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

Piece and Quilt Hop Along Week 3 and 4

My friends Kristin, Vicki, and HollyAnne are doing such an amazing job remaking quilts from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Let’s check out what’s been happening with them the last couple of weeks:

Kristin Esser

Squiggles by Kristin Esser, from Christa Watson's book Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Kristin created a fabulous finish with her version of Squiggles from the book. Her walking foot quilting looks fantastic and she also shares a bit of free-motion quilting practice she did as she gets ready to create a second quilt from the book! You’ll need to hop over to her blog to see which one she’s going to make next!!

Click here to see Kristin’s Week 3 Progress
Click here to see Kristin’s Week 4 Progress

Vicki from My Creative Corner 3

Vicki Quilting Gridwork

Vicki finished up her Gridwork quilt top last week and has started quilting it this week. I just love the texture that quilting adds to a quilt!! She also shares more practice blocks she’s creating to make her own sampler from the book.

Click here to see Vicki’s Week 3 Progress
Click here to see Vicki’s Week 4 Progress

HollyAnne from STring and Story

Improv quilting

HollyAnne is adding some fabulous “free-motion improv” to her Spools quilt. She’s utilizing a technique that I first introduced in the book I wrote with Angela Walters which I call “improvisational” machine quilting. I revisited the idea with Spools because I thought that some improv piecing deserved a bit of improv quilting to go right along with it!!

Click here to see HollyAnne’s Week 3 Progress
Click here to see HollyAnne’s Week 4 Progress

If you are enjoying watching their progress, be sure and check out the earlier blog hop they did from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. These gals are proof positive that “Practice Makes Progress!!”

Click here for the Machine Quilting Blog Hop

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Join Me at John C. Campbell Folkschool Next Year and Make a Complete Quilt from Start to Finish!

Next June I have the great pleasure of returning to John. C. Campbell Folkschool for the third time, to teach my popular start-to-finish quilting class. This is the one class I teach that walks you through every step of the quilt making process: cutting, piecing, basting, machine quilting, and binding. And we do it all in a one fun-filled week full of sewing, friendship, great food, and fun!

Registration Open Now

Click here to register for my class : Modern Quilting 101 – Stepping Stones.
Class dates are June 3-8, 2018

Stepping Stones quilt pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Click here to purchase a print copy of Stepping Stones quilt pattern.
Click here to purchase a downloadable PDF copy of Stepping Stones quilt pattern.

Each year at the Folkschool, I’ve focused on a different pattern. Next year’s group will be making my Stepping Stones quilt pattern seen here. The best part about being the teacher is getting to see the beautiful quilts my students make. Although they are all working through the same pattern, they turn out so unique, based on the fabrics and quilting each person chooses.

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

I quilted a simple geometric free-motion design for my quilt. I’ll teach several options in class!

This is the most intense but satisfying class I teach. Think of it as an intimate week-long retreat with me where I’ll share all of my secrets and guide you every step of the way! Class size is limited to just 12 participants so that everyone has plenty of one-on-one instruction. Students have several housing options and I have to say, the food they serve is the best southern cooking I’ve had. Seriously, you could come JUST for the food!!

Folkschool Fiber Studio

This is the fiber studio where our classes take place. There’s tons of room for everyone!

Last Year, students made my Charming Chevrons quilt pattern. They were able to make the quilt in different sizes, according to their needs, and they all turned out beautifully! By the end of the week, we were all BFF’s and it’s been so great seeing their continued quilting success!

Charming Chevrons class

Click here to read more about last year’s fun quilt class!

Click here to purchase Charming Chevrons Quilt Pattern.

In 2015, Students made quilts using my Modern Logs Quilt Pattern. This was my first time teaching at the Folkschool. As you can tell, it was so fun I’ve simply had to return each time they’ve invited me back! At the end of the week, the quilts are always the star of the show during the student show and tell. While I’m teaching my class there are at least a dozen other folk arts and crafts being taught at the same time.

Folkschool 2015

Click here to read more about the class of 2015. It will give you an idea of what to expect.

Click here to purchase Modern Logs Quilt Pattern.

I can’t wait to return next summer and I hope you’ll join me. Several of my industry friends also teach there, so if you aren’t able to take a class from me, check out their online catalog to find another awesome class that will fit your schedule. It’s sure to be an amazing experience!

John Campbell Folk School

I can’t wait to return!

