Pre-order My New Fall Patterns

I release quilt patters twice a year now, in conjunction with my new fabric lines. (More about the fabric later…) So today I’m happy to introduce 4 new patterns which will be released on November 16, but you can get them at a discount when you preorder now!

Christa Quilts Patterns

All four of my new patterns are available as print or PDF. Print versions will be shipped to you approximately November 16th. When you order the PDF version through my Craftsy shop, you’ll be able to download the cover now, and then the pattern itself will be emailed as an update on November 16th.

Use coupon code SAVE10 to get 10% off the price of the print version. The PDF version is automatically on sale through November 16th. (The code and sale applies to all current patterns in stock, too!) Here’s what’s new:

Pieced Primrose

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Pieced Primrose Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Geese in the Garden

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Geese in the Garden Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Blooming Wallflowers

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Blooming Wallflowers Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

LatticeWork

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

LatticeWork Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Wholesale Inquiries

These patterns will be available from most major distributors. Or email me christa@christaquilts.com for order info.

I hope you’ll enjoy making these quilts as much as I did!

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 8 – Machine Quilting Part 3: Double L’s

Good news! I’ve restocked the Dot ‘n Dash Kit in the light gray colorway.
Click here to order or visit shop.christaquilts.com.

I’m so glad we spent a little extra time machine quilting this quilt. Making a quilt from start to finish isn’t hard – it just takes a little time to break down the steps into doable chunks of time. This week we are going to finish up the quilting with a fun free-motion variation inspired by one of the quilting designs from my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Free Motion quilting on Dot n Dash by Christa Watson

I’m all about perfectly imperfect texture in my quilts!

I like to quilt my quilts densely to add amazing texture and the more they are loved, used and washed, the softer they’ll get!

After quilting the double zig-zags last week, it’s time to tackle the “Double L’s” motif this week. These are based based on the “Cursive L’s” motif as shown in the Arrows quilt on pages 78-85 of the book, and also on the cover.

Free Motion quilting

Arrows is the cover quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Sketch it. Then quilt it.

I’ve also used this design in a slightly different way on Twinkling Diamonds found on pages 56-63. So take a look at the quilting plans for those quilts to give you a better understanding of how to form the design.

The first thing I do when figuring out any design is sketch it first on paper. You can see in my rough drawing below, I tried a couple of different versions of the cursive L’s.

Sketch it. Then Quilt it.

Sketch it – then quilt it!

 At first I thought I would quilt the L’s and then echo them, but when I tried that on a practice sample, it didn’t look so good. I also thought of doing a more linear geometric version (in the upper left of my sketch) but that wasn’t right either. So I opted for two rows of cursive L’s, overlapping each other just like I overlapped the modern zig-zags in the gray areas of the quilt.

I tried quilting the L’s both horizontally and vertically and found it much easier to rotate the quilt so that I was quilting them vertically, from top to bottom in each row across the quilt.

Free Motion Quilting on Dot n Dash Quilt

I’ve rotated the quilt so I can quilt each row from top to bottom.

First Pass Across the Quilt

First, I did one pass of Cursive L’s across the quilt, starting on the upper right of the quilt, quilting one row at a time from top to bottom, and working my way toward the center. Once the quilt got too bulky in the middle, I rotated it and started from where I left off (center, top) to the other side of the quilt.

I’m using the same Aurifil gray thread (top and bobbin) that I’ve used for the whole quilt, and it blended in nicely on all the different Fandangle fabrics.

Cursive L's Free-motion quilting

Cursive L’s quilting – 1st pass across the quilt. Notice the gaps between the loops.

I recommend practicing a couple of times on scrap fabric and batting to get the hang of how you’ll form the design.

I’m not at all worried about the spacing of each motif or whether or not all of the loops are perfectly smooth. I’m aiming for texture over perfection. To get from one strip unit to the next, I’ll aim for the corner, or I’ll backtrack in the seam as needed to get to the next section to quilt. Notice that I’m treating the pieced units and the small gray background square as one area to quilt.

Cursive L's Free-Motion quilting

Head for the corners, or backtrack in the seams to get to each new section to quilt.

After the first row of Cursive L’s, I repeated the process, adding another row of L’s on top of the first row, intersecting the lines and quilting the design in opposite directions.

I squeezed in the second set of loops in the gaps between the previous loops. This added more texture and also made the imperfections less noticeable.

Second Pass Across the Quilt

Cursive L's detail quilting

Squeeze the second round of quilting in between the gaps of the first.

The more quilting you add to the quilt, the more thread you’ll use of course. So I would check your bobbin level at the end of a row of quilting and change it out as soon as it looks low (or pay attention to your bobbin indicator light if you have one on your machine).

Don’t play bobbin chicken!! I’d rather have a little leftover bobbin than run out in the middle of the quilt. If you are using cotton thread in your bobbin, you can always use the leftovers when piecing your next quilt.

Cursive L's Dense Quilting

I love using soft 100% cotton thread and natural fiber batting for my quilts.
This allows me to quilt densely while still ensuring a cuddly quilt!

Quilting Homework

Finish quilting the quilt! Feel free to mix and match quilting motifs from my books, or use some of your favorite designs. However you decided to quilt it, please share your quilt in progress in my Facebook group and on instragram #dotndashqal. I love seeing everyone’s work!

Next week, we’ll trim up the quilt and bind it to finish. I can’t wait!

Quilting at the Beach

I love how these surfboards at the beach match the coloring of my quilt!

Click here for the quilt along schedule, supply list, and links to all the tutorials.
Click here to purchase Fandangle precuts and coordinating yardage.

Behind the Scenes: My Design Process for Fandangle

Today I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of my fabric design process for Fandangle. The line includes 6 designs in multiple colorways so I’ll take you through the design process of 3 of them. (When my first line, Modern Marks came out, I shared a bit of my process along with some some of the rejects, and that got a lot of interest. Read about  that here.)

Fandangle Fabric

Click here to get yardage and bundles of Fandangle, while supplies last.

For Fandangle, I knew that I wanted it to coordinate with Modern Marks, but still stand on its own as a separate collection. In fact, as I was working on the line, I scattered some of the in-process paper swatches onto my Modern Marks Rainbow Taffy quilt, just to make sure they’d look good together:

Fandangle and Modern Marks

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the orange, yellow and green tone on tones are not the final versions I ended up with. Read more about those “rejects” below!

Whenever I design a line, I start with a concept and a rough color palette. When inspiration strikes, I can see what I want in my head, but the hard part is technically getting that into the computer to form a proper repeat. Fortunately, I work with a fabulous stylist and graphic designer at Benartex who can help translate my ideas into reality. I thought it would be fun to walk you through the design process of three of the prints so you can see how they evolved.

Evolution of Baubles and Bits

This print was the hardest to finalize and the one that took the most work. I knew I wanted to create a fun, funky medallion that would almost read as a floral. So we started with the basic medallion shape. You’ll notice that colors and designs change quite a bit during the process. First I finalize the shapes, and then the colors. So any in-process and designs and hues are always just placeholders.

First Try:

Second Try:

Baubles and Bits in Process

Third Try:

Final Design:

Baubles and Bits final design

Isn’t it fun to see how it evolves? Of course there were a lot of intermediate steps in between each image involving more sketches, lots of cutting and pasting, and the painstaking decisions to add or remove colors that didn’t work. Did you notice that I cut the purple? It just didn’t work this time around (although we were able to work in some nice pink and lilac). But don’t worry, purple will work its way into my fabrics in the future – I promise!!

Multiply these design and color changes by each print and color in the line and you can see what an involved process fabric design can be!

Triangle Trinkets Design Process

This print was a lot quicker to finalize. It began with a simple line-drawing sketch of my arrowheads quilting design in several different arrangements.

Original Concept:

Triangles sketches

Then we put the designs into the computer and tried different color groupings and design layouts to see what worked. The teal colorway was one of my favorites, but I thought the stripe arrangement below was too directional.

Good Color, Bad Layout:

Final Design:

Once the design was finalized, we recolored them in a dozen different colors that coordinated with the rest of the prints. It was hard to narrow it down to the final three colors I included in the line, but sadly, I knew I couldn’t include them all!

Fandangle fabric -Triangle Trinkets

Paper Cuts – the Tone on Tone Blender

This print was one I felt strongly about from the beginning. I knew exactly what I wanted but it took awhile to get there. Again, I started with a simple pen and ink sketch on paper, inspired by another one of my favorite free motion designs – jagged stipple.

Design Sketch:

The design team at Benartex wasn’t so sure it would translate well as a design, so we tried a couple other things first that I ultimately rejected. First of all, we revisited the boxes print from Modern Marks with a different take on the design.

Boxes Blender:

Boxes blender

Nice, but nope, that wasn’t it. It turned out very nice but was too close in concept to the boxes design from Modern Marks.

Loops and Strings:

blender loops

We tried something that looked like loops and strings, again based on one of my free-motion quilting designs. This print would have worked well, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Jagged Design – First Try:

Blender print

Finally, they were willing to let me try the jagged, edgy design that I really wanted with this line. The first iteration was a little too dense for my taste, so we spaced it out to give the design a little more breathing room.

Final Tone on Tone Design:

Paper Cuts design from Fandangle

It was worth all of the time and effort we put into this print! After the design and scale were finalized, the hardest part was naming it. “Jagged Stipple” didn’t really go with the other design names inspired by the idea of ornamentation and embellishment.

So I finally renamed it “Paper Cuts” because that sounded cutesy and crafty. The irregular jagged lines reminded me of small cuttings of paper. I almost named the print “scherenschnitte” which literally means “scissor cuts” but I knew people would have a hard time trying to pronounce that word it, let alone spell it, LOL!!

Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Fandangle Quilt PatternsClick here to get PDF versions of the Fandangle Quilt Patterns
Click here to get print versions of the Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Of course, once the prints were finalized as digital images, it took me nearly as long to come up with quilt patterns to showcase the fabrics effectively. Designing quilt patterns is a very similar process for me as fabric design: I start with an initial sketch, and tweak it until it feels right. All of this work was finalized before I even received fabrics to work with. It’s a long process for sure, but I enjoy every minute of it!

Fandangle Finalized

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo

I hope you enjoyed seeing this peek behind the curtain of how one designer’s process evolves. I know it’s different for each and every fabric designer, but so far this process has worked very well for me. I went through a similar process described above for all six prints in the line, but it was worth it to create a collection I love!

In fact, as I write this, I’m developing additional concepts, sketches, colorways, and ideas for future fabric lines. I’m starting to get the hang of how things works which each new collection I create, and it’s been such an incredible journey. As long as you all continue to love them as much as I do, I’ll have more to share in the coming months – so stay tuned!

Virtual Trunk Show of 63 Quilts from My Books

While I’m away teaching in Australia this week, I thought I’d share a virtual trunk show with you, so you can pretend that you are right here with me! I’m including all the quilts from all three of my books along with the book covers from each, so you can easily reference where to find them. Be sure to click the bonus links for more details about each quilt. So grab a treat and enjoy the show…

Quilts from Piece and Quilt with Precuts (2017)

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

All of the quilts in this book are precut friendly and each pattern includes piecing instructions and a quilting plan with diagrams and quilting suggestions. You can mix and match pieced patterns and quilting motifs to your heart’s content!

Squiggles – Original Version from the Book

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Squiggles by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Squiggles Remake using Modern Marks Fabric

Click here for the Quilt Along for this quilt.

Squiggles by Christa Watson

Gridwork – Original Version from the Book

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Gridwork by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Gridwork Remake by Vicky Holloway Using Modern Marks

Click here for Vicky’s blog post about this quilt.

Gridwork by Vicki Holloway

Frequency – Original Version from the Book

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Frequency by Christa Watson for Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Frequency – Mini remake using Modern Marks

Click here to read more about this collaboration between me and Leah Day.

Mini Frequency wiht Modern Marks

S.W.A.K

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

SWAK from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Starstruck – Original Version from the Book

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Starstruck by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Starstruck remake using Modern Marks

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Modern Starstuck by Christa Watson

Dot ‘n’ Dash – Original Version from the Book

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Dot 'n' Dash by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Dot ‘n’ Dash remake using Fandangle

Click here for the Quilt Along for this quilt.

Dot 'n Dash quilt by Christa Watson

Twinkling Diamonds

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Twinkling Diamonds by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Windows

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Windows from Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Kites

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Kites Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Arrows

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

Arrows from Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Spools – Original Version from the Book

Click here for the blog post about this quilt.

QuiltCon reject 2
Spools Remake by Hollyanne Knight Using Modern Marks

Click here for Hollyanne’s blog post about this quilt.

Spools from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Quilts from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting (2016)

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Angela Walters and I each made the same ten quilts in our own choice of fabrics and quilting motifs. There are 10 different patterns presented along with over 50 different machine quilting designs. Below are each of the 20 quilts we made showcasing different color combos and machine quilting suggestions.

Choosing Colors

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Choosing Colors by Christa Watson

Christa’s version – in rainbow order.

Choosing Colors made by Angela Walters

Angela’s version – mix it up and throw in a scrappy binding!

Swirling Butterflies

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Swirling Butterflies Wholecloth Quilt

Christa’s version – bold and contemporary.

Swirling Butterflies Angela Walters

Angela’s version – white and traditional.

Plumb Lines

Click here to read more about this quilt.

My version of Plumb Lines won 2nd Place, Modern at HMQS in 2016.

Plumb Lines Quilt

Christa’s version – free-motion alternatives to straight line quilting.

Plumb Lines Quilt

Angela’s version – peachy keen!!

Cornered

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Corned quilt by Christa Watson

Christa’s version – pretty in pink!

Cornered by Angela Walters

Angela’s version – make your friends green with envy when you learn how to quilt these motifs!

Directionally Challenged

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Directionally Challenged by Christa Watson

Christa’s Version in shades of blue with walking foot quilting and FMQ.

Directionally Challenged by Angela Walters

Angela’s version in red showing how to break down large blocks for quilting success.

Migration

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Migration Quilt

Christa’s version – grid quilting in warm earthy tones.

Migration by Angela Walters

Angela’s version – jewel box quilting with lots of negative space fillers.

Exploding Star

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Exploding Star by Christa Watson

Christa’s version using Angela’s fabrics with walking foot continuous spiral quilting.

Exploding Star by Angela Walters

Angela’s version quilted with multi-sized spirals.

fractured squares

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Fractured_Squares_Christa

Christa’s version – completely quilted with a walking foot.

Fractured_Squares_Angela

Angela’s version – having fun with improv borders!

Quatrefoil Applique

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Quatrefoil-Applique_Christa

Christa’s version – it’s a machine quilting sampler!

Quatrefoil-Applique_Angela

Angela’s version – bold and dramatic.

U-Turns

Click here to read more about this quilt.

U-Turns_Christa

Christa’s version – cool teal solids with a touch of print.

U-Turns_Angela

Angela’s version – perfect for practicing turning a corner!

Quilts from Machine Quilting with Style (2015)

Click each highlighted link below each image for more about that quilt.

Machine Quilting With Style

13 friends each remade the 12 quilts + 1 of the backings. I have included their versions, too. Photography of my quilts courtesy of Martingale and Brent Kane. Here’s the order in which they are presented in the book:

ripplesRipples, made by me

ripples_melissa

Ripples, made by Melissa Corry and her MIL Barbara

mqws_rainRain, made by me
Juried into QuiltCon 2016
Shown at MQG Exhibit at Int’l Quilt Festival

rain_drizzle_cheryl

Drizzle, made by Cheryl Brickey

color crystals.Color Crystals, made by me

colorcrystals_vicki

Color Crystals, made by Vicki Ruebel
Honorable Mention, PIQF 2015
Faculty Award, MQX New England 2016

technicolor_backing

Technicolor backing made by me

technicolorbacking_ida

Urban sunrise, made by Ida Ewing
Best Machine Quilting, Pahrump Quilt Show 2016

Little Man's FancyLittle Man’s Fancy, made by me

littlemansfancy_tina

Little Man’s Fancy, made by Tina Guthmann

staticStatic, made by me

static_quilt_lee

Static, made by Lee Heinrich

square in a squareSquare in a Square, made by me
Juried into Road to California, 2016

squareinasquare_stacy

Square in a Square, made by Stacy Cooper

focal_point

Focal Point, made by me
Juried into QuiltCon 2016

Focal Point - Chic Neutrals no lines

Focal Point, recolored in EQ7 using Chic Neutrals fabric from Amy Ellis

focalpoint_amy

Focal Point, made by Amy Garro

Lightning and backing

Lightning, made by me
Bonus backing tutorial from Martingale
Juried into Road to California 2016

lightning_leannePink, made by Leanne Chahley

Candy_PopCandy Pop, made by me
Awarded 3rd Place, Applique at DQN 2016 Quilt Show

candypop_linda

Candy Pop, made by Linda Hungerford

BrokenVBroken V, made by me

brokenv_sharon

Broken V, made by Sharon McConnell

Facets_Kona

Facets, made by me
2nd Place Modern, AQS Paducah 2016
Juried into AQS Phoenix 2016
Quilt Along Blog Series 2016

facets_kristy

Facets, made by Kristy Daum

Finals B1324.inddPearl Gray, made by me
1st Place Large, Single Maker, DQN 2016 Quilt Show

pearl_gray_alyce

Pearl Gray, made by Alyce Blyth

Click Here for Signed Copies of All 3 Books

Books by Christa Watson

 

Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Week 5 – Backing and Basting

I love quilt alongs and the best part is seeing the variety you all are making! It makes my day. 🙂
This week we are getting down to the nitty gritty and getting the quilt ready for machine quilting next week. But don’t worry, if you aren’t to that point yet, that’s perfectly fine. These quilt along posts will stay up indefinitely and you can always refer back to the intro post for links to each specific QAL step.

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the quilt along schedule and supply list.

Preparation is Key

Getting ready to machine quilt is a little like getting ready to paint a house. The actual painting isn’t hard – it’s all the prep work (ike moving furniture and taping down the windows) that takes time and gets in the way of the fun part. So take your time to prepare the quilt and baste it and don’t feel like you have to rush this part. In fact, I always set aside a separate day for backing and basting and then give myself a little reward when my least favorite part of the process is finished!

A tip on choosing batting: if you want to hide machine quilting “irregularities” and give your quilt that antique puckered look, choose a cotton batting like Hobbs or Quilter’s Dream. If you want to give your stitches more definition and a loftier look, choose wool. I usually stay away from polyester batting because it’s very slippery and usually causes me to get puckers on the back of my quilt. Cotton and wool cling to the quilt which gives you better control while quilting.

Quilt Batting Used in Dot n Dash Quilt

Take a picture of your batting with your quilt top so you can remember what you used.

Sewing the Backing Fabric

You want to ensure that the backing fabric is at least 3-4″ bigger on all sides of the quilt top, more if you plan to long arm quilt. The easiest way to do this is to cut two large pieces of fabric and sew them together. For example, my quilt measures 60 x 72. So If I cut 4 yards into 2 two -yard pieces that will give me one big rectangle approximately 72″ x 80″ to work with once the chunks are sewn together parallel to the selvage.

Sewn Quilt Backing

I basted this quilt at a recent teaching retreat I participated in. All you need is one table for basting – work on the middle and then the sides as needed.

Spray Basting the Quilt

If you prefer to pin baste, click here for an alternate tutorial.

My basic method for spray basting is to spray the wrong side of the top and bottom layers of the quilt outside, then bring them inside for assembly. For a slight variation of this technique, click here for my wall basting tutorial.

My favorite basting spray is 505. Be sure to shake the can before you use it and spray a little on a scrap to make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged. If the spray doesn’t flow out evenly, some of the chemical can accumulate and leave a stain on your quilt, so always test it first.

Spray Basting the Quilt

At first I tried an off brand that a friend had but I didn’t like it because it wasn’t sticky enough. Fortunately one of the other retreaters had some 505 which they let me use for my quilt!

The basting spray does not cause any problems with machine quilting, and if you notice it starting to gum up the needle at all, just wipe it away and you’ll be all set!

Lay out all 3 layers of the quilt – backing, batting, and quilt top on a large table (or design wall). Spend time smoothing out each layer with a long acrylic ruler before adding the next layer. This can take awhile but is worth it so that the quilt is nice, flat and smooth.

Quilt Basting

Notice the leftover batting – most of it will get trimmed away after basting. I like enough extra batting and backing so that I don’t have to worry about getting my quilt top perfectly centered.

You can also use the acrylic ruler to scooch any quilt blocks back into place and straighten out any wonky seams as needed. Smooth out any bubbles as needed so that the quilt is nice and flat.

The last step is to iron the quilts on both sides – front and back. This helps set the glue and allows you to work out any wrinkles one last time before you quilt. I use a hot dry iron ,with no steam. You can iron the quilt on an ironing board, or on a table to give you more room. Because there’s batting inside, the quilt acts as it’s own pressing surface.

Iron the basted quilt to set the glue

My quilt is basted and ready to quilt!

Now it’s your turn! Get your quilt basted and we’ll start machine quilting next week. We’ll have extra time for quilting since it’s my favorite part!

Show Your Work

Don’t forget to share your progress in one of 3 ways (or all of them if you like):
(1) In my Christa Quilts Facebook group
(2) On Instagram, #dotndashqal
(3) Share a link to your blog, or leave a comment about your process on this post.

Dot n Dash Ready to quilt

Trim the batting so that there’s only 1-2 inches sticking out on all sides of the quilt. This will prevent the excess from flipping under the quilt and getting caught in the machine.

Free Pattern for Fandangle in Modern by the Yard

The latest issue of Modern by the Yard was just published by Benartex. It’s a free quarterly online magazine published to help promote their fabric collections and it always features lots of amazing designs.

Free Quilt Pattern for Fandangle

My friend Vicki from Orchid Owl Quilts designed and made this gorgeous quilt, Teal Appeal from Fandangle, which is featured on the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Get the Pattern and Fabric to make teal appeal

Click here to download issue #9 of Modern by the Yard
Click here to purchase Fandangle bundles and yardage while supplies last.

The pattern includes a complete materials list and step-by-step full color illustrations. I think it’s so clever that Vicki chose the teal confetti crosshatch print as the background. I’ve really been enjoying seeing what other designers have been making from my fabrics. It’s always fun to see how folks combine the prints and really make them sparkle!

Free-Motion Inspiration

Christa Watson and Amanda Murphy

In the issue, there’s also an interview with me and fellow fabric designer Amanda Murphy about how our machine quilting designs often influence our fabric lines, so be sure to read about that, too!

There’s also a really fun block-study in the ezine called “Modern with a Twist.” Three designers are each challenged with putting  a modern spin on a traditional block and this issue’s block is the drunkard’s path.

Chris Dodsley came up with this really cool variation that showcases some of the cool-colored Fandangle prints. She even went the extra step and created a fun layout which she talks about more in depth on her blog -click here to see more.

Block Study – Drunkard’s Path

Modern Drunkard's path by Chrissie D

I hope you check out Modern by the Yard from Benartex. I love that they offer a source of inspiration to make fun things from their fabrics, and can’t wait for the next issue!

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 4 – Sewing the Quilt Top

Did you finish your quilt blocks from last week? How is it going? Be sure to share your progress over in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group and/or on instagram using the hashtag #dotndashqal.

Finished Dot n Dash Quilt Blocks

Today we will be laying out our blocks and sewing them together to make the quilt top. The most important thing to remember is that each row in the quilt goes in opposite directions, so separate your blocks into two piles, A and B.

See pages 53-54 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for specific directions.

It’s super helpful to lay out all 30 blocks on a design wall or other larger surface area. If you have a design floor or a design bed, that will work, too! Take as much time as you need to orient your blocks in the correct position with a nice color distribution of prints.

Dot 'n Dash Quilt Along

All blocks are laid out in order on the design wall, and ready to sew.
Take a picture with your camera phone to refer to as you piece the rows.

Pinning and Pressing

The key to a really nice flat quilt top is pinning and pressing. I prefer to press all seams open for the entire quilt and sew with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of the default 2.5.) However, if you choose to press to the side, that’s ok, too. Just be sure to press each and every seam as you go with a hot, dry iron.

Dot n Dash piecing detail

My corners match up nicely because I pressed each seam, and pinned each intersection.

Here’s a tip for managing the bulk of the quilt top while sewing and pressing: Sew the block rows together into pairs of two. Then press each pair of rows before joining larger sections together. The quilt to will shrink up a bit once it’s all joined, but you can always add more blocks or a border to make it larger if you like.

Dot 'n Dash finished quilt top made from Fandangle Fabric

My finished quilt top – ready to baste in next week’s lesson!

Take a Victory Lap!

Whenever I’m making a quilt top with blocks that go all the way to the edge (no borders), there is a chance that the edge seams could split open. To prevent this, I take a “victory lap” around the edges – sew with a larger stitch length approximately 1/8″ in from the edge of the quilt around the entire perimeter. It feels like a great way to celebrate the finished top!

Here’s what the edge stitching looks like from another quilt I recently made:

Victory lap around the quilt to secure the edges

By sewing with a larger stitch near the edge of the quilt, the stitching line will get covered by the binding. This secures the edge seams from splitting open during all of the rough handling that will occur with basting and quilting.

Jump in any time!

If you are just joining the quilt along, remember you can work at your own pace. Please don’t ever feel like you are “behind” as that’s never the case. And if you want to work ahead, that’s great, too! I’m just glad you are following along, either on your own version of the quilt, or virtually in your head!

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List
Click here to purchase the Fandangle Strip-pie or other precuts.
Click here to purchase a signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

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!!