How to Cut Fabric for Optical Illusion Quilt Along Part 1

Cutting out the fabrics to make Optical Illusion is pretty straightforward. Just follow the cutting instructions on page 2 of the Optical Illusion Quilt Pattern. You can reference my previous post on choosing fabric color combos that will work. For my version I used highly contrasting black and white for the squares with gray for the long skinny strips.

Optical Illusion Quilt

Click here to get the optional Optical Illusion quilt kit (while supplies last).

Before cutting, I highly recommend starching your fabric. This will keep the smaller skinny strips from stretching out of shape and will give body to your pieces as you handle them. I like to use inexpensive starch from the grocery store. I spray one side of my fabric and iron from the opposite side. Then repeat for the other side. It works like a charm!

Cutting the Squares

When cutting the squares, the easiest way is to first cut strips from your fabric, then subcut those strips into the square sizes as indicated in the pattern. If you are using a directional fabric like I did, you can choose to have the print always running in the same direction, or let it be more random. The choice is completely up to you depending on the look you want.Optical Illusion SquaresStill need the Optical Illusion pattern? Get a printed version or get the instantly downloadable pdf. Refer to the quilt pattern for the number of squares to cut for your size.

When it comes to cutting the rest of the units that are a slightly different size (for the starting and ending rows), be sure to label them to keep the sizes organized. I’m constantly referring to my pattern for unit size and placement so I keep everything in the right spot!

Cutting the Skinny Strips

When you are cutting out long skinny strips, you’ll either need to piece together shorter lengths of fabric to get a long enough piece or you can rotate your fabric and cut them parallel to the selvage so that there aren’t any seams. This is the method I recommend in the quilt pattern.

cut parallel to selvage

Cut long strips parallel to the selvage.

You can fold your fabric into about four layers by shaking it out so it hangs straight, then folding it in half, and half again parallel to the selvage. If your folded length of fabric is longer than the width of your cutting mat, I recommend getting another cutting mat and another ruler so that you can line things up along the entire edge.

Once everything is cut, you are ready to start sewing your pieces together next week! Feel free to take your time, or work ahead. The choice is up to you and you are the boss of your quilt!

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

More Quilt Along Info:

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!

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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!

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 2 – Sewing the Blocks

What a week it has been since we began! I know that many of you are home sewing and I hope this Block Chain quilt along is just what you need to make something beautiful when the world is in a bit of chaos! This week we will be sewing our chain blocks using the 5″ charm squares + black accent fabric.

Blockchain quilt blocks

My blocks above are made from Gridwork charm squares + square grid fabric in black

Follow the Block Chain pattern instructions on page 2 to trim down your black strips, and sew the center units shown above.

For the next step, I used the hourglass fabric in gray for my contrasting background because I love the texture, but I think it would look super cool with the black/white print also.

Click here to get the Gridwork hourglass prints by the yard in black/white or gray.

Continue with the pattern instructions on pages 3-5 to sew as many blocks as you need for your size. The contrast around the center squares really makes them pop!

Block chain blocks

Tip: when sewing all of the complete blocks above, I like to chain piece as much as possible. That means sewing all of the same unit to all of the blocks, one right after the other without clipping threads in between. I prefer to sew with a shorter stitch length (2.5 instead of 3.0) and press my seams open for nice, flat blocks.

Click here to get my Aurifil Neutrals Thread Box for just $99 while supplies last! 

Sewing with a shorter stitch length also hides the piecing thread so it doesn’t poke through in between the seams. I used my neutrals thread collection for piecing this quilt because they blend into all of the different colored fabrics.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK:

Next week we will start sewing our blocks into the quilt top. Just remember, you can work at your own pace, faster or slower as you wish. I’m here to cheer you on each step of the way!

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFO ABOUT THIS QAL?

Block Chain QAL Week 1 – Cutting the Fabric

Welcome to the Block Chain quilt along! This week we will be cutting all the fabric needed to make this quilt. It will be super easy because the center of each block features precut squares which are already cut for you (one of the reasons I love working with precuts)!

Gridwork Charmpack

My version uses 36 out of the 42 squares included in the Gridwork Charm Pack.

Sorting the Charm Squares

You will need one charm square for each block in your quilt. Because the throw size consists of 36 blocks and my  Gridwork charm pack includes 42 squares, I pulled out 6 squares of the black and gray prints. I like the random coloring below with just two of the black/white squares included for interest. Refer to the Block Chain pattern for the number of squares you’ll need for the smaller or larger sizes.

The important thing to remember is that as long as there is contrast between the squares and the surrounding frames (black in my quilt), it will still look good. Here’s another tip: if one of your squares is the same color as your background, it will look like there’s a hole in your block, so avoid that if possible.