Important Folk School Links:

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Newest Quilt Patterns Now in Print

I have fun news to share today. In between unpacking for one trip and getting ready for the next, I managed to get my latest two patterns printed for those of you who like working from a physical copy. To make it easier to buy them directly from me, I also set up a store at shop.christaquilts.com where you can pay with a credit card or paypal and I can ship anywhere in the world! I’ve also set a flat US shipping rate for the patterns so you only pay one small fee, no matter how many patterns you order. 🙂

Christa Quilts Patterns

Click here to order a printed pattern of Positive Direction or Stepping Stones.

In both quilt patterns I’ve included 4 sizes along with machine quilting suggestions. After all, I want to help you beyond “Quilt as Desired!”

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

If you are a shop looking to order wholesale, please email me at christa@christaquilts.com and I’ll help you access the wholesale section of my site.

Stepping Stones by Christa Watson

Outdoor photography take by my husband Jason in the desert behind our home.

Click here to order any of the 6 print patterns I currently have in stock.
Now it’s time to go work on the next one!

Modern Triangle Quilts by Rebecca Bryan

I’m so excited to be part of Rebecca Bryan’s blog hop for her brand new book Modern Triangle Quilts. It includes patterns for 70 different triangle blocks set into 11 different samplers.

“Becca” and I first met at QuiltCon in 2013 before either of us had dreams to become authors and we hit it off right away. We got to know each other pretty well since then and solidfied our friendship when we both got the opportunity to film a quilting segment for QNNtv back in 2015. She’s one of those go-to people I can message at any time and she’ll offer a kind word of support when I most need it!

Christa Watson and Becca Bryan

Becca and I enjoying dessert together after QNN taping back in 2015.

Modern Triangle Quilts is actually her second book. (I highly recommend her first book, Modern Rainbow, too!) I was so excited for her when her quilt Equilateral Sampler won 2nd place in the Minimalism category at QuiltCon. This is definitely my favorite quilt in her book, but they are all so fab!

Rebecca Bryan Equilateral Triangle quilt at QuiltCon

Don’t you just love that expression on her face? She was freaking out, just a little!!

I really like this one, too, called “Twilight.” The modern triangle blocks are grouped together into four types: equilateral triangles, right triangles, and isosceles triangles, with a sampler for each.

For the blog hop, Becca asked each of us who participated, to make one of the blocks from her book that she assembled into a beautiful quilt for a charity fundraiser. First, here’s the block that I made:

And here’s the gorgeous quilt that Becca put together will all of our block contributions. Isn’t it just stunning? But wait.. there’s more!!

Modern Triangle Quilt by Becca Bryan

Becca is offering the pattern to make this quilt for a limited time and all proceeds go to the Living Water International charity that focuses on bringing water wells to communities without a safe place to get clean water. If that isn’t reason enough to get the pattern, here’s one more reason: she’ll be giving the quilt away to one lucky person who supports this worthy cause. For complete details on the contest and pattern fundraiser, visit Bryan House Quilts.

And because Becca is so giving, here’s another thing, just for you! She’s also offering a separate freebie for all of her newsletter subscribers! Bright, shown above, was cut from the book due to space limitations, but you can get this pattern free!

Click here to read more about this fabulous design and get the pattern.

Then, be sure to pick up your copy of Modern Triangle Quilts from Amazon, or from your favorite quilt shop or book retailer! And now, for more inspiration be sure to visit the rest of the blog tour participants to see how they were inspired by the book!

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Quilt Las Vegas 2017 is this weekend: come watch me quilt!

If you will be in or near the Las Vegas area March 30-April 1, be sure and check out Quilt Las Vegas, put on by the Desert Quilters of Nevada, my local quilt guild.

Quilt Las Vegas 2017

Quilt Las Vegas

I will be at the show on Saturday, April 1 from 10-1 in the Sew Yeah Quilting booth, signing books and machine quilting live and “in the cloth!” Be sure to stop by for a chat and watch me demo some free-motion quilting on a beautiful new BERNINA!

Christa Quilts Show Entries

I will also have 4 quilts hanging in the show. Clockwise from top: Fractured Puzzle, Churn Dash Slide, Quatrefoil Applique and Swirling Butterflies. (Click on each of the names for more detail about each quilt.)

It’s always exciting to see if any of them will pick up a ribbon. But even if they don’t, this show gives some of the best feedback which always helps me improv my quilts for next time. 🙂

Christa Quilts Machine Quilting Demo

If you don’t already have my books, you can grab a copy of either at the show and I’ll be glad to personalize it for you. If you plan on attending, please let me know – I’d love to see you there!

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