt, drop a bunch of safety pins on the top to work with. I recommend using size 1 nickel plated safety pins. I left them open from the last quilt so they are ready to go. The usual recommendation is to pin about 5″ apart. However, I find that I get fewer tucks and wrinkles when I pin closer, about 2″-3″ apart. For this quilt I only pinned in the background sections, not in the circles.

table_baste_4Pin an entire section, then go back and close the pins. This quilt was small enough that I pinned the entire top before closing the pins. A Kwik Klip comes in really handy for this. Click here to see how to use one.

Work you way across the quilt, pinning one section at time. When the quilt is fully pinned, remove the tape and check the backing to make sure you haven’t pinned in any tucks. Then trim off some of the extra batting and backing so there’s less bulk under the machine.

table_baste_5Now you are ready to quilt! There, now,  that wasn’t too bad, was it? Remember, I encourage you to work at your own pace. However, if you finish your quilt (or even just the top) by November 10th, I’ll be happy to feature it on my blog in my parade of quilts! :-)

Click here for all of the Abacus Quilt Along Tutorials.


Posted in Christa's Quilts, Quilt Alongs | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Win a Craftsy Class: Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot

For this week’s giveaway, you get a chance to win one of my favorite Craftsy Classes: Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot by Jacquie Gering.

20140530_creative_quiltingI love to encourage others to quilt their own quilts and so does Jacquie! Along with an excellent introduction and overview of the basics, in Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot, Jacquie provides step by step instructions on working with decorative stitches, radiating designs, quilting with curves, turning designs and quilting with text. She also demonstrates her signature matchstick quilting which looks amazing on modern quilts!

Winning this class will be a perfect complement to those of you doing my Abacus quilt along (although the giveaway is open to everyone). I used walking foot techniques to quilt a series of gently wavy lines that add such rich texture and are extremely easy to do!

Wavy-QuiltingMy machine has built-in dual feed which acts just like a walking foot.

It’s so fun to explore all the possibilities with straight, or gently curving lines. Whenever I teach machine quilting to a group of students, I always start them off with walking foot techniques so they can get comfortable and achieve success right from the beginning. It helps build up their confidence for more finicky techniques down the road.

Christa and Jacquie at QuiltConJacquie Gering is one of my modern quilting heros!

One of the things I love best about Jacquie’s class is that you have her right in front of you, sort of like a personal tutor. You can ask her questions via the Craftsy interactive platform and she’s really good about responding quickly. You can also pause or rewatch sections of the class over and over as many times as you like. That is the beauty of online learning!!

quilting_detailI used decorative stitch quilting on Modern Logs – all done with the walking foot!

Here’s How to Enter the Giveaway

Good luck and happy quilting! Post sponsored by Craftsy. :-)

Posted in Giveaways | Tagged | 14 Comments

Fabric Friday Feature – Denyse Schmidt Hadley, Amy Butler Glow, and Kaffe Fassett Limited

It is with great pleasure that I get to share the latest designer precuts with you! They are all from Westminster, which distributes both the Free Spirit collection and the Rowan Line.

20141003 HadleyHadley by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit

Isn’t Hadley just awesome? It features modern geometrics and florals in a slightly darker palette, perfect for fall! Who says brown can’t be a great modern neutral?

20141003_ab_glowAmy Butler Glow from Rowan

Amy Butler’s prints are what first turned me onto modern fabrics. Her penchant for combining color, print and texture are simply unparalleled in the fabric industry!

20141003_kaffe_limitedKaffe Fassett’s Limited Edition

Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics have been a favorite of mine for years! The riotous color and bold designs make any quilt or fabric project sing!

Click here to shop all precuts and drool over your favorites. :-)

Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 3 Comments

Christa’s Quilt Along – Abacus Week 3: Sewing the Top

For today’s Abacus Quilt Along, we will be sewing together our quilt tops! Be sure to click here for links to the rest of the tutorials and supply list. It took me a total of 2 hours to complete this week’s lesson. Feel free to jump in at any time!

 finished-topAbacus quilt top – you can tell it’s real from all the wrinkles! :-)

Step 1 – Sewing the Rows (3/4 hour)

For ease in construction, lay out all of your machine appliqued and trimmed blocks in order on a design wall or other large flat surface.

Block-layoutLay out your blocks in order on a design wall or take a picture with your phone!

Sew matching bead blocks together in pairs, chain piecing for faster assembly. Sew all blocks from one color into a row for a total of 8 rows of beads.

Block-pairsBe very accurate when you sew your 1/4″ seams so that you don’t cut off any of the circle. Press your seams open to reduce bulk. This will also help the circles align better.

When placing your blocks right sides together, try to match up the circle positions as closely as you can. You may need to sew more slowly and use pins to ensure accuracy.

Block-pairs-sewnYou want the edges of the circles to just barely touch without catching any of the circle fabric in the seam allowance.

Sew all of the beads together first, then add the background strips to complete each column. The diagram below shows the position and cut length of each background strip.

Background-Strip-NumbersStep 2 – Quilt Top Assembly (1 1/4 Hours)

 Sew together pairs of columns to complete the quilt top. When joining rows, be sure to pin at block intersections. I also pinned in the middle of each block, matching up the two circles in the same position.

Optional: If you want to ensure perfect alignment, you can use a larger machine basting stitch to sew a few stitches only where each of the horizontal pins is below. Once you are happy with the alignment, you can go back and restitch the entire row.

Abacus-Bead-rowsJoin the columns together into pairs, and then into halves to complete the quilt top. Stay stitch 1/8″ around all the edges to secure the seams while quilting. Quilt-Top-AssemblyAbacus Quilt Top Assembly

Just for fun, I designed an alternate solid colorway for Abacus, which I call Parfait.  I think it would look great in prints, too.

Abacus - New Kona ColorsPlay around with different fabric combinations and see what else you can come up with!

I encourage you to share you progress on your own blogs and leave a link in the comments below. If you don’t have a blog, you can always share your pictures on my flickr group, or on instagram (#abacusqal), or via good old-fashioned email! :-)

Next week we will baste the quilt together. It’s easy peasy and will give everyone a chance to catch up, although you are never behind because the goal is to work at your own pace!

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Quilt Alongs | Tagged | 3 Comments

Kona Cotton Solids Winner!

Congratulations to Karen M. whose favorite new Kona Solids color is Mediterranean. Great pick, Karen! You have just won this lovely custom parfait bundle:

Kona New ColorsThe next giveaway will start on Monday, October 13 and, trust me, you are going to want to win this one!!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next step of my Abacus Quilt Along!

Abacus - Kona's Pick

Doesn’t it look pretty made up into these pretty pastels? The possibilities are endless!

Posted in Challenges and Contests | Tagged | 1 Comment

Christa’s Soapbox – Tips for Entering Your Quilts into Shows

I’ve had some really great comments and feedback on my post about Show Quilting from my How to Make Quilting Your Business series. Many of you wanted to know how you go about finding quilt shows to enter and what’s involved in submitting a quilt. I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve learned over the years in the hopes that it will be helpful to some of you!

christa_quiltcon_chaming_chevronsAlthough no stranger to local shows, the first time I ever entered a national show was QuiltCon in 2013 with my first modern quilt – Charming Chevrons. What an experience!

Finding Out About Quilt Shows

There are literally hundreds of different quilt shows, contests and events in which you can exhibit your quilts, both locally and nationally (or internationally, too). I keep an updated list about all of the shows I know about, along with notes about where they are located and what the entry deadlines are. Whenever I hear about a new show, I add it to the list.

My friend Leanne from She Can Quilt has put together a wonderful spreadsheet of some upcoming shows on her website. Be sure to check it out here!

String of Pearls, Honorable Mention, MQX Portland 2013

My first ribbon from a national show was at MQX with String of Pearls – what a thrill!


The best place to start finding out about shows is at the local level. Inquire with your local guild (modern, art, traditional, what-have-you). Ask them if they put on a show, or if they know anyone locally who does. Even if your town doesn’t host an annual show, there’s probably a nearby community that does.


Jenna Watson, Jenna's 1st Quilt

Local shows are also great for getting your kids involved with quilting. My daughter was thrilled when her first quilt won a ribbon in the kids’ category at my local guild’s show.

You can also try your local city or county fair. They usually have a quilt division and this is a great place to get your feet wet, especially if it’s your first time entering.


I’ve found the best place to find out about larger national/international shows is through the numerous quilting magazines I read. (Don’t worry, I’ll write up a separate post on my favorite magazines sometime!) Larger venues spend a lot of time and resources to advertise their shows.

Go grab any established quilting magazine you can think of and I bet you’ll see ad for one of the larger shows in there somewhere. Once I jot down the information, I’ll go to that show’s website and sign up for their newsletter. Then I’ll get reminders and updates about future shows, too.

20140929_chevron_ribbonDon’t be shy about putting the same quilt in multiple shows. So far Colorful Chevrons has earned an award at both shows I entered – AQS Paducah and MQX Midwest.

Social media is another great place to discover shows to enter. I first heard about QuiltCon back 2013 not from the Modern Quilt Guild, but rather from someone who mentioned it somewhere on their blog.

Speaking of social media, there are tons of online shows and contests as well. The biggest one I can think of is the Blogger’s Quilt Festival coming up later this month. It’s hosted by Amy Ellis and is open to anyone who blogs. Moreover, just google “quilt shows” and you will find a plethora of venues to explore!

Roses for KatelynAlthough my sister’s baby quilt didn’t win anything in the blogger’s quilt festival, I also put it in the local show where it earned a 3rd place ribbon. That was fun!

How to Enter

Quilt shows can either be juried or non-juried. Juried means you usually submit an image of the quilt you are wanting to enter into a particular show. Each show will specify if the quilt must be finished or not before the jury process. A panel of jurors will look at all of the submissions and decide which ones they would like to accept for judging into their show. Once you receive notification that your quilt has been “juried-in” it’s up to you to ship the quilt to the venue at your expense by the specified date.

 20141008_2015_showMy guild’s local show coming up in March – I can’t wait!

In my experience, most local shows are not juried and many will usually accept all of the quilts that are entered, up to a maximum limit depending on space constraints. In these instances, you usually just have to fill out a form describing the quilt and select the category, then be sure to have the quilt finished by the specified entry date. There are a few national shows that are not juried (such as NQA and HMQS), and each particular show will have all of the rules spelled out on their websites.

You’ll usually need to attach a 4″ wide hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt, along with a label indicating your complete name and address. Because I usually enter a lot of my quilts, I’ve started making that part of my quilt-making process once I finish a quilt. Jacquie Gering has an excellent tutorial for sewing quilt sleeves here.

My Advice – Go For It!

I’m a big advocate of showing off your work, whether you feel like it’s “ribbon-worthy” or not. Just think of the pleasure you’ll give someone who goes to a particular show to be inspired by all of the beautiful quilts.

AQS-2014Although Modern X and Spiraling Out of Control haven’t won any national awards, they will be exhibited publicly over the coming months and that’s just as much fun!

Some shows allow you to choose for your quilt to be on display only which means it won’t be judged. However, if it is judged, don’t take the comments as criticism, but rather as a critique of how to do better. I’ve worked behind the scenes in the judging room at my local quilt show and it’s been a wonderful learning experience. The nationally certified judges they hire always go out of their way to say something positive about your quilt!

JudgingQuilt show judging on a local level – quilts are stacked in order on a table so the judge can evaluate them one by one while scribes and quilt handlers stand by to help.

So what do you think – with the upcoming quilt show season – are you in?

Posted in Quilt Events, Soapbox | Tagged | 12 Comments

Fabric Friday – A Field Guide by Janet Clare

Yay! It’s time for Fabric Friday – a day where I get to share with you what’s new in my precut store. I have to tell you how hard it is to decide which fabrics to feature. Sometimes I give sneak peeks on my instagram account as they arrive.

The tricky thing about that is that it may not get to my store for a week or more after I share! In fact, I already wrote another post for next Friday, hoping everything I want so show you will get there in time. :-)

So for today, let’s take a look at A Field Guide by Janet Clare for Moda, all in stock and ready to ship (while supplies last):

20141003_field_guide Janet Clare and her children are collectors of pebbles, feathers, fossils and shells. So it was really only a matter of time before their nature collecting became the inspiration for a fabric collection. Much of her work is inspired by children and their purity of thought, their innocence and the joy they find in the simplicity of nature.

A Field Guide is available in these precuts:

2014102_fg_jellyA Field Guide Jelly Roll – 40 Strips, 2 1/2″ x 42″

20141003_fg_charmA Field Guide Charm Pack – 42 Squares, 5″ x 5″

20141003_fg_layerA Field Guide Layer Cake – 42 Squares, 10″ x 10″

20141003_fg_fqA Field Guide – 28 Fat Quarters, 18″ x 21″

20141002_fg_f8A Field Guide – 28 Fat Eighths, 9″ x 21″

Aren’t they pretty?



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