Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Week 5 – Make a Quilting Plan

I love seeing all of the Beaded Lanterns quilts in progress! Remember, you can share your work in my ChristaQuilts facebook group, or on instagram #beadedlanternsqal. For my latest post hosted over on the BERNINA blog, We All Sew, I’m chatting about the quilting plan I created and how I broke the steps down into walking foot quilting and free-motion techniques.

Stitching in the ditch walking foot quilting

One of the easiest ways to quilt a quilt is to stitch in the ditch and then echo it to highlight certain areas of the quilt. For more tips and to check out the rest of the quilt along, be sure to click any of links below.

Beaded Lanterns QAL Links

Click here to purchase the Beaded Lanterns Quilt Kit
Click here to get the free Beaded Lanterns Quilt Pattern

Week 1: Supply List
Week 2: Making the Blocks
Week 3: Sewing the Quilt Top
Week 4: Spray Basting Tutorial

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 9 – Binding

Have you enjoyed quilting along with me? Or are you just now finding this quilt along? Either way, I want to remind you that Dot ‘n’ Dash quilt along will stay up on my blog indefinitely so you can make this quilt any time you wish, on your own time, and at your own schedule. Dot ‘n’ Dash Kits are still available and you can pick up a signed copy of my book to get the pattern.

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the supply list and links to all of the previous posts for Dot’n’Dash QAL.

This week it’s time to bind the quilt! Follow the steps below for my favorite method, or adapt it to your own process as desired. This method uses straight of grain strips that are double folded and attached with smooth seams ensuring no lumps and bumps. I use it for all of my quilts!

Step 1 – Trim the Quilt

I like to trim off the excess batting and backing flush with the edge of the quilt so that I can sew the binding on nice, straight, and even. I use a large square acrylic ruler to trim off all four corners first. This ensures that the corners of the quilt will stay nice and square. I use the lines on the ruler to nudge the quilt into shape if needed.

Quilt Trimming - Corners

Once the corners are trimmed, I use a long acrylic ruler to trim up the sides the same way. I line up the already cut corner with the edge of the straight ruler so that I can continue to get a straight, clean cut around all four sides of the quilt.

Quilt Trimming - Sides

Step 2 – Sew the Binding Strips

To figure out how much binding I need, I take the perimeter of the quilt, add 10″ to the total, and divide by 40″ (the width of fabric) to figure out how many binding strips I need. See pages 52-55 of the book for this particular pattern.

Binding from leftover jelly roll strips

Because I wanted to use the fabric efficiently, I used leftover precut strips from the Strip-pie bundle (aka jellyroll) to make a scrappy binding. Because you don’t use the entire strip when you cut and sew the blocks, there’s enough leftover for the binding. You can trim them narrower if desired, but I went ahead and left them at 2 1/2″ since I was in a hurry to finish!

Sewing the binding

Join the binding strips with a mitered seam by placing them wrong sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew from one corner to the other to join the seams. I can usually eyeball it (see image above), but feel free to mark the sewing line if you need to stay straight.

Sewing binding strips

To chain piece (assembly line sew), I add each next strip as I go, flipping over the top strip so that I join them right sides together each time.

Because the strips are very colorful, I joined them with a neutral colored Aurifil 50 weight thread and sewed with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of 2.5). This prevents the thread from poking through the seam and makes a nice tight stitch that won’t split when I press the seams open.

Trim binding corners

Once all of the seams are sewn, I trim off the excess with 1/4″ seam and press all seams open.
I’ll designate one of the binding ends as the starting “tail” and trim it off at a 45 degree angle. That will come in handy later when it’s time to join the ends together seamlessly.

Continuous Binding

Finally, I’ll press the entire binding in half wrong sides together lengthwise, and it’s ready to sew to the quilt!

Step 3 – Attach Binding to Quilt

I line up the open ends of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt. I leave about 10″-12″ of a starting “tail” so that I have room to join it up later. I’ll put a pin in place to indicate where I’ll start sewing. Sew with 1/4″ seam for skinnier binding strips, or slightly wider if using wider strips.

Attach binding to quilt

If you want the pieced seams to avoid ending up in the corners, quickly measure the binding around the perimeter of the quilt before you start sewing. If any of the seams ends up in the corners, adjust your starting tail by an inch or two in either direction.

When you get to the end of one side, stop sewing about 1/4″ away from the edge (or the width of your seam allowance), and sew off the corner at a diagonal. this will enable to you create a pretty miter on the front of the quilt.

Sew the binding to the quilt

Next, remove the quilt from the machine, rotate it and fold up the next unsewn binding side.
Make sure the edge of the binding matches up to the edge of the quilt as shown in the photo below. This will ensure that everything lines up perfectly.

Notice that a nice diagonal crease will form across the corner.

quilt binding

Fold the binding back down upon itself at the corner. (See photo below.) You want the top of the fold to line up exactly with the top of the sewn quilt. This will ensure a nice crisp corner.

Binding in progress

Continue sewing at the corner. You might need to grasp the starting threads because this will be a thick seam to start. In my image below, I’m using the BERNINA integrated dual feed with the open toe embroidery foot (20D) so that I can see what I’m doing. I recommend using a walking foot if you don’t have the dual feed, so your fabric doesn’t slip or pucker.

Sewing the binding

Continue sewing all four sides and corners the same way. Leave an ending tail of about 5″-6″ that will join up with the starting tail. Trim off the excess binding if needed.

Step 4 – Secure the Binding Ends

To join up the ends, I’ll use some photos from another quilt because I was in such a hurry to finish this one, that I forgot to snap photos, LOL!!

Place the cut angled end (the beginning tail) inside of the ending tail and mark the 45 degree angle where they meet exactly.

Binding Ends

Add 1/2″ to this line for seam allowances and trim off the ending tail at a 45 degree angle, using a small square acrylic ruler with a 45 degree line.

Add the binding

Match up the beginning and ending tails and sew them together with a 1/4″ seam. You’ll notice the triangle tips sticking off at each end. Press the seam open and trim off those tips, also known as “dog ears.”

Join binding edges.

Finish sewing the binding to the back of the quilt. If desired, flip the binding to the front and press away from the quilt to make it easier to fold over to the back.

I secure the entire binding with Clover Wonder Clips so that nothing shifts while I hand sew the binding down on the back.

Secure the binding

Step 5 – Hand Sewing to Finish

I prefer to finish my binding by hand because it gives a nice, clean finish to the quilt. However if you prefer to finish by machine, I suggest using a decorative stitch on your machine so that the binding becomes a decorative element of your quilt.

I like to use a blending thread color to secure my binding. I normally use whatever is leftover in the bobbin after I’ve attached the binding to the quilt. Thread a hand sewing needle with about 16″ of thread and knot one end.

Hand Binding

Notice that I hold the quilt away from me and stitch from right to left. I make each stitch by catching a little bit of the backing and the folded edge of the binding each time. Some people call this a “ladder stitch.”

Hand Stitch the binding

Whenever I run out of thread, I knot the end and hide it underneath the binding, then start with a new length of thread. When I get to the corners, I fold them over in the opposite order of how they are folded on the front to reduce bulk.

Hand stitched binding

I also sew the corner miters closed for a nice finish. It usually takes me about one hour per side when hand stitching a throw sized quilt. That’s a couple of evenings of movies with the family which is a fun way to finish!

Machine Quilting on Dot n Dash

I enjoyed finishing this quilt just before we took a beach vacation earlier this summer, so I have fond memories of working on this quilt!

Share your Finishes!

Be sure to share your progress on instagram #dotndashqal and also in my Christa Quilts Facebook group. Even if you are just starting, I’d love to cheer you on!

Click here for the supply list and start of the quilt along.
Click here to purchase the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Kit or my fabric bundles.

Pre-order My New Fall Patterns

I release quilt patters twice a year now, in conjunction with my new fabric lines. (More about the fabric later…) So today I’m happy to introduce 4 new patterns which will be released on November 16, but you can get them at a discount when you preorder now!

Christa Quilts Patterns

All four of my new patterns are available as print or PDF. Print versions will be shipped to you approximately November 16th. When you order the PDF version through my Craftsy shop, you’ll be able to download the cover now, and then the pattern itself will be emailed as an update on November 16th.

Use coupon code SAVE10 to get 10% off the price of the print version. The PDF version is automatically on sale through November 16th. (The code and sale applies to all current patterns in stock, too!) Here’s what’s new:

Pieced Primrose

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Pieced Primrose Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Geese in the Garden

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Geese in the Garden Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Blooming Wallflowers

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Blooming Wallflowers Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

LatticeWork

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

LatticeWork Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Wholesale Inquiries

These patterns will be available from most major distributors. Or email me christa@christaquilts.com for order info.

I hope you’ll enjoy making these quilts as much as I did!

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Week 4 – Spray Basting Tutorial

Have you always wondered how I spray baste my quilts? Over on the BERNINA blog at WE All Sew, I’m sharing my spray basting method using my design wall. It’s part of the Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along I’m hosting over there on the blog, so be sure to check it out!

Whether or not you are making the Beaded Lanterns quilt, you can apply this technique to any quilt.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Links

Week 1 – Supply List and Schedule
Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks
Week 3 – Quilt Top Assembly
Week 4 – Backing and Basting

Click here to purchase Fandangle fabric, kits and bundles.

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 8 – Machine Quilting Part 3: Double L’s

Good news! I’ve restocked the Dot ‘n Dash Kit in the light gray colorway.
Click here to order or visit shop.christaquilts.com.

I’m so glad we spent a little extra time machine quilting this quilt. Making a quilt from start to finish isn’t hard – it just takes a little time to break down the steps into doable chunks of time. This week we are going to finish up the quilting with a fun free-motion variation inspired by one of the quilting designs from my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Free Motion quilting on Dot n Dash by Christa Watson

I’m all about perfectly imperfect texture in my quilts!

I like to quilt my quilts densely to add amazing texture and the more they are loved, used and washed, the softer they’ll get!

After quilting the double zig-zags last week, it’s time to tackle the “Double L’s” motif this week. These are based based on the “Cursive L’s” motif as shown in the Arrows quilt on pages 78-85 of the book, and also on the cover.

Free Motion quilting

Arrows is the cover quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Sketch it. Then quilt it.

I’ve also used this design in a slightly different way on Twinkling Diamonds found on pages 56-63. So take a look at the quilting plans for those quilts to give you a better understanding of how to form the design.

The first thing I do when figuring out any design is sketch it first on paper. You can see in my rough drawing below, I tried a couple of different versions of the cursive L’s.

Sketch it. Then Quilt it.

Sketch it – then quilt it!

 At first I thought I would quilt the L’s and then echo them, but when I tried that on a practice sample, it didn’t look so good. I also thought of doing a more linear geometric version (in the upper left of my sketch) but that wasn’t right either. So I opted for two rows of cursive L’s, overlapping each other just like I overlapped the modern zig-zags in the gray areas of the quilt.

I tried quilting the L’s both horizontally and vertically and found it much easier to rotate the quilt so that I was quilting them vertically, from top to bottom in each row across the quilt.

Free Motion Quilting on Dot n Dash Quilt

I’ve rotated the quilt so I can quilt each row from top to bottom.

First Pass Across the Quilt

First, I did one pass of Cursive L’s across the quilt, starting on the upper right of the quilt, quilting one row at a time from top to bottom, and working my way toward the center. Once the quilt got too bulky in the middle, I rotated it and started from where I left off (center, top) to the other side of the quilt.

I’m using the same Aurifil gray thread (top and bobbin) that I’ve used for the whole quilt, and it blended in nicely on all the different Fandangle fabrics.

Cursive L's Free-motion quilting

Cursive L’s quilting – 1st pass across the quilt. Notice the gaps between the loops.

I recommend practicing a couple of times on scrap fabric and batting to get the hang of how you’ll form the design.

I’m not at all worried about the spacing of each motif or whether or not all of the loops are perfectly smooth. I’m aiming for texture over perfection. To get from one strip unit to the next, I’ll aim for the corner, or I’ll backtrack in the seam as needed to get to the next section to quilt. Notice that I’m treating the pieced units and the small gray background square as one area to quilt.

Cursive L's Free-Motion quilting

Head for the corners, or backtrack in the seams to get to each new section to quilt.

After the first row of Cursive L’s, I repeated the process, adding another row of L’s on top of the first row, intersecting the lines and quilting the design in opposite directions.

I squeezed in the second set of loops in the gaps between the previous loops. This added more texture and also made the imperfections less noticeable.

Second Pass Across the Quilt

Cursive L's detail quilting

Squeeze the second round of quilting in between the gaps of the first.

The more quilting you add to the quilt, the more thread you’ll use of course. So I would check your bobbin level at the end of a row of quilting and change it out as soon as it looks low (or pay attention to your bobbin indicator light if you have one on your machine).

Don’t play bobbin chicken!! I’d rather have a little leftover bobbin than run out in the middle of the quilt. If you are using cotton thread in your bobbin, you can always use the leftovers when piecing your next quilt.

Cursive L's Dense Quilting

I love using soft 100% cotton thread and natural fiber batting for my quilts.
This allows me to quilt densely while still ensuring a cuddly quilt!

Quilting Homework

Finish quilting the quilt! Feel free to mix and match quilting motifs from my books, or use some of your favorite designs. However you decided to quilt it, please share your quilt in progress in my Facebook group and on instragram #dotndashqal. I love seeing everyone’s work!

Next week, we’ll trim up the quilt and bind it to finish. I can’t wait!

Quilting at the Beach

I love how these surfboards at the beach match the coloring of my quilt!

Click here for the quilt along schedule, supply list, and links to all the tutorials.
Click here to purchase Fandangle precuts and coordinating yardage.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Week 3 – Quilt Top Assembly

Great news for those of you following the BERNINA quilt along to make Beaded Lanterns. More of the kits are back in stock at shop.christaquilts.com.

beaded lanterns

Last Thursday, the lastest installment was shared over at We All Sew. The next step in the process  is to sew the blocks to make the quilt top. Click the links below to catch up on the Quilt Along and feel free to jump in at any time!

Beaded Lanterns

BERNINA Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Links

Week 1 – Supply List and Schedule
Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks
Week 3 – Quilt Top Assembly

Click here to get the optional Beaded Lanterns quilt kit, while supplies last.

My Quilt in American Patchwork and Quilting – Featuring Fandangle

Today I’m happy to introduce you to my quilt “Out of the Box” that can be found in the December Issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. It’s made from one fat quarter bundle of Fandangle and 4 yards of white background fabric.

Out of the Box by Christa Watson

Image shared with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine.
©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Look closely and you’ll see that I used leftover fabrics to make a scrappy binding. It’s one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers from a fat quarter bundle without having to purchase any more fabric.

Fandangle Fabric + Color Tip

All it takes is one 20 piece fat quarter bundle and a contrasting background to make this quilt. Here’s a tip when working with fabric bundles: pair them with a very light or very dark background, and you’ve got a winning combo, no matter which fabrics you choose!

Click here to purchase a 20 piece fat quarter bundle of Fandangle, while supplies last!

Fandangle fabrics

Fandangle is my second fabric with Benartex Contempo Studio.

Here’s what the cover of the December issue looks like which I believe goes on sale tomorrow. I’ve already received my contributor copy and am in love with several projects in the issue. This is by far one of my favorite magazines because they feature such a wide variety of techniques and styles. (And they pay designers very well for their patterns, too!)

American Patchwork and Quilting DecemberImage shared with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine.
©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Quilting Plan

Here’s the quilting plan I created for Out of the Box, a simple wavy grid. It’s one of my go-to quilting designs that’s fast and easy to do with your walking foot or dual feed. I use the pieced seams of the quilt as a guideline for how far apart to space my lines so I can quilt the entire design without any marking!

Wavy Grid quilting plan.

I always make a quilting plan for my quilts before I quilt them.

Although the pattern includes instructions for the piecing, you can learn how to machine quilt the wavy grid motif in my Craftsy class, the Quilter’s Path, and also in my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts. It’s my go-to design when I’m in a hurry, and it looks great on any quilt!

machine quilting detail by christa watsonMachine quilting detail – click the image to enlarge.

Here’s another view of the quilt where you can really see the quilting. My hubby Jason has been helping me photograph quilts in order to showcase the fast, fun, and easy machine quilting designs that I love to teach! For me it’s all about texture over perfection.

machine quilting detail

Learn how to quilt this walking foot design from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts,
and also in my Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path.

I really enjoyed making this quilt to showcase my fabrics and the best news is, it will be on display in the American Patchwork and Quilting booth at International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas next month!

When you make this quilt, be sure and tag me @christaquilts on social media so I can see what you’re doing. You can also share pics of your progress with this quilt (and anything else you make from my books, patterns and fabric) in my ChristaQuilts group on facebook!

Out of the Box by Christa Watson for American Patchwork and Quilting using Fandangle fabricOut of the box by Christa Watson, Made from Fandangle Fabric

Quick Links to Items Mentioned Above

American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine
Fandangle Fat Quarters
Online Video Class – The Quilter’s Path
My book Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 7 – Machine Quilting Part 2: Double Zig-Zags

It’s time to embellish our quilts with some fun machine quilting this week! In my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts, I’ve shared 18 different quilting ideas that you can mix and match along with the 11 projects in the book. We are going to do a little bit of mixing and matching of motifs this week!

(By the way, If you are a little unsure of your free-motion quilting skills, be sure to check out my machine quilting class on Craftsy for my best machine quilting tips and tricks!)

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Original Dot N Dash Quilting

Here’s how I quilted the original Dot ‘n’ Dash quilt. I quilted “crazy 8’s” in the background areas, and wavy lines in the print strips. I followed a similar quilting plan to what we are doing today, but with different designs. If you’d like to follow this quilting plan, see pages 50-55 of the book.

Free-Motion Quilting Dot n Dash

Original quilting plan for Dot ‘n’ Dash – from the book.

For this week’s quilting “assignment,” we are going to play with one of the walking foot designs from another project in the book to  come up with a really fun variation. Take a look at the “Frequency” quilt on page 28 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts. You can create amazing texture by quilting “sort of” straight lines, zigging and zagging from side to side across each strip.

Quilting Modern Zig-Zags

Notice the random irregularities. Not only do they add interest to the quilt, they are fast and easy to do because there’s no marking involved and you don’t have to measure any spacing. This is MY kind of perfectly imperfect quilting!!

Frequency Quilting

See page 28 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts to practice this design.

quilting with your walking foot/dual feed

Rotate the quilt so that you are quilting each strip row from the top to bottom. Quilt a short line by eye and stop with the needle down when you get to the side of your strip. Lift the foot up and slightly rotate the quilt so that you can angle the line in the opposite direction. Keep going, quilting the irregular lines from side to side. If you have a knee-lift or hover feature on your machine, use it so that you can leave your hands on the quilt the entire time.

To prevent whiskering (wrinkles) or puckers on your quilt, quilt each row starting at the top of the quilt and working your way to the bottom each time. Just like when I stitched in the ditch last week, I’ll start on the right side of the quilt and work my way towards the center, then rotate the quilt and keep going from the center out.

Alternate Method: Free-Motion Quilting the Zig-Zags

To get started free-motion quilting, I recommend using a Supreme Slider – a slick sheet that clings to the bed of your sewing machine, and a pair of Machingers gloves that will give you a better grip on your quilt. Just remember to only use the Supreme Slider while FMQ, not walking foot quilting, so that you don’t accidentally stitch through it! (Ask me how I know….)

Tools for free motion quilting: open toe foot, gloves, supreme slider

The gloves and slider will help me control the quilt with less strain on my hands.

I’ve lowered my feed dogs and I’m quilting with an open toe free motion foot so I can better see what I’m doing. Although my machine does come with a stitch regulator, I actually prefer quilting without it. I learned without a regulator so that’s the movement I’m most comfortable with.

However, if you have a stitch regularot, give it a try and see which feels more comfortable to you – with or without. Here’s another tip I picked up from my good buddy Leah Day: try quilting both with your feed dogs up and down to see which gives you a better stitch. The nice thing about using a Supreme Slider is that it covers the feed dogs, keeping them out of the way if you decide to keep them up!

Free Motion Quilting Zig-Zags

Free-motion quilting is faster, but requires more control and lots of practice.

Did you know you can free-motion quilt short straight lines without a ruler? If they are done in short bursts, you can eyeball a straight line if you look ahead and pick a point you are trying to get to.

The reason I’m quilting this design free-motion instead of with a walking foot is that it’s faster, since I don’t have to stop and turn the quilt for each zig and zag. However, it requires more muscle control, so practice both ways first on a scrap of batting and fabric and then decide which technique is easier for you to master.

Free Motion Modern Zig-Zag Design

First pass across the quilt – zig-zags in all the gray areas.