Block Chain by Christa WatsonClick here to get the Block Chain quilt kit wile supplies last.

Cutting the Black and gray Fabrics

Refer to the Gridwork quilt pattern on page 3 to cut out your accent, background, and binding strips. Here are closeup images of the fabrics that I used:

The black is called Square Grid. I included this one in the Gridwork line specifically for this quilt!!

Square Grid Black

There are several great grays in Gridwork but I really like the look of the gray Hourglass print for the background. It gives the quilt just the right amount of interest and texture!

gridwork Hourglass gray

I especially love using fun geometric bindings for my quilts, so I picked the black Circle Grid print to finish off the edges of the quilt.

Here’s a tip to save for the end: if you want a super narrow binding thats finishes exactly 1/4″ evenly on front and back, cut your strips 2″ and sew the binding on with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Circle Grid Black

Click here to stock up on yardage and bundles of your favorite Gridwork prints.

Looking ahead to next Week:

Next week we will start sewing all of our cut units into blocks. Just remember, you can work at your own pace, faster or slower as you wish. I’m here to cheer you on each step of the way!

Blockchain quilt blocks

Where Can I Find MORE Info about this qal?

Block Chain Quilt Along Supply List and Links

I’m excited to help you make my Block Chain quilt from start to finish over the next six weeks. All you need is a copy of the quilt pattern; cheerleading and moral support are free!!

Block Chain designed and made by Christa Watson

FINISHED SIZE SHOWN IS 69″ X 69″

Block Chain by Christa Watson

This colorful modern quilt is a remake of an earlier design I created before precuts became so popular (and before I was a fabric designer). Over the years, I’ve had numerous requests to reconfigure the design so that it can be made from charm packs:  5″ x 5″ squares of a favorite fabric line.

My quilt shown above was made from one Gridwork charm pack, plus contrasting black and gray Gridwork prints. As long as you have good contrast between your charm squares, accent fabric (black) and background (gray), it will look great no matter which colors you choose!

Block Chain quilt pattern

Supplies Needed For Throw Size as shown

Refer to the back of the pattern cover above for additional sizes. Click image above to enlarge. Feel free to substitute fabrics as desired to achieve the same colorful look.

Click here to purchase the optional Block Chain Kit, while supplies last!

Gridwork Charmpack

I loved designing all of the prints featured above in my Gridwork Charm Packs.

The throw size quilt calls for 36 charm squares. A standard size charm pack includes 40-42 squares, so that gives you some wiggle room to decide which squares you want to include in the quilt. Save the extra squares to make a matching pillow, sew them into the quilt backing, or use them to make a label when you’re finished with the quilt!

Quilt Along Schedule

Click each Hot Link below to See that step

Share and Interact with Other Makers!

So now it’s time to gather your supplies and share pics of which fabrics you’ll use. If you’re an instagram junkie (like me!), please tag me at @christaquilts and use the hashtag #blockchainquilt 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 ChristaQuilts Facebook group. It’s a great place to encourage your fellow makers, and get additional ideas for fabric choices, and quilting ideas.

Block Chain Quilt

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Pieced Primrose Quilt Along Week 8-Binding to Finish

I sure have enjoyed making my Pieced Primrose quilts and I hope you have, too. Now it’s time to put the finishing touches on the quilt with binding- either by hand or machine. Just remember, if you are still working on your quilt, I’m here to cheer you on – no matter how long it takes!

Pieced Primrose Warm Colorway

Because I wanted to include all 10 prints of warm or cool from my Abstract Garden line, I used 9 fabrics for the blocks and then the focal print “Raised Beds” for the backing and binding of both Pieced Primrose quilts.

Pieced Primrose in the Cool Colorway

When I first started quilting, I used to cut my binding strips 2 1/4″ wide, but recently I’ve started cutting them 2″ wide which makes for a nice, narrow finish that’s 1/4″ wide on both sides of the quilt. To figure out how many strips to cut, take the perimeter of the quilt (length of each side of the quilt) and add 10″. Then divide that number by your width of fabric and that tells you how many strips to cut.

For example, the Pieced Primrose wall size is 35″ on each side, so (35″ x 4) + 10 = 150″ of binding needed. I divide that by the usable fabric width of 40″ to which I round up to 4 strips to cut. (150/40 = 3.75). This simple quilt math works for any size quilt you need to make!

Abstract Garden by Christa Watson Raised Beds

Click here to get the Abstract garden “Raised Beds” fabric by the yard.

I was in a hurry to make my quilts on a deadline for quilt market when this fabric line was first released,  so I don’t have any step by step pics of my binding.  However, I click the links below to for several binding tutorials from previous quits:

LINKS AT A GLANCE

Click the links below for supplies needed to make Pieced Primrose

Pieced Primrose Quilt Throw Size

Pieced Primrose quilts show in the the throw size above.

Pieced Primrose Quilt Along Week 6 – Basting

And now we come to everyone’s least favorite part of making a quilt – basting!! But really, if you just set aside the time to do it’s not that bad! Here’s what both versions of Pieced Primose look like up on my design wall that also doubles as my basting area. Read on for helfpul ways to tackle this part of the quilt-making process. It’s easier than you think!

Pieced Primrose Quilts Basted

Get the Pieced Primose kits here – in cool or warm, large or small.

Because I wanted to include all 10 warm or cool fabrics from Abstract Garden in both colorways of Pieced Primrose, I used 9 fabrics for the blocks, and then the multicolor print “Raised Beds” for the backing and binding. The wall size kit includes the backing; for the larger size you’d need 6 yards of either color.

Abstract Garden by Christa Watson Raised Beds

Click here to get yardage of the Raised Beds print from Abstract Garden

I’ve basted my quilts many different ways over the last few years, and I try to share as much about the process as I can. So take a look at the different tutorials below from prior quilts I’ve made. I’m sure one of them will make your quilting life easier!!

Spray bastinG Video Tutorial

Click here (or the image below) for my spray basting video tutorial.

This is the first full-fledged basting tutorial I’ve created for my YouTube channel. I filmed and edited it while making my Infrastructure quilt. In reality it takes about an hour to do, but with the magic of edting, you can watch on super speed which only takes about 7 minutes. Too bad I can’t baste that quickly in real life, right??

Spray basting photo tutorial

Here’s the step by step process shared in my video above, but will still photos on my Modern Puzzle quilt made from Jelly Rolls.

Click here for my spray basting tutorial using a design wall.

Wall Basting Quilt Tutorial for Modern Puzzle Free Quilt Pattern

Table basting photo tutorial

If you don’t have a dedicated design wall, no problem! You can still do my spray basting method using a table. It’s the method I used when making my Improv Squares quilt:

Click here for my table basting tutorial.

Spray Baste

Safety Pin Basting Tutorial

Finally, here’s the way I USED to baste my quilts until about 5-6 years ago – using safety pins! It’s still a good method if basting spray isn’t your thing.

Click here for my safety pin basting tutorial.

Basted

If you have another method you prefer, feel free to share you tips or links in the comments for others to see. Until next week – happy piecing and basting!!

LINKS AT A GLANCE

Click the links below for supplies needed to make this quilt:

Next Week – Machine Quilting Ideas for Pieced Primrose

Swirls quilting

Pieced Primrose Quilt Along Week 5 – Quilt Top Assembly

How are your Pieced Primrose blocks coming along? Did you check out some of the optional layouts from last week’s post? This week will be pretty straightforward as we sew the blocks and add borders to complete the quilt top.

Pieced Primrose Quilt Pattern

Quilt Top Assembly

For my cool and warm versions of the quilt, I’m doing the standard layout as shown on the cover of the Pieced Primrose Quilt pattern above. It’s the same basic layout whether you are making the smaller wall size, or the larger throw size.

First I sewed all of the foundation pieced blocks into larger 4 block units. The trick is to rotate the blocks so they look like the image below and sew 2 rows of 2 blocks each . Because of the bias edges on the blocks, you want to hand them carefully and use pins to ensure the edges match correctly.

Although the block seams are pressed to the side during block assembly (due to the foundation paper piecing process), I press the larger block seams open so they will lie flat.

Large Primrose Block – Warm Colorway

Pieced Primrose Blocks Warm

Large Primrose Block – Cool Colorway

Primrose Block Cool Large

For the wall size quilt you will be making 4 of these larger blocks. For the throw size, you will be making 20 of them. Just remember that you can always change up the size of your quilt by adjusting the number of blocks that you sew.

Click here to get the Pieced Primrose kit in warm or cool, wall or throw size.

Pieced Primrose Throw Size Layout

Pieced Primrose Quilt

Adding the Borders

Although the pattern gives you the correct measurements to cut for the borders, I always recommend measuring your quilt top first. It can shrink or grow depending on how accurate your seam allowances are.

The best advice is to measure both sides and through the middle, then cut your side border strips to this length. After the side borders are sewn, measure again with the borders attached and cut the top and bottom borders to match.

Wall Size Finished Top – Warm
Pieced Primrose Warm
Wall Size Finished Top – Cool

Pieced Primrose Cool

Next week we will baste our quilts and get them ready for machine quilting. So if you are still sewing your blocks together, don’t worry – you still have plenty of time! Remember to share your progress on instagram #piecedprimrose quilt or in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group.

LINKS AT A GLANCE

Click the links below for supplies needed to make this quilt: