Tiny Trees in Lunch Hour Patchwork

Check out my smallest quilt finish in the brand new book, Lunch Hour Patchwork!

Tiny Trees

My quilt features small paper pieced trees set into a modern-tree layout. I had fun digging through my pile of green fabrics to get a wide variety of mint and green colored trees. My personal challenge to myself was to use print fabrics that worked together without being “Christmassy.”

Green fabrics

I had so much fun quilting this one, using a combination of two free motion textures: stippling for the background and “cursive L’s” for the trees. Because I used one light green Aurifil thread for all of the quilting, I was able start stipple quilting the background, and then wiggle in and out of each tree as I got to it, switching quilting motifs, but not thread colors.

Machine Quilting Detail on Tiny Trees

The book Lunch Hour Patchwork has a bunch of fun projects that are quick and easy to make. You can work on them during your lunch hour, or other small chunks of time throughout your day!

Lunch Hour Patchwork

My friends at Martingale are even giving away a free copy of the book! Head over to Stitch This!  (their blog) to see more projects from the book and enter for your chance to win.

Bonus Quilt Along – Make My Charming Chevrons Pattern with Alyssa from Penguin and Fish

I know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the start of my Squiggles QAL which officially launches next Monday. But in the meantime, you can quilt along either virtually or in real time with my friend Alyssa Thomas of Penguin and Fish. All you need is a copy of my Charming Chevrons pattern and your favorite charm packs (5″ squares).

Each weekday night from now until she finishes, Alyssa is posting a live “relax and craft” video stream on Facebook. Then she’s uploading the recordings to YouTube so anyone can view them later. So you can make the quilt along with her, or just hang out and watch her sew! If you do choose to sew along, you can share your progress in my facebook group or hers. (Scroll to the end for all the pertinent links you’ll need.)

Click the image above to watch the very first video with Alyssa.
She’ll be broadcasting her progress each weeknight until she’s finished the quilt!

I love Charming Chevrons so much that I’ve already made it three times, and I recolored it a 4th time using my Modern Marks fabric. Check these out for inspiration, and notice how all 4 versions feature the same block, but rotated in a slightly different position. All 4 layouts are included in the pattern.

Charming Chevrons at QuiltCon 2013

The original Charming Chevrons, shown above, made its debut at QuiltCon in 2013. It was my first time ever entering a national show. It went on to win viewer’s choice in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival in 2013 so it was a banner year!!

Colorful chevrons

A larger remake, Colorful Chevrons with a navy blue background, was my first magazine submission and it graced the cover of Quilty in 2013. It went on to win 3rd place in the first ever modern category at AQS Quilt Week in Paducah, a ribbon at my local guild’s show, and founder’s choice at MQX.

Feathered Chevrons with Kona Solids

Photography credit: Kitty Wilkin

When Robert Kaufman invited me to curate a bundle of solid fabrics for them, I decided to make a third version using my Kona Designer palette in bright citrus hues with a dark gray background. I call this version Feathered Chevrons and it was included as part of the Quilter’s Planner pattern bundle for 2017. The layout above is included in the Charming Chevrons pattern.

Charming Chevrons with Modern Marks

Finally, after making 3 solid versions, I wanted to see what it would look recolored in EQ8 using my Modern Marks collection from Benartex/Contempo. I colored it using the “Double Chevrons” layout that’s also included in the pattern.

Charming Chevrons includes 4 sizes and these are the fabric requirements & # of charm packs needed to make each size:

Links to all the Fun:

Purchase the Print version of Charming Chevrons here.
Purchase the PDF version of Charming Chevrons here.
Click here for the first YouTube video from Alyssa.
Click here to like and follow her page where she’ll post live videos.
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook Group: Christa Quilts.
Click here to share in Alyssa’s group: Penguin & Fish Crafters.
Get the Modern Marks Charm packs here.

Finished Quilt: Color Weave, QuiltCon Entry + Quilting Tips

Today I have another quilt finish to share! Now that I’m not inundated with too many projects and too little time (yay for balance!), I can actually blog more about quilts I’ve recently finished, and I love sharing my virtual show and tell with you!

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave was published in issue 21 of Modern Quilts Unlimited. Photo Credit MQU.

