Finished Quilts – Surplus Strips in Warm and Cool

Click here to get the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – print version.
Click here to get the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – PDF version.

Surplus Strips quilts made from Fandangle by Christa WatsonThis pattern is perfect for using up leftover jelly roll strips, or color-coordinated scraps!

I made two versions of Surplus Strips to showcase the warm and cool colorways of Fandangle, but this pattern would look great in any fabrics! The name of the pattern is a play on words. I’ve been enjoying seeing lots of plus quilts with a modern vibe and I wanted to design a pattern that could be easily made with 2 1/2″ precut strips.

Surplus Strips Warm by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Fandangle fabric to make your own version of Surplus Strips.

You could use all new fabric like I did, or you could use your leftovers or the “surplus” from your scrap bin. The easiest way to pull fabrics is to select a couple of colors you like and pair them with a high-contrast background fabric.

Surplus Strips Cool by Christa WatsonIt only takes 9 different 1/3 yard cuts + background, but you can go as scrappy as you like!
One 2 1/2″ x 40″ strip will be enough for 2 blocks.

The inspiration for Surplus Strips came from some really cool looking hotel carpet I saw during one of my many travels last year. Whenever I see a great textural image or architectural design, I always snap a pic because you never know when inspiration is going to strike!

I love the asymmetrical plus shapes shown below. When I saw that, I immediately knew I wanted to make a quilt based on this design. Of course it took awhile to figure out the math and get the proportions and colors right, but it was a fun challenge to figure out!

Inspiration for my desing - hotel carpet

Some worn hotel carpet was the inspiration behind the design of my Surplus Strips quilts.

I quilted both versions of Surplus Strips with a different allover free-motion design similar to designs in the fabric line. On the warm colorway, I quilted “jagged stipple” which inspired the “Paper Cuts” design in the collection.

Free Motion Quilting on Surplus Strips Warm

My jagged stipple quilting motif inspired the “Paper Cuts” print, above, in orange and yellow.

Because I had a limited amount of fabric while making these quilts, I didn’t have enough of any one fabric for the backing of the warm version, so I created an interesting secondary composition, or “back art” instead!

I sewed a few extra plus blocks and used nice big leftover chunks of coordinating prints. I love making pieced backings when I have enough time, and it’s a great way to add interest to the quilt.

Surplus Strips Warm Pieced backingPieced backings are my favorite!! It’s almost like a two -sided quilt!

When quilting the cool colorway, I used another favorite free-motion motif which inspired another one of the prints in the collection:

Free Motion quilting detail on Surplus strips by Christa WatsonBe sure to click any of the images in this post to enlarge and see more details.

My arrowheads quilting design is a really dense echo triangle shape which is fun to quilt and adds tons of texture. It inspired the “Triangle Trinkets” print which you can see peeking out on the back and in the blue/green print above and below.

free-motion detail by Christa Watson

Don’t you love the refreshing ocean colors of blue and green??

I had so much fun making these quilts and now I want to make them in a rainbow of colors!! The quilt pattern makes it super easy to do and is written for both yardage or precut strips.

Surplus Strips Quilt PatternClick here to view all of my quilt patterns – print versions.
Click here to view all of my quilt patterns – PDF versions.

Surplus Strips Finished Stats

  • Designed and made by Christa Watson
  • Completed May, 2018
  • Finished sizes 67″ x 82″
  • Pieced and quilted on my BERNINA 770 QE
  • Quilt design: free motion jagged stipple (warm) and arrowheads (cool)
  • Fabric is Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio
  • Quilting thread: Aurifil 50 wt #3660 Bubble Gum (warm) and #4662 Creme De Menthe (cool)
  • Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Silk (warm) Tuscany 100% Cotton (cool)

Surplus Strips quilts in warm and cool, made with Fandangle fabric by Christa WatsonClick here to get yardage of Fandangle for a limited time.

More About the Making of Surplus Strips

Introducing Tic-Tac-Toe on the Cover of Fat Quarter Favorites

I love it when I get to reveal a quilt that I worked on many moons ago! Meet Tic-Tac-Toe, a fat quarter quilt featured on the cover of Fat Quarter Favorites – a new collaboration book from my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork Place that releases today!

Fat-Quarter-Favorites

This was one of those “secret sewing” projects that I worked on last year. I shared a few sneek peeks on my Instagram account while making it so if you scroll back through a year’s worth of posts, you can see some of it in progress, LOL!!

The book features 13 original designs by a dozen different designers all based on fat quarters (plus additional background fabric where needed).

I was in such a hurry to make this quilt that I forgot to take many in-progress pics, but here’s a shot of me “scrunching and smooshing” the quilt through the machine as I quilt:

Scrunching and smooshing to machine quilt

It helps to have a wider throat space on my BERINA so there’s more room for the quilt!

