A Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts: Student Work from my Latest Workshop

Last week I taught a week-long class at John C. Campbell Folkschool on how to make a complete quilt from start to finish. Everyone made the same quilt from my Stepping Stones quilt pattern – but as you can see in the group pic below, they all look so different – and so fabulous!

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

A Colorful Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts

Last Saturday, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia along with my mom, Jason and two of my kids. My mom and the kids stayed with my aunt and uncle for the week while Jason and I drove over to the Folkschool. He took a photography class while I taught quilting, and we both had a fabulous time!

Fabric Cutting for Stepping Stones Quilt

Cutting in Progress. Each student chose their own fabrics and they were all fabulous!

My students got to work right away, cutting their fabrics to make their quilts. I love how most of them chose bright colors, but I’ve seen this design worked up in a wide variety of fabrics and it always turns out great!

Stepping Stones Quilt Blocks in Progress

Quilt blocks in progress – some students sewed theirs together randomly while others took time to carefully arrange each piece and either way works great!

It was fun to see the blocks going up on the design walls in the studio space. There was plenty of room to spread out and most students had their quilt tops pieced by the second day.

stepping stones quilt in progress

Quilts in progress decorated the walls beautifully all week!

They were excited to try out my spray basting technique and we had a gorgeous spot to baste, just outside the studio door in the lush green hills of Brasstown, NC.

spray basting

Can you imagine a more beautiful place to baste a quilt??

Once the quilt top and back are sprayed outside, we brought them in doors to assemble on a couple of work tables.

Basting: smooth the batting

The trick to good basting is to smooth out each layer of the quilt! A long acrylic ruler helps.

Although there were lots of quilts to baste, we made a party of it, helping everyone get theirs done so the process went very quickly!

Quilt Basting - pressing the quilt

Another trick is to iron the quilt once it’s basted to set the glue and smooth out wrinkles.

During class, I did a mini-lesson on both walking foot quilting and free motion quilting. and the students picked which techniques and designs they wanted to try, based on their skill level and ambition.

Machine Quilting in progress

Students learned how to “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt underneath their machines.
Walking-foot quilting detail of the quilt above is shown below:

walking foot quilting detail on stepping stones

I was so proud of them for going outside their comfort zones and trying out different techniques. Those that wanted to do custom quilting practiced on a sample block like I suggested so they could see how the design would work with the thread and fabrics they chose.

custom quilting on stepping stones

One student’s custom quilting design. Although it’s taking her much longer to quilt this intricate design in each block, the results will be well worth it at the end!

Once the quilts were quilted, it was time to bind. I taught them how to apply an even 1/4″ binding by starting with 2″ strips. They were even willing to finish it by hand and most of them added the final stitches on the last morning before the closing ceremony.

Hand binding stepping stones

You can get a LOT of binding done while chatting hanging out!!!

Although class time went for 6 hours a day Monday-Thursday and 1/2 day class on Friday, most of the students took advantage of bonus sewing time in the evenings. I also worked on an upcoming project during that time (which I’ll reveal shortly) and we all had a grand time! It really was like an intimate quilting retreat. None of the students knew each other before class but were BQF’s (best quilting friends) at the end of the week!

It really felt like quilt camp for adults and I have to say I had just as much fun as they did!!

Finished Stepping Stones Quilt

First quilt!! It’s never too late to learn!!

It’s rare that I get to teach an intense in-person class like this but it’s such a joy to see them all do such a fabulous job. We even had one sweet quilter that had never made a quilt before and hadn’t even touched a sewing machine in over 30 years. But with help and encouragement of the class, she had a fabulous finish and was so proud of it!!

Fiber Arts Studio at John C. Campbell Folkschool

The Fiber Arts Studio wouldn’t be complete with out a Barn Quilt Block!!

We were very lucky to call the Fiber Arts Studio at the Folkschool our home away from home for a week. This is the third time I’ve been able to teach here, and it just gets better and better! (See my previous two classes here and here.)

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

Folkschool Quilt Class, June 2018

Just remember – if you decide to have fun making your own version of Stepping Stones quilt – I’m here to cheer you on!!

What Really Happens at Quilt Market: My Experience at Spring 2018 in Portland, Oregon

Quilt Market wrapped up a couple weeks ago but I finally feel settled enough to blog a little bit more about my experience as I debuted my second fabric line and my latest batch of quilt patterns.

(Click here for my latest post all about the newest quilts and patterns.)

Christa Watson Contempo booth Quilt Market 2018

My booth was next to Cherry Guidry,another Benartex Contempo designer – she introduced a beautiful collection of neutrals called “Words to Live By.” A friend made four skirts from me from my fabric and I paired them up with a fun pair of shoes each day!

Here’s a shot of the full booth where you can see all five quilts that were on display. Sparkling Stars took center stage and got quite a lot of attention. You can see the cool version of Surplus Strips on the ladder with Heather Black’s gorgeous Pearl Pendants quilt.

Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex

The warm version of Surplus Strips (on the right above, near the Contempo sign) did double duty: it added color to the side of the booth, and also covered up a functional bookcase full of fabric samples for the sales associates.

The table was decorated with Sylvia Schaefer’s fabulous Pinwheel Rings quilt, and it served as an overflow sales station for those sales reps who “worked the floor” rather than staying in the Benartex area the whole time. Although I mostly took pictures when no one was around, just imagine people milling through the booths entire time, talking shop, placing orders and oohing and ahhing over all the beautiful new things.

Bags by Annie Unrein made from Fandangle

By Annie bags and containers were scattered throughout the booth showcasing her latest patterns and adding a colorful touch while being very functional for me. I used them to hold business cards, pattern giveaways and hidden items like snacks and my phone – stuff I need easy access to but don’t want to have sticking out in public!

Annie and I have a great deal going – I send her sample of my newest fabrics, and she makes up a bunch of samples showcasing her new patterns and my new fabric. I get to use them in my booth when they debut at market and then she takes them when she travels, and sets up for trunk shows. My mom has even spotted things made from my previous line, Modern Marks in some of her newer videos so it’s fun to see them “out in the wild!”

What Really Happens at Quilt Market

2 Days Before Show Time

So now that you’ve seen my booth, I’ll give you a play by play of my experiences each day. Two days before the show opens is booth setup. Fortunately the amazing folks at Benartex have a team that designs, builds and decorates the booths. The pics below are during setup: crates are shipped in, flooring is laid down, curtains are hung on poles and furniture is arranged.

For two days, the show floor looks like a disaster zone in everyone’s booth and then it all comes together magically at the last minute! That’s my hubby Jason in the shot below looking on and being so grateful he doesn’t have to build my booth!!

Quilt Market Booth Setup

1 Day Before Show Time

Below – I’m wearing my first day outfit – a skirt made from the red colorway of Baubles and bits. I stopped by to check up on booth setup and they were pretty much done with everyone but my corner.  My quilts were the last to be hung because I had to share them at a few pre-opening marketing events first.

Christa with Fandangle outfit

The day started off with a breakfast meeting with the Benartex sales reps. The designers attending were able to show our quilts and tell the reps a little bit more about the inspiration behind the designs as well as talk about the patterns we created to help support the line. They have much of this information already in their sales books that they show to shop owners, but getting to present to them in person allows them to get to know us better and tailor their visits to quilt shops to better meet their needs.

Many of the sales team represent several different fabric companies, so it’s a lot of information for them to take in and remember. Although shops can stop by any booth they like and place orders at quilt market, most buying and selling happens through fabric company sales reps, so anything we fabric designers can do to help our collections stand out will give us a better chance of quilt shops purchasing them for their shops.

Showing Fandangle to Benartex Sales Reps

After meeting with the sales team, it was time to prepare for schoolhouse. This is a set of 15-30 minute education sessions aimed at helping shop owners understand the benefits of carrying our products in their shops. My session was teaching how to host a quilt along to help shops sell more patterns and fabric. Of course the hope is that they’ll decide to carry my things, but I make sure my tips will work for anything they choose to carry in their shops.

Schoolhouse Schedule

I was a little nervous that no one would show up for my session since it was the second to last one of the day. By this time, everyone’s been on their feet all day and it can start to be a little tiring. Plus there are about 15-20 sessions happening during the same timeslot, so attendees really have to pick and choose which ones they want to see.

Fortunately every seat filled up and it was standing room only. Everyone who attended got a little goody bag with a free pattern to entice them to carry my fabric. I won’t know how the first round of sales for Fandangle went until I get my first royalty report after the fabric ships, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a good number of shops decide to carry it!

Quilt Market Schoolhouse

Show Time!