Notice that I’m quilting modern, random zig-zags in the gray strips between each print strip (not including the small gray squares). To quilt one long continuous line without breaking thread, zig or zag over to the next gray section to quilt. If needed, it’s okay to backtrack (or quilt over a precious quilting line) in the seam to get to where you need to go.

After quilting one pass of zig-zags, I decided that I wanted to quilt another set of lines, intersecting what I had already done. I’m using the same method to quilt the random short lines, but crossing over each previous line as shown below:

Double Zig-Zags fmq

Notice how I’m quilting each row from the top of the quilt to the bottom.
I will rotate the quilt as needed to find a comfortable quilting position.

Machine Quilting Homework

Quilt all of the gray areas with a blending thread. I used the same Aurifil 50 weight gray that I used for stitching in the ditch last week. Quilt one pass across the quilt like the pictures I showed above. Then quilt a second pass across the quilt to give it more random texture.

We will tackle the print strips next week, using another free-motion motif from a different quilt in the book. It’s been fun to mix and match the designs to show how versatile they can be!

Free Motion Quilting Double Zig-zags

Divide and Conquer – quilt all of one design first before moving on to the next.

It’s Not to Late to Start!

Remember – you can jump in and make this quilt any time. Just grab a copy of the book and your favorite fabrics (strips, scraps, or stash).

Click here for the supply list and links to all of the previous posts.
Then share your progress on instagram #dotndashqal or in my Christa Quilts facebook group.

Free motion quilting double zig zags

I love yummy machine quilting texture!! Next week I’ll show you how to quilt the rest.

My Trip to Australia 2018

Now that I’m back and rested from my trip to Australia, I thought I’d share some of the highlights. I was invited to travel to Tasmania and Adelaide to teach machine quilting and it was soo amazing! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring my family with me. They had lots of adventures while I was teaching, and I was able to participate with them on my days off.

Welcome to Tasmania

If you’ve never gone on a long haul flight, I have to admit it was pretty tough. It took us about 24 hours to get there with multiple layovers, one long 14 hour flight in which we had to sleep on the plane (so not fun) and of course a huge adjustment in time zones. But the hubby and kids were up for the adventure and fortunately our first day there was a recovery day so it didn’t slow us down too much.

Flights to Australia

The kids loved walking on the tarmac to board the plane on one of our connecting flights.

Sleeping on the Plane

Sleeping on the Airplane is not very comfortable!!

I had a full play day scheduled in Tasmania before I had to teach and we were able to visit a local museum and animal sanctuary. I learned a bit about the country’s history and got to cuddle with some koalas and kangaroos!

Art Piece from Tasmania

This art piece from the museum looked very quilty. I enjoyed learning about the region’s history.

Bonorong Sanctuary in Tasmania

The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania got most of their animals as rescues. Many times the mama kangaroos are killed on the roadways while carrying Joey’s (baby kangaroos) in their pouches. They raise the babies and protect other native wildlife so they can thrive.

Kangaroos in Australia

It was fun to pet & feed the kangaroos. Can you see the joey sticking out of mama’s pouch??

Jason was our designated driver and it took him a few days to recover from driving on the “wrong” side of the road, but fortunately I was able to use that analogy when teaching free-motion quilting. I told my students that It takes learning a new motor skill while both driving AND quilting, LOL!!

Driving in Australia

It took awhile to get used to the view from the “wrong” side of the street while driving!!

My students in Tasmania seemed to have a fabulous time learning both walking foot and free motion quilting. Thank goodness that “driving” a sewing machine works the same no matter which country you are in (though of course we had to pack a few plug adapters to use our electronics.)

Student work

Student work in class – I love the variegated thread!

Tasmania MQG

Souvenir from the Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild – I’ll wear it with pride!

While I taught, the kids were able to travel to what they called “The End of the World” – the southern most tip of Australia. Really you can’t travel much further south without being in Antarctica!

Views from the End of the world

View from “the end of the world”! It wasn’t really but the kids had fun calling it that!

By the way, I loved taking notice of all the cultural and language differences between our two countries. The most interesting thing I noticed at each restaurant we visited was that they gave us a container and glasses for us to pour our own water, rather than serving us glasses of ice water and constantly refilling it. It’s actually more efficient I think, and my younger son who prefers not to have ice in his drinks was thrilled.

