Introducing my second fabric line – Fandangle – from Benartex/Contempo

I just got a delivery of fabric samples from my next fabric line which will be shipping to stores this summer! I call it Fandangle which a fun, silly name that means “excess ornamentation or embellishment.”

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson Cool Colorway

Click here to pre-order a bundle of Fandangle in the Cool Colorway.

I named this collection Fandangle as sort of an inside joke to myself. It’s a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that I don’t actually embellish or be-dazzle my quilts with any type of bling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, but it’s just not my style.

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson in the Warm Colorway

Click here to pre-order a bundle of Fandangle in the Warm Colorway.

Fandangle Fabric Designs

The names are super fun and playful, too! Here’s a little bit more about each design:

“Baubles and Bits” is a medium to large scale print with fun flourishes. If you look closely, you can see a nod to my previous collection with the inclusion of some subtle boxes – one of the prints from Modern Marks. To give the print more depth, I also added some scattered triangles, and just the tiniest hint of beads, which show up more prominently in its own print.

Fandangle Fabric, Baubles and Bits print

Baubles and Bits comes in two colors: teal and red.

“Sparkling Squares” features retro star bursts and fun flourishes This is a companion print to Baubles and Bits but on a much smaller scale. I love being able to take a design element and try it out in different configurations – just like creating a quilt layout, right??

Fandangle fabric - Sparkling Squares

Sparkling Squares comes in two colors: teal/multi and orange/multi.

“Triangle Trinkets” is based on one of my modern machine quilting designs. But I didn’t want this print to read as a simple line drawing (I saved that idea for Paper Cuts, below.) This would make a fabulous backing print: you could quilt your quilt from upside down, following the outline of each triangle to add depth and dimension to your quilt!

Fandangle fabric -Triangle Trinkets

Triangle Trinkets comes in three colors: peach, lime and teal.

“Beaded Curtain” was inspired by one another one of my machine quilting designs, “string of pearls.” But if you look closely, you’ll see all sorts of fun shapes – ovals, rectangles, squares, and there’s even some quirky triangles in there (another shape from Modern Marks).

Fandangle fabric - Beaded Curtain

Beaded Curtain comes in four colors: red, pink, lime and turquoise.

“Paper Cuts” looks most like one of my free-motion line drawings. I based it off of my “jagged stipple” motif, which many of my students tell me what their regular stipple looks like anyway. So they can rest assured that it’s a bona-fide modern design, NOT just a “creative” mistake, LOL!! I thought Paper Cuts was a more descriptive name that fits in with the artsy theme.

Fandangle Fabric Paper Cuts

Paper Cuts comes in four colors: yellow, orange, green and turquoise.

“Confetti Crosshatch” is the most versatile of the group. This is a remix of “Crosshatch” from Modern Marks, but on a smaller scale. It’s a prefect blender print and works fabulous as a background or binding. I was thrilled to include two shades of gray!

Fandangle fabric - Confetti Crosshatch

Now that my samples have arrived, I’ll be sewing like a mad woman in time to complete several quilts for quilt market. I’ll be sharing my process so be sure to follow my blog.

Feel free to pin and share any of these images to spread a little Fandangle fun with your friends. Then ask your favorite quilt shop to order Fandangle next time they meet with their Benartex/Contempo sales rep.

Fandangle Fabric Line by Christa Watson

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex will be available in stores Summer 2018!

Click here to pre-order Fandangle bundles by colorway.
Click here to pre-order quilt patterns featuring Fandangle.

My Newest Craftsy Class – Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

It’s here – it’s here! The launch of my third Craftsy class – whoo whoo! Just after I made the sneak peak announcement earlier this week, the class went live! So today I’d like to introduce you to Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt.

craftsy Class Starry Path Quilt

Click here to preview my class Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

In this nearly 3 hour long class, I teach how to make this stunning quilt I designed featuring two different types of star blocks and three different types of triangles.

It was created as a followup class to my comprehensive start-to-finish class, Startup Library: Quilting. But of course, anyone can enroll and make this stunning quilt:

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit, while supplies last

The class comes with the complete pattern to make the Starry Path Quilt above, and there’s even an optional kit. I chose to make it from basic blenders in a cool color scheme of lime, green aqua, blue and turquoise. I paired it up with a solid gray background for maximum impact. I’m really pleased with how well the design turned out and I loved taking my time to be as accurate as possible.

And, because you all know I loooove machine quilting, I threw in a bonus lesson on how to quilt elongated swirls. Isn’t it just fully of yummy texture??

Swirls quilting on Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

The class materials include step-by-step drawing lessons showing how to form the basic swirl design, plus a page for you to print off and practice drawing your own quilting plan. (It’s a nod to the technique I first introduced in my machine quilting class, The Quilter’s Path.)

The exclusive Starry Path pattern is easy to follow along as you watch the class, and I’ve sprinkled in as many helpful hints as I can to ensure your success with this quilt!

Starry Path Quilt with Christa Watson on Craftsy

I can’t help fondling my quilts, LOL!!

In Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt, I share my best tips and tricks for accurate cutting and piecing so that you can get stunning results, every time. My top tips for piecing any quilt?? Slow down when you are sewing, maintain an accurate 1/4″ seam and use lots of pins to get those intersections to line up precisely.

Starry Path Quilt in Progress

The best thing about my Craftsy classes is that unlike my live classes, you actually get to watch me sew and quilt. That way you can and see where I place my hands, and how I manipulate the fabric. With the magic of filming to speed things up, it’s actually fun to watch!

Starry Path Class Overview

Here’s a breakdown of what’s covered in each section and length of each lesson. The total class runs for just under 3 hours, and if you’ve ever heard me speak, you know that I can cover a lot of info in a short amount of time. So you really get more “bang” for your buck with my classes!!

Boundless Fabric from Craftsy
1. Getting Started (32 min)
Meet Christa and go over everything you’ll need for your project, the Starry Path quilt. Then she shares tips for cutting both yardage and fat quarters. Plus, see how to check and correct your seam allowance early on. This way, your blocks will be the correct size.
Sawtooth Star Block Piecing
2. Sawtooth Star Block (39 min)
Piece the classic flying geese unit four at a time! Christa shows you how to mark, sew, press and cut, and add simple squares to create the Sawtooth Star block. She helps you chain piece a few blocks at a time to speed up your stitching, and shows you how to use webbing to keep your blocks together as you go.

Christa Starry Path Quilt

3. Garden Path Block (30 min)
Learn how to cut and sew with the popular Tri-Recs specialty ruler that you can use in many other quilts. Find out how to properly cut and line up the pieces, add simple four-patches and solid units for a beautiful block, and save time by chain-piecing it.
Garden Path Block
4. Pieced Border (30 Min)
Follow along as Christa guides you to create the colorful pieced border that surrounds the Starry Path Quilt. See how to pair half-square triangles to form this hourglass unit, also known as the quarter-square triangle. Then batch-assemble the border strips.

Christa Sewing

5. Quilt Top Assembly (23 Min)
Now you’re ready to put your quilt blocks together! Here, discover a technique called webbing that will keep your blocks in order as you assemble the inner quilt top into rows. From there, sew the rows together, then add the solid and pieced borders.
Machine Quilting Swirls with Christa Watson
6. Machine Quilting Swirls (20 Min)
Wrap up class by finishing your basted Starry Path quilt with an all-over free-motion design. Christa discusses thread choices, then shares the benefits of making small samples to practice your designs. Afterwards, get her tips on maneuvering this quilt on your home machine as you add the final touches.

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

I had so much fun making this quilt and I’m sure you will too! The best part about enrolling in my class is that you have my help and support 24/7. Got a question about the class or want to share your progress? Use the interactive class platform to share with me and fellow students. It’s like a virtual classroom with me at your side!!

Click here to enroll in Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit

Elongated Swirls quilting by Christa Watson

I can’t wait to “see” you in class!

Join Craftsy Unlimited for All You Can Watch Classes (Including Mine!)

You guys – I’m so excited! It’s almost time for the launch of my brand new Craftsy class!! But before it goes “live” I invite you to join Craftsy’s new subscription service “Craftsy Unlimited.”

craftsy unlimited

Click here to start a free trial of Craftsy Unlimited and watch all my classes for free!!

How is this different from regular Craftsy – you say?? Rather than paying a one time fee to own the class, Craftsy Unlimited is a monthly streaming service, similar to Netflix, Hulu, etc. but on your computer. With Craftsy Unlimited, you don’t own the class, but you have access to the entire library and class materials of thousands of classes 24/7 as long as you are a member.

The coolest thing is that you can actually combine both services if you want to – join Craftsy Unlimited to check out classes you may be interested in, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a purchase. Later, you can permanently purchase any classes you know you’ll want to keep forever.

Starry Path Quilt Blocks

Sneak peek of my brand new class, coming really soon!!

For instructors, we get compensated slightly differently for either model, but Craftsy Unlimited is a great way to support your favorite teachers. The more you watch our classes on Craftsy Unlimited, the more we get paid!! So even if you own my other classes already, you can view them in Craftsy Unlimited and it’s sort of like giving me a little bonus each time you watch. 🙂

Speaking of which, if you decide to join Craftsy Unlimited, be sure to check out my current classes:

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

The Quilter’s Path is like taking one of my in-person workshops. I teach you how to make a quilting plan and give you tons of ideas for both walking foot quilting and free-motion designs. Plus, you get to see how I actually “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt under the machine. But the best part is you can pause, rewind, and watch your favorite parts over and over again!

