My Aurifil Thread Collections are Now Available

One of the biggest reasons for going to quilt market this year was to launch my Piece and Quilt Thread Collection for Aurifil. This has been a dream of mine a couple of yeas in the making and it feels so great to finally share them with the world!
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Christa and Aurifil CBDO Alex Veronelli at Fall Quilt Market 2016

I first began using Aurifil 50 weight cotton back in 2013 after trying out numerous brands, thread weights, and fiber contents. After making dozens of quilts for publication and for family and friends, I can definitely say these threads are prefect for everything I do: piecing, machine quilting, machine applique, and binding.

My favorite thing about sticking with the 50 weight cotton for everything, is that I always have the right color on hand. Plus, any leftover bobbins from machine quilting can get used up when I piece my next scrappy quilt!

The Piece and Quilt Collection comes in both Colors and Neutrals and I really took my time choosing them. I wanted to make sure I offered enough variety that you could literally piece and quilt any quilt with just these two collections:
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Piece and Quilt Colors Include:

2425 Bright Pink
2250 Red
4020 Fuchsia
2520 Violet
2130 Medium Butter
1133 Bright Orange
2920 Light Brass
2884 Green Yellow
2886 Light Avocado
1148 Light Jade
2725 Light Wedgewood
2783 Medium Delft Blue

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piece-and-quilt-neutrals-thread

Piece and Quilt Neutrals Include:

2311 Muslin
5021 Bamboo
1246 Dark Grey
5007 Light Grey Blue
2326 Sand
2372 Dark Antique Gold (Brown)
2315 Pale Flesh
2405 Oyster
2024 White
2615 Aluminium
2605 Grey
4241 Very Dark Grey

Color selection tips:

  1. When you don’t have an exact match, go a shade or two lighter with your thread. A lighter thread on a darker fabric will blend in better than a darker thread on a lighter fabric.
  2. Use very dark grey instead of black on black fabrics so you can see the texture of the thread rather than having it disappear.
  3. Use the darker neutrals when piecing dark or very highly saturated fabrics.
  4. Try out the lighter neutrals like oyster and bamboo (in addition to white and muslin) when piecing lighter to medium colored fabrics.

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Ask for my Piece and Quilt Collection at your favorite quilt shop, or get them directly from me at ThePrecutStore.com. I look forward to seeing what you make with them!

BERNINA Love – and what it means to be a brand ambassador

I’ve long been a fan of BERNINA sewing machines and purchased my first one, a used model 1630 back in in 1997. I pieced and machine quilted all of my quilts on it and really learned how to be a proficient machine quilter on it. I upgraded to my “dream” machine 16 years later in 2013 – a BERNINA 710. Now I’m excited to be using one of the latest models, the B770 QE (Quilter’s Edition). Thank goodness I didn’t have to wait nearly as long to get it!

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Test driving the B770 QE at Quilt Market

I was recently invited to be a BERNINA ambassador and couldn’t be more thrilled. I first heard about the idea of “brand ambassadors” about 10 years ago when I took a class from a national teacher who was one. So I put that idea on the back burner bucket list, hoping to one day be able to represent this fabulous company.

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So here’s what it means to be a brand ambassador: BERNINA sends me a machine to use on loan, for the duration of my ambassadorship. In exchange, I help promote their brand, create exclusive content for their We All Sew blog, and share my experiences with my machine. (Truth be told, I would have done all of this anyway, even without the new machine, but shhh! don’t tell them that!!)

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BERNINA ambassadors at the 2015 reunion.

I also get to travel to the BERNINA ambassador reunion where I get to meet with other ambassadors and BERNINA representatives. It’s held at BERNINA USA headquarters in Illinois each December. I love to learn all sorts nifty tips and tricks which I can then pass along to you guys! Oh, and about the all caps BERNINA – that’s how they officially spell their name. πŸ™‚

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I’m sure you are all dying to know how this came about, so I’ll tell you. I first met a couple of BERNINA reps at Sewing Summit in 2013. They presented a lecture about blogging and branding which led me to realize the idea of being an ambassador could eventually be in reach. However, I knew at the time I wasn’t well known enough yet; I needed to grow my following and get published so that I could become an effective influencer.

