Modern Logs QAL Part 4: Optional Pieced Quilt Backing

Whenever I make a super scrappy looking quilt like Modern Logs, I often have a lot of leftovers that I love to incorporate into the back of the quilt. This allows me to use up more fabric, personalize the quilt a bit, and make the back (almost) as interesting as the front! If you prefer to use a plain pieced back, this week will give you more time to finish your quilt top.

Modern Logs pieced quilt backing, made from leftover Good Vibes fat quarters, 2 yards of Gumballs print in Coral and a few leftover odds and ends from previous fabric lines.

Set aside the Binding Strips

Before you begin the pieced backing, be sure you’ve set aside enough of the straight strips for a scrappy binding. See the note in the pattern on page 3. Or you can use all of one fabric for binding and use up ALL of the leftovers on the back. The choice is up to you. We will come back to binding at the end of the QAL so stay tuned.

The image above shows half of the binding strips I cut from one set of Good Vibes fat quarters. I decided to double the size of my quilt so in reality I had twice as many. Notice how a couple are shorter – that’s because I ended up using a few extra chunks of fabric for my blocks.

There’s also 20 fabrics in the group, but only 18 strips here because I used a couple of them to finish some blocks. I still had plenty of leftovers for binding, and if for some reason you ever run short, just grab a similar color from your stash and no one will ever know!!

Now, let’s get on with sewing the pieced back!

Sew Scraps into Larger Pieced Chunks

When making a pieced backing from leftovers, think of it like a puzzle. You want to cover the quilt top with enough extra fabric on all sides (about 5-6″) and you want each of the “chunks” of the puzzle to be rectangular or square in shape so it all fits together.

First I sorted all of my leftover strips in similar lengths.

Then I sewed similar length strips into pairs and joined those into bigger complete chunks. Be sure to alternate seams when sewing so that the strips don’t warp or bend out of shape.

Now, your sizes and numbers of leftovers will vary so don’t overthink it too much. I sewed these together randomly and it was fun, mindless sewing! You can even do this anytime you have leftovers!

Once the leftover bits are sewn, it will look pretty messy and uneven. But not to worry, just trim off the ends and you’ll have a nice piece of “made” fabric that you can treat just like you would a regular piece of fabric with evenly trimmed sides. It doesn’t matter how long or wide this pice is. It’s just one of the “chunks” in your puzzle piece!

Repeat this process until all of your leftover bits are sewn into larger pieced chunks. You get to decide how small of a piece you want to use. I think my smallest pieces were about 4″-6″ long and the longest ones were full sized strips.

If you want to, you can sew some of the smaller pieced chunks into larger chunks, filling in with bits and pieces of other fabrics – leftover charm pack squares or jelly roll strips, odd shaped pieces that are too big to go in your stash, but too small to throw away.

When making these improv pieced blocks, the size doesn’t matter because it all depends on what you have to work with. Just square up the pieced chunk once you join the pieces together. When it’s finished, trim all sizes so that you have a pieced rectangular or square in shape. Make as many of these as you can, or save some of the improv patchwork to fill in the holes in your puzzle.

Piecing the Puzzle

Now comes the really fun part! Using your “puzzle” pieces, start covering up your quilt top! You can do this on the design wall, floor, bed, or anyplace you can lay out the quilt nice and flat. You can calculate all the math ahead of time, or just let it take shape randomly, which is what I did. Just like sewing your quilt blocks, it’s important to always sew straight edges together.

Step 1 – establish a framework

In the image above, I first started with a big chunk of fabric. I had 2 yards of Good Vibes Gumballs in Coral so I cut it into a few random pieces. I wanted these to be big chunks but none of them was large enough to go across the entire quilt. I’m establishing a framework here of 3 big areas to piece: left, middle and right.

Look how the edges are hanging over a few inches all around. I also left the selvages intact on both pieces on the left side. Because it’s my fabric with my name on it, I thought that would be a fun addition to the quilt!

Now it’s time to fill in the gaps!

Step 2 – fill in the gaps

I used two leftover chunks of fabric from my Gridwork line in coordinating colors to fill in 2 of the holes. These will give a pop of color to the back and keep things interesting. The piece looks more dynamic with the seams placed at different eye levels. Just remember that anything placed around the borders will get trimmed off so keep any border pieces nice and big.