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Startup Library Quilting is great for beginners who want to learn to make a quilt from start to finish. I cover all the basics – choosing fabrics, reading a quilt pattern, rotary cutting, piecing, basting, machine quilting – walking foot & free-motion –  AND binding! It’s the whole shebang right from the comfort of your home!!

Craftsy Quilting Class taught by Christa Watson

Screen shot from my newest class, coming soon!!

Click here to start a free trial of Craftsy Unlimited and watch all my classes for free!!

In the new class, I focus a lot on accurate cutting and piecing, plus there’s a bit of machine quilting at the end. So watch for the new reveal soon!

Improv Squares Finish with Machine Quilting Details

Now that I’ve been blogging again on a regular basis, I’ve realized I haven’t shared about some quilts I made from Modern Marks. And since I’ll soon be starting on quilts from my next line of fabric, I want to make sure I’ve documented my recent finishes!

Improv Squares by Christa Watson, made from Modern Marks

I recently shared a spray basting tutorial for Improv Squares, but here are some beauty shots of the finished quilt, taken in the desert behind our home in Las Vegas.

The inspiration for Improv Squares was a broken wooden fence that I drove by several years ago. I snapped a picture of the fence and kept it in my phone for a long time, until I was ready to do something with it.

Improv Squares Inspiration

The holes in the fence made an interesting pattern that I though would be fun to do something with. I also wanted to further explore the concept of “Structured Improv” – a technique I’ve been playing around with for several years now.

Improv Squares by Christa Watson

The improv part is that you sew a bunch of fabric together randomly. The structured part is that all of the block units are a similar shape  – rectangles. All of the blocks finish the same size so they can be placed randomly in the design, yet no two are the same.

Machine Quilting Tips

Aurifil Vareigated thread

When I’m working with busy prints and I want the fabric to be the star of the show, I’ll try to choose a thread that blends in. Because Modern Marks is so colorful and I wanted to use all of the prints in this quilt, I chose a variegated thread that would add fun layer of texture to the busy prints

My favorite variegated thread is 50 weight Aurifil #3817 Marrakech. It’s fun to see the color changes while I’m quilting, and I love quirkiness that it gives the quilt! It also seems to match any rainbow-colored quilt I make!

Machine Quilting Jagged Stipple

Because I was in a hurry to get this quilt finished, I quilted an allover/edge to edge design on a rather large scale. The quilting is still very dense, but by quilting larger shapes, I was able to cover more area very quickly.

I used one of my favorite designs – a  geometric, jagged stipple rather than a smooth curvy stipple. I was able to complete the quilting on this throw size quilt in an afternoon, rather than several days whenever I do more intricate custom quilting.

Jagged stipple quilting

I love this texture so much, it inspired one of the fabric prints in my second fabric line!
More about that later…….stay tuned!!

Incidentally, whenever I teach machine quilting, I always have the students practice quilting both angular shapes, and curved designs. Some people find it easier to quilt one vesus another, so it’s a good exercise to try and see which type of design you prefer!

As you can see in the detail picture below, the jagged motif gives some interesting texture to the quilt, without overpowering the overall design.

Allover jagged stipple

Improv squares is now available as a pattern, either as a printed version, or a PDF download.
If you make one, I’d love to see it! After all, the fun of designing quilts for others to make is seeing the variety!

Improv Squares quilt

Share your progress wtih me on social media with the hashtage #improvsquaresquilt. You can also share images of any projects you make from my books, patterns or fabric in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group.

Click here to get the Imrpov Squares Quilt Pattern – printed version shipped to you.

Click here to get  the Improv Squares Quilt Pattern – instant PDF download.

Improv Squares Quilt Pattern using Modern Marks Fabric

Improv Squares STATS:

  • Finished Size: 66″ x 80″
  • Fabric: Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex
  • Batting: Hobbs 100% Cotton
  • Thread: Aurifil 50 weight cotton #3817 Marrakech
  • Machine Quilting Design: Jagged Stipple
  • Completed: October, 2017

Improv Squares quilt

My Pattern Writing Process and Sneak Peeks of Upcoming Quilt Patterns

In an effort to share more of what I’m working on in real time – and to answer to the question – how do I get it all done?? – I’m excited to let you know what I’ve been working on the last few weeks. I’m currently writing and editing the next round of quilt patterns that will be released along with my next fabric line, and I couldn’t be more excited!!

Pattern Writing in Process

I’ve been posing the question to my friends and social media followers, asking if they’d like me to share real time updates, or wait until everything is polished and ready for purchase. I got a resounding “share now!” as the answer which made me sooo happy! I have a hard time suppressing my excitement for what I’m currently working on and I feel like I can be more genuine when I’m sharing in real time.

I also just got word that my fabric samples should arrive some time in the next week or two so I can actually start sewing the designs you see above. I’m also excited to collaborate with my friend Heather Black on one of them because she has the most amazing design sense!!

Pearl Pendants by Heather Black and Christa Watson

Pearl Pendants pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

So here’s a bit of my pattern writing process for those that are curious. First, I design the patterns in EQ8, using digital swatches of the fabrics I plan to use. Next, I write the instructions while I’m waiting for the fabrics to arrive.

While editing the patterns, I use digital images as placeholders for the pattern covers until the quilts are made and can be photographed. Then it’s very easy to swap out the digital images with the photography, without altering the pattern layout. I send the rough draft of the pattern to my graphic designer to lay out and make everything look pretty, and then a technical editor checks all the math to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Sparkling Stars front Cover

Sparkling Stars pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

Once the fabric arrives, I make the quilts following my own instructions so that I can pattern test and see if there are any steps I missed. While I’m making the quilts, digital images of the covers are sent off to the distributors (companies who sell patterns on a mass-scale to quilt shops) so they can get them in their system in time for shops to pre-order.

Once the quilts are finished, they are photographed and cover images swapped out with the real ones, and I do once last round of editing to make sure everything looks right. Then patterns are sent off to the printer for physical copies, and PDF downloads are uploaded to my Craftsy shop for sale.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Surplus Strips pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

As you can imagine, the timing is critical to make sure everything happens in the right order. My process is probably a bit different than pattern designers who aren’t working with a specific fabric line. But I like the challenge of making all the parts fit together.

You can see sneak peeks of the fabric line in the quilt pattern covers above, but I’ll be happy to tell you more about the fabric when my samples arrive in the next few weeks. Quilt shops will be able to order it later this spring, usually around quilt market in May – and I’ll be there in person showing off these quilts and more “in the cloth.” Then the fabric will arrive in shops around mid summer – sometime in June or July. I can’t wait!!

I’m Teaching in Las Vegas at the New Quilt Show this October!

I’m excited that the quilting scene in Las Vegas is now big enough to support two quilt shows a year! I’ll be sharing my entry results from Quilt Las Vegas soon (a show I’ve been participating in for over 20 years). But now I’m excited to be involved with the newest show, “Points West” hosted by the Las Vegas Quilters.

Las Vegas Quilt Show

Click here for my lecture and teaching schedule at the show.

Points West Quilt Show will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center October 18-20, 2018. It’s the only time I’ll be teaching in my home town of Las Vegas this year. So I invite you to take one of my workshops, or attend one of my lectures.

Here’s what I’ll be teaching at the show:

Walking Foot Wonders

Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 9am-4pm
Class Length: Full day – Machines provided
Skill Level: All levels

Class Fee: $80
Click here to register for this class.

Walking foot Quilting Workshop

Quilt shown is “Little Man’s Fancy” from my book Machine Quilting with Style

Class Description: Learn to stitch beyond the ditch and unleash the power of your walking foot to quilt modern or traditional designs. Walking foot motifs to be taught include: wavy lines, decorative stitches, irregular grids, large continuous spirals, several straight line variations, and more! You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts!

Class will also include a discussion on basting, favorite tools and supplies that make the job easier, plus tips for putting it all together on a real quilt.  Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples.

Free Motion Favorites

Friday, October 19, 2018, 9am-4pm
Class Length: Full day – Machines provided
Skill Level: All levels

Class Fee: $80
Click here to register for this class.

Free-motion quilting

Quilt shown is “Quatrefoil Applique” from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Class Description: Embrace perfectly imperfect quilting! That means little to no marking, and a whole lot of gorgeous texture. Ease into free-motion quilting with asymmetrical wavy lines, then move onto loops, traditional and modern stippling, plus curvy fillers like wishbones and cursive l’s that can expand to fit any space. Finish it off with several swirl variations, and you’ve got a toolbox of motifs to try on your next quilt!

Class will also include a discussion of basic free-motion quilting tips and tools, plus figuring out how to combine motifs together in the same quilt. Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples.

Lecture & Trunk Show

Lecture: How Do I Quilt It?

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 1pm

Lecture Fee: $25
60 minute presentation Includes slide show, Q&A and book signing.

Click here to register for this lecture

The secret to successful quilting is in the planning and preparation. I’ll guide you through the steps I take to make each quilting experience fun and stress free Once you see my methods, you’ll feel empowered to quilt your own quilts! Learn how I baste my quilts, make a quilting plan, choose thread colors, divide and conquer each task, and apply rich texture with little to no marking of the quilt.

I love to share my quilts along with tips and tricks for better machine quilting!

Modern Quilting Trunk Show

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 6pm

Lecture Fee: $25
60 minute presentation Includes physical quilts, Q&A and book signing.

Click here to register for this trunk show.

I enjoy making complete quilts from start to finish, and am excited to show you the latest quilts from my books and patterns. This is your opportunity to get up close and personal with my quilts as I share my creative journey along with explanations of what makes them “modern”. Exact quilts shown will vary.

Points West Quilt Calendar

Quilt Las Vegas will also feature a full slate of regional and national instructors including Frieda Anderson, Mel Beach, Carmen Geddes, Nancy Mahoney and more!!

Click here to see the full list of instructors and the classes they’ll be offering.

There will also be a quilt competition, vendor mall, plus plenty of other fun events, and award winning quilter Marilyn Badger will be the judge and featured artist at the show. If you are near the Las Vegas area, or want to make a vacation out of it, I invite you to join me at the show. This event is brand new to Las Vegas and I can’t wait for it to get here!

Spray Basting Tutorial – Using a Table

Recently I shared a tutorial on spray basting using a design wall. Today’s tutorial shows how to modify the spray basting process using a table instead. Note that my pictures are all taken outside but once the quilt layers have been sprayed outdoors,  you can assemble the quilt inside using any size table.

Improv Squares Quilt Using Modern Marks

The quilt shown in this tutorial is Improv Squares, made from Modern Marks fabric.
Click here to get the Improv Squares quilt pattern – printed version shipped to you.
Click here to get the Improv Squares quilt pattern – instant PDF download.

Step 1 – Spray the back side of the backing and quilt top

Be sure to spray the layers outside, or in a well ventilated area. If you have sensitivity to chemicals, I recommend wearing a dust mask. I use 505 basting spray and a large sheet to protect the surface I’m spraying on.

I’m using a lightweight folding plastic table, so it’s easy to move. I just store it out of the way in the garage when I’m not using it.

Spray Basting

The table you are using doesn’t have to be bigger than the quilt. When I’m spraying, I cover the center section of the quilt first, and then the sides. For this step, you don’t even need a table; you can lay out a sheet or dropcloth on the ground or wherever you have room.

I used a small park near my home so that I’d have plenty of room, and also nice scenery for photography!

Hold the can an arm’s length away and spray evenly and generously. Make sure to get good coverage on the quilt. To ensure the can is spraying consistently and doesn’t get clogged, spray a few squirts on your dropcloth before applying it to the quilt.

Spray Baste

Although I pressed the top and backing separately before I began, you can see some fold lines on both layers. But not to worry – this gets pressed out at the end. If you spray the top and backing separately, it uses less spray than spraying the batting, and it’s easier to manage.

Once both layers have been sprayed, you can fold them up and bring them inside to finish the assembly process (or stay outside and set the layers aside like I’m showing here.) The layers will be sticky, but not stuck, and you don’t have to assemble them right away – the adhesive doesn’t dry out.

Remove the drop cloth or sheet from the table and then lay out the backing wrong side up.

Spray Baste

Step 2 – Add the batting

I like to fold the batting in half long ways so that I can put the fold line roughly in the center of the backing. You can see in the picture below that it’s not exactly even and that’s ok. As long as the batting and backing are bigger than the quilt top, you’ll have some wiggle room so that you don’t have to line things up perfectly.

In fact, my batting is actually a little longer than the backing so it’s easy enough to trim away the excess. Working on a table is great because it won’t hurt your back like the floor can.

Spray Baste

Open up the batting so you have coverage on all sides. Even if the sides hang down to the ground – that’s okay. The excess will get trimmed away.

Spend time smoothing out the backing. You can lift and reposition it if needed. Work out any wrinkles or bubbles, using your hands and a long acrylic ruler.

I’m using Hobbs cotton batting for this quilt. I like natural fiber battings because they cling to the fabric and they aren’t slippery. (Polyester has a tendency to slip while you are shoving the quilt through the machine which can cause puckers.)

Spray Baste

Once you smooth out the center section, adjust the layers so that you can smooth out the sides, too. Take your time here to really get it nice and flat. Smoothing out the layers also smashes them together so that they stick together better and don’t shift.

You can also iron your batting before you baste to get it nice and flat. I use a spray bottle and a dry iron. With cotton batting, you can put the iron directly on the batting. With more delicate battings like wool, you can cover the area you press with a piece of fabric. Be sure to use a dry iron so that it doesn’t shrink up the batting.

Spray Baste

Step 3 – Add the Quilt Top

Add the top in the same way that you added the batting – get it roughly in the center and make sure there’s coverage all the way around the edges. You can see it’s still a bit wrinkly from handling and moving it around. That’s okay – you’ll iron it again at the end.

Spray Baste

Trim away the excess batting and backing so you’ll have less bulk to deal with. If you have a super large quilt that touches the ground, you can always place two tables side by side to give you more room to work.

I use specialty batting scissors – they cut through the layers like butter, and trimming goes super fast! I only leave about an inch or two on all sides when I trim. That way it’s less likely that I’ll flip the quilt under itself and accidentally quilt through the extra layers!!

Spray Baste

Step 4 – Smooth Out the Layers

Smoothing out each layer as you add it is such a critical step. When your quilt sandwich is flat and smooth, it makes the machine quilting process so much easier! The reason I love using basting spray is that every inch of the quilt is stuck to every other inch. This prevents shifting of the quilt and greatly reduces the chances that you’ll get a tuck or pucker while quilting.

Spray Baste

Use the long ruler again to smooth out the center of the quilt. You can also use it to help line up the pieced seams and nudge things back into place if needed. It’s almost like pre-blocking the quilt before you quilt it.

Spray Baste

Once you’ve smoothed out the center, you can work on the edges. Roll up the excess so that it doesn’t drag on the ground as you shift the quilt around.

It usually takes me a good 20 minutes to smooth out each layer of the quilt, but it’s time well spent!

Spray Baste

Step 5 – Press the Basted Quilt on Both Sides

The secret to good spray basting is to press the quilt once it’s layered. The heat of the iron sets the glue and it smooshes the quilt together so it’s nice and flat. I press the back side first, working out any excess bubbles or wrinkles. Then I flip it over and press the front.

I use a big board which fits on top of my ironing board, giving me more room to work.

Spray Baste

I’ve developed this basting method over the last few years and I can honestly say it makes a huge difference in how my quilts turn out. Just remember, you are putting a lot of wear and tear on the quilt when you scrunch and smoosh it through the opening of your machine. But with this method, nothing shifts and it’s easy to just focus on one area of the quilt at a time.

Feel free to pin and share this tutorial with your friends. My goal is to get more people quilting their own quilts while enjoying the process from start to finish!

Your Chance to win a Rainbow Taffy Quilt Kit + Machine Quilting Tips

April Update!! My Quilt Won the Championship!!
Thanks for all your Votes!!

I know it’s a little silly to get all excited about a fun promotional contest, but it really means a lot to me that so many of you have picked Rainbow Taffy as your favorite free pattern from Benartex so far. Today is the last round of voting to determine the final fan favorite, and one lucky voter will take home a kit of the winning quilt! Will it be Rainbow Taffy?? See below for details:

Benartex March Madness Voting

Final matchup: Rainbow Taffy from Modern Marks versus Violette from Gloaming

Click here to cast your vote for Rainbow Taffy on Benartex’ blog: Sew In Love with Fabric.
Click here to vote a second time in their Sew Interesting Facebook group.

You can also vote over on their Instagram account @benartex_fabrics.

Well, it all comes down to today and the final matchup between my pattern and my friend Shelley Cavanna’s. I met Shelley last fall when her booth was near mine in the Contempo section of Benartex at Quilt Market. She, too was debuting her first line of fabric and we got to know each other as we chatted on the floor for 3 days. So I will be happy no matter which of us wins!

Shelley Cavanna and Christa Watson at Benartex

Half the fun of attending quilt market is getting to meet new designer friends!!

Rainbow Taffy Quilting Tips

Here’s a tip for choosing thread: if you want your quilting to blend in, choose a thin, 50 weight thread in a color that is slightly lighter than the prints in the quilt. I chose a lime green Aurifil which actually acted as a neutral. It didn’t stand out too much on the white fabric and it added bit of sparkle to this colorful quilt!

Lime Green Aurifil Thread

Here’s another tip: the more quilting you add, the more the quilting design recedes into the background and becomes a textural element, rather than a focal point point motif. And rather than thinking you are quilting your quilt to death, you are really quilting the life into it by adding an extra layer of design!

Boxes quilting Detail

I quilted Rainbow Taffy using one of my favorite modern free motion motifs, “Boxes.”

In fact, I love this design so much, I included it as one of the prints in the line, seen in orange below. I thought it would be so “meta” to quilt boxes on boxes, LOL!!

Boxes print from Modern Marks

Here’s my tip for quilting an allover, or edge-to-edge design: start on one side of the quilt, and meander your way around the quilt, block by block. Allover designs are perfect for quilting a quilt in a hurry, since you don’t really have to worry about quilting different designs in different areas of the quilt.

Scrunch and Smoosh

I work my way from right to left across the quilt, rotating in the middle when it gets bulky.
To deal with the bulk – scrunch and smoosh it out of the way as you go.

Allover designs are also fantastic to hide any less than perfect seams. If they don’t match up perfectly, you can obscure this fact by adding a layer of texture right on top of the quilt.

Also, if there’s any fullness in your quilt, or it doesn’t lay quite flat, dense allover quilting can draw up some of that excess, and you can use your fingers to smooth out and problem areas while you quilt – just be careful that they don’t get in the way of the needle!

Machine Quilting Texture

See how that lime green thread blends in?? I love it!!

If you happen to run out of thread while you are quilting, you can just back up about 1/2 an inch and quilt a little bit on top of your previous quilting. Stitching on top will help secure the threads, and on a buys quilt, it’s hardly noticeable.

Rainbow Taffy by Christa Watson

One other tip – try not to play “bobbin chicken!” If you have a low bobbin indicator on your machine, try to stitch off the end of the quilt and put in a fresh bobbin. If you are quilting with cotton thread, you can always use that bit of leftover thread when piecing your next scrappy quilt!

Vote For Your Chance to Win a Rainbow Taffy Quilt Kit

Rainbow Taffy Quilt by Christa Watson. Made from Modern Marks.

To wrap up March Madness, Benartex is generously offering one lucky voter a chance to win a kit of the winning quilt! Voting closes Monday, April 2 at Noon EDT.

So head over to the Benartex blog now to cast your vote. The winner will be selected at random. You can also submit a bonus vote in their Facebook Group and Instagram @benartex_fabrics.

I sure loved making this quilt and I know you will, too. Click here to get the free pattern.
Good luck and thanks for playing!!

Vote for your Favorite “Final Four” and Stock up on Free Quilt Patterns from Benartex

Ok so I’m not much of a sports fan, but I am just a tiny bit competitive, LOL!! Benartex has been hosting a fun March Madness matchup to determine this year’s favorite free pattern. They started with 50, then voting narrowed it down to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight and now the Final Four. I’m pleased that my pattern, Rainbow Taffy has made it all the way so far and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that with your help, it will be voted #1 fan favorite!!

Rainbow Taffy by Christa Watson made from Modern Marks

Today is the semi final match and voting runs through 11:59 AM EDT tomorrow. Then voting for then final matchup starts at noon Eastern time on Friday. So if you want to join in the fun with me, here’s what you can do:

Click here to vote for Rainbow Taffy by leaving a comment on the Benartex Blog.
Click here to join the Benartex group on Facebook and vote again in their group poll.

There are some free fabric prizes to be won, and of course everyone who participates is a winner with access to dozens and dozens of fabulous free patterns!

Free Pattern Rainbow Taffy

Click here to get the free Rainbow Taffy Quilt Pattern + a Bonus Modern Marks Pattern
Click here to access the entire free pattern library from Benartex

On Fabric Design and Rejects – Those That Didn’t Make the Cut for Modern Marks

I’ve been getting a lot of positive support for the idea of sharing more of my behind-the-scenes work, so thank you for the enthusiasm!

Today I thought it would be fun to share something I don’t think many designers do – my fabric rejects, or those that didn’t make the cut when I designed my first fabric line, Modern Marks with Benartex/Contempo. I’m sure the reason designers don’t do this is because they know people would be clamoring for it, and be sad that they can’t buy the rejects LOL!!

Modern Marks Bundle

Modern Marks Swatches – It was hard to narrow it down to these final designs!
Contempo is Benartex’ modern/contemporary division.

Now before I get into it sharing some rejects, I’ll explain how I work with my fabric company since I’m sure many of you are curious about it. First – I create a mood board, with colors, ideas and styles I’m trying to achieve. I also draw out most of my designs by hand and select the colors I want to use.

Because I’m not computer savvy when it comes to creating repeats (the amount of distance between design elements so that a design can print continuously), I work with a fabric stylist and graphic designer at Benartex who help me with the technical work. Just as I utilize the services of a book publisher and graphic designer to make my books and patterns the best they can be, it’s been wonderful to collaborate with a fantastic company who has the same vision for fabric as I do.

Modern Marks Pinwheel from Benartex

I wanted Modern Marks precuts to be exciting and dynamic – and I love the results!

Since everything is finalized in the computer, it’s very easy to produce a LOT of different variations of the design in nearly unlimited colorways and print them out in color on paper before they go to the fabric mill for printing. However, because a fabric company is producing dozens of different lines each season, any particular designer is limited in the number of final designs that can actually be printed.

Hence the problem of narrowing things down. My rejects vastly outnumber those that I chose. Not only did several designs not make the cut, but I also had to narrow down which prints would be offered in what colorways. Those were some tough decisions to make, but I was pleased with the final result.

Fabric Design in Progress

Modern Marks fabric design in process – this group included too many lights, not enough mediums and several prints and colorways that I ultimately had to reject. You may see some of these ideas revisited in future fabric lines in a different way… so stay tuned!

You’ll notice many designs in the photo above that didn’t make the cut – including those super light boxes prints and the tossed triangles on the right. Although I loved the boxes, these versions were too light for the rest of the group. I ended up adding color to the backgrounds to make them read as a light-medium so that they could mix better with the other prints when using them all in the same quilt. But not to worry, I’ll be re-visiting the idea of adding more background prints in future fabric  lines.

Although the triangles above were very close to my original vision for them, once I saw them in repeat, the style didn’t fit with the rest of the group. They were a bit too whimsical and not quite the retro-modern look I was going for. Fortunately, since then I’ve been able to tweak the triangles into something I like better, and they’ll be appearing in a totally different way in my next fabric line coming out later this summer. So it just goes to show an idea is never wasted!!

Modern Marks

Finalizing the Modern Marks print selections on my design wall and grouping them by colorway. I numbered them and made a bunch of notes for the fabric company so we’d both be on the same page when it came time to print them. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the end result.

So now that you’ve had a bit of a sneak peek into my process, here are a few more examples of certain prints that I loved and why I ultimately rejected them. I’ve grouped the images below into the “reject” and the final versions and explained why I made each decision.

Modern Marks Design in Progress

Heartbeat vs. Herringbone

I really, really liked both of these – Heartbeat and Herringbone. They both started from the same original concept – a zig-zag line on a saturated background. However, I felt that the image on the right was more versatile and dynamic.

I design fabric in much the same way that I design quilt patterns – I start with one basic idea (zig zags, triangles, lines, etc.) and then brainstorm all the different ways that I can explore that concept. It’s a fun way to work and it ensures I’ll never run out of ideas!!

Modern Marks Design in Process

Plus vs. X

The two designs above were the hardest to finalize. If I’d had room in the collection I would have included them both. While I actually like the Plus design more than the X design, I ultimately decided to go with the simpler and more versatile X design, which I named “Crossmarks.” By this point, I already have enough directional prints and needed something that could act as more of a blender print. So Crossmarks it is!

In a well-rounded collection, you need a good ratio of dynamic vs simple designs; directional versus allover/tossed prints, with a nice variety of color and scale. Although each fabric line is limited to about 18-25 prints and has to stand on its own, I’m actually taking the long view and making sure that each fabric line that comes next will still work with the one before.

Modern Marks Half Ovals

Half Ovals – Reject colorways on top, final versions underneath.

The Half Ovals is probably my favorite print of the group. I knew I wanted to include a circle or dot print and so we mocked up this design in All. The. Colors! It was very difficult to narrow them down to the final 4 above.

Although I really really loved the lime green/blue versions on top, this is another case where less is more. Besides, by this point I knew that the one of the colorways of the main print would use similar colors, so I chose the more tone-downed blue on blue half-ovals to round out the collection and add another “blender” print to the mix.

Circles and Triangles in Modern Marks

Donuts vs. Quirky Triangles

When trying to brainstorm the “dot” or “circle” print for the line, I also came up with “donuts” above, left. I may or may not have been hungry when it came time to name this design, LOL!!

But… since I knew that I wanted to include the half-ovals instead, this one had to get the axe. However, I kept the color combo of orange and fuchsia and applied it to one of the Quirky Triangles prints instead.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes look at how I made some of these decisions to design Modern Marks. With this being my first fabric line, it was a huge learning curve but a fun and educational experience for sure!

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

I so enjoyed having my first booth at Quilt Market last fall.

If you can’t find Modern Marks in your local quilt shop, click here for a list of shops that also sell it online. Please leave a comment if you know of any other stores that carry it. My list is very  small so far, but based on the sales data, it’s in many more stores than I know about, so please help me update my list.

I’m excited that Modern Marks has been well received so far, and that I get to design more collections for Benartex. In fact, as soon as I returned from Fall Quilt Market last year, I got right to work on the next fabric line that comes out this summer. My sample yardage should be here soon, and then I’ll get right to work making quilts and finalzing patterns in time for Spring Market. Based on the kind feedback you all have been sending me, I’ll be happy to share more about that too – so stay tuned!