Over the next two years I kept in touch with BERNINA, and I got to know my local dealer really well. I chatted with the national BERNINA reps each time I went to quilt market. I let them know when I purchased the 710 machine (and how much I loved it), and kept in touch while writing both my first and second books.

Branding and Berninas

Listening to BERNINA representatives at Sewing Summit in 2013

Finally, it was my time toward the end of 2015. The funny thing is that BERNINA wasn’t the only company that has offered to work with me. I got a really great request from another sewing machine company earlier this year. Although it’s a company full of fantastic people whom I admire, I truthfully told them that I was flattered, but my heart belongs to BERNINA.

I’m super excited for the future of BERNINA. Not only do they offer the highest quality machines (in my opinion), they are really forward thinking. They recently launched their line of long-arm machines, which are simply amazing. I always told myself I would never be interested in a long arm (either stand up OR sit down). But then I had a chance to try the Q20 sit-down machine and I instantly fell in love.

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Chatting with Philliip about my first book at Sewtopia – near the Q20 Sit-Down machine

I recently had the pleasure to meet Phillip Ueltschi who is the son of BERNINA’s owner and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Hanspeter Ueltschi. Phillip just happened to be at Sewtopia and it was fun to have a conversation with him. I could tell he was passionate about the company and he was really intent on listening to what I had to say about machine quilting.

When I get to know the good people behind the scenes who are running companies I support, it makes me happy knowing I made the right decision to align with them. Be on the lookout for more fun projects from me, all made on my BERNINA. πŸ™‚

Book Recommendation – The Quilter’s Planner

I’m so excited for this week! Not only will I be attending Sewtopia later in the week (be sure to follow me on Instagram for live action shots of the retreat!); but this week I get to share several amazing books with you! Several of my friends have written books and I can’t wait to tell you all about them. I mean, when someone takes on the task of creating an entire book – that’s something to celebrate, right?

quiltersplanner_1The Quilter’s Planner by Stephanie Palmer

For starters, Stephana Palmer, aka Late Night Quilter and my new BQF (Best Quilting Friend) has just created The Quilter’s Planner. A quick background – Stephanie and I met back in August while taping machine quilting segments for QNNtv. We hit it off immediately and now we are even periscope buddies, too!

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So I’ll get to the planner details in a minute, but first I want to tell you about the unique way in which Stephanie is selling her planner. She’s using the crowd-funding site Indiegogo to take pre-orders while she finalizes the finishing touches. What’s awesome about this platform compared to others is that she doesn’t have to meet a funding goal in order to go ahead and print the planners and send them out into the world.Β  Unlike Kickstarter, there’s no threat of an unsuccessful crowd-funding project.Β Β So if you order a planner, you are guaranteed to receive a planner!Β  Sounds like a win-win to me!

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What’s Inside:

  • Monthly calendars
  • Weekly calendars
  • Project planning pages
  • Swatch saver
  • Graph paper
  • Free motion quilting practice pages
  • Goal-setting prompts
  • 8 full quilt patterns from amazing designers
  • 52 original quilt block designs from awesome quilt bloggers
  • Gorgeous artwork pull-outs
  • Reference section for quilting calculations and common construction techniques

quiltersplanner_4The planner includes 8 quilt patterns plus 52 original quilt block designs.

Order Yours Now to Kick off 2016

For more details about The Quilter’s Planner, and to pre-order your copy, click here!

I’m super excited for Stephanie’s new venture, and once you get your copy, I’m sure you’ll be excited (and organized) too!

MQWS Blog Hop Day 11 – Facets

If you love the fabrics in Facets, be sure to sign up for my weekly email newsletter, and get a free pattern showing them in a different way. (Of course you can choose your own fabrics, too!)

Facets – The Background Story

Facets_KonaFacets 63″ x 70″ by Christa Watson. Photo courtesy of Robert Kaufman.

I love coordinated scrappy quilts and improvisational piecing, yet I’m more of a “structured improv” kind of gal. I like to randomly sew together a bunch of scrappy goodness, then create order and structure from the chaos. For Facets, I chose 28 Kona Cottons in warm reds, oranges, and yellows, with some green thrown in for good measure. The palette reminds me of crisp juicy apples!

facets_stripsIt was such fun to cut up these fabrics into smaller chunks to play with!

It was very liberating to create my own crazy-pieced fabric to work with:

crazy pieced yardageRandomly sewing bits of fabric together is very therapeutic!

I really went to town with the machine quilting on this one. I used both walking-foot quilting and free-motion techniques when quilting Facets. Whenever I quilt, I like to think about the logical sequence of steps I take before starting. That way, it doesn’t seem too overwhelming.

facets_quiltingUsing my “scrunch and smoosh” method for dealing with the bulk while quilting. There’s an extra table under there which helps hold up the weight of the quilt.

I love quilting swirls, and combining them with switchbacks really creates a lot of movement.

Finals B1324.inddPhotography by Brent Kane.

A Bit More – and a Bonus Giveaway!

I was stoked when Robert Kaufman decided to add this grouping to their designer palette series this fall. Coming in October, you’ll be able to get your hands on the Christa Watson Designer Palette in fat quarters, ten squares, charm squares, and roll-ups! You can create a quilt just like mine, but of course it will still be different because of the improv element. πŸ™‚

What makes this quilt modern – offset grid layout, improvisational piecing, geometric design with high contrast and graphic impact, exclusive use of flat solids, bold, bright color palette, design goes all the way to the edges, organically quilted machine quilting.

Time for me to complete – 47 hours from start to finish, including the improv piecing.

How would you like to get your hands on a fat quarter bundle of my designer palette?

Christa Watson Designer PaletteThe Christa Watson Designer Palette – available at quilts shops everywhere in October!

To enter the giveaway for a 28 piece fat quarter bundle of my favorite Kona colors, just comment letting me know whether you’ve ever tried improv piecing and what you think about it. I’ll draw a winner at the end of the day on Sunday and announce their name on Monday, Sept. 28th.

And remember, don’t forget to vote for your favorite quilt for my QAL in January! Since I know you are dying to ask – yes, Facets is MY favorite quilt from the book. πŸ™‚

Quilting Inspiration from kristy daum

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I think my favorite part of this blog hop is seeing all of the amazing quilts from my talented friends! Kristy Daum from St. Louis Victorian and I have been online friends for awhile and finally got to meet up at QuiltCon earlier this year. You may remember Kristy’s amazing pixelated quilts featuring David Tennant as Dr. Who and the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock.

Now Kristy has knocked it out of the park with her version of Facets. I really love it when others really take an idea and make it their own! It was fun watching her instagram sneek peaks, and her final reveal today will take your breath away.

Pop on over to Kristy’s blog to see her version of Facets.

Teri’s Take

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The amazing Teri Lucas from Terificreations shared a sneak peak of some Facets blocks on the Generation Q website earlier in the week. She chose to use solid pieces of fabric and did some killer quilting on them! Like me, she prefers to quilt on a home-sewing machine and she is one talented lady!! She’s one of those that I can talk quilting with all day long!

So far we’ve only met in person once, and I can’t wait to see her again at the next event. She’s always so thoughtful and encouraging – just the type of quilty friend you want in your corner. Teri is offering a book giveaway on her site. While you are there, be sure to browse around, and check out her amazing quilting!!

Head over to Teri’s blog to enter her giveaway.

Visit The Quilting Gallery

quiltinggalleryMichele Foster is the brilliant name and voice behind the highly popular website the Quilting Gallery. We first met online when I was an advertiser on her site, many moons ago. We have turned that business relationship into a really great friendship and I hope someday soon that we can meet up in person. I mean, if you are like me, you can always use another BQF (best quilting friend), right?

Michele blogs and shares so much inspiration about what’s happening in the quilting community, and she’s has written very nice things about my book over on her blog today. She even scored extra points with me by saying that Facets is her favorite quilt, too! In addition to being a prolific quilter, Michele is an amazing designer and hosts lots of fun clubs on her site. As part of her stop, she’s generously including a fun giveaway of her own. πŸ™‚

Visit the Quilting Gallery blog and enter to win a membership to Michele’s mini quilting club!

Click here for the complete blog hop schedule.

Click here purchase your autographed copy of Machine Quilting With Style.

Podcasts I listen to

Several of you have asked which podcasts I listen to so I thought I’d share my list here. They are a mix of business, wellness, crafting and quilting. Because it’s a long list and I’m feeling a bit lazy today – I’m just showing pictures from my phone rather than including actual links.

These are all available in Itunes and if you google them, it will take you to their websites where they have links to listen. The dates below indicate the last time the podcast was upload. Note: these pics are about a week old and they are in no particular order. Enjoy!

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podcast_2podcast_3podcast_4podcast_5What are your favorite podcasts? If you have recommendations, please leave me a comment. I listen to these while I quilt and exercise so I’m always looking for more great content to listen to!

 

Countdown to Christmas with Free EQ7 Designs

I’m excited to be featured on the Do You EQ blog today by my friends over at Electric Quilt! For the next 3 weeks they are sharing 15 free downloadable designs by many of your favorite EQ7 designers. Of course, you need to have the software to use the designs, but once you’ve saved them, you can play around with them and change them up however you like! Click here to join the fun. πŸ™‚

EQ7 Christmas Countdown 1Modern Trees, my most popular Quilt Along is being featured today!

Speaking of EQ7 fun, I just got the latest version of EQ Stash, a downloadable collection of hundreds (thousands?) of fabric swatches by all the major fabric companies including Andover (Allison Glass Handcrafted anyone?), Art Gallery, Free Spirit, Kona Solids, and much much more. This will save me tons of time when picking out palettes! Click here to check it out (it’s like super-cheap).

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Sizzix Fabric Cutter Tutorial

This summer I had fun playing around with a Sizzix Fabi Personal Die Cutter.

20140908_sizzix1Here’s what I did to test it out:

To use the die, you simply fold the fabric and place it on top of the cutting pad, then sandwich it between the two plastic safety plates.

20140908_sizzix2Hand crank it through the machine and voila! Perfect shapes every time!

20140908_sizzix3Comfortable that I knew how this machine worked, I was ready to try it out on some circles backed with fusible web. (This is for my upcoming Abacus Quilt Along which I mentioned in yesterday’s post.) I thought, if this can work for machine applique, I may never go back to using scissors!

20140908_sizzix4To make the job easier, I ironed strips of paper backed fusible web to the back of my chosen fabrics. I cut each strip about an inch wider than the die. I then rough cut them into squares before running them through the machine. There seemed to be less waste cutting this way.

20140908_sizzix5I stacked 3-4 layers of fusible backed squares and fed them through the machine. Oh. My. Gosh. That was so fast!

20140908_sizzix6Now I have a pile of perfect circles, all ready to be made into a quilt!

20140908_sizzix7Try It Out

20140908_sizzix8If you would like to use the Fabi Personal Fabric Cutters to make my Abacus quilt, click here for the tutorials.

 

Thread Thursday – New Aurifil Thread Kits

I don’t know about you, but I am starting to collect a pretty healthy thread stash that is starting to rival my fabric stash! I just can’t help it when Aurifil keeps releasing fabulous thread collections by some of my favorite designers.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s new in the store, thread-wise:

 

20140815_fruit_veggie2Pat Sloan’s latest grouping: Eat Your Fruits N Veggies – Love that Variegated Spool!

20140815_drift Drift by Angela Walters – these are so her colors (and mine – and yours!)

20140815_fave_thingsFavorite Things by Jeni Baker – Why, yes they are!

I love how most of theΒ Aurifil thread sets come in a trial box of 10 smaller spools (perfect for decorative stitching, bindings, and applique) and in the thread lovers’ size of 12 large spools (usually enough to quilt a throw-sized quilt).

Just think of thread as quilter’s candy – zero calorie, high fiber treats!

WIP Wednesday – Free Motion Quilting Frenzy

I’ve been quilting like crazy, trying to finish up quite a few projects on a deadline. The sad thing is that I won’t be able to share them for awhile, but the good news is that I can share little work-in-progress snippets here and there. (The pictures are all from my instagram feed so they are not the highest quality – but you get the idea!)

20140809_fmq_4I can get lost in pebbles! They are fun to stitch but very time consuming! I usually put on a good audio book and keep stitching until I can’t stand it or until my shoulders ache – then I take a break and do something else!

I’ve been having a blast playing around with different weights and colors of Aurifil threads as I quilt my myriad of projects. My go-to thread is the standard 50 weight cotton which blends wonderfully with any fabrics.

20140809_fmq_3I’m also experimenting with quilting spirals – in a slightly heavier thread – I love it!

However, I have been getting a little more daring. I usually try to match my thread colors to my fabrics but have been playing with variegated thread colors and heavier weights, too. I’m really liking the 40 weight Aurifil cotton which is just a tad heavier than the 50 weight (the smaller the number – the heavier the thread).

20140809_fmq_1Who doesn’t love a good stipple? Technically, the larger scale is called “meandering.”

I even tried some of the heavier 28 weight which adds a nice definition to the quilting. I love the Aurifil cottons because they go through my machine with ease and they don’t break! I usually use a size 80 needle with the size 50 thread and then switch to a heaver size 90 needle when dealing with the thicker threads. So far, so good.

20140809_fmq_2Loops are a great go-to design anytime. They always look good on any pattern!

I usually stick with the regular 50 weight thread in the bobbin in a similar color so that I can pack a lot of thread onto one bobbin for more non-stop quilting.

20140809_fmq_5Swirls always take my breath away. They don’t have to be perfect, either, to look good!

How about you? What are you working on this week?

20140809_fmq_threadNearly empty spools of thread make me happy!

Quick Quilt Tips Tour – 5 Tips for Faster Quilting on Your Home Machine

Hi old friends, and welcome new ones! I’m happy to be participating in Amy Smart’s Quick Quilting Tips Tour – Round 2. Amy has gathered together several bloggers to offer some of their favorite tips for faster and better quilting. (Click here to read all of the tips shared in Round 1.)

20150529_tips_amy_smartMachine quilting is one of my great passions so I thought I would share some of my favorite tips for faster quilting on your home machine.

Tip #1 – Use Basting Spray

I am a recent convert to using basting spray and I don’t know if I will ever go back to using safety pins. While it takes me the same amount of time to spray baste as it does to pin, I save a ton of time not having to stop and remove pins while quilting.

spray_basting_0Click here for my spray basting tutorial.

Tip #2 – Embrace No-Mark Quilting

When I jumped on the modern bandwagon (after considering myself a traditionalist for so many years), the best thing I embraced was letting go of perfectionism and symmetry. This meant I didn’t have to mark all of my quilting lines anymore, or use stencils to quilt perfectly aligned motifs. What freedom!

herrinbone_quiltingThere’s nothing quite like a good random stipple to add texture to your quilts. Herringbone, shown above is one of my fastest finishes to date!

My quilting has improved because I can just doodle with my needle and thread while enjoying the improvisational nature of quilting random free-motion shapes and textures.

More TextureNone of the quilting was marked in String of Pearls – I just eyeballed the FMQ and used the edge of my foot as a guide for the straight lines.

Tip #3 – Try Quilting Designs from Edge to Edge

I love quilting lines which can start on one edge of the quilt and end on the other side. This is a huge time saver because there’s no need to bury threads when you start and stop. I quilted the uneven lines of Modern X starting on one side of the quilt, pivoting to follow the design, and then back off the other side.

straight quiltingWhen I felt like my bobbin was getting low, I switched it out so I didn’t have to worry about running out of thread halfway through a line of quilting.

(Bonus tip – since I use Aurifil 50 wt cotton for both piecing and quilting, I use up any partial bobbins on my next piecing project!)

Tip #4 – Use the Same Color Thread in Top and Bobbin

This is a huge time saver because I don’t have to hassle with my machine’s tension to keep tiny pindots of thread from poking through the top or bottom of the quilt. When I want a super-fast finish, I prefer to quilt with one blending thread color over the entire surface of the quilt so that I don’t have to stop and change threads.

test_blockThis recent test block from Modern Logs shows how a thin neutral thread blends in to many different fabrics. It’s such a time-saver when you don’t have to switch thread colors. (I also quilted this quilt using an edge to edge design and it went so fast!)

Tip #5 – Wind Plenty of Bobbins Ahead of Time

It’s much quicker to wind a bunch of bobbins at the start of a project rather than having to stop mid-quilt for more winding. I recently upgraded to a new Bernina 710 sewing machine. One of my favorite features is the huge bobbin capacity, compared to the older machines. So if you get a ever chance to use a machine with a bigger bobbin, I highly recommend it. πŸ™‚

Bernina BobbinsI keep plenty of bobbins on hand and use the biggest capacity bobbin I can.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for faster machine quilting! Be sure to check out the other stops on the Quick Quilt Tips Tour. You just may learn something new. πŸ™‚

Be sure to check out Amy’s new book, Fabulously Fast Quilts. In case you missed it, I recently reviewed it here on my blog.

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