You can make this fun colorful quilt using 20 fat quarters + 4 yards of background fabric. Make it with a rich black background as shown above, or a crisp white as shown below. For other fun color combos – check out my Bling Color Inspiration post.
All you need to join this quilt along is a copy of the quilt pattern and a can-do attitude! I will be showing how to make the Twin size in this quilt along, but you can make any of the sizes listed in the quilt pattern.
The links below will go live as each part is posted. Bookmark this page and refer back to the schedule anytime in the future to work on this quilt at your own pace. The first part – cutting will begin next week on Monday, July 20th, so gather your supplies and get ready to sew!
July 20 Part 1 – Cutting & Sewing the Blocks
July 27 Part 2 – Completing the Quilt Top
Aug 3 Part 3 – Machine Quilting Option 1
Aug 10 Part 4 – Machine Quilting Option 2
Aug 17 Part 5 – Binding and Ta-Da!! Finish
Share Your Work
If you’d like to share your progress, and get extra help from me and other quilt along enthusiasts, be sure to join my ChristaQuilts Facebook Group. It’s a great way to stay motivated! In fact, once you gather your supplies, be sure to share pics of the fabrics you’ll be working with. The best part of any quilt along is seeing how varied all of the quilts turn out to be!
So who’s in??? All you have to do is follow right here on the blog each week as I post the next step. I’ve even got a few videos of the machine quilting when we get to that part – I can’t wait!
During this crazy long stretch where I’ve been working from home and not traveling, I came up with the hair-brained idea that we needed a backyard pool! We are in Vegas. We are hot. We need to cool down. But mostly I’ll be home over the next few months so I can stay on top of getting it done! Here’s a digital rendering of what our pool should look like when it’s done:
We actually made a few slight tweaks to the design after these drawings were made, but it’s pretty similar to what’s shown here and we are super excited about it!!
The start of an Idea
If you live in Las Vegas, chances are you either have a backyard pool or know someone who does. Shortly after we moved into our new home last year, our next door neighbors put in a pool in their yard. They’ve been super generous in allowing us to use it, but after the pandemic hit, I began thinking what our yard would like like if we had one built, too.
I was pleased that I was able to use Electric Quilt Design software (EQ8) to come up with the rough sketch shown below. But even before that that I spent several days chatting with my husband Jason about what we would want in our pool.
We both really like to swim for exercise, but knew that our yard wasn’t big enough for a lap pool. So after a bit of research, we discovered this device called a “fast lane” by Endless Pools. It basically creates a current in the pool, allowing you to swim in place continuously. We knew that we had to include that if we were going to make this pool idea become a reality.
Next, I started asking a bunch of friends which pool companies they used, and I was referred to BYOP (Build Your Own Pool) of Nevada. (FYI this is NOT an affiliate post – I just want to share about my experience as it happens). The clincher was when I asked them if they were familiar with they fast lane idea and they said yes they had installed those before.
So just like I tweak my quilt designs over and over to get them just right, we worked with BYOP to perfect our pool design, That included figuring out how to incorporate the fast lane device and preserve a pretty pool aesthetic. It will be recessed as shown below and covered with pool decking so that it doesn’t stick out into the pool itself.
It’s gonna take awhile!
So the hardest part about the whole experience is that it will take a total of 3-4 months to install. I jokingly say it will be done just in time for winter, LOL!! But we did opt for a heating unit AND a spa – so it will be functional year round. Christmas day swimming anyone??
First we had to submit our plans to not 1, but 2 neighborhood HOA’s. Then we had to secure permits for the construction. Fortunately that all got approved relatively quickly, so now we can begin excavation soon. That’s where they basically destroy our current backyard and dig a big hole in the ground.
Once the design was finalized, the pool company came over and marked up the yard so that when the excavators come, they’ll knno exactly where to dig.
As we were finalizing the design, I used bricks from the yard and empty fabric bolts to visualize how big the areas of the pool would be. It was actually pretty fun to see my idea begin to take shape!
Below are the construction lines for our “wet deck” – a trend that I’ve seen in newer pools. It’s like a suntan ledge where you can put a chair and umbrella in the water or dangle your legs into the pool while sitting in just a few inches of water. It will be a great play area for future grandchildren, too (not that there any on the way anytime soon, but I’m just sayin’ it’s good to be prepared…)!
