Tips on How to Plan Your Quilting, Sewing Room Update

Hi all – I’ve been super quiet on the blog this week because getting my new sewing room up and running has been an all-consuming process! For those following the Blooming Wallflowers Quilt Along, the next post will be up soon, I promise!!

Plan Your Quilting

In the meantime, be sure to check out this informative post about planning your quilting. I shared it over on my buddy Amy Smart’s blog at Diary of a Quilter. It’s an inside look to how I plan my quilting. This will be helpful for those of you quilting along with me, or wishing to figure out how to plan your own quilts!

This week I’m getting my Ikea Sewing room cabinets installed and I can’t wait until they are finished! They are actually from their custom kitchen department but they will work wonderfully for my space! The whole unit will have covered doors with sleek handles so that I can keep the mess out of sight.

Sewing Room Ikea Cabinets

Once the cabinets are finished, the flooring will be installed and then I can start moving my sewing stuff into the space. I can’t wait to share the final reveal! I have to say that working with Ikea, and their authorized partner Traemand installation has been wonderful. There have certainly been hiccups along the way, but they’ve handled everything with such professionalism that I would highly recommend them! Here’s hoping I have room for all my stuff, LOL!

New Home Progress Week 7 – Designing My Quilting Studio (+Free Shipping!)

We are continuing to make great progress on settling into our new home. Most of the big stuff has been moved, except for my sewing room. But this week, I started designing how I want it to look, and I had someone from Ikea come and measure the space so we can plan out a very functional working studio. Here are a rough floor-plan so far:

Sewing Room Floorplan

Sewing Room Floorplan

I basically have two areas – a big open loft and a small corner nook. (The lines in the upper left corner represent open hallways so that’s not actually part of the space.) My plan is to have wall-to-wall cabinets on one wall (#’s 1-8) and the opposite blank wall will be for my design wall. The lower left (#’s 9-11) will be base cabinets with a smooth surface on top for cutting, and I want to add a cozy chair for hand sewing.

The rectangles in the center and the right side wall represent rough placement of my sewing table and computer desk. I never had a work desk in my old studio so I’m excited for the change.

Here’s the rough rendering of the space in 3-D (with the left rectangle and clear rectangle representing room openings):

sewing Studio Floorplan

For so long, most of my furniture has been a mis-match of hand-me downs and ugly plastic storage bins. I’m sooo excited that in the new studio, everything will be behind closed doors in nice, pretty built-in cabinets.

Sewing Room Plan

Designing my space is like designing a quilt – I need to see what it will look like before I start!

Here are the accessories I’ve picked out so far – off white cabinet fronts with interesting texture, silver handles, and a gray counter top.

Sewing Room Look

Things may change as I finalize the design this weekend, but hopefully everything will be ready by the end of February. Fortunately I’m in a lull with my quilting until the end of March, when new sample fabrics start arriving for spring quilt market. (More about that later!) So hopefully that will give me the time and headspace I need to get it all set up how I want.

Free Shipping on All Orders over $25!!

So let’s celebrate another weekly milestone with a sale!! From now through next Tuesday, when you spend at least $25 from my designer shop at Shop.ChristaQuilts.com you’ll get Free Shipping!!

You must use code MOVE7 in the coupon box at checkout to get the deal. So stock up on some of your faves guilt-free (and that means less stuff for me to put on my shelves, LOL!!!)

Sewing Nook

One of my earlier sketches as I was planning things out.

And now, I’ll pretend like I’m sitting in my cozy chair in one corner of my studio, enjoying some relaxing hand binding in a clean, organized and finished home… stay tuned for the next update!!

My QuiltCon Entries for 2019 and a Plea for Kindness Online

I love this time of year. Not only for the holidays, but also to see what quilts everyone has entered for next year’s QuiltCon show. So far, I’ve been to every show since it began in 2013 and I’ve also had at least one quilt accepted for each show which is always fun to see. I just received word that one of three of my entries got in this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Blooming Wallflowers Accepted

Blooming Wallflowers quilt

Click here to get the PDF pattern for Blooming Wallflowers
Click here to get the print pattern for Blooming Wallflowers
Kits available – while supplies last

It’s really special to me that this quilt was accepted, because I had originally made a slightly different version (shown below) for a magazine (using my first line, Modern Marks). I entered the first version into the show last year and it was rejected then. I know that the jury changes from year to year and the group of quilts to choose from is always different, so that just goes to show that it’s always worth trying again if you think you have a really great design.

