QuiltCon 2018 – It Was Amazing!

I just finished a whirlwind 3 weeks of fun travel – to QuiltCon in California, Craftsy in Colorado and teaching in Oregon. Now that it’s taken me a week to recover from my adventures I’m finally ready to share my QuiltCon experience with you. It was, in a word, Amazing!!

So far, I’ve been to every QuiltCon since it began in 2013, and I’ve been super lucky to get at least one quilt juried into the show each year. (This year I had two – see below.) I was fortunate to be invited to teach at two of the shows so far (2016 & 2017) and QuiltCon is one show I’ll continue to attend each year because it’s just THAT awesome!!

Christa and Laurie from Modern Quilts Unlimited

Color Weave was one of my quilts juried into QuiltCon for 2018. It’s made from 3 colors of precut strips with simple pieced blocks. The color placement creates a woven illusion.

Here I’m hamming it up with Modern Quilts Unlimited editor, Laurie Baker. It was fun to have my quilt Color Weave hang and get judged in the show. The pattern is from issue 21 of MQU. (You can even click here to download a bonus tutorial on how I did the quilting for this quilt.)

Judges comments for this quilt:

  • Woven illusion is successful
  • Treatment of pattern at top and left give breathing space and add interest
  • Quilting compliments patchwork perfectly

Color Weave Straight Line Quilting Detail

Quilting detail of Color Weave – it was all done with straight lines using my walking foot. I used the piecing structure as a guideline for the quilting and varied the width of the lines using the edge of my foot and randomly changing my needle position.

This year at QuiltCon, it was kind of nice to have a break from teaching so that I could actually see the show, meet up with friends, and spend time networking with many of my quilting industry partners (like Hobbs, BERNINA, & Aurifil) along with the various shops who carry my books, patterns, and fabric).

Quilting Demo with Hobbs BattingI had a great time sharing machine quilting tips and tricks with folks who stopped by the Hobbs batting booth on the first day of the show on Friday. I talked the entire hour I was in their booth, so it was hard to get a picture of me without a funny expression on my face!

Spools Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I loaned my “Spools” quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts to Hobbs for a few weeks so  they could use it to display in their booth at several quilt shows in which they are a vendor, including QuiltCon. Letting companies borrow my quilts for promotion is a win-win for both of us: they get to decorate their booths with colorful quilts, and my quilts get seen by a wider audience.

In Town Quilter's Booth at QuiltCon 2018

Above, clockwise: Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts, mini samples of patterns by Sylvia Schaefer of Flying Parrot Quilts, and a hand pieced, hand quilted block showing how Modern Marks plays well with other fabrics.

In-Town Quilters hosted me for a book signing in their booth on Friday of the show and I was pleased to see such a nice display of quilts and minis using Modern Marks fabric. It still makes me giddy when I see my fabric paired up with other designers’ patterns!!

I also did events for BERNINA and Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine on Saturday, but because I was so busy chatting – I forgot to take pictures. Needless to say, it fills my bucket when I get to chat with other quilters who love modern quilts as much as I do!

HST Remix quilt at QuiltCon 2018

HST Remix was my other quilt that was juried into QuiltCon 2018. It was hanging in the overflow room which had great architecture and beautiful chandeliers.

Judges comments for this quilt:

  • Fabric choices render pattern well
  • Quilting patterns fill spaces well
  • Area of gray in middle is really interesting element but feels slightly disproportionate

I actually appreciate the comments that offer constructive criticism even more than the positive ones, because that’s how I learn more about modern design. I’m still a fledgling student in this area and love learning all I can about what makes a successful modern quilt! In fact, each year I attend QuiltCon, it confirms my love for modern quilts and I’m always thinking about how to push myself to create more modern designs.

Quilting on HST Remix

Quilting on HST Remix – this one is big enough that it now fits on our bed!

I’ve been attending QuiltCon since the beginning, and one thing that struck me this year was the variety of modern styles. I think quilters are really branching out, taking risks with their designs and doing a lot more experimenting. There were a good mix of solids and prints, bright and more muted tones, machine and handwork.

And I was pleased to see a lot more interesting free-motion quilting. Don’t get me wrong – I love geometric straight line quilting as much as anyone. But I’m glad to see that more quilters are embracing “modern free-motion” (perhaps after attending my classes and lectures for the last 2 years and realizing it’s ok to quilt swirls and feathers on their modern quilts?? LOL!!). I was also impressed with the quality of the workmanship.

QuiltCon Hashtag

To view most of the quilts that were at QuiltCon, be sure to check out the hashtag #QuiltCon on Instragram – or click here. Those little squares in the collage above mean that there were multiple images shared in the same post – tons of amazing eye candy!

To be sure, QuiltCon places more of an emphasis on design and originality than workmanship and I think that’s totally fine. I attend and teach at a lot of shows and while they are all unique, most other shows emphasize workmanship over original design. Again – nothing wrong with that either, it’s just a different point of view.

