Quilt Las Vegas – A Nice Showing of Modern Quilts

I had such a great weekend, attending Desert Quilters of Nevada‘s annual quilt show! This is an event I have participated in nearly every year since I joined the guild. This year I entered 4 quilts and was stunned to learn that every single one got a ribbon. It’s the first time that has ever happened! My most validating moment was getting a 1st place ribbon for Pearl Gray, one of the cover quilts from Machine Quilting with Style.

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Pearl Gray, 1st Place Single Entrant Category

Judge’s comments: strong representation for modern quilting; good control of value and contrast; machine quilting pattern adds great texture and is simple and effective; very good binding technique.

One of the fun things my traditional guild does is hand out buttons corresponding to the ribbons you win. It’s so cool to walk around the show and bump into other ribbon-winners and congratulate them on a job well done. Everyone can use a little quilt bling, right?

On a whim, I decided to enter Candy Pop, another book quilt into the applique category. I didn’t expect an award for such a simple design, but it really is one of my favorite quilts. In fact, my daughter has already claimed it as hers, once it “retires” from the public circuit.

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Candy Pop, from Machine Quilting with Style, 3rd Place – Applique

Judge’s comments: dots and circles create a really dynamic piece; outside pieced binding creates a lovely frame, all techniques are well handled; back art is noted and appreciated.

I love how the judge commented on the back of the quilt, too. I love making pieced backs, especially when I can use up leftover blocks. You can really see the quilting, too:

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For the last 3 years there has been a modern category in the show and I think this year’s showing of modern quilts was the best yet! In fact, there were so many entries that the category was split into two – large and small. I had entered two quilts in the modern category and lucked out that each went into a different subcategory!

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Illusions – Honorable Mention for Modern, Large

Judge’s comments: piecing is skillfully done; thread color changes are appreciated, causing no distraction from this graphic quilt; machine quilting is well done.

You will be hearing more about Illusions, shortly. It’s been patterned in one of my favorite magazines, and the editor was so kind to ship it back to me quickly, just in time to put it in the show. I’m so glad she did!! Don’t worry – I’ll let you know when and where as soon as it’s published!!

woven_ribbonsWoven Ribbons – 3rd Place Modern, Small

Judge’s comments: masterful use of color; beautiful glow from your use of deep color and contrast; use of variegated thread gives an organic feel to the stripes.

I was especially thrilled to get a ribbon for Woven Ribbons, which I made for Issue 9 of Make Modern Magazine. Most of my quilts are made for publication these days, but I try to do the best job I can while constructing them. The fact that I get to share them at quilt shows is just icing on the cake!

In addition to entering my quilts in the show, I was invited to present a trunk show and lecture on modern quilts. I shared several quilts from both of my books, plus a variety of modern quilts from members of the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild and DQN. It was so fun to see the audiences’ faces light up when they finally realized how amazing modern quilts can be!

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I love spreading the word about modern quilting in my little corner of the world! Many of the larger quilts were piled on a full-sized bed and helpers held them up while I spoke.

Here are some of other other fabulous modern quilts from the show:

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Modern “strip” quilt by the Las Vegas MQG: 2nd place, group quilt and show chair’s choice.
I contributed 2 blocks and helped with the binding. Quilting by Vicki Ruebel.

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My BQF (best quilting friend) Vicki from Orchid Owl Quilts swept the Modern, Small category with 1st and 2nd place! Above left is her version of Color Crystals, from Machine Quilting with Style, and right is Bullseye, an original design that was also hung at QuiltCon this year.

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Modern Logs by Suzanne Shull Mayfield, 1st Place Modern Large, quilted by Linda Natale

My friend Suzanne got a blue ribbon with her fabulous rendition of my Modern Logs pattern. She took my class at the quilting retreat last year and I love that she made the largest size! In all the excitement of picture taking, I forgot to get a closeup view of the pink ribbon, but it a special award which means someone behind the scenes really liked it, too!

This is one of my favorite pictures, LVMQG member Melissa standing in between her award winning quilt and a beautiful diamond quilt made by LVMQG member Mandy. I love all that pink!

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Glitz Sparkle Punch was Melissa’s QuiltCon reject, but it just goes to show that perseverance and entering quilts in different shows pays off in the end! Now I want to make a pink quilt!

I absolutely loved this design by Jeanne – a longtime traditional quilter who has recently dabbled in making modern quilts. She knocked it out of the park with this one! I love the juxtaposition of the image below – Jeanne’s modern quilt on one row with a very beautiful and very traditional quilt behind it on the next row!

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Serenity by Jeanne Spala – 3rd place Modern, Large

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Resonate pieced by Margaret Illions and quilted by Cory Allender – 2nd place Modern, Large

Margaret and Cory’s quilt above was a definite crowd pleaser. In my talk I mentioned negative space and asymmetry quite a bit. This effective design incorporates both!

I’ll end with this duo of gorgeous gray quilts made by longtime DQN members Ann P. (left) and Kathy M. (right). One of the best things about being part of a quilt guild community is knowing the makers behind the quilts and being able to celebrate their success!

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There were several more fabulous quilts that I didn’t get pictures of, both in the modern category and others. There were a total of over 250 quilts, dolls, and clothing items which made for a very well-rounded show. Although I gravitate towards the modern quilts in any show, I am so thankful for the volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to pull it off. Now I can’t wait for next year’s show!

My Quilt Show Entries and List of Quilt Show Venues

Should you enter you quilt into a quilt show? Yes!! I’ve written a few times before about entering quilts shows. You can read those here and here.

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These 5 quilts above will be seen at 3 different national quilt shows over the next few months (Square in a Square and Lightning – Road to California; Facets – AQS Phoenix; Rain and Focal Point – QuiltCon.) These are all from my book Machine Quilting With Style.

Many people have requested a list of some national quilt shows that have modern categories, so here you go. Be sure to click the link for each venue to find out more about their entry deadlines:

Also, don’t forget your local shows, put on by local quilt guilds, county fairs etc. If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments so we can all share more information!

Don’t be scared – take the plunge and enter your quilts (modern or not) into quilt shows. It’s a fun experience and a great way to share your beautiful work!

My MQG Fabric Challenge Quilt and Why It’s Important to go Out of Your Comfort Zone

I recently finished “Fractured Puzzle” which was my Modern Quilt Guild fabric challenge entry. All contestants were given samples of Michael Miller Glitz fabrics and we could add in additional Michael Miller fabrics as desired. My quilt is based on my Puzzle Box quilt design that’s a free download for newsletter subscribers.

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Fractured Puzzle by Christa Watson, 56″ x 60″

This quilt was way, way out of my comfort zone for so many reasons! At first, I thought I would play it safe, and sew together the blocks in a standard, traditional grid format, shown below:

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I really like the graphic quality of this layout, and the Glitz fabrics really play off of each other. Next, I thought it would be fun to add a pop of color with a red Cotton Couture solid:

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By now, I’m really, really starting to like how this is turning out. I shared these pics in social media on instagram and facebook and received a lot of very positive feedback. But then a crazy idea popped into my head, and I couldn’t get rid of it:

Whatย  would happen if if I slashed up the quilt top and then sewed it back together??

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Getting ready to take the first cut – this was so scary!!

Going this route scared me so much because I thought people would really think I’d gone off the deep end. But something in me said I had to try, and that was truly exciting. After all, this WAS a quilt challenge. It’s not for publication, nor is it for a class sample, and I really didn’t need anyone else’s approval to do this. I finally decided to just dive in andย  see what happened. What a liberating feeling!!

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Wanna go crazy? Slash up your quilt!!

After making the first cut, things got a little easier. Now I’m liking the fractured look and for a time, I considered adding white strips in between each of the sections, “slash-and-insert” style. I still may explore this idea in a future quilt. But with this one, I decided to sew the sections back together, creating a really fractured, disjointed look.

At this point I’m not quite sure if it’s a modern quilt, or really more of an art quilt, but I don’t care, as I’m truly loving the process!!

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Fractured Puzzle quilt top – a more dynamic design, don’t you think?

The hardest part was figuring how to sew the pieces back together. I felt like I was sewing a puzzle, joining sections back together to create larger units. I knew that I’d lose quite a bit around the edges once I squared it up, but that was totally okay with me.

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After the top came together, I had a really great vision for the quilting, even though I knew it would be a TON of work! With my new BERNINA 770ย  I quilted tons of straight lines, about 1/4″ apart in each of the fractured sections, following a different angle.

This meant lots of loose threads to tie off at the end, but it was important for me to go with what the quilt “wanted” rather than what was easy. After all, I realized this quilt was more about the process and the journey, rather than the finished product.

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Quilting Detail – it’s all about the angular texture!

I truly enjoyed making this quilt from start to finish. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me the freedom to explore the boundaries beyond traditional design.

I entered it into QuiltCon for 2016 and statistically the odds are slim that it will get in: there were over 1800 entries and only around 325 are accepted. But I’m an optimist and I’ll keep my fingers crossed. ๐Ÿ™‚ Besides,ย  no matter what happens, this was a fabulous journey for me to complete, and I’m now emboldened to make other, “un-safe” choices when it comes to quilting!

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What’s the most interesting, unique, or non-traditional quilt you’ve ever made?
Let me know in the comments, or post pictures over on my Facebook Group: Quilt With Christa.

MQWS Blog Hop Day 10 – Lightning

Today’s stop on the Machine Quilting With Style book tour is full of inspiration and giveaways! Be sure to stop by all of the blogs listed below to get in on the prizes. And be sure to go back and visit the earlier stops you may have missed. Many of those giveaways are still open. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lightning – The Background Story

LightningLightning 72″ x 96″ by Christa Watson. Photograpy by Brent Kane.

I love taking traditional design ideas and then tweaking them with a bit of the unexpected. You may recognize Lightning as a simple rail fence variation, but with a modern twist! I’m realizing I love to do scrappy, but with more of a “controlled scrappy” look. As I have said before, why choose one fabric when 20 will do! And why cut straight strips when you can make them a bit wonky instead, right? I decided that the ziz-zag streaks looked like they were piercing through a cloudy sky, hence the name Lightning!

lightning_topHave sewing machine – will travel and quilt, even while on vacation!

I actually pieced this quilt last summer while on vacation. I brought along my Singer Featherweight and was able to set up a makeshift sewing area in a small space. I used the hotel floor as a design wall and took pictures with my phone so I could keep the layout oriented correctly.

lightning_quiltingQuilting in progress – you gotta love a good stipple!

This quilt is rather large, but I had no problems quilting it on my BERNINA. In the book, I share my best tips and tricks for how to deal with the bulk of the quilt when quilting on a sit-down machine. Just remember, you only need to deal with a small amount of the quilt under the needle at any time. ๐Ÿ™‚

A Bit More

lightning_backingBacking in progress – a great way to use up fat quarters!

As I love to do, I made a scrappy backing for Lightning from my fat quarter stash of black and white prints, with some pops of green. I had originally wanted this included in the book, but was sad when it had to be cut for length. However, the folks at Martingale have generously decided to include it as a free pieced backing tutorial on their site – so yay! (See more below.)

What makes this quilt modern – graphic color scheme, wonky blocks based on tradition, zig-zags create a focal point with a bright pop of color, block design goes all the way to the edges.

Time for me to complete – 44 hours from start to finish, including the pieced backing.

More from She Can Quilt, Martingale, and Riley Blake

shecanquiltLeanne Chahley from She Can Quilt is one of those people whose work is easy to admire! I fell in love with an award winning quilt of hers at the first QuiltCon and I’ve been herย stalker friend ever since! I love her take on Lightning done with scrappy pinks and scrappy quilting. She used the designs from the book as sort of a sampler for machine quilting. Leanne quilted her version of Lightning on her long-arm, showing how versatile these designs can be!

Head to Leann’s site to see her fabulous version of Lightning and enter her giveaway!

martingaleMartingale/That Patchwork Place is simply the best publisher anyone could ask for! Yes, I may be a bit biased, but writing this book has been a fabulous experience from start to finish (just like making a quilt)! After writing this book, I would definitely partner with them again! When you purchase your copy of Machine Quilting With Style from the Martingale site, they’ll throw in the ebook for free. Double bonus!!

