Color Weave Quilt Along Week 7 – Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

How is your quilt coming along? Remember, you can work at your own pace, so please don’t every feel like you have to “catch up!” Last week I discussed making a quilting plan and stitching in the ditch to anchor your quilt. This week we will complete the Random Crosshatch quilting.

Random Crosshatch Quilting

Here’s what it looks like after I’ve stitched in the ditch in both directions and am filling in randomly spaced lines vertically. My Aurifil variegated thread adds lots of texture and I’m not stressing out too much about whether the stitches are perfectly straight or all the same length. It’s more about enjoying the process!

Machine Quilting Random CrosshatchClick here to purchase yardage of the pink “Tracks” fabric from Abstract Garden.
I used the selvage as my label for this quilt!!

Because I quilted so densely, I started with 2 full spools of thread from my Auifil Variegated thread collection – one for the front and one for the backing in variegated colors that blend in with the quilt. Although I used up most of the spool, there’s still enough left that I can use for piecing my next quilt.

Machine Quilting Random crosshatch

I like to avoid marking my quilt as much as possible, so I’m using my  “divide and conquer” process which means I don’t quilt ALL of the lines in one area. Instead, I make several passes across the quilt in both directions, adding more and more lines until I’m happy with the way it looks.

Below are several videos I took of the random crosshatch quilting in progress where I’m adding additional lines of quilting. During an earlier pass across the quilt, I stitched about 1/4″ away from the ditch on both sides of the yellow fabric below. Now I’m using the previously stitched lines as a guide for no-mark quilting. I randomly changed my needle position so that the lines end up various distances apart as I go.

Doing this type of “irregular” quilting is much easier to do and gives a more interesting texture to the quilt. Next, this is what it looks like after I’ve added more passes across the quilt in both directions:

The pieced  texture is emphasized with the random spacing, and the variegated thread makes the whole quilt more exciting! It’s a really fun and forgiving machine quilting design to do. I recommend doing it over several days rather than trying to cram it all into quilting session. Here’s more eye candy quilting in progress:

And finally, here are some more detail shots of the finished quilting:

Quilting Random crosshatch

I love how the variegated thread adds a pop of color and dimension to the quilt!

Quilting Random Crosshatch

If you are ever unsure about your design – just add more quilting!!

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

Can you believe this quilt is nearly finished?! Next week, we’ll complete the quilt with fast and easy machine quilting – I can’t wait!

IMPORTANT LINKS

Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – paper version
Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – digital download
Click here to purchase the Abstract Garden strip roll
Click here to get my Aurifil thread collections
Click here for links to the previous quilt along posts
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook group

Christa’s Soapbox: Thoughts About Being a QuiltCon Juror 2019

QuiltCon – the modern quilting show and conference hosted by The Modern Quilt Guild – has recently opened quilt submissions for their 2020 show, so I thought now would be an appropriate time to share about what it was like to be on the jury for this year’s show.

I’ve attended every event since the first one in 2013, have been lucky enough to have at least one quilt in every show, and have taught there 3 times so far (2016, 2017, 2019). In fact, I credit QuiltCon and The MQG with changing the course of my quilting career – for the better! So it was quite an honor and great responsibility when they invited me to be on the jury for the 2019 show, which took place in Nashville in February.

Cute QuiltCon Ribbons

QuiltCon award ribbons from the very first show in 2013

Now as you can imagine, I’m taking a bit of a risk here in even talking about this publicly since I know what a heartbreak it can be when your quilt doesn’t get in. Trust me, I’ve read enough “what were they thinking??” comments on social media to make my stomach turn. And I really do wish I could reach out and give every single person a huge hug for entering your gorgeous, wonderful, fabulous quilts!! It was truly a pleasure to see all 1800+ of them!!

Therefore, I thought it would be helpful and educational to talk about the experience in an open and honest way, with my hope for you to understand more about the process. I’ll be as transparent about it as I can, and would ask you the courtesy of being polite in your comments about this post.

My Quilt, “Charming Chevrons” hung in the very first QuiltCon in 2013!!

What’s a Juried Quilt Show?

First of all, let’s start with the basics. A “juried” show means that in order to display your quilt in the show, you must fill out an artist statement and include a high quality digital image of your finished quilt. A  panel of “jurors” (usually 4-5 people) look at each and every submitted quilt and then vote on which ones they believe should be a part of the show. The number one reason why a show is “juried” is simply because of supply and demand. There are only so many spots to hang quilts, and the number of entries far out weighs the number of spots available.

For example, each year QuiltCon receives approximately 1500-1800 entries and only has room for about 350 quilts. So that means 3 out of 4 quilts simply will not hang in the show due to space constraints. By comparison, a large national show (such as Road to California, Paducah, AQS, etc.) will likely have space to display 600-700 quilts or more, and my guess is that they don’t get anywhere near as many quilt entires. In fact, a friend recently told me that the upcoming International Quilt festival in Houston was able to accept about 75% of the quilts submitted this year. So please keep that in mind as I share more thoughts below.

To be clear, the JURY process and the JUDGING process are done by completely different people. The jury decides which quilts will hang in the show for the  judges to see.

Spiraling out of Control

My quilt, “Spiraling out of Control” hung at QuiltCon in 2015. Some day I’ll make a pattern!!

The QuiltCon Jury Process

Most of what I’m sharing here has been shared publicly so I’m not spilling any well-kept secrets. It’s up to an individual juror to decide whether or not they want to let others know they were part of the jury (after the show has ended of course). For obvious reasons, most people tend to stay silent about it.

Click here to read QuiltCon’s published judging and jurying documents.

In a nutshell, each juror takes a look at each and every single quilt that has been entered and gives it a numerical ranking. No juror knows how any other juror is voting and the final number is based on an average of all scores by all jurors. The juror gets to see two images of the quilt – an overall shot and a detail image. They can also read the artists’ statements if they so choose, but the juror does NOT see the names of who submitted each quilt. In this way, jurying is “blind” and fair.

The quilts that get the highest ranking are then accepted into the show, up until the maximum number of entries.  When there is a tie – usually for the mid-range of scores above the cutoff – the jury meets to discuss those quilts in more detail and decide which ones will be accepted until the total has been met. The MAJORITY of quilts fall into this category. So if yours didn’t make it in, I’m sure it barely missed the cutoff! (So try, try again!!)

The only category that was not juried was the youth category (quilts made by members under the age of 18). According to The MQG FAQ, “in order to encourage the next generation of quilters, in this category at least one quilt is accepted per quilter, should space permit it.” So if you know a child that wants to get involved with the show, I highly recommend encouraging them to enter!

My quilt, “Focal Point” from my first book hung at QuiltCon in 2016.

The Jury Takes Their Job Very Seriously

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard false rumors that the jury has an “agenda” on which type of modern quilt will be accepted (or not). That’s simply not true. I can tell you from my experience that the jury is a well-rounded group of folks with diverse backgrounds, quilting experience, and areas of artistic expertise. However, one thing the jury all has in common is that they make modern quilts and understand the modern aesthetic.

I can only speak to my experience doing this one time, but I can assure you that we were not instructed to favor any type of quilt over any other, we were not told to create a certain look for the show (other than modern) and we were expected to look at the quilts objectively without bias or favoritism. If we felt we couldn’t judge a quilt fairly on its own merits, then we could recuse ourselves from judging that quilt. There was no absolutely no drama when it came to any discussions and the whole experience was completely professional.

The jury IS allowed to enter a quilt into the show, (as are the judges) but they are NOT allowed to be judged- AND the jurying is still blind. So none of the jury knew if they were voting on other members quilts! For full disclosure, I did get ONE quilt juried into this year’s show – my Blooming Wallflowers quilt – but I had entered two more that didn’t get accepted. So yes, I got those “reject” letters, too!!

Diamond in the Rough Quiltcon 2017

My quilt “Diamond in the Rough” hung in QuiltCon 2017 and was in QuiltCon magazine that year.
It will be part of the Aurifil exhibit at this year’s International Quilt Festival in Houston.

Why Quilt Photography Can Make or Break Your Quilt

Unfortunately, there were a number of quilts that weren’t accepted simply due to poor photography. If we can’t tell if it’s finished or not, if we can’t see the quilting, if we can’t see the edges or the binding, it most likely won’t get in. If there are people in the quilt photo blocking the quilt, we can’t see what you are trying to show.

Also, some people try to get a “leg up” on the competition by creating a collage of more than one photo in the same image which usually works to their detriment. If we can’t tell what we are looking at, it most likely goes in the “not accepted” pile. We don’t need to see the back of the quilt unless that’s the side you are entering. Just show the front on a clear flat surface, with nothing distracting in the picture. And don’t “style” the shot. We just want to see the quilt, not a beautiful background or distracting props.

Also, it breaks my heart to see a quilt entry with poor lighting or fuzzy focus. There have been times where I’ve seen a gorgeous quilt photo later on social media (after the entries have been finalized) and I thought, why didn’t they use THAT image for their entry instead of the fuzzy one?? So again: good, clear, well-lit, uncluttered photography is a MUST.

Color Weave Quilt

The original version of Color Weave hung at QuiltCon in 2018.
it was in Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine which is now sadly out of print!! 