When QuiltCon first opened, I was worried that many quilters would be intimidated to enter because they had less quilting experience or couldn’t afford to pay for expensive professional long arm services to bling up their quilts.

But I was comforted by the fact that at that first show, and each show since, more and more quilters are actually doing all of their own work, from start to finish. It has been fun to see many of these newer quilters gain confidence and experience in their work, and just five years later you can see that their efforts have paid off.

QultCon 2018 hashtag

Search #QuiltCon2018 on Instagram for even more fabulous inspiration!

One last thing to share: I served on the judging committee for QuiltCon – a volunteer position I’ve helped with over the last few years. No, I had nothing to do with this year’s judging or jurying. I just helped rewrite some of the policies so they’d be easy to understand for all who enter. One big change we made for 2018 was limiting the number of acceptances for any one person to 5 quilts and I think that was a great decision because created a more dynamic show that seemed fair to everyone.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience this year I and I truly hope you get a chance to attend in the future, if you haven’t already. QuiltCon will be in Nashville, Tennessee in 2019 and then back in Austin, Texas in 2020, where it all began. You can bet I’ll be there again for sure!!

Click here to view all of the winners from QuiltCon 2018.

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Christa’s Soap Box – On Sharing (and a Sneak Peek of Craftsy Filming)

So it dawned on me the other day that sharing is an integral part of my process. I’ve been feeling a bit lost over the last year because although it’s been a whirlwind of activity – pattern writing, fabric designing, traveling  & teaching, workshop filming –  I haven’t taken as much time to properly document and share what I was doing.

So I hope you’ll indulge me while I write a bit of an essay on this subject. I’m weaving in some “behind the scenes” photos of my latest Craftsy shoot so this isn’t just a wall of text!!

Filming at Craftsy

My latest adventure – filming my upcoming Craftsy class, “Startup Project: Starry Path”

I’m pretty good at sharing real-time snippets on facebook and instagram, but I really, really, miss writing actual long-form paragraphs about what I’m doing. I’ve forgotten how much I enjoy that part of things!! Throw in a whole bunch of “secret” sewing and I’ve felt like I’m doing a whole lot but not actually getting anywhere with it, LOL!!

You know the old saying – if you make a quilt but there’s no one around to see it, have you really accomplished anything?? (Just kidding – I made that up but sometimes that’s how I feel.)

So I hope to change that up for the rest of this year.

I’ll still be as busy as ever – I like it that way and it keeps me out of trouble. But as much as I can, I want to share more of the process with you. I was actually looking through my contracts for a bunch of stuff I’m currently working on and you know what? They don’t actually say I can’t share!!

Stepouts off camera

What you don’t see off camera – stepouts for the class, organized in sequence of filming

Going forward, I’d like to combat one of those “quilting myths” – that as a designer, you have to keep everything secret until it’s ready for the marketplace, or else everyone will get tired of seeing it and won’t want to buy it when it’s time to sell. Just remember – the reality is that full-time designers like me have to sell what we produce, or we are out of a job, LOL!!

Well you know what? I’m willing to take that risk!! I hope you won’t get bored for example, if I actually document and share the process of making my next round of quilts for my next fabric line. Or share some behind the scenes pics of my latest Craftsy filming, even though the class won’t be available for a couple more months.

Filming in process

Checking out what it looks like from my producer, Evan’s point of view. Notice the clock on the wall says 6:35 PM. We started each day at 8:30 am. It take 3 full days to produce about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of content. Those were some long – but fun – hours!!

Although my latest projects won’t be available for mass consumption until at least this summer, how can I enjoy the next few months of sewing if I can’t even show you what I’m making?? Trust me, after writing 3 books, filming multiple Craftsy classes and now finalizing my latest fabric line, it’s killed me that I haven’t shared these things in “real” time. Not to mention all of the fantastic teaching trips I’ve been going on and fabulous people I’ve been meeting when I travel. I’m really feeling compelled to share more as a way to process my experiences.

The Camera Crew at Craftsy

Although I’m the only one you’ll see on camera, it takes a dedicated team to produce such high-quality Craftsy videos. Jim (left) and Tommy (right) were top-notch camera guys!!

Sure, writing up a post about  the finished quilt/class project months later is still fun, but I’ve somehow missed the magic that I like to capture in the moment when I document things in real time. I know part of the problem is that I got caught up in the social media rat race that I wrote about at the end of last year. My reduced social media presence since then has been great (see my follow-up post here).

But I think I’m ready to now strike the balance of doing a tad bit less production work, and in the process sharing more of what I do in-depth and in real-time here on the blog. I guess you could say I’m aiming for less quantity, and more quality both in my making and my writing.

Linda on set at Craftsy

My Craftsy editor, Linda has worked with me on all of my Craftsy classes. She’s become more than I colleague. I now count her as a dear friend, always willing to help me do my best!!