I only saved on detail pic where you can see the quilting while I added and pressed the binding. I quilted it with a dense allover free-motion square spiral design – one of my favorite “modern machine quilting” designs! (It’s similar to “boxes” – another fave design but you go round and round a couple times to get the spirals.)

square spiral design machine quilting

For the pieced design, I played around with the idea of combining blocks that look like X’s and O’s. It took several tries to adjust the proportions so they felt right. The O blocks came pretty quickly, but it took awhile until I was happy with the X blocks. I originally started with bigger center stars and they evolved into the design shown here. I extended the gray lines all the way to the borders to give it a bit more movement and overall I’m pleased with how well it turned out!

Tic Tac Toe by Christa Watson from Fat Quarter Favorites

Tic-Tac-Toe by Christa Watson, 76″ x 76″

Once I have the basic design in place it also takes me a bit to refine the sizes so the fabric yardage is used more efficiently. That’s why a lot of times, you’ll see me do scrappy bindings, so I can use up a bit more of the fun prints in the quilt!

If you like my design click here to see images of all 13 quilts from the book – I’m sure there’s something for everyone!

A Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts: Student Work from my Latest Workshop

Last week I taught a week-long class at John C. Campbell Folkschool on how to make a complete quilt from start to finish. Everyone made the same quilt from my Stepping Stones quilt pattern – but as you can see in the group pic below, they all look so different – and so fabulous!

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

A Colorful Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts

Last Saturday, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia along with my mom, Jason and two of my kids. My mom and the kids stayed with my aunt and uncle for the week while Jason and I drove over to the Folkschool. He took a photography class while I taught quilting, and we both had a fabulous time!

Fabric Cutting for Stepping Stones Quilt

Cutting in Progress. Each student chose their own fabrics and they were all fabulous!

My students got to work right away, cutting their fabrics to make their quilts. I love how most of them chose bright colors, but I’ve seen this design worked up in a wide variety of fabrics and it always turns out great!

Stepping Stones Quilt Blocks in Progress

Quilt blocks in progress – some students sewed theirs together randomly while others took time to carefully arrange each piece and either way works great!

It was fun to see the blocks going up on the design walls in the studio space. There was plenty of room to spread out and most students had their quilt tops pieced by the second day.

stepping stones quilt in progress

Quilts in progress decorated the walls beautifully all week!

They were excited to try out my spray basting technique and we had a gorgeous spot to baste, just outside the studio door in the lush green hills of Brasstown, NC.

spray basting

Can you imagine a more beautiful place to baste a quilt??

Once the quilt top and back are sprayed outside, we brought them in doors to assemble on a couple of work tables.

Basting: smooth the batting

The trick to good basting is to smooth out each layer of the quilt! A long acrylic ruler helps.

Although there were lots of quilts to baste, we made a party of it, helping everyone get theirs done so the process went very quickly!

Quilt Basting - pressing the quilt

Another trick is to iron the quilt once it’s basted to set the glue and smooth out wrinkles.

During class, I did a mini-lesson on both walking foot quilting and free motion quilting. and the students picked which techniques and designs they wanted to try, based on their skill level and ambition.

Machine Quilting in progress

Students learned how to “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt underneath their machines.
Walking-foot quilting detail of the quilt above is shown below:

walking foot quilting detail on stepping stones

I was so proud of them for going outside their comfort zones and trying out different techniques. Those that wanted to do custom quilting practiced on a sample block like I suggested so they could see how the design would work with the thread and fabrics they chose.

custom quilting on stepping stones

One student’s custom quilting design. Although it’s taking her much longer to quilt this intricate design in each block, the results will be well worth it at the end!

Once the quilts were quilted, it was time to bind. I taught them how to apply an even 1/4″ binding by starting with 2″ strips. They were even willing to finish it by hand and most of them added the final stitches on the last morning before the closing ceremony.

Hand binding stepping stones

You can get a LOT of binding done while chatting hanging out!!!

Although class time went for 6 hours a day Monday-Thursday and 1/2 day class on Friday, most of the students took advantage of bonus sewing time in the evenings. I also worked on an upcoming project during that time (which I’ll reveal shortly) and we all had a grand time! It really was like an intimate quilting retreat. None of the students knew each other before class but were BQF’s (best quilting friends) at the end of the week!

It really felt like quilt camp for adults and I have to say I had just as much fun as they did!!

Finished Stepping Stones Quilt

First quilt!! It’s never too late to learn!!

It’s rare that I get to teach an intense in-person class like this but it’s such a joy to see them all do such a fabulous job. We even had one sweet quilter that had never made a quilt before and hadn’t even touched a sewing machine in over 30 years. But with help and encouragement of the class, she had a fabulous finish and was so proud of it!!

Fiber Arts Studio at John C. Campbell Folkschool

The Fiber Arts Studio wouldn’t be complete with out a Barn Quilt Block!!

We were very lucky to call the Fiber Arts Studio at the Folkschool our home away from home for a week. This is the third time I’ve been able to teach here, and it just gets better and better! (See my previous two classes here and here.)

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

Folkschool Quilt Class, June 2018

Just remember – if you decide to have fun making your own version of Stepping Stones quilt – I’m here to cheer you on!!

The Patterns are Here! The Patterns are Here!

I got some happy mail this weekend – a shipment of my latest print pattern releases. The quilts below are all made from my Fandangle fabric which ships to stores in July, but I’ve written the patterns so that they will look fabulous in any fabrics you choose! I’ve blogged a lot about the quilts already (see links below each image in case you missed it), but now I’m excited to tell you what makes the patterns themselves extra special.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Sparkling Stars quilt by Christa Watson made from Fandangle fabric

Sparkling Stars designed and made by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

For starters, all of my patterns are full color throughout. They are professionally printed, folded into a half-sheet size booklet, and staple-bound by GotPrint.com. I select high-quality glossy paper for the insides and the covers are slightly thicker which makes them a little more sturdy.

Because I purchase them in a higher volume, I’m able to get a quantity discount which I pass on to you all in the form of a lower price point. The MSRP for my print patterns is $9.95 which is much lower than the $12-$14 price I’ve seen for similar quality patterns.

Sparkling Stars PatternSparkling Stars Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Quilt Pattern

For Sparkling Stars, I included a very detailed materials list so that you could replicate the look in similar colors even if using different fabrics than I did. I also included detailed diagrams and charts by colorway so that it’s easy to follow along and not get lost.

Here’s an example of one of the many full-color illustrations that are included in the pattern:

Sparkling Stars Blocks

If there’s enough room in the pattern, I’ll usually throw in a closeup image of the quilting for inspiration. As an FYI, patterns need to be formatted so that they use up 8 or 12 sides (4-6 full pages). Most of mine tend to be on the longer end so that I can put in as much detail as possible.

I work with my graphic designer Lindsie to lay out the text, photos and illustrations, and if there’s extra room, I’ll throw in an extra diagram, tip, or quilting suggestion. I want you to have as much fun making these quilts as I did, and I try to pack as much helpful info into each pattern as I can!

Spiral quilting detail from Sparkling Stars

Quilting detail included in the pattern – inside front cover.

Surplus Strips Quilts

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Warm Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Cool Colorway of Fandangle

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Cool Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Quilt PatternSurplus Strips Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern

For Surplus Strips, I wanted to show how you could use up leftover 2 1/2″ strips sorted by colorway to create a dynamic, scrappy looking quilt. In my patterns, I’ll try to include different methods of using your fabric (either yardage, scraps or precuts) whenever possible so you can make the best use of your stash!

Quilting Detail of Triangle Trinkets

Detail of the Triangle Trinkets motif quilted on the cool colorway.

I’m really excited that I was able to include machine quilting diagrams and detailed images in this pattern. Because many of the prints in my fabric lines are based off of my favorite machine quilting motifs, it was fun to include a different allover quilting design for each colorway.

Machine quilting detail of Surplus Strips

Do you see how the quilting design is the same as the Paper Cuts print? So fun!!

Pearl Pendants Quilt

Pearl Pendants Quilt by Heather Black

Pearl Pendants, designed and made by Heather Black, 60″ x 72″
Click here to read more about Heather and this gorgeous quilt.

It was really fun to collaborate on Pearl Pendants with my talented friend Heather Black of Quilt-achusetts. She designed and made the quilt using Fandangle plus Contempo Colorweave coordinates.

We both co-wrote the pattern and it was fun to go back and forth to ensure that the pattern was easy enough to understand and follow. My husband, Jason, who is NOT a quilter was very helpful in proof-reading to make sure even a novice could understand how to make this stunning quilt!

Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern by Heather Black and Christa WatsonPearl Pendants Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern

My favorite illustration included in the pattern is the very detailed chart of blocks which specifies exactly how many of each unit to make to get the same look. We included plenty of step by step diagrams so that you’ll have no problems making this fun quilt while practicing your curved piecing. Of course you can easily substitute the colors below for completely different fabrics, and it will still look great!!

Pearl Pendants Chart of Blocks

The pattern also includes full-sized templates to make the blocks in two different sizes, or you can use a specialty curved ruler if that’s your preferred method.

Heather has become quite proficient at quilting on her longarm and she loves to combine hand-guided work with a bit of computerized work in the quilting detail shown below:

Quilting Detail for Pearl Pendants

How to Purchase Christa Quilts Patterns

(1) Anyone can purchase my complete line of print patterns at shop.christaquilts.com.

(2) PDF versions of my entire pattern line are available in my Craftsy shop (click here).

(3) Quilt shops and other retailers can contact me via email christa@christaquilts.com for wholesale pricing information and exclusive specials.

(4) My fabrics and select patterns are also available wholesale through Checker Distributors and Brewer Sewing.

If you are a quilting instructor and wish to teach a class from any of these patterns, please contact me to get the wholesale pricing discount. I’m happy for others to teach from my patterns (or books) as long as each student purchases their own copy.

Sparkling Stars in the Benartex Contempo Booth at Quilt Market

Here’s Sparkling Stars hanging in my booth at Spring 2018 quilt market. Be sure to catch my next post where I’ll share all about my quilt market experience!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 3 – Spiral Quilting

Today I’m finishing up the making of Sparkling Stars, one of the brand new quilt patterns made from my brand new Fandangle fabric collection. Fandangle means embellishment or ornamentation and rather than embellishing my quilts with baubles and beads, I do it with fabric and thread!

Spiral quilting detail

Spiral Quilting Detail on Sparkling Stars

Marking the Center Spiral

Because I was on a tight deadline to finish this quilt, I chose a really fun walking-foot quilting design that looks great and is easy to do. I went with the large continuous spiral which is one of the designs I teach in my quilting classes and also in my book with Angela Walters, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

Marking the Center Spiral

The trick to this design is to mark the center spiral, and then follow it around with the edge of your walking foot until the entire thing is quilted. I like to use a small circle shape to start. A spool of Aurifil thread works great by the way!!

Aurifil Variegated Thread

Speaking of Aurifil thread, I used  variegated 50 weight cotton #4650 Leaves for the quilting. I’ve really been enjoying using variegated threads on colorful quilts because they add an extra bit of texture and dimension to my quilts. In this case, it really emphasizes the “sparkling” effect.

Spiral Quilting

Machine quilting detail variegated thread

Yes, I had to rotate the quilt about a bazillion times, but once you get past the first few spirals it goes very quickly. It really helps to use a hands free system (knee-lift) or hover feature if you have one so that you can keep your hands on the quilt at all times.

I don’t ever stress too much about perfection in my quilting. If it wobbles a bit while quilting, I know that once my face isn’t two inches away from the quilt, it won’t be noticeable. Another walking foot quilting tip is to lower the presser foot pressure while quilting (not all machines can do this so check your manual). I also increase the stitch length to 3.0 to help compensate for friction and drag on the quilt.

Scrunching and smooshing the quilt

Rather than using a walking foot, I use the BERNINA dual feed that’s built into my 770 QE. It allows me to get the same result, but I can use different feet. I use the 20D foot – the open toe embroidery foot – for straight line quilting, and the 37D – 1/4″ patchwork foot – for attaching my binding.

Binding the Quilt

I use skinnier strips cut at just 2″ for my binding so that they finish at 1/4″ on both sides of the quilt. Click here for my binding tutorial for a previous quilt.

Attaching the Binding

I will press the binding to the back of the quilt and then keep it in place with about 200 binding clips all the way around the perimeter. I know some people like to use just a few clips and that works too!

Securing The Binding

When I bind, I keep the quilt away from me and bind from right to left. I use a thimble to protect my finger and push the needle through with the middle finger of my left hand. I think it’s interesting that there’s no one right way to do it. Some people do it holding the quilt in the opposite direction, while others stitch from left to right. As long as you are comfortable stitching, that’s the important thing!

Binding a Quilt

I know that binding by machine goes a lot faster, but there’s something I love about snuggling with the quilt at the end for a little hand-stitching. It’s like my reward after all the work it takes to make a quilt! Plus, I just really really like the way hand binding looks.

The final step in my quilt making process is to photograph the quilt. Thankfully Jason does that for me since I do NOT like that part, LOL!! We use my design wall to take flat shots that will be used for the cover of the quilt pattern. The hardest part is getting the lighting right! Later on, we’ll do pretty styled shots outside, but that’s a completely different process.

Photographing Sparkling Stars Quilt

I hope you’ve enjoyed the making of this quilt! You can now purchase the pattern by using any of the links below. And if you make one, be sure to share and use #sparklingstarsquilt on social media so I can see your progress!

Purchase the Pattern, See Previous “Making Of” Posts

 

Sparkling Stars Part 2 – The Quilt Top

I recently made Sparkling Stars to help promote Fandangle, my brand new fabric line at quilt market. The fabric will ship to stores at the end of June, and the pattern is currently available now in print or PDF.

Click here to read part 1 – making the quilt blocks.

Sparkling Stars in Progress

I decided to name this quilt Sparkling Stars as a nod to one of the prints I call “Sparkling Squares.” The collection name Fandangle means embellishment or ornamentation so I thought it would be fun for the fabric and quilt names to go with that theme.

Once the quilt blocks were sewn and pressed, it was time to sew them together to make the quilt top. This process went together rather quickly because I was able to refer to the image of the quilt top I had created in EQ8 for color placement, shown below.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Design

Here’s a tip when sewing lots of blocks into rows: sew the seams in opposite directions between blocks so that your blocks and rows don’t warp or bow to one side.

For example, refer to the top row in the image above. When sewing block pairs together, I kept the turquoise or teal blocks on top as I sewed the row together. There are a total of 4 vertical seams to sew per block row. By keeping the teal/turquoise on top, it ensured that I switched directions each time I joined the blocks.

Sparkling Stars by Christa Watson

After I completed the rows and added the borders, I pressed the entire top again from the front and back. Pressing often really helps ensure a nice flat top which is essential for successful machine quilting.

Hobbs quilt batting in cotton and wool

Whenever I make a quilt, I like to take a picture of the batting I’m using in the quilt so that I can remember what I used. For Sparkling Stars I chose Hobbs batting in cotton/wool.

This is one of my favorite battings for quilts that will be on display. The cotton gives the quilt drape and stability while the wool allows for good stitch definition and it doesn’t hold crease lines. I basted the quilt using basting spray and my design wall.

Click here for my spray basting tutorial.

Sparkling Stars Quilt PatternClick on the image above to enlarge

You can now purchase a copy of the Sparkling Stars quilt pattern. The PDF is available as an instant download through my Craftsy shop. The print version can be purchased now and will ship by the end of the month – once the boxes arrive from the printer. I can’t wait!!

Click here to purchase the PDF version of Sparkling Stars quilt pattern.
Click here to purchase the print version of Sparkling Stars quilt pattern.

Variegated Thread on Sparkling Stars

I chose Aurifil 50 weight variegated thread #4650 Leaves to quilt it since there was so much color. I’ve been experimenting with using variegated threads for machine quilting and really like them.

Stay tuned for part 3 where I show how I quilted it!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern PDF Now Available

I’m having a great time at quilt market this week, sharing Fandangle with the wider quilting world! I was excited to get the PDF version of Surplus Strips finalized before I left, and it’s available for purchase now from my Craftsy shop.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Surplus Strips Materials List

The print version is being printed now and should be available by the end of the month.
If you missed my process posts about making these quilts, check them out by clicking the links below:

Surplus Strips Part 1 – The Blocks

Surplus Strips Part 2 – Quilt Top and Basting

Surplus Strips Part 3 – Machine Quilting and Binding

Surplus Strips Cool

Surplus Strips in the Cool Colorway

Machine Quilting Detail

It was so fun to make this quilt using both the warm and cool colorways of Fandangle. You can make this quilt using yardage like I did, or you can go super scrappy with leftover precut strips.

Surplus Strips Warm Colorway

Surplus Strips in the Warm Colorway

Machine Quilting Detail

The most fun part was quilting them using designs from the fabric, which were inspired by my quilting! How’s that for circular logic?? f you make this quilt, be sure and share on social media #surplusstripsquilt. I’d love to see your progress.

Click here to purchase an instant PDF download of Surplus Strips.
Click here to order the print version (ships by the end of the month.)

Click here for my complete pattern library.

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 3 – Machine Quilting and Binding

Although machine quilting is my favorite part of making any quilt, I really enjoy the entire process from start to finish. Even though I’m on a tight deadline, it’s been fun to document my progress on Surplus Strips as I go. Be sure to check out my last post for tips on piecing the quilt top and basting it.

Choosing Thread Color

Aurifil Thread Variegated Pink

Audition thread to see which color blends in best. For multicolor quilts, go with a lighter thread on a darker fabric, rather than darker thread on lighter fabric.

I’ve been playing around lately with Aurifil variegated thread, so I chose a pink (#3660 Bubble Gum) for the warm colorway of Surplus Strips. I wasn’t sure how much thread I’d end up using, and since I only had one spool on hand, I chose a 50 weight thread in a similar color for the bobbin. I always try to use the same or similar color in top and bobbin so that I don’t get “pokies” – dots of thread on the top or bottom of the quilt.

Aurifil Creme De Menthe on Surplus Strips

The teal colored thread has a more pronounced color change than the pink.

For the cool colorway, I went with Creme De Menthe #4662. No matter which color thread you use, the more quilting you add, the less you’ll notice the thread and the more you’ll just see the overall texture.

Free-Motion Quilting Surplus Strips

Machine Quilting Surplus Strips

I scrunch and smoosh the quilt under the machine any way I can.

Whenever I quilt, I always start on the right side of the quilt and work my way towards the center. When I reach the middle, I rotate the quilt and keep on going. For an allover/meander type block, I just focus on one are of the quilt so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

Free Motion Quilting Jagged Stipple

I love the slight color change with the pink variegated thread!

Because many of the fabric prints I design are based on some of my favorite machine quilting motifs, I really wanted to play that up with these quilts. For the warm colorway, I quilted “jagged stipple” which is one of the quilt designs I love to teach in my workshops. Can you see how it’s basically the same motif as the “Paper Cuts” print from Fandangle?

Free Motion quilting jagged stipple

Jagged stipple is one of the motifs included in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

When quilting an allover design, sometimes it will show up on some fabrics and blend into others. But that’s okay. I love the overall texture that it gives to the quilt!

For the cool colorway, I quilted triangles that are similar to the “Triangle Trinkets” print from Fandangle. Any of the designs I quilt can be quilted on a smaller or larger scale. My rule of thumb is that if it’s an allover design, I’ll quilt it larger to fill more space quickly. For smaller, custom areas of the quilt, I’ll usually scale down the quilting motifs.

Free Motion Quilting Triangles

I love how the variegated thread gives depth and dimension to the quilt!
I also teach this quilting motif in my latest quilting book.

In my workshops, I always stress the point that I don’t worry too much about making my designs perfect. I like the irregular overall texture you can get from free-hand doodling with your machine. Besides, the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches!!

Triangle Trinkets from Fandangle

I chose Triangle Trinkets in turquoise for the backing.
Click here to see larger images of each fabric from Fandangle.

Binding the Quilt

Click here for my step by step binding tutorial from a previous quilt.

Press the binding

After I attach the binding to the quilt by machine, I press it away from the quilt. This makes it easier to wrap around the back of the quilt to ensure a nice flat binding.

Attaching the binding

The BERNINA Dual Feed acts just like a walking foot, but I can use any specialty “D” foot.

When I first started binding my quilts, I used 2 1/4″ strips, However, lately, I’ve cut them 2″ and I attach them using my BERNINA dual feed and 1/4 patchwork foot. This allows me to get an even quarter inch binding on both sides of the quilt.

Binding Surplus Strips

It was fun to make some extra blocks and throw them on the back of the quilt!

Once I wrap the binding to the back, I secure in place with Clover Wonder Clips. I like to secure the entire edge so that it’s ready to hand-finish without interruption. It usually takes about 3 boxes of Wonder Clips to go around the entire edge, but you could definitely use fewer if you like.

Binding with Wonder Clips

I quilted triangles on the front to match the triangles on the back!

Even though I’m on a tight deadline to finish these quilts, I still enjoy binding by hand. I was able to finish the warm colorway on an airplane trip last week, and I finished the cool colorway while watching a movie with my family.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Click here to preorder Surplus Strips quilt pattern – ships on or before June 1.

Now all that’s left is to photograph these quilts, swap out the digital pattern cover above with the actual quilts and get them off to the printer! The PDF pattern will be coming soon, and you can pre-order the print version of Surplus Strips now.

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm Colorway

I had a whole row to myself on a recent flight and was able to finish this quilt on the plane!

Click here to pre-order bundles of Fandangle Fabric.
Click here to see all Fandangle quilt patterns.

Now I have one more quilt to finish up, and then it’s time to pack for quilt market. More about that soon, I promise!!

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 2 – The Quilt Top and Basting

As I prepare for International Quilt Market, which is an industry trade show held this spring in Portland, Oregon (May 18-20), I’m sewing like a madwoman, finishing up samples to promote my new quilt patterns and Fandangle fabric line. I’m currently working on two versions of my Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern – in warm and cool colors. Click here to read my previous post about making the blocks.

Color Arrangement

Surplus Strips Blocks in Cool Fandangle

Arranging tiny blocks was much faster than using my design wall!

Although I designed both colorways in EQ8, I didn’t finalize the exact color placement for each block. Instead, I did something very low tech. I printed out a version of the quilt with the same number of blocks that I made and then cut out all of the tiny paper blocks to arrange on my work table. It actually went a lot faster than putting up the blocks on my design wall and arranging them there.

Surplus Strips Paper Blocks - Warm Fandangle

I like being able to rearrange the blocks until I’m happy with their color placement.
These paper blocks are only about 1″ wide!

Once I was happy with the color arrangement, I printed out the final layout in color, and organized the blocks on my work table by color. In other words, the printed out layout served as a “virtual” design wall that takes up a lot less space!

Surplus Strips Blocks Fandangle Warm Colorway

I printed out the layout in EQ8 which serves as my “virtual” design wall.

It was super fast to sew the blocks into rows using my printed out layout as a guideline. This quilt goes together in vertical columns, rather than horizontal rows, so I just had to make sure I kept everything in the correct orientation as I sewed.

Surplus Strips blocks Fandangle Fabric warm colorway

I sewed the blocks and sashing in order according to my printed out layout.

Pressing Seams Open

I used this process for both the warm and cool colorway, and it went super fast! Pressing all of my seams open really helped the quilt top lie flat when I gave it a final press. It also made it soooo much easier to line up the seams accurately! Because there’s no nesting, it’s important to pin generously while joining the blocks and rows. But I actually get better results and perfect seam joins when I press seams open & use pins, so it’s worth it to take the extra time.

Seams Pressed Open - Cool Colorway, Fandangle Fabric, Surplus Strips Quilt

Seams pressed open ensures a nice flat top, with no lumps and bumps!

When pressing seams open, be sure to use a shorter stitch length (like 2 instead of 2.5) to secure the seams. A shorter stitch also makes it less likely that you’ll see thread poking through the seams, too!

Bonus Measuring Tip

Measuring long borders

Use a ruler to extend the cutting length on your mat for long borders: place the folded end on the ruler, and cut on the mat. If I needed more length, I’d rotate the ruler longways.

Here’s a bonus tip when working with borders that are longer than your mat. When cutting, I fold the border fabric in half and use an “extend a ruler” – my phrase for extending the cutting length by using a ruler, lined up at the edge of the mat. I’ll use as many extra inches as needed to get a nice precise measurement when cutting. Just divide the needed length in half and count over that many inches on the extension ruler and mat.

More Pressing

Press the quilt on both sides

Speaking of pressing, once the quilt top is finished, I give it a final press on the front, too. It seems to make the quilt nice, flat and crisp, so it’s ready to baste! Whenever I press anything on my quilt, I always use a dry iron. I don’t like steam because it can burn your fingers and distort the fabric. Also, if the iron leaks or spits, you can get a nasty mess! If I need a bit of water for an unruly seam, I’ll just use a spray bottle filled with water instead.

Virtual Home and Studio Tour

Surplus Strips Quilt Tops Warm and Cool

Look closely and you can see 2 quilt tops waiting underneath the warm colorway. Plus there’s some yardage of Fandangle peeking out underneath the cool colorway.

When my quilt top(s) are finished and pressed, I hang them over the stair railing on the upper floor of my home so they don’t get wrinkled. Upstairs is my husband’s office, my daughter’s room, our bedroom and my sewing loft. Downstairs is my son’s room, work area for The Precut Store, living room, dining area, and kitchen. It’s a comfy home and we use every square foot!!

Here’s an image of my studio space, across from the stair railing where I hang my quilts in progress. This picture was taken back in 2014 for a magazine profile. It’s pretty much still the same!

Christa's Sewing Room

Image of my sewing studio 2014 – with 3 quilt tops that are still unfinished LOL!!

Our backyard is just off the kitchen downstairs, and is where I keep a plastic table set up on the patio for spray basting. I don’t spend nearly enough time in my yard as I do my sewing room, so it needs a little work, LOL!!

Spray Basting

Basting Outside

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

Once the backing and top are sprayed outside, I then bring them inside and assemble them on my design wall indoors.

Surplus Strips Batting

Take a picture of the batting with the quilt, and take note of what you like/don’t like.
I’m using Hobbs cotton batting for the cool colorway.

To keep track of which batting I use, I take a picture of the batting with the quilt top so I can remember. For these quilts, I used Hobbs cotton for the cool colorway and Hobbs silk for the warm. I used those particular battings because they are what I had on hand and didn’t have time to order anything else, LOL!!

But I love using natural fiber battings like cotton, wool, or silk because they cling to the quilt, provide good stitch definition, and allow the quilt to breathe and hang well.

Surplus Strips Warm Colorway backing

I’m using Hobbs Silk batting for the warm colorway.

Although the quilt pattern calls for all of one fabric for the backing, I had fun and made some bonus blocks with some of the leftover strips. Because I only have a limited amount of Fandangle yardage right now, I got creative with my piecing and used three different warm prints instead.

Surplus Strips Warm basting

Click here for a tutorial on how I made my design wall – back in 2013.

I like to make sure I have several inches of extra batting and backing beyond the quilt top. That way I don’t have to line things up perfectly, and the extra will get cut off when it’s time to bind.

Once it’s basted, I’ll trim down the backing and batting so that there’s only 1-2 inches sticking out. This prevents them from flipping backwards under the quilt, causing you to accidentally stitch through them while quilting. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done that!!

Pressing the Quilt After Basting

Notice how closely I trimmed the layers, with only about an inch or two of batting/backing sticking out beyond the quilt top. This prevents quilting the quilt to itself!

The final step is to press the quilt – yet again!! After it’s basted, I’ll press the quilt, first on the back, and then again on the front. This helps set the glue so the layers don’t shift. But more importantly, it allows me to work out any creases or bubbles on either side of the quilt. One the quilt is nice and flat, it’s sooo much easier to machine quilt!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa WatsonClick here to preorder the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – print version.
Click here to preorder Fandangle fabric bundles + background.

I hope you are enjoying seeing my progress as I make these quilts. Once they’re finished and photographed, I’ll release the patterns in both PDF and print. For now, you can pre-order the print version over at Shop.ChristaQuilts.com along with fabric to make them. (FYI the Fandangle 1/2 yard bundle + 5 yards of gray will be enough to make either quilt top.)

Now it’s time to quilt them – so stay tuned for part 3!!

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 1 – the Blocks

I sure have enjoyed documenting more of my real-time progress as I create quilts to help promote my patterns, books and fabric. It’s so much more enjoyable to write about my process as I go, rather than trying to recapture the excitement months later!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Click here to pre-order my Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern.

I’m currently making two versions of Surplus Strips – both in warm and cool colorways of my newest fabric line, Fandangle, which will be shown at Spring Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon, May 18-20. The pattern cover art above is shown using my digitally created images from EQ8 as a placeholder until the quilts are finished and photographed.

Once that’s done, I’ll send it off to the printer and release a PDF pattern, too. For now, you are welcome to preorder the print version which will ship on or before June 1, 2018.

Fandangle Fabrics Cool Colorway

Fandangle Fabric in the Cool Colorway

Although my timeline is tight, I’m still going through the regular process I use to create a well-made quilt. I like to prewash and starch all of my fabrics for two reasons: (1) it gets rid of the excess dye so there’s no chance of bleeding or ruining the quilt and (2) the starch makes the fabric stiffer so there’s less stretch while piecing.

My number 1 starching tip is to spray starch on one side of the fabric, then flip it over and iron the other side. Then repeat – starch the side you just ironed, flip it over again and press from the other side. The prevents the iron from burning the starch so you don’t get flakes! Starching and pressing both sides makes the fabric more crisp so it’s easier to work with. Also – I just use cheap starch from the grocery store and I’ve never had a problem with it.

Fandangle Fabrics Warm Colorway

Fandangle Fabric in the Warm Colorway

My Surplus Strips pattern is written for either precut 2 1/2″ strips or yardage. You can go super scrappy with a single jellyroll + background, or do a color blocked quilt like I’m doing. For yardage, It takes about 1/3 yard of 9 different fabrics plus 4 3/4 yards background + binding.

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm Colorway of Fandangle

I like stacking my pieces so they look pretty!

I paired up the darker gray confetti crosshatch print with the warm colorway of Fandangle, and the lighter gray with the cool colorway. If you are interested in using the same fabrics as me, you can preorder 1/2 yard bundles of Fandangle + 5 yards of either gray and you’ll be set, with a little leftover fabric.

Seams Pressed Open

Pressing seams open ensures flat blocks, and a flat quilt top.

I started cutting out the fabrics for both quilts while I was away on my last teaching trip. When I returned home, I finished cutting all of the pieces for the warm colorway and made all of the blocks in about two days. I used a shorter stitch length for piecing (1.8 instead of the default 2.0) and pressed all of my seams open (with a dry iron, no steam). This will allow the blocks to lie flat for domestic machine quilting.

Surplus Strips Quilt Block Warm Colorway of Fandangle

Surplus Strips Blocks in the Warm Colorway of Fandangle

After piecing the blocks in the warm colorway, I jumped into making the blocks in the cool colorway. I like making two quilts at a time, so I can assembly line the process as much as possible.

Surplus Strips Fandangle Fabric Cool

Units are cut and stacked and ready to sew!

Here are a couple more piecing tips that make the blocks go together smoothly and stay square: when sewing, I pieced with the gray units on top to ensure that I switched sewing directions each time I joined the units. When you join two seams in opposite directions, it helps prevent block distortion. It’s not a huge deal on smaller units, but if you are sewing long strips together, it can be more noticeable.

Lining up block seams

Step 1 for proper alignment – match up the fabric seams.

Also, in order to get the top and bottom of each plus block to line up correctly, I placed the top unit right sides together on top of the partially sewn block to see exactly where things needed to line up to keep the seams in alignment. The pressed open seams really help me see this part.

Aligning units for quilt blocks

Step 2 for proper alignment – fold back to make sure lines are straight.

Then, I folded it back up partially to make sure it’s in the proper position before sewing. I didn’t actually need to use any pins because the blocks were small enough and I used my fingers to keep the edges lined up at all times.

Surplus Strips Blocks Fandangle Fabric cool colorway

Click here to preorder bundles of Fandangle fabric by colorway + background fabric.
Click here to preorder the Surplus Strips quilt Pattern.

The blocks went together even faster this time around and I love the color distribution! Now it’s time to sew the blocks together and finish up the quilt top. I’ll make both tops and then have a little basting party to make that chore a little less painful, lol!! I’ll be using my spray basting method that you can read about here (wall basting) or here (table basting).

Stay tuned for the next update!