Check Out National Quilter’s Circle Blogger Awards

The National Quilter’s Circle is now accepting nominations for your favorite quilting and fiber arts blogs. I had honestly never even heard of this before until they contacted me letting me know my blog had already been submitted by several different people (thank you).

20150321_blogger_awards

Nominations run through April 29th and the top four blogs with the most nominations in each category will then move onto the voting round which runs through May 15th.

Categories include:

  • Best Traditional Quilting Blog
  • Best Modern Quilting Blog
  • Best Quilting Patterns Blog
  • Best Fiber Arts Blog
  • Best Art Quilts Blog
  • Most Humorous Blog
  • Best Overall Quilting Blog

Click here if you’d like to nominate your favorite blog – including your own!

I always like to support contest like these because I think it helps get the word out about other quilting bloggers and brings the blogging and quilting community together. πŸ™‚

Optical Illusion – The Finish

I was able to finish Optical Illusion just in time to submit it to QuiltCon (the all-modern quilt show and conference). Then I got the exciting news that it was selected for judging along with two of my other entries, Abacus and Spiraling Out of Control. There were over 1300 entries submitted this year which totally blew away the amount of entries received the first time around. What an awesome show it’s going to be!

cwatson_Optical_Illusion_1800Optical Illusion, designed, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson

Here’s a detail shot where you can see the quilting a little better:

cwatson_opticalillusion_detI had a lot of fun sharing this one on Instagram, because when my followers scrolled the reduced sized picture up and down, they could get the lines to move. What a fun trick! See if you can get it to move when you scroll this blog post up and down – it’s an interactive quilt!

Another “optical illusion” for this quilt was totally unintentional but added a fun surprise: when you hold it up to the light, you can see the geometric backing fabric shining through the white squares, creating a “stained-glass” effect. Cool huh?

stained-glassThis quilt is as fun to play with as it was to make! Since I finished ahead of schedule, I took a little time to make a not-so-fancy but utilitarian label for it, using the embroidery stitches on my machine. (It’s a Bernina 710 – since I know you are going to ask!)

labelI know several of you have asked for a pattern for it, so that’s in the works. I probably won’t release it though until after QuiltCon, to give me plenty of time to get it ready (and to see how it does during the judging process, LOL!!)

Now, it’s onto the next quilt….

Kona Cotton Solids Winner!

Congratulations to Karen M. whose favorite new Kona Solids color is Mediterranean. Great pick, Karen! You have just won this lovely custom parfait bundle:

Kona New ColorsThe next giveaway will start on Monday, October 13 and, trust me, you are going to want to win this one!!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next step of my Abacus Quilt Along!

Abacus - Kona's Pick

Doesn’t it look pretty made up into these pretty pastels? The possibilities are endless!

Spiraling out of Control Update – My Quilt Gets Around!

In my “former” life as a traditional quilter years and years ago, I hardly ever kept any of my quilts. I would finish them off just in time to send them to a show, use them as a teaching sample, or give them as gifts. My show and teaching quilts were mostly earmarked to give away even before they were made, and usually after only one showing. So I never really understood the value of keeping and sharing the same quilts in several venues. Until now.

Modern QuiltSpiraling out of Control by Christa Watson 70″ x 70″

I love how my friend Leanne from She Can Quilt says she is a “quilt-show enterer” rather than a “show quilter.” I think I will adopt that moniker, too. Somehow it seems less intimidating. I’ve been enjoying entering my Spiraling Out of Control quilt in several competitions this year while helping to spread the modern quilt aesthetic.

Spiraling Out of Control started off as my entry into the Riley Blake/MQG challenge, made it’s appearance at my local show, traveled to AQS Charlotte for a brief appearance, and most recently was accepted as part of the Modern Quilt Guild Showcase for the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX.

spiraling_backBacking detail of Spiraling out of Control by Christa Watson

As an added bonus, it will be showcased in Quilt Scene Magazine which is a special issue that focuses on Quilt Market and Festival each year. What fun! Right now my quilts get to travel more than I do; but hopefully in the future, I will get to go with them more often! πŸ™‚

Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Voting Begins Today!

Don’tΒ  forget to vote for your favorite quilts in the Spring 2014 Blogger’s Quilt Festival!

Spiraling out of Control is in the Original Design category and Modern Trees is listed in the Home Machine Quilted category. You can vote for one quilt per category, and there are a total of 11 categories in which to vote.

Modern Quilt

Spiraling out of Control by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

You can vote for Spiraling Out of Control here.

Modern Trees

Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″

You can vote for Modern Trees here.

Have fun and good luck to all who entered!

Blogger’s Quilt Fest Entry – Modern Trees (Home Machine Quilted)

I’m excited to share another entry into the online Blogger’s Quilt Festival. It’s called Modern Trees. I finished it in December of 2013, and I’ve entered it into the Home Machine Quilted category.

You can view my other entry here.

Modern TreesModern Trees, 43″ x 50″ by Christa Watson, Home Machine Quilted

Modern Trees was made as one of my free quilt alongs and you can still access all of the tutorials to make your own version of this quilt here.

Because I love to encourage and teach others how to free-motion quilt on their home machines, I’ll tell you a little bit more about the machine quilting on this quilt.

Quilting Modern TreesI think free-motion quilting on a domestic machine is super fun and relaxing!

I knew that I wanted to evoke the feeling of snow, but wanted to mix up the background quilting to make it a little more modern. I usually have better results if I plan out my quilting first. Rather than sticking with one motif, I roughly divided the quilt into 3 sections as shown in my diagram below:

20131022_trees_quilt_sketchThe swirls in the top section represent the sky full of billowing clouds ready to burst! The middle section shows snowflakes and snow clusters gently falling to the ground; and the bottom section evokes snowdrifts piling up on the ground. I also decided to throw in a few words just for a touch of holiday whimsy – it’s fun to doodle!

I don’t always stick exactly to the plan, but sketching out my quilting designs gives me a rough guideline to follow.

20131120_quilting_modern_trAs you can see, I used a washable blue marker to write the words, and to draw the larger snowflakes and the star. I quilted the rest of it without marking, adding lots of yummy texture and varying the size of the motifs for interest.

Quilting SwirlsQuilting the swirls was definitely my favorite partΒ  – they are so fun and forgiving! It’s interesting to see how much “poof” is created when quilting so densely.

20131105_aurifil_threadsAnother fun part of any quilt is picking out matching threads for each section. After a couple of years of trial and error and testing on numerous quilts, Aurifil has become my go-to thread for piecing and quilting.

I like to match my threads as closely as possible so you see the texture of the quilting rather than the thread. πŸ™‚ I tried to quilt each tree with a different motif to “decorate” it.

tree_details

Here’s a closeup of the quilting after the blue marks have been removed – so yummy! (Forgive the lighting – this was taken before I got better lighting in my sewing room!)

20131120_fmq_detail_1And one more, just for fun… (with more bad lighting….)

FMQ Trees DetailThe quilting on this piece actually went very quickly. It took a total of 13 hours and I only worked on it for a couple of hours a day. I think that’s a reasonable amount of time, considering the density of the quilting and customization of the designs. Can’t you just imagine how tactile all this texture feels?

If you like Modern Trees, you can vote for it in the Home Machine Quilted category, starting May 23rd. Entries will appear randomly each time, so you may need to scroll through to find the picture of Modern Trees.

You can also click here to get all the free tutorials to make your own version! πŸ™‚

Modern Trees

Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″

Thanks for stopping by!

Blogger’s Quilt Fest Entry – Spiraling Out of Control (Original Design)

I’m excited to participate in the Blogger’s Online Quilt Festival with my first of two entries, Spiraling Out of Control. I am entering it into the Original Design category and voting begins May 23rd.

You can view my other entry here.

Modern Quilt

Spiraling Out of Control, 70″ x 70″ by Christa Watson, Original Design

Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis will have seen this quilt before. However since I’m entering it into the Original Design category, I thought I’d share with you a little bit about the design process that went into making this quilt.

Parallel Lines

I started with this block I had created in EQ7 for a modern design competition. After being selected as a finalist, I held onto the design for a bit, thinking I might do something more with it later. When the MQG’s first fabric challenge of 2014 was announced, I started playing around with my design again, seeing how it could evolve by changing a few lines.

Improv String BlockI kept the light background, added more lines, and drew them at odd angles rather than parallel. I digitally colored the strips using the challenge fabric we were to work with. I liked where this was going, but thought it needed something more dramatic.

So I pieced two sample blocks using two different backgrounds – dark and medium grey. I wanted to see which colorway would provide the most visual impact.

spiral_blocks_2

I used the lighter grey block as a sample to test various machine quilting designs.

At this point my gut was telling me to go with the darker background fabric, but just to be sure, I started recoloring my original digital layout. Once I got this far with the coloring, I knew the darker fabric was the right choice. πŸ™‚

spiraling_color_choicesSince I knew I wanted each block to be different, I had to figure out a way to sew the blocks without using traditional paper-foundation piecing methods. I solved the problem by cutting long strips of fabric in various widths and lengths, and sewing them together improvisationally, keeping the overall diagonal line intact. I then trimmed up the blocks using a large square ruler so they were all the same size.

spiraling_square

The hardest part was making sure the shorter strips were longer than the ruler!

So that’s how this quilt design came to be. In addition to design, machine quilting is one of my favorite steps of the quilt-making process. Here are some detailed shots of the machine quilting and thread choices:

aurifilYummy Aurifil threads in matching colors!

straight_line_quiltingStraight-Line Quilting in the Negative Space

Β quilting_zig_zagsQuilting zig-zags in matching thread colors – lots of threads to tie off later!

color_backColorful Thread-play on the Back

spiraling_detailQuilting Detail – Front

Spiraling Out of Control measures 70″ x 70″ and it has been one of my most fun quilts to make! You can vote for it as your favorite in the Original Design category of the Blogger’s Quilt Festival starting May 23, 2014.

Please note: quilts will show up randomly in each festival category, and they will not be numbered or named. You may need to scroll through to find my quilt on the category page. πŸ™‚

As always, thanks for your support!

Blogger’s Quilt Festival is Coming!!

The semi-annual Blogger’s Quilt Festival is coming! Are you ready? I will be sharing my entries at the end of the week and I hope you’ll do the same!

20140510_bloggersquiltfestAmy Ellis – blogger, quilt author, fabric designer, podcaster, and all around great gal is hosting another round of her very popular Blogger’s Quilt Festival. This is a chance for all creative bloggers to share their fabulous quilts that they’ve made in the last 6 months as they compete for fun fabric-y prizes!

But it’s more than just that. It’s also a great place to be inspired and share your work with your peers. Find fun new blogs to follow, and followers who will find you! Voting is open to the public and there are even prizes to win for those who comment. πŸ™‚

Click here for complete details and I hope you participate, either as an entrant, or a viewer (or both!) It will be super fun!

How To Make Quilting Your Business #9 – Entering Quilt Shows

Thank you for continuing with me on my journey exploring different ways to make quilting your business. Quilting is such a vibrant industry with an incredibly supportive community surrounding it. Some people quilt for business and others for pleasure, ensuring that this highly addictive hobby will continue to thrive!

20140423_quilting_for_show_bookQuilting for Show by Karen McTavish is a wonderful resource!

Quilting for Show

Today I’d like to address the topic of quilting for show. Can you really make money entering your quilts in shows? Yes, you can – but it can be a lot of work, with no guarantee of success. Whereas in most other areas of the quilting industry you can earn guaranteed income by working hard and following one of several paths to success, winning monetary awards by entering your quilts into shows can sometimes be pretty arbitrary.

RibbonsI’ve won numerous awards for my quilts in shows, just not much money!

Don’t get me wrong – I think anyone who ever wins an award for their quilt is well deserved! But whether or not your entry wins can often times depend on who’s doing the judging, what the category structure is, and how the competition stacks up in any given show. As someone once said, “It’s all a big crap-shoot anyhoo!” Moreover, not all shows hand out monetary awards, and some shows only offer cash prizes for the overall winners.

Monetary Prizes

That being said, there’s a lot at stake if you decide to pursue the show-quilting route. Large companies (such as AQS and Quilts, Inc. etc.) put up huge rewards for their winners. Best of Show winners at some of the larger venues can earn upwards of $10K to $20 or more per win. Many of these larger value awards are purchase awards which means that if you win, the company gets to keep the quilt and put it on display in their museum. So you may need to balance the desire to win with the willingness to give up your quilt.

However, there are quite a few awards up for grabs at shows all around the country, and most of them do allow you to keep the quilt. Most of these shows are put on annually, so multiply that by the sheer volume of major shows out there and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Most shows allow you to enter your quilt within 2 years of completion, even if it has won awards at other shows.

Super Star by Marilyn BadgerSuperstar quilt by Marilyn Badger. Photo taken by Christa Watson at Road to CA 2012.

One way to look at it is this: if you are pursuing a full time job, you can calculate your hourly rate. Most major award winning quilts can take hundreds of hours to complete. This is a significant amount of time to spend, but it can pay off with just a few “wins.” For example, the beautiful quilt above by Marilyn Badger has won more than a dozen awards at various shows. Not bad for a day job, right?

String of Pearls, Honorable Mention, MQX Portland 2013

String of Pearls by Christa Watson, Honorable Mention, MQX Portland 2013

Don’t overlook the value of placement awards either. Because I just started entering my quilts in national shows last year, I never really paid much attention to the monetary prizes given out for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place finishes. I was super excited when my String of Pearls quilt won an honorable mention along with a $50 check at MQX in 2013. That pretty much covered the cost of shipping there and back, so in a sense I “broke even.”

AQS Paducah Modern 3rd Place

Charming Chevrons by Christa Watson; 3rd Place – Modern; AQS Paducah 2014

But then I was blown away when I learned how much my ribbon for Colorful Chevrons at Paducah earned me. I got a whopping $750 for a 3rd place finish! That definitely covers the cost of shipping for many shows to come, plus maybe even a little travel. I never set out to be a “show” quilter, but that kind of money certainly gives me food for thought. πŸ™‚

I found it kind of hard to find out the individual amount of monetary awards offered by many of the big name shows. Most of them will mention on their websites how much total prize money is up for grabs (which is pretty generous), but they don’t all list details of specific award amounts per category. However, just for comparison here are a few that I was able to find:

  • My local guild show – $300 each for Best Large Quilt and Best Small Quilt
  • QuiltCon – $5000 Best of Show; $500 – $1000 for 13 specific category prizes
  • Road to CA – $5000 Best of Show; $500 – $1500 for specific awards; $50 – $250 each for placement awards (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
  • AQS – $10k-$20k Best of Show; $3k-$12k for specific prizes; $750 – $1500 placement

As you can see, there are a wide range of prizes given out and I can see why people would pursue show quilting as a serious business!

Cory Allender with her collaboration quilt LilyPad.

My friend Cory (shown above) has collaborated numerous times with her sewing partner(s) to rack up the awards at several venues. Lilypad shown above, won a 2nd place at Road to California in 2013 plus a judges choice ribbon at the Pacific International Quilt show in 2013. She also scored an individual win at the same show for her Lotus Blossom quilt, shown below.

Lotus Blossom

Lotus Blossom by Cory Allender also won judge’s choice at our local show in 2013.

Cory told me that she and her collaboration partner decide ahead of time who will ship the quilt, who will pay the entry fee, and how they will split their winnings. She’s given me a few quilting tips for making award winning quilts, including using a double batting to give the quilt more stability when it hangs. In the near future, she’s going to teach me how she blocks her quilts so that the corners are are nice and square and the quilt hangs flat.

Although I’ll continue to put my quilts in shows here and there, I don’t plan to pursue it as a full-time career. In fact, I was very touched by one of my reader’s comments on my post last week about receiving recognition at Paducah. She said, “thanks for being more wrapped up in your love of quilting than awards.” That thought truly means more to me than any award. πŸ™‚

Click here for the start of this series.

My Cup Runneth Over…

I just found out two very exciting pieces of news today, and forgive me if I can’t help but put them out there for all the world to see!

Excitement #1 – Colorful Chevrons Takes 3rd at Paducah!

Thanks to my friend Linda H. for sending me this phone pic. She just happens to be there covering the story for AQ magazine and was able to show me the good news. The funny thing is, I couldn’t remember when QuiltWeek started and had my dates confused. I was thinking I wouldn’t hear anything about it until at least next week!

AQS Paducah Modern 3rd PlaceColorful Chevrons won 3rd place in the Large Wall Quilts – Modern category.
Click here for a list of all the winners.

Excitement #2 – I’ve Been Nominated for Teacher of the Year!

I’ve been nominated for 2014 Teacher of The Year, presented by the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals. Although I didn’t win, I’m in total agreement with who was chosen. In fact, after reading the email announcing the 8 nominees and the winner, I’m completely awed and humbled to be among those who made the final list.

teacher of the year image

No, I’m not going to spill the beans and spoil any surprises yet. The winner and all of the finalists will be given coverage in the Spring Issue of The Professional Quilter, and it will be up to any of them if they want to announce it publicly first. πŸ™‚

My cup truly runneth over….