So be on the lookout for more process and adventure posts from me. Darn it, I haven’t even had time to write about my trip to QuiltCon yet this year, and just like the first time I went in 2013, it inspired me in ways that will impact my making for years to come. So – more on that soon – I promise!!

Until then, happy quilting, making, sharing, and processing!!!

Finished Quilt – Squiggles Made from Modern Marks Fabric

At long last, I’m excited to show you the finished version of Squiggles, made from my first fabric line with Benartex, Modern Marks that released late last year.

Squiggles by Christa Watson

Squiggles version made from Modern Marks with black background

You may remember that the original version, shown below was made from precut squares with a cream background and overlapping wavy line quilting using a walking foot. The step-by-step instructions for both piecing and machine quilting this version are included in my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Squiggles Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Squiggles, original version from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

When I got my fabric samples last year, this was the first (of many) quilts that I wanted to remake using my fabric. It just goes to show how different a quilt can look using the same pattern, but different fabrics.

Squiggles Quilt Top

I love the bold bright colors against the black!

With the updated version I really wanted the modern fabrics to pop, which is why I paired them with the deep black. I think it gives the quilt a more contemporary/modern vibe which I really like.

Aurifil Thread Squiggles

Choosing thread color was the hardest part of this quilt! I knew that any colorful thread would work, but I opted to go with the bolder Turquoise Aurifil to really give it some punch.

Quilting Random Crosshatch

Although I love to piece, machine quilting is still my favorite part of the process. I absolutely loved adding an extra layer of texture to this quilt using random crosshatch quilting, which is really just quilting parallel straight lines in random intervals across the quilt in both directions.

Machine Quilting Squiggles

Here are some pretty “scenic” shots, taken in the desert behind our house. My husband Jason really enjoys doing photography and capturing photos in interesting spots.

Squiggles Quilting Detail

I love how the bright colors contrast with the softer, muted desert background.

Squiggles in the Desert

This is my favorite picture: showing the Las Vegas skyline behind the quilt:

Squiggles by Christa Watson

Squiggles Finished Quilt Stats

Click here for a list of shops that carry Modern Marks fabric.

Modern Plus Sign Quilts Book Hop – Transparency Chains in Modern Marks

I’m excited to be a part of my friends Cheryl Brickey & Paige Alexander’s blog hop for their brand new book, Modern Plus Sign Quilts!

Modern Plus Sign Quilts

Modern Plus Sign Quilts is published by Stash books, a division of C&T Publishing.

Not only is it a fabulous book, but it was my turn to help share the love since Cheryl has been an active participant on both of my previous book blog hops. (Check those out here and here.) And maybe the three of us just might have had a conversation at QuiltCon about them doing something fun with my next fabric line…so stay tuned for more awesome Cheryl & Paige inspiration!!

But back to their book…

I chose their pattern, Transparency Chains to work on, because I love a good Irish Chain design!! I chose to go with a modernized Americana color scheme for this quilt, because I’m sorely lacking in red/white and blue quilts for 4th of July!! (Not that I actually need to cuddle up under one in the heat, but I love to add accent colors in my home for the holidays year ’round.)

Transpareny Chains in Modern Marks

My version of Transparency Chains, made with Modern Marks fabric

So far, I’ve only completed the quilt top shown above, but now I’m really excited to quilt it and will share more about the quilting process once I get to it.

Here’s a little bit more about the process of making the quilt top. I couldn’t resist the chance to sew with my own fabric, and after making a ton of rainbow colored quilts lately, it was fun to go with a more limited palette of red, creamy yellow, and shades of blue.

Modern Marks Fabric Red Blue

I chose Modern Marks in blues, with a pop of red contrast and the light yellow boxes print for the background. It was fun to work with a limited palette rather than every color!

The instructions were well written and easy to follow. I love getting everything cut out ahead of time and I love it when a well-written pattern makes that easy to do. I especially liked not having to think about how much to cut, or do any of the math.

Modern Marks Fabric Pieces

I love looking at a stack of yummy fabric strips that are ready to sew!

I’ve realized that I love the process of making a quilt as long as I’m not rushed. So here’s a tip: try not to “binge” sew if you can help it. I spread out the making of the top over several weeks so I never felt rushed.

I washed the fabrics one day, ironed them a different day, cut them later and then took several days to sew the individual units below. I took pics along the way and shared them in real time on instagram so I never felt rushed or bored with the project.

Modern Marks Transparency Chains in Progress

The stacks are starting to turn into something fun!!

Plus blocks with modern Marks

Aren’t these the cutest little plus blocks ever??

At first, I was worried that the main Modern Marks print wouldn’t show well enough because the light blue pieces were so small, but I love the effect you get when you chop up an interesting overall print. It’s fun to see lots of pops of color all over the quilt!

