Aurifil Designer Block of the Month 2016 – A Finished Quilt!

I’m pleased to share this beautiful quilt finish by Pat Sloan, an all around amazing person and coordinator of the Aurifil Designer of the Month Series.

Aurifil Designer of the Month 2016 Quilt

If you are just now finding out about this, you can get each of the free block patterns here including those for 2017!

Pat has also created instructions to make the layout here.

My block is the improv star shown on the first row on the right.
Improv Star block for Aurifil

Click here to get the free download to make this block pattern.

I am a huge fan of Aurifil thread. In fact, I use 50 weight cotton thread for everything I do – piecing, quilting and binding. I released my first thread collection with Aurifil at the end of last year. It’s appropriately named the Piece and Quilt Collection.

Piece and Quilt Aurifil thread by Christa Watson

I’m super excited to be working with Aurifil on an exciting adventure coming up next year. I hate to be a tease, but I’ll let you know more about it soon, so stay tuned!!!

Click here to get my Piece and Quilt Collection in Colors or Neutrals.

Piece and Quilt Neutrals Aurifil Thread from Christa Quilts

When you make the Aurifil Designer of the Month quilt, click here to share it on Pat’s site!

finsihed-aurifil-quilt-2016-with-pat-sloan

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New PDF Pattern Release – Stepping Stones (on Sale)

After the success of my most recent pattern launch for Positive Direction, I’m back again with my second new release of the year. I’d like to introduce you to Stepping Stones, available as an instant PDF download through my Craftsy pattern shop.

Stepping Stones quilt pattern by Christa Watson of Christa QuiltsClick here to get Stepping Stones on sale now for just $5.95!

Stepping Stones was originally patterned as “Easy Going” in Quilts and More magazine and available in one size only. Now I have expanded the pattern to include 4 sizes from Crib to Queen. It’s super fast to make and is perfect to use up that favorite fat quarter bundle you’ve been hoarding. Or bust your stash by cutting each block from 2 different fabrics!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern in 4 Sizes

Make Stepping Stones in 4 sizes: Crib, Throw, Twin or Queen!

Stepping Stones fabric requiremenets

Stepping Stones Fabric Requirements – It’s Fat Quarter Friendly!

I used Me + You Hoffman batiks which gives it a bit of a modern vibe. I chose cool colors of teals, blues, and greens with a bit of yellow and tan to create some warm pops of color. I used leftovers to make a whimsical scrappy binding.

Machine Quilting Boxes on Stepping Stones

I also include quilting suggestions so that you can quilt it the same way I did, if you are so inclined. I quilted Stepping Stones using one of my favorite geometric motifs – boxes. This quilting motif looks great on both modern and traditional quilts.

Machine Quilting Plan for Boxes

I love including quilting plans and machine quilting suggestions in my patterns!

Machine Quilting Detail

I used Aurifil 50 wt. 100% cotton thread from my Piece and Quilt Collection to make the quilt from start to finish. I’ve curated a rainbow of color that allows me to piece, quilt and bind any quilt I wish to make!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Jason and I had a great time taking pics out in the desert behind our home. I enjoy making the quits, and he enjoys photographing them so you can really see the details!

The key to making this quilt sparkle is by choosing several very light fabrics for the skinny strips between the blocks. Then, when it comes to choosing colors for this quilt, anything goes!

Stepping Stones by Christa Watson

Stepping Stones is on sale now at the intro price of just $5.95 through the end of the month, on Tuesday February 28th. After that, it will go back up to the regular price of $9.95 so grab it while you can! Then be sure to share your progress with me in my facebook group while you make it.

Click here to view my PDF pattern shop and stock up on your favorites!

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Come See Me at QuiltCon 2017 – Updated Schedule

I’m pleased to announce that I have added another book signing/meet ‘n greet to my QuiltCon schedule. On Saturday, February 25th from 12:30-1:30 Angela Walters and I will be signing copies of our co-authored book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with Intown Quilters in booth #348.

Meet Angela Walters and Christa Watson at QuiltCon

I’ll also be doing a book signing on Friday, February 24th from 12-1 PM in the Electric Quilt Company booth #337. Four of my quilts from Machine Quilting with Style will be on display for you to see “in the cloth.”

Christa Watson at QuiltCon in 2017

Both of my books will be available for purchase at both events. I hope you can make it!

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Three Pinwheel Quilts: From EQ7 Sketch to Finished Quilt

For my Craftsy class that launched last month, I made the same Pinwheel quilt three different ways, with different fabrics and quilting designs. Now I’m back to share a little more up close and personal about each quilt.

Walking foot quilting from The Quilter's Path Craftsy ClassDetail of Walking Foot Quilting on Pinwheels Quilt #1.

As an EQ ambassador and artist, I pretty much do all of my quilt designing in EQ7. So I thought it would be fun to show you each of the quilts along with their original sketches that I drew.

EQ7 Drawing of Pinwheels QuiltThis is my sketch of the first pinwheels quilt shown in my online class, using 1930’s repro prints. I didn’t worry about the prints being an exact match. This sketch just gave me an idea of how busy prints would look against a dark blue background.

Pinwheels quilt, machine quiltied with a wavy grid design using a walking foot/dual feed

When it came to making the first quilt with a navy background, I actually had enough fabric to make two quilts (using a jelly roll of Boundless 1930’s Delights along with a jelly roll of Boundless Solids Navy.) The version above was the finished sample shown in class. I made a second one shown below to stitch on during filming as I demonstrated one of the walking foot quilting techniques. Rather than making two of the exact same quilt, I divided the prints into two colorschemes – patriotic and pastel.

Contrasting thread on pinwheels quilt. Quilted with BERNINA dual feed during Craftsy filming.

You’ll notice I quilted both quilts with a different colored thread. The patriotic one was quilted with a medium blue thread while the pastel one was quilted with a light yellow, both from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt Collection of 50 weight cotton threads.

I wanted to show the difference of what “blending” thread looks like verses “contrasting” thread. I think they both look great, and it’s a personal preference of whether you want your thread to show, or be more subtle. In either case, the quilting adds great texture to the quilt, don’t you think?

Pink Pinwheels quilt designed in EQ7

For the second quilt shown in class, I chose a pretty pink and white color scheme, using the default solids in the EQ7 palette. Many times I’ll design my quilt in solids and then add prints later. But more often than not, I really like the solid version, too! Again, I didn’t worry about the colors being an exact match – using a variety of pinks gave me the scrappy look I was going for.

You’ll notice I left my lines in the sketch this time so you can see how the blocks fit together. One of the options I love in EQ is being able to turn the seam lines off and on, depending on whether or not I want to view the quilt design that way.

Pink quilt with allover loopy machine quilting. From The Quilter's Path Craftsy class by Christa Watson.

Here’s the finished quilt using Boundless Solids in Tickled Pink and Bright White. For this quilt, I demonstrate how to quilt an allover free-motion design using the blocks as a guide to travel around the quilt. I used some of the leftover precut strips for the binding to add a touch of whimsy!

EQ7 sketch of teal/gray pinwheel quilt by Christa Watson

Finally, for the teal/gray version it was easy to swap out the colors from the original design. I will usually draw one design in one colorway and then try out lots of options until I find something I’m happy with. Sometimes I will start with a specific color scheme or fabric collection in mind and design around it. Other times, I’ll come up with my design and colors and then find fabrics to match.

Either way, my all-time favorite function in EQ7 is being able to import colors and fabric swatches if needed, so I know what the quilt will look like before I start! I prefer to do all of my thinking and planning ahead of time so that all I have to do is enjoy stitching once it’s time to actually make the quilt!

Finished Teal Pinwheels quilt

As you can see, the final quilt is more teal and less green than the sketch but it was close enough for what I wanted! I used a precut strip roll of Bounders Blenders Aura Coastal Escape for the blocks with Boundless Solids in Nickel for the background and binding.

For this third version, I combined both walking foot quilting with free motion to create combined custom quilting. The trick is planning how to make your way around the quilt, also known as “finding your path!” In between each of the “real” quilts, I demonstrate many more quilting motifs on quilt blocks so you can see how to quilt around the seams.

When it came time to creating the Pinwheels pattern (included as a bonus freebie in the class materials), using EQ7 made it easy for me to isolate parts of the design to create the quilt pattern.

Free Pattern included in The Quilter's Path Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Above is a sneak peek of one of the pattern pages using my EQ drawings as stepouts. I’d be lost without it! Machine quilting is definitely my favorite part of making a quilt, so I’m glad I have good tools that help me design faster so there’s more time for sewing!

Christa Watson's Craftsy Class: The Quilter's Path

Learn how to quilt these quilts and more in The Quilter’s Path: Plan It, Stitch It, Quilt It.

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The Splendid Sampler – The Journey Continues and a Celebration Giveaway

Happy Valentine’s Day! Have you been following along with The Splendid Sampler? The 100th and final block was released earlier in the week and to mark this tremendous milestone, there’s a huge giveaway to celebrate!

Splendid Sampler - Scrappy Happy Heart

My block contribution to The Splendid Sampler – Scrappy Happy Heart

The New Book

But before I get to the giveaways, there’s some exciting to share. Although the first stage of the quilt along has wrapped up, the journey isn’t over! The Splendid Sampler book releases in April!

Splendid Sampler Book

Click here to pre-order your copy of The Splendid Sampler.

Then in May, authors Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson will embark on phase two – encouraging new Splendid sewists to create one block a week from the book. So it’s never to late to join in – or if you started the quilt along and then set it aside to work on other things, you can re-join the fun!

Pat Sloan Hearts Aflutter from the Splendid Sampler

Pat Sloan’s Splendid Sampler Block #1 – Hearts A Fluttter

The Giveaways

Whenever Pat and Jane do something, it’s a huge production and that includes the giveaway celebration! Head over to The Splendid Sampler website to enter Pat & Jane’s giveaway for 7 fabulous prizes! While you are there, click on each of the 25 designer links for your chance at 25 more!!

Christa Quilts Patterns

Click here to view all of my PDF patterns in my Craftsy shop.

For my stop, I’m giving away PDF copies of my latest pattern releases: Positive Direction and Stepping Stones.  (If you already own these, you can pick two others from my Craftsy pattern shop.)

To enter, leave a comment letting me know how many Splendid Sampler blocks you’ve made so far! (And yes, it’s okay to say “zero!”) Next Monday at the end of the day, I’ll randomly choose 2 lucky winners – one from the US and one International. I’ll email the winners and will update this blog post with their names on Tuesday.

Lots of Love Splendid Sampler Block by Melisa Corry

Melissa Corry’s Lots of Love Splendid Sampler Block

Please share your blocks in The Splendid Sampler Facebook group!

You can also share your progress in my group: Quilt with Christa.

Splendid Sampler Heart Blocks

Remember – heart blocks don’t always have to be red and pink!

Update with Winners!!!

Congrats to Leslie F. and Christine C. for winning the PDF patterns!!

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Two Fun New Books To Share – I Have Quilts in Both

Like many of you I love making quilts! But what you may not know is that one of the reasons I love writing patterns and books is that the deadlines for completion motivate me to finish things! I’m excited to be part of two brand new books coming out in June, published by my favorite publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place.

I Love House Blocks from Martingale/That Patchwork Place

The first is called I Love House Blocks, and it’s part of Martingale’s “Block Buster Quilts” series where a ton of different designers each make their own interpretation of a quilt based on a traditional block. (Click here to see the last one I was a part of – I Love Churn Dashes.”)

I’m thrilled to have my house quilt shown on the cover! It’s the one on the left and it’s called “My Hometown.” I used bright and cheery by Moda fabric from Pat Sloan in my version, but think it would be just as cute your favorite fabric collection!

Click here to preorder I Love House Blocks.

Rock Solid book using Kona Solids

The second book I am thrilled about is called Rock Solid and it’s a collaboration between Martingale and Robert Kaufman. All 13 quilts in the book are made from Kona Cotton solids. I haven’t even seen the rest of them yet, but I can already tell I’m gonna love this book!

I’m excited to be a cover girl on this one, too. My quilt “Lanterns” is shown on the left, using my exclusive Christa Watson designer palette in 28 vivid shades of red, orange, yellow and green. My quilt is made from just two jelly rolls – My designer palette and Kona Coal.

Click here to preorder Rock Solid.

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – Part 6

Welcome to part 6, the final post where I’ve been offering suggestions to some of my readers’ most challenging machine quilting issues. Get more tips by reading part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Craftsy Filming Behind the Scenes

On set during the filming of my Crafty class: The Quilter’s Path where I show you how to quilt many of the quilting motifs I write about on my blog and in my books and patterns!

Problem: I have a hard time getting ideas from my head into reality.
My suggestion: I used to have this same problem until I started creating a machine quilting plan for each quilt I make. I take a picture or make a printout of my quilt top and then I figure out the quilting path I need to take to work my way around the quilt. Below is the plan I made for my Positive Direction quilt pattern.

Positive Direction Machine Quilting Plan

Problem: I’m not sure which batting to use.
My suggestion: Try out a different batting for the next several quilts and see how each performs. Take note of the shrinkage, softness and what the quilting stitches look like. Some battings like cotton, will make the quilting appear more flat because it doesn’t have a lot of loft. Others, like polyester or wool will give a better stitch definition because they are more lofty, or puffy. My favorites are cotton, wool and soy.

Problem: Too much time passes between quilt projects and I feel like I’m losing my skills.
My suggestion: machine quilting is like learning a musical instrument: the more you practice, the more you’ll be able to “play.” If you are in between projects, keep a stack of small scraps of fabric and batting to stitch on for a few minutes each day. Just quilting for 5 min each a couple times a week will keep your quilting muscles in shape!

Machine Quilting Practice

Problem: I get discouraged whenever I compare myself to other quilters’ skills.
My suggestion:
Anyone who has just started their quilting journey will definitely go through this. It’s one thing to be inspired and another to feel inadequate. Just remember that it takes a lot of time and practice to get good at anything. I always encourage newer quilters to embrace walking foot quilting first because it’s pretty much fool-proof. Then, move onto tackling free-motion when you are more comfortable.

Walking Foot Quilting

I always teach walking foot quilting before moving onto free-motion. It’s virtually goof-proof!

Problem: How do I get out of the “stipple” rut?
My suggestion: I recommend collecting as many books as you can about machine quilting, taking a lot of classes, and seeing quilts up close and personal. Start sketching quilting motifs that appeal to you and try them on your quilts. If you have a toolbox full of 4-5 designs you really like, you can mix them up and quilt them in different areas of your quilt!

Problem: I want to try ruler-work quilting but I’m not even sure where to start.
My suggestion:
enroll in my friend Amy Johnson’s Craftsy classes on ruler work. She has two of them and pretty much covers all the basics. It’s amazing what you can do with specialty rulers on your domestic machine.

Quilting with Rulers on Your Home Sewing Machine

Click here to learn more about ruler work and see a class preview.

Problem: I don’t want to practice, because I hate wasting fabric on “learning.”
My suggestion: I don’t think “learning” is ever a waste. 🙂 However if you want to make something practical out of your practice sandwiches, create a stitch journal. Try out different quilting designs on similar sized practice pieces. Write on each which thread you used and other details like stitch length, batting etc. Then get some grommets or a key chain and punch a hole in the corners of each sample to link them together. Whenever you are stumped on an idea, refer to your journal for inspiration!

Problem: I’m not coordinated when it comes to machine quilting. It feels awkward.
My suggestion: when I started quilting it felt weird too, and I still can’t get the hang of longarm quilting (which is why I stick to a sit-down machine). Try to position your quilt and yourself a few different ways to see if you can get in a comfortable position. Quilting is a skill that requires a different muscle movement than anything else so it can take awhile for it to feel more natural. Don’t give up! Also try different hand positions when quilting. Try keeping your hands flat, raised, or gripping the edge of the quilt to see which feels more comfortable.

All Craftsy Classes on SaleClick here to see which classes are on sale, including mine!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips! If you haven’t already done so, be sure and enroll in my Craftsy Class, The Quilter’s Path. All brand new Craftsy classes are on sale for $19.99 or less this weekend only! Sale runs from today through Sunday, so stock up on this massive sale!!

Machine Quilting Tips

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Come See Me at QuiltCon in The Electric Quilt Company’s Booth!

QuiltCon, the 4th annual modern quilt show put on by The Modern Quilt Guild is coming soon! It will be held in Savannah, Georgia from February 23-26, 2017 and I can’t wait! I’ll be teaching 5 classes and giving a lecture which are all sold out! However, if you are attending and didn’t make it into one of my classes, I’ll be doing a book signing and meet ‘n greet in The Electric Quilt Company‘s booth #337 on Friday, February 24, from 12-1 PM.

Amy Friend and Christa Watson at QuiltCon 2017

Following mine, you’ll get a chance to meet another EQ7 ambassador, Amy Friend who just released her second book! She’ll be in the booth on the same day from 1:30-2:30. If for some reason you won’t be there that day, you can still stop by the booth see some of our quilts “in the cloth.” They’ll be on display in booth #337 for the entire show.

During my book signing, I’ll have copies of both of my books available for purchase and I’ll be happy to sign anything else you would like as well (a quilt, my patterns, your arm…. the possibilities are endless!!) And you can even just stop by and chat for a few minutes if you want – it’s always fun to meet fellow quilt enthusiasts!!

Christa Quilts and EQ at QuiltCon 2017

Both Amy and I love to design in EQ7 because we can see what our finished projects will look like before we begin cutting! I designed 11 of the 12 quilts from Machine Quilting with Style in EQ7. (The 12th was actually designed by my husband on his iPad). When you stop by the booth at QuiltCon, you’ll get a chance to see my actual computerized renderings in the booth! I think it’s fun to see them side by side next to an image of the real quilt. In fact, my favorite feature of the software is being able to import swatches of any fabric I want so that I can see audition different possibilities ahead of time.

I have more “extra” events scheduled, so stay tuned for details and I hope to see you there!

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New Pattern Release – Positive Direction

I’m excited to announce after a long hiatus that I am releasing individual patterns once again! The first one of the new batch is called Positive Direction, and it’s now available as a downloadable PDF through my Craftsy pattern shop.

Positive Direction quilt pattern by Christa Quilts

Positive Direction was originally featured in Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine and available in one size only. But whenever I re-release a pattern on my own, I offer it in four sizes which gives you a lot more options to customize it.

Positive Direction Pattern Cover by Christa Quilts

Positive Direction includes patterns for four sizes: Crib, Lap, Throw, and Full.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern Requirements

Use up strips or scraps to make this fun, modern quilt!

Because I think machine quilting suggestions are just as important as piecing instructions, in the pattern, I’ve included a quilting plan along with directions on how I quilted it. I’ve also included several detailed photographs to inspire you on your quilting journey. In my patterns, I never include the words “quilt as desired.” I want you to have just as much confidence quilting it as you do piecing it, so I try to make it clear and easy to understand, if you want to re-create what I did.

Machine Quilting Straight Lines and Pebbles

I combined straight lines and pebble quilting to highlight the pieced design. I used Moda Scraps in shades of red, aqua and navy to create a modern Americana themed color scheme that looks great year-round. I quilted it using a light gray thread from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt Neutrals collection.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

Choose your favorite colors and prints to make this quilt uniquely your own! The key to effective contrast in this design is choosing a light background such as white, a medium neutral such as gray, and then three of your favorite colors in strong solids or prints.

Click here to purchase a PDF of Positive Direction.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

All photography taken by my talented husband Jason in the desert behind our home.

If you have any questions or want to share your progress while making this quilt, please share them in my Facebook Group: Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see!

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – Part 5

Part 5 of Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges continues with more fun quilting problems to solve! Check out part 1, part 2,  part 3  and part 4 for more solutions!

Christa Quilts

Problem: Sometimes I get bored quilting the same thing over and over.
My suggestion: Break down the quilting into different designs and quilt them in different areas of the quilt. Also be sure to listen to something fun while you quilt! I love listening to audio books or quilting podcasts while I sew. It makes the time pass quickly and I feel like I’m being super productive at the same time!

Problem: My stitches vary in size.
My suggestion: You know what? So do mine, but that’s totally okay. When you step away, you won’t even notice. The only way to get perfectly sized stitches is with a stitch regulator and I know that’s not available on all machines, so I usually don’t even use one on my own work. Stitch length consistency will get better over time, but I wouldn’t  stress about it too much. 🙂

Problem: How do I quilt negative space other than with straight lines?
My suggestion: I show several different geometric variations in my “Plumb Lines” quilt from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. I quilted this quilt to answer that problem. Although straight lines are awesome, I wanted to give free-motion quilters some modern alternatives for straight-line quilting. Try out linear designs such as zig-zags and or other cool geometric shapes. Have fun experimenting or combine them together for even more ideas!

modern machine quilting

Detail of geometric/linear free-motion designs that you can quilt in negative space.

Problem: I don’t feel like I’m in control.
My suggestion: when begining your free-motion quilting adventures, embrace that fact that it will take awhile to get the hang of it. To put it more bluntly, yes, you are going to suck at it for awhile and that’s okay! Just like it took you a while to learn how to write, so too is machine quilting a brand new skill. Just be patient and keep at it and it will get better, I promise! One suggestion I offer my students is to make up 7 small practice pieces. Quilt one a day for a week and you’ll see a noticeable improvement!

Problem: How do I manage dealing with a bulky quilt?
My suggestion: scrunch and smoosh the quilt out of the way as much as possible while you quilt. There’s a brand new apparatus out there called “The Weightless Quilter” which I just got and can’t wait to try! It basically holds the quilt up of the table for you while you quilt.

weightlessquilter

Click here to see a video of the Weightless Quilter in action!

Problem: My machine is too light.
Solution: My guess is that this is more of a problem with the table than your machine. I suggest using the largest table you can, and embedding your machine into the table so it’s flush with the top.  If you don’t have a table you like, check out the affordable sewing tables that Leah Day sells. You can always add extra tables surrounding it to make your work area larger.

I hope you are enjoying these suggestions. I’ve got a couple weeks’ more worth of questions to go – so I’ll keep going until I answer them all. 🙂

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