The Start of Something Good
Because we decided to cover the entire non-pool area with the same tile and decking, the first big project was to dismantle our covered patio so that they could remove the concrete that’s already there. The cover will be reassembled once the pool is in place. Here’s the before shot:
Below is our poor house with no more backyard shade. So sad, but at least we know it’s only temporary!! It’s kinda crazy how small our yard is, but in the future we will just refer to it as “swimming pool” room, LOL!!
So, in the meantime while I wait for work to begin, I will cool off the best way I know how – with a portable pool and some lounge chairs in the shade. I’ll post another update in a few weeks, when things really start happening. After all, it’s been a great distraction, and something to keep me occupied in between sewing sessions.
I’m always excited when I can host a quilt along featuring easy to choose fabrics. For my Bling quilt, all you need is 20 fat quarters and 4 yards of contrasting background fabric. Today I’m excited to share with you lots of different color options in order to prepare for our next quilt along which begins on Monday, July 20!
My first version of Bling made from Fandanglewon a ribbon at a local quilt show!
The key to a successful color combo seen in all the quilts I’m sharing today lies in the variation between the colorful prints in the blocks and the contrasting background fabrics. Be sure to take note of which colorings you like and choose similar fabrics, or grab a kit or fabric bundle to make any of the options shown here.
Geo Pop Bling
When my Geo Pop fabric line came out, I knew I wanted to offer Bling quilt kits to show how well these fabrics would pop wether you paired them up with bright white or dark black.
And of course I couldn’t wait to recolor bling in my newest fabric line, Good Vibes. This one was a fun challenge since the collection features an equal amount of lights and darks. But thank goodness for EQ8 so that changing colors only took a few clicks!!
You’ll have about a yard leftover if you choose the scrappy option, but you can always throw that on the back of your quilt, or save your scraps for another project.
Next week I’ll share the complete quilt along schedule and we will plan on covering every step of making this quilt from cutting, to basting, to quilting and binding. I’ll even share some optional layout ideas. So mark your calendar – the fun begins on July 20th!
When the quilting is finished on your Optical Illusion quilt, or whatever quilt you happen to be making, just the final step of binding is left. I’d like to show you in words, pictures and videos how to bind a quilt. Let’s dive right in.
Finished Optical Illusion Quilt, 67″ x 88″
If you’re still working on your Optical Illusion quilt, no worries! This will be here when you’re ready for it. You can scroll to the bottom for links to all of the steps.
The first thing to decide is whether you want to make the binding from just one fabric or you want to make it scrappy.
Which way you go is just a matter of personal preference, as there is not a right or wrong decision.
Step 1 – Calculate and cut your binding strips
A well-written quilt pattern will tell you how many binding strips to cut, but it’s handy to know how to figure it yourself. To determine the length of binding you’ll need, add up the length of the four sides (known as the perimeter) and then add 10″. The extra 10″ is for the seams and gives you a little insurance.
For example, Optical Illusion finishes at 67″ x 88″. This would be the math:
67+67+88+88+10 = 320″
You’ll need 320″ of binding. We use 40″ as the standard width of useable fabric from selvage to selvage, so from each cut across the fabric, we will get 40″ of binding. So we divide 320″ by 40″ to see how many strips to cut.
320″/40″= 8 strips
Just as a side note, if you ever divide by 40 and get something like 6.49, round up to get the number of strips. If you got 6.49, you’d round up to 7 because you’d need 7 strips.
How wide should your binding strips be cut? It’s a matter of personal preference. Most of my patterns, including Optical Illusion, give 2-1/4″ as the cut width for binding strips. But over the past few years, I often cut my strips 2″ wide and sew them to the quilt with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. If you’re a beginner, it may be a little easier to cut binding strips at 2-1/4″ wide.
Step 2 – Sew the binding into a continuous length
To join the strips with mitered seams, place two strips right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew them together across the diagonal as shown. Join all of the binding strips into one long piece.
Trim the seam allowances to 1/4″ and press the seams open.
Trim one end of your binding at a 45 degree angle as shown above. This will be the starting end.
Step 3 – Press the binding
Press the binding wrong sides together along the entire length.
Step 4 – Trim the quilt and walk-around
Trim off the excess backing and batting before you attach your binding. I use a large square ruler for the corners, and a long straight ruler for the sides.
Quickly do a “walk-around” by running your binding along the perimeter of your quilt to ensure you won’t have any seams falling in the corners. If you do – move the binding up or down a few inches to avoid seams at the corners.