The show floor of quilt market is open for 3 days so it can be a bit of a blur! That sounds like a lot of time but it goes by very quickly, especially when it’s spent talking about fabric non-stop! But because quilt market is also a very social event, its great when some industry legends stop by to chat, too. Below I was able to catch up with Luana Rubin, the amazingly talented owner of eQuilter.com. We first got acquainted at a BERNINA ambassador reunion and I love following her work and travels on instagram.

Luana Rubin of EQuilter

In this photo I wore a skirt made from the cool colorway of Sparkling Squares.

During this whirlwind time of hanging out in the booth and talking to folks as they stopped by, I had a few meetings (more about that later…) and several machine quilting demos. During my demos I explained how several of my designs from Fandangle were actually inspired by some of my favorite machine quilting designs in my latest book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts. And here’s a hint to file away for now – although swirls didn’t make the cut for Fandangle, they’ll definitely make an appearance in the future…. so stay tuned!!

Machine Quilting Demo

It’s always great to meet up with fellow designers and see what they are working on, too. On the last day of the show, Aurifil organized a group picture for some of the designers who were attending that also have Aurifil thread collections. I’ve been chatting with Aurifil about my next thread collection and I’m really excited about what we’ve come up with so far. If all goes well, I’ll be debuting that one at fall market so there’s always fun stuff happening behind the scenes!!

Aurifil Thread Designers

Just a few of the Aurifil thread curators – Aurifil got a ribbon for best notions booth!!
On the last day of market I wore my Baubles and Bits skirt in the teal colorway.
It was fun to wear my fabric each day!

I’ll end this post with some pretty shots of my fellow Contempo designers’ booths that were in the same quad area. It was fun to see their pretty quilts hanging up all weekend and getting to know some of them better! In order below they are Cherry Guidry of Cherry Blossom Studio, Amanda Murphy, Amy Friend of During Quiet Time and Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio.

The next big industry event I’ll be attending is BERNINA University in Chicago at the end of June. It’s like a mini-version of quilt market but exclusively for BERNINA dealers. I’m excited to meet many of the shop owners who didn’t attend quilt market, and I’m looking forward to teaching some hands on BERNINA classes while I’m there. I can’t wait!

QuiltCon 2019 Catalog Just Released – Here’s What I’m Teaching

I’m excited to be teaching at QuiltCon once again February 21-24 in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been to every QuiltCon since it began and this will be my third time as a member of the faculty. I’m most excited about the fact that although I’ll be plenty busy teaching 3 workshops and a lecture, I’ll still have plenty of time for all of the social events, too.

QuiltCon 2019 CatalogClick here to get the complete QuiltCon 2019 catalog.
Member registration opens June 26 and general registration begins July 10.

My QuiltCon 2019 Teaching Schedule

DSMQ200 Walking Foot Wonders, Thursday Feb. 21, 9-5

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, several different spirals, straight‐line designs, and more. You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts! This is a hands-on machine class with machines provided for each student.

Walking foot Quilting Workshop


QDR010 Plan Your Quilting (A), Saturday Feb. 23, 2-5 PM Or
QDR011 PLan Your Quilting (B), Saturday Feb. 23, 6-9 PM

How do you get from “quilt as desired” to a cohesive quilting strategy? Students
will practice sketching quilting motifs on paper, then learn strategies to apply those designs to an actual quilt top. Students will each have a chance to create several different quilting plans using images of their own quilts printed on paper, as well as learning how to create quilting plans for a wide variety of quilt designs. This is hands‐on drawing workshop.

Plan Your Machine Quilting


lec22 Infusing Modern into Machine Quilting, Sunday Feb. 24, 10:15 AM

This informative lecture is full of examples from previous QuiltCons, demonstrating how the modern aesthetic can apply to the machine quilting process. Learn how negative space, minimalism, graphic geometry, improvisation and other hallmarks of the modern aesthetic can be incorporated into your machine quilting work.

Attendees will gain a better understanding of why many modern quilters choose to employ an abundance of straight line and “industrial looking” designs rather than quilting overly ornate and perfectly symmetrical motifs. Suggestions on how to incorporate graphic and linear free‐motion quilting as an alternative to straight‐ line quilting will also be explored.

The last time I taught at QuiltCon I was part of a panel lecture/discussion about managing your fabric stash with the lovely and talented Judy Gauthier, Rossie Hutchinson and Mary Fons.

This QuiltCon is shaping up to be one of the best, yet! There are loads of meetups and mixers and the class catalog offers the widest variety of lectures and workshops they’ve ever offered. I’ve got my eye on a design workshop I want to take, and there are plenty of lectures I’m interested in, too!

I hope you’ll make plans to attend, whether or not you take any workshops. QuiltCon is unlike any other quilt show I’ve attended – there’s definitely a party atmosphere there and half of the fun is the socializing! Leave a comment if you plan to attend and let’s get this party started early!!

My Spring 2018 Quilt Market Schedule for Portland, Oregon

Quilt Market begins this Wednesday in Portland, Oregon, which is the semi-annual trade show for the quilting industry. I usually attend each time with my husband Jason, but last year when I debuted my first fabric line, it became even more important. This spring I’ll be there promoting my next fabric line, Fandangle, which is a fun, silly word that means embellishment or ornamentation. It hits stores this summer and I can’t wait!

Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here for quilt market exhibitors and booth numbers.

In addition to meeting shop owners in my booth (#1846-47 in the Benartex/Contempo area), I’ll be busy with a slew of events designed to help show off the fabric with examples of what can be made from it. (Continue to follow my blog as I share more behind-the-scenes of the quilts I made!) If you will be attending, I’d love to chat in person! Here’s my complete schedule of events:

Schoolhouse on Thursday May 17, 4:55 PM Room A109

Schoolhouse Spring Quilt Market

Click here for the complete schoolhouse schedule.

Schoolhouse happens on the day before quilt market officially opens. It’s a fun, chaotic day of 15-30 minute presentations educating shop owners about what’s new and how they can best promote the items they’ll be purchasing for their shops. There are over a dozen sessions happening at any one time so the hardest part is picking which ones to attend!

My session is titled “How to run a successful quilt along in your shop or online” and everyone who attends will get a free copy of one of my brand new quilt patterns. There will also be several drawings for giveaways of my brand new fabric.

Quilting Demos: Friday at 3 PM, Saturday at 1 PM and 3 PM

Demo Alley Spring quilt market

Click here for the demo alley schedule.

Quilt market introduced a new event last fall, called “Demo Alley” which is a series of scheduled demos taking place in a specific area on the show floor. I’ll be sharing tips and tricks for free-motion quilting as well as demonstrating how I practice drawing designs on paper and then translating those onto quilt samples. It should be fun so make sure you stop by during the times listed above if you are there!

Designer Showcase – Saturday and Sunday at 11 AM

Benartex Designer Showcase

Finally, Benartex will be holding a fun event on the show floor two times each on Saturday and Sunday which is a chance to get an overview of all the new fabric lines. Of course there will be goodies and giveaways to all who attend, so be sure to add it to your schedule!

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

Me in my booth at quilt market  last fall – I can’t wait to do it all again!

Spring Market 2018

Come see me and other fabulous Benartex Contempo designers
in booth 1846,47 at quilt market!

Now that my agenda is set, it’s time to go pack! If you can’t be there in person, be sure to follow me on instagram @christaquilts to catch a live updates each day!

Writing Book 4 – Part 1: The Book Proposal

Guess what? I’ll soon be writing another machine quilting book! I thought it would be fun to take you behind the scenes of book creation from start to finish because I get a lot of questions about what it takes to write one. I figured the best way to answer that was to document my process in real time as it happens. My only caveat is you’ll have to be patient as I blog about my journey because it can take a long time from concept to publish date. But sharing this journey with you in real time will definitely make the months (and years) pass more quickly.
Books by Christa Watson

The 3 books I’ve written will be joined by a 4th (but not till 2020)!!

The first step is to submit a very thorough book proposal. Book publishers have their proposal submission forms on their website and most are very similar: they want to know the gist of the book, what makes it special or different, why it will sell (and how you plan to market it) along with what you envision the book to look like.

If it’s a project based book, they’ll want to see sketches of all the proposed projects including the fabrics you plan to use. They may request to see one or more finished quilts and a sample chapter from the book so they know that you can write and express yourself clearly.

They’ll also want a timeline of how long it will take you to complete the manuscript and make all the projects so they can assign it a production team and release date. FYI, most books take about 1 1/2 to 2 years to produce from the initial spark of an idea to publication.

Before a publisher is ready to give the thumbs up, they’ll do a thorough review, usually with an acquisitions committee. They’ll conduct a cost projection & market analysis to make sure that producing the book will be profitable. A publisher spends a lot of time and resources on any one book including a whole team of people to copy edit, tech edit, photograph, lay out, illustrate, and of course market it. To get an idea, open up any book you have from a major publisher and count the list of names that were involved in producing it.

