Creative Spaces Blog Hop Week 1 – My Sewing Room

Welcome to Week 1 of the creative spaces blog hop! Scroll to the end for links to everyone who has posted about their spaces this week – I’m sure you’ll love it, be inspired, and hopefully, feel good about your own creative space!

Creative Spaces Week 1

This week, we are blogging about our sewing spaces, and sharing before and after pics.

I like to keep a tidy room, but whenever I travel, things can become a hot mess. I’m usually trying to finish up some deadline at the same time and my sewing space can often look like this:

I have a big space in our upstairs loft area. There’s a big table in the middle where I do most of my computer work, cutting and organizing of projects. It tends to attract all the mess when I’m in a hurry to leave on a big trip.

When my studio is tidy and clean and I’m able to efficiently use every space, it looks more like the image  below (taken a couple of years ago for a feature on someone else’s blog):

Christa's Sewing Room

I’ve got a quilt under the machine on the back wall with another quilt top on two tables in the middle of the room. My design wall on the right is big enough to hang a large quilt top. It now doubles as my basting area and my photography studio.

I can fit a full size ironing board with a big board on top, and there’s a desk where my daughter can also sew if she’s interested. You can barely see the couch peeking behind the railing where I like to drape a couple of quilts in progress.

Photographing Sparkling Stars Quilt

Jason does all of the flat photography for me since that’s definitely not my skill set.
Here he’s photographing Sparkling Stars, my newest quilt pattern featuring Fandangle.

Probably my favorite thing in my sewing room is the design wall because I use it all the time. Whenever I’m working on a new quilt, or even a new fabric line I’ll hang up whatever I’m looking at and step away, to see what it looks like at different angles.

It also servers as my photography studio to take flat shots for pattern covers. We (meaning Jason) build the design wall back in 2013 the last time I did a major studio renovation. You can read about our process here.

Clean Sewing Room

I’m lucky to have a large space with enough room to put everything away when I clean up.

My least favorite thing in my sewing space is the hand-me-down wooden entertainment center. It doesn’t match anything in the room, but it was free and fits the space well. It also holds a ton of stuff, including our big ugly office printers (one for black and white printing & labels – the other for color printing.)

One of my goals during this six week blog hop is to replace that ugly brown monstrosity with something nicer from Ikea. We recently got one in our town, and it’s sad that I haven’t even been there yet! But I’m hoping I can assemble a series of smaller units and bookcases (in white) that will make the space look a whole lot nicer! I’d also like to replace my plastic work table with a taller table on wheels that I can use for cutting.

Christa Quilts

I’m definitely in my happy place when I can quilt in a clean, organized room. My sewing machine is against a wall with a window so that I have lots of natural light steaming through while I quilt during the day. My favorite thing to do is listen to a podcast or audio book while I quilt. It relaxes me and I can get into a good flow while I work.

Other Stops on the Hop

Be sure and visit these other stops on the Creative Spaces Blog hop and see how my quilty friends deal with taming their creative spaces:

Mondays

Tuesdays

Wednesdays

Thursdays

Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

Creative Spaces Blog Hop

 

Quick Podcast Announcement – Guest on Just Wanna Quilt

My blogging fell off a bit last week because of my trip to Chicago for BERNINA University. I’m writing up a summary of the trip and hope to have that posted in the next day or two 🙂

Just Wanna Quilt Podcast

Click here to get to Just Wanna Quilt Home Page

In the meantime, I wanted to recommend a fun podcast to listen to that I was recently interviewed on. It’s called Just Wanna Quilt and is the brainchild of Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard from Tulane Law School. She’s doing research on quilting and copyright and her podcast is a part of her research where she interviews all sorts of people in the quilting industry: hobbyists, professionals, and industry insiders. It’s super fascinating!

QuiltFolk

FYI Elizabeth will be a guest speaker and teacher at QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville next year, AND she was recently included in the latest issue of QuiltFolk magazine about Louisiana. It was an honor to speak with her!

Dr. Eizabeth Townsend Gard

You can also subscribe to Just Wanna Quilt podcast via ITunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

A Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts: Student Work from my Latest Workshop

Last week I taught a week-long class at John C. Campbell Folkschool on how to make a complete quilt from start to finish. Everyone made the same quilt from my Stepping Stones quilt pattern – but as you can see in the group pic below, they all look so different – and so fabulous!

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

A Colorful Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts

Last Saturday, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia along with my mom, Jason and two of my kids. My mom and the kids stayed with my aunt and uncle for the week while Jason and I drove over to the Folkschool. He took a photography class while I taught quilting, and we both had a fabulous time!

Fabric Cutting for Stepping Stones Quilt

Cutting in Progress. Each student chose their own fabrics and they were all fabulous!

My students got to work right away, cutting their fabrics to make their quilts. I love how most of them chose bright colors, but I’ve seen this design worked up in a wide variety of fabrics and it always turns out great!

Stepping Stones Quilt Blocks in Progress

Quilt blocks in progress – some students sewed theirs together randomly while others took time to carefully arrange each piece and either way works great!

It was fun to see the blocks going up on the design walls in the studio space. There was plenty of room to spread out and most students had their quilt tops pieced by the second day.

stepping stones quilt in progress

Quilts in progress decorated the walls beautifully all week!

They were excited to try out my spray basting technique and we had a gorgeous spot to baste, just outside the studio door in the lush green hills of Brasstown, NC.

