Piece and Quilt with Precuts Quilt 3: Frequency

I got a really nice comment on Instagram earlier this week saying “I love how you show real life ordinary quilting that doesn’t require a super fancy machine.” That made me happy because my goal in writing and teaching is to empower you to be able to quilt your own quilts, no matter what type of machine you use!

Without further ado, here’s quilt #3 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts. It’s called “Frequency” because it reminds me of those pulsing lines you see on your electronic device while your music is playing. Yes, I’m easily amused…

Frequency by Christa Watson for Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Frequency Photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane.

Piece It

Frequency is made from 2 1/2″ strips of lights and darks. You could either use one bundle if it’s split up evenly, or a smaller 20-strip bundle of each. Or use up leftover strips from other projects!  This design is a good one to get your feet wet with improvisational piecing because your strips don’t have to look exactly like mine. There’s a lot of variety in how you can trim the length and join the strips. Part of the fun of making this quilt is arranging the strips, which you can do randomly or with intent.

For a completely different look, rotate the blocks so that the strips are stacked horizontally. Now it kind of looks like stacked books, don’t you think??

Frquenecy Rotated

Quilt It

I used my “divide and conquer” method to easily quilt Frequency with a walking foot (or dual feed). The pattern includes step by step instructions and diagrams, but here’s the simple version: Step 1: Stitch in the ditch between each of the rows to stabilize the quilt. Step 2. Quilt a fun zig-zag design in each of the strips.

I personally prefer to quilt my lines randomly, rather than trying to be too “matchy-matchy.” It’s a LOT easier to do and I think makes for a much more interesting design! Although I quilted them using walking foot techniques in the book, you could totally free-motion quilt them instead!

Frequency Quilting

Thread tip: When quilting with one thread color over a variety of contrasting fabrics, a lighter thread color looks better on darker fabrics, rather than darker thread on lighter fabrics.

More Frequency inspiration

Check out some amazing work in progress using different fabrics and quilting designs. Click on each blogger’s site for their their in-progress photos, awesome giveaways, and more!

Nancy Scott – MasterPiece Quilting

Nancy Scott's Version of Frequency

Isn’t it amazing how different a quilt can look by just changing the fabrics? Nancy from Masterpiece Quilting created a warm, earthy version of Frequency using cheerful red and green Christmas prints. I just love how those pops of gold really add some sparkle to her quilt!

Visit her blog to read more about her process in making this quilt. Nancy was able to easily quilt the same design I did, but she did it on her long arm machine instead of a domestic and it looks just as great!

Martingale/That Patchwork Place

Frequency Progress

Karen Johnson is heading of marketing over at my fabulous publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place and she decided to take on the challenge of recreating a mini-Frequency along with a matching pincushion that you just have to see! I love how she chose some of the other quilting designs presented later in the book and applied them to her project. It just goes to show how versatile the quilting motifs are!

 Check out this fun blog post all about Karen’s process, with tons of step-by-step photos, plus sneak peeks of some of the quilts coming up later on the hop. Plus, you won’t believe the fabulous giveaway s they are hosting!!

Christa's book, signed by Martingale

A priceless copy of my book, signed the awesome team at Martingale that helped produce it.

I have to tell you, after writing three books with Martingale, they’ve really become like family to me. I’m sure you can imagine how much work it takes to write a book, and I couldn’t have done it without a fantastic team of people! And what’s even better is that most of them are quilters who love making projects from the books they help produce. No wonder their books are so well loved!! 🙂

Lorinda Davis – Laurel Poppy and Pine

Frequency Quilting by Lorinda

Just look at all that yummy texture quilted by Lorinda of Laurel Poppy and Pine!! I love seeing closeup shots where you can really see the quilting. Lorinda chose a modern fall palette for her quilt and it always amazes me how different a quilt can look just by changing up the fabrics. Just remember, you can either use a precut bundle to make this quilt, or you can create your own custom bundle just like Lorinda did!

Head over to her blog to see the entire quilt, and read more about her process. My hope is that by seeing all of these fabulous finishes, you’ll feel inspired that you, too can achieve amazing results with my simple techniques!

Today’s Gift – Win All of My Books

Yes, you read that right, ALL of my books!! Today’s giveaway is being generously sponsored by my friends over at Martingale/That Patchwork Place and they are going to send them to 3 lucky winners!!

Christa Watson Books

Now, here’s the fine print – not only are they giving away a copy of all three books authored by me, they are also throwing in a copy of every book I’ve ever collaborated on with them. If I counted correctly, it’s a total of 7 so far, enough to keep you stocked with plenty of projects on your “have-to-make” list!

And here’s a hint, I’ll be in at least two more books they are curating coming up next year. So be sure to keep an eye on all the fun inspiration Martingale has to offer! Head over to their blog now for your chance to win.

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Piece and Quilt with Precuts Quilt 2: Gridwork

The second quilt featured in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts is called “Gridwork.”

Gridwork by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Gridwork Photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane.

Piece It

Gridwork is made from one set of 5″ squares and one set of 10″ squares. In traditional quilting, blocks are usually laid out in a “grid” format. However, modern quilters like to break up the grid or present blocks in an alternate grid layout. In this case, you can see that this quilt is arranged in a 6×7 traditional grid layout (6 blocks across by 7 blocks down). But the blocks themselves are rotated in a haphazard fashion to obscure the grid and make it a bit more interesting.

Gridwork from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

We took this quilt on a recent camping trip to get some pretty shots of it in nature.

The secret is to piece the blocks in a few similar, but slightly different ways and then rotate them to trick the viewer into thinking there’s much more variation in the blocks. In my book, step by step instructions are given on how to create the different blocks. Plus, a full color layout is included with each quilt pattern so there’s no guesswork when it comes time to assemble the quilt!

Machine Quilting on Gridwork

Wavy Grid is one of my go-to machine quilting designs! I quilted this quilt in a light gray-blue thread from my Piece and Quilt collection with Aurifil.

Quilt It

The first four quilts in the book are quilted completely with a walking foot (or in my case, the BERNINA dual feed which performs the exact same function.) Each quilt build skills as you go, so you’ll be a machine quilting pro in no time! Plus, with my “divide and conquer” method, you can quilt a few lines to stabilize the quilt, then decide at any point how densely you want to quilt it, without locking yourself into an overwhelming task!

More Gridwork inspiration

Check out these alternate versions below. Head to each blogger’s site for more about their process, see their finishes, and enter their giveaways!

Sandy Maxfield – Sandy Star Designs

Sandy's version of Gridwork

I’ve been hoarding my own bundles of Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park line and I’m jealous at how easily Sandy from Sandy Star Designs was able to break into her precuts!! Here’s a hint – she actually cut the 10″ and 5″ prints from fat quarters, which is a great example of being able to use what you have on hand for successful results.

Don’t you think Sandy did a fantastic job combining the prints into a pleasing combination? The trick is to make sure there’s contrast in each block so none of them gets lost. You can do that by combing lights with darks, solids with prints or a myriad of other ways!

Gridwork quilting by Sandy

She did a fantastic job quilting wavy grid on her quilt. Don’t you just want to cuddle up with all that yummy texture? Be sure to pop over to Sandy’s blog to read more, and to enter her giveaway!

Joanne Harris – Quilts by Joanne

Gridwork by Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris from Quilts by Joanne really made this design look great with her fabulous yellow and gray color scheme. I once heard that the hallmark of a great quilt design is that it will look good in any fabric combination!

Don’t you just love that elephant print?? Now take a look at her blog to see how she decided to quilt it!

Teresa Mairal-Barreu – Sewn Up

Teresa M Gridwork

Teresa aka Teresa Down Under chose to make a smaller smaller version of Gridwork and I just love it! This goes to show that you don’t always have to use up an entire precut bundle, or make your quilt the exact same size.

Head over to Teresa’s blog to see a video of this “flimsy” (aka unquilted top) flapping beautifully in the breeze. Seriously, it will inspire you to want to make one right away!

Today’s Gift – Win a Bundle of 5″ or 10″ Squares

Christa Watson Designer Palette

My designer palette was originally created for Facets, from Machine Quilting with Style.
I’ve now used it to create several colorful quilts!

Today I’m going to give 2 lucky winners a fun prize! One person will win a layer cake of my Christa Watson designer palette and a second person will win a charm pack of the same fabric. Now the trick will be for both winners to find another layer cake or charm pack to go with them to make their own version of Gridwork! But isn’t a challenge fun?? (And in reality of course the winner can do whatever they’d like to with their fabrics!!)

To enter, leave me a comment letting me know what’s your favorite precut to work with. Me personally – I love fat quarters because I think they are the most versatile. But as a designer, I love coming up with creative ways to use these fun fabric bundles!

The giveaway is open to all (int’l winners just pay shipping) and I’ll choose a winner on Aug 31 which is the last day of the hop. Be sure and check in again tomorrow for the next quilt I’ll share along with more fabulous color options!

Griwork from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

If you make your own version of Gridwork, or any of the quilts from my book, please share your progress in my Facebook Group, Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see!

Click here to see all of the stops on the blog hop tour – you’re sure to be inspired!

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Piece and Quilt with Precuts Quilt 1: Squiggles

Today I get to share the first quilt presented in my brand new book! Meet “Squiggles” from Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Squiggles by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Squiggles Photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane.

Piece It

I designed Squiggles so that it can be made from either four bundles of 5″ squares, or one bundle of 10″ squares. My favorite tip for working with precuts is to use a super light or super dark background, so that it will contrast with any precut bundle you choose! I love working with precuts because the math always works out nicely. For the background, you can either use 5″ squares or 2 1/2″ strips, giving you tons of versatility based on what you have on hand.

Quilt It

You can see why I named the quilt Squiggles – because of the fun squiggly lines I chose to quilt. This is usually the first quilting design I teach my students to do with a walking foot (or integrated dual feed) because they can achieve instant success from the very first stitch!

Squiggles Quilting Detail

I used my favorite shade of  Aurifil gray (Aluminium) because its blends with all the fabrics!

In the book, I include detailed instructions on how to piece this quilt as well as diagrams on how to actually quilt it to achieve a similar look. It’s so much easier than you might think!

More Squiggles inspiration

Now let’s take a look at what 3 of my blogging friends chose to do with this design. Be sure to click on the links to each of their blogs for more pics,  an explanation of their process, and to see who’s including a bonus giveaway!

Kate Colleran – Seams Like a Dream

Squiggles quilting by Kate

Here’s a sneak peek of the gorgeous colors and quilting that Kate from Seams Like a Dream chose for her version. Be sure and take a look at the beautiful color gradation she did with her blocks, along with an excellent explanation of her quilting process.

Although Kate usually send her quilts out to be quilted, I’m so proud of her for quilting this one herself. If she can do it – so can you! Pop on over to her blog to see the whole quilt, plus more inspiring “in progress” pics. You’ll love it!

Kathy Bruckman – Kathy’s Kwilts and More

Squiggles Blocks by Kathy B

I love the aqua and green color scheme that Kathy from Kathy’s Kwilts and More chose for her version of squiggles. Here’s a small sneak peek of some of her blocks!

Squiggles Pillow

I’m impressed that she hand pieced her blocks and then turned them into a pretty pillow sham. Then Kathy took some of her leftovers and turned them into a matching pillow cushion. Isn’t it adorable!! Head over to her blog to see more!

Sharon Parcel – Yellow Cat Quilt Designs

Gridwork in Progress

Sharon from Yellow Cat Quilt Designs was able to find the same charm packs I used in my quilt, and I like how she chose to quilt the wavy grid design that appears later in the book. She took my advice to quilt loosely across the quilt and then fill in with more quilting with each pass across the quilt. This allows you to decide at any point how dense you want your quilting to be.

I designed the quilting plans so that they can be interchangeable throughout the book, and they will work on nearly any quilt you can imagine! Stop by Sharon’s blog to read more about her process and see more helpful pics!

Today’s Gift – Free Pattern with book purchase

Christa Quilts Patterns

Today’s “present” is from me, for those who haven’t yet purchased their copy of the book. I’m extending my offer for a free pattern with book purchase by one more day. That is, when you order the book directly from me, I’ll throw in a bonus printed pattern with your order.

You can either specify the pattern you want in the notes at checkout, or I’m happy to surprise you. Originally, this offer expired yesterday at the start of the hop, but due to such overwhelming demand, I decided to extend it for one more day!

Piece and Quilt with Precuts signed by Christa Watson

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

And of course, I’ll sign your book, too! Just leave me a note if you want me to personalize it. Be sure to check back here tomorrow to learn more about the next quilt, see more inspiring pics, and enter the next giveaway!!

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Quilt in Progress – Exploring Ruler Work

I’m currently remaking one of my quilts from Piece and Quilt with Precuts while trying out something new at the same time. After all, if I’m not constantly pushing myself to try new things, the hobby that I love can get really old, really fast!! I’m creating another version of “Starstruck” from my new fabric so that I can showcase it at quilt market in the fall right before the fabric releases. (FYI  – it’s called Modern Marks from Benartex – available in November!)

Christa Watson Machine Quilting - Modern Marks Fabric

To keep a densely quilted quilt soft, I use cotton fabric, thread and batting. I’m using one layer of Hobbs Tuscany cotton and it is the softest ever. I love it!

I’m also trying out free-motion quilting straight lines using rulers rather than marking or using a walking foot. I have to say up front that it’s been a bit of a struggle and a HUGE learning curve! It’s a whole new movement for me, holding onto the quilt while also holding onto the ruler.

It’s also a bit awkward because where you stitch is actually 1/4″ away from the edge of the ruler to account for the width of the ruler toe. Like I teach my students, practice makes progress, so I’m not taking out any wobbles or wiggles in this quilt – it’s all part of the learning process!

Christa Watson Ruler Work Practice

I love combining straight lines with curvy motifs to create contrast in the quilting.

Right now I’m trying out two different rulers – one has handles on it to help better grip the quilt but the posts can get caught up on the back of the foot when I move it, causing tiny stitches to occur. I find that I get much better results if I keep the ruler on the front or side of the toe while I stitch.

Leah Day Ruler work template

Don’t you love how Leah’s template matches my fabric??? Serendipity at it’s best!!

The other rulers I’m trying out are from Leah Day’s set of Dresden Plate acrylic templates. She gave me a set to try out when we met for lunch at QuiltCon earlier this year, and I love how she so cleverly designed them to double as rulers for ruler work! I seem to get smoother lines without the handles. The smaller size is also ideally suited for a domestic machine since there’s not a lot of room on the bed of the machine.

Working on this quilt gives me renewed appreciation for any of my beginning students as they try free-motion quilting for the first time! Just as I teach my students that they will get better with practice, quilting on “real quilts” is the best way to learn and improve!

Christa Watson ruler work practiceI’m having fun trying out lots of different quilting motifs in the stars!

In this quilt, I’m outlining each of the starts by first stitching in the ditch. Then I quilt the middle of each star, then quilt two lines around each star. To make the quilting continuous I’m traveling over a small line after I complete each pass around the star, rather than starting and stopping.

Then I’m quilting a different free-motion design on the outside of each star to add more texture. Most of the quilting motifs I’m stitching come from my books, and a few are new ideas I’m trying out.

Christa Watson free motion quilting Starstruck from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I love the “pattern on pattern effect!”

To keep it somewhat organized, I’m alternating with a pairing of curvy and geometric free-motion designs in each block. I chose to use a shade of yellow 50 weight cotton Aurifil thread from my Piece and Quilt Collection. It blends in nicely with most of the fabrics and adds a fun layer of pattern on pattern in some of the contrasting areas.

There are definitely some areas of the quilt that look better than others, but I love being a “perfectly imperfect quilter!” (I’m also a perfectly imperfect photographer, but I’d rather show real in-progress pics than nothing at all!)

I’ve learned by trial and error that the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches. 🙂

Yummy Texture created with free motion quiltign by Christa Watson

Can we say “yummy texture?!”

Because I have a longer time frame in which to complete this quilt, I’m really enjoying the process of quilting just a couple of stars each day, without feeling rushed.

I’m liking how this block below is turning out, using the ruler to free-motion quilt my “wonky square spiral” design that I usually teach using a walking foot. I definitely prefer quilting straight lines when they don’t have to line up perfectly!

Ruler work practice

(If you want to improve your ruler work skills check out Amy Johnson’s Craftsy classes on the subject: Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine, and Creative Quilting with Rulers.)

I’ll be sure and share the final reveal later in the fall, so stay tuned!! Now I just have a few more blocks to finish and then I can relax and enjoy one of my favorite steps beside machine quilting – the hand binding….

What’s your favorite part of the quilt-making process? I’d love to know!

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Last Chance to Get a Free Pattern with Book Purchase

First of all, thanks so much to those of you who have supported me in this fun quilting journey!! Many of you pre-ordered my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts sight unseen and I’ve now been getting lots of fun notes and comments about how much you all are enjoying it. That gives me the warm fuzzies!!

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa WatsonBecause of your tremendous support, the number of sales of my third book from my own site have already surpassed the other two and I couldn’t be more thrilled!!

I’m also realizing how heavy it can be to load up a box of packaged books to take to the post office every couple of days, LOL!!

Shipping Books

Just a reminder that from now through the start of my book blog hop next week, I’m throwing in a bonus pattern when you get your signed copy from me. It’s my way of saying thanks for purchasing direct!

Currently I have six stand alone patterns in print, and each one includes instructions for 4 sizes. Just like my books, I want to help you finish your quilts, so each individual pattern includes machine quilting suggestions, photos or diagrams to help you finish the job! When you place your order for the book simply comment in the notes letting me know which of the 6 patterns you’d like to receive. If you don’t leave a note, I’ll pick one at random for a fun surprise!

Christa Quilts PatternsI released the first four patterns shown above before I wrote Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Then I released two more shown below, once the bulk of the manuscript was complete. Now that I’m not in the middle of a huge deadline and have a little more breathing room, I’m looking forward to releasing the next batch of patterns this fall. There are so many ideas!!

Christa Quilts Patterns

I’m super excited about the blog hop which starts on my birthday, August 17th! During the hop, I’ll be sharing images of each of the quilts in the book along with friends who have remade them in their own colors and fabric choices. It will be so fun to see all of the variety!! Plus, there will be plenty of gifts (aka giveaways) to celebrate!

Piece and Quilt with Precuts Blog Hop

Now it’s time to go sign and ship another stack of books!! And start dreaming up possibilities for the next round of fun ideas….

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Click here to browse my books and patterns

Scrap Happy Quilt on the Cover of American Patchwork and Quilting

It’s time to share another fun finish! This is Scrap Happy, patterned in the October issue of American Patchwork and Quilting (available now) and I’m pleased that it happened to make the cover!

Scrap Happy by Christa Watson in American Patchwork and Quilting

Photograph used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

One of the things I love best about American Patchwork and quilting is the photography. Even those this quilt is about the piecing, I love how well you can see the quilting on the cover shot and in the pattern directions themselves.

The quilting on Scrap Happy is a good example of my “divide and conquer” method I teach in my quilting classes. First I stitched in the ditch around each row of blocks (vertically on each side). Then I outlined the ditch using the edge of my walking foot/dual feed as a guide for spacing. Once the straight line quilting was done, I moved onto the free motion motifs.

Here’s a closeup shot of my own camera-phone photo that I took while making the quilt:

Free Motion quilting detail

I love combining walking foot quilting with free motion in the same quilt! Fabric selection tip: flip over the back of many medium prints to get more variety of lights.

In the scrappy blocks I quilted “woven switchbacks”, which is basically rounded back and forth lines that go in alternate directions in each square. Finally, I quilted “swirls and pearls” in the light backgrounds, combining elongated swirls with pebbles for an interesting design.

Here’s another beauty shot of the whole quilt as photographed in the magazine:

Scrap Happy American Patchwork and Quilting

Photograph used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

As you can see – this is a BIG quilt, and yes I actually quilted it on my regular home sewing machine. The key is to “scrunch and smoosh” the bulk of the quilt out of the way as you go, rather than trying to fold it or roll it. Just remember that you are only working with a small part of the machine at any time and if you can keep that area nice and flat, you won’t have any problems.

The design for this quilt is based on a traditional block called “Mock Log Cabin” because of it’s half light/dark coloring. Just like a log cabin, you can set the block a million different ways. I originally designed and made a quilt from similar (but larger) blocks back in the 90’s when I was going through my dusty pink and blue phase, but I prefer the newer version with updated scrappy bright prints. It’s also perfect for using up precut scraps! (In fact, I actually threw in many of the leftovers from my latest book when making this quilt!)

Mock Log Cabin Alternate Layout

An alternate layout for the blocks (not included in the pattern).

Thanks to EQ7, I was able to play around with many different settings before I chose the final layout. Here’s another tip: when working in EQ7, I don’t always have to color the quilt exactly how it will appear. If I’m making a scrappy quilt, I might just mock it up in one colorway as shown in these two examples, knowing it will look great in any color scheme.

Alternate Layout for Mock Log Cabin Blocks

Another alternate block layout – it’s so fun to play!

When working on this design I thought I would make it smaller – but when I realized how many scraps I had, I ended up making it much larger! I really like quilt designs that are easy to size up or down, simply based on the number of blocks that can be made.

Scrap Happy in American Patchwork and Quilting MagazinePhotograph used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

The best tip I can give when making this quilt is to just make a few blocks at a time as your scraps accumulate. It’s quite a lot of pieces and you’ll go a little stir crazy trying to make all of the blocks at once. Plus if you use your scraps as you go, you’ll get a really fun scrappy look that will add to its charm.

Click here to see more patterns in the October issue of American Patchwork and Quilting and pick up your copy if you don’t already have a magazine subscription. If you end up making this quilt, do let me know!

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The Books Are Here! Piece and Quilt with Precuts Ships Ahead of Schedule

I have some exciting news to share today! My third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts has arrived ahead of schedule! That means that all of you who have pre-ordered my book directly from me should be getting it in the mail over the next few days.

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Click here to order Piece and Quilt with Precuts – and get a free bonus pattern!

Needless to say, I plan to spend all day signing and shipping them off. This is always such an exciting day!! Huge thanks to those of you who pre-ordered directly from me. Not only will you get your book ahead of schedule, you are helping me to break a record for pre-sales compared to my other two books. Wowza and thanks!!

Squiggles Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Sneak peek of Squiggles, the first quilt shown in the book. I start off with super simple walking foot quilting like gentle wavy lines. They are such a fun and easy design to quilt!
Photo credit Brent Kane for Martingale/That Patchwork Place.

Now, if you ordered the book from somewhere else, that’s totally fine. I just can’t guarantee when it will arrive since that’s out of my control. But I’m grateful for your support wherever it comes from!

If you haven’t yet ordered Piece and Quilt with Precuts, now is your chance to get your hands on a signed copy ASAP, plus a special bonus. For each book you order directly from me, I’ll throw in one of my printed patterns for all orders placed through my birthday August, 17th! You all have given me the best gift by being my loyal friends and fans – now it’s my turn to give something back. 🙂

Now is a great time to announce that August 17th also kicks off my epic blog hop for the book. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate and party with you all!! The blog hop will run through the end of August, featuring 30 different talented bloggers I met through the Quilt Pattern Designers Facebook group.

You’ll be able to check out each of the quilts I made, plus you’ll be able to see how 30 other “real quilters” were able to easily follow my tips and techniques for piecing and quilting success!

Spools from Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Spools, is the final quilt shown in the book. It utilizes both improv piecing AND quilting – my favorite combo! Photo credit Brent Kane for Martingale/That Patchwork Place.

And you can’t have a party without presents, so I’ve rounded up some special giveaways throughout the event, plus an extra freebie for everyone who participates!! So save the date and plan to join the fun! It all starts here on August 17th!

Box of Books - Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

It was so exciting to get back from vacation and find several boxes of my books waiting!!

Click here to get your copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts, signed by yours truly.

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A Crazy Sewing Weekend (and a Bit of a Back Story)

I was a little MIA last week due to a crazy sewing weekend a few days before. Crazy, but fun!! So it all has to do with my latest big project which will officially be revealed later this year: I designed a line of fabric for Benartex!! Say what???

So here’s a (not-so) quick back story and then onto my latest sewing adventures….

Sew Pro 2016

Discussing the value of joining professional associations at Sew Pro in 2016

Last fall I attended Sew Pro, an industry event for those wanting to make quilting their business. Although it was mainly geared toward those that are just getting their feet wet in the industry, I thought I would attend in order to decide whether or not I wanted to add fabric design to the list of things I do. Tula Pink was one of the keynote speakers along with other fabric designers like Alison Glass and Pat Sloan. After listening to them share more about their process (and seeing their joy in loving what they do), I decided that yes, I wanted to give fabric design a try – so I set about trying to learn how to make that happen, thinking it would likely take a long time to break into that area of the industry.

Benartex Contempo

But then – literally two days after I arrived home from Sew Pro – I got a call from Benartex asking if I wanted to design fabric for their Contempo division. (“What the what??” was my initial response, LOL!!)  I’ve never had such a case of the universe listening to me and acting so quickly. For those that don’t know, BERNINA owns Benartex, and since I’m a BERNINA ambassador I guess I was already on their radar. But getting that phone call so soon after I decided I wanted to design fabric was really uncanny. Had they contacted me a week before, it very well could have been a different answer…

So to make a long story even longer… I’ve spent the time from then until now (in between other projects) working with Benartex on my debut line which will be in stores this November.

Designing and producing fabric is such a huge process that revolves around creating the images, translating them into digital printable files, finalizing them on paper, and then getting samples from the overseas mill to make sure it all looks good. The timing is always tricky and it’s hard to plan long term until you are on a regular designing schedule. (In anything new I do, there’s always stuff I don’t know that I don’t know, LOL!!) So that brings us to my crazy sewing weekend.

Modern Marks Swatches

Finalizing fabric swatches on paper before they go to the mill for printing…

While images were being sent to the printer and strikeoffs (small samples from the mill) were sent to me, I was also coordinating with BERNINA to teach a couple of machine quilting classes at their annual flagship event for dealers, BERNINA University. This year it was happening right in my backyard here in Las Vegas (again – thanks, Universe!!)

As luck would have it, my sample yardage arrived 4 days before the start of BU. Benartex told me that if there was anyway I could get a few sample quilt tops made in time, they’d be happy to hang them up in their booth at the event, and allow shop owners to order early.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Sample yardage for me to work with…

Now, I usually do all my own “stunts” – priding myself in creating every stitch of my quilts myself. But with just a 4 day lead time, I knew I’d need to call in the reinforcements. Thank goodness for a mom who sews and was willing to drive the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house on a moment’s notice. Between the two of us, we were also able to wrangle a few more sewing friends who took shifts throughout the weekend sewing, pinning, pressing, and helping us keep our sanity.

Sample Sewing Sweatshop!

With the help of 8 friends over 4 days, we were able to sew up 5 quilt tops!!

All in all, we were able to complete 5 tops just in the nick of time, and the feedback I received from attendees at the event made all the craziness worth it! Needless to say, I’ll have a bit more time to quilt them in time for fall quilt market, thank goodness.

Now, I know I run the risk of spoiling the surprise by sharing so much so early, but I just can’t help it – I hate keeping secrets!! If you happen to run your own shop, or you want to recommend my collection to your favorite local shop, please let them know they can contact Benartex directly for more info about Modern Marks by Christa Watson. The collection images won’t be up on Benartex’ website for a few more months, but shops “in the know” can pre-order now (wink…. wink…)

Modern Marks at BERNINA University

I enjoyed sharing sneak peeks of my fabric with attendees at BERNINA University.

Click here see the promotional flyer showing off digital images of the 5 quilt tops I made. I was in such a rush that I didn’t even photograph them when they were done, but I’m sure I’ll share a few more sneak peeks as I finish quilting them over the next few months. So stay tuned!

And now… I’m off to enjoy a much-anticipated family vacation at the beach. After the crazy busy (but fun) year I’m having, I’m looking forward to unplugging for a few days…

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Work In Progress – HST Remix

I am so excited that things have finally slowed down enough this summer that I can get back to working on some quilts that don’t have any set deadline! I originally made my HST quilt shown below a couple of years ago, then it got ruined in the wash when the “mild” wash powder I used bleached out some of the squares. (Note to self- stick with liquid detergent only!!)

HST Quilt

The original HST quilt – I still fits on my bed and is very warm and usable!!

The Remake – Improv Triangles

However, I loved the design so much that I had to remake it. I’m calling the new one HST Remix. I’m using the same Alison Glass batik fabrics as I had in the original, but the background fabrics are different and the fabric arrangement will be slightly different. One of the problems with the original is that I used a “textured” background fabric that had a lot of stretch. I never could get the quilt to hang straight. I do much better sticking with regular cotton fabrics, but it’s always fun to try something new, even if it doesn’t work out so well!

HST Remix in Progress

Because I’m working with leftovers from the first quilt, I didn’t have enough yardage to cut the squares large enough to make the half-square triangles so I improvised. And honestly I like the new blocks even better! I cut the yardage I had into straight strips with no wonky angles, then sewed them together randomly and cut them into the squares I needed. So many of them now have an improv look which I just love!

I also decided to make the blocks slightly larger the 2nd time around so that the overall quilt would be a few inches bigger.

Improv HST's

Some of my improv HST blocks in progress.

If this quilt turns out well, my plan is to enter it into a few upcoming quilt shows. That’s the one weird thing about me. It’s hard to make a quilt just for the sake of making a quilt. My quilts need a purpose, even if that purpose is just to delight a viewer at a quilt show!

Seams Pressed Open

Pressing Tips

Because the construction of this quilt includes a lot of bulky seams, I’ve pressed them open to help the quilt top lie flat. Contrary to popular myth, this will NOT weaken the seams. My tip for pressing seams open is to press with a hot dry iron so you don’t burn your fingers. First I open up the seams with my fingers or using a handy device called a wooden seam roller. (This is a device made for other applications but is one of my favorite tools for quilting!!)

I also use a shorter stitch length (2.0 rather than 2.5) when sewing the seams together to ensure they won’t split apart while handling.

Seams pressed open and pinned

The biggest question I get asked is how do I get the seams to align when they are pressed open? I use lots of pins and pin right through the intersections where the points are supposed to match. The nice thing about pressing seams open is that I never have to worry about which way they need to go! I also like to press seams open to prevent shadowing – which is what happens when you can see a darker fabric underneath a light one.

I’m also a pressing maniac. Pressing a lot (without steam) helps me keep the quilt top flat as I make it. I will usually sew 3-4 rows together and then press a section before sewing all the rows together. That way I’m dealing with less bulk under the iron at one time. When I press, I press from both sides – back and front. I want a nice, super flat quilt top!

Pressing Quilt Top

Pressing is very meditative for me – I listen to an audio book or podcast while I work.

Victory Lap!

Whenever I’m working on a quilt without borders (which is most of my modern quilts), there’s lots of seams along the edges. To secure them from splitting open, I take a “victory lap” around the quilt by stitching about 1/8″ in from the edges of the quilt. I’ll use a longer stitch length here which then gets covered up by the binding.

Victory lap around the quilt to secure the edges

Victory Lap – aka “topstitching” around the edges to secure the seams.

Now that the quilt top is finished it’s time to make a pieced backing and start thinking about how I want to quilt it. In the original, I quilted lots of straight lines and some fun spirals and pebbles as shown below.

Machine Quilting HST

Original HST Quilting Motifs

For HST remix, I still want to utilize straight lines and create a woven effect with the quilting, but I might change up the design a bit. In the original, I quilted straight lines vertically through the HST blocks and that was a lot of starting and stopping!! So this time around I’m thinking of quilting them diagonally instead so I can start and end off the quilt.

Whenever I’m trying to figure out how to quilt, I’ll print out a copy of my EQ7 design (or a photo of the finished quilt top) and I simply draw on top of it. I might come up with several different ideas, and it can look like a hot mess. So it may take a few tries until I come up with something I like. This is the method I teach in my Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path – if I can create a pathway for myself to follow, the quilting doesn’t seem so overwhelming, even on a larger quilt!

Possible Quilting Plan for HST Remix

Here’s the finished quilt top. The picture isn’t so great because I just took it with my iphone and it’s actually larger than my design wall, so it’s wrinkling up a bit at the bottom. That’s my next note to self – make quilts that are smaller than my 8′ x 7′ design wall, LOL!! Jason will help me photograph it when the quilt is finished, so I’ll leave it to him to help me figure out how to take prettier pictures!!

HST Finished Quilt Top

I’ll post again when I’m ready to baste the quilt. Since I don’t have a deadline to complete this quilt, it may be a few more weeks (or months) before I can get back to it, but I sure do enjoy sharing my process. Hopefully you’ve been able to pick up a tip or two!

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My Next Craftsy Class – Win It Before You Can Buy It!

So I have three huge projects releasing this year. #1 is my third book which comes out next month. #2 is a new thing I’ve never done before which will be shown at fall market (sorry for the tease!), and #3 is my second Craftsy class which goes live next week – Startup Library: Quilting.

To say it’s been a busy year is a bit of an understatement, but now that most of the work has been done comes the fun part – I get to tell you all about it!

Startup Library Quilting

In class, I’ll teach you how to make the colorful Friendship Stars quilt from start to finish!

Startup Library: Quilting is different from the first class I released earlier this year (The Quilter’s Path) and it’s much more in-depth. Whereas the first class focused on machine quilting and included a free quilt pattern for you to make on your own, Startup Library: Quilting takes you step-by-step through the entire process of making a quilt, while working your way through the colorful Friendship Star quilt that I designed above. It also includes the free pattern plus bonus machine quilting diagrams.

The class is geared toward those who are just discovering quilt-making for the first time, or for other crafters who are adept in their own hobby, but want to give quilting a try.

Christa Quitls - Craftsy Class Startup Library Quilting

I love sharing tips and tricks that make piecing easier and more fun!

I was really excited to teach this class because I often lament the fact that I can’t teach everything in a one-day quilting workshop! This class covers all the basics: cutting, piecing, basting, quilting and binding in an in-depth set of 14 lessons.

Although aimed at beginners, I think it’s a great resource for more experienced quilters who want to freshen up their binding skills, or learn how to baste and prevent puckers while quilting! Plus I’ve thrown in tons of tips throughout the class including how and why I starch my fabrics, how to cut and piece efficiently, and many more.

Friendship Stars Quilt Assembly by Christa Watson from Startup Library Quilting

The pattern to make the quilt is included in the class!

When I filmed my first class, the number one feedback I got was how nice it was that students could actually watch me manipulate a “real” quilt under the machine. Well in this class, you’ll get to watch me perform every step of the process, on an even larger quilt! I compare it to watching someone cook rather than simply reading a recipe – you’ll be able to learn all the little tricks that I do, that I don’t even realize I’m doing!!

Machine Quilting with Christa on Craftsy

The class includes all the finishing steps – basting, quilting and binding.

Giveaway – Win it Before You Can Buy It!

I’ll chat a bit more about the class next week when it launches, but in the meantime, I want to award TWO (yes 2!!) lucky winners with a free copy of the class! To enter, just leave me a comment letting me know what’s the one aspect of quilting you need a little bit more practice with. Chances are, I’ve covered it in class! I’ll choose the winners next Monday morning, before the class goes live on the site.

Of course, you are all winners in my book!! So if you haven’t yet signed up for my first class, click here to get 50% off The Quilter’s Path. Both of my classes work nicely together, as well as standing on their own individually. And the best part is, you can watch them over and over again!

Finsihed Quilt - Startup Library Quilting - Craftsy class by Christa Watson

I just love cuddling up with a freshly made quilt – don’t you??

 

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