Editing Machine Quilting with Style

Editing my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, back in 2015

The proposal for my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, took about 5 months to solidify my idea and then another 4 months to actually write the proposal which was over 40 pages in length. I first thought about the idea in February of 2013 after returning home from QuiltCon but didn’t submit the proposal until November of 2013. I completed the quilts and manuscript in August of 2014, and it was published in September of 2015, nearly 2 years later after I proposed it.

My current proposal was about 30 pages and took me 3 months to thoroughly think through my ideas – then another month to design the content and create the structure, outline and table of contents. Even after writing multiple books, getting the green light for the next one is never a guarantee and I had to complete a thorough submission each time.

Angela Walters and Christa Watson at Quilt Market

Promoting my 2nd book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with Angela Walters at Quilt Market in 2016. (Check out long my hair grew out in a year from writing to publication!)

I submitted the proposal for my 4th book to Martingale/That Patchwork Place in early April of this year, and just received the unofficial word that they want to go forward with my idea, after a bit of tweaking. (I waited to start writing this series in the off chance that they weren’t interested because then there’d be nothing to document, LOL!!)

Once my publisher received my submission, they discussed it at their monthly submission meeting, and came back with a “yes we want to publish it, but let’s tweak it a bit more before we give the official approval.” I’m always open to suggestions, and one of the keys to getting your book successfully published is flexibility.

I originally had two ideas for book #4 and pre-pitched them on both before I submitted the complete proposal, to make sure they were interested in seeing them. Although I incorporated both ideas into the current proposal, I emphasized that I wanted to go in one direction with it more than the other. However, my publisher felt that the second direction I had offered had a better chance of being successful, so I’m heeding their advice. After all, they know the market and their customers better than I do!

Box of Books - Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

It was such an exciting day when copies of my 3rd book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts arrived!

So the next step is to edit the proposal by emphasizing idea 2 over idea 1 and present the changes to them in person when we meet up at Spring Quilt Market. Because we are working as a team here, they’ll help me craft it in such a way that it will get the official approval when the committee meets again next month. We just need to get the final concept that we both agreed on written down into words and graphics that will illustrate exactly what the book will be about.

We also discussed timing. At first I thought I wanted it to come out in fall of 2019 but in order to do that, everything would have to be in turned in this August (of 2018) and with my current travel schedule, there’s no way I could manage that. So we are tentatively looking at Spring of 2020 which will give me the time I need to actually get everything done. Although that seems like a long way off from now, it will be here before we know it!!

Although I won’t really be able to discuss the specific content of the book, I’ll gladly take you along my journey as I write the manuscript and create the content. I’ll write another update once I get the official word, so stay tuned!

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!

I’m at Craftsy This Week – New Class Coming Soon!

The last 2 weeks have been such a crazy busy time which is why I’ve been a little more quiet on the blog. I barely got back from QuiltCon just in time to prep for a few days and head off to Craftsy this week. So that’s why you haven’t seen a QuiltCon post or the last Squiggles QAL post on binding. But I promise those are coming, as soon as I get back!

Machine Quilting Elongated Swirls

Machine Quilting Detail on Craftsy Class Sample – More Info Coming Soon!

Above is a sneak peek of the quilt I’ve been working on, in between all of my other fun deadlines. It’s a new quilt I designed for my third Craftsy class that I’m filming this week. Without giving too much away yet, the new class I’m filming is a followup to Startup Library: Quilting and the focus will be on accurate cutting and piecing to help you improve your skills

Because you all know how much I love machine quilting, the class will even include a lesson on how to quilt one of my favorite motifs – elongated swirls (seen above). My #1 tip when learning  how to free-motion quilt is to pick one design and quilt it allover the entire quilt. By the time you are done, you’ll be an expert at that design!!

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Startup Library: Quilting is the comprehensive start-to-finish 6 hour class that was released last summer. It was my 2nd class with them filmed over 5 days.

And if you didn’t hear the news yet – Craftsy is offering a special this week to try out their new subscription service. From March 5-7, 2018 (Monday-Wed THIS week), you can try Craftsy Unlimited for just $1 for 2 weeks.

So click here to take advantage of this special offer and while you’re there, be sure check out my other two classes!