In the updated version (seen above), I still used the same dark Navy from Modern Marks, but paired it with coordinates from Abstract Garden.

Earlier Version – Made from Modern Marks

star Shadow by Christa WatsonThis version was a “reject” for QuiltCon 2018

Out of the Box Declined

This quilt was such fun to make and I’ll for sure be entering it into other shows. One thing I’ve learned is that my commercial quilt designs I make for patterns and books tend to be a little more on the more “modern traditionalism” side of things which usually has a ton of entries, so I’m never disappointed when one of them doesn’t make the cut. I’ve actually designed a super-modern version of this quilt with much more negative space that I may try to make and enter for next year, so we’ll see what happens!

Out of the Box by Christa Watson for American Patchwork and Quilting using Fandangle fabric

This quilt was originally made for a magazine to showcase Fandangle Fat Quarters.
I plan to remake it in an upcoming fabric line and re-release the pattern, so stay tuned!

Beaded Lanterns Declined

This one didn’t surprise me at all because all though it’s a dynamic design, it’s still very traditional in the layout and setting. But I still love it since it was easy to pattern and teach. This is the first year that I didn’t have time to make a quilt specifically for the show, but I’m still glad I entered. It’s always fun to be part of the process!!

Beaded Lanterns Finished Quilt

Beaded Lanterns was made to showcase Fandangle precut strips.
Kits available while supplies last.
Get the free pattern here.

A Plea for Kindness

Before you leave comments online saying “I can’t believe so and so’s quilt didn’t get in” or “what were those jurors thinking, they are crazy!” or anything of that nature, please remember to be kind.

I know that emotions tend to run a little high when everyone gets their notices that their quilts weren’t accepted. However, I always remind myself, it’s just simple math. There were 1750 quilts entered this year, and the show usually only had room for 400. So that means that less than 1 in 4 will get in on average. In other words, 75% of the quilts entered will not make it into the show. But that doesn’t make them “rejects.”  I’m sure that if QuiltCon had the room, they’d take as many quilts as they could.

I enter a lot of national shows, most of which are much larger than QuiltCon in terms of numbers of quilts on display. However, they don’t get nearly the amount of entries as QuiltCon does and I never hear negative comments about quilts that don’t make it in. I think it’s because QuiltCon and the MQG have such a large internet presence and we all know how easy it is to make an off-handed comment online. My one request would be to keep things as positive as you can, even if you didn’t get in. I know that the folks working behind the scenes put in untold numbers of hours to make a great show and I’m so thankful for the hard work they do!

In fact, if you’d like to treat yourself to a really inspiring “virtual” quilt show online, be sure to check out the hashtag “quiltconreject” on instagram. It’s a visual feast for sure!

Other Quilt Show Venues

And if you are thinking about entering your quilt into a large national show, here’s a few more that I’d highly recommend:

Blooming Wallflowers made with Abstract Garden and Modern Marks

Now it’s time to add a hanging sleeve and label to this quilt so it’s ready to ship!

New Patterns and Kits: Pieced Primrose, Geese in the Garden, Blooming Wallflowers, LatticeWork

Just a quick note to say that the print versions of my 4 new patterns have now arrived from the printer – whoo hoo! Although they were made to feature my new Abstract Garden fabric line, they are versatile to use any fabrics you like! You can pull similar colors, or mix it up for your own unique take! I’m also offering kits for each, while supplies last.

Abstract Garden Quilt Patterns

To give you a quick overview of the quality and layout of the print versions, I made this short one-minute (silent) YouTube video of me thumbing through the pages. They are printed on high quality semi-gloss paper with a firm cover so they’ll hold up while you use them! Click the image below to watch.

And now, to end this post with some colorful “eye candy” here are images of the finished quilts themselves. Coming up soon, I’ll be blogging more about the making of each quilt with some bonus tutorials and tips. And don’t forget, I’ll be hosting a quilt along to make Blooming Wallflowers in January, so be on the lookout for the QAL schedule, coming soon!

Pieced Primrose Quilts

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

Pieced Primrose Quilts Made from Abstract Garden

Geese in the Garden Quilts

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

Geese in the Garden with Abstract Garden fabric

Blooming Wallflowers Quilt

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

Blooming Wallflowers quilt

LatticeWork Quilt

Click here to purchase this pattern.
Click here to purchase the kit.