Sewing in Progress

I love pressing seams open so that the blocks will lie rally flat.

I printed off a copy of just the Transparency Chains pattern from the book so I could keep it right by my sewing machine as I sewed. I could also make notes on the printout and check off each step as I completed it. I love the feeling of accomplishment each time I sit down to sew!

Pressing the quilt

I have a “big board” that I use for pressing my quilts. Once I press from the back side, I always press again from the front to keep the quilt as flat and crisp as possible.

Here’s a pressing tip: sew several of the rows together into chunks and then press the long seams before you join the two halves together. Then you only have one more seam to press once the quilt top is complete, rather than wrestling with the entire quilt for each long seam.

Modern Marks Transparency Chains

I’m really pleased with this combination of fabrics and love the fun geometric texture that the modern, geometric prints provide.

Transparency Chains alternate version

Alternate colorway, re-colored in EQ8

When I was figuring out which fabrics to choose, I drew up the design in Electric Quilt software and auditioned several variations. The greener version above was a very close second, but ultimately I liked the high contrast of the red chains instead.

Red and Blue Transparency Chains

Modern, geometric prints are definitely my favorite – and it was fun to sew with my own fabric!

Now I have to decide how to quilt it – do I go with a simple allover design, or do I highlight the plus blocks and emphasize the chain structure? Choices, choices!! What would you do?

To see the original version that Cheryl made, plus link to other bloggers who remade this quilt in other colorways, head over to her blog at Meadow Mist Designs and Paige’s blog at Quilted Blooms. While you are there, check out all of the fun giveaways that are happening, and enter for your chance to win.

Click here for the complete list of bloggers and links to their site – plus tons of giveaways.

Click here to get your copy of Modern Plus Sign Quilts.


Squiggles Quilt Along Week 7 – Quilt Binding Tutorial

I’ve been thrilled to see all of the fabulous versions of Squiggles that you all are making. Some of you have already finished, others have made more than one version, while others are just beginning. Just remember – I’ll leave the blog posts up indefinitely, so you can make this fun quilt on your own schedule!

Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Step by Step Binding Tutorial

This is the same method I use for all of my quilts.

Step 1: Trim the Quilt

Trim the extra batting and backing flush with the edge of the quilt top.

Binding Square up the Corners

I like to use a large square ruler for the corners, and a long acrylic ruler for the sides.

Binding Trim the Sides

Step 2 – Make the Binding

Lay out two binding strips so that they overlap at a 90 degree angle. Mark a diagonal line on the top strip from corner to corner, where the corners overlap. Pin in place if needed.

To figure out how many binding strips you need to cut, add 10″ to the perimeter of the quilt (length of all 4 sides of the quilt). Then divide that number by 40″ to get the number of strips to cut. For the Squiggles quilt, the number of strips to cut is listed on page 15 of the book.

Tip: most patterns suggest to cut the binding strips 2 1/4″ to 2 1/2″ wide. However, I’ve recently began using 2″ strips and I like it much better. The narrower strips allow me to get a tighter finish, and both sides of the binding end up the same size.

Sewing the Binding

Sew on the drawn line and trim excess to 1/4″. Trim off the “dog ears” – the triangle tips, too. Join all of the strips the same way and press seams open. This will distribute the bulk of the seam when it’s attached to the quilt.

Join Binding Strips

Trim the beginning of the binding strip at a a 45 degree angle and press the entire length of binding in half, wrong sides together. Be sure to trim the starting edge first, before you press it in half.

Finished binding, ready to sew

If desired, fold up the binding, or roll it up until it’s ready to attach to the quilt.

Step 3 – Attach the Binding to the Quilt

Attaching the binding

Start attaching the binding on the side of the quilt, not at the corners. Line up the open edges of the binding to the trimmed edge of the quilt and leave about 8″-10″ of the tail hanging off. This will allow plenty of room for attaching the two ends later.

Place a pin in the binding and quickly “walk” it around the quilt’s perimeter to ensure that none of the pieced seams will land in the corners. Adjust the binding as needed and start sewing at the pin, using 1/4″ seams.

Binding 1/4" mark

When you reach the corner, stop sewing 1/4″ away from the corner. Mark a line if needed to get an exact measurement. Then sew off the side or corner of the quilt.

Folding the binding corner

To get a perfect miter in the corners, fold the binding up and away from the corner. Ensure that the right side of the binding aligns with the edge of the quilt.

Mitering the binding

Fold the binding back down, leaving the excess in the corner. Make sure the top of the fold lines up evenly with the top edge of the quilt. I called this the “funky fold.”

Grasp the top and bobbin threads and carefully sew down the next side of the binding. It will be thick at the corner where all of the bulk is.

Binding Corner

Once you sew a little ways, check the front of the quilt. It should form a nice crisp miter at the corner if you’ve lined everything up correctly.

Attaching the binding

Continue sewing down all 4 sides of the binding, taking care to get nice crisp miters at the corners. When you get close to the starting point, leave several inches between the starting and ending point of the binding, so you have room to attach the two ends of the binding.

Step 4 – Secure the Ends

Open up the end of the binding and place the start of the binding (the angled cut end) on top of it. Be careful that the strips don’t shift.

Matching up the binding

Open up the beginning binding “tail” (below), and notice that the angled end runs in the opposite diagonal direction in which it was folded. Mark a line on the uncut strip, following the direction of the cut end.

Matching up the binding ends

Measure and cut 1/2″ away from the marked line. This will add the amount needed for seam allowances on both ends of the binding.

Trimming the ending tail

Match up the binding right sides together and make sure it doesn’t get twisted. Pin the binding, offsetting the triangle tips by about 1/4″ and sew with 1/4″ seams to close the binding. This will create a hidden join that is smooth, with no bumps.

Join the binding ends.

Finger press this final seam open (it’s hard to get an iron in there at this point), and pin the un-sewn binding to the quilt, easing in any fullness. Attach this last bit of binding to the quilt, overlapping the starting and ending stitches.

Pin the binding in place

If desired, press the binding away from the quilt with a hot dry, iron. This will help the binding wrap around to the back of the quilt much easier.

Secure the binding to the back of the quilt with pins or binding clips. When you get to the corners, fold them in opposite directions and clip in place.

Secure the binding with Wonder Clips

Finish with small hand stitches on the back side. I use a single  16″ – 18″ length of Aurifil thread in a color that matches the binding. I use a thimble to push the needle through and sew from right to left, with the bulk of the quilt away from me. I’ve noticed that some quilters prefer to sew the oppoiste direction with the quilt toward them, and that’s okay, too – whatever works for you!

Of course, you can finish the binding by machine if you prefer, but I love the slow pace of hand stitching while I relax and cuddle with the quilt.

Binding by hand

Here’s a quick bonus video of me hand-stitching  the binding on another quilt:

Step 5 – Share, Share Share!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! You are welcome to share on pinterest or your favorite social media (with attribution). I hope that binding doesn’t seem so scary and feel free to mix it up with your favorite binding method.

This concludes the quilt along tutorials – next week I’ll share some finished pics of Squiggles, taken in the desert behind my neighborhood. Be sure and share your progress and finishes with me on instagram #squigglesqal or in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group. I love seeing them!!

Squiggles Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get an autographed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Click here for links to all of the Squiggles Quilt Along blog posts.

I’m at Craftsy This Week – New Class Coming Soon!

The last 2 weeks have been such a crazy busy time which is why I’ve been a little more quiet on the blog. I barely got back from QuiltCon just in time to prep for a few days and head off to Craftsy this week. So that’s why you haven’t seen a QuiltCon post or the last Squiggles QAL post on binding. But I promise those are coming, as soon as I get back!

Machine Quilting Elongated Swirls

Machine Quilting Detail on Craftsy Class Sample – More Info Coming Soon!

Above is a sneak peek of the quilt I’ve been working on, in between all of my other fun deadlines. It’s a new quilt I designed for my third Craftsy class that I’m filming this week. Without giving too much away yet, the new class I’m filming is a followup to Startup Library: Quilting and the focus will be on accurate cutting and piecing to help you improve your skills

Because you all know how much I love machine quilting, the class will even include a lesson on how to quilt one of my favorite motifs – elongated swirls (seen above). My #1 tip when learning  how to free-motion quilt is to pick one design and quilt it allover the entire quilt. By the time you are done, you’ll be an expert at that design!!

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Startup Library: Quilting is the comprehensive start-to-finish 6 hour class that was released last summer. It was my 2nd class with them filmed over 5 days.

And if you didn’t hear the news yet – Craftsy is offering a special this week to try out their new subscription service. From March 5-7, 2018 (Monday-Wed THIS week), you can try Craftsy Unlimited for just $1 for 2 weeks.

So click here to take advantage of this special offer and while you’re there, be sure check out my other two classes!

FYI – When you purchase a class “a la cart” under their traditional system, you own it forever. The subscription model allows you access to the entire class catalog as long as you stay subscribed. I think the subscription is a great way to sample classes on a regular basis, and then you can purchase those which you know you’ll want to refer back to time and time again.

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

The Quilter’s Path was my first Craftsy class which released just over a year ago. In this class I offer lots of machine quilting instruction and a free pattern to practice on. It’s also where I streamlined my idea of creating a quilting plan for every quilt.

Be sure and catch me on instagram this week @christaquilts where I’ll share daily updates on how Craftsy filming is going. I’m not sure of the release date yet, but it’s usually within a couple of months of filming, so the turnaround time is pretty quick. I’ll keep you posted!!