FYI – When you purchase a class “a la cart” under their traditional system, you own it forever. The subscription model allows you access to the entire class catalog as long as you stay subscribed. I think the subscription is a great way to sample classes on a regular basis, and then you can purchase those which you know you’ll want to refer back to time and time again.

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

The Quilter’s Path was my first Craftsy class which released just over a year ago. In this class I offer lots of machine quilting instruction and a free pattern to practice on. It’s also where I streamlined my idea of creating a quilting plan for every quilt.

Be sure and catch me on instagram this week @christaquilts where I’ll share daily updates on how Craftsy filming is going. I’m not sure of the release date yet, but it’s usually within a couple of months of filming, so the turnaround time is pretty quick. I’ll keep you posted!!

Quick Craftsy Links

Click here to try out the subscription service for 2 weeks for $1 (Expires 3/7/18)
Click here to preview or purchase Startup Library: Quilting
Click here to preview or purchase The Quilter’s Path

Update: Free Patterns, Basting Tutorial, EQ8 Fabric Swatches, and Modern Marks Inspiration

Whew! It’s been a busy week! While I’ve been having a blast teaching machine quilting this week at Road to California, my fabric has getting out in the quilting world in a big way. I have a roundup of educational tips and tutorials, patterns to share, and loads of inspiration!

Spray Basting Tutorial

While I was teaching, I shared my tips and tricks for preparing your quilt to ensure machine quilting success. One of the most important steps is basting your quilt, so today I’ve shared my method on how to do that over on Amy Smart’s blog at Diary of a Quilter:

Wall Basting Quil Tutorial

Click here to read my spray basting tutorial.

Free Modern Quilt Patterns

Modern by the Yard is Benartex’ free online magazine featuring loads of inspiring patterns with a modern flair. In the current issue you’ll find a fabulous pattern called Confetti designed and made by Sarah Goer featuring Modern Marks. Don’t you love how she used the Jade Crossmarks print as a neutral?

Confetti Quilt Pattern featuring Modern Marks fabric by Christa Watson

Click here to get the current issue of Modern by the Yard. It’s free!

Along with 4 free patterns in the current issue, you can read up on more of the inspiration behind this collection and how it came to be.

Modern Marks Digital images for EQ8 – Free!

Speaking of Modern Marks, I recently collaborated with the folks over at Electric Quilt software to offer downloads of my fabric swatches for you to use in EQ8.

Modern Marks Fabric swatches

Click here to get digital swatches of all 31 Modern Marks fabrics free from EQ8!

You must have Electric Quilt software in order for it to work, but now you can design any quilt you like using my fabric!! And it should work for earlier versions of the program, too.

Guest on Hello My Quilting Friends

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Leah Day on the latest episode of her Podcast, “Hello My Quilting Friends”. Leah and I have become great friends over the last few years and her weekly podcasts are so fun to listen to while I sew!

Leah Day Quilting Podcast

Click here to listen to the interview or watch on YouTube.

I share a few behind the scenes stories of my design process and we chat a bit about my latest book. Leah and I recently collaborated on a mini quilt, inspired by one of the patterns from Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Be sure and click here to check it out.

New Fabric Collections from Fall Quilt Market 2017

Finally, here’s a fun video that my friend Debby Brown put together for Annie’s Creative Studio. She interviewed several fabric designers at last year’s fall quilt market, including yours truly. It gives you a peek into the excitement of quilt market along with loads of fabric eye-candy!

Annie's Creative StudioClick here to view the video.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what’s been happening in my world this week. I’ll be back to more quilting next week and I can’t wait!

Christa’s Soap Box – Simplifying Social Media

Social media overwhelms me and I’ve decided it’s time to simplify. Don’t worry – the blog is NOT going anywhere!! But I’ve been contemplating over the last few months about how I spend my time and WHERE to spend my time.

Until yesterday, I’ve been running a bit ragged, trying to keep up with 3 Facebook pages, 2 Instagram accounts, 2 email lists, this blog, and a very weak attempt at Pinterest. Not to mention several business networking groups. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and joined Instagram in 2013, then began adding ever more social media outlets to the lineup to keep up with “the next best thing.”

The result? I’m honestly getting a little burned out. I spend way more time on screens that could be better spent at the sewing machine!

HST Remix Quilt

Because a blog post is more fun to read with pretty pictures, I’ve sprinkled in a few pics of my latest finish – HST Remix . I often have deep thoughts while quilting – it’s very therapeutic!!