My Personal Thoughts

The biggest take away from my experience on the jury is that it was extremely fair. For me, it was a very touching and heart-warming experience to look at each and every one of the quilts and read ALL of the artists’ statements. Some brought me to tears, others made me my heart sing with joy, and many made me think deeply about their work.

With over 1800 quilts to look at, I didn’t keep track of the hours and hours and HOURS I spent viewing all of the amazing, wonderful quilts. But It was the most uplifting quilting experience I’ve ever had – and if there were enough room, I would have accepted them all. I truly felt it an honor to interact with these quilts in such an intimate way.

One of the coolest things I heard this year was that so many quilters who were rejected previously were able to get something in this year. So you never know until you try. And I’ve seen many quilters who didn’t make it into QuiltCon go on to enter (and win) in other shows.

So I welcome your thoughtful questions and kind comments about the process. Of course I can’t speak to any individual quilts in the show as to why they were or were not accepted. And due to the sheer numbers of of quilts involved, there’s no feasible way to share individual juror feedback on any of the quilts. But what I can do is encourage you to enter future quilt shows.

Blooming Wallflowers by Christa Watson QuiltCon 2019

My one and only quilt that was juried into QuiltCon 2019 – Blooming Wallflowers.

It was so wonderful for my fellow jurors and I to be entrusted with your quilts. We all volunteered our time because we are just as passionate about quilts as you are. So please, if you entered a quilt and it didn’t get in, don’t think badly of the process, of THE MQG, or of your quilt. I can tell you personally that I saw your quilt and LOVED it – and would encourage you to keep making quilts, and PLEASE keep sharing them with the world!

I’m happy to continue this discussion in the comments as long as everyone plays nice. 🙂

Etsy Summer Sale: Buy 3 PDF Patterns – Get 1 Free!

I’ve been selling PDF/digital patterns on Etsy for a few months now and have been very pleased with the results so far. Now it’s time for me to test out the coupon/sale functionality. So for one week only (through 7/22)  I’m offering a super summer sale: buy any 3 PDF patterns and automatically get one free. It applies to all 18 of my patterns in my Etsy shop, with no coupon required!

Christa Quilts Patterns

 Click here to buy 3 get 1 free on all PDF patterns!

The fine print: This applies to instant downloads only purchased through my Etsy shop, not paper patterns purchased on other sites. So stock up on your faves, now!

Color Weave Quilt Along Week 6 – Stitching in the Ditch

Now we’ve reached my favorite part of the quilt-making process – machine quilting!! Quitling will be broken up into 2 parts so that it won’t feel so overwhelming. The quilting design I’ve chosen – random crosshatch, is actually very easy to do, but it can be a bit time-consuming if you like your quilting to be as dense as mine.

Random Crosshatch quilt plan

My favorite designs to quilt are those than can go all the way across the quilt without starting and stopping. That way I don’t have to worry about tying off and burying my threads. The random crosshatch above is basically a series of straight lines quilted across the quilt in both directions with a walking foot. You start and end each line of quilting in the batting, and that will get all trimmed up later once you add the binding.

Thread Choices

I also don’t want to stress too much over thread color. I prefer to use 1-2 colors for the whole quilt, if possible. My thread of choice is Aurifil 50 weight cotton because it comes in any color I need. It’s thin but strong and blends into the quilts I make rather than being the star of the show.

Because this quilt has so much color in it, I chose to use threads from my new Variegated Thread Collection. I used #4650 Leaves for the top of the quilt. Although it will show up on the gray sections, by the time I add lots of texture, it won’t be that noticeable.

Aurifil variegated thread

I like to “audition” my thread choices before I begin quilting.

For the bobbin, I used #3852 Liberty since it reads more pink. For 95% of my quilts, I use the same thread in top and bottom. But every now and then I’ll use two different colors when it makes sense.

The thread will still be visible on both sides, but with so many different colors (in the fabric and thread), these were the best choice. I made a practice piece with leftover scrap fabrics and tested both threads to make sure I’d be happy with the results before I started quilting my quilt.

Aurifil Variegated Thread

 #3852 Liberty and 4650 Leaves can both be found in my Variegated Thread Collection from Aurifil.

Machine Quilting – Stitch in the Ditch

To break the quilting into easier, doable steps, this week we’ll focus on just stitching in the ditch in both directions. This will secure the quilt for further quilting later, and will also evenly distribute the bulk of the quilting across the quilt. You can also decide at any point how lightly or densely you’d like to quilt the rest of the lines.

Here’s a short video clip showing how I deal with the quilt as I stitch in the ditch. I’m using my BERNINA dual feed foot which works the same way as a regular walking foot. I have an open toe so I can see what I’m doing and I reposition the quilt a lot so that my quilting lines are smooth the entire time. Also, pressing my seams open makes it sooo much easier to stay in the ditch!!