Step 5 – Attach the binding to the quilt
Please note: These instructions are for sewing binding to the front of the quilt and then sewing it by hand on the back to finish. If you prefer to bind completely by machine, see this video. Or:
Now back to Step 5: Attach the binding to the quilt
Starting at least 6″ – 8″ away from any corner, place your binding on the front side of the quilt and leave a tail of about 6″ – 8″. Line up the raw edges of binding with the raw edges of your quilt. The fold should be toward the quilt.
Attach a walking foot or even-feed foot or use a dual-feed setting on your machine. Starting at the pin as shown, stitch the binding onto the front of the quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
As you come to a corner, stop stitching 1/4″ before you reach the corner and sew off the corner at a 45º angle.
It will look like this. In order to miter the corner, fold the binding up and away from yourself. Keep the raw edges of the binding in line with the raw edges of the quilt as shown.
Next, fold the binding back down toward yourself, creating a tuck of fabric underneath.
The fold will form a little triangle that stands up off the quilt; later it will form the miter on the quilt front. Now the quilt goes back under the machine.
Starting from the edge of the quilt, stitch the next side of binding down until you reach the next corner. Repeat this process for all four corners until you approach your starting point. STOP when you’re about 8″ away from where you began.
Trim off the excess, leaving a few inches of overlap to work with. Open up the end of binding and place the beginning tail inside it.
Using the cut angled end as a guide, lightly mark a line right up next to it. Then cut 1/2″ away from this measurement to account for seam allowances on both ends.
Put the two tail ends right sides together, and sew with 1/4″ seam to complete the continuous loop of binding. Finger press the seam open.
Sew that last part of the binding to the quilt. Now the binding is attached all the way around the quilt.
Step 6: Sew the binding down
The next step is to fold the binding to the back of the quilt and sew it down by hand. I love using binding clips all round the edges to hold it down. Here’s the only picture I got of my binding Optical Illusion:
I’ll be teaching two machine quilting classes: Carefree Walking Foot Quilting and Carefree Free-Motion Quilting.
What is carefree quilting?
It’s an attitude that aims for texture over perfection and leans into the slight flaws and irregularities that occur with any handmade craft. After all, they are part of the charm!
The continuous spiral is just one of the many quilting motifs we’ll learn in Carefree Walking Foot Quilting. This is a detail shot from my Sparkling Stars quilt. (Pattern available here.)
Carefree Walking Foot Quilting
Learn to stitch beyond the ditch and unleash the power of your walking foot to quilt modern or traditional designs. Walking foot motifs to be taught include wavy lines, decorative stitches, irregular grids, large continuous spirals, several straight line variations and more! You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts!
Carefree Free-Motion Quilting
Here’s a detail from my Block Chain quilt. All of my patterns include machine quilting suggestions!
Embrace perfectly imperfect quilting! That means little to no marking and a whole lot of gorgeous texture. Ease into free-motion quilting with asymmetrical wavy lines, then move onto loops, traditional and modern stippling, plus curvy fillers like wishbones and cursive l’s that can expand to fit any space. Finish it off with several swirl variations, and you’ve got a toolbox of motifs to try on your next quilt!
Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples. The best part is that it will be a pre-recorded video that you can watch all through the event!
Both classes are based on ideas presented in my machine quilting books. Each book includes full patterns for each quilt (10–12 per book) along with detailed step-by-step machine quilting instructions. All three books include walking foot techniques and free-motion motifs.
Both of my classes are “Mini Workshops,” which means they will focus on technique, allow you to learn a new technique, practice a technique that needs work, or just gain tips and tricks from a technique expert. Each Mini Workshop consists of at least 35 minutes of video content in segments of on-demand education, as well as at least one homework assignment to help you practice your new skills. Each Mini Workshop will allow students the ability to type questions to their instructors in the online platform as they work through the class.
You will also have the option to upgrade your Mini Workshop to spend one 45-minute session live with me to ask for help or feedback on your project in a small group setting.
LECTURE/TRUNK SHOW: HOW DO I QUILT IT?
The secret to successful quilting is in the planning and preparation. I’ll guide you through the steps I take to make each quilting experience fun and stress free.
Once you see my methods, you’ll feel empowered to quilt your own quilts! Learn how I baste my quilts, make a quilting plan, choose thread colors, divide and conquer each task, and apply rich texture with little to no marking of the quilt. I’m also excited to share my quilts and answer any questions you may have.
LE 17 Quilting perspectives
I’m also excited to be part of a machine quilting panel about our quilting plans and processes, and how we approach a finished top. Hand quilting, machine quilting, and long arm quilting will all be represented on the panel from me, Tia Curtis, Sandra Johnson, and Riane Menardi Morrison. It will take place online live at 11 AM on Saturday, February 20.
In my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, I show how to do the basic spiral, plus a wonky spiral variation. Then I expand on that with overlapping spirals in The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Finally, I teach how to quilt a continuous square spiral in my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.
All 3 of my books are currently on sale for just now on sale for just $19.95 each until they sell out!
So grab 1 (or all 3) today! And who knows – you may find a completely different design you want to quilt on your version of Optical Illusion.
This is my sixth fabric line for Benartex Contempo Studio and I’m thrilled with it! There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your name on the selvage!!
Good Vibes consists of 10 colorful, saturated prints and 10 low-volume prints, all with a geometric theme. The fresh citrus colors of orange, lemon, lime, and turquoise are going to look great in so many kinds of projects!
And of course there are a few neutrals thrown in to make the line super useful as well as happy and beautiful!
This group is all about nostalgia for me. As a child of the 80s, it reminds me of good vibes and happy times with my family and friends.
I spent my summers running through sprinklers, exploring my crafty side, watching TV with friends, and tinkering with computers—all while practicing my bubblegum-popping skills.
Would you like to hear the story behind each print? I hope this will jog happy memories for you, too!
This low-volume geometric print comes in four delicious colors, and it’s all about computers. When I was growing up, we were the first people on our block to get an Apple II-E computer. We thought that machine was amazing!
I loved tinkering with computers and video games back then, and even now, the computer is a workhorse for my business.
TIP: If the right side of a fabric is too intense for your project, flip it over and use the back side for a lovely muted effect.
Another of the fun low-volume prints! Look closely and maybe you’ll see the interlocking roller skates in this design. I spent many Friday nights at the roller rink with friends, and I still get nostalgic when I hear those old songs. We were the original dance party!
Just like the Slippin’ Slide colors, there’s great movement in this print, and it will add zip wherever you put it!
Thanks for strolling down memory lane with me! I hope it made you smile, too!
All the Good Vibes prints are available as yardage and in bundles of half yards and full yards. I want to you to be able to get exactly what you desire!
So backing up a little, I first met Lilo when I was a guest on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. She’s used to working behind the scenes as a producer for the show but now I’m excited for her to be the star of the show with her new book and blog tour.
Love Your Creative Space is divided into My Stuff (we all have it!), My Space (tiny or large) and My System. It addresses the common needs of needlecrafters, but also covers many less common topics.
For example, how do you stay organized when you head out for a class or a retreat? How can or should your space be altered when life itself changes because of a move, an illness or just getting older? There are many ideas and suggestions, along with questions to help you analyze your own stuff, space and system.
I especially enjoyed the gallery of artist studios. One space has been adapted for its owner’s special needs after a stroke left her with partial paralysis. One space is especially compact. A third artist requires both dry and wet work spaces!
If you work in more than one medium, you’ll find ideas to organize, separate and combine your supplies. The book’s photography might even inspire you to try something new!
This book recognizes that budgets for creative spaces come in all sizes, and Lilo gives helpful advice for saving, economizing and reimagining or repurposing. It’s clear that she wants makers to love and enjoy their spaces regardless of the size or financial constraints. That’s a win!
It’s a Giveaway!
This week’s blog tour includes a giveaway of the ebook Love Your Creative Space: A Visual Guide to Creating an Inspiring & Organized Studio Without Breaking the Bank. For your chance to win, leave a comment here by Tuesday, June 30. Tell me what kind of space you’d like to plan, or how you’d improve your current space.
There are other great stops on the blog tour. I hope you’ll follow these folks and check out their posts for more insight into Love Your Creative Space by Lilo Bowman.
The lap and throw sizes of Charming Chevrons are made from 5″ charm packs. (The thinking is done—so you just relax and sew!) This design has a lot of movement for great visual interest.
Twin-size Charming Chevrons in Good Vibes fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio
The larger sizes of Charming Chevrons (twin and king) are made from 10″ precut squares, also called Layer Cakes or Ten by Tens.
Watch for Good Vibes 5×5 and 10×10 packs coming in July!
