Simple Strips Quilt Along Revisited – Make a Quilt from Start to Finish

Last year I hosted a really fun quilt along as part of my BERNINA Ambassador obligations. (It’s a fun gig by the way – I travel the country letting folks know how much I love my machine which is something I did anyway before I became it became “official.”) So today I thought it would be fun to revisit the quilt along for those of you who are new to my blog, or missed it the first time around.

Simple Strips Quilt Along

Links to the Simple Strips Quilt Along

The quilt tutorials are all hosted on the BERNINA blog at We All Sew and they’ll be there indefinitely, so you can make this quilt on your own schedule, any time you want. Just click the hotlinks below to get each set of instructions for this quick and easy quilt!

Week 1 – Materials List and Cutting
Week 2 – Pieced Quilt Top Tutorial
Week 3 – Wall Basting Tutorial
Week 4 – Decorative Stitch Machine Quilting
Week 5 – Machine Binding Tutorial

I made this quilt before I started designing fabric and it works well with any fabrics you choose, whether coordinated or scrappy. Fabric selection is super simple too – it just requires 20 strips (or 1/2 of a jelly roll) of print fabric and the same amount of background/light fabric.

Simple Strips – Modern Marks

Simple strips recolored with Modern Marks

And just for fun, I wanted to see what it would look like recolored in MY fabric – because as a fabric designer, I wish I had time to make ALL the quilts in my prints, LOL!! The recoloring shown above uses a bundle of the Modern Marks prints plus 1 1/2 yards of the cream/lime Boxes print for background and 1/2 yard of the Navy Herringbone for binding.

Here’s what it looks like recolored in Fandangle, my newest fabric collection. I thought it would be fun to separate the warms and cools for a more curated look:

Simple Strips – Fandangle Warm and Cool

Simple Strips in Warm colorway of Fandangle

This coloring can be made from a fat quarter bundle of Fandangle in warm plus 2 yards of Confetti Crosshatch dark gray for the background and binding.

Simple Strips Fandangle Cool

This coloring can be made from a fat quarter bundle of Fandangle in cool plus 2 yards of Confetti Crosshatch light gray for the background and binding.

Although the instructions for Simple Strips are written using precut 2 1/2″ strips, you can totally make your own bundles from your stash, scraps, or even fat quarters.

Do You EQ? (Bonus Download)

Here’s a bonus for those of you who like to work with Electric Quilt software:

Click here to get the Simple Strips EQ download file to resize or recolor this quilt. (It only works if you have the software installed on your computer.) Because I don’t have all the time in the world to make all the quilts, recoloring them virtually gives me the satisfaction of seeing what it would look like “in the cloth!”

Sharing is Caring

Remember, if you make this quilt or any of my designs for that matter, I’d love to see them! You can email me pics to christa@christaquilts.com, include a link to your own blog or social media in the comments, share pics in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group or tag me @christaquilts and #christaquilts on Instagram.

I hope you enjoy making this quilt!!

Introducing Tic-Tac-Toe on the Cover of Fat Quarter Favorites

I love it when I get to reveal a quilt that I worked on many moons ago! Meet Tic-Tac-Toe, a fat quarter quilt featured on the cover of Fat Quarter Favorites – a new collaboration book from my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork Place that releases today!

Fat-Quarter-Favorites

This was one of those “secret sewing” projects that I worked on last year. I shared a few sneek peeks on my Instagram account while making it so if you scroll back through a year’s worth of posts, you can see some of it in progress, LOL!!

The book features 13 original designs by a dozen different designers all based on fat quarters (plus additional background fabric where needed).

I was in such a hurry to make this quilt that I forgot to take many in-progress pics, but here’s a shot of me “scrunching and smooshing” the quilt through the machine as I quilt:

Scrunching and smooshing to machine quilt

It helps to have a wider throat space on my BERINA so there’s more room for the quilt!

I only saved on detail pic where you can see the quilting while I added and pressed the binding. I quilted it with a dense allover free-motion square spiral design – one of my favorite “modern machine quilting” designs! (It’s similar to “boxes” – another fave design but you go round and round a couple times to get the spirals.)

square spiral design machine quilting

For the pieced design, I played around with the idea of combining blocks that look like X’s and O’s. It took several tries to adjust the proportions so they felt right. The O blocks came pretty quickly, but it took awhile until I was happy with the X blocks. I originally started with bigger center stars and they evolved into the design shown here. I extended the gray lines all the way to the borders to give it a bit more movement and overall I’m pleased with how well it turned out!