I also started filling in the middle section with a bit of pieced patchwork near the bottom. I made it the same length as the chunk of Gumballs fabric below it so the edges wold match up nicely. This meant trimming off the selvage on one edge of the Gumbals print in the center bottom section.

Step 4 – add more pieced chunks

Keep in mind that the entire center section will need to be the same pieced width, so use a round number that’s easy to remember. My center section is somewhere around 36″ wide if I remember correctly. That math works nicely with leftover 40″ long pieces since they are quick and easy to trim up.

I filled in the center section with the rest of my pieced patchwork chunks. Trim them down, or add more pieces to make them all the same length. The fun part is deciding how far apart to space them and what else to use as fillers. Once I have an idea of where the patchwork units will go, them I trim them to size and treat them like regular pieced blocks.

Don’t forget to press as you go!

Be sure to use good technique while sewing: accurate 1/4″ seams and lots of pressing. I pressed seams open for all of the patchwork improv chunks and to the side when the chunky seams were sewn next to a plan flat piece of fabric. Press each seam just like you would when sewing blocks and rows together.

Step 5 – add pops of color  between the pieced units

I wanted to separate the pieced chunks a little so that I could admire the patchwork and allow my eyes to move around the piece. It was fun to add pops of color to tie it all together. Once the 3 sections were finalized, I sewed them together to finish the backing.

At this point, it’s ok that the outside edges aren’t even because that will get trimmed off after quilting. As long as the pieced backing covers the quilt a few inches on all 4 sides, it’s good to go!

Next week we will baste the quilt!

Helpful Links

Introducing Nancy Messuri Designs and Her Hypnotica Quilt Pattern!

You all know I love to see what you create using the fabrics I’ve designed for Benartex. Well every now and then a quilt comes along that really makes my heart sing! So today I wanted to share more about this fabulous quilt called Hypnotica by my talented friend Nancy Messuri who is a relatively new quilt pattern designer.Hypnotica Quilt by Nancy MessuriClick here to get Nancy’s Hypnotica Quilt Pattern PDF

I’ve invited Nancy to come on the blog to tell you more about this fabulous quilt in her own words…..

From Nancy Messuri:

I am honored Christa gave me the opportunity to guest blog as I am a huge fan all her fabric lines, books, and easygoing teaching style, so I was very excited when she asked me to guest  post, as there is lots to share about this quilt!

Hypnotica Black and White

Hypnotica started off as a study in black and white and I had no intention of making it into a quilt. It was simply a personal design challenge in Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8). After playing with some initial coloring though, I found the design quite interesting. I saw it had potential to be very striking. My geometric quilt designs often mesh with Christa’s sense of line and color, so I placed a few of her fabrics into my design. And wow, did it ever come to life!

Hypnotica in progress

I started thinking about possibly piecing Hypnotica, but the fact that all 34 wedges meet at the center point was daunting. However, I continued playing with fabric placements in EQ8 using Christa’s fabrics. When I found a grouping that really stood out I decided I had to give this quilt a try.

Fabrics in the quilt are a mix of Geo Pop, Gridwork, Abstract Garden and Fandangle

Construction of the quilt center was actually easier than I expected it to be. The entire circle is made up of only two different wedges which alternate around the quilt. I printed patterns for the foundation paper pieced wedges from EQ8, then did a few test runs of sewing patches into wedges and sewing wedges together.

After I felt confident with the tests, I was ready to use Christa’s beautiful fabrics and pieced together the two semi-circles. I quickly learned not to sew too fast over multiple layers of fabric as wedges were added; especially when nearing the center of the quilt. Hypnotica is definitely a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of quilt!

The two background pieces are sewn to each semi-circle before sewing the two halves of the circle together. If you are new to curved piecing, this is an easy curve to start with as the seam is sewn in a long, gentle curve. A few test runs of curved piecing with scrap fabric can give lots of confidence!

Hypnotica Quilt Center
The moment of truth arrived; matching up all the points of the two halves while dealing with all the layers meeting up at the center point. I listened to my own advice and sewed very slowly and I am happy to say I nailed it on the first try! (There may have been a happy dance or two after that.) At that point, I knew a pattern had to be created for Hypnotica.Hypnotica Quilt patternClick the image above to enlarge.
Click here to order Hypnotica Quilt Pattern.

I quilted Hypnotica with a continuous spiral that turned out wonderfully. It was quick, easy, and looks fantastic! If you have not tried this before, Christa has a great YouTube video tutorial, “How to Machine Quilt Continuous Spirals.”

Spiral Quilting on Hypnotica

Click here to view Christa’s spiral quilting tutorial.

Spiral Quilting Close Up

I would love to see your interpretations of Hypnotica on my Facebook page, Nancy Messuri Designs! The pattern is available on my website, NancyMessuriDesigns.com. There are new patterns in the works, so I hope you pop in from time to time. Or better yet, sign up for updates so you won’t miss a thing!

Hypnotica Quilt by Nancy Messuri

Thanks so much Nancy for sharing your beautiful quilt!!  Now I can’t wait to see what she creates next. 🙂

Machine Quilting Tips and Tricks Series Starts Soon!

Since I know many of you can’t be with me in class in person this year, I thought I’d do the next best thing and try to share more of my my best quilting tips and tricks online. Over the next several weeks I’ll be blogging about many of my behind the scenes secrets for successful machine quilting. Most of these are ideas are also in my machine quilting books so you can grab a copy of each and follow along!

Machine Quilting Books by Christa Watson

My number one goal in teaching machine quilting is to help you understand how fun and carefree it all can be. Fortunately I WILL be doing some more online teaching soon, and my online Craftsy videos should be available soon on their revamped website, so stay tuned for that.

In addition, I’ve been creating and sharing more tutorials over on my YouTube channel, too.

Christa Quilts

So whether you are a newbie beginner, or seasoned pro – let me help you discover the joys of quilting your own quilts!! The series kicks off here on the blog starting next week so be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a thing!

Modern Logs QAL Part 3 – Sewing the Quilt Top

Did you have fun sewing your Modern Logs improv blocks from last week? If you are still working on your blocks, that’s totally ok! Take as much time as you need to make this quilt; these helpful hints will stay here on my blog indefinitely and you can scroll to the end of the post for links to all of the previous QAL posts.

Modern Logs Quilt Top

Click here to get the pattern, fabric, or optional kit to make Modern Logs (while supplies last).

This week we are working on sewing the blocks together to complete the quilt top. In my image above, you can see how some light fabrics touch and some dark fabrics touch and that’s totally ok!! You won’t have an even number of blocks that end on a light or dark fabric and the more random it looks, the better! Just remember, you can rotate the blocks and lay them out however you like.

Sew the rows

Due to the offset nature of the design, the blocks will be joined together into vertical rows rather than horizontal rows. Notice that every row has a partial block added to it either on the top or the bottom of the row. Be sure to turn it the right way when sewing the blocks together.

Modern Logs Crib Size layout

I made 20 blocks for the crib size layout shown above. Then I decided I wanted to make the bigger throw size. That’s the beauty about this design – you can always make more blocks at any time!

I spent a lot of time arranging the blocks on my design wall until I was happy with their placement. Take a picture with your camera phone to help you stay organized.

Modern Logs Quilt in Progress

This quilt goes together super fast fast and easy because you don’t have to pin the individual blocks. As long as they are the same size everything will fit together nicely because there are no seams to match in each row!!

Just remember to use accurate 1/4 seams allowances, lower your stitch length, and press seams open to keep everything nice and flat:

Sewing in progress

When joining the rows, be sure to sew them in opposite directions so that everything stays nice and flat. Refer to the Modern Logs quilt pattern on pages 8-9 for size layout and quilt top assembly diagrams.

Modern Logs by Christa Watson

It’s a lot easier to handle the bulk of the quilt if you press your blocks after each pair sewn. Then press each of the finished rows, then pairs of rows etc. In general I like to press my work after each seem is sewn as part of the process.

Once the entire quilt top is finished, take a “victory lap!” Sew around the edges of the quilt to keep them from stretching out of shape and to secure the edge seams from splitting open.

Modern Logs by Christa Watson

Before you know it you’ll have a finished quilt top!! Next week we will prep the backing. You can either purchase all new fabric, or use up the leftovers with some yardage chunks depending on the size you are making. The choice is up to you but it’s easier (and more fun) than you think!

HELPFUL LINKS

Modern Logs Partial Blocks

Virtual Classes for October’s PIQF

I’m really excited to be teaching three classes for Pacific International Quilt Festival Online, coming up Oct. 14 to 17. Registration is open and I’d love to have you join me!

Here are brief descriptions. You’ll find more complete information at the links below.

1. Free Motion Improv, Thursday evening 10/15, 4–7 PST

Example of my Free Motion Improv

Liberate yourself from traditional quilting symmetry by mashing up your favorite motifs in a seemingly random way. Combine basic shapes with transitional designs and free-motion fillers to add amazing texture to the negative spaces in your quilts, or create your own unique work of improvisational art. Note: Students should be comfortable with basic free-motion quilting.

Cost: $80, includes $25 kit fee, kit includes your choice of one of my machine quilting books.

Click here for Christa Watson: Free Motion Improv, Price Includes $25 Class Kit (Half Day WS, Thurs, 10/15/20, 4-PST)

2. Free Motion Quilting Designs with Lines, Friday afternoon 10/16, 12–3 PST

Example of my Free Motion Quilting Designs with Lines

Embrace the “hand-sketched” look when you learn to quilt modern geometric fillers that require little to no marking of the quilt. Go beyond the straight line when you learn how to create irregular linear motifs that look great on both traditional and contemporary quilts. Note: Students should be comfortable with basic free-motion quilting.

Cost: $80, includes $25 kit fee, kit includes your choice of one of my machine quilting books.

Click here for Christa Watson: Free Motion Quilting Designs with Lines, Price Includes $25 Class Kit (Half Day WS, Fri, 10/16/20, 12-3pm PST)

Machine Quilting Books by Christa Watson
The kits for these classes include your choice of one of my books.

3. Improv Piecing: Modern Logs, Saturday 10/17, 9–3 PST

Modern Logs is made with improvisational piecing: easy and fun!

Put a modern spin on a classic block while you learn to create improvisationally pieced Log Cabin blocks. Choose two sets of fabrics that have good contrast, such as lights and darks. You’ll need 10 fat quarters of assorted lights and 10 fat quarters of assorted darks to make the 48″ x 54″ quilt. Pattern is included in the kit fee, and the pattern includes additional sizes. Suitable for all skill levels.

Click here for Christa Watson: Improv Piecing: Modern Logs, Price Includes $12 Class Kit (Full Day WS, Sat, 10/17/20, 9am-3pm PST)

Make plans to join me for virtual classes during PIQF Oct. 14 to 17. I’d love to “meet” you!

Modern Logs Quilt Top
Modern Logs made in my Good Vibes fabrics for Benartex. Available on my website, shop.christaquilts.com

Click here to shop for Good Vibes fabrics to make your own Modern Logs quilt!

Good Vibes Fat Quarters
Good Vibes by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here to buy the Modern Logs paper pattern (not necessary if you’ll be in the class, because the pattern is included in the class fee).

Click here to buy the Modern Logs pattern instantly as a downloadable pdf.

Modern Logs by Christa Watson for Christa Quilts

Maybe you’d like to see a bit of how I machine quilt on my home sewing machine?

Check out this short video on my YouTube channel. It’s not exactly the same thing I’ll be teaching in the classes, but you’ll get an idea of my style!

I can’t wait to meet you and create some amazing things together!

Modern Logs QAL Part 2 – Sewing the Blocks

Now it’s time to take our wonky strips and sew them together into improv Log cabin blocks!
Follow along with the Modern Logs quilt pattern on pages 4-7.

Thinking ahead: you can sew scraps together if you need more length for each of the logs. You can also use either side of the fabric to give your blocks more interest and sparkle. The key is that these blocks are wonky and improv so no two blocks will be exactly the same!

The block below is what I call “super improv”.  It has a couple places where I’ve added extra fabric to make the units large enough. I’ve also used both front and back of the low volume Good Vibes fabric.

Video Demo & Chat

As you sew it’s okay to have extra seams or bonus pops of color. Because the improv nature makes it hard to say EXACTLY how much fabric you’ll need, it’s ok to add filler pieces or sew shorter pieces together to get a loner piece. It all just adds to the charm! Notice that I used the same fabric for each round of blocks and all of the front or back, but you can even change that up too.

So now, let’s get to it! I share and indepth chat about making these blocks which you can click play below or watch over on my YouTube channel.

Follow the Modern Logs quilt pattern to sew as many rounds of logs as you need to get them to be slightly larger than the correct unfinished size. I recommend just making a few blocks at a time until you get the hang of it.

Bonus sewing tips:

When you are sewing the logs don’t overthink it! As long as the pattern goes light-dark-light or dark-light-dark it will look good, no matter which colors are in each block. Sew with shorter stitch length and press seams open for nice, flat blocks.

Match up a different light with a different dark for each block you are making for a scrappier look. Try to use different fabrics in each block

Remember to trim your edges even right before you sew it each time. That keeps the edges straight and keeps the chaos under control!

Unlike regular log cabins, you don’t have to sew the blocks in the same order or add strips to the same side of each block. Just remember, the more variety the better. It looks more interesting when the seams aren’t all in the same spot.

Show me your blocks!!

Modern Logs Blocks

Homework: Finish Sewing all of the Full Blocks and Partial Blocks

Make as many as you need according to the size you are making in the quilt pattern. Just remember: if your leftover strip pieces aren’t long enough to finish a round of logs, either save it for a shorter piece on another block, or sew part of another strip to make it long enough. Or fill in the extra with a leftover scrap from another strip.

Modern Logs Partial Blocks

Save YOur Leftover Strips!

For those of you who want to use up the leftovers on the back, set aside your leftover strips, hunks and chunks. We will put them to good use soon!

HELPFUL LINKS

Modern Logs Quilt Detail

Facebook Live Chats are Back: Tuesdays at 3 PM PST

To go along with the Modern Logs Quilt Along that just recently started, I’m hosting a weekly Facebook Live chat for the duration of the Quilt Along. This will allow me to share some bonus tips and tricks along with a chance for you to ask any questions you have while making this quilt!

Click here to get the Good Vibes fat quarters above

Bonus Tips and Tricks on YouTube

In case you missed it, I posted the first Modern Logs Q&A over on my YouTube channel. You can enjoy last week’s chat by clicking the play button below. Then join me live in my Facebook group for the next chat!

 

I’ve found that many people have questions around improvisational piecing and of course the whole quilting process. I’m excited to answer your questions about this quilt during the entire process, and I think you’ll feel confident about your skills by the end of the QAL! 

Click here to get the Modern Logs Quilt Pattern – paper version
Click here to get the Modern Logs Quilt Pattern – PDF version

Although the quilt along has just begun,  it’s not too late to follow along. Feel free to work at your own pace and access all steps of the quilt along indefinitely.

Modern Logs by Christa Watson

Click here to get the optional Modern Logs Kit

One of the things people like best about my FREE quilt alongs is the help I offer on machine quilting so that you can finish the quilt yourself.

It is the best feeling to make a quilt from the first stitch to the last! I really enjoy sharing the things I’ve learned about quilting on a home sewing machine so that you can be successful at it, too.

 If you already have questions for me, please leave them here in the comments and I’ll answer them live on the air tomorrow, September 8 at 3 pm Pacific/6 Eastern in the Christa Quilts Group on FB. I can hardly wait!

Abstract Garden and Fandangle Fabrics Price Drop – Save $1 per yard!!

It’s a new month, so let’s have a fabric sale!! As our minds turn toward cooler temps and we start thinking about new snuggly projects to sew, I want to make that easier for you! So I’ve reduced the price on all of my Abstract Garden fabrics by the yard, while supplies last. Stock up on these bright, cheerful fabrics for borders, backings and more. And the best part is – there’s no coupon required!

Abstract Garden by Christa Watson for Benartex

How great would these fabrics look as the backing for your Modern Logs quilt?
Get Abstract Garden on sale here for just $9.95 by the yard!!

US Flat Rate Shipping is just $5 per order!

Here’s another deal that’s automatically applied to your order – just pay $5 shipping to the US, no matter how much you buy. International orders are also discounted by $5 and any excess shipping charges will be promptly refunded.

So stock up now on Fandangle fabrics, my other collection that’s currently on sale for less than $10 bucks a yard and be sure to keep in touch to let me know what you are making!!

Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here to get Fandangle fabric by the yard for just $9.95 each!

Don’t forget the Thread and Patterns!

Why you are shopping, be sure to check out my entire sale section for great prices on my books, my Aurifil thread collections, and a few of my patterns on sale. My hope is to inspire you with lots of fun projects to make without breaking the bank!

Aurifil Thread by Christa Watson

Click here to shop my entire sale section – no coupon required!

Modern Logs QAL Part 1: Cutting the Fat Quarters

Let’s dive in and cut out our Modern Logs fat quarters, shall we? I’m using Good Vibes fat quarters, but you can use anything with good contrast between light and dark. In case you missed it, click here for last week’s post on prepping your fabric and choosing colors.

Good Vibes Fat Quarters

Click here to grab Good Vibes fat quarters from my online shop.

Follow along in the Modern Logs quilt pattern on page 3 for the numbers and sizes of wonky strips to cut.

Fat Quarter Cutting Tips

Layer fabrics to cut them out faster! If you are cutting 4 layers at a time, cut each stack differently so no more than 4 strips are the same. Then when you are ready to sew, remember that each strip has a top and bottom, front and back so you’ll have more variety of angles and color intensity when you sew.

Next week when we start to sew the blocks we are doing what I call  “structured improv.” This means you want your strips to have straight edges, even though the angles themselves are wonky. Cut the wonky strips using a rotary cutter and ruler. This allows the blocks to lie flat when sewn, even if all the pieces are different shapes and sizes.

You can see above why it’s easiest to work with fat quarters and a long ruler for straight clean cuts.

After cutting, stack the same fabrics together.  Im going to use the front and back of the lights in this quilt to create more depth and sparkle. The number of strips you get per fat quarter will vary. You can cut a few strips to start, or go crazy and cut up the entire piece.

Don’t forget to cut the block centers. Each side will be straight but these may be more square in shape or more rectangular. The choice is up to you!

Once my strips and centers are all cut and sorted into lights and darks, I like to stack them up next to my machine so they are ready to sew. Warning: this will get a little messy as you sew! So give yourself plenty of room to spread out and work.

Do you see the Charming Chevrons quilt in progress on my design wall??
It’s made from Good Vibes precut squares.

Thinking ahead: it’s ok to cut some of your wider strips in half along the length if you need more pieces to go around the logs. Now it’s your turn – show me your wonky strips!! Share pics of your progress and feel free to ask questions in my ChristaQuilts Facebook Group.

HELPFUL LINKS

Good Vibes Quilts in the Wild – Quilts Made from by My Friends

It’s been exciting to see Good Vibes turning up in other people’s projects! One of the best parts of fabric design is discovering what others make with my prints from Benartex. I’m happy to feature several of those projects today.

Propeller by Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting

Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting  used the Slippin’ Slide print in all four colors for her propellers, nicely accented by the Gumballs prints in the corners. I like the secondary design formed by the Gumballs at the center—it’s another propeller!

Sherry took full advantage of the low-volume prints in Good Vibes and I could not love her background fabrics more. What a great soft look she achieved by using Circuit Board, Good Vibrations and Interconnected.

Click here to get Sherry’s Propeller pattern.

Groovy Chutes by Charisma Horton

Charisma Horton took full advantage of the Gumballs’ medium scale and graphic quality when she made her 80″ x 90″ Groovy Chutes quilt. This modern design shows off the saturated colors of Good Vibes beautifully! And didn’t she find the perfect spot for photography?

Click here to get Charisma’s Groovy Chutes pattern.

Dropping In by Sarah Vanderburgh of Sew Joy Creations

Dropping In by Sew Joy Creations

Sarah Vandenburgh of Sew Joy Creations designed this delightful quilt called Dropping In and ask if I’d offer kits for it. Of course I said yes and she’s also currently offering a quilt along for it.

Quilt Along in Progress!

Below is Sarah’s dropping in quilt in progress. Click here to join the quilt along fun!!

These are just a few of the fun projects I’ve seen online but I’m always on the lookout for more! If you make something with my fabrics, please let me know! You can use #goodvibesfabric on social media, or post pics in my ChristaQuilts Group on Facebook. I love to see them all!

Click here to shop my Good Vibes fabrics, bundles, precuts and kits.

Good Vibes by Christa Watson for Benartex