Optical Illusion: Supply List, Schedule and Color Combos

Are you ready to join me for the adventure of a lifetime? Or at least a fun sewing escapade over the next several weeks? I’m excited to guide you as we make my Optical Illusion quilt from start to finish.  All you need is a copy of the Optical Illusion quilt pattern and a can-do attitude!

Optical Illusion Quilt

Optical Illusion made from Geo Pop, 67″ x 88″
Scroll this image to see the lines move!

My original version was sewn up in bold black, white and gray from my Geo Pop fabric line. I had requests to see how it would look in other colorways, so thank goodness for EQ8 software which allowed me to quickly recolor lots of fun combinations!

I made some of them into quilt kits which you can pick up if you desire, or just use them as a color guide and pick something similar from your stash.

Color Play: Choose Light, Medium and Dark

The trick to making the design work is the interplay of the values. Value is just the lightness or darkness of a fabric compared to its neighbors. For this design to work you need three fabrics that read as light, medium and dark.

So take a look at these color combos and scroll your screen up and down to see the illusion of the lines waving back and forth. Pretty trippy right?

The illusion works because the medium fabric is ALWAYS used for the skinny strips whereas the light and dark color combos are used for the squares.

Here’s another group of colors that also showcases the illusion with some interesting color combos:

Solids, or fabrics that read as a solid look best for the bold, graphic design, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use prints. Just be sure you choose something that is mostly one color or color family per print. Here’s another color grouping that works well:

Remember, for best results, use the lightest and darkest fabrics are for the squares, with the medium for the skinny strips. To test the value of your fabrics, take a picture set on gray scale from your camera phone. Then you can easily tell which should be classifued as light, medium or dark.

That’s a dozen different combinations that WORK! (Many are available as kits for the Quilt Along.) I have no idea why our brains read it this way, but it sure is cool, don’t ya think??

Now…

Watch what happens when the skinny strips are LIGHTER or DARKER than the two colors in the squares. It creates too much contrast and doesn’t give the illusion.

These 4 colorways above and below still make a nice looking modern quilt, so don’t despair if your color combos don’t work exactly as you thought. Part of the fun is learning new things, right??

For further discussion and some more examples, check out this video from my Facebook Live “Ask me Anything” series. Click the image below to play. It’s just under and hour and I go through color combinations as well as other quilty tips and advice asked by the audience. (I do these live sessions each wee k and have started posting them on YouTube so be sure to subscribe!)

In my examples, I’ve used mostly prints that read as one color for the best results. But don’t worry—the modern quilt design looks cool whether the illusion works or not!

Optical Illusion Supply List

Start thinking about the colors and fabrics that you would like to use, and gather up the needed supplies. The quilt pattern comes in three sizes. Click the pattern image below to expand.

Optical Illusion Quilt Pattern

Here’s what you need for the Twin size quilt top (67″ x 88″), which is what I made:

Get the Optical Illusion Quilt Kit, while supplies last!

Optical Illusion Quilt with Good Vibes Fabric

I can’t wait to show you how to quilt the walking foot spiral design!

Quilt Along Schedule

The links below will go live as each part is posted. Bookmark this page and refer back to the schedule anytime in the future to work on this quilt at your own pace.

Optical Illusion Quilt

SHARing is caring

If you’re an Instagram junkie (like me!), please tag me at @christaquilts and use the hashtag #opticalillusionquilt so I can see what you are doing and cheer you on!

If you’d like to ask questions or need additional help, please participate in my Christa Quilts Group on Facebook. It’s a great place to encourage your fellow makers and get additional ideas for fabric choices and a quilting plan!

Sign up for Email Notifications

Be sure to enter your email address in the box on the sidebar of this blog. If you are viewing this on your phone or tablet, scroll aaaaaaaallllllllllllll the way down to the bottom of the page to find the email address box.

Optical Illusion Quilt Along Begins May 19th! Read about the origin of this design…

I’m super excited about my next quilt along which will kick off on May 19th with a complete sewing schedule and supply list. Every time I share my Optical Illusion quilt, I love how many people ask for the quilt pattern.  I’ve also had numerous requests for a quilt along, so I was finally able to work it in to my schedule, yippee!

Optical Illusion – Made from Geo Pop Fabric

Optical Illusion Quilt

Origin of an Idea

Several years ago, my family and I were out to dinner and I saw this really cool optical illusion on the back of a kid’s menu. As with most things whenever I see an interesting design, I wonder to myself, “can I make a quilt out of that??” The design was called “Cafe Walls” and here’s a public domain image of it:

Cafe Walls design

Cafe Walls Optical Illusion

So I began to design in EQ8. It took awhile to get the proportions right and I decided that for an interesting quilt, I preferred the lines to run vertically rather than horizontally.

Once I was happy with my design, I made a version of it from solid fabrics, to try out the idea. It actually hung in QuiltCon back in 2015 and I had sooo many requests to turn it into a quilt pattern, but was so overwhelmed with other deadlines at the time that I had to put it on the back burner for awhile.

I did manage to get it into an issue of a magazine, that is sadly no longer in print, and then I kept putting off the editing and rewriting I needed to release on my own.  Since then I’ve seen several different design variations, so it’s fun knowing I’m not the only one who thought this would make a fabulous quilt!

Christa Watson Illusions

The original version of Optical Illusion Hung at QuiltCon in 2015

Finally, the timing was right to recreate the quilt and pattern when I released my fourth fabric line, Geo Pop for Benartex. I included a lot of black and whites in this colorful collection and  knew I wanted to do something special with them!

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

Black and White Prints from Geo Pop Fabric

As you can see from the detail pic below, I only needed one black fabric, one white fabric, and one gray fabric to create the design. The biggest test for me was to see if the illusion would still work using prints – and I’m thrilled that it does!!

Optical Illusion Quilt from Good Vibes Fabric

Print fabrics used from Geo Pop: Mosaic Dots White, Op Squares Charcoal and Tiny Hex Grey

So I really hope you’ll join me for this quilt along to make your own version. Here’s a hint as you start thinking about colors: It doesn’t have to be strictly black and white. But you need good contrast between the lightest color (white), the darkest color (black) and the medium color (gray) to make the illusion work. And the further back you stand, the more you will see the illusion.

Next week I’ll post the full supply list and quilt along schedule, and we will actually dive into making the quilt starting on Tuesday, May 26. So that gives you plenty of time to start gathering your supplies.

Get the Optical Illusion Quilt Pattern

For now, grab a copy of the quilt pattern or optional kit and be sure to sign up to get an email whenever there’s a new blog post. You can do that by entering your email address in the sidebar if you are viewing this on a computer. Or scroll AAALLLLL the way down to the bottom of this post if viewing on your phone.

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

If you really ant to see the illusion in this quilt, scroll up and down to see the lines wiggle!!

Next Week: Choosing Fabrics

In addition to posting the schedule next week, I”ll dive into sharing some tips and trips for successful fabric combos. The quick answer is that you want very good contrast between light, medium, and dark, with fabrics that read as one color. I’ll go in depth with this more next week with good and not so good examples of successful fabric combo’s. See ya then!

New Quilt Pattern – Interlinked Available in Make Modern Magazine

I’m thrilled to introduce a brand new quilt to you today! It’s called Interlinked and was a design I came up with a couple years ago when playing around with some modern design ideas.

Interlinked Quilt PatternInterlinked Quilt by Christa Watson, 64″ x 80″
Made from neutrals of Fandangle, Geo Pop, and Gridwork

I love making all kinds of quilts and most of my designs fall on the “Modern Traditional” side of things. But with Interlinked, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and really embrace modern principles like “minimalism” and “negative space.”

Interlinked Beauty Shots

I’ve also been having fun taking some styled shots of  my quilts. there’s something about surrounding a stark neutral quilt with some earthy color that makes it pop, don’t you think?

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

The most fun part about making this quilt was combining white and gray prints from several of my fabric lines. After releasing my first fabric line, Modern Marks back in 2017, I realized I needed to add more backgrounds and neutrals to work with in each of my succeeding lines. So this one includes white & gray from Fandangle, Geo Pop and my newest line, Gridwork.

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

I used the white/gray “Mosaic Dots” print from Geo Pop for the backing.

Get the Kit!

When I shared sneak peeks of me making this quilt a few months ago, I immediately got requests for kits once the pattern was available. So I’m happy to announce that kits are now in stock and ready to ship over in my online store at shop.ChristaQuilts.com.

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the interlinked quilt kit (fabric only) while supplies last.

The pattern can be found in issue #34 issue of Make Modern Magazine, a PDF publication from my friends down under in Australia! You can purchase single issues, or a fabulous all access subscription that includes ALL back issues. (I actually have been published in their magazine at least twice before – so it will be a fun scavenger hunt to find my previous patterns!!)

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

The quilt is actually really quick and easy to make and you can have fun with the quilting just like I did. I quilted a different geometric design in each fabric of the quilt and it was so fun putting this one together. It’s the first time I’ve made a quilt from my fabrics where I’ve used more than one collection and I really enjoyed the freedom of doing that!

Interlinked Free Motion Quilt Detail

Interlinked free-motion quilting detail – click image above to enlarge.

I hope you enjoyed looking at all these fun pics and I can’t wait to see your version of the quilt. When you make it, please use the hashtag #interlinkedquilt on social media so I can cheer you on!

Where to Buy

Interlinked by Christa Watson

Block Chain Quilt Finish – Ta Da!

I had so much fun making my Block Chain quilt, and I love seeing all the variations out there that others have made. I enjoyed experimenting around with the quilting on this quilt, and am excited to share this “Finish” post as a way to record all the details about this quilt!

Block Chain by Christa Watson

Block Chain QUILT STATS

Click here for the free quilt along to make this quilt.

Block Chain quilt by Christa Watson

Block Chain Quilt by Christa Watson

 

 

Block Chain Quilt Along Week 6 – Binding to Finish!

Thanks for joining me in this journey to make the Block Chain quilt. If you are still working on your quilt, scroll down to the end for links to all of the quilt along steps.

Block Chain by Christa Watson

This is the week to finish up your quilt with binding, but of course you can work at your own pace, and share your progress in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group anytime. And feel free to ask questions about this quilt. I want you to be successful from start to finish!

Quilt Binding

For my quilt, I used the Circle Grid print in black for the binding. I love the pop of interest it gives the quilt around the edges.

Gridwork Work Circle Grid Black

Here’s a roundup of quilt binding tutorials from other quilts I’ve made. I use the same process on all my quilts, whether I bind them by hand or machine. Check out these educational links below:

Click here for my Machine Binding Tutorial using a decorative stitch (YouTube Video)
Click here for my Machine Binding Tutorial using a straight stitch (Blog and Video)
Click here for my Hand Binding Tutorial (Blog Post with Pics)

Block CHain Quilt

If you’ve enjoyed this quilt along, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter for news about when the next quilt along will start. You can view all of my previous quilt alongs here.

FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THIS QAL

Facebook Live A.M.A. Each Monday at 2 PM PST

So the biggest casualty for me in this whole quarantine situation is getting out and chatting with fun folks like you! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working from home and am grateful for the flexibility that my job in the quilting community allows. However, I miss teaching quilting and I miss talking about quilting and I miss being with quilters. So I wanted to try out an experiment….

Christa Quilts

Starting on Monday, April 27th at 2 PM PST (5 PM EST) I’m going to host “Ask Me Anything” using Facebook Live in my ChristaQuilts facebook group.

It’s going to be very casual and unscripted, mostly so I don’t have to plan too much ahead of time. And I’d like to keep it at about 30 minutes so it doesn’t take up too much of your time. This will be a great chance for you to ask me ANY questions you have, quilting related or not!

I might even share some behind the scenes sneak peeks of the “secret sewing” I’m currently working on, and maybe some general thoughts about life or anything else that naturally comes up.

If it goes well – meaning people show up for some fun conversation – I’d like to make it a weekly thing. So think about what you’d like to ask me and let’s have a fun conversation. I can’t wait!

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

I’m sorely missing quilt market, teaching, and other live events, so hopefully this will be the next best thing. Click here to join my Facebook Group and I’ll see ya on Monday!!

Block Chain Quilt Along Week 5 – Free Motion Quilting

This part of the quilt along is always my favorite!! I’m excited to share how I free-motion quilted my Block Chain Quilt with a fast, fun and forgiving modern design I call “Geometric Chains.”

Click here to get the optional Block Chain quilt kit, while supplies last.

The basic idea is to quilt an allover design, one line at a time across the entire quilt. Below is the basic motif diagram shown in the Block Chain quilt pattern.

To get a feel for how this design is stitched, draw a series of geometric lines, similar to those shown below on a blank piece of paper. Start with a straight-ish line, then sketch a series of geometric shape such as circles, triangles, squares, spirals, hearts, etc. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ideas!!

To get around each shape and make the next one, you can backtrack (stitch over a previous part of the design), or you can echo part of the design. There’s no wrong way to do it! To avoid marking, make the shapes roughly the size of a pieced block unit. Notice how the middle spiral chain above is roughly the width of the center of the block.

Once you’ve sketched out a few shapes you like, stitch them out on some practice scraps before quilting them on your actual quilt. Be sure to test out thread colors so you are happy with the results.

In the closeup image below, you can see I used a colorful thread from my Aurifil Variegated thread collection. Because the quilt has such a high contrast, I didn’t want to have to change threads as I quilted – so I made the colorful quilting a part of the final design!

When it comes to quilting the quilt, I use my “divide and conquer” method. I start on the right side of my quilt and begin stitching at the top of the quilt, in the batting sticking out around the edges. Then I quilt one “anchor” line of quilting through each block. This will hold each pieced row together so it won’t shift after basting. Then I go back and fill in all of the quilting in each row of blocks.

Click the play button below to watch a short, 2 1/2 minute video of me quilting a couple of the “chains” in this quilt. I’m only showing the closeups, but I’m just quilting one section at a time, and taking my time. I’m able to quilt an entire chain from top to bottom without having to tie off threads at either end.

Click here, or above to view my Block Chain quilting on YouTube. (Be sure to subscribe!)

The image below is a cross section details of the quilt. Notice how all that quilting adds a somewhat whimsical texture to the quilt. Click the image below to enlarge for detail.

Alternate Quilting Ideas

You can definitely apply the Geometric Chains quilting motif to any quilt, and there are several ways you can change it up, too! How about using ONE geometric design across the entire quilt? Or mix up each “chain” of quilting so it looks like a geometric sampler.

Instead of quilting straight lines with each shape, try wiggly lines, or do an allover meander with the shapes instead. No matter how you quilt it, I’d love to see your variations! Be sure to share them in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group. Or tag me on instagram @christaquilts and use #blockchainquilt so I can see your progress.

Next week it’s time to bind this quilt and then it will be complete! Be sure to check out my Quilt Along landing page for past quilt alongs and new ones coming in the future!

For MOre INfo ABOUT THIS QAL

Pattern Clearance $4.95 Each While They Last! (Plus some eye candy machine quilting!)

I’m making way for some new patterns coming this summer (to go along with some new fabric) so it’s time to clear out some of my older paper patterns. The following 4 printed patterns are on sale now until they are sold out – first come first serve!

Charming Chevrons

Click here to get Charming Chevrons for $4.95 with Free US Shipping

Charming Chevrons Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

This was my very first pattern I ever released and the good news is I will actually be releasing a newer updated version with upcoming fabric. But in the meantime, you can get the original version of Charming Chevrons for a killer price!

Here’s another version I made when I was on a solids kick:

It was so fun to quilt this one!!

Positive Direction

Click here to get Positive Direction for $4.95 with Free US Shipping

Positive Direction Pattern Cover by Christa Quilts

This was one of my earlier patterns from before I started designing fabric. It’s perfect for using up scraps or leftover strips!

Here are some beauty shots of the quilt + quilting. I combined simple straight lines with pebbles, alternating the quilting design to emphasize the colorful blocks.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

Modern X

Click here to get Modern X for $4.95 with Free US Shipping

Modern X Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

This has been one of my all time most popular modern designs. It’s simple yet eye catching and one of these days I will remake it using my own fabric prints in similar colors.

Irregular straight line quilting brings a wow factor to this modern minimalist quilt. I was thrilled when it won a ribbon at my local quilt guild’s show several years ago.

Modern X quilt

Improv Squares

Click here to get Improv Squares for $4.95 with Free US Shipping

Improv Squares by Christa Watson for Christa Quilts

This quilt pattern is a fun way to ease into improv piecing and it’s made from one layer cake + background fabric. I only have a couple of these left, so grab it before they are gone!

Improv Squares Quilt Pattern using Modern Marks Fabric

Click here for all printed patterns on clearance.

PDF Patterns on Sale

Once the paper versions above are gone, that’s it! I need the shelf space for new stuff to come!
However, if you prefer instant download patterns, many of my current line of my PDF patterns are on sale in my Etsy shop for 15% off the regular price.

Click here for my entire line of PDF patterns on Etsy.

ChristaQuilts Patterns

Happy Sewing, Friends!

Block Chain QAL Week 4 – Batting, Backing and Basting

Now we come to everyone’s least favorite part of quilt-making: the basting! But if you take it one step at a time and prepare the layers of the quilt properly, this part will be a breeze, and you’ll be on to quilting in no time.

Block Chain quilt bating

The Batting Should be Several Inches Larger that the Quilt Top

The most important step in basting a quilt is to ensure that the batting and backing are several inches larger than the quilt top all the way around. Sometimes I can get away with less If I’m careful.

For me, the easiest way to measure the batting is to buy a roll of it, then unroll it across the width of the quilt top and roughly trim off the amount I will need. In the photo above, I’m using Hobbs Tuscany cotton/wool batting which is one of my favorites. It’s 90″ wide and folded double on the bolt. So after I trim off a chunk from the bolt, I’ll lay the quilt top out and trim of several inches from the top of the batting. I save those chunks to make practice quilt sandwiches later.

For my backing I used the same gray Hourglass print that I used for the background because I really like it! The busy print will help hide any quilting imperfections!

gridwork Hourglass gray

Click here to get the Gridwork Hourglass print by the yard.

Piecing the Backing

Refer to page 7 of the Block Chain quilt pattern for how big to cut your backing pieces. The backing should be a few inches larger than both the quilt top AND the batting so you have plenty of room for basting. The extra will get trimmed off later. I like to sketch out a diagram of my quilt backing so I know how to piece it together.

For my size quilt (69″ x 69″) I want to piece together a square that’s approximately 76″ – 80″ square. Once I trim off the selvages, the width of the diagram below will be about 80 wide. I can cut my backing (4 1/2 yds total for this size) into two equal pieces, about 80″ each (2 1/4 yds x 36″, rounded down an inch). I sew my backing together with 1/2″ seam and press the seams open.Pieced quilt back

Time to Baste!

I didn’t take step by step pics when I basted this quilt. However, I used my fast and easy spray basting technique that I use on each and every quilt. You can click here for a step by step photo tutorial of the process, or click the image below for a speedy YouTube video of the process (on my Infrastructure quilt:

Click here (or the image above) to see my speeded up spray basting video.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK:

My favorite part of making any quilt is machine quilting it and I can’t wait to share some video snippets on how I actually quilted this quilt!! It’s a modern, geometric design that is fast, fun and easy to do! So join me again next week, and don’t worry if you aren’t to that point yet. I’ll keep these quilt along tips on my site indefinitely so you can refer to them any time you need to!

block chain quilt

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFO ABOUT THIS QAL?

Block Chain QAL Week 3 – Sewing the Quilt Top

How are your Block Chain quilt blocks coming along? Be sure to share pics of your progress in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group or instagram #blockchainquilt and ask any questions you have. I love to cheer you on!

Block Chain quilt pattern

Click here for my free tutorial on how to make a design wall.

This week it’s time to finish up those blocks and sew them into a completed quilt top, also knowns as a “flimsy.” Refer to the Block Chain pattern pages 5-7 for the step by step instructions.

The easiest way to arrange your blocks is to use a design wall so you can stand back and play around with the color placement of your blocks. Just don’t overthink it since they will look great no matter what!

If you don’t have a design wall, you can use a design floor, or maybe even a design bed! No matter where you lay them out, be sure to take a picture of them with your camera phone, so you can refer back to the layout again and again as you sew.

I was in a hurry to make this quilt so I don’t have a lot of in-progress pics, but I want to point out a little thing I like to do when sewing the blocks. You can see a closeup of the pattern layout here in this diagram:

block layout

Rotate every other block so that the background seams don’t intersect. This will make it faster and easier to sew the rows together. Pin generously for best results and press each row as you go. In fact, I like to sew pairs of blocks, then press them, then sew them into larger pairs. It’s easier to press smaller chunks of blocks so the whole process isn’t so overwhelming.

Sew a Victory Lap!

When the quilt top is complete, you’ll want to “stay-stitch” the edges by sewing all the way around the edges of the quilt (called the perimeter.) Do this about 1/8″ away from the edge so it will get hidden when you put on the binding. If you add borders to your quilt, you can skip this step since the borders will stabilize the edges instead.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK:

After we are done with the top, it will be time to piece the backing, prep our backing and get ready to baste. This is a quick process so you can take a little extra time to finish your quilt top if needed.

My finished quilt top is ready to baste!

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFO ABOUT THIS QAL?