Tic Tac Toe by Christa Watson from Fat Quarter Favorites

Tic-Tac-Toe by Christa Watson, 76″ x 76″

Once I have the basic design in place it also takes me a bit to refine the sizes so the fabric yardage is used more efficiently. That’s why a lot of times, you’ll see me do scrappy bindings, so I can use up a bit more of the fun prints in the quilt!

If you like my design click here to see images of all 13 quilts from the book – I’m sure there’s something for everyone!

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!

The Patterns are Here! The Patterns are Here!

I got some happy mail this weekend – a shipment of my latest print pattern releases. The quilts below are all made from my Fandangle fabric which ships to stores in July, but I’ve written the patterns so that they will look fabulous in any fabrics you choose! I’ve blogged a lot about the quilts already (see links below each image in case you missed it), but now I’m excited to tell you what makes the patterns themselves extra special.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Sparkling Stars quilt by Christa Watson made from Fandangle fabric

Sparkling Stars designed and made by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

For starters, all of my patterns are full color throughout. They are professionally printed, folded into a half-sheet size booklet, and staple-bound by GotPrint.com. I select high-quality glossy paper for the insides and the covers are slightly thicker which makes them a little more sturdy.

Because I purchase them in a higher volume, I’m able to get a quantity discount which I pass on to you all in the form of a lower price point. The MSRP for my print patterns is $9.95 which is much lower than the $12-$14 price I’ve seen for similar quality patterns.

Sparkling Stars PatternSparkling Stars Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Quilt Pattern

For Sparkling Stars, I included a very detailed materials list so that you could replicate the look in similar colors even if using different fabrics than I did. I also included detailed diagrams and charts by colorway so that it’s easy to follow along and not get lost.

Here’s an example of one of the many full-color illustrations that are included in the pattern:

Sparkling Stars Blocks

If there’s enough room in the pattern, I’ll usually throw in a closeup image of the quilting for inspiration. As an FYI, patterns need to be formatted so that they use up 8 or 12 sides (4-6 full pages). Most of mine tend to be on the longer end so that I can put in as much detail as possible.

I work with my graphic designer Lindsie to lay out the text, photos and illustrations, and if there’s extra room, I’ll throw in an extra diagram, tip, or quilting suggestion. I want you to have as much fun making these quilts as I did, and I try to pack as much helpful info into each pattern as I can!

Spiral quilting detail from Sparkling Stars

Quilting detail included in the pattern – inside front cover.

Surplus Strips Quilts

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Warm Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Cool Colorway of Fandangle

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Cool Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Quilt PatternSurplus Strips Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern

For Surplus Strips, I wanted to show how you could use up leftover 2 1/2″ strips sorted by colorway to create a dynamic, scrappy looking quilt. In my patterns, I’ll try to include different methods of using your fabric (either yardage, scraps or precuts) whenever possible so you can make the best use of your stash!

Quilting Detail of Triangle Trinkets

Detail of the Triangle Trinkets motif quilted on the cool colorway.

I’m really excited that I was able to include machine quilting diagrams and detailed images in this pattern. Because many of the prints in my fabric lines are based off of my favorite machine quilting motifs, it was fun to include a different allover quilting design for each colorway.

Machine quilting detail of Surplus Strips

Do you see how the quilting design is the same as the Paper Cuts print? So fun!!

Pearl Pendants Quilt

Pearl Pendants Quilt by Heather Black

Pearl Pendants, designed and made by Heather Black, 60″ x 72″
Click here to read more about Heather and this gorgeous quilt.

It was really fun to collaborate on Pearl Pendants with my talented friend Heather Black of Quilt-achusetts. She designed and made the quilt using Fandangle plus Contempo Colorweave coordinates.

We both co-wrote the pattern and it was fun to go back and forth to ensure that the pattern was easy enough to understand and follow. My husband, Jason, who is NOT a quilter was very helpful in proof-reading to make sure even a novice could understand how to make this stunning quilt!

Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern by Heather Black and Christa WatsonPearl Pendants Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern

My favorite illustration included in the pattern is the very detailed chart of blocks which specifies exactly how many of each unit to make to get the same look. We included plenty of step by step diagrams so that you’ll have no problems making this fun quilt while practicing your curved piecing. Of course you can easily substitute the colors below for completely different fabrics, and it will still look great!!

Pearl Pendants Chart of Blocks

The pattern also includes full-sized templates to make the blocks in two different sizes, or you can use a specialty curved ruler if that’s your preferred method.

Heather has become quite proficient at quilting on her longarm and she loves to combine hand-guided work with a bit of computerized work in the quilting detail shown below:

Quilting Detail for Pearl Pendants

How to Purchase Christa Quilts Patterns

(1) Anyone can purchase my complete line of print patterns at shop.christaquilts.com.

(2) PDF versions of my entire pattern line are available in my Craftsy shop (click here).

(3) Quilt shops and other retailers can contact me via email christa@christaquilts.com for wholesale pricing information and exclusive specials.

(4) My fabrics and select patterns are also available wholesale through Checker Distributors and Brewer Sewing.

If you are a quilting instructor and wish to teach a class from any of these patterns, please contact me to get the wholesale pricing discount. I’m happy for others to teach from my patterns (or books) as long as each student purchases their own copy.

Sparkling Stars in the Benartex Contempo Booth at Quilt Market

Here’s Sparkling Stars hanging in my booth at Spring 2018 quilt market. Be sure to catch my next post where I’ll share all about my quilt market experience!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 3 – Spiral Quilting

Today I’m finishing up the making of Sparkling Stars, one of the brand new quilt patterns made from my brand new Fandangle fabric collection. Fandangle means embellishment or ornamentation and rather than embellishing my quilts with baubles and beads, I do it with fabric and thread!

Spiral quilting detail

Spiral Quilting Detail on Sparkling Stars

Marking the Center Spiral

Because I was on a tight deadline to finish this quilt, I chose a really fun walking-foot quilting design that looks great and is easy to do. I went with the large continuous spiral which is one of the designs I teach in my quilting classes and also in my book with Angela Walters, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

Marking the Center Spiral

The trick to this design is to mark the center spiral, and then follow it around with the edge of your walking foot until the entire thing is quilted. I like to use a small circle shape to start. A spool of Aurifil thread works great by the way!!

Aurifil Variegated Thread

Speaking of Aurifil thread, I used  variegated 50 weight cotton #4650 Leaves for the quilting. I’ve really been enjoying using variegated threads on colorful quilts because they add an extra bit of texture and dimension to my quilts. In this case, it really emphasizes the “sparkling” effect.

Spiral Quilting

Machine quilting detail variegated thread

Yes, I had to rotate the quilt about a bazillion times, but once you get past the first few spirals it goes very quickly. It really helps to use a hands free system (knee-lift) or hover feature if you have one so that you can keep your hands on the quilt at all times.

I don’t ever stress too much about perfection in my quilting. If it wobbles a bit while quilting, I know that once my face isn’t two inches away from the quilt, it won’t be noticeable. Another walking foot quilting tip is to lower the presser foot pressure while quilting (not all machines can do this so check your manual). I also increase the stitch length to 3.0 to help compensate for friction and drag on the quilt.

Scrunching and smooshing the quilt

Rather than using a walking foot, I use the BERNINA dual feed that’s built into my 770 QE. It allows me to get the same result, but I can use different feet. I use the 20D foot – the open toe embroidery foot – for straight line quilting, and the 37D – 1/4″ patchwork foot – for attaching my binding.

Binding the Quilt

I use skinnier strips cut at just 2″ for my binding so that they finish at 1/4″ on both sides of the quilt. Click here for my binding tutorial for a previous quilt.

Attaching the Binding

I will press the binding to the back of the quilt and then keep it in place with about 200 binding clips all the way around the perimeter. I know some people like to use just a few clips and that works too!

Securing The Binding

When I bind, I keep the quilt away from me and bind from right to left. I use a thimble to protect my finger and push the needle through with the middle finger of my left hand. I think it’s interesting that there’s no one right way to do it. Some people do it holding the quilt in the opposite direction, while others stitch from left to right. As long as you are comfortable stitching, that’s the important thing!

Binding a Quilt

I know that binding by machine goes a lot faster, but there’s something I love about snuggling with the quilt at the end for a little hand-stitching. It’s like my reward after all the work it takes to make a quilt! Plus, I just really really like the way hand binding looks.

The final step in my quilt making process is to photograph the quilt. Thankfully Jason does that for me since I do NOT like that part, LOL!! We use my design wall to take flat shots that will be used for the cover of the quilt pattern. The hardest part is getting the lighting right! Later on, we’ll do pretty styled shots outside, but that’s a completely different process.

Photographing Sparkling Stars Quilt

I hope you’ve enjoyed the making of this quilt! You can now purchase the pattern by using any of the links below. And if you make one, be sure to share and use #sparklingstarsquilt on social media so I can see your progress!

Purchase the Pattern, See Previous “Making Of” Posts

 

Sparkling Stars Part 2 – The Quilt Top

I recently made Sparkling Stars to help promote Fandangle, my brand new fabric line at quilt market. The fabric will ship to stores at the end of June, and the pattern is currently available now in print or PDF.

Click here to read part 1 – making the quilt blocks.

Sparkling Stars in Progress

I decided to name this quilt Sparkling Stars as a nod to one of the prints I call “Sparkling Squares.” The collection name Fandangle means embellishment or ornamentation so I thought it would be fun for the fabric and quilt names to go with that theme.

Once the quilt blocks were sewn and pressed, it was time to sew them together to make the quilt top. This process went together rather quickly because I was able to refer to the image of the quilt top I had created in EQ8 for color placement, shown below.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Design

Here’s a tip when sewing lots of blocks into rows: sew the seams in opposite directions between blocks so that your blocks and rows don’t warp or bow to one side.

For example, refer to the top row in the image above. When sewing block pairs together, I kept the turquoise or teal blocks on top as I sewed the row together. There are a total of 4 vertical seams to sew per block row. By keeping the teal/turquoise on top, it ensured that I switched directions each time I joined the blocks.

Sparkling Stars by Christa Watson

After I completed the rows and added the borders, I pressed the entire top again from the front and back. Pressing often really helps ensure a nice flat top which is essential for successful machine quilting.

Hobbs quilt batting in cotton and wool

Whenever I make a quilt, I like to take a picture of the batting I’m using in the quilt so that I can remember what I used. For Sparkling Stars I chose Hobbs batting in cotton/wool.

This is one of my favorite battings for quilts that will be on display. The cotton gives the quilt drape and stability while the wool allows for good stitch definition and it doesn’t hold crease lines. I basted the quilt using basting spray and my design wall.

Click here for my spray basting tutorial.

Sparkling Stars Quilt PatternClick on the image above to enlarge

You can now purchase a copy of the Sparkling Stars quilt pattern. The PDF is available as an instant download through my Craftsy shop. The print version can be purchased now and will ship by the end of the month – once the boxes arrive from the printer. I can’t wait!!

Click here to purchase the PDF version of Sparkling Stars quilt pattern.
Click here to purchase the print version of Sparkling Stars quilt pattern.

Variegated Thread on Sparkling Stars

I chose Aurifil 50 weight variegated thread #4650 Leaves to quilt it since there was so much color. I’ve been experimenting with using variegated threads for machine quilting and really like them.

Stay tuned for part 3 where I show how I quilted it!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 1 – The Design and Sewing the Blocks

Now that I’m back home from quilt market, I have time to share about the process of making Sparkling Stars, one of the quilts from Fandangle, my new fabric line from Benartex/Contempo.

Sparkling Stars Design

Whenever I make an original quilt, I first create it in Electric Quilt Software using the actual fabric swatches I plan to use. If it’s a scrappy-looking quilt, I won’t worry too much about color placement while I design. However, for Sparkling Stars, I took quite a while re-arranging the colors until I was pleased with how they looked.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars PDF Quilt Pattern.
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Print Quilt Pattern (Ships by 5/31).

I knew I wanted to use all 20 fabrics from Fandangle, but in a cohesive way. So I literally tried every fabric in the line in each part of the star blocks above until I was pleased with the final color arrangement. (I usually don’t save the “reject” versions because they are numerous and I don’t want to get confused by multiple images of the same file I’m working on.)

Fandangle Cut Units for Sparkling Stars

I love a pretty stack of cut units!

