Squiggles Quilt Along Week 6 – Machine Quilting Tips

This week we get to my favorite part of any quilt – the machine quilting!! For Squiggles, I quilted it with my walking foot. I always recommend starting off with walking foot quilting for beginners because it really is no-fail quilting. In the book, I show you how to quilt organic, squiggly lines with the walking foot, for the original version made from Pat Sloan’s The Sweet Life charm packs:

Machine Quilting Ideas

Squiggles Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

The original version of Squiggles: pattern & quilting instructions available in my latest book.
Click here to get your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.
Click here to purchase The Sweet Life charm packs seen above, while they last.

If you’d like to quilt fun, fast and easy squiggle lines, follow along in the book on page 19 to see the instructions and quilting plan for Squiggles

Another quick and easy way to finish this would be to quilt a wavy grid, following the directions for “Gridwork” on pages 26-27. Check out a closeup of the wavy grid quilting below:

Gridwork quilting with a walking foot

For my Squiggles remake from Modern Marks fabric, I wanted to try out a different design that I mention briefly in the book on page 21 as a “make it your own” idea.  Rather than quilting wavy lines, try quilting irregularly spaced “straight-ish” parallel lines to create a random crosshatch grid.

Random crosshatch quilting

I chose a highly contrasting Aurifil thread in Jade so that it would show up on the busy prints.
The thread is from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Colors.

Random Crosshatch Quilting Tips

Here are a few tips on how I approached quilting the second version of Squiggles:

Machine Quilting Squiggles

I always start quilting on the right hand side of the quilt and “scrunch and smoosh” the bulk of the quilt as I go. First I make one pass across the quilt in both directions to anchor the quilt for more quilting later. This breaks up the quilting, secures it in place, and allows me flexibility on how densely I want to quilt it.

Start and end off the quilt

I try to choose designs that allow me to start and end each line of stitching off of the quilt in the batting. Then I don’t have to tie off all those pesky threads!! For best results when using walking foot/dual feed quilting, try to stitch in one direction rather than stitching the lines up and down or back and forth across the quilt.

It will help prevent puckers or “whiskering” that looks like little creases caused by the shifting of the fabric. I make one pass across the quilt from right to left, quilting “anchor” lines depending on how wide the blocks are. Then I rotate the quilt when I reach the middle, and keep on going to the other side.

Use gloves to move the quilt

I wear Machingers gloves to help grip the quilt and give me a little more power when I push the quilt through the machine. I also use my hands as a hoop and only focus on the area I’m quilting between my hands. It’s not a very larger area, so I re-position my hands and the quilt A LOT while quilting, and that’s ok!

For the random crosshatch, some of the “anchor” lines will be in the ditch, while some of them may be randomly to the side of the ditch. Below are three different ways that I mark or randomly quilt straight lines across the quilt:

Marking With a Washable Pen

Marking Straight Lines

Use an acrylic ruler and washable marking pen to mark guidelines if needed. I used a combination of marking and eyeballing when quilting my straight-ish lines. Mostly I changed it up so I could dry out several different methods. Hey, what I can I say? I’m always experimenting!

Painter’s Tape

Use Painter's Tape as a Guide

Painter’s tape is one of my favorite marking tools! I can place it at random intervals, using my long acrylic ruler to keep the lines straight. The best part about quilting random lines is that I can stitch along both sides of the tape to quilt 2 lines at a time!

Bonus tip: rather than putting the needle next to the tape, put the edge of your quilting foot next to the tape. It will space the lines out a little wider, and you won’t accidentally stitch through the tape!!

Walking Foot Guide Bar

Using a guide bar for quilting

You can also use a guide bar to follow along a seam line, or previously quilted line. Just decide how far apart you want your lines, and adjust the width of the guide bar appropriately.

Notice that I’m using the BERNINA dual feed rather than a walking foot. My machine has a built in mechanism that attaches to the back of a specialty “D” foot, giving me more options of which foot I can use. It acts just like a walking foot and performs the same function. I also like using an open toe so I can see exactly where the needle is stitching.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

Here’s what Squiggles is looking like after a few random passes across the quilt in both directions.

Keep on Quilting!

Walking Foot Quilting

Continue quilting randomly spaced liens both horizontally and vertically across the quilt until you are happy with the spacing. The hardest part is knowing when to stop!!

Machine Quilting Random crosshatch

Click here to purchase a Squiggles Quilt Kit made from Modern Marks fabric.

And just remember, if you aren’t happy with the way it looks, just keep quilting. When I had only quilted a few lines on the quilt, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like the end result, and the thread really stood out like a sore thumb. However, once I added more lines, all of the sudden, I couldn’t see any of the imperfections, and I love the amazing texture that was created!

Remember to share your progress!

Part of the fun of any quilt-along is seeing all of the variety everyone is making. Check out my ChristaQuilts group on Facebook to cheer on your fellow quilt-alongers and post pics of your WIP’s (works in progress). You can also tag me on instagram @christaquilts and #squigglesqal.

The next post will go up in 2 weeks, giving everyone a chance to catch up on their progress!
Click here for the previous Squiggles Quilt Along tutorials.

Meet Me at QuiltCon 2018: My Schedule of Events

I’m super excited for QuiltCon 2018 which takes place next week, February 22-25 in Pasadena California. Although I taught there the last 2 years, this year I’m excited to take it a little bit easier by being a student and attendee, and I can’t wait. However, I’ll still be super busy with a full lineup! If you plan to attend, I’d love to see you at one of my events listed below:

Christa’s QuiltCon Schedule

Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs

On Thurs. Feb 22, from 12:15-1:15 I’ll be in the Hobbs Batting Booth #122 for a meet ‘n greet. I’ll have some small samples on display and will be happy to answer your questions about batting, machine quilting, and anything else! Rumor has it, there might even be a giveaway!!
Later that day, I’ll be helping out as a general volunteer from 4-6 PM. I’m sure I’ll be wandering the show, pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is truly one of the best ways to get the most out of any show!
Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs
On Fri. Feb 23, from 12:30-1:30 I’ll be having a book signing with InTown Quilters at booth #624. They’ll have copies of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for sale and some Modern Marks precuts. If you know you’ll be at the show and want to reserve a copy of the book ahead of time, be sure and contact them right away before they sell out.
star Shadow by Christa Watson
Star Shadow, designed and made by Christa Watson, featuring Modern Marks
On Saturday, Feb 24 from 10-11:30 I’ll be hanging out tin the Modern Quilts Unlimited Booth #105. They will have my quilt Star Shadow on display, and you can get the pattern in their latest magazine issue! For those of you enjoying Quiltcon from home, click here to purchase the latest issue #22.
Christa at QuiltCon with BERNINA
Later that day, starting on Saturday at 1:15 PM, I’ll be performing a live machine quilting demo on stage, followed by a Meet ‘n Greet & book signing in the BERNINA booth #502. I’m pretty sure BERNINA will have a machine or two in their booth that you can try out and see why it’s my favorite sewing machine!
The MQG book
Finally, I’ll end my day on Saturday from 5:30-7:30 hanging out at The MQG Book Signing Party, to celebrate the launch of the new book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. I was thrilled to have 2 of my quilts featured in the book, which you can read about here.
QuiltCon 2018
I have to say, QuiltCon is my absolute favorite event – it features over 300 modern quilts and tons of great vendors. So far I’ve gone to every single show (since the first one in 2013). QuiltCon changed the course of my quilting career for the better and I’ve been pleased to have at least one of my quilts included in the show each time. For those not able to attend be sure to follow #quiltcon on social media, and check out a fun event that will be happing at the same time: #quiltconfromhome.

check out My Other posts from Prior QuiltCons:

Squiggles Quilt Along Week 2 – Making the Blocks

I sure have enjoyed seeing pictures of the fabrics everyone is using so far to make their Squiggles quilts. (Check out my facebook group and #squigglesqal on Instragram.) One of my favorite parts of any Quilt Along is seeing how different fabric choices affect the look of a quilt made from the same pattern. Even those who purchased Squiggles quilt kits will end up looking different because of the fabric placement.

Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I’m remaking Squiggles from my book using my Modern Marks Fabric.
Click here to purchase a kit with black or white background.

Making the Quilt Blocks

This week it’s time to make the Squiggles blocks! Turn to page 16-17 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for instructions on making the individual units and sewing them into quilt blocks.

Squiggles Unit – See the book for how many to make and what size squares to  use.

Once the units are complete, randomly sew them together to make pairs of “C” blocks:

Squiggles Block from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

C is for Christa, right?? Just kidding!!

Bonus Piecing Tips

In order to get my quilt top really flat for easier domestic machine quilting, I prefer to press all of my seams open while sewing the blocks. Contrary to popular myth this will not weaken the seams.

Because I’m using bold prints with a black background, I pieced them together using a darker thread – Aurifl 50 weight cotton #4241 Very Dark Gray. This makes it less likely that thread will show through the seams when they are pressed open.

 

 

I’m using very dark gray from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt Collection – Neutrals

I also used a shorter stitch length to help secure the seams. For example, the default stitch length on my BERNINA is set to 2.5. I turn it all the way down to 2.0 while piecing so that the seams ends don’t come apart. Smaller stitches also helps ensure that you don’t see the thread peaking through the seams. If you don’t want to use a shorter stitch length, you can instead back stitch each set of units at the start and end of each unit while chain piecing.

Sharing is Caring

Next week it will be time to sew the blocks into the quilt top! In the meantime be sure and post pictures of your progress in my facebook group, and share them on instagram using the hashtag #squigglesqal. (You can also tag me on instagram @christaquilts). I love it when we all cheer each other on!

In fact, check out this fun mini quilt that Leslie Frost made from the corners that are leftover when you make the blocks. Isn’t it cute??

Squiggles Leftovers

Use up the leftover corners in a mini quilt or throw them in your scrap pile.

For a limited time I have Modern Marks Squiggles Kits available with a black or white background. But once they’re gone – they’re gone!!

Suiggles with Modern Marks

If you are just joining the quilt along, click here for the complete schedule.

 

 

Christa’s Soap Box – A Look Back at 2017

I debated on whether or not to do a “year end” blog post like so many do. But then I realized, it’s been a very busy year! Can I distill it down to just a few snippets? So I decided to focus on one memorable event for each month of 2017. Here’s a snapshot of what happened this year:

January – An Injury & A Visit

Angela Walters and Christa Watson

My buddy and co-author Angela Walters came to visit my local guild in January, so she got to see me sporting my fashionable elbow sling! Thank goodness I love to wear black and white, LOL!!
Click here to see the book we wrote together in 2016.

The year didn’t start off so great. After trying to get healthy and fit, I dislocated my left elbow when I fell from a climbing wall at the gym. This is an activity where you free-climb indoors without ropes and there’s padding on the floors to catch your fall. I was great at climbing, but not so great at falling. I’ve now learned that when you fall, it’s best to tuck and roll and NOT reach your arm out to break the fall!!

It’s taken the majority of the year for me recover and heal completely, but I’ve been working on a safer workout routine, and next year is shaping up to be the year I finally recover my fitness. Here’s to a healthy 2018!

February – Lots of Teaching!

Machine Quilting Student Work at QuiltCon 2017Student work from one of my classes at QuiltCon.
Click here to read my blog post about QuiltCon 2017.

I taught at QuiltCon for the second time in a row and loved it! The only downside is that I was so busy teaching, I barely had time to enjoy the show! I look forward to attending QuiltCon 2018 and NOT having to teach so I’ll have plenty of time to view each and every quilt! (They prefer to not book the same instructors more than a couple of years in a row, to give others a chance to teach.)

March – Lots of Ribbons!

Churn Dash Slide

Churn Dash Slide – 1st place single entrant category at DQN Quilt Las Vegas 2017.
Click here to read more about my local guild’s quilt show in 2017 and a new milestone.

I attended my local guild’s show and entered quilts as I do every year. It’s a fabulous show for a local event and I usually pull a ribbon each time I enter. This year was a new milestone for me as every quilt I entered (there’s a limit of 4) earned a ribbon. I consider this a win for domestic machine quilting since many of the quilts are judged against professional long arm quilting. It just goes to show that the machine you use doesn’t matter as much as your willingness to do good work, no matter the tools. 🙂

April – Lots of Patterns!

Christa Quilts Patterns

Click here to see my full collection of printed quilt patterns.
Click here to see my full collection of PDF quilt patterns.

After a few fits and starts, I released several new quilt patterns. Originally the goal was to release them on a regular schedule, but other, more exciting projects kept getting in the way. This was also the point at which I realized I do much better working with other companies to create new and exciting content rather than trying to do things entirely on my own. (Look for more patterns next year as I plan the releases to coincide with new fabric lines.)

May – An Anniversary Celebration

Christa & Jason at the Beach

Here’s to another 24 years of love and marriage!
This was us at the beach a couple of anniversaries ago and it’s still my favorite place to hang out!!

I celebrated 24 years of marriage with the love of my life, Jason. We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the last two decades and we feel like we are finally figuring out this marriage and work-at-home thing!! (Yes, we got married young – I hadn’t even turned 20 yet and he was almost 23. Now that we have children approaching that age, I realize how young that truly is!!)

June – Judging Beautiful Quilts

Best Modern Quilt Vermont Quilt Festival 2017

Best Modern Quilt at Vermont Quilt Festival by Anya Byam of Burlington, VT
Click here to read more about my judging experience at the show.

I judged my very first quilt show! I was brought into the Vermont Quilt Festival to add my modern voice to the talented pool of judges they solicit each year. It was amazing to get up close and personal with each and every quilt and see the detail and love stitched into each one. I was on my feet for 6 days straight – 2 days of judging and then another 4 days teaching, so I don’t know that I would be keen to combine both types of work in the future, but It was a fabulous experience nonetheless.

July – 2nd Craftsy Class Release

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Click here to get 50% off my 2nd Craftsy class Startup Library: Quilting
Click here to get 50% off my 1st Craftsy class: The Quilter’s Path

I launched my second online Craftsy class, Startup Library – Quilting. This workshop is 3 times longer than my first class and was created as a basic introductory course for brand new quilters, or those who’d like to freshen up their quilting education. Working with the folks at Craftsy is such a treat, and they are so professional! They produce top notch videos and I plan to continue to work with them to launch additional classes in the future.

August – 3rd Book Release

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Click here to get your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

I released my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Just like my previous two books, it includes start to finish instruction for making the quilt top, plus strategies and step by step diagrams on how to quilt them. After writing 3 books in a row non-stop, I’m taking a little breather to catch my breath before starting on the next one!

September – More Teaching!

Teaching at MQX quilt show

Setting up for my class at the fall MQX quilt show.
Click here for info about next year’s shows – spring and fall.

I taught at MQX quilt show for the first time (and will be returning again in the spring of 2019). This show is special to me because it’s the first national quilt show where I received a ribbon. Back in 2013 I entered my String of Pearls quilt in their newly created “Quilting the Modern Way” category. I received an honorable mention but to me it felt like best in show!

October – First Fabric Release

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here to get a fat quarter bundle of Modern Marks, while supplies last.

I launched my first line of fabric, Modern Marks at international quilt market in Houston Texas. Fabric design has long been a dream of mine and it was so gratifying to achieve this goal. So far it has been well received and my hope is to continue designing 1-2 fabric collections a year for as long as it is sustainable.

November – Family Fun!

Watson Family Dia De Los Muertos

We get silly with the extended family at holiday time each year. My MIL creates an elaborate scavenger hunt and we all dress up based on a movie theme for the year. This year’s theme was “Day of the Dead” from the Disney movie Coco. We’re celebrating the fact that we’ll be headed to a fun family reunion in the Mexican Riviera next year and we can’t wait!

I spent a lot of time enjoying time with my family. 2018 will be a big transition year for us – the oldest heads off to college and the next oldest graduates from high school. The youngest who has been home-schooled the past 6 years wants to go to regular high school (for her sophomore year) to see what that is all about. We may actually have some time in 2018 where it’s just the two of us at home during the day – I can’t even imagine what that will look like, or how quiet it will be, LOL!!

December – More In-Person Quality, Less Online Quantity

Teaching at Quilt Addicts Anonymous

I love connecting with others face to face in class and at fun events.
Click here to read my post on simplifying social media.

I traveled to my last teaching event of the year at my friend Stephanie’s shop, Quilt Addicts Anonymous. It was a crazy busy, but fun year of teaching! I did a total of 17 multi-day teaching events in 2017 and realized that as much as I love it, that’s a bit too much. I’ve decided to slightly scale back and limit my travels to no more than 1 event per month, and I’m still booked solid for the next two years.

I also decided to simplify my social media to focus on more quality and less quantity. Although it’s only been a few weeks since I made the switch, I’m already enjoying more time and head space for me to truly do what I love – create!

I hope you had a fabulous 2017 and are looking forward to more quilty fun in 2018!!

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!!

Mini Frequency – A Collaboration with Leah Day

Today I’m excited to tell you about Mini Frequency – a fun collaboration I did with Leah Day, of The Free Motion Quilting Project fame. First, a picture of the finished mini:

Mini Frequency by Christa Watson

A Mini Version of Frequency, Using 1 1/2″ Strips

Leah Day – Your Machine Quilting Friend

Next, a quick background about mine and Leah’s friendship: we met online somewhere around 2012-2013 when I discovered her blog and realized that you didn’t have to wait until you were at retirement age to make quilting a successful full-time job!

We first met in person at Spring Quilt Market back in 2015 and then collaborated on a presentation at Fall Market 2016. When we met up to for lunch at QuiltCon earlier this year, it was inspiring non-stop talk about the business of quilting which I just love! She’s got that “entrepreneur-on-fire” spirit that really motivates me, especially when I see it from women business owners.

Leah Day is as passionate about empowering others to quilt as I am!

Leah just published a brand new quilting book and she launched a new podcast just over a year ago which I will be a guest on soon, so stay tuned for more details about both!

Our Quilty Collaboration

When Leah approached me about working on a small project together, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a “mini” version of Frequency, one of the quilts from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Here’s what the original pattern in the book looks like, made from 2 1/2″ strips.

Frequency by Christa Watson for Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I thought it would be fun to scale down the design, using 1 1/2″ strips instead. I had just received strikeoffs (sample swatches) of my Modern Marks fabric line earlier this year when I started on the mini, so I was able to cut small bits of fabric to make the mini.

Here are some in-progress pics of the piecing:

Mini Frequency Block Piecing

It’s amazing how much the blocks shrink up when you piece them together! I had a fun time deciding which fabrics I wanted to place next to each other.

Frequency Blocks

Rather than making a full-scale version of the original, I chose to make 4 blocks from 1 1/2″ strips. That way I could incorporate every fabric without it being too big.

Behind the Scenes: Fabric Printing

I was able to use strikeoffs for my mini: samples that are printed before the entire line goes into full-scale production. This allows you to check for fabric quality and to determine if everything will print correctly. Check out that piece that’s circled in the top row below. On paper it printed out fine, but when the mill printed it on fabric, the lime x’s on turquoise created an effect called “trapping” which makes it look blurry. So we decided not to print that one.

Instead we changed it to be dark turquoise x’s instead of lime which worked much better. See the fabric circled in the bottom row below. I still thought it would be fun to use both pieces  in my mini to preserve the history of this fabric collection, and a bit of a story to go with it!

Mini Frequency Quil Top

The fabric circled on top was replaced with the one on the bottom row for better printing.

Leah Works Her Magic

Once I had completed the top, I shipped it off to Leah to let her work her quilting magic. For anyone who knows me, they’ll understand what a big deal it is for anyone else to quilt for me. I’ve never had someone quilt a quilt for me so this was a fun stretch for me to give up a little bit of control over that process, LOL!! Needless to say, she did an amazing job!

Leah created a YouTube video sharing her thoughts on how and why she quilted it the way she did. It’s very informative and full of fabulous tips. Plus it’s always so fun and mesmerizing to watch someone quilt and see the way they move the quilt under the machine. Take a look below:

Click here to read Leah’s blog post about our collaboration.

I love how Leah decided to highlight the fabrics with her batting and quilting choices. This is a perfect example of what you can do when working with busy prints. My favorite part of the video is when she holds it up at the end and you can really see how the light hits her beautiful background quilting.

Of course, me being the crazy dense quilter that I am, I decided to add a little extra touch and went ahead and quilted right on top of the prints when I got it back, LOL!! So it just goes to show how different choices can affect the look of a quilt. 🙂

Binding Tips

Press the binding for a nice, flat and tight finish.

I learned a great tip about binding from Leah a few years ago: after you attach your binding, give it a bit of a press with a hot dry iron. This will make a nicer crease and allow you to stitch it down nice and tight.

Quilting Detail on the back of Mini Frequency

Click on the image above to enlarge it and see all the yummy quilting detail on the back.

Here’s the finished mini – I’m really happy with how it turned out, and it means even more that I was able to collaborate with a friend!

 

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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Christa’s Soapbox – Do I Sleep? The Answer is Yes!

Today I thought it would be fun to answer the often asked question, how do I get so much done? Or put another way – do I sleep? The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, I’m NOT a night owl and if I don’t get at least 7-8 hours per night, it reduces my productivity big time.

quilt photography - Rainbow Taffy Quilt

Getting things done: we recently photographed some of my quilts so I can write more in-depth blog posts later. I think about the shots I want, Jason edits them to make them look pretty!

One thing to keep in mind is that quilting and running a business is mine and my husband’s full time job. Plus we have help. It’s taken me awhile to figure out what I do best in our little mom + pop operation: what I need to do myself, and what I’m willing to give up control over. And it’s different for each type of creative person.

For example, when it comes to quilting, I do all my own “stunts.” I design, piece and quilt all of the quilts I make for books, patterns and classes because that’s the most fun part! But I hire out much of the technical stuff to make it all look good.

Secret Sewing

Behind the scenes: quilting a quilt that will be featured in a magazine next spring.

All of the “big” projects I produce is done in partnership with quilting industry companies such as Benartex (my fabric), Craftsy (my online videos), Martingale (my quilting books), and Aurifil (my thread.) This allows me to design and create while tapping into their professional expertise in layout, editing, photography, video production, and marketing.

The only thing I self-publish is my stand-alone patterns, which is probably why I don’t release more of them on a regular basis, LOL!! I have found that I work really well with deadlines, as long as they are imposed on me by others. It’s much harder for me to set my own internal deadlines!!

More secret sewing

More “secret sewing” – this one debuts in a book collaboration next year – I can’t wait!

A typical work day for me consists of getting up early and getting right to work. I try to do all of my social media (blog, instagram and facebook) first thing, so that I’m not constantly distracted by it throughout the day. (That doesn’t always happen of course, which is why I recently decided to streamline and simplify my social media.) Then I jump into whatever project I need to work on for the day – designing a new pattern, working on a class outline, collaborating with one of my industry partners, and of course, sewing!

I take a break in the late afternoon to get in a daily workout with Jason, and then finish up any additional work in the evening before bed. I stop early enough so that I can get to bed at a decent time, and I usually indulge in an hour of “guilty-pleasure” TV watching each night (so I’m always on the lookout for a great Netflix recommendation!).

Designing HST

I’m a planner! I design all of my quilts in EQ8 with the fabrics I’ll use before I ever take the first stitch. Often it takes longer to design them than to make them!

My kids are older so they don’t need quite as much attention (my oldest lives on his own and is heading off to college soon, the next son graduates high school next spring, and the youngest, a freshman, is pretty independent although she’s still homeschooled). But because we have a flexible schedule, we can be there for them when they need us and still do all the regular parenting stuff. Plus they have all worked for us at one time or another, so that’s been a great family dynamic.

We Love our Kids!

These guys are our pride and joy: Jason, Jenna, and Ryan. We enjoy taking them out to lunch on a regular basis and love that they are adventurous eaters!

One thing that I’ll confess right now is that I DON’T do much cooking or cleaning. The kids help a lot with cooking and we have weekly subscriptions to those healthy meal kit places (like Blue Apron, Freshly, etc.) which prevent us from resorting to fast food – or worse – salt filled frozen meals. About two years ago, we hired a cleaning service that comes in every other week to help us with basic housekeeping (in addition to the kids’ weekly chores). That’s the best investment we’ve ever made because I’d much rather hand bind a quilt than clean a toilet!!

Fabric Design in Progress

Sneak peek of the design process while creating Modern Marks. Look closely and you’ll see several prints that didn’t make the cut! Maybe they’ll resurface in the future…

I’m very organized and I’m also a list-maker and schedule-keeper. I’m one of those people who really gets satisfaction from checking off an item in my to-do list, and I don’t mind rearranging my priorities on a daily basis if I can’t fit everything in. I’ve learned over the past few years to give myself more time than I think I need to complete a project, and I can’t stand being idle. So I’m always either planning, making, or thinking, and at times it can be hard to turn it off.

I think one of the secrets to how I get so much done is that I make big goals, but then break huge tasks down into daily steps so that I can work on a monumental project a little bit each day. My personal philosophy is that I never think that anything is impossible – most things just take time, patience and perseverance to get them done.

book and pattern editing

Book and pattern editing can be a tedious, lengthy process!

So in an nutshell, that’s how I get things done. Often times, things that I want to do end up morphing into something else, and many ideas that I have don’t come to fruition. The key is to be flexible and roll with it rather than giving up and quitting. Any time I get in a rut or feel like I have creative block (which can happen) the most useful thing to do is look back at what I’ve accomplished, and give myself pep talks when needed.

I hope if there’s something out there you really want to accomplish, you’ll set a goal for yourself and make it happen!

Binding on an airplane

I do a LOT of hand binding while flying across the country for teaching events. I snuggle up to a window seat, cuddle up with my quilt, and turn on headphones to shut out the world. Yes you CAN take needles and small scissors on an airplane with no problems!!

And now, it’s time for me to move on to the next item on my agenda for today – sewing!! (Just think, one of those fun things I’ll be sharing months in the future is being worked on a little bit today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…..)

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!

One Time Only – Modern Marks Fabric Destash

Now that Modern Marks is making its way to stores, I’m excited to see it reach a wider audience. However, being a minimalist, I now need to clean up from all the quilts I’ve made from Modern Marks and get rid of the excess fabric I don’t need. So my loss will be your gain!

Click here for my Modern Marks fabric destash.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

Quilts in this photo: Rainbow Taffy (free Pattern on the Benartex Website, Starstruck and Gridwork patterns from Piece and Quilt with Precuts.). All were made with Modern Marks precuts.

After setting aside a “good amount” of each Modern Marks print for myself, I have several leftover 2 yard pieces that I’d like to share with you all for a fantastic price.

Click here to view what’s left and grab them before they’re gone.

Modern Marks Fabric

I’ve saved a bit of each print for myself…..

I’m NOT planning on selling yardage on a regular basis, so scoop them up while you can. I’m happy to ship internationally and refund any excess shipping and handling.

After you shop my destash, be sure and visit your local quilt shop for more coordinates and tag me on instagram (@christaquilts) so I can see what you’re making. I had fun working with Modern Marks. Now I can’t wait to see what YOU will create!