LatticeWork Quilt Made from Abstract Garden

New Quilt Pattern – Geese in the Garden Available Now

It’s day 2 of my new pattern releases! (Click here for yesterday’s post about Pieced Primrose).
Today I’m excited to share my Geese in the Garden quilts with you! I had the most fun naming my patterns so that they would tie into the Abstract Garden theme of my latest fabric line.

Geese in the Garden quilt pattern featuring Abstract Garden

Baby Size Geese in the Garden – Cool Coloway

I made this design in two colorways – warm and cool. The best thing about this quilt is that it only calls for 5 fabrics! So you can pick and choose and play around with different arrangements of the diamonds to create some really fun color gradations.

And the secret to this quilt is that the diamonds aren’t “true” diamonds meaning they are easier to piece than traditional diamonds, AND they will work with HST’s (half-square triangles), QST’s (quarter square triangles) and Flying Geese units, whereas traditional diamonds won’t, because of the funky math involved.

Geese in the Garden from warm colors of Abstract Garden

Baby Size Geese in the Garden Cool – Warm Colorway

In the instructions, I very thoroughly explain how to cut and piece the diamonds with lots of clear illustrations for you to follow. The best part is there’s no specialty ruler required! All you need is a regular ruler that has a 45 degree angle and you are all set.

Wavy Line quitlign on Geese in the Garen

I quilted wavy lines on the warm version.

Of course I include machine quilting suggestions, too. For these quilts I quilted irregular wavy lines on the warm colorway and straight lines on the cool colorway. Both are done with a walking foot/dual feed – easy peasy!!

Straight Line quilting

I quilted irregularly spaced straight lines on the cool version.

I used more of my new variegated threads from Aurifil – pink for the warm and blue for the cool for the quilting. They added a nice touch to the quilt while not overpowering the pieced design.

The pattern comes in 3 sizes: Baby, Lap, Throw and the cool thing is that the design doesn’t change between the three sizes. You make the same number of units, but each one gets bigger depending on the size. So this quilt goes together super quick and is the perfect quilt to make when you need a gift in a hurry!

Geese in the Garden quilt pattern

Click image above to enlarge.

Geese in the Garden Quilt Stats

  • Size: 32″ x 40″ (Baby)
  • Completed: October, 2018
  • Machine used: BERNINA 770QE
  • Fabric used: Abstract Garden by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio
  • Batting used: Hobbs Tuscany Cotton/Wool
  • Thread used: Aurifil 50 weight cotton from The Variegated Collection by Christa Watson
  • Quilting Motifs: straight lines (cool), wavy lines (warm)

Quick Links

Geese in the Garden with Abstract Garden fabric

 

Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Wrap Up and Inspiration Photos

Although my Dot ‘n Dash quilt along wrapped up about a month ago, I wanted to revisit it one final time to share all the links to all the posts for anyone just wanting to get started. I also want to share some gorgeous photos from several in my Facebook Group that made their versions.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase the Dot ‘n Dash quilt kit, while supplies last.

As a reminder, the pattern for Dot’n’Dash can be found in my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts and it’s easy enough to gather your supplies: just one Jelly Roll of prints and 3 yards of background fabric are all you need to make this fun quilt.

Dot ‘n’ Dash Inspiration

Here are some beautiful finishes and works in progress from others who are making their own versions. Some of them have finished while others are still working at their own pace, so it’s never too late to jump in and start!

Dot n Dash by Lucy Given

Don’t you love this one above in teal by Lucy Given? She did a fabulous job making it super scrappy by mixing up beautiful blue hues for both the blocks and the background. She’s finished the quilt top so far and I can’t wait to see how she quilts it!

Patti Baymiller's Dot n Dash

Here’s another beauty above, pieced and quilted by Patti Baymiller. Didn’t she do a fantastic job on the quilting? The texture is so fantastic! I love it when others show how easy and fun domestic machine quilting can be.

Heather Lofstrom Halloween Dot n Dash

How about this one done in Halloween novelty prints by Heather Lofstrom? She quilted it with a diagonal grid and she shares more of her inspiring quilty life over on her instagram account @aquiltingcowgirl so be sure to check out her feed for more fun!

Lucy's Dot n Dash quilt top in Modern Marks

Of course I might be biased, but I really think Lucy Blum’s quilt top done in Modern Marks looks just as fabulous!! She used up leftovers from other projects, and although the Modern Marks precut strips are sold out, you can still grab a fat quarter bundle and cut your own strips if you are so inclined.

Lisa's Dot n Dash in Yellow

Lisa Tucker created her stunning quilt with a yellow background which really pops! Who says you have to use a neutral background, right??