What I’m Saying “Yes” to:

So here’s what I’m keeping: the blog, Instagram, and my Facebook group.

What I’m Saying “No” to:

What I’m ditching: my Facebook biz page, personal Facebook updates, two email lists, my business Instagram, and Pinterest (Gasp! Sorry folks, I’m just not a pinner!!)

What I’m NOT going to feel guilty about NOT doing: Twitter, YouTube, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat, etc. What I AM going to enjoy: making and sharing what I want, when I want, where I want.

If I make it – and others want it – they will find it.

HST Remix Quilt

Dense machine quilting makes me happy. I’d rather spend more time creating, and less time managing social media.

Since making that decision to simplify only yesterday, I woke up feeling much lighter today. I’ve realized I don’t need to post ALL THE THINGS to ALL THE PLACES, or worry about whether I cross promoted or over-promoted, or forgot to mention the latest and greatest: here, there and everywhere.

I can simplify. I can make. I can share. And I can focus on quality over quantity which better aligns with my minimalist leanings.

You Can Still Follow Me Here

By the way, if you DO want to follow what I’m doing, and keep up with the blog, you can easily subscribe to it. Here’s how:

If you are on a computer, there are two options in the right-hand side bar. (1) You can enter your email underneath where it says “follow my blog!” and you’ll get an email each time a post is published. Or (2) scroll down a bit further and click the button that says “follow me on bloglovin.”

HST Remix

This is HST Remix, one of my QuiltCon entries. Whether it gets accepted to the show or not, I enjoyed every stitch of this huge 90″ x 90″ quilt! It was made entirely on my home sewing machine.

If you are reading this from your mobile device, it’s a bit trickier to find the signup box. You’ll have to scroll way, way, down, like past a million blog posts until you get to all the “stuff” at the bottom of the screen. Then you’ll see the box to enter your email, or the Bloglovin button. But they are there if you persevere!

Whew – that felt so good to get it off my chest!! I’ll post again when there’s something more to say or show. Now it’s time to start on the next quilt….

Meet Me at Market! (2017 International Quilt Market Schedule)

I’ll be a busy bee at quilt market next week (which takes place each fall in Houston, Texas, and various locations in the spring). Scroll down for my schedule of events including demos and book signings. I’ll be there primarily to promote my new book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts along with my new fabric, Modern Marks.

Christa at Quilt Market 2015

I have great memories of quilt market. My first time attending as an author was in 2015 when I introduced my first book, Machine Quilting with Style. I’ve come a long way since then!

If you plan to attend, I’d love to meet up and chat! If your favorite quilt shop is going – be sure to share this info with them and send them my way!

 

Friday, October 27 Schoolhouse

  • Martingale Room 381B 1:55 – 2:25pm – Quilts from My New Book
  • Benartex Room 352F 3:45-4:15 – Quilts Made from Modern Marks

Saturday, October 28

  • All Day – Benartex/Contempo booth
  • 1:30 PM – Aurifil Booth – Machine Quilting Demo
  • 2:30 PM – BERNINA, booth 628 – Quilt Demo/Book Signing

Sunday, October 29

  • All Day – Benartex/Contempo booth
  • 3 PM – Hobbs Batting, booth 200 – Book Signing

Monday, October 30

  • All Day – Benartex/Contempo booth
  • 10-10:30 AM – Brewer booth 734 – Book Signing
  • 12-12:30 PM – Demo Alley – Make a Quilting Plan
  • 1-2:30 PM – Demo Alley – Hand Binding Made Easy

Angela Walters and I introduced our book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting at Spring Quilt Market in 2016. At the time this was my 2nd book, and her 7th!!

International Quilt Market is just open to the trade which means quilt shop owners, designers, and anyone in business in the quilting industry is allowed to attend with the proper credentials (usually an invoice, legitimate business card and web site or store presence.)

Schoolhouse at Market

Another great market memory – Stephanie Palmer, Leah Day and I shared a informal teaching session at quilt market in the fall of 2016. We talked about getting your work published. Leah recorded it for the launch of her very first podcast which you can listen to here.

Thank goodness for the internet and instagram, you can catch the fun virtually even if you can’t attend. Follow the hashtags #quiltmarket #fallquiltmarket, #quiltmarket2017 to stay in the loop! I’m on instagram @christaquilts so be sure to follow me there so you don’t miss a thing!

Leave a comment below if you will be attending. I’d love to see you there!

Christa Watson Quilt Market

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save