Right now, I’m taking pre-orders for the paper patterns of Charming Chevrons and Modern Logs, and I have a special offer for you. Please read on!
The cover quilts were made with my new Good Vibes line for Benartex Contempo Studio. I’m really pleased by the interplay of the modern low-volumes and the saturated bright prints. It’s just the look I was after! More thoughts on Good Vibes coming soon.
All of my patterns include step-by-step instructions and machine quilting suggestions so you’re never stumped when it’s time to finish. We have it covered!
Choose from four handy sizes in Charming Chevrons: Lap, Throw, Twin or King! See the pattern’s back cover below for the dimensions.
Maybe you have some charm packs around just waiting for the right project. Or have you been looking for the perfect quilt to use a special layer cake? Look no further than Charming Chevrons!
Maybe Modern Logs will suit your fancy! It’s made from 1, 2 or 3 fat quarter bundles, depending on the size you want to make. The pattern gives instructions for making crib, throw and queen sizes, but the improvisational technique means you can adjust the size of your quilt by making more or fewer blocks. That’s a great design bonus!
Maybe you’d want to get some Good Vibes and then supplement from your stash for a unique project that’s totally you! You can go with a coordinated look or be super scrappy. I think you’ll really have fun with the improv nature of these blocks!
I’m putting the finishing touches on both of these quilts now and I can’t wait to share them with you!
Seeing your excitement when you like my fabric or fall in love with a quilt design is a real boost for me. And I always meet some wonderful people during a quilt along, so I’m really looking forward to that, too!
Use code PATTERN to get a free paper pattern of your choice when you preorder both Modern Logs and Charming Chevrons paper patterns. Add three patterns to your cart, enter the code in the coupon box and then remember to hit the + to make sure the discount is applied. Offer expires end of day June 30, 2020.
Welcome to Part 4 of the Optical Illusion Quilt Along! You’ve made it through the piecing, so congratulations! Now we come to what may not be your favorite part of the process: prepping the backing and batting, and basting the layers together in preparation for quilting.
Above is one of the alternate colorways for Optical Illusion. You can make something similar with red, light blue, and white fabric from my online shop.
But if you’ll let me guide you through the next steps, I’ll share some tips to make it less painful and move you along to the quilting that much sooner.
Prep the Batting
The most important step in basting a quilt is to ensure that the batting and backing are several inches larger than the quilt top all the way around.
If you look at the back of the pattern, you’ll see that for the batting size, I have added 6″ to the length and width of the quilt top. For example, the lap-size top is 45″ x 66″. The batting needed is 51″ (45″ + 6″) x 72″ (66″ + 6″).
Example of measuring batting from a previous Quilt Along:
The batting should be several inches larger than the quilt top all the way around.
For me, the easiest way to measure the batting is to buy a roll of it, then unroll it across the width of the quilt top and roughly trim off the amount I will need. In the photo above, I’m using Hobbs Tuscany cotton/wool batting which is one of my favorites.
It’s 90″ wide and folded double on the bolt. So after I trim off a chunk from the bolt, I’ll lay the quilt top out and trim off several inches from the top of the batting. I save those chunks to make practice quilt sandwiches later.
Geo Pop Tiny Hex in black by Christa Quilts for Benartex/Contempo
Piece your backing so that it is a few inches larger than the batting size given on the back of the pattern.
For example, for the lap size, I would cut my three yard piece of backing fabric in half crosswise. This gives me two pieces about 40″ x 54″. I need backing a bit larger than 51″ x 72″.
Backing, pieced horizontally.
I’ll sew the two pieces together for a backing that’s roughly 54″ x 80″. The seam will be horizontal across the quilt.
Now you are ready to baste!
Basting the Layers: Quick Overview
I baste using my design wall and 505 basting spray. I make sure my batting and batting are bigger than my quilt top and I trim away some of excess after it’s been basted. I spray the top and backing outside separately, then assemble all the layers on my design wall, taking care to smooth each layer as I go.
Once everything looks nice and flat, I’ll roughly trim the edges so that only and inch or two remain around all 4 sides. I cut off as much extra as I can to prevent it from tucking under the back and quilting the quilt to itself!!
The final basting step is to iron the quilt on both sides to set the glue and smooth everything out one final time.
I didn’t have a chance to take pictures of this process while making Optical Illusion, but here are links and tips from previous quilt alongs.