Notice in the video below that when I quilt an area without seams, I just eyeball the straight-line I’m stitching. Because it’s never more than 2″ that I have to eyeball, it works pretty well.

First, I started quilting from the right side of the quilt towards the middle. I quilted in the ditch every 2″ since that’s the finished size of my strips. I quilted all of the vertical seams first, then rotated the quilt and quilted all of the horizontal seems to create a quilted grid.

It’s easier to work from the side of the quilt towards the middle, because that’s less bulk to deal with at the beginning. By the time it gets too bulky, you’ll be halfway across the quilt and you can rotate the quilt, continuing from the center to the other side.

Here’s another video of me quilting from a wider angle. I really just scrunch and smoosh the quilt however I can, re-shifting whenever necessary.

Once I “anchor” or stabilize the quilt with ditching in both directions, I go back in and quilt randomly spaced lines, using the edge of my foot as a guideline for spacing. That will be our goal for next week, so I’ll see ya then!

IMPORTANT LINKS

Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – paper version
Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – digital download
Click here to purchase the Abstract Garden strip roll
Click here to get my Aurifil thread collections
Click here for links to the previous quilt along posts
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook group

How to Make a Quilting Plan for Your Quilt

Since we are getting ready to quilt our quilts for the Color Weave Quilt Along, I thought it would be helpful to discuss how I make a quilting plan, using examples of some of my previous quilts. Then it will make more sense when I write about machine quilting for the next installment of Color Weave. For those of you NOT doing the quilt along, this info is still helpful for any quilt you make!

Machine Quilting Color Weave

Machine quilting my Color Weave quilt.

I’ve had fun sharing my methods in three machine quilting books I’ve written along with my online classes through Bluprint (formerly Craftsy). Each of these resources includes not only step-by-step patterns for piecing a quilt; each pattern also includes a complete quilting plan with instructions on how to finish your quilt!

Christa Quilts Machine Quilting Books

Today I’ll share a several quilting plans and explain how I break down the quilting process. Then hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate some of my methods into your own work.  But first, before we even get to that part, you’ll need to get your quilt ready for quilting. Be sure to check out my earlier post from this week about preparing the backing and basting – which works for any quilt!

Hobbs Batting Cotton/Wool

Click here for my pieced backing and spray basting tutorial.

When I’m making a plan, the first question I always ask is, what’s the purpose of the quilt and how much time do I have to finish? For example, If it’s for a baby shower coming up this weekend, I’ll stick with fast and simple quilting, like an allover design. Here’s a simple block quilting plan showcasing one of my go-to modern quilting motifs: boxes. The plan is more of a guideline of how to work my way around the quilt rather than an exact replica of the stitching I’ll do.

Allover Free-Motion Quilting Plan

First, I will draw the design on paper to get a feel for how it will flow across the quilt. Then I’ll quilt it out on a practice block, or even a scrap of fabric and batting to check thread color and tension. Finally, I’ll apply the design to the actual quilt.

To quilt an allover quilting design, pick a favorite free-motion motif and quilt the design randomly from edge to edge, regardless of the pieced design. It’s fast, fun and easy to do, and by the time you reach the end, you’ll be an expert at that design! I quilted the free-motion design shown above, on my quilt “Stepping Stones“, below:

Stepping Stones by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Stepping Stones quilt patten for just $6.95 while supplies last.

To make a plan for an allover design, I always start quilting on the right side of my quilt and work my way towards the middle. When the quilt gets too bulky, I rotate it 180 degrees and then finishing quilting from the middle to the other edge of the quilt. It’s much, much easier to start quilting when there’s no bulk under the machine, and you work your way across the quilt a few inches at a time.

By the time you’ve reached the bulkiest part in the center, it’s time to rotate the quilt, and then it gets less bulky again as you work your way across the other way. As long as you’ve done a good job basting your quilt, there’s no need to start in the center and stress yourself out with all of that bulk to begin with!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Here’s what the quilting looks like on the actual finished quilt. Remember, I didn’t try to replicate the design exactly, I just meandered my way across the quilt in an organized manner, block by block. Like everything I design, my Stepping Stones quilt pattern includes instructions for both piecing AND quilting.

Allover Walking Foot Quilting Plan

You can also use the edge-to-edge quilting process with walking foot quilting, by using a process  I call “divide and conquer” – or breaking down the quilting design into smaller manageable chunks. I still start on the right-hand side of the quilt work my way across towards the center, rotate, and then continue from the center to the other side. In this example, I’m planning to quilt a wavy line design “near” the ditch rather than “in” the ditch because wavy lines are much faster AND easier to quilt than straight ones!

I’ll quilt my wavy lines in one direction for all of the vertical seam intersections, and the spacing will depend on how wide the blocks are. This first pass across the quilt is called “anchor” quilting and will secure the quilt for additional quilting later on. It also distributes the density of quilting evenly across the quilt.

First, I sketch out my plan on an image of the pieced quilt design. You can print off a digital image of the quilt if it’s something you designed in Electric Quilt (or other design software). You could also make a photocopy of a sketch or pattern cover and blow it up big enough for you to draw on. You could even take a picture of of the finished quilt top and then print it out in black and white on a regular size piece of paper, too.

Once I’ve quilted the first pass across the quilt, I’ll quilt  more wavy lines in between until I’m happy with the final line spacing. When planning a quilt, I won’t necessarily draw in all of the lines, but I’ll sketch enough of them to remind myself of what I’m doing. You can follow the exact same plan above using straight lines, wavy lines, or even decorative stitches on your sewing machine.

Here’s me putting the quilting plan into practice, “scrunching and smooshing” the quilt under the machine as I go. Look closely near the bottom of the image to see how I’m filling in lines of quilting between each of the “anchor” lines.

The quilt shown is called “Modern Puzzle” showcasing jelly rolls of my fabric, but of course it would look fabulous in any fabrics. It’s the perfect pattern to practice your “divide-and-conquer skills!” The best thing about quilting several passes across the quilt is that you can decide to stop at any time, once you are happy with the spacing of your quilted lines.

Custom Quilting Plan

Now, If I want to spend more time quilting a special quilt, I’ll do custom quilting, combining both walking foot quilting and free motion motifs. To divide and conquer the process, I’ll break the quilt down visually into these elements: the ditch, the blocks, and the background. Then I’ll quilt something different in each section.

Here’s an example quilting plan for my free quilt pattern “Beaded Lanterns” – made from one strip roll of my Fandangle fabric line.

Step 1 – Stitch in the ditch between each row of blocks. Here, I’m treating each row of blocks as one unit so I’m basically outlining the shape of the blocks while stitching the vertical ditches. However, I’m NOT stitching the horizontal ditches so that I don’t have to stop and start as much.

Optional: Echo the ditch to further separate the elements of the quilt. This is also called outline quilting or channel quilting and will help provide more contrast between the blocks and the background, separating the quilting designs so they’ll stand out more.

Step 2 – Free-motion quilt “something” in the background. By this, I mean pick ANY free-motion motif you like and quilt it in all the background areas. I happen to really like quilting pebbles in defined areas so I use them a lot. Remember, this isn’t an exact replica of what each stitch motif will look like. It’s just a roadmap that will tell me which design goes where.

Step 3 – Free-motion quilt a different design in all of the blocks. The fun part is figuring out different combinations of designs you like, and there’s no right or wrong answer! Because my background had dense curved pebbles, I chose something more linear and slightly less dense in the blocks to create contrast between the two designs. Because the blocks are made from busy prints, the quilting won’t show up as much so it’s a great place to practice a fun design that doesn’t have to be perfect!

Remember, for each pass across the quilt (ditch, echo, background, blocks) I’m working from the right side of the quilt towards the middle, rotating the quilt, and then working from the middle to the other side of the quilt. I only concentrate on one section of the quilt at a time, and reposition my hands whenever I feel like I’m reaching. By breaking down each step of the quilting plan, the whole process seems much less overwhelming.

Simpler Custom Plan

I’ll share one final quilting plan that’s a bit simpler to execute, but still gives a custom look. This is the plan I created and included in my “Positive Direction” quilt pattern. It’s a combination of straight lines and pebbles which emphasize the subtle arrow design made by the color arrangement of the pieced plus blocks.

I quilted all of the straight lines with a walking foot first, and then filled them in with additional straight lines until I was happy with the spacing. Then, in the remaining areas, I filled in the rest with free-motion quilting.

And here’s what the finished quilt looks like below. The quilting adds yummy texture, but doesn’t overwhelm the pieced design. After all, the more quilting you add, the less you see the individual stitches.

Click here to get the Positive Direction quilt patten for just $6.95 while supplies last.

I hope this gets you excited to break down the process, and not be afraid to dive in and quilt your own quilts. If you’d like for me to cheer you on in your machine quilting journey, be sure to join my Quilt Along email list where I’ll share lots of tips and tricks for quilts we can make together! You can also catch me on instagram @christaquilts where I usually show what I’m working on in real time. Happy quilting!

Quilt in Progress: Color Weave Blocks in Fandangle

I’m currently working on a second version of Color Weave using my Fandangle strip roll (2 1/2″ precut strips). This is what the finished layout will look like:

Color Weave Fandangle

I’m loving how it’s looking so far. Here are my finished blocks in color order waiting for quilt top assembly:

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa WatsonColor Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave by Christa Watson

If you are making this quilt along with me, be sure to share your progress on social media with the hashtag #colorweavequilt so I can see what you are doing. You can also share in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group along with many others. Happy sewing!!

Get the Supplies

Color Weave Quilt Along Week 5 – Backing and Basting

One of the secrets to successful machine quilting is basting your quilts properly. So today I will share with you my favorite way to baste a quilt using 505 basting spray and my design wall. You can definitely modify this technique and baste your quilts on a table, but I prefer the design wall because I can get up close to the quilt and make sure it’s nice and flat.

Christa Watson Quilt Studio

Click here for my bonus tutorial – how to build a design wall.
Click here to get the Color Weave pattern shown on the wall.

Pieced Quilt Backing

Before we get to the basting tutorial, let me share how I pieced the backing, from leftover Abstract Garden strips, and 5 yards of Abstract Garden Tracks in pink. (The quilt pattern calls for 5 1/2 yards of backing if it’s all one fabric.)

Abstract Garden Pieced backing

First I put up the finished quilt top on the design wall so I can see how much area to cover. I cut my 5 yards into 2 pieces that are NOT equal because I knew the strips would take up some of the room. One piece was about 94″ and the other piece was about 80″. Then I cut the shorter piece in half to create to rectangles, roughly 40″ x 40″ each. I placed the strips in the center gap between the two pink squares and sewed them together to create a strip set, then joined the two pink pieces on either side.

Abstract Garden Pieced backing

Once the left half of the backing was sewn, I attached it to the long piece, parallel to the selvage to create the finished backing. The important thing is to ensure that the backing is a few inches larger on all four sides for basting.

Abstract Garden Selvage

Because my name was on the selvage, I allowed the selvage to show instead of cutting it off first. And I wrote more info on the white part of the selvage to create a built-in label for the quilt.

WALL BASTING TUTORIAL

Ensure that all 3 layers of your quilt (top, batting, and backing) are nice and flat. The batting and backing should be a few inches larger than the quilt top on all sides.

Give the top and backing a final press and clip any stray threads. Relax the wrinkles in your batting by throwing it in a dryer with a wet towel for a few minutes, unrolling it from the package to “rest” for a few days, or pressing the batting with a hot dry iron. (For delicate batting, use a piece of fabric to cover it while you press.)

Hobbs Batting Cotton/Wool

I’m using Hobbs Cotton/Wool batting and I have a roll of it, so to measure how much I need, I keep the quilt top on the design wall and unroll enough of it so there’s extra around all 4 sides. I cut it with specialty batting shears.

STEP 1 – APPLY ADHESIVE TO BACKING AND QUILT TOP SEPARATELY

Lay a sheet on the ground or a table to protect your quilt and catch any over-spray. Outdoors is best so that the fumes can dissipate, but you can do it inside in a well ventilated room while wearing a dust mask. Be sure to shake the can and spray a few squirts on the sheet to ensure the nozzle is clean and the spray comes out evenly before you start.

Lay out the quilt backing wrong side up and apply a thin coat of 505 spray adhesive evenly across the surface of the quilt. Walk around the quilt backing as needed to reach all areas.

Basting Spray

Repeat the process for the quilt top, using the design of the quilt to help you keep track of which areas you’ve already covered. Don’t worry if the quilt top and backing have some give or are a bit wrinkly from movement. You will smooth it all out later.

Once the backing and quilt top are sprayed, fold them up and bring indoors to assemble the layers on a design wall. It doesn’t matter if you fold them right sides in or out. They will be sticky, but not stuck and you can easily unfold and the layers and peel them apart. You don’t need to baste right away, but I wouldn’t wait more than a few days to prevent the spray from drying out.

STEP 2 – ASSEMBLE THE LAYERS INDOORS

Pin the quilt backing wrong side up to the top of the design wall (mine is made from foam insulation board covered with a white flannel sheet). Let gravity pull the weight of the fabric down.

Wall Basting

Gently un-stick any of the fabric sticking to itself and spend some time smoothing it all out with your hands or a long acrylic ruler. Your hands will get a bit sticky, but the residue easily washes off with soap and water. Spend as much time as you need to straighten the backing so that it’s nice and smooth and flat on the design wall.

Basting Smooth Back

Repeat the process above with the batting. It can take awhile to smooth out all of the lumps and bumps so give yourself time and don’t rush the process.

Quilt Batting for Basting

Notice that I didn’t cut my batting perfectly straight on one edge and that’s okay. As long as the batting is larger than the quilt top, it’s easy to trim off any excess.

Wall basting - batting

Add the quilt top right side up in the same manner as the backing and batting. Pin generously and let gravity pull on the weight of the quilt top to get it to hang straight. This is why it’s so important for the batting and backing to be larger than the quilt top. Then you don’t have to make sure it’s lined up perfectly in the middle – you’ll have a bit of “wiggle room” to maneuver.

Adding the quilt top for basting

Spend a lot of time smoothing out the top layer once it’s on the wall. Use the acrylic ruler to help you work out any bubbles and ensure that the seam lines are nice and straight. Once your basted quilt is flat, smooth and straight, machine quilting it will be a breeze!

Adding the quilt top for basting

After the layers are nice and smooth, I trim off much of the excess batting and batting, leaving only about an inch all the way around. I don’t want a ton of excess around the edges that could flip and get caught under the machine as I quilt. I use the leftover fabric/batting pieces when I’m practicing my machine quilting.

Trim Batting

STEP 3 – IRON THE BASTED QUILT

Here’s where the magic happens! Once the quilt is basted, I take it to the ironing board and press both sides of the quilt. This does two things: (1) it’s a final chance to press out any wrinkles and work out any fullness in the quilt. (2) It sets the glue and ensures that all 3 layers will stay together without shifting, eliminating the need to add any pins. You can still pull apart the layers if needed, but this process will ensure that every inch of the quilt is sticking to every other inch of the quilt.

Iron the basted quilt to set the glue

I use a “big board” which sits on top of my regular ironing board and gives me more room!

If you prefer to use a table, check out my table basting tutorial here, using similar steps.

IMPORTANT LINKS

Click here to get the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – paper version
Click here to get the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – PDF version
Click here to purchase the Abstract Garden Strip Roll
Click here for links to the previous quilt along posts
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook group

Pre-order Geo Pop Fat Quarters and Kits

I’m super excited about my next fabric line which is coming  soon! Geo Pop is a bold, bright, collection of 25 geometric prints in gorgeous rainbow color.

Geo Pop by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here to preorder Geo Pop Fat Quarters

I’m really excited to add black, white, and gray to my mix of modern prints and hope you’ll enjoy working with them as much as I had fun creating them. Best of all, they mix and match with all 3 of my previous collections: Modern MarksFandangle, and Abstract Garden.

I’m also excited to offer several kits shown below:

Bling Quilt Kit: Fat Quarters + Background

This quick and easy quilt calls for one fat quarter bundle + 4 yards of white or black. You can even use the leftovers to make a scrappy binding! Choose your fave background: Op Squares in White or Tiny Hex in Black.

Bling Quilts with Geo Pop

Once the fabric arrives, I’ll share more about the making of both quilts shown above. Think of it as a “mini” quilt along!

Optical Illusion KIT: Made From Only 3 Fabrics

This “trippy” quilt kit creates the optical illusion using only 3 fabrics. The bold geometric prints in Geo Pop add such movement to this design. Scroll the image up and down to see it wiggle!

Optical Illusion Quilt

I’ll share more of my step-by-step process for making Optical Illusion soon, so stay tuned!

Infrastructure Quilt Kit – QAL Coming Soon!

I’m really excited to make this one, and it will be my next full length quilt along coming this fall. Pick up a quilt kit now, and stay tuned for more details!

Infrastructure Quilt

Infrastructure was designed by Heather Black and we are both going to be making two different versions of this quilt – one in prints and one in solids. I can’t wait!

Click here to preorder the Infrastructure quilt kit
Click here to get the Infrastructure quilt pattern – paper version
Click here to get the Infrastructure quilt pattern – PDF version

Geo Pop Fat Quarters – Preorder Now

Geo Pop Fabric

To ensure that you get in on the first printing of this collection, claim your fat quarter bundle now. Based on the reaction I’ve received so far, I think this will be my best-selling collection yet!

Click here to preorder Geo Pop Fat Quarters

I can’t wait until Geo Pop arrives, and I especially can’t wait to see what you all make with it!

Happy Independence Day – Celebrate with a Pattern Sale!

Happy 4th of July! I made my “Positive Direction” quilt several years ago to be a modern patriotic quilt that was suitable for year-round use. Today you can celebrate with me by getting the paper pattern at an incredible price – just $6.95 plus free US shipping. The regular price of my paper patterns is $10.95, but I’ve decided to clear out some of my older designs that were created before I started designing my own fabric. So they will remain on sale until all remaining stock is gone.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern

Click here to my Positive Direction quilt pattern for just $6.95.

Positive Direction Pattern Cover by Christa Quilts

Here’s a quick rundown of the rest of the quilt patterns that are on sale. Stock up on your favorites, because once they’re gone – they’re gone!

Click here to get my Modern Logs quilt pattern for just $6.95

Modern Logs Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Click here to get my String of Peals quilt pattern for just $6.95

String of Pearls Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Click here to get my Stepping Stones quilt pattern for just $6.95

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern in 4 Sizes

Click here to get my Modern X quilt pattern for just $6.95

Modern X Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Click here to get my Charming Chevrons quilt pattern for just $6.95

Charming Chevrons Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

I want you to enjoy making these quilts as much as I do so I’ve made it easy by including full color step-by step diagrams AND machine quilting suggestions in each one. Plus, if you ever have a question about making any of my patterns, I’m happy to help! Just drop me an email anytime to christa@christaquilts.com

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

Machine quilting detail from Positive Direction.

Enjoy your day and I hope you get some time to quilt!!

Color Weave Quilt Along Week 4 – Quilt Top Assembly

How are your Color Weave quilt blocks coming along? Now it’s time to sew them together to complete the quilt top. You’ll want to refer to the quilt top assembly diagram in the quilt pattern often to ensure proper block placement based on color.

Rainbow Weave Blocks

The easiest way to sew this quilt top together if you are doing the Rainbow version is to first sew all of the same colored blocks into long columns (aka vertical rows), and then join the columns together to complete the quilt top. If you are doing a single color for the weave, then you can sew them together into horizontal rows.

Rainbow Weave Block Rows

Notice that there is one of each colored block that has a dark gray strip across the top. This is for the top block of each column so that it appears that the design is “floating” on the dark gray background.

Rainbow Weave Blocks

When joining two blocks together, don’t worry if the print doesn’t like up exactly like in the pair of purple blocks below. Because these are busy prints, you’ll still get the woven effect as long as your seams line up well.

Rainbow Weave Blocks

In the turquoise pair, the join is not as obvious because of the print.

Rainbow Weave Turquoise Blocks

Not all of the prints will have obvious joins, so let the seams fall where they may and the overall design will still look great.

Rainbow Weave Blocks

The easiest way to sew the rows together is to sew them into pairs, then sew the pairs into larger units: 1 set of 3 blocks and 2 sets of 4 blocks. Then sew the sets into each row by color.

Rainbow Weave Blocks

Be sure to use lots of pins to keep your rows straight and organized. In the photo below, the pin at the top is to keep that edge together while I pin the long row along the side. I like to pin perpendicular to the edges, and line up the seams. You can see that I use a lot of pins and this really helps with accuracy.

Pinning rows

I also continue to press EVERY seam. I press all of the long seams open in addition to the individual block seams. The trick is to open the seam ahead of your iron with your fingers and don’t use steam so you won’t get burned.

Here’s a short video showing how I press the seams open:

Because you are sewing long strips together, they have a tendency to bow or warp out of shape. To prevent this from happening, switch sewing directions each time you add a new row.

When you are finished sewing the quilt top, there will be a lot of seams left on the outside of the quilt that have a tendency to split apart due to handling. To prevent this, do what I call a “Victory Lap” around your quilt: stitch the edges with a 1/8″ wide seam all the way around the perimeter of the quilt. This is also known as “top-stitching” or “stay-stitching.”

Color Weave Quilt Top – Abstract Garden

Rainbow Weave Quilt Top by Christa Watson

My finished quilt top made with Abstract Garden strips and Fandangle background.
Click here to get the Abstract Garden Strip-pie.

Color Weave Recolored With Fandangle in EQ8

Color Weave Fandangle

Click here to get a Fandangle Strip-pie.

Just for fun, I recolored the design using Electric Quilt 8 software and my Fandangle fabric line. (plus the black from Geo Pop) I wan’t sure if it would work, but I absolutely love how it turned out! The key was figuring out the order of the colors so I’d still get the rainbow effect. There are 20 prints in both lines (Fandangle and Abstract Garden) and you need 17 to make the quilt (2 strips of each), so that gives a little wiggle room to decide which strips to leave out.

I can’t wait to see how your quilts are turning out, especially if you chose different fabrics. Be sure to click the link below and add your progress to my Facebook group.

In the next step, we’ll do everyone’s LEAST favorite part of the process: basting! But not to worry, with my method, it’s not as hard as you think!

IMPORTANT LINKS

Click here for links to the previous quilt along posts
Click ere to share your progress in my Facebook group
Click here to purchase Abstract Garden precuts and backing yardage
Click here to get the Color Weave quilt pattern – paper version
Click here to get the Color Weave quilt pattern – digital download