Behind the Scenes: My Design Process for Fandangle

Today I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of my fabric design process for Fandangle. The line includes 6 designs in multiple colorways so I’ll take you through the design process of 3 of them. (When my first line, Modern Marks came out, I shared a bit of my process along with some some of the rejects, and that got a lot of interest. Read about  that here.)

Fandangle Fabric

Click here to get yardage and bundles of Fandangle, while supplies last.

For Fandangle, I knew that I wanted it to coordinate with Modern Marks, but still stand on its own as a separate collection. In fact, as I was working on the line, I scattered some of the in-process paper swatches onto my Modern Marks Rainbow Taffy quilt, just to make sure they’d look good together:

Fandangle and Modern Marks

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the orange, yellow and green tone on tones are not the final versions I ended up with. Read more about those “rejects” below!

Whenever I design a line, I start with a concept and a rough color palette. When inspiration strikes, I can see what I want in my head, but the hard part is technically getting that into the computer to form a proper repeat. Fortunately, I work with a fabulous stylist and graphic designer at Benartex who can help translate my ideas into reality. I thought it would be fun to walk you through the design process of three of the prints so you can see how they evolved.

Evolution of Baubles and Bits

This print was the hardest to finalize and the one that took the most work. I knew I wanted to create a fun, funky medallion that would almost read as a floral. So we started with the basic medallion shape. You’ll notice that colors and designs change quite a bit during the process. First I finalize the shapes, and then the colors. So any in-process and designs and hues are always just placeholders.

First Try:

Second Try:

Baubles and Bits in Process

Third Try:

Final Design:

Baubles and Bits final design

Isn’t it fun to see how it evolves? Of course there were a lot of intermediate steps in between each image involving more sketches, lots of cutting and pasting, and the painstaking decisions to add or remove colors that didn’t work. Did you notice that I cut the purple? It just didn’t work this time around (although we were able to work in some nice pink and lilac). But don’t worry, purple will work its way into my fabrics in the future – I promise!!

Multiply these design and color changes by each print and color in the line and you can see what an involved process fabric design can be!

Triangle Trinkets Design Process

This print was a lot quicker to finalize. It began with a simple line-drawing sketch of my arrowheads quilting design in several different arrangements.

Original Concept:

Triangles sketches

Then we put the designs into the computer and tried different color groupings and design layouts to see what worked. The teal colorway was one of my favorites, but I thought the stripe arrangement below was too directional.

Good Color, Bad Layout:

Final Design:

Once the design was finalized, we recolored them in a dozen different colors that coordinated with the rest of the prints. It was hard to narrow it down to the final three colors I included in the line, but sadly, I knew I couldn’t include them all!

Fandangle fabric -Triangle Trinkets

Paper Cuts – the Tone on Tone Blender

This print was one I felt strongly about from the beginning. I knew exactly what I wanted but it took awhile to get there. Again, I started with a simple pen and ink sketch on paper, inspired by another one of my favorite free motion designs – jagged stipple.

Design Sketch:

The design team at Benartex wasn’t so sure it would translate well as a design, so we tried a couple other things first that I ultimately rejected. First of all, we revisited the boxes print from Modern Marks with a different take on the design.

Boxes Blender:

Boxes blender

Nice, but nope, that wasn’t it. It turned out very nice but was too close in concept to the boxes design from Modern Marks.

Loops and Strings:

blender loops

We tried something that looked like loops and strings, again based on one of my free-motion quilting designs. This print would have worked well, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Jagged Design – First Try:

Blender print

Finally, they were willing to let me try the jagged, edgy design that I really wanted with this line. The first iteration was a little too dense for my taste, so we spaced it out to give the design a little more breathing room.

Final Tone on Tone Design:

Paper Cuts design from Fandangle

It was worth all of the time and effort we put into this print! After the design and scale were finalized, the hardest part was naming it. “Jagged Stipple” didn’t really go with the other design names inspired by the idea of ornamentation and embellishment.

So I finally renamed it “Paper Cuts” because that sounded cutesy and crafty. The irregular jagged lines reminded me of small cuttings of paper. I almost named the print “scherenschnitte” which literally means “scissor cuts” but I knew people would have a hard time trying to pronounce that word it, let alone spell it, LOL!!

Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Fandangle Quilt PatternsClick here to get PDF versions of the Fandangle Quilt Patterns
Click here to get print versions of the Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Of course, once the prints were finalized as digital images, it took me nearly as long to come up with quilt patterns to showcase the fabrics effectively. Designing quilt patterns is a very similar process for me as fabric design: I start with an initial sketch, and tweak it until it feels right. All of this work was finalized before I even received fabrics to work with. It’s a long process for sure, but I enjoy every minute of it!

Fandangle Finalized

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo

I hope you enjoyed seeing this peek behind the curtain of how one designer’s process evolves. I know it’s different for each and every fabric designer, but so far this process has worked very well for me. I went through a similar process described above for all six prints in the line, but it was worth it to create a collection I love!

In fact, as I write this, I’m developing additional concepts, sketches, colorways, and ideas for future fabric lines. I’m starting to get the hang of how things works which each new collection I create, and it’s been such an incredible journey. As long as you all continue to love them as much as I do, I’ll have more to share in the coming months – so stay tuned!

Writing Book 4 – Part 2: Contract Accepted, Work Begins

If you are new to my blog, I’ve begun documenting my progress as I write a book from start to finish. In my last post, I discussed the book proposal process, so be sure to check that out! I’m currently working on my fourth book, and kinda maybe sorta know more about what I’m doing this time around. Just kidding about the “sorta” part, but it’s always a learning process, for sure!!

Christa Watson Books

I’ve written 3 books on my own and have been featured in numerous collaborations with my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork Place, a few of which are shown here.

So here’s what’s happened so far. After I submitted my proposal back in April of this year, I met with my publisher in person in May at Spring Quilt Market 2018 in Portland, OR. I had an in-depth meeting with the acquisitions editor and content editor to nail down the specifics of what the new book will be about (machine quilting – duh!!)

I had originally wanted to go in one direction with the book, but when they pointed out that some of the content I wanted to include was already covered in my first three books, they helped me narrow down my focus and solidify the overall direction for this new book.

Martingale Collaboration Books

Two new Martingale titles that debuted at Spring Quilt Market include Fat Quarter Favorites, featuring my quilt on the cover, and Lunch Hour Patchwork which includes my modern mini.

A couple of months after our meeting at market, Martingale offered me the formal contract in writing, which of course I accepted, and I made myself a time line/to do list of all the steps I’ll need to finish on time.

The first section of the book isn’t due until the next February and the final manuscript, instructions, and samples are due by the end of summer 2019. I’m thrilled because this will give me plenty of time to create the book along with other new and exciting projects I have in the works.

The most wonderful part about working with a publisher is that although I create all of the content, including “placeholder” photos and illustrations, Martingale has a team of professionals who photograph and illustrate everything based on my images. I love it when they take what I create and make it look even more beautiful!

Publishing Agreement for my Next Book

Happy mail! Getting the contract in the mail is always an exciting day!

Book 4 (as I will be calling it until the cover art is finalized) is slated to be 96 pages which is the same length as my most recent book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Of course that can change depending on final editing, and it’s due to be published in September of 2020 (also subject to change). I have a working title for the book, but even that can be tweaked.

As an example, for my first three books, the publisher named the first two while I titled the third. I have a feeling that the title for Book 4 is something we both are in agreement on! (Sorry for all the teases, but I’m giving away only as much as I can at this point.)

I can’t say enough about how excited I am to work on this new book. It’s actually something that many of my students have been asking for, so I love being able to meet their needs. And the best thing about machine quilting is that it’s timeless: the ideas I create now will be just as relevant in two years when the book is available for sale. Even though that seems like a long way off right now, I know that time is going to fly!

Christa at Quilt Market 2015

Doing a demo for my first book at quilt market in 2015

While I can’t discuss the specifics of my contract, I can tell you that royalties are based on the wholesale price of the book, and I will also have the opportunity to purchase them wholesale myself. In fact, most authors who sell their own books make more from direct sales of their books than they do in royalties, so it’s something to keep in mind if you are considering writing a book, or purchasing a book directly from the author.

Now the real work begins. The toughest part for me is balancing out my workdays so that I work on my book a little each week, rather than trying to cram in everything right before the deadline. I’m currently planning in detail everything that needs to be done, and my publisher was fabulous to work with on the timing, since I let them know I wouldn’t really be able to start on it in earnest until after Fall Market later this year.

Machine Quilting Demo

Machine quilting demo to promote my latest fabric and book at Spring Quilt Market 2018. I will be doing lots and lots and lots of quilting over the next few months. I can’t wait!