Modern Quilts Unlimited is one of my all-time favorite magazines and it’s such a thrill when my work appears in their pages. Fun fact: the editor, Laurie Baker and I met backin 2014 when she helped edit my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and we’ve been friends ever since!

Color Weave Backstory

I originally made Color Weave to be included in my most recent book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts, since it’s completely sewn from 2 1/2″ strips. While the book was in the layout and editing stage, the editors realized it was going to be too long (what? Me wordy???) and we had to make the agonizing decision to cut this project.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

I love quilts with simple color schemes. Pick any 3 colors to make this quilt!

This happens with craft books more often than you realize, because book publishers would rather have too much content to choose from than not enough. For budgeting purposes, they have to stick to a strict page limit that’s agreed ahead of time in the book contract, and there’s only so many ways you can lay things out with a limited number of pages.

Precut Pieces for Color Weave

I love it when all of the pieces of a quilt are cut and ready to sew!

So after I held my 5 minute pity party, I contacted MQU and asked if they’d be interested in publishing this pattern in their magazine and they said yes! FYI – if you are interested in getting into magazines, editors are always on the lookout for great content and the fact that my quilt was ready to go meant they could schedule it for any issue where they needed to fill pages.

Machine Quilting Details

Needless to say I was thrilled that Modern Quilts Unlimited was excited to publish the pattern for Color Weave, and I was even more pleased that they included the instructions on how to quilt it as a free “web extra” on their blog. (See below image for link.)

Color Weave Web ExtraPhoto Credit – Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine

Click here to get my machine quilting instructions for Color Weave, courtesy of MQU magazine.

Random crosshatch is actually one of my favorite ways to quilt a quilt with your walking foot (or dual feed) and it is so easy to do! Rather than painstakingly trying to mark and create a perfectly symmetrical grid, I use the piecing seams as a guideline for my lines.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

I started off by quilting in the ditch between all the seams to stabilize and anchor the quilt. Then I filled in between the grid with straight lines at random intervals. I used the edge of my walking foot as a guideline for spacing, moving the needle position to create narrower or wider lines.

QuiltCon Acceptance

I knew right away when I received this quilt back from the magazine that I wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for their 2018 show. I haven’t really seen a design like this before, so I thought it had a good shot of getting into the innovative “Piecing” category.  I’m pleased that others will be able to see it at next years’ show because one of the reasons I enter shows is to share my work with a wider audience who might not have discovered me yet.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

Quilting detail from Color Weave. Just remember: the best way to hide an imperfectly straight line is to surround it with more imperfectly straight lines!!

It took me awhile to figure out how to create the woven effect in the piecing. It’s like an optical illusion, and I’m sure the quilt would look totally different using scrappy prints, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

When trying to quilt parallel lines, just remember that “straight-ish” lines are perfectly ok! When you are two inches away from the quilt, you’ll notice all the imperfections. But once you back away from the quilt, all of a sudden your eye sees the overall texture rather than the individual stitches.

Random Crosshatch Grid by Christa Watson

Quilting Tip:  If you want your quilting to show, use a solid back. If you want to hide your quilting, using a busy back. I always use the same color thread in top and bobbin because I’d rather see the quilting show up on the back, than little dots of bobbin color on the top!

color Weave Stats:

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Photo Credit: Jason Watson

Modern quilts are my favorite. Now I just need to make more of them!!

Finished Quilt: Modern Puzzle + Quilting Tips

Meet Modern Puzzle – one of the quilts I made for quilt market this past fall. The quilt pattern is a free PDF download and it’s made from one Pinwheel (aka Jellyroll) of Modern Marks + one pinwheel of white/gray neutrals from Benartex.

Modern Puzzle Free Qult patter by Christa Watson

Click here to download my Modern Puzzle quilt pattern for free.
Click here to get the precuts to make this quilt.

I recently wrote up a spray basting tutorial using my design wall using Modern Puzzle as my example. Now I’m ready to share more about the quilting process. Because I was in a hurry to get this quilt done, AND I really wanted to show off the fabrics rather than the quilting, I used a simple wavy line design that I teach in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Click the image below to enlarge it so you can see the quilting detail:

Machine Quilting detail - wavy lines

Making a Quilting Plan

Whenever I’m quilting an allover design using my walking foot (or dual feed system), I use a method I call “divide and conquer.” The basic idea is that I make one pass across the quilt, stitching near the ditch rather than IN the ditch.

This allows me to use my seam lines as a guideline for spacing so that I don’t have to mark anything. Once the quilt is stabilized, or “anchored,” then I’ll add additional wavy lines, one pass across the quilt at a time.

Quilting Plan for Modern Puzzle

Quilting plan for Modern Puzzle – I’ll fill in more lines on the quilt until it feels finished.

I introduced my audience to the concept of making a “quilting plan” in my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and my first Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path.  Now I love to seeing that so many have embraced this concept with their own quilts!

Quilting Modern Puzzle

Each time I quilt a set of wavy lines across the quilt, the space to fill gets smaller and smaller.

Whenever I quilt any quilt, I “scrunch and smoosh” it under the machine however I can. Having a wide area between the needle and the side of the machine is really nice, but not absolutely necessary. As long as you shove the quilt out of the way and only focus on one area at a time, it’s easy  to do!

Overlapping wavy lines

Once the lines got close enough, I overlapped a few of them for extra texture.

My philosophy when it comes to machine quilting is, “more is more.” For example, one individual line of stitching will stand out like a sore thumb. However, when you surround that line with additional quilting lines on both sides, all of a sudden, you notice the overall texture before you see the individual stitches.

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

When it comes to choosing thread color for a highly contrasting quilt such as this one, it’s best to use a lighter color thread rather than a darker one. A lighter thread will blend in more on darker fabrics, rather than the reverse.

Aurifil Cotton Thread

For Modern Puzzle, I chose a light gray/blue from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Neutrals from Aurifil. Even with dense quilting, one large spool was plenty of thread, and I like to use the same color in top and bobbin to help hide any tension issues.

Quilting Detail on Modern Puzzle

Dense quilting is my favorite way to hide quilting imperfections!

Behind the Scenes

Fun fact: when I got my fabric samples for Modern Marks back in July, I had about 4 days to whip up 5 quilt tops to display at a special event for BERNINA dealers taking place here in my hometown of Las Vegas. Because BERNINA owns Benartex, the dealers got to see sneak peeks of the fabric before it was debuted at quilt market in October.

Quilts in Progress

Honest sewing room and quilt top making frenzy: notice the fabric samples in the left corner rolled on a tube – this is how fabric comes from the factory before it’s folded onto bolts!!

This was my chance to introduce myself to shop owners who hadn’t heard of me yet, so it was a huge opportunity if I could finish the samples in time. So I called in the reinforcements – my mom and a few friends – and we sewed non-stop to get them done! It was a fun impromptu retreat and I’m thankful to say, the fabric was well received. Thank goodness I only needed to finish the tops and was able to quilt them over the next 3 months at a more leisurely pace!

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

I love how the bright pops of color in in Modern Marks contrast against my desert surroundings. This is one of my favorite quilts, and the dense quilting makes it so snuggly!!

Remember, if you make Modern Puzzle, (or anything else from my books, patterns, or fabric) I’d love to see your progress! Please share in my ChristaQuilts Facebook community. I’d love to cheer you on!!

Modern Puzzle Stats:

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

All outdoor photogrophy taken by my husband, Jason Watson. (C) 2017

Squiggles Quilt Along Schedule – Grab Your Fabric and Get Ready!

Let’s kick off the next year in quilty style, with a Quilt Along!! If you remember the launch of my newest book last summer, I teased the idea of remaking one of the quilts from the book in my new fabric. Readers were able to vote on their favorite quilt, and when to start the Quilt Along.

Well guess what? We’re going to start the Quilt Along on Monday, January 15 and it will run for 6 weeks, going through every step you need to make the Squiggles quilt below, from start to finish!

Suiggles with Modern Marks

Squiggles Quilt Kits are available for a limited time, with black or white background.

I’ll be remaking my version of Squiggles using my Modern Marks fabric + black background, but of course, you can choose any fabrics you like!

Here’s the Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List. Each week as I write create each step, I’ll update the links below so that this post can serve as a landing page for the quilt along.

2018 Quilt Along Schedule

Click the hotlinks below to get to each blog post.

Modern Marks Fabric

Supply List

  • Copy of my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts
  • Two – 5″ charm packs of background solid or tonal fabric (or a total of 77 squares)
  • Four – 5″ charm packs of print fabric (or a total of 154 squares)
    • (Note – you can also substitute one 10″ square pack if needed, and cut to size)Piece and Quilt with Precuts
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for binding
  • 3 1/4 yards of fabric for backing
  • 56″ x 70″ piece of batting (I recommend Hobbs batting)
  • Approx. 1200 yards (or one large spool) of thread for quilting (I recommend Aurifil)
  • Sewing Machine with new needle and basic sewing supplies
  • Rotary cutting equipment (6″ acrylic ruler, mat, standard cutter with new blade)

So gather your fabrics, your copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts, and start sharing on social media (#squigglesquilt and Christa Quilts on Facebook).

The original version of Squiggles, as shown in the book:

Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

We’re just a month away from a quiltin’ good time!!

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Finished Quilt: Modern Starstruck + Quilting Details

Meet “Modern Starstruck” – a remake of my “Starstruck” quilt pattern included in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. The original quilt from the book was made in black and white, but as soon as I released my new fabric line, I knew I had to remake this design to showcase the bold bright colors of Modern Marks.

Modern Starstuck by Christa Watson

Modern Starstruck, designed, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson

Starstruck is a fun fat-quarter quilt made from 24 different fabrics, one for each star in the quilt. Each fabric is used in the quilt twice – once for the star and once for the background. However, since there are 26 prints in Modern Marks, I wanted to showcase them all, so two of the fabrics are only included once.

Modern Starstruck

Click here to grab a fat quarter bundle of Modern Marks (while supplies last.)
Click here to get your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

I had a LOT of fun quilting this one!! I quilted a different free-motion design in each of the stars and backgrounds. There are a total of 24 blocks which means I quilted 48 unique designs in this quilt. I think of it as a “machine quilting sampler” of sorts.

Machine Quilting Detail

You can really see the quilting when the light hits it just right. I tried lots of different swirl combinations in some of the blocks, and echoed each star a couple of times to separate it from the background quilting.

Modern Starstruck closeup

Modern Starstruck drapes really well due to the cotton batting I used, and the dense quilting gives it plenty of yummy texture.

In each block I quilted a combination of geometric and curvy lines to play around with different ideas. To minimize my starts and stops, I free motion echo quilted around each star shape, then traveled over a previous stitching line to get to the star. I filled in each star with a different design and then traveled back out of the top of the star to continue quilting the additional echo and background areas.

Machine quilting in progress

Here are a couple of closeups of the block quilting:

quilting detail

I quilted a geometric meander in the star above, with curvy woodgrain in the background. Many of the designs came from my books, while others were brand new experiments which may show up as stand-alone motifs in future quilts!

free motion quilting

In this star I quilted a dense echoed diamond design with curvy flowers in the background. I used a light yellow thread for the entire quilt. It blended in to most of the fabrics so I didn’t have to switch thread colors.

Pattern on pattern

In some of the blocks, I quilted a dense pattern on pattern design to add extra depth and dimension to the quilt.

Modern Starstruck detail

It was fun to choose fabric combinations for each block. Because this was a busy quilt with no unifying background fabric, it was important that each pairing allowed the stars to pop!

Modern Starstruck Stats:

Modern Starstuck by Christa Watson

Wall Basting Tutorial Using Spray Adhesive

One of the secrets to successful machine quilting is basting your quilts properly. So today I will share with you my favorite way to baste a quilt using 505 basting spray and my design wall. You can definitely modify this technique and baste your quilts on a table, but I prefer the design wall because I can get up close to the quilt and make sure it’s nice and flat.

I’m demonstrating how to baste my Modern Puzzle quilt. Get the free quilt pattern here.

Click here to grab a Modern Puzzle Quilt Kit featuring Modern Marks.

Wall Basting Quilt Tutorial for Modern Puzzle Free Quilt Pattern

Wall basting is my favorite way to baste! I can get up close to make it smooth and flat.

Wall Basting Tutorial

Ensure that all 3 layers of your quilt (top, batting, and backing) are nice and flat. The batting and backing should be a few inches larger than the quilt top on all sides.

Give the top and backing a final press and clip any stray threads. Relax the wrinkles in your batting by throwing it in a dryer with a wet towel for a few minutes, unrolling it from the package to “rest” for a few days, or pressing the batting with a hot dry iron. (For delicate batting, use a piece of fabric to cover it while you press.)

Step 1 – Apply Adhesive to Backing and Quilt Top separately

Lay a sheet on the ground to protect your quilt and catch any over-spray. Outdoors is best so that the fumes can dissipate, but you can do it inside in a well ventilated room while wearing a dust mask. Be sure to shake the can and spray a few squirts on the sheet to ensure the nozzle is clean and the spray comes out evenly before you start.

Lay out the quilt backing wrong side up and apply a thin coat of 505 spray adhesive evenly across the surface of the quilt. Walk around the quilt backing as needed to reach all areas.

Apply spray baste to the wrong side of the backing fabric

Spray the adhesive on one section of the backing at a time. Use seam lines in the piecing to help keep track of where you’ve sprayed since it’s hard to see the adhesive on the fabric.

Repeat the process for the quilt top, using the design of the quilt to help you keep track of which areas you’ve already covered. Don’t worry if the quilt top and backing have some give or are a bit wrinkly from movement. You will smooth it all out later.

Spray baste the quilt top

Be sure to lay out the quilt top wrong side up while applying basting spray.

Hint: it’s easier to keep track of where you’ve sprayed if you cover one-two rows at a time, moving methodically over the quilt top.

spray basting

Try to keep the can spraying out consistently so you don’t get any adhesive buildup.

Once the backing and quilt top are sprayed, fold them up and bring indoors to assemble the layers on a design wall. It doesn’t matter if you fold them right sides in or out. They will be sticky, but not stuck and you can easily unfold and the layers and peel them apart. You don’t need to baste right away, but I wouldn’t wait more than a few days to prevent the spray from drying out.

Quilt top and back with basting spray

It’s okay if the layers are a wadded-up mess. You’ll straighten them out next!

Step 2 – Assemble The Layers Indoors

Pin the quilt backing wrong side up to the top of the design wall (mine is made from foam insulation board covered with a white flannel sheet). Let gravity pull the weight of the fabric down. Gently un-stick any of the fabric sticking to itself and spend some time smoothing it all out with your hands or an acrylic ruler.

wall basting

For shorties like me, use a chair or step ladder to reach the top of the design wall.

Your hands will get a bit sticky, but the residue easily washes off with soap and water. Spend as much time as you need to straighten the backing so that it’s nice and smooth and flat on the design wall.

Smooth backing on the design wall

The backing is nice and smooth! Any small wrinkles will get ironed out later.

Fold the batting in half vertically and stick it on one side of the backing. Notice that I didn’t cut my batting perfectly straight on one edge and that’s okay. As long as the batting is larger than the quilt top, it’s easy to trim off any excess.

Wall basting - adding the batting

For this quilt I used Hobbs Tuscany Cotton/Wool blend batting. The cotton gives it a nice drape and the wool adds depth and dimension to the quilting without wrinkling up.

Unfold the batting and spend a good amount of time smoothing it out with your hands or a long acrylic ruler. My ruler can get a bit sticky so I have a separate one that I use just for basting. See the excess batting sticking out on the right side? I’ll trim that off with batting scissors before I add the quilt top.

Smoothing the layers

Spend 10-15 minutes smoothing out the batting. It’s okay to re-position it if needed. The ruler acts as an arm extension to help you cover more area while you smooth it all out.

Add the quilt backing right side out in the same manner as the backing. Pin generously and let gravity pull on the weight of the quilt top to get it to hang straight. This is why it’s so important for the batting and backing to be larger than the quilt top. Then you don’t have to make sure it’s lined up perfectly in the middle – you’ll have a bit of “wiggle room” to maneuver.

The excess batting and backing will get trimmed away later.

Spend a lot of time smoothing out the top layer once it’s on the wall. Use the acrylic ruler to help you work out any bubbles and ensure that the seam lines are nice and straight. Once your basted quilt is flat, smooth and straight, machine quilting it will be a breeze!

Bastd Modern Puzzle Quilt

Taking time to smooth each layer will make it much easier to machine quilt!

Step 3 – Iron the Basted Quilt

Here’s where the magic happens! Once the quilt is basted, I take it to the ironing board and press both sides of the quilt. This does two things: (1) it’s a final chance to press out any wrinkles and work out any fullness in the quilt. (2) It sets the glue and ensures that all 3 layers will stay together without shifting, eliminating the need to add any pins. You can still pull apart the layers if needed, but this process will ensure that every inch of the quilt is sticking to every other inch of the quilt.

Iron the basted quilt

I use a “big board” which sits on top of my regular ironing board and gives me more room!

Once I switched to spray basting, I virtually eliminated any pleats and puckers on my quilt. Because there’s a lot of “scrunching and smooshing” going on while quilting, your basted quilt needs to be able to handle a lot of wear and tear while pushing it under the machine. It takes the same amount of time to baste a quilt with spray or pins, but you’ll save a huge amount of time by not having to stop and remove pins. Give spray basting a try and let me know how you like it!

I quilted Modern Puzzle using walking foot wavy lines, a technique I teach in my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Modern Puzzle Quilting Detail

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you end up making your own version of Modern Puzzle, please share pics in my Christa Quilts Facebook group. I’d love to see your progress!

Modern Marks Inspiration and a Free Quilt Pattern!

To celebrate the release of my new fabric line, I have a free pattern for you, plus loads of inspiration on what you can make with my fabric! Take a look at Rainbow Taffy, a bright colorful quilt made from 5″ squares of Modern Marks, + white background:

Click here for the Rainbow Taffy pattern download.
Click here to get Modern Marks precuts.

Click here to get the free quilt pattern.

I knew I wanted to create a bright colorful quilt which would show off every fabric in this collection. In fact, when it came time to create the precut bundles for this line, it was fun to decide which fabrics would have duplicates (since there’s 31 in the line but 42 squares in the 5×5 pack). I designed Rainbow Taffy so that it would show case these cheerful fabrics in rainbow order, but of course the pattern would look great in other fabrics, too!

Boxes Quilting on Rainbow Taffy

Boxes quilting design on Rainbow Taffy

The pattern includes a detailed chart with color placement, plus machine quilting suggestions. I quilted it with one of my favorite geometric designs, “boxes” which is also the name of one of the designs in the collection!

Modern Marks Fabric by Christa Watson

Click here to grab a bundle of 26 Modern Marks fat quarters.

Be sure to ask for Modern Marks by name at your favorite local quilt shop! If there’s not one near you, I have a limited number of fat quarter bundles and kits availalbe at shop.christaquilts.com.

More Modern Marks Inspiration

Modern Marks

Be sure to check out the stops on the blog hop below for even more ideas of what you can make from Modern Marks!

Monday
HollyAnne @String & Story
 
Tuesday
 
Wednesday
Hilary @Aurifil
 
Thursday
 
Friday
I hope you are inspired to create something fun with Modern Marks!
Rainbow Taffy Quilt

Pre-Black Friday Sale: Get my New Improv Squares PDF Pattern at 50% Off!

Fun news to share: I’ve just released my newest PDF pattern called “Improv Squares.” It’s a fun pattern that shows you how to to dive into improvisational piecing but in a structured format. It calls for one set of 10″ x 10″ squares plus 4 yards of background. I used my Modern Marks collection but of course it would look great in any fabrics!

Click here to get the PDF version of Improv Squares on Sale for just $4.95!

To introduce this pattern and to say thanks for being a supporter of my blog, I’m offering the PDF at 50% off the regular price through the end of Thanksgiving weekend (November 26th).

Whenever I introduce a new pattern, I put the PDF on sale for about a week which allows me to then finance the print version of the pattern. It’s a win-win for both of us – you get it on sale and then I can print off enough copies to offer at quilt shops across the country!

Quilting Improv Squares

Like all of my patterns, I include machine quilting suggestions so that you can finish it up in no time. I quilted Improv Squares with an allover “Jagged Stipple” design on a pretty large scale. That way I could finish quickly without a lot of fuss!

My number one free-motion tip is to pick one design you want to learn and quilt it across an entire quilt regardless of the piecing. By the time you’re done with the quilt, you’ll be an expert at that design!

Jagged Stipple Quilting

I quilted “Jagged Stipple” with a variegated thread – Aurifil 50 weight Marrakesh.

In the pattern, I’ve included step by step instructions and detailed cutting charts so you’ll have guaranteed success when making this quilt. With my “structured improv” approach, each block will turn out unique, yet unified.

Improv Squares back cover

Materials requirements for Improv Squares

Here’s a tip for fabric selection when it comes to choosing the background: make sure your background fabric is very dark, or very light compared to your precut squares and it will look fantastic! If you are using the same fabric that’s included in the precuts, that’s not a problem. Most 10″x10″ packs include 42 squares, but you only need 36 to make this quilt. That allows you some flexibility.

In my version, I used Modern Marks Navy Herringbone, for the background so I set aside those squares from the 10×10 pack and didn’t use them in the blocks. Here’s what this quilt would look like if you chose a different fabric for the background, such as the Cream/Lime Boxes print:

Improv Squares with Cream

Pair up one set of 10×10’s (Layer Cake) with 4 yards of your favorite background print!

Check out how different it looks using the Light Blue Crossmarks print as the background: (I quickly recolored these using EQ8 from Electric Quilt.)

Imrpov Squares Light Blue Background

Grab a 10×10 bundle of Modern Marks from The Precut Store while supplies last!

Isn’t it fun to see the possibilities? Now I must share with my inspiration for this design. When I’m out running errands I drive by this broken fence. The first time I saw it I thought it would make a very cool quilt design! So there you have it – I’m often influenced by my surroundings in my everyday life and I love it whenever I come across great design inspiration!

Broken Fence

This broken fence inspired the design for Improv Squares. Inspiration is everywhere!!

Imrpov Squares by Christa Watson

If you want to purchase the needed supplies to make this quilt, click the links below.
(They are from 3 different store locations.)

Click here to purchase the PDF pattern for Improv Squares.
Click here to purchase the Modern Marks 10×10 Precuts
Click here to purchase a coordinating background (limited supplies).

Modern Puzzle Quilt – Get the Free Pattern!

Modern Puzzle is a quilt I designed and made to show off my debut fabric line from Benartex, called “Modern Marks.”

Click here to get the free Modern Puzzle pattern.

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

It’s full of brightly colored geometric prints that are perfect for quilts in any size and style!

Modern Puzzle Using Modern Marks

I used Modern Marks from Benartex/Contempo for this quilt – it’s bright and cheerful!

Modern Puzzle is a remake of the design I originally created called “Puzzle Box” that showed off some solid fabrics, but I never actually made the quilt. Now that my fabric is out there in the world, I was excited to see how well this design looks using prints!

Modern Marks Fabric

Modern Marks prints and Colorweave coordinates

Modern Puzzle is super fast and easy to make from 2 sets of precut strips – one bundle of colorful prints, and another set for the background. Benartex calls their precut strips “Pinwheels” but they are also known as Jelly Rolls, Pixie Strips, Rollie Polies, Roll Ups, etc. depending on the manufacturer. Each precut bundle includes 40 strips, 2 1/2″ x 42″.

Modern Marks Pinwheel from Benartex

For my quilt I used one Pinwheel of Modern Marks plus one neutral background bundle in gray/white that I asked Benartex to offer along with my fabric. I love how the neutrals really allow the brighter prints to pop!

Click here to get the Modern Marks Precuts.

Neutral Pinwheel from Benartex

Because the fabric images are finalized months before the fabric was ready, I was able to play around in Electric Quilt software to come up with lots of fun designs using my fabric. When I show the “real” quilt you’ll be amazed at how much it looks like the original drawing!

Modern Puzzle Free Pattern from Christa Watson

Modern Puzzle Designed Using EQ

Don’t you just love a snuggly, colorful quilt?? Full reveal coming soon!

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson