Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Part 2 – Making the Blocks (on the BERNINA Blog)

Are you having fun with my quilt alongs? I know it’s kinda crazy that I’m doing two at once (Dot ‘n Dash on my blog and Beaded Lanterns over on the BERNINA blog). But seriously, if I didn’t have deadlines for my quilting, I wouldn’t get anything done, LOL!!

Fortunately – just so you know, I actually made both quilts ahead of time since I knew I would be out of the country teaching when they were scheduled to be shared. (More about my Australia trip later, so stay tuned!)

Beaded Lanterns Blocks

Click here to purchase Fandangle precuts, bundles and yardage while supplies last.

This week over on the BERNINA blog – We All Sew – I’m sharing the process of cutting the strips and making the blocks. So head on over there to check it out!

Remember – for any of my quilt alongs, I leave the posts up indefinitely so you can always come back to them later when you have time.

Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Week 5 – Backing and Basting

I love quilt alongs and the best part is seeing the variety you all are making! It makes my day. 🙂
This week we are getting down to the nitty gritty and getting the quilt ready for machine quilting next week. But don’t worry, if you aren’t to that point yet, that’s perfectly fine. These quilt along posts will stay up indefinitely and you can always refer back to the intro post for links to each specific QAL step.

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the quilt along schedule and supply list.

Preparation is Key

Getting ready to machine quilt is a little like getting ready to paint a house. The actual painting isn’t hard – it’s all the prep work (ike moving furniture and taping down the windows) that takes time and gets in the way of the fun part. So take your time to prepare the quilt and baste it and don’t feel like you have to rush this part. In fact, I always set aside a separate day for backing and basting and then give myself a little reward when my least favorite part of the process is finished!

A tip on choosing batting: if you want to hide machine quilting “irregularities” and give your quilt that antique puckered look, choose a cotton batting like Hobbs or Quilter’s Dream. If you want to give your stitches more definition and a loftier look, choose wool. I usually stay away from polyester batting because it’s very slippery and usually causes me to get puckers on the back of my quilt. Cotton and wool cling to the quilt which gives you better control while quilting.

Quilt Batting Used in Dot n Dash Quilt

Take a picture of your batting with your quilt top so you can remember what you used.

Sewing the Backing Fabric

You want to ensure that the backing fabric is at least 3-4″ bigger on all sides of the quilt top, more if you plan to long arm quilt. The easiest way to do this is to cut two large pieces of fabric and sew them together. For example, my quilt measures 60 x 72. So If I cut 4 yards into 2 two -yard pieces that will give me one big rectangle approximately 72″ x 80″ to work with once the chunks are sewn together parallel to the selvage.

Sewn Quilt Backing

I basted this quilt at a recent teaching retreat I participated in. All you need is one table for basting – work on the middle and then the sides as needed.

Spray Basting the Quilt

If you prefer to pin baste, click here for an alternate tutorial.

My basic method for spray basting is to spray the wrong side of the top and bottom layers of the quilt outside, then bring them inside for assembly. For a slight variation of this technique, click here for my wall basting tutorial.

My favorite basting spray is 505. Be sure to shake the can before you use it and spray a little on a scrap to make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged. If the spray doesn’t flow out evenly, some of the chemical can accumulate and leave a stain on your quilt, so always test it first.

Spray Basting the Quilt

At first I tried an off brand that a friend had but I didn’t like it because it wasn’t sticky enough. Fortunately one of the other retreaters had some 505 which they let me use for my quilt!

The basting spray does not cause any problems with machine quilting, and if you notice it starting to gum up the needle at all, just wipe it away and you’ll be all set!

Lay out all 3 layers of the quilt – backing, batting, and quilt top on a large table (or design wall). Spend time smoothing out each layer with a long acrylic ruler before adding the next layer. This can take awhile but is worth it so that the quilt is nice, flat and smooth.

Quilt Basting

Notice the leftover batting – most of it will get trimmed away after basting. I like enough extra batting and backing so that I don’t have to worry about getting my quilt top perfectly centered.

You can also use the acrylic ruler to scooch any quilt blocks back into place and straighten out any wonky seams as needed. Smooth out any bubbles as needed so that the quilt is nice and flat.

The last step is to iron the quilts on both sides – front and back. This helps set the glue and allows you to work out any wrinkles one last time before you quilt. I use a hot dry iron ,with no steam. You can iron the quilt on an ironing board, or on a table to give you more room. Because there’s batting inside, the quilt acts as it’s own pressing surface.

Iron the basted quilt to set the glue

My quilt is basted and ready to quilt!

Now it’s your turn! Get your quilt basted and we’ll start machine quilting next week. We’ll have extra time for quilting since it’s my favorite part!

Show Your Work

Don’t forget to share your progress in one of 3 ways (or all of them if you like):
(1) In my Christa Quilts Facebook group
(2) On Instagram, #dotndashqal
(3) Share a link to your blog, or leave a comment about your process on this post.

Dot n Dash Ready to quilt

Trim the batting so that there’s only 1-2 inches sticking out on all sides of the quilt. This will prevent the excess from flipping under the quilt and getting caught in the machine.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Part 1: over on the BERNINA Blog

This week kicks off another fun quilt along that I created to help promote my Fandangle fabric collection. Over the next 7 week’s I’ll be sharing step by step tutorials over on BERNINA’s Blog – We All Sew. We will make my Beaded Lanterns quilt – a free pattern I designed that is precut friendly.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt

Of course, all of the patterns I design would look fabulous in any fabrics you choose, but I really love the excuse to design and make quilts with my own fabric lines.

All you need is one jelly roll or Fandangle “strip-pie” plus 4 yards of background fabric. The two grays I’ve been using from the line – Confetti Crosshatch – have been so popular that they’ve already sold out of the first printing. But fortunately Benartex reprints fabrics that sell well, so more of those will be coming in October thank goodness!

Fandangle Strippie

Click here to get the Fandangle Strip-pie while supplies last.

In the meantime, you can check out my where to buy page for a list of shops that carry Fandangle. I have a note on there indicating which shops carry the full line as well as which shops sell online so you can track it down for yourself.

Click here to visit BERNINA’s blog – We All Sew.
The Quilt Along will be shared there each Wednesday. Happy quilting!

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 4 – Sewing the Quilt Top

Did you finish your quilt blocks from last week? How is it going? Be sure to share your progress over in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group and/or on instagram using the hashtag #dotndashqal.

Finished Dot n Dash Quilt Blocks

Today we will be laying out our blocks and sewing them together to make the quilt top. The most important thing to remember is that each row in the quilt goes in opposite directions, so separate your blocks into two piles, A and B.

See pages 53-54 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for specific directions.

It’s super helpful to lay out all 30 blocks on a design wall or other larger surface area. If you have a design floor or a design bed, that will work, too! Take as much time as you need to orient your blocks in the correct position with a nice color distribution of prints.

Dot 'n Dash Quilt Along

All blocks are laid out in order on the design wall, and ready to sew.
Take a picture with your camera phone to refer to as you piece the rows.

Pinning and Pressing

The key to a really nice flat quilt top is pinning and pressing. I prefer to press all seams open for the entire quilt and sew with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of the default 2.5.) However, if you choose to press to the side, that’s ok, too. Just be sure to press each and every seam as you go with a hot, dry iron.

Dot n Dash piecing detail

My corners match up nicely because I pressed each seam, and pinned each intersection.

Here’s a tip for managing the bulk of the quilt top while sewing and pressing: Sew the block rows together into pairs of two. Then press each pair of rows before joining larger sections together. The quilt to will shrink up a bit once it’s all joined, but you can always add more blocks or a border to make it larger if you like.

Dot 'n Dash finished quilt top made from Fandangle Fabric

My finished quilt top – ready to baste in next week’s lesson!

Take a Victory Lap!

Whenever I’m making a quilt top with blocks that go all the way to the edge (no borders), there is a chance that the edge seams could split open. To prevent this, I take a “victory lap” around the edges – sew with a larger stitch length approximately 1/8″ in from the edge of the quilt around the entire perimeter. It feels like a great way to celebrate the finished top!

Here’s what the edge stitching looks like from another quilt I recently made:

Victory lap around the quilt to secure the edges

By sewing with a larger stitch near the edge of the quilt, the stitching line will get covered by the binding. This secures the edge seams from splitting open during all of the rough handling that will occur with basting and quilting.

Jump in any time!

If you are just joining the quilt along, remember you can work at your own pace. Please don’t ever feel like you are “behind” as that’s never the case. And if you want to work ahead, that’s great, too! I’m just glad you are following along, either on your own version of the quilt, or virtually in your head!

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List
Click here to purchase the Fandangle Strip-pie or other precuts.
Click here to purchase a signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

EQ Design Contest Winners

I have to tell you how blown away I was with all of the entries into the Fandangle EQ design contest last month. EQ limited it to one entry per person which was probably a good thing, or we never would have been able to make a decision, LOL! EQ picked their favorite, I picked my favorite, and together we picked a joint favorite. So without further ado, congratulations to the winners below:

Overall Winner – Betsy’s Pinball

Betsy EQ8 entry for Fandangle

This quilt really spoke to me with it’s asymmetrical modern style. It’s really eye catching and I love how she took a traditional block – the Drunkard’s Path and created such a unique, fresh design!

MY Honorable Mention: Mel Beach Slice & Insert

EQ8 Design by Mel Beach

Mel’s design absolutely blew me away! I love how she incorporated some of the design motifs from the fabric into her unique and original quilt design. Check out the blog post she wrote about her process and several other design ideas. Each improv-looking blocks is actually an abstract pieced “F” (for Fandangle). How cool is that??

EQ Honorable Mention: Janet Barker Cut the Deck

Janet Barker EQ8 design with Fandangle

Here’s what Janet had to say about her fabulous entry: “My Cut the Deck quilt design uses a range of dark and light fabrics in the same color family. The teals with lime green accents fit the bill perfectly. The quilt uses easy strip piecing with sub-cuts to make up the blocks.”

Other Favorites

I have to give a shout out to a couple of other designs that really made my heart sing. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved ALL of the entries and it was so so hard to choose! We have some amazing talent out there in the quilting world and I was impressed by all of the original designs. I hope that several of the entrants decide to turn their designs into quilt patterns because they are all so good!

Willow Olson – Oh My Stars

Willow Olson EQ8 fandangle Design


Diane – Lisbonesque-like

Diane EQ 8 Fandangle Design


Pat A – Untitled

Pat A EQ 8 Design


Terri Nice – All that Glitters

Terri Nice EQ8 design


Darlene Cunningham – All The Ins & Outs

Darlene Cunningham EQ 8 Fandangle Entry

See The Rest of the Amazing Entries!

There were a total of 96 entries and they were all so fabulous! The ones I just showcased above are just a drop in the bucket of all the incredible designs that were shared.Do you know how hard it was for us to choose the winners?? The rest of them are still up on the EQ site so you can enjoy an amazing virtual trunk show. Be sure to read the comments for more about each entry.

Click here to see all of the remaining entries and grab a couple of fun freebie from me – a PDF pattern download & the EQ file to make a simple jelly roll quilt from Fandangle (or any other fabrics in your stash.)

Then click here to grab your favorite Fandangle fabrics to and get started on your next quilt! Remember to use coupon code SAVE10 at checkout!)

EQ design challenge

Thanks for playing!!

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 3 – Sewing the Blocks

It’s been fabulous getting to know everyone who’s participating in the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along. I love seeing all the fabric choices you are all sharing. And getting to know everyone over in my Christa Quilts Facebook group is so much fun. If you are just joining us, grab a jelly roll of fabric & some background and you’re all set!

Dot n Dash Quilt AlongClick here to purchase yardage & bundles of Fandangle fabric.
Click here to purchase just the Fandangle Strip-pie (jellyroll).
Click here to grab a signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Pressing and Piecing Tips

Before we get into sewing the blocks, I’d like to share a couple of general sewing tips.
I prefer to sew with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of the default 2.5). This helps ensure that the seams won’t split open at the ends during sewing.

I also press ALL of my seams open. I use a hot dry iron for pressing with NO steam. (Steam can distort the blocks, and adding water to your iron is one of the easiest ways to break it!!)

Seams pressed open.

I press all of my seams open for 2 reasons: (1) it makes the blocks super flat which makes machine quilting on a home sewing machine sooooo much easier to do. And (2) I don’t have to think about which way the seams need to go from block to block so it makes joining the blocks together much, much easier.

I gently press each seam open with my fingers as then follow it up with the iron. After each seam is pressed, I press the whole block on both sides to make a flat, crisp block!

Closeup of Seams Pressed Open

I use a lot of pins when joining my blocks and I make to sure to sew a little bit slower than normal so that I don’t veer off the end of each piece while sewing.

And don’t worry if you make a hot mess while you are sewing. The image below is what my actual process looks like when chain piecing. Fortunately, once the threads are clipped between units and everything is pressed as I go, I can quickly calm this unruly chaos:

Dot n Dash sewing in progress

The instructions and tips I offer during the quilt along are just suggestions and ideas that work for me. Remember – you are the boss of your quilt, so feel free to use your own favorite methods if you are happy with them and getting good results!

Sewing the Dot ‘n’ Dash Blocks

Follow the instructions in the book on pages 52-53 to make the blocks. Take care to make both versions of the block as shown in the diagrams. They are similar and easy to confuse but the layout for both is slightly different.

Dot n Dash Block Layout

To speed things up, I’ll lay out all of the block parts in order on a mat next to my sewing machine. Because we are going for a random scrappy look, don’t overthink the fabric placement. Just try not to have the same fabric repeat in each block and you will be fine.

Stack up a whole bunch of units at once so that you can assembly line sew.

Dot n Dash blocks in progress

As you are piecing, keep the background rectangles (gray in my image above) on top as you sew. This will ensure that you are sewing the long skinny strips in opposite directions each time. This is so the blocks won’t warp or skew as you make them.

Also, use pins if needed to ensure that your pieced units and gray strips match up on both ends. If for some reason they are not the same size, you can trim them down, but be sure that all units are the same length so your blocks will go together correctly.

Dot n Dash Blocks in progress

Notice how the units in the A & B blocks go in different directions. Be sure to pay close attention to the block assembly diagrams in the book and make the correct number of each.

For those of you making Dot ‘n Dash with the light gray Fandangle fabric kit, here’s what your finished A block may look like:

Dot n Dash Block light gray

Once you’ve finished piecing all 30 blocks (15 A + 15 B), give them a final press if desired and admire your pretty handiwork!


Finish sewing all of the blocks. Then share pictures of your progress in my facebook group and/or on instagram #dotndashqal. I love to see how you are doing!!

If you are blogging about your progress, be sure to add a link to your blog post in the comments below so we can all head over there and cheer you on!!

Finished A Blocks for Dot n Dash QAL

Don’t you just love a pretty stack of finished blocks??

Click here for the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List.

Quilt Shops that Carry Fandangle Fabric

Great news to share! I’m starting to update my list of quilt shops that have ordered Fandangle so far (see below). If you are a shop out there that carries my fabrics, or know of a shop who stocks it who’s NOT on this list, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be glad to add them.

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo

Click here to read more about each design from Fandangle.

Shops that Carry My Fabric

This is by no means a complete list as many shops purchase through a distributor (rather than from the manufacturer) and many shops will receive their orders over the next several months, so I’ ll update this list as needed!

Shops listed with ** carry both of my fabric lines: Modern Marks and Fandangle.
Underlined shops carry the full line (but may sell out quickly so check for availability.)

If the shop sells online, their name below will be a clickable link.
Copy and paste each shop name into google for contact info and/or website.

Shops located in the US
International Shops

Quilt shops may contact these companies directly for ordering information

Fandangle Fabric and Matching Shoes

Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio
Click here to purchase patterns featuring Fandangle Fabric

The Fandangle Precuts are Here (At The Precut Store)

I’m excited to announce that the Fandangle Precuts have now made their way to our Precut Store which means that most orders qualify for Amazon prime and free 2 day shipping – whoo hoo!!

The Precut Store

Click here to check out The Precut Store

For those that don’t know – my husband started The Precut Store back in 2012 as separate site to sell precuts exclusively, plus some Aurifil thread. Thanks to your support it’s been tremendously successful and has allowed me the free time I’ve needed to develop my professional quilting career. (Prior to him taking over, I used to cut and ship fabric orders all day long which was fun but left very little time for quilting!)

Fandangle Precuts Available

The Fandangle Strip-pie is of course the most popular precut and you can pair it up with other fabrics to make quilts from many of my patterns, or any jelly-roll friendly design.
I really like how Benartex has packaged it to lie flat and separated it into warm and cool colorways. You get 2 strips of each of the prints in the line.

Fandangle Jelly Roll by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Fandangle Strip-pies

Charm Packs are the second most popular precut and very versatile! You can whip up a small baby quilt from one Fandangle charm pack with the squares sewn together edge to edge and set 6 x 7. Or you can combine them with a background or multiple charms for a larger quilt.

Fandangle Charm Pack by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Fandangle Charm Packs

In fact, I’m playing around with the idea of making another version of my popular Charming Chevrons quilt pattern using charm packs from both Modern Marks and Fandangle.

Charming Chevrons Quilt pattern with Christa Watson Fabric

On my wish list – remaking Charming Chevrons with Modern Marks + Fandangle Charms

10 x 10’s (aka Layer Cakes) are also a popular precut. You get 42 squares just like in the 5″ charms, but the squares are twice as big. This allows versatility to make a super fast and fun throw size quilt. It also provides enough fabric to make a scrappy quilt without breaking the bank.

Fandangle Layer Cake by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase the Fandangle 10×10.

Just like the 5×5’s, the 10×10’s include two squares of each fabric in the line, plus 2 bonus squares for a total of 42 pieces. I specifically created 20 prints for the collection so that the math works out nicely.

Fandangle fabrics

All 20 Fandangle Prints

I’m super excited that we are now able to offer Fandangle Fat Quarter bundles, too. We are working on convincing the folks over at Benartex to offer fat quarter bundles for all of their lines. (They currently offer 80 FQ boxes of every collection which include duplicates and are meant for brick and mortar stores to display – but they don’t work so well for online sales.)

Fandangle Fat Quarters by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase 20 piece fat quarter bundles of Fandangle.

And remember, if you make anything with my fabric, I’d love to see. You can share your projects and progress any time in my Christa Quilts facebook group. On Intagram, be sure to use the hashtag #fandanglefabric so I can see what you are creating!

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 2 – Cutting the Fabric

Welcome to week 2 of the Dot ‘n’ Dash quilt along. In case you missed it, click here for the QAL schedule and supply list. And don’t worry – if you are starting late, there’s plenty of time to catch up! The quilt along posts will stay up indefinitely so you can work at your own pace.

Dot n Dash light or dark backgroundMy Dot ‘n’ Dash design is based on 2 1/2″ precut strips.
It looks great with any fabrics and contrasting background.
The pattern is in located in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Today we’ll dive in and start cutting. The best thing about working with precuts is that a lot of the cutting has been done ahead of time, so we can get this quilt top finished fast!

We will be following the cutting instructions on page 51 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson

I love a pretty pile of cut fabric stacks, don’t you?

Step 1 – Cutting the Strips

If you are working with a jelly roll (strippie, rollup etc.), double check the width of your strips to ensure that they are exactly 2 1/2″. If they aren’t, you can compensate by cutting your background strips the same width.

Because I made my quilt before the precuts were available in stores, I cut my own strips from yardage, so they don’t have pinked edges. But you can mix and match straight cut strips and pinked edge strips in the same quilt with no problem. Most precuts strips measure 2 1/2″ from edge to edge (the “peaks”) but if they don’t, you can always “fudge” the seam allowances if needed.

Strips of Fandangle Fabric

I cut 2 strips from each of the 20 Fandangle prints to get the total of 40 strips needed for the quilt. The leftovers will make a fun scrappy binding!

You can also cut strips from fat quarters that measure 18″ x 21″. Just cut twice as many (80 instead of 40). If you want to work with scraps, make sure that each print scrap is at least 10″ long and that each background strip is at least 13″ long.

Dark grey strips for background
Choose a contrasting light or dark fabric for the background.

To save time in cutting the background, you can select a jelly roll made from all of one light or dark fabric. Or you can cut your own like I did. If you are working with a Strip-pie of Fandangle (that’s what Benartex calls their Jelly Rolls), you’ll notice that it includes 2 strips of dark gray and 2 strips of light gray.

Fandangle Strippie by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Click here to get the Fandangle Strip-pie which include 2 strips of each fabric in the line.

You can pull out the grays and set them aside for something else and you’ll still have enough fabric for the quilt top. Or you can include either the light or dark gray in the blocks. (Just use whichever one is NOT the same as your background.)

Step 2 – Subcut the Units

Fandangle fabric subcut units for Dot 'n Dash qal

Follow the instructions on page 51 of the book to cut the print strips and the background strips into smaller squares and rectangles. I recommend putting on some nice music or an audio book while you work and have yourself a little cutting  party!

Just remember to measure twice, cut once and use a smaller acrylic ruler to trim the strips into smaller units. Line up the lines on your ruler with the lines of your mat for accuracy and cut with most of the fabric held underneath the ruler.

Homework – Get Ready to Sew!

Finish cutting your strips into units and clean your sewing machine so you’re ready to start piecing next week. Oil your machine (if needed, according to manufacturer’s instructions) and change your needle. Select the thread you’ll use for piecing.

Piece and Quilt Collection Aurifil Thread by Christa Watson

Might I recommend a blending thread from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt Collections??

Aurifil is strong, yet thin, and it won’t take up any bulk in the seams. If you are working with 50 weight thread for piecing (my favorite), I recommend a size 80/12 Sharp or Topstitch needle. For crisp seams and straight stitches, you want a nice pointy needle with a hole that’s appropriate for your thread size.

My favorite needles are Titanium Coated Topstitch needles from Superior Threads. I actually use them to piece and quilt so one 5-pack will be plenty for this project!

If your machine has a 1/4″ patchwork foot I recommend using one. If not, you can set a perfect seam guide with the help of this nifty tool from my friend Celine Perkins.

Perfect Piecing Seam Guide

For bonus points, do a seam test to check your seam allowance accuracy: Sew two 2″ wide scrap rectangles together and press, then measure the width. If the unit doesn’t measure exactly 3 1/2″ wide, adjust your seam allowance until it does.

Remember: Sharing is Caring

Don’t forget to share this week’s progress and let us know how it’s going. Share pictures of your pretty piles of cut fabric over in my Christa Quilts Facebook group, and/or on instagram #dotndashqal.

See ya next week – same bat time, same bat channel!!

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List.

Quilt Shops that Carry Modern Marks

Here’s a list of stores that purchased  Modern Marks.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio

Please know that there are many, many more stores that carry my fabric – these are just the shops that I personally know about. Also, since the line has now been out for about a year, some shops may be sold out – so check with them for current availability.

If you see my fabric at any shop not listed below, please leave a note in the comments and I’ll be glad to update the list!

If the shop sells online, their name below will be a clickable link.
Copy and paste each shop name into google for additional contact info and/or website.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here for free patterns using my fabrics.