I have to be honest and say it’s been nice to have a two year break from book writing, since work on my previous book was completed in 2016, a full year before the publish date. But now I feel refreshed, re-energized, and excited to dive into the new work! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress, and will share a few sneak peeks as I can, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you have questions about the book writing process, please ask away in the comments below. If there’s enough interest, I’ll be glad to do a separate blog post devoted to answering your questions about anything I haven’t covered so far. I love sharing what I know and inspiring others to reach their goals, no matter how big or small!

Grab Some Fandangle Fabric Yardage Before It’s Gone!

Whew! It took me 3 days but I got all of the Fandangle fabric bundles cut, folded and shipped thanks to some help from my family and friends.

Cutting Bundles and Kits

Thank goodness for great friends who are willing to lend a hand!

The good news is I had enough fabric to make a few extra bundles and kits.

Folding Fandangle Bundles

My daughter’s favorite job – helping me fold fabric bundles and kits.

The even better news is that I’m going to offer the leftovers in 2 yard increments until they’re gone. If you purchase more than one, I’ll be happy to cut it continuously.

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson

Leftovers I’m willing to share (after I take off a good chunk of each for my stash!!)

To make things easy, you can purchase 2 yard cuts of any of the prints below. But once they’re gone, that’s it. I’m not going to stock the yardage on a regular basis because I don’t want to compete with the other quilt shops out there.

Fandangle Yardage Available:

Click here to see all yardage, bundles and kits that are left.
Click the link below each group pic for that particular print.

Fandangle Fabric, Baubles and Bits print

Click here to select yardage of Baubles & Bits in Teal or Red.

Fandangle fabric - Sparkling Squares

Click here to select yardage of Sparkling Squares in Teal or Orange.

Fandangle fabric -Triangle Trinkets

Click here to select yardage of Triangle Trinkets in Peach, Lime, or Teal.

Fandangle Fabric Paper Cuts Print by Christa Watson

Click here to select yardage of Paper Cuts in Yellow or Orange.

Fandangle fabric - Beaded Curtain

Click here to select Beaded Curtain in Red, Pink, Lime or Turquoise.

Confetti Crosshatch Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson

Click here to select yardage of Confetti Crosshatch in Teal, Red, Lilac, or Light Grey.

It makes me so happy to see others enjoying the fabrics I put out there in the world. Now the fun part will be seeing what everyone makes with it!

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio

On second thought… maybe I’ll just keep it all for myself.
Just kidding!!!!

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase yardage, bundles or kits of Fandangle, but only for a limited time!

Get Your Free Tickets to The Quilt Show Live Taping in Denver Aug 26

Quick announcement! I just found out that you can get free tickets to be part of The Quilt Show studio audience with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I’m going to be a guest on an upcoming show and I’ll be taping my segments on August 26th in Denver, Colorado.

Click here for information on how you can get free tickets to the taping.

Interview for the Quilt ShowClick here to watch the short interview I did with Alex back at QuiltCon in 2016.

The episode won’t appear until months later, but what a fun opportunity if you are in the area. And there may just be fun goodies and giveaways for audience members!

Don’t worry – if for some reason you can’t make it, keep an eye on The Quilt Show Daily Blog for announcements of future tapings. Now I’ve got to start making my demo samples and preparing for the show!

My Week at BERNINA University 2018

I just got home from a fabulous week in Chicago, attending the 125th Anniversary of BERNINA. What a legacy for this fantastic company!! Each year, BERNINA hosts an industry only event exclusively for BERNINA dealers, select quilting industry vendors, and BERNINA owned companies (Brewer Sewing, Benartex Fabrics and OESD embroidery.)

The Main Event

BERNINA 125th Anniversary

BERNINA University (BU for short) kicks off with an opening reception and announcement of new products.  A new 4 Series was introduced this year, aimed at making BERNINAs more affordable to the “casual” quilter with many of the same bells and whistles of the high-end machines.

BERNINA Sewing Machines at BERNINA University

Beautiful 125th Anniversary quilts on display made by Amanda Murphy

BERNINA dealers and their employees attend four days of classes aimed at getting them familiar with the new product line as well as supplemental classes taught by industry experts, ambassadors, and BERNINA educators. During the time between classes, they get an opportunity to shop the vendor mall, full of booths aimed at helping them bring fresh, new products to their stores. Think of it as a mini-version of quilt market that’s more focused and engaged.

Many well-known BERNINA experts and spokespersons were there, too, such as Amanda Murphy, Lisa H. Calle, Tiffany Pratt (a crafting TV personality from Canada) and Ricky Tims, just to name a few.

BERNINA spokesperson Lisa H. Calle

Lisa H. Calle is such a ham!! I met her at BU last year (in Las Vegas) and got to know her better over dinner this year. She’s as kind and generous as she is talented.

Ricky Tims at BERNINA

Ricky Tims entertained us with his beautiful musical talent at the closing gala.
(Spoiler alert!! I’m heading to Colorado later this summer to do a taping with him and Alex Andersen for The Quilt Show – can’t wait!!)

My Booth

Fandangle Fabric Booth

My Sparkling Stars Quilt got quite a good reception at the show.
Stay tuned for the Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along coming up in August!

I was able to set up a booth at BU to show shop owners my brand new Fandangle Fabric collection with Benartex, along with new quilt patterns to help support the line. I was very pleased with the reception that I received. Although I had attended quilt market back in May, many of the quilt shops and dealers who attend BU don’t actually make it to market so most of them were seeing it for the first time.

Fandangle Fabric Surplus Strips Quilts

Everyone loved seeing the cool and warm colors of Fandangle in Surplus Strips.

As a designer, one of the best things about attending BU is getting to engage more with the shops and dealers one-on-one. Because it is a much smaller event than quilt market, there’s enough time to talk with them in-depth to explain how my new products will help their quilt shops be more successful (and of course sell more sewing machines!)

Pearl Pendants
Pearl Pendants quilt on display. I scattered squares of Modern Marks and Fandangle together on the table so that folks could see how well both collections work together.

It’s All About the Education!

Everyone attending at BU is either a serious buyer, seller, or educator. Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with the more casual, social environment of quilt market, BERNINA University is a different type of industry trade show. It’s much more focused and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I sold more books, fabrics, and patterns there than at quilt market.

Machine Quilting Workshop at BERNINA University

Workshop attendees got to practice free-motion quilting on either the Q20 sit-down longarm or the B770 QE (which is my personal machine of choice.)

I also taught a couple of workshops while I was there: two sessions of my 3 hour class, “ Conquer Your Fear of Free-Motion.” It was a little different than my regular classes that I teach for shops, guilds, and at quilt shows because I was basically teaching other teachers and shop owners how to teach my techniques from my books.

Free Motion Quilting on teh BERNINA Q20

Sharing my teaching methods with shop owners at BU had two main purposes:

  • It allows my methods to reach a larger audience. Since there’s no possible way I can travel to every quilt shop, the dealers can share my methods and get their own rock-star staff to share them with their customers instead.
  • It helps me sell more books. Although it’s exciting for me to meet enthusiastic students when I travel or interacting with them online, there are plenty of quilters out there excited to learn how to machine quilt that haven’t yet been introduced to my easier, stress free (and fun!) way of doing things.

Quilted Samples at BU

Student work quilted on the BERNINA 770 QE. My designs work well on any machine!

One of the best things about having a professional quilting career is getting to make new friends and solidfy relationships with people you only see at industry events. Once such person is Cherry Guidry from Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio, a fellow Benartex Contempo designer.

Cherry Guidry of Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio

Click here to see swatches of Cherry’s adorable fabric lines.

Cherry been a fabric designer with the company since about 2014 I think and her style is simply adorable. It’s much different than mine but many of our colors and fabrics are very compatible. We are both passionate about business and quilting and started hatching plans for ways that we can work together in the future so stay tuned for more on that front!!

The Big BERNINA

Big BERNINA at BU

And you thought YOUR BERNINA was big??

It wouldn’t be a BERNINA event without fun props! This larger than life BERNINA was on display in downtown Chicago as well as at the closing reception. Although I did not take any pics with it, you can check out the hashtag #BU2018 on Instagram for many hilarious and animated candids of folks with the machine!

Fandangle Fabric and Matching Shoes

I love wearing clothing made from my fabric and pairing it with fun matching shoes. Now it’s time to work on more fabulous fabric designs and quilt patterns to go along with them!
Since I know you’ll ask – the shoes are Fluevogs – my favorites!!

Next Year’s Show

I had a fabulous time teaching and sharing my work with fellow BERNINA enthusiasts at BU and am pleased to share that I’ve already been invited back to next year’s show. BERNINA University is an annual event that will take place again next June in Jacksonville, Florida. So stay tuned for more great things from BERNINA in the future!

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!