I planned the design months before I received fabric samples so that I could get the pattern written ahead of time. I knew time would be short in making the quilt so I tried to get as much work done ahead of time as I could. Once I start on a quilt, I’ll make it pretty quickly from start to finish since I’m usually working on a deadline.

Sparkling Stars HST's

Stacks and Stacks of HST’s in progress…

Making the Blocks

I try to assembly line my process, so I’ll cut everything ahead of time, then sew all the sub-units at once rather than constructing a quilt block by block. It’s much more efficient and I can pattern test as I go by doing it this way.

Sparkling Stars in Progress

I keep similar units together to stay organized.

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces that go into making this quilt so I try to be as careful as I can during every step of the process. I sew with a consistent quarter inch seam, press my seams open, and trim my units as needed to the correct size. By taking care during each step of the process, it ensures the final blocks will go together smoothly.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

Sparkling Star Quilt Blocks in Progress

When the sub-units are complete, I stack them up and lay them out in order next to my sewing machine so that I can chain piece as much as possible. I also take pictures as I go so I can look at a reduced view of the quilt blocks to make sure nothing is turned the wrong way before sewing together.

For these particular blocks, I made sure turn turn the “Beaded Curtain” print so that they were all facing the same direction. The rest of the prints are non-directional so they didn’t matter.

Seams Pressed Open

I sew with a shorter stitch length and press seams open as I go for best results.
Then I’ll pin the units together as I sew to get accurate seam joins.

Rather then sewing the blocks into rows, I sewed them into 4-patch units so they’d be easier to manage. It also allows makes me feel like I’m getting more done since it’s a lot of pieces to sew! The biggest tip is to just sew one step of ALL the blocks at a time and then take a break so it doesn’t get too monotonous.

Sparkling Stars Blocks in Orange

These blocks will sparkle and glow in the final quilt!

When the blocks are complete, I’ll press them with a hot, dry iron on both front and back. This ensures nice flat blocks which will be much easier to machine quilt!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

There are a total of 25 blocks in 6 different fabric combinations.

I wrote up the quilt pattern so that it would be extremely easy to follow along either using the same fabrics I did, or using similar colors to get the sparkling effect. Fandangle will start shipping to stores at the end of June, but you can pre-order bundles of the prints and yardage of the grays (along with the quilt pattern) over at shop.christaquilts.com for a limited time.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

While I’m not offering kits, you can get the enough fabric to make this quilt when you purchase 1/2 yard bundles of both the cool and warm colorways; plus 3 yards of the light gray, and 2 yards of the dark gray. There will be a little left over that you can use for other projects.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I show how I put the quilt top together!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern PDF Now Available

I’m having a great time at quilt market this week, sharing Fandangle with the wider quilting world! I was excited to get the PDF version of Surplus Strips finalized before I left, and it’s available for purchase now from my Craftsy shop.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Surplus Strips Materials List

The print version is being printed now and should be available by the end of the month.
If you missed my process posts about making these quilts, check them out by clicking the links below:

Surplus Strips Part 1 – The Blocks

Surplus Strips Part 2 – Quilt Top and Basting

Surplus Strips Part 3 – Machine Quilting and Binding

Surplus Strips Cool

Surplus Strips in the Cool Colorway

Machine Quilting Detail

It was so fun to make this quilt using both the warm and cool colorways of Fandangle. You can make this quilt using yardage like I did, or you can go super scrappy with leftover precut strips.

Surplus Strips Warm Colorway

Surplus Strips in the Warm Colorway

Machine Quilting Detail

The most fun part was quilting them using designs from the fabric, which were inspired by my quilting! How’s that for circular logic?? f you make this quilt, be sure and share on social media #surplusstripsquilt. I’d love to see your progress.

Click here to purchase an instant PDF download of Surplus Strips.
Click here to order the print version (ships by the end of the month.)

Click here for my complete pattern library.

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 3 – Machine Quilting and Binding

Although machine quilting is my favorite part of making any quilt, I really enjoy the entire process from start to finish. Even though I’m on a tight deadline, it’s been fun to document my progress on Surplus Strips as I go. Be sure to check out my last post for tips on piecing the quilt top and basting it.

Choosing Thread Color

Aurifil Thread Variegated Pink

Audition thread to see which color blends in best. For multicolor quilts, go with a lighter thread on a darker fabric, rather than darker thread on lighter fabric.

I’ve been playing around lately with Aurifil variegated thread, so I chose a pink (#3660 Bubble Gum) for the warm colorway of Surplus Strips. I wasn’t sure how much thread I’d end up using, and since I only had one spool on hand, I chose a 50 weight thread in a similar color for the bobbin. I always try to use the same or similar color in top and bobbin so that I don’t get “pokies” – dots of thread on the top or bottom of the quilt.

Aurifil Creme De Menthe on Surplus Strips

The teal colored thread has a more pronounced color change than the pink.

For the cool colorway, I went with Creme De Menthe #4662. No matter which color thread you use, the more quilting you add, the less you’ll notice the thread and the more you’ll just see the overall texture.

Free-Motion Quilting Surplus Strips

Machine Quilting Surplus Strips

I scrunch and smoosh the quilt under the machine any way I can.

Whenever I quilt, I always start on the right side of the quilt and work my way towards the center. When I reach the middle, I rotate the quilt and keep on going. For an allover/meander type block, I just focus on one are of the quilt so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

Free Motion Quilting Jagged Stipple

I love the slight color change with the pink variegated thread!

Because many of the fabric prints I design are based on some of my favorite machine quilting motifs, I really wanted to play that up with these quilts. For the warm colorway, I quilted “jagged stipple” which is one of the quilt designs I love to teach in my workshops. Can you see how it’s basically the same motif as the “Paper Cuts” print from Fandangle?

Free Motion quilting jagged stipple

Jagged stipple is one of the motifs included in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

When quilting an allover design, sometimes it will show up on some fabrics and blend into others. But that’s okay. I love the overall texture that it gives to the quilt!

For the cool colorway, I quilted triangles that are similar to the “Triangle Trinkets” print from Fandangle. Any of the designs I quilt can be quilted on a smaller or larger scale. My rule of thumb is that if it’s an allover design, I’ll quilt it larger to fill more space quickly. For smaller, custom areas of the quilt, I’ll usually scale down the quilting motifs.

Free Motion Quilting Triangles

I love how the variegated thread gives depth and dimension to the quilt!
I also teach this quilting motif in my latest quilting book.

In my workshops, I always stress the point that I don’t worry too much about making my designs perfect. I like the irregular overall texture you can get from free-hand doodling with your machine. Besides, the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches!!

Triangle Trinkets from Fandangle

I chose Triangle Trinkets in turquoise for the backing.
Click here to see larger images of each fabric from Fandangle.

Binding the Quilt

Click here for my step by step binding tutorial from a previous quilt.

Press the binding

After I attach the binding to the quilt by machine, I press it away from the quilt. This makes it easier to wrap around the back of the quilt to ensure a nice flat binding.

Attaching the binding

The BERNINA Dual Feed acts just like a walking foot, but I can use any specialty “D” foot.

When I first started binding my quilts, I used 2 1/4″ strips, However, lately, I’ve cut them 2″ and I attach them using my BERNINA dual feed and 1/4 patchwork foot. This allows me to get an even quarter inch binding on both sides of the quilt.

Binding Surplus Strips

It was fun to make some extra blocks and throw them on the back of the quilt!

Once I wrap the binding to the back, I secure in place with Clover Wonder Clips. I like to secure the entire edge so that it’s ready to hand-finish without interruption. It usually takes about 3 boxes of Wonder Clips to go around the entire edge, but you could definitely use fewer if you like.

Binding with Wonder Clips

I quilted triangles on the front to match the triangles on the back!

Even though I’m on a tight deadline to finish these quilts, I still enjoy binding by hand. I was able to finish the warm colorway on an airplane trip last week, and I finished the cool colorway while watching a movie with my family.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Click here to preorder Surplus Strips quilt pattern – ships on or before June 1.

Now all that’s left is to photograph these quilts, swap out the digital pattern cover above with the actual quilts and get them off to the printer! The PDF pattern will be coming soon, and you can pre-order the print version of Surplus Strips now.

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm Colorway

I had a whole row to myself on a recent flight and was able to finish this quilt on the plane!

Click here to pre-order bundles of Fandangle Fabric.
Click here to see all Fandangle quilt patterns.

Now I have one more quilt to finish up, and then it’s time to pack for quilt market. More about that soon, I promise!!