Quick Craftsy Links

Click here to try out the subscription service for 2 weeks for $1 (Expires 3/7/18)
Click here to preview or purchase Startup Library: Quilting
Click here to preview or purchase The Quilter’s Path

Tiny Trees in Lunch Hour Patchwork

Check out my smallest quilt finish in the brand new book, Lunch Hour Patchwork!

Tiny Trees

My quilt features small paper pieced trees set into a modern-tree layout. I had fun digging through my pile of green fabrics to get a wide variety of mint and green colored trees. My personal challenge to myself was to use print fabrics that worked together without being “Christmassy.”

Green fabrics

I had so much fun quilting this one, using a combination of two free motion textures: stippling for the background and “cursive L’s” for the trees. Because I used one light green Aurifil thread for all of the quilting, I was able start stipple quilting the background, and then wiggle in and out of each tree as I got to it, switching quilting motifs, but not thread colors.

Machine Quilting Detail on Tiny Trees

The book Lunch Hour Patchwork has a bunch of fun projects that are quick and easy to make. You can work on them during your lunch hour, or other small chunks of time throughout your day!

Lunch Hour Patchwork

My friends at Martingale are even giving away a free copy of the book! Head over to Stitch This!  (their blog) to see more projects from the book and enter for your chance to win.

Squiggles Quilt Along Week 6 – Machine Quilting Tips

This week we get to my favorite part of any quilt – the machine quilting!! For Squiggles, I quilted it with my walking foot. I always recommend starting off with walking foot quilting for beginners because it really is no-fail quilting. In the book, I show you how to quilt organic, squiggly lines with the walking foot, for the original version made from Pat Sloan’s The Sweet Life charm packs:

Machine Quilting Ideas

Squiggles Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

The original version of Squiggles: pattern & quilting instructions available in my latest book.
Click here to get your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.
Click here to purchase The Sweet Life charm packs seen above, while they last.

If you’d like to quilt fun, fast and easy squiggle lines, follow along in the book on page 19 to see the instructions and quilting plan for Squiggles

Another quick and easy way to finish this would be to quilt a wavy grid, following the directions for “Gridwork” on pages 26-27. Check out a closeup of the wavy grid quilting below:

Gridwork quilting with a walking foot

For my Squiggles remake from Modern Marks fabric, I wanted to try out a different design that I mention briefly in the book on page 21 as a “make it your own” idea.  Rather than quilting wavy lines, try quilting irregularly spaced “straight-ish” parallel lines to create a random crosshatch grid.

Random crosshatch quilting

I chose a highly contrasting Aurifil thread in Jade so that it would show up on the busy prints.
The thread is from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Colors.

Random Crosshatch Quilting Tips

Here are a few tips on how I approached quilting the second version of Squiggles:

Machine Quilting Squiggles

I always start quilting on the right hand side of the quilt and “scrunch and smoosh” the bulk of the quilt as I go. First I make one pass across the quilt in both directions to anchor the quilt for more quilting later. This breaks up the quilting, secures it in place, and allows me flexibility on how densely I want to quilt it.

Start and end off the quilt

I try to choose designs that allow me to start and end each line of stitching off of the quilt in the batting. Then I don’t have to tie off all those pesky threads!! For best results when using walking foot/dual feed quilting, try to stitch in one direction rather than stitching the lines up and down or back and forth across the quilt.

It will help prevent puckers or “whiskering” that looks like little creases caused by the shifting of the fabric. I make one pass across the quilt from right to left, quilting “anchor” lines depending on how wide the blocks are. Then I rotate the quilt when I reach the middle, and keep on going to the other side.

Use gloves to move the quilt

I wear Machingers gloves to help grip the quilt and give me a little more power when I push the quilt through the machine. I also use my hands as a hoop and only focus on the area I’m quilting between my hands. It’s not a very larger area, so I re-position my hands and the quilt A LOT while quilting, and that’s ok!

For the random crosshatch, some of the “anchor” lines will be in the ditch, while some of them may be randomly to the side of the ditch. Below are three different ways that I mark or randomly quilt straight lines across the quilt:

Marking With a Washable Pen

Marking Straight Lines

Use an acrylic ruler and washable marking pen to mark guidelines if needed. I used a combination of marking and eyeballing when quilting my straight-ish lines. Mostly I changed it up so I could dry out several different methods. Hey, what I can I say? I’m always experimenting!

Painter’s Tape

Use Painter's Tape as a Guide

Painter’s tape is one of my favorite marking tools! I can place it at random intervals, using my long acrylic ruler to keep the lines straight. The best part about quilting random lines is that I can stitch along both sides of the tape to quilt 2 lines at a time!

Bonus tip: rather than putting the needle next to the tape, put the edge of your quilting foot next to the tape. It will space the lines out a little wider, and you won’t accidentally stitch through the tape!!

Walking Foot Guide Bar

Using a guide bar for quilting

You can also use a guide bar to follow along a seam line, or previously quilted line. Just decide how far apart you want your lines, and adjust the width of the guide bar appropriately.

Notice that I’m using the BERNINA dual feed rather than a walking foot. My machine has a built in mechanism that attaches to the back of a specialty “D” foot, giving me more options of which foot I can use. It acts just like a walking foot and performs the same function. I also like using an open toe so I can see exactly where the needle is stitching.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

Here’s what Squiggles is looking like after a few random passes across the quilt in both directions.

Keep on Quilting!

Walking Foot Quilting

Continue quilting randomly spaced liens both horizontally and vertically across the quilt until you are happy with the spacing. The hardest part is knowing when to stop!!

Machine Quilting Random crosshatch

Click here to purchase a Squiggles Quilt Kit made from Modern Marks fabric.

And just remember, if you aren’t happy with the way it looks, just keep quilting. When I had only quilted a few lines on the quilt, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like the end result, and the thread really stood out like a sore thumb. However, once I added more lines, all of the sudden, I couldn’t see any of the imperfections, and I love the amazing texture that was created!

Remember to share your progress!

Part of the fun of any quilt-along is seeing all of the variety everyone is making. Check out my ChristaQuilts group on Facebook to cheer on your fellow quilt-alongers and post pics of your WIP’s (works in progress). You can also tag me on instagram @christaquilts and #squigglesqal.

The next post will go up in 2 weeks, giving everyone a chance to catch up on their progress!
Click here for the previous Squiggles Quilt Along tutorials.

Meet Me at QuiltCon 2018: My Schedule of Events

I’m super excited for QuiltCon 2018 which takes place next week, February 22-25 in Pasadena California. Although I taught there the last 2 years, this year I’m excited to take it a little bit easier by being a student and attendee, and I can’t wait. However, I’ll still be super busy with a full lineup! If you plan to attend, I’d love to see you at one of my events listed below:

Christa’s QuiltCon Schedule

Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs

On Thurs. Feb 22, from 12:15-1:15 I’ll be in the Hobbs Batting Booth #122 for a meet ‘n greet. I’ll have some small samples on display and will be happy to answer your questions about batting, machine quilting, and anything else! Rumor has it, there might even be a giveaway!!
Later that day, I’ll be helping out as a general volunteer from 4-6 PM. I’m sure I’ll be wandering the show, pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is truly one of the best ways to get the most out of any show!
Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs
On Fri. Feb 23, from 12:30-1:30 I’ll be having a book signing with InTown Quilters at booth #624. They’ll have copies of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for sale and some Modern Marks precuts. If you know you’ll be at the show and want to reserve a copy of the book ahead of time, be sure and contact them right away before they sell out.
star Shadow by Christa Watson
Star Shadow, designed and made by Christa Watson, featuring Modern Marks
On Saturday, Feb 24 from 10-11:30 I’ll be hanging out tin the Modern Quilts Unlimited Booth #105. They will have my quilt Star Shadow on display, and you can get the pattern in their latest magazine issue! For those of you enjoying Quiltcon from home, click here to purchase the latest issue #22.
Christa at QuiltCon with BERNINA
Later that day, starting on Saturday at 1:15 PM, I’ll be performing a live machine quilting demo on stage, followed by a Meet ‘n Greet & book signing in the BERNINA booth #502. I’m pretty sure BERNINA will have a machine or two in their booth that you can try out and see why it’s my favorite sewing machine!
The MQG book
Finally, I’ll end my day on Saturday from 5:30-7:30 hanging out at The MQG Book Signing Party, to celebrate the launch of the new book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. I was thrilled to have 2 of my quilts featured in the book, which you can read about here.
QuiltCon 2018
I have to say, QuiltCon is my absolute favorite event – it features over 300 modern quilts and tons of great vendors. So far I’ve gone to every single show (since the first one in 2013). QuiltCon changed the course of my quilting career for the better and I’ve been pleased to have at least one of my quilts included in the show each time. For those not able to attend be sure to follow #quiltcon on social media, and check out a fun event that will be happing at the same time: #quiltconfromhome.

check out My Other posts from Prior QuiltCons:

Squiggles Quilt Along Week 5 – Basting

Spray Basting the quilt

I prefer to use 505 basting spray for my quilts, but pin basting works, too. (Just be sure to use a LOT of pins so it doesn’t shift!) Although I’m going to show you how I basted Squiggles using my design wall, know that you can apply this method using a table, too. Just work from the center out and move the quilt as needed to secure the layers.

Step 1 – Spray the Backing

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Use a large sheet as a drop cloth to catch any over-spray. It will also protect the quilt from the ground, too! Generously spray the wrong side of the quilt backing with basting stray, ensuring coverage in all areas. Work your way across the quilt from one side to the other. Your quilt will stick better and use less spray by spraying the top and backing separately, rather than spraying the batting as provided by the instructions on the can.

Although I’ve pressed both the backing and quilt top, some wrinkles and fold lines may reappear, but that’s okay. You’ll smooth everything out later.

Step 2 – Spray the Quilt Top

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Spray the wrong side of the quilt top, just like you did for the backing. You can still use the same sheet as a ground cloth, and then wash it when you are finished. It’s easier to spray the top because you can use the blocks as a guide to help you remember which areas to spray. I usually spray row by row.

Step 3 – Fold up both layers and bring inside

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Right now it will look like a bit of a sticky mess. But that’s okay – the layers are tacky to the touch but not stuck. You can easily peel them apart again. Your hands will get a little sticky during this process, but the glue easily washes off and won’t cause any problems while quilting. You don’t have to baste right away as it will still maintain its stickiness for awhile afterward.

Step 4 – Hang UP the Backing

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Pin or stick the backing to the design wall, wrong side out. Start at the top and let gravity help you. I’m short so I use a step ladder to get up high enough and I’m not trying to center the backing perfectly. I’m just glad that this is a process I can do completely by myself, without help.  Notice how the backing might stick to itself and get a little scrunched up at the bottom. That’s perfectly fine for now – see the next step.

If you don’t have a design wall, you can use a table instead. Just smooth out the center of the backing, add the other layers and smooth out one section of the quilt at a time.

Step 5 – Smooth Out the Backing

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Take about 10-15 minutes to completely spread and smooth out the backing. Work your way from top to bottom, smoothing it out as you go. Use a long acrylic ruler to help you. Think of it as an extension of your arm, giving you more coverage.

The acrylic ruler will get sticky over time, so I have an extra ruler that I use ONLY for basting. You want the backing nice and smooth before you add the batting.

Step 6 – Add the Batting

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

I’m using Hobbs 80/20 batting in black for this but natural is great, too!

Before I add the batting, I will actually iron it first to get out any wrinkles. If it’s cotton batting, you can iron right on the batting. If it has polyester or wool in it, you can protect it with a length of fabric. I use a hot, dry iron with no steam. You can iron wool batting with no problem – just use a lower setting and don’t press too hard. If you use steam, it might shrink or felt, so always test a small piece first.

Just like the backing, start at the top and place a few pins in the design wall if needed at the top to secure it. It’s okay to peel off part of the batting and re-position if needed.

Step 7 – Smooth the Batting

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Take time to smooth out the batting, using your hands and the long acrylic ruler.  Notice how it’s getting a bit wonky. That’s okay as long as the batting and backing are larger than the quilt top – the excess will get cut away.

I like being generous in my batting and backing so I don’t have to try and line things up perfectly. That’s above my skill level for sure!! I guessed where the rough middle of the backing and batting are and like a good friend of mine says, “close enough is good enough!”

Step 8 – Add the Top

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

At this point, it looks a little bit like a hot mess, but don’t worry – it will all work out in the end! Fabric is flexible and it’s okay to smoosh things up a bit – your quilt can handle it. (Those that are familiar with my scrunch and smoosh method of machine quilting can relate!!)

Repeat the same process as before: add the quilt top layer and let it drop down the wall with gravity; take time to peel it apart, and smooth it out.

Step 9 – Smooth the Layers

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Make sure there’s enough batting and backing sticking out on all sides and take plenty of time to smooth out the top. By smoothing each layer as you go, it will vastly eliminate the chances of puckers and wrinkles appearing on the back.

If you are too far off to one side or another, take off the top and try again.

Step 10 – Smooth Out Each Row

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

As you are smoothing out the quilt, use the long ruler to help ensure that each row is lined up vertically and horizontally. You can gently nudge the blocks into place if needed.

Step 11 – Roughly Trim off the Excess

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Now it’s time to cut off all that extra bulk around the edges. I use these cutoffs for machine quilting practice later. Or you can wash the excess backing and throw it in your stash.

Notice that I trim it pretty close to the edge. You can leave more wiggle room if you like, by I usually only leave about an inch or two. This prevents the excess from getting flipped over underneath the quilt and accidentally stitched through while you are quilting.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done that, right??

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

I use batting shears to cut through the bulky layers quickly and easily! You can trim the quilt on the design wall, or take it off and do it on a table or the floor.

Step 12 – Press the Quilt

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

I just love the vibrant colors and geometric prints in Modern Marks!

This is where the magic happens! For the final step, iron the quilt on the back side and then on the front. Use a hot, dry iron – no steam. This is a final chance to smooth out any wrinkles and nudge things into place. The iron helps set the glue so that every single inch of the quilt is stuck to every other inch, making it a breeze to machine quilt!

I use a “Big Board” that goes on top of my ironing board to give me more work surface. Also, the basting spray will not gum up the needle or cause any problems while quilting. And it easily washes out once you are finished with the quilt.

Next week we’ll tackle my favorite part – machine quilting. I can’t wait!!

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