Machine Quilting With Style

Martingale has a lot of content on their site today: you can see more quilty photos from the book, check out a little video from my quilt market demonstration last spring, and enter for your chance to visit their giveaway. (When you watch the video, you’ll get to see how fast I really talk in person!)

Go to Stitch This – the Martingale blog to get the free backing tutorial and enter their giveaway!

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Riley Blake Designs has been a terrific partner. Not only did they provide me with fabrics used in some of the quilts in the book, they are offering a fantastic giveaway to go along with the hop!

riley_blake_giveawayPop on over to the Riley Blake blog and enter for your chance to win!

Click here for the complete blog hop schedule.

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

Join Me at EQ Academy Next Spring

Good news for those of you who wish to take an EQ7 class from me but didn’t get into my classes at QuiltCon – I’ll be teaching at EQ Academy in Ohio next spring! Here are the details:

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Getting Started With EQ7 with Christa Watson

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016 โ€“ Saturday, April 23, 2016
Location: Perrysburg, OH
Skill level: Beginner

In this comprehensive 3-day workshop, students will enjoy hands-on computer instruction for 6 full hours of class each day. In addition to learning the basics of EQ7 for Windows or Mac, additional topics will include: using the Block Library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing original quilts, scaling and numbering foundation piecing templates, applying a layer of quilting, calculating yardage, and more. Gain confidence in your design skills, knowing how your finished quilt will look before making the first cut!

Class registration opens on August 18th.

In addition to my class, there will be three other classes offered at the same time to meet your needs. Students will register for one class only and will be with the same instructor for 3 days. We’ll be BQF’s (Best Quilting Friends) by the end of the week!

Click here for all EQ Academy classes. I hope to see you there. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

My Week at the Folkschool – How to Make a Modern Quilt

Last week I embarked on an exciting adventure that I want to share with you. I spent 5 full days teaching a full group of students How to Make a Modern Quilt at the John C. Campbell Folkschool. Although it’s hard to capture such a full week in one blog post, here’s a little recap:

fiber_studioThe fiber arts building housed both the weaving studio and the quilting studio in separate halves of this beautiful structure, complete with a barn block!

Day 0 – Arrival and check in. This wasn’t a full day of teaching, but as soon as I got off the airplane (in Atlanta) I took a beautiful scenic drive through the woods of Georgia to the mountains of North Carolina. The Folkschool is located in a quaint little town called Brasstown and it was a beautiful place where time literally seemed to stand still. As soon as I was out of the car, it was time to check-in for teacher orientation, enjoy a wonderful southern dinner (the first of many delicious meals), and then meet the students.

Fortunately many of my students had been there before, and knew their way around, so they were able to lead me to the quilting studio, a huge space that was fully equipped for some serious sewing (though most of my students brought their own machines).

openstudioThere was enough space for all 12 students to each have their own table, design wall and cutting area, plus plenty of ironing boards. We even had room for full-size basting tables!

Day 1-2 Cutting and sewing. Once the students had settled in and organized their supplies, it was time to cut fabrics and learn some modern quilting basics (letting go of perfection, embracing asymmetry, discovering improvisational piecing.) Throughout the week it was fun getting to know the quilters and their various styles. As a teacher, I love to share my methods but I am so happy for each student to settle into her own process and find a comfortable work-flow.

modernblocksSome of the Modern Logs blocks starting to emerge. I love all the fabric choices!

Day 3 – More block sewing and piecing the backs. Throughout the class I encouraged the students to work at their own pace. Some decided to make bigger quilts, others took their time with the process, and they all seemed to embrace the design possibilities in their backing.

pieced_backingIsn’t this a great pieced backing?

A few of the students even made me smile by throwing in a few random pops of color to their wonky blocks. They agreed that they were channeling their inner Jacquie Gering. ๐Ÿ™‚

colorpopDay 4 – Basting and machine quilting. This was the day that many had been waiting for, a chance to learn how to quilt their own quilts! They all agreed that they preferred spray basting hands-down to pin-basting and were pleased to learn some of my tips and tricks: such as smoothing each layer with a long ruler, applying spray to the top and backing (not the batting) and ironing the whole thing to set the glue. Each time a quilter finished her backing, several others came together to get it basted in mere minutes. It was quite the efficient process!

machinequilting2This combination of modern fabrics and nearly solids makes my heart sing!

Our week just happened to coincide with Southern Appalachian Modern Quilt Guild meeting, so several of the students and I were able to attend. We got to see inspiring show ‘n tell, eat yummy treats and watch a wonderful slideshow recap of QuiltCon highlights. I even picked up a couple of great ideas to share with my local modern quilt guild (LVMQG).

wovenrunnerPam’s SAMQG show ‘n tell – her original woven fabrics pieced into a table runner.

Pam Howard is the Resident Weaver at the Folkschool and a member of the SAMQG. She was in my class and we became fast friends. She’s experimenting with incorporating her hand-loomed fabrics into her quilts. Isn’t that a cool idea?

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Day 5 – The finish and closing ceremony. I am so proud of my students! After a full week of nearly-non stop quilting, smiles were aplenty as everyone got to display their work for the entire school to see. From basketry to woodworking, to tin-smithing, photography, soapmaking, beadwork and more, just about every craft you could think of was well-represented.

folkschoolcraftsSeveral of the arts and crafts on display at the Folkschool Closing ceremony.

If you’ve never been to the Folkschool, I highly encourage you to visit. They run week-long classes year ’round and I can’t wait to return!

For those of you near the Little Rock, Arkansas area, I will be teaching a shorter version of Modern Logs at the NQA 46th annual quilt show June 18-20, 2015 along with a few other classes. Click here for details.

I just made some new BQF’s (best quilting friends) and I’d love to meet some more!

Valentine’s Quilts

Today I wanted to quickly share with you a tutorial that I made a few Valentine’s Days ago. It’s still a fun one to make and it includes a bit of fun machine applique (which I just don’t do enough of these days!)

Love Runner

Click here for my Love Table Runner Tutorial

Don’t think you are just limited to making it the exact same way as me. How about making it into a wall banner, or make a square version into a cute little wallhanging or pillow? Here are couple more inspiration images to get you started.

Love SquaredLove Wall QuiltHappy Valentine’s Day and Happy Sewing!

Ask Christa – What Would You Like to Know?

I’m adding a new section to my Friendly Threads Newsletter titled Ask Christa!

ChristaQuiltsNewsletterOne of my new logos as part of my branding re-design. What do you think?

You can send me an email asking a question you’d like answered. It can be anything within reason from my experiences in the quilting industry, to my hobbies outside of quilting (running, hiking, board-gaming), or even questions about quilting in general.

Then, I will pick one or two questions to answer each week in my newsletter. If you aren’t already getting it, you can sign up for my newsletter here.

Go ahead – just ask! ๐Ÿ™‚

Help for Sydney – Doing My Part, Spreading the Word

I just read about the idea that Josh from Molli Sparkles has come up with to help comfort those affected by the tragedy in Sydney, (which occurred near where he works). He’s inviting the online community to come together to donate their time, money, or quilt blocks so that he and his fellow Glitterati in Australia can make at least 6 quilts for family members consisting of about 1080 blocks plus materials for batting, backing and quilting.

Click here for complete details.

molli_sparkles_helpI made a small paypal donation to help defray the cost of materials; then I got to thinking – how could I contribute more?

So I decided to make you guys this offer: from now through Sunday, December 21st, I’ll donate 50% of the sales of all my PDF patterns to the cause. (Of course, you are also welcome to donate directly or help out in the other ways stated on Josh’s blog).

CQ-PatternsI currently only have 5 patterns for sale, so it may not make a big dent, but every little bit helps, right?

It sickens me when I hear of such tragedies in the world, but it does give me comfort when I see quilters band together to offer love and support where they can.

Black Friday Craftsy Sale – All Classes $19.99 or Less!

Pardon me for blogging about Craftsy twice in one week, but holy-heck-of-a sale, Batman! All classes are $19.99 or less through Monday (sale ends Monday at 11:59 PM).

Click here to view all Craftsy Quilting Classes.

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If you’ve had your eye on any of the classes I’ve reviewed in the last few weeks, now is the time to enroll! I wanted to keep this short and sweet. You may now return to your regularly scheduled shopping bonanza. ๐Ÿ™‚ Affiliate links provided by Craftsy.