A Crazy Sewing Weekend (and a Bit of a Back Story)

I was a little MIA last week due to a crazy sewing weekend a few days before. Crazy, but fun!! So it all has to do with my latest big project which will officially be revealed later this year: I designed a line of fabric for Benartex!! Say what???

So here’s a (not-so) quick back story and then onto my latest sewing adventures….

Sew Pro 2016

Discussing the value of joining professional associations at Sew Pro in 2016

Last fall I attended Sew Pro, an industry event for those wanting to make quilting their business. Although it was mainly geared toward those that are just getting their feet wet in the industry, I thought I would attend in order to decide whether or not I wanted to add fabric design to the list of things I do. Tula Pink was one of the keynote speakers along with other fabric designers like Alison Glass and Pat Sloan. After listening to them share more about their process (and seeing their joy in loving what they do), I decided that yes, I wanted to give fabric design a try – so I set about trying to learn how to make that happen, thinking it would likely take a long time to break into that area of the industry.

Benartex Contempo

But then – literally two days after I arrived home from Sew Pro – I got a call from Benartex asking if I wanted to design fabric for their Contempo division. (“What the what??” was my initial response, LOL!!)  I’ve never had such a case of the universe listening to me and acting so quickly. For those that don’t know, BERNINA owns Benartex, and since I’m a BERNINA ambassador I guess I was already on their radar. But getting that phone call so soon after I decided I wanted to design fabric was really uncanny. Had they contacted me a week before, it very well could have been a different answer…

So to make a long story even longer… I’ve spent the time from then until now (in between other projects) working with Benartex on my debut line which will be in stores this November.

Designing and producing fabric is such a huge process that revolves around creating the images, translating them into digital printable files, finalizing them on paper, and then getting samples from the overseas mill to make sure it all looks good. The timing is always tricky and it’s hard to plan long term until you are on a regular designing schedule. (In anything new I do, there’s always stuff I don’t know that I don’t know, LOL!!) So that brings us to my crazy sewing weekend.

Modern Marks Swatches

Finalizing fabric swatches on paper before they go to the mill for printing…

While images were being sent to the printer and strikeoffs (small samples from the mill) were sent to me, I was also coordinating with BERNINA to teach a couple of machine quilting classes at their annual flagship event for dealers, BERNINA University. This year it was happening right in my backyard here in Las Vegas (again – thanks, Universe!!)

As luck would have it, my sample yardage arrived 4 days before the start of BU. Benartex told me that if there was anyway I could get a few sample quilt tops made in time, they’d be happy to hang them up in their booth at the event, and allow shop owners to order early.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Sample yardage for me to work with…

Now, I usually do all my own “stunts” – priding myself in creating every stitch of my quilts myself. But with just a 4 day lead time, I knew I’d need to call in the reinforcements. Thank goodness for a mom who sews and was willing to drive the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house on a moment’s notice. Between the two of us, we were also able to wrangle a few more sewing friends who took shifts throughout the weekend sewing, pinning, pressing, and helping us keep our sanity.

Sample Sewing Sweatshop!

With the help of 8 friends over 4 days, we were able to sew up 5 quilt tops!!

All in all, we were able to complete 5 tops just in the nick of time, and the feedback I received from attendees at the event made all the craziness worth it! Needless to say, I’ll have a bit more time to quilt them in time for fall quilt market, thank goodness.

Now, I know I run the risk of spoiling the surprise by sharing so much so early, but I just can’t help it – I hate keeping secrets!! If you happen to run your own shop, or you want to recommend my collection to your favorite local shop, please let them know they can contact Benartex directly for more info about Modern Marks by Christa Watson. The collection images won’t be up on Benartex’ website for a few more months, but shops “in the know” can pre-order now (wink…. wink…)

Modern Marks at BERNINA University

I enjoyed sharing sneak peeks of my fabric with attendees at BERNINA University.

Click here see the promotional flyer showing off digital images of the 5 quilt tops I made. I was in such a rush that I didn’t even photograph them when they were done, but I’m sure I’ll share a few more sneak peeks as I finish quilting them over the next few months. So stay tuned!

And now… I’m off to enjoy a much-anticipated family vacation at the beach. After the crazy busy (but fun) year I’m having, I’m looking forward to unplugging for a few days…

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My Craftsy Class is Now Live and You can get 50% off the Regular Price!

Today’s the day!! It’s launch day for my brand new Craftsy class: Startup Library – Quilting. But first things first. Congratulations to Annie B. and Ursula (from Germany) who each won a copy of the class. I’ve emailed them their winning link!