Water at the Restaurant

There’s a large Asian population in Australia which meant lots of yummy Asian restaurants to try!

The Lift at the airport

The word LIFT at the airport certainly takes up less space on a sign than “elevevator!”

Just for funsies, here are a couple of wording differences that the kids had fun pointing out. The first word is the Australian version, followed by what we call it here in the US:

  • Lift = elevator
  • Holiday = vacation
  • Trolley = shopping cart
  • Chips = french fries
  • Sauce = ketchup
  • Toilet = restroom
  • Take away = take-out
  • Way out = exit
  • Pram = stroller
  • Jug = pitcher
  • Biscuit = cookie

Australian Tim Tams

TimTams are the best “biscuits” we’ve ever had so we made sure to stock up!!

After our jaunt in Tasmania (with delicious food and amazing hospitality) we took a hop over to Adelaide for the next leg in our journey so I could teach at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival. I lectured and taught for 3 days straight and the most fun thing to realize is that quilters are amazing and enthusiastic, no matter where in the world I travel!

Cindy Needham, Helen Stubbings and Christa Watson at AMQF

I enjoyed chatting with Cindy Needham and Helen Stubbings from Hugs ‘n Kisses after a day of teaching. Cindy was one of those inspiring teachers who came to my guild about 10 years ago that made me realize I wanted to travel and teach, too! Helen invited me to her guild in Tasmania and it’s her sister who invited me to teach at AMQF. I love a creative quilting family!!

I taught 3 machine quilting workshops and one piecing workshop. Students worked on their versions of my Modern Logs quilt pattern and it’s one of my favorite piecing workshops to teach because everyone’s blocks turn out so differently, but are still soo amazing!

Modern Logs Workshop in Australia

I love hanging out with fun quilters worldwide!!
BERNINA Australia generously provided sewing machines in class for everyone to use.

While I taught in Adelaide, the family had even more adventures. They went bike riding out in the country, and did some rock climbing guided by my oldest son.

Watsons and Koala

This Koala knows how to pose for the camera!

We were there for a total of 12 days including travel and my daughter who is still in school diligently kept up with her homework while we were gone. I’m so glad the timing worked out for all of us to go (the older boys head out on their next life adventures this fall).

Biking in Australia

The kids had as much fun with their outdoor adventures as I did teaching!

Rock climbing in Australia

This is the one adventure I was ok to miss! My oldest son is quite the climber so he took the rest of the family on a SAFE rock climbing adventure during one of my workshop days.
I’m so glad they use LOTS and LOTS of ropes!

More Kangaroos!

More Kangaroos!

One of the highlights of the quilting festival was getting to put a teacher ribbon on my favorite quilt. Not only was I blown away by the quilt in the shape of Australia, but the maker machine quilted it herself, adding lots of wonderful texture to the surface, without overpowering the pieced design.

Australia Quilt by Barbara Kukulies
Land Girt by Sea by Barbara Kukulies – Faculty Choice Ribbon

I had such an amazing time and hope to return to Australia again someday. This was my first international teaching trip and it’s definitely made me open to teaching at other international locations, too! So if you live somewhere exotic and fun, feel free to pass my name along to your event organizer or guild. 🙂

Do you have a fun place that’s on your bucket list to visit? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Behind the Scenes: My Design Process for Fandangle

Today I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of my fabric design process for Fandangle. The line includes 6 designs in multiple colorways so I’ll take you through the design process of 3 of them. (When my first line, Modern Marks came out, I shared a bit of my process along with some some of the rejects, and that got a lot of interest. Read about  that here.)

Fandangle Fabric

Click here to get yardage and bundles of Fandangle, while supplies last.

For Fandangle, I knew that I wanted it to coordinate with Modern Marks, but still stand on its own as a separate collection. In fact, as I was working on the line, I scattered some of the in-process paper swatches onto my Modern Marks Rainbow Taffy quilt, just to make sure they’d look good together:

Fandangle and Modern Marks

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the orange, yellow and green tone on tones are not the final versions I ended up with. Read more about those “rejects” below!

Whenever I design a line, I start with a concept and a rough color palette. When inspiration strikes, I can see what I want in my head, but the hard part is technically getting that into the computer to form a proper repeat. Fortunately, I work with a fabulous stylist and graphic designer at Benartex who can help translate my ideas into reality. I thought it would be fun to walk you through the design process of three of the prints so you can see how they evolved.