Abbie Bill Machine Quilting

Here’s another quilt in process, being quilted by Abbie Bill. She’s opting for the original quilting plan as given in the book and she’s making fabulous progress!!

And these are just the tip of the iceberg of the fabulous work being created and shared over in my Christa Quilts Facebook group. Be sure to add pics of your progress there and you can do a quick search of “Dot ‘n Dash” in the group for even more amazing inspiration. 🙂

Quilt Along Posts

Here’s a roundup of links to all of the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Posts that were shared. Keep in touch and let me know if you have any questions as you make YOUR version – I’d love to cheer you on!

Week 1 – Quilt Along Complete Supply List
Week 2 – Cutting the Fabric
Week 3 – Sewing the Blocks
Week 4 – Completing the Quilt Top
Week 5 – Backing and Basting
Week 6 – Quilting Part 1 – Stitching in the Ditch
Week 7 – Quilting Part 2 – Quilting Double Zig-Zags
Week 8 – Quilting Part 3 – Free Motion Quilting Double L’s
Week 9 – Binding to finish

Free Motion quilting on Dot n Dash by Christa WatsonQuilting Detail from Dot’n’Dash made from my Fandangle Strip-pie.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Week 5 – Make a Quilting Plan

I love seeing all of the Beaded Lanterns quilts in progress! Remember, you can share your work in my ChristaQuilts facebook group, or on instagram #beadedlanternsqal. For my latest post hosted over on the BERNINA blog, We All Sew, I’m chatting about the quilting plan I created and how I broke the steps down into walking foot quilting and free-motion techniques.

Stitching in the ditch walking foot quilting

One of the easiest ways to quilt a quilt is to stitch in the ditch and then echo it to highlight certain areas of the quilt. For more tips and to check out the rest of the quilt along, be sure to click any of links below.

Beaded Lanterns QAL Links

Click here to purchase the Beaded Lanterns Quilt Kit
Click here to get the free Beaded Lanterns Quilt Pattern

Week 1: Supply List
Week 2: Making the Blocks
Week 3: Sewing the Quilt Top
Week 4: Spray Basting Tutorial

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

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

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

Free Motion quilting on Dot n Dash by Christa Watson

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

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

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

Free Motion quilting

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

Sketch it. Then quilt it.

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

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

Sketch it. Then Quilt it.

Sketch it – then quilt it!

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

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

Free Motion Quilting on Dot n Dash Quilt

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

First Pass Across the Quilt

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

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

Cursive L's Free-motion quilting

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

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

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

Cursive L's Free-Motion quilting

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

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

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

Second Pass Across the Quilt

Cursive L's detail quilting

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

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

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

Cursive L's Dense Quilting

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

Quilting Homework

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

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

Quilting at the Beach

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

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

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 7 – Machine Quilting Part 2: Double Zig-Zags

It’s time to embellish our quilts with some fun machine quilting this week! In my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts, I’ve shared 18 different quilting ideas that you can mix and match along with the 11 projects in the book. We are going to do a little bit of mixing and matching of motifs this week!

(By the way, If you are a little unsure of your free-motion quilting skills, be sure to check out my machine quilting class on Craftsy for my best machine quilting tips and tricks!)

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Original Dot N Dash Quilting

Here’s how I quilted the original Dot ‘n’ Dash quilt. I quilted “crazy 8’s” in the background areas, and wavy lines in the print strips. I followed a similar quilting plan to what we are doing today, but with different designs. If you’d like to follow this quilting plan, see pages 50-55 of the book.

Free-Motion Quilting Dot n Dash

Original quilting plan for Dot ‘n’ Dash – from the book.

For this week’s quilting “assignment,” we are going to play with one of the walking foot designs from another project in the book to  come up with a really fun variation. Take a look at the “Frequency” quilt on page 28 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts. You can create amazing texture by quilting “sort of” straight lines, zigging and zagging from side to side across each strip.

Quilting Modern Zig-Zags

Notice the random irregularities. Not only do they add interest to the quilt, they are fast and easy to do because there’s no marking involved and you don’t have to measure any spacing. This is MY kind of perfectly imperfect quilting!!

Frequency Quilting

See page 28 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts to practice this design.

quilting with your walking foot/dual feed

Rotate the quilt so that you are quilting each strip row from the top to bottom. Quilt a short line by eye and stop with the needle down when you get to the side of your strip. Lift the foot up and slightly rotate the quilt so that you can angle the line in the opposite direction. Keep going, quilting the irregular lines from side to side. If you have a knee-lift or hover feature on your machine, use it so that you can leave your hands on the quilt the entire time.

To prevent whiskering (wrinkles) or puckers on your quilt, quilt each row starting at the top of the quilt and working your way to the bottom each time. Just like when I stitched in the ditch last week, I’ll start on the right side of the quilt and work my way towards the center, then rotate the quilt and keep going from the center out.

Alternate Method: Free-Motion Quilting the Zig-Zags

To get started free-motion quilting, I recommend using a Supreme Slider – a slick sheet that clings to the bed of your sewing machine, and a pair of Machingers gloves that will give you a better grip on your quilt. Just remember to only use the Supreme Slider while FMQ, not walking foot quilting, so that you don’t accidentally stitch through it! (Ask me how I know….)

Tools for free motion quilting: open toe foot, gloves, supreme slider

The gloves and slider will help me control the quilt with less strain on my hands.

I’ve lowered my feed dogs and I’m quilting with an open toe free motion foot so I can better see what I’m doing. Although my machine does come with a stitch regulator, I actually prefer quilting without it. I learned without a regulator so that’s the movement I’m most comfortable with.

However, if you have a stitch regularot, give it a try and see which feels more comfortable to you – with or without. Here’s another tip I picked up from my good buddy Leah Day: try quilting both with your feed dogs up and down to see which gives you a better stitch. The nice thing about using a Supreme Slider is that it covers the feed dogs, keeping them out of the way if you decide to keep them up!

Free Motion Quilting Zig-Zags

Free-motion quilting is faster, but requires more control and lots of practice.

Did you know you can free-motion quilt short straight lines without a ruler? If they are done in short bursts, you can eyeball a straight line if you look ahead and pick a point you are trying to get to.

The reason I’m quilting this design free-motion instead of with a walking foot is that it’s faster, since I don’t have to stop and turn the quilt for each zig and zag. However, it requires more muscle control, so practice both ways first on a scrap of batting and fabric and then decide which technique is easier for you to master.

Free Motion Modern Zig-Zag Design

First pass across the quilt – zig-zags in all the gray areas.

Notice that I’m quilting modern, random zig-zags in the gray strips between each print strip (not including the small gray squares). To quilt one long continuous line without breaking thread, zig or zag over to the next gray section to quilt. If needed, it’s okay to backtrack (or quilt over a precious quilting line) in the seam to get to where you need to go.

After quilting one pass of zig-zags, I decided that I wanted to quilt another set of lines, intersecting what I had already done. I’m using the same method to quilt the random short lines, but crossing over each previous line as shown below:

Double Zig-Zags fmq

Notice how I’m quilting each row from the top of the quilt to the bottom.
I will rotate the quilt as needed to find a comfortable quilting position.

Machine Quilting Homework

Quilt all of the gray areas with a blending thread. I used the same Aurifil 50 weight gray that I used for stitching in the ditch last week. Quilt one pass across the quilt like the pictures I showed above. Then quilt a second pass across the quilt to give it more random texture.

We will tackle the print strips next week, using another free-motion motif from a different quilt in the book. It’s been fun to mix and match the designs to show how versatile they can be!

Free Motion Quilting Double Zig-zags

Divide and Conquer – quilt all of one design first before moving on to the next.

It’s Not to Late to Start!

Remember – you can jump in and make this quilt any time. Just grab a copy of the book and your favorite fabrics (strips, scraps, or stash).

Click here for the supply list and links to all of the previous posts.
Then share your progress on instagram #dotndashqal or in my Christa Quilts facebook group.

Free motion quilting double zig zags

I love yummy machine quilting texture!! Next week I’ll show you how to quilt the rest.

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 6 – Machine Quilting Part 1 SITD

Can you believe we are 6 weeks in to the quilt along?! The work you all are doing is fabulous and I’m excited to get to my favorite part – machine quilting!! This week we will Stitch in the Ditch (SITD) to secure the quilt for the jazzy free motion quilting we will do later. Many times, this crucial step is overlooked, and although it’s not the most exciting part of machine quilting it’s one of the most important steps for successful free-motion quilting.

Machine Quilting Detail on Dot n Dash Quilt

Machine Quilting Detail on Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt. Stitching in the ditch allows you to break down the quilting into sections, which makes for more successful free-motion quilting later.

My Fave Machine Quilting Supplies

First of all, let me tell you about the needles I prefer to use for machine quilting. They are from Superior Threads and are called Topstitch needles. Look at the image below to see the difference between a Topstitch needle and a Universal needle. The Topstitch has a slightly sharper point which is helpful for penetrating the fabric. But the most important feature is a slightly longer eye (the hole) so that your thread won’t shred. I love these needles so much that I use them for piecing as well.

Needle Closeup

I buy the needles in the blue package as they are most economical for my projects:

Next, the thread I use for piecing AND machine quilting is 50 weight 100% cotton from Aurifil. The 50 weight is thin, yet strong so that it will blend into your quilt. I’d rather see the overall texture of the quilting rather than the individual stitches, and quilting densely helps me mask any mistakes. After all, the easiest way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches!

Piece and Quilt Collection Aurifil Thread by Christa Watson

For this quilt, I’m using the medium gray #2605 from my Piece and Quilt Neutrals thread collection. (My neutrals box also includes a lighter gray and a darker gray so that you’re covered, no matter which shade of gray you like!)

Stitching in the Ditch

Whenever I do any custom quilting, I will always “anchor” the quilt by stitching in the ditch first, in key areas of the quilt. For Dot ‘n’ Dash, it made sense to stitch in the ditch between each long row. I recommend using a walking foot, or a machine that has a built in dual feed system (such as the BERNINA 770 QE that I’m using).

The nice thing about pressing seams open, is that you can actually stay in the ditch, and you don’t have to worry about switching thread colors for the low vs. high side of the ditch. Contrary to popular myth, stitching in the ditch with seams pressed open will NOT weaken your seams. I’ve been doing it for years with no problem, and I find it actually strengthens my quilts and adds more stability. (Just think about it – if stitching over a previous line of stitching would cut your threads, then you’d never be able to backtrack over a seam, right??)

Stitching in the Ditch on Dot n Dash Quilt

I use the terms walking foot quilting and dual feed quilting interchangeably.
Stitch slowly , so you can stay in the ditch as much as possible

The built in dual feed turns my 1/4″ patchwork “D” foot into a walking foot, feeding the quilt through evenly with no puckers. I recommend quilting with a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 instead of 2.5) to help compensate for any drag on the quilt. I also recommending reducing your presser foot pressure when doing walking foot/dual feed quilting (but not for FMQ).

Because you are making contact with the quilt on every stitch, this puts a lot of pressure on the quilt which can lead to tucks and puckers, especially when crossing seams. By reducing the presser foot pressure, it enables you to quilt with a lighter hand (or should I say foot?) on the quilt.

Modern Marks Quilt Backing

Look how nicely the gray thread blends into the blue Modern Marks print on the back.

When stitching long straight lines across the quilt with a walking foot, I recommend stitching in one direction only, from top to bottom, rather than going back and forth. This will keep the quilt flatter, with less torque on the quilt. Many times, “whiskering” – or lots of little creases will appear if you stitch lines back and forth.

Scrunch and Smoosh the quilt under the machine

Scrunching and Smooshing in Progress

To deal with the bulk of the quilt under the machine, I scrunch and smoosh it out of the way however I can, and only focus on one area of the quilt. I start on the right side of the quilt and work my way across the quilt, stitching one line at a time.

When I get to the center of the quilt, I’ll rotate the quilt 180 degrees and keep going from the middle to the edge of the quilt. This allows you to deal with the least amount of bulk at a time, and by the time you get to center you know that the bulk will get less and less as you quilt the other side.

Stitching in the Ditch on Dot n Dash

Detail of stitching in the ditch

Once either side of the strips has been stitched in the ditch, your quilt is fully secure to add more quilting. Note that I’m only SITD along the long rows, not in between the smaller squares. That would be too much starting and stopping for my taste! And don’t worry, even if your ditching lines veer off a little bit, you won’t notice it once you add more quilting.

Quilting Homework

Finish stitching the rows in the ditch and then get ready for free-motion quilting next week! Because we are taking our time and spending 3 weeks on machine quilting, you’ll have plenty of time to ease into it.

Dot n Dash machine quilting

Next time we quilt, all we have to do is think about smaller sections, one row at a time.

You could always stop right here and call it finished, but I can’t wait to show you how to add more yummy texture next week! Be sure and share your progress and ask questions or get any trouble-shooting help over in my Christa Quilts Facebook group, or on instagram #dotndashqal.

Click here for the start of the quilt along with supply list and links to all of the QAL steps.