I am so thrilled about this class. It’s very long and in-depth covering all the basics of how to make a quilt from start to finish. The total run time is 5 hours, 43 minutes which is nearly 3 times as long as one of their regular length classes. What can I say – I have a lot to teach!

Now before you get a bit of sticker shock for the price of the class (since it’s so much longer), I have a special 50% off instructor discount you can get by clicking this link below:

Click here to get 50% off Startup Library: Quilting (Through October 8, 2017.)

Christa Teaches on Craftsy

Fun Fact: I made this quilt twice!! A finished one to display and then the one I show step-by step in class. I was able to follow my own instructions while making it so everything is accurate.

You are welcome to share the discount link with your friends – the more the merrier!! It works a little differently than their normal discount, though. First you click the link and the coupon is automatically added to your cart, but the class sales page will still state the regular ammount. However, once you click “buy now” the price reflected in you shopping cart will be at the discounted rate. Clear as mud??

Friendship Stars Quilt

Fun fact: Craftsy photographed me “fluffing” the quilt top about 20 times to get some great “action” stills. It was a great exercise for my arms, LOL!!!

Just like any class, I’m here to help you every step of the way. You’ll have 24/7 access to the class platform and can post your progress. I usually answer any questions within 24 hours or less. In fact,  one of the first things I do each day is check in and see if anyone has questions. It’s become such a fun part of my morning routine!

Cuting Fabric for Friendship Stars Quilt

Fun fact: I cut out several duplicate fabric pieces just in case – it was a big job to keep them all organized and in order; but also tons of fun!!

I was so thrilled that I was able to include instruction on my methods for spray basting and binding in this class. It was fun to work out the logistics of how to film that and I’m pleased with how it turned out!

basting a quilt

Fun fact: during the basting lesson, my Craftsy content editor makes an appearance as my helper. I think I’ve now converted her to basting using my method!!

The class materials include the complete pattern and supplies to make the Friendship Stars quilt, a beginner’s glossary of common quilting terms (that was fun to write!), a startup checklist, and quilting diagrams for you to follow.

Christa Quilts on a BERNINA

Fun fact: I purposefully made the entire quilt on a smaller sewing machine so that students could see how I manage a quilt of this size under the machine.

For your convenience, Craftsy has put together a quilt kit using the exact same fabrics as shown in the sample. Of course, you can use any fabrics you like, but these were so fun to work with! The basic kit includes all the fabric needed for quilt top and binding. There’s also an option to get the kit with the backing included.

Friendship Stars Kit

Click here to get the Friendship Stars Strawberry Fizz kit on sale.

I sure hope you’ll join me in class. I can’t wait to see how you interpret the quilt and make it your own!! After all, the whole reason I wanted to present this class is so that you can walk away with a beautiful finished quilt and you can proudly say, “I made it myself!”

Start to finish quilting

Click here to enroll in Startup Library: Quilting.

 

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Road to California Registration Opens Saturday and I’m Teaching!

I’m heading to Road to California as a teacher next January and I couldn’t be more thrilled! But before I get into the classes I’m teaching, I have to tell you a story about how this amazing show has been part of my professional quilting journey.

Road to California 2018

Road to California was the first national quilt show I attended in 2011 and was the catalyst that made me want to enter my work in national shows and become a national teacher. It was also really the first time I started getting to meet some of my favorite “sew-lebrities” like Eleanor Burns of Quilt in a Day. Like many others before me, I watched her quilting TV series on PBS when I first got into quilting, and was instantly hooked on her warm, inviting teaching style and funny television antics (such as tossing scraps over her shoulder onto the floor behind her).

Christa Quilts Meets Quilt in a Day

Meeting Eleanor Burns at Rd 2 CA in 2011 was awesome. My bangs back then? Not so much!!

When I returned the following year in 2012, I took a class from award winning thread-painting artist Nancy Prince and we really connected. I ended up helping her out during a demo at the show and she was very encouraging when I mentioned that I wanted to become a national teacher and write books.

She turned to me and said, “I bet you’ll be back here as a teacher some day.” You can imagine how happy I was to run into her 5 years later at the Vermont Quilt Festival and tell her that her prediction had come true! (She even gave me a ride to the festival one day when we were teaching at the same location – what a peach!!) It’s amazing people like Nancy and Eleanor who’ve motivated me to always be kind and encouraging, especially to beginning quilters. And their willingness to pay it forward has been a great example for me to follow!

Christa and Nancy Prince

Meeting Nancy Prince in 2012 (and sporting a sleeker, shorter hairstyle).

My Road to California Teaching Schedule

And now before I get too sappy with all the warm fuzzies – onto the schedule! I’ll be teaching a total of 4 full-day free-motion quilting classes, Monday-Thursday, Jan 15-18, 2018. Click here to book mark the site. Registration opens on Saturday, July 8th at 7 AM Pacific Time, and classes can sell out quickly.

Click each of the links or images below for more info and a supply list for each class:

Monday, 8 AM -3 PM: Fun with Free-Motion Swirls

Christa Watson Road to California Teaching Schedule 2018This sample is from “Cornered,” showing how to combine swirls with other designs.

Tuesday, 8 AM -3 PM: Free Motion Designs with Lines

Christa Watson Rd 2 Ca 2018Plumb Lines” includes modern free-motion alternatives to straight line quilting.

Wednesday, 8 AM -3 PM: Free-Motion Improv

Free Motion Quilting Class with Christa Watson - Road to California 2018Free-motion improv” is a great way to show off all your favorite quilting motifs!

Thursday, 8 AM -3 PM: Modern Free-Motion Fillers

Modern Machine Quilting with Christa Watson at Rd to Ca 2018Modern machine quilting on “Candy Pop” means little to no marking, and tons of great texture!

All 4 classes will all be taught on sit-down longarm machines and the best part is that students will each get their own machine! I’ve taught at other shows in the past where students had to share and that’s kind of a bummer. But in these classes, you’ll have plenty of time to quilt and practice my motifs and methods. All l you need to bring are your sample swatches to practice on, and a “can-do” attitude!

Let me know if you plan to attend as I’d love to see you there!
Click here to see who else is teaching.

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Work In Progress – HST Remix

I am so excited that things have finally slowed down enough this summer that I can get back to working on some quilts that don’t have any set deadline! I originally made my HST quilt shown below a couple of years ago, then it got ruined in the wash when the “mild” wash powder I used bleached out some of the squares. (Note to self- stick with liquid detergent only!!)

HST Quilt

The original HST quilt – I still fits on my bed and is very warm and usable!!

The Remake – Improv Triangles

However, I loved the design so much that I had to remake it. I’m calling the new one HST Remix. I’m using the same Alison Glass batik fabrics as I had in the original, but the background fabrics are different and the fabric arrangement will be slightly different. One of the problems with the original is that I used a “textured” background fabric that had a lot of stretch. I never could get the quilt to hang straight. I do much better sticking with regular cotton fabrics, but it’s always fun to try something new, even if it doesn’t work out so well!

HST Remix in Progress

Because I’m working with leftovers from the first quilt, I didn’t have enough yardage to cut the squares large enough to make the half-square triangles so I improvised. And honestly I like the new blocks even better! I cut the yardage I had into straight strips with no wonky angles, then sewed them together randomly and cut them into the squares I needed. So many of them now have an improv look which I just love!

I also decided to make the blocks slightly larger the 2nd time around so that the overall quilt would be a few inches bigger.

Improv HST's

Some of my improv HST blocks in progress.

If this quilt turns out well, my plan is to enter it into a few upcoming quilt shows. That’s the one weird thing about me. It’s hard to make a quilt just for the sake of making a quilt. My quilts need a purpose, even if that purpose is just to delight a viewer at a quilt show!

Seams Pressed Open

Pressing Tips

Because the construction of this quilt includes a lot of bulky seams, I’ve pressed them open to help the quilt top lie flat. Contrary to popular myth, this will NOT weaken the seams. My tip for pressing seams open is to press with a hot dry iron so you don’t burn your fingers. First I open up the seams with my fingers or using a handy device called a wooden seam roller. (This is a device made for other applications but is one of my favorite tools for quilting!!)

I also use a shorter stitch length (2.0 rather than 2.5) when sewing the seams together to ensure they won’t split apart while handling.

Seams pressed open and pinned

The biggest question I get asked is how do I get the seams to align when they are pressed open? I use lots of pins and pin right through the intersections where the points are supposed to match. The nice thing about pressing seams open is that I never have to worry about which way they need to go! I also like to press seams open to prevent shadowing – which is what happens when you can see a darker fabric underneath a light one.

I’m also a pressing maniac. Pressing a lot (without steam) helps me keep the quilt top flat as I make it. I will usually sew 3-4 rows together and then press a section before sewing all the rows together. That way I’m dealing with less bulk under the iron at one time. When I press, I press from both sides – back and front. I want a nice, super flat quilt top!

Pressing Quilt Top

Pressing is very meditative for me – I listen to an audio book or podcast while I work.

Victory Lap!

Whenever I’m working on a quilt without borders (which is most of my modern quilts), there’s lots of seams along the edges. To secure them from splitting open, I take a “victory lap” around the quilt by stitching about 1/8″ in from the edges of the quilt. I’ll use a longer stitch length here which then gets covered up by the binding.

Victory lap around the quilt to secure the edges

Victory Lap – aka “topstitching” around the edges to secure the seams.

Now that the quilt top is finished it’s time to make a pieced backing and start thinking about how I want to quilt it. In the original, I quilted lots of straight lines and some fun spirals and pebbles as shown below.

Machine Quilting HST

Original HST Quilting Motifs

For HST remix, I still want to utilize straight lines and create a woven effect with the quilting, but I might change up the design a bit. In the original, I quilted straight lines vertically through the HST blocks and that was a lot of starting and stopping!! So this time around I’m thinking of quilting them diagonally instead so I can start and end off the quilt.

Whenever I’m trying to figure out how to quilt, I’ll print out a copy of my EQ7 design (or a photo of the finished quilt top) and I simply draw on top of it. I might come up with several different ideas, and it can look like a hot mess. So it may take a few tries until I come up with something I like. This is the method I teach in my Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path – if I can create a pathway for myself to follow, the quilting doesn’t seem so overwhelming, even on a larger quilt!

Possible Quilting Plan for HST Remix

Here’s the finished quilt top. The picture isn’t so great because I just took it with my iphone and it’s actually larger than my design wall, so it’s wrinkling up a bit at the bottom. That’s my next note to self – make quilts that are smaller than my 8′ x 7′ design wall, LOL!! Jason will help me photograph it when the quilt is finished, so I’ll leave it to him to help me figure out how to take prettier pictures!!

HST Finished Quilt Top

I’ll post again when I’m ready to baste the quilt. Since I don’t have a deadline to complete this quilt, it may be a few more weeks (or months) before I can get back to it, but I sure do enjoy sharing my process. Hopefully you’ve been able to pick up a tip or two!

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My Next Craftsy Class – Win It Before You Can Buy It!

So I have three huge projects releasing this year. #1 is my third book which comes out next month. #2 is a new thing I’ve never done before which will be shown at fall market (sorry for the tease!), and #3 is my second Craftsy class which goes live next week – Startup Library: Quilting.

To say it’s been a busy year is a bit of an understatement, but now that most of the work has been done comes the fun part – I get to tell you all about it!

Startup Library Quilting

In class, I’ll teach you how to make the colorful Friendship Stars quilt from start to finish!

Startup Library: Quilting is different from the first class I released earlier this year (The Quilter’s Path) and it’s much more in-depth. Whereas the first class focused on machine quilting and included a free quilt pattern for you to make on your own, Startup Library: Quilting takes you step-by-step through the entire process of making a quilt, while working your way through the colorful Friendship Star quilt that I designed above. It also includes the free pattern plus bonus machine quilting diagrams.

The class is geared toward those who are just discovering quilt-making for the first time, or for other crafters who are adept in their own hobby, but want to give quilting a try.

Christa Quitls - Craftsy Class Startup Library Quilting

I love sharing tips and tricks that make piecing easier and more fun!

I was really excited to teach this class because I often lament the fact that I can’t teach everything in a one-day quilting workshop! This class covers all the basics: cutting, piecing, basting, quilting and binding in an in-depth set of 14 lessons.

Although aimed at beginners, I think it’s a great resource for more experienced quilters who want to freshen up their binding skills, or learn how to baste and prevent puckers while quilting! Plus I’ve thrown in tons of tips throughout the class including how and why I starch my fabrics, how to cut and piece efficiently, and many more.

Friendship Stars Quilt Assembly by Christa Watson from Startup Library Quilting

The pattern to make the quilt is included in the class!

When I filmed my first class, the number one feedback I got was how nice it was that students could actually watch me manipulate a “real” quilt under the machine. Well in this class, you’ll get to watch me perform every step of the process, on an even larger quilt! I compare it to watching someone cook rather than simply reading a recipe – you’ll be able to learn all the little tricks that I do, that I don’t even realize I’m doing!!

Machine Quilting with Christa on Craftsy

The class includes all the finishing steps – basting, quilting and binding.

Giveaway – Win it Before You Can Buy It!

I’ll chat a bit more about the class next week when it launches, but in the meantime, I want to award TWO (yes 2!!) lucky winners with a free copy of the class! To enter, just leave me a comment letting me know what’s the one aspect of quilting you need a little bit more practice with. Chances are, I’ve covered it in class! I’ll choose the winners next Monday morning, before the class goes live on the site.

Of course, you are all winners in my book!! So if you haven’t yet signed up for my first class, click here to get 50% off The Quilter’s Path. Both of my classes work nicely together, as well as standing on their own individually. And the best part is, you can watch them over and over again!

Finsihed Quilt - Startup Library Quilting - Craftsy class by Christa Watson

I just love cuddling up with a freshly made quilt – don’t you??

 

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What it’s Like to Judge a Quilt Show – My Experience at Vermont Quilt Festival

Now that I’m back and rested from my week at Vermont Quilt Festival, I thought I would tell you a little bit more about my experience judging the show with three other fabulous award winning quilters: Kathie Beltz, Kimberly Einmo, and David Taylor.

Judges at Vermont Quilt Festival

Kathie, Kimberly, Me and David – and no we didn’t match on purpose!!

This was my first time judging a large national show, although I’ve judged locally and online (checkout the Pantone Greenery 2017 winners here). I’ve also volunteered in the judging room of my local quilt guild’s show for many years, and I’m currently serving on the QuiltCon judging and jurying task force which is in the process of finalizing entry rules for next year’s show.

Each quilt show is unique with different rules, number of judges and methods, but they all have one thing in common: they are there to showcase a wide variety of quilts. Judges are instructed to give positive praise as well as helpful encouragement, and judges follow the rules given to them by the show.

Best Hand Quilting VQF

Best Hand Quilting – Cauterskill Rising by Janet Atkins of Athens, NY

VQF Judging

VQF is a non-juried show, which means that entries are selected by mailed in entry postmark, on a first-come first served basis until the number of quilts the show can accept has been met. (By contrast, a juried show means that you submit photos of your quilt and a small pool of jurors selects those that will be accepted for entry and judging.) For all quilt shows, judging is blind, which means that the judges have no idea who’s quilt they are judging. They may or may not have access to the name of the quilt, and the artists’ statement, but that’s it.

Best Machine Quilting VQF

Best Stationary Machine Quilting – Sapphires on Snow by Norma Ippolito of Chester, VT

For VQF, they hired 4 judges and each quilt (except for a couple of special categories) was judged by 3 of the four judges. So one person’s quilt was evaluated by judge A,B,C and another person’s quilt could have been examined by judge B, C, D etc. The entrants were not informed of which judges looked at their quilts, but each quilt received a total of 3 written judging sheets.

Example Judging Sheet for VQF

Example Judging Sheet for VQF

In this show, each quilt was given a numerical score with a total possible score of 100 points. Those that scored within a certain number were then giving a corresponding ribbon: 85-89 points – yellow (third place); 90-93 points – red (second place); 94-97 points – blue (first place); 98-100 points – purple (exceptional merit). What is unique about this show is that quilts were judged on their own merits rather than against other quilt. So this means that some categories could have multiple ribbons of the same color, while it’s possible that other categories may not receive any blues or purples, etc.

Best Mixed Techniques, VQF

Best Outside of USA – Flower Pots by Frances Firn Ceriko of Quebec, Canada

Each judge took a look at each quilt independently of the other judges, and 2 scribes were assigned to each judge to record their scores and comments. The entrant’s final score was based on the average of all 3 scores for the final point total. On the rare occasion that the three scores varied by more than 10 points from high to low, we judges got together – called a “conference” – to discuss why the variation occurred and then decided whether or not to adjust our scores. With hundreds of quilts to score and 4 judges with different voices, it was amazing how few times that happened!

Best Modern Quilt at VQF

Best Modern Quilt – It’s Universal by Anya Byam of Burlington, VT

Once we concluded judging each category, then it was time to move onto the special awards and “best of.” Some of the categories such as best applique, best use of theme, etc. were chosen based on their numerical score. Others such as best home machine quilting, best hand quilting, best piecing, etc. were chosen at our discretion. We were also able to choose 6-7 special additional awards and name those ourselves, such as  “best bling, best graphic quilt” etc. And of course each of us got to choose our own “judges’ choice” which was super fun – and hard to narrow down!

Best Vermont Quilt VQF

Best Vermont Quilt – Whiteout by Mara Novak, Norma Ippolito, Dona McKenzie, Carolyn Niesuchouski, and Lynn Way of Chester, VT

Throughout the judging, we each took notes on which quilts to consider for the special awards. Other than judges’ choice, we conferred with the other judges to make our final decision. It was quite surprising how many quilts overlapped on each of our lists.

Christa Watson judges choice at VQF

Christa’s Judges Choice – Going on a Trip II by G. Wong of Wellesley, MA

Then the best part was at the awards ceremony when each winners’ name was revealed. It felt like Christmas morning, eagerly anticipating the excitement of the recipients as their names were called. Many of them were actually there at the show and there’s nothing like seeing an excited quilter run up on stage to claim his/her award!

Overall, it was a fabulous experience, and I’d definitely do it again! Here’s a couple of general tips if you are considering entering your work at a local or national show:

Quilt Show Tips

  • Read the rules completely and do your best to put your quilt in the appropriate category.
  • Pay attention to details such as stray threads and fabric markings.
  • Stitch the corners of your binding closed (both sides), and take extra care to ensure the quilt hangs flat and straight.
  • Make sure the density of quilting is even across the entire quilt.

But above all, have fun with it and realize that although judges to their best to judge a quilt without bias, it’s human nature to be drawn to a quilt that is more in line with their style. So enter a variety of shows, knowing you will receive a variety of different opinions!

Best Scrap Quilt at VQF

Best Scrap Quilt – On the Fly by Timna Tarr of S. Hadley, MA

Quilt Show Venues

The number one question I get asked is how do I find out about which shows to enter? Start with your local friends, quilt shops and guilds and start asking around. There’s no one all-encompassing listing of shows to enter, but you can start by creating a list of shows you hear about and then get on their mailing lists so you’ll get notified when it’s time to enter. Then pay attention on social media to which shows other people are entering. You can google “quilt show competition entry” for lots of great info, too.

Here’s just a small list of shows I enter regularly, or like to encourage others to enter (in no particular order):

Feel free to add additional shows that you know of in the comments for all to see. If you have any questions about entering shows, feel free to ask them in the comments and I”ll be glad to answer them to the best of my abilities!

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Christa’s Soap Box – I like to Share

Hi friends! It’s been a loooong time since I’ve written a “soap box” post! But don’t worry, they aren’t as scary or “controversial” as the name may imply, LOL!! My blog is my happy place, so I try keep things uplifting and positive around here. My soap box posts are just a chance for me to share my thoughts and feelings about quilting in general, with no other purpose than to be sort of a journal for me to capture what I’m thinking about, and a place for you to respond if you feel so inclined.

(I’ve included a few pictures from my week at Vermont Quilt Festival so that it’s not all text.)

Feathered Chevrons at Vermont Quilt Festival

Feathered Chevrons was my entry into the Faculty Exhibit at Vermont Quilt Festival 2017.

Recently I’ve been thinking about social media sharing. I have social media accounts in all the places (FB, IG, pinterest and soon to be YouTube.. yadayada.. – just go to the appropriate spot and type Christa Quilts), but I always return to my blog as my “home base.” It’s the one place I can go to write long form essays, share indepth written tutorials, and post lots of pics.

Don’t get me wrong, the bite-sized snippets that we all share on Instagram, Facebook, etc. are great. And you can’t beat the reach of a dedicated weekly email newsletter. However, I feel like there’s so much “noise” out there that sometimes things can get lost. I just recently returned from a teaching trip and I realized how much I enjoy the personal face-to-face interactions with my students in a classroom environment. Although there’s no way to replicate that exactly on social media, I feel like my blog is the next best thing and here’s why:

Christa Watson trunk show of quilts

Some of my quilts on display after my machine quilting trunk show.

When I teach an in-person class, the students are coming to me. They’ve signed up for the class, have prepared their class materials ahead of time, and they are excited to learn. Once they’ve read the class description, they know what to expect and we all have a fabulous time. We have created a community and many times we create relationships that extend far beyond the scheduled teaching day.

Student work - free motion quilting class with christa watson

Student practice in my free-motion quilting class.

When I blog, you come here to read what I’ve written, or be inspired by what I’m sharing. Many of you even leave comments which I do my best to answer to directly, and I really like that interaction. I really do consider you all friends here and try to treat my blog as an extension of my classroom. I’m NOT standing on a street corner (or better yet – at the entrance to a quilt shop) yelling “hey come take my class – I want to teach you something!” as crowds of people shuffle by on their way to do something else. Yet, that is sometimes how social media can feel. So. Much. Noise.

All of this is to say I’m going to start spending a little more time here, and posting more often. Don’t worry, I’ll still be in alltheotherplaces. And I have no set schedule that I have to keep up with. Sometimes I may only have time to share once a week with a quick update. Other times I may share several in-depth posts in a row. But it will definitely be thoughtful and with purpose.

At times my posts will need to be promotional (gotta pay the bills); other times they may be poignant (writing helps me think).

Student work from String of Pearls

Student work from my String of Pearls class.

After I wrote my fist book in 2015, things got really crazy really fast. Now 3 books, 2 Craftsy classes and one soon-to-be-revealed-big-project later, I realize that I miss blogging regularly. So I’m jumping back into it. Although I know I won’t post everyday, I realize I do best when I capture thoughts and ideas and write a little bit each day. So it may take me 3 days to write a post, but I’m excited to make blogging part of my regular routine again.

Student work on Facets from Machine Quilting with style by Christa Watson

Student work in my improv piecing class. We made Facets from Machine Quilting with Style.

It’s been nearly 7 years since I first started blogging and I still enjoy it – so thanks to all of you who have been with me since the beginning. And I offer a warm welcome to those of you who’ve just joined! Now I gotta go jot down some more ideas about my next post….

Happy quilting, friends!

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Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 9 – And a Giveaway!

I have to give a quick shoutout to Michele B. and Lou B. who were the winners of the last two book giveaways for Rock Solid and I Love House Blocks! Now it’s time for another fun book giveaway with 4 chances to win!

Machine Quilting Blog Hop

Four friends of mine, HollyAnne, Vicki, Kristin, and Jen have been working their way through mine and Angela’s book, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. The book includes 10 different quilts with different machine quilting motifs to practice in each chapter. These fun bloggers have been diligently practicing their machine quilting skills, week by week, and it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come in just a short period of time!

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

To celebrate their progress, they are offering a chance to win the book on their blogs. I highly recommend visiting each one of them and spend some time looking back through their journey. It’s one thing for me to tell you that machine quilting success is possible; it’s quite another for you to see actual results!

Here’s a sampling of inspiration from each of them this week with a link to each of their blogs in bold. Please visit them, and get inspired in your own quilting journey!

HollyAnne – String and Story

HollyAnne applied many of the quilting techniques from the book to “Modern Birds in the Air,” a pattern designed by our good friend Frances of the Off-Kilter Quilt, that goes along with her book of the same name. Be sure to visit HollyAnne’s blog for the big reveal!

Machine quilting by HollyAnne Knight

HollyAnne’s work is a great example of my favorite machine quilting tip: when in doubt – add more quilting! All you see is there gorgeous texture rather than individual stitches.

Vicki – My Creative Corner 3

Vicki has been quilting on a longarm and practicing both mine and Angela’s motifs. No stranger to quilting, she’s been quilting for others for years and it’s been fun to watch her work her way through the book on her longarm. Click here to see more of Vicki’s progress this week, and be sure to go back and check out her previous posts.

Machine Quilting by Vicki Holloway

Vicki is also a podcaster. In case you missed it, she interviewed me on a recent episode where we chatted about the book, the hop, and machine quilting in general. It was so fun!

Kristin Esser – KristinEsser.com

Kristin is no stranger to good workmanship with contributions to many magazines, and her newly published book with Minki Kim, Sew Illustrated. It’s been fun to watch her develop her machine quilting skills and try out all of the different ideas! Visit her blog for more closeup pics!

Kristin Esser Machine Quilting

I love seeing how each person combines the motifs in their own unique way!

Jen Greer – Quiltin’ Jenny

I first met Jenny when I taught at her quilt guild last year and we hit instantly hit it off! Since then, I’ve been able to get to know all of the bloggers and I love how they are also cheerleaders for “do it yourself” quilting! It’s not hard to be instant friends with others who love machine quilting as much a I do!! Be sure and pop over to her blog for her favorite tips and tricks!!

Jen Greer Machine Quilting

Look at all that yummy texture!!

If you’ve been following along, I hope you are encouraged to give machine quilting a try. Next week, they will share the “grand finale” which combines every thing they learned. I’ve already seen a few sneak peeks on Instagram, and it’s quite amazing!!

But just remember: whether you quilt by hand, by machine, or even “by check” – I’m here to encourage you every step of the way!!

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Latest Finish to Share – My Hometown from I Love House Blocks

I’m back with another fun finish to share, my contribution to the “Blockbuster Series” of quilt books – I Love House Blocks.

I Love House Blocks

My quilt is shown on the cover and I made it from a fun bundle of Pat Sloan’s fabric from Moda.

I made the house centers log cabin style and added a quick and easy paper pieced rooftop. I love adding lots of negative space (background) to my quilts so I can show off some fun quilting. Because I was on a deadline I quilted this one with simple swirls and wavy lines in a light gray Aurifil thread from my neutrals collection.

My Hometown by Christa Watson

My Hometown – such a fun quick and easy quilt to make!

The book includes a total of 14 fun house themed quilts which you can view here.

Giveaways GalorE!

Giveaway #1: If you’d like to win a ecopy this book from me, please leave a comment  letting me know if you’ve ever made a house themed quilt before. In my 20+ years of quilting, this was a first one for me!!! Everyone is eligble to enter and I’ll choose a random winner at the end of the day on Monday June, 26th.

Giveaway #2. Head over to Stitch This! the Martingale/That Patchwork Place blog for another chance to win! I love keeping copies of all books I own on my computer – then I have access to them anytime!

 

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Lanterns Quilt – My Contribution to Rock Solid

Have you seen the awesome new collaborative book from Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Robert Kaufman? It’s called Rock Solid, featuring 13 different quilt designs made from Kona Solids. My contribution, Lanterns, made the cover, so I thought it would be fun to tell you a little bit more about my quilt. But first, look at all that yummy solid goodness on the cover!

Rock Solid Cover

My quilt, Lanterns, was made from one roll-up (jelly roll) of my Christa Watson designer palette for Robert Kaufman, along with one roll-up of Kona coal. Aren’t they a smashing combination??

Lanterns by Christa Watson

I came up with the design while I was playing around in EQ7 (Electric Quilt software) on my Mac. I’m always designing and playing around with shapes and colors. I’ll usually start with a seed of an idea and then it branches off into a design on its own. The fun thing about my process is that I usually end up with at least 4-5 different variations in different stages of completion. Whenever I’m ready to finalize a new design, I start by looking through my “virtual sketchbook” first!

EQ7 design sketch for lanterns

As you can see, my virtual EQ7 sketch is very similar to the final quilt. Usually when I’m playing around, I’ll randomly color the quilt but I don’t worry about whether or not the colors end up in the exact same spot as designed. Just using the same swatches of color is good enough for me to get an idea of how the quilt will look.

Lanterns Quilt Path step 1

Step 1 – Stitch in the Ditch

When it’s time to plan out the quilting, I’ll print off the EQ7 sketch on paper and then start drawing possible quilting ideas. I know that you can actually draw quilting designs in the program, but it’s usually just faster and easier for me to draw it out by hand. 🙂

Lanterns Quilt Path step 2

Step 2 – Echo the Ditch

I usually make a quilting plan for each quilt I make because it’s much faster to draw out several ideas on paper, than try to dive into the quilt with no plan and then not like the results! I finally put a name to this process of  “finding your path” when my first Craftsy class came out earlier this year.

Lanterns Quilt Path step 3

Step 3 – quilt one design in the background between the blocks.

For the actual quilting I use another process I call “divide and conquer” where I break up the quilting into different segments and just attack one segment at a time. I teach this in my in-person workshops and I love seeing other students get it and start applying it to their own quilts!

Lanterns Quilt Path step 4

Step 4 – quilt a contrasting design in the blocks.

As you can see, my drawing lines are pretty wonky, but that’s okay – it’s the actual stitching that counts! Of course, I draw the designs on paper with contrasting ink so I can see them, but when I do the actual quilting, I use a blending 50 wt. Aurifil cotton thread. For this quilt I used just two thread colors – yellow for the blocks and gray for the background (both from my Piece and Quilt Collection).

Machine Quilting Detail from Lanterns by Christa Watson

Machine quilting detail – I can quilt better than I can draw!

I sure had a great time making my solid colored quilt.
Click here to see all of the quilts from the book and grab your copy!

Giveaway!! If you’d like to win an e-copy of this book, just leave me a comment letting me know if you’ve ever made a completely solid quilt before. If so – how did you like it? I’ll choose a random winner at 6 PM Pacific Time on Saturday, June 17th

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