Evolution of Baubles and Bits

This print was the hardest to finalize and the one that took the most work. I knew I wanted to create a fun, funky medallion that would almost read as a floral. So we started with the basic medallion shape. You’ll notice that colors and designs change quite a bit during the process. First I finalize the shapes, and then the colors. So any in-process and designs and hues are always just placeholders.

First Try:

Second Try:

Baubles and Bits in Process

Third Try:

Final Design:

Baubles and Bits final design

Isn’t it fun to see how it evolves? Of course there were a lot of intermediate steps in between each image involving more sketches, lots of cutting and pasting, and the painstaking decisions to add or remove colors that didn’t work. Did you notice that I cut the purple? It just didn’t work this time around (although we were able to work in some nice pink and lilac). But don’t worry, purple will work its way into my fabrics in the future – I promise!!

Multiply these design and color changes by each print and color in the line and you can see what an involved process fabric design can be!

Triangle Trinkets Design Process

This print was a lot quicker to finalize. It began with a simple line-drawing sketch of my arrowheads quilting design in several different arrangements.

Original Concept:

Triangles sketches

Then we put the designs into the computer and tried different color groupings and design layouts to see what worked. The teal colorway was one of my favorites, but I thought the stripe arrangement below was too directional.

Good Color, Bad Layout:

Final Design:

Once the design was finalized, we recolored them in a dozen different colors that coordinated with the rest of the prints. It was hard to narrow it down to the final three colors I included in the line, but sadly, I knew I couldn’t include them all!

Fandangle fabric -Triangle Trinkets

Paper Cuts – the Tone on Tone Blender

This print was one I felt strongly about from the beginning. I knew exactly what I wanted but it took awhile to get there. Again, I started with a simple pen and ink sketch on paper, inspired by another one of my favorite free motion designs – jagged stipple.

Design Sketch:

The design team at Benartex wasn’t so sure it would translate well as a design, so we tried a couple other things first that I ultimately rejected. First of all, we revisited the boxes print from Modern Marks with a different take on the design.

Boxes Blender:

Boxes blender

Nice, but nope, that wasn’t it. It turned out very nice but was too close in concept to the boxes design from Modern Marks.

Loops and Strings:

blender loops

We tried something that looked like loops and strings, again based on one of my free-motion quilting designs. This print would have worked well, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Jagged Design – First Try:

Blender print

Finally, they were willing to let me try the jagged, edgy design that I really wanted with this line. The first iteration was a little too dense for my taste, so we spaced it out to give the design a little more breathing room.

Final Tone on Tone Design:

Paper Cuts design from Fandangle

It was worth all of the time and effort we put into this print! After the design and scale were finalized, the hardest part was naming it. “Jagged Stipple” didn’t really go with the other design names inspired by the idea of ornamentation and embellishment.

So I finally renamed it “Paper Cuts” because that sounded cutesy and crafty. The irregular jagged lines reminded me of small cuttings of paper. I almost named the print “scherenschnitte” which literally means “scissor cuts” but I knew people would have a hard time trying to pronounce that word it, let alone spell it, LOL!!

Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Fandangle Quilt PatternsClick here to get PDF versions of the Fandangle Quilt Patterns
Click here to get print versions of the Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Of course, once the prints were finalized as digital images, it took me nearly as long to come up with quilt patterns to showcase the fabrics effectively. Designing quilt patterns is a very similar process for me as fabric design: I start with an initial sketch, and tweak it until it feels right. All of this work was finalized before I even received fabrics to work with. It’s a long process for sure, but I enjoy every minute of it!

Fandangle Finalized

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo

I hope you enjoyed seeing this peek behind the curtain of how one designer’s process evolves. I know it’s different for each and every fabric designer, but so far this process has worked very well for me. I went through a similar process described above for all six prints in the line, but it was worth it to create a collection I love!

In fact, as I write this, I’m developing additional concepts, sketches, colorways, and ideas for future fabric lines. I’m starting to get the hang of how things works which each new collection I create, and it’s been such an incredible journey. As long as you all continue to love them as much as I do, I’ll have more to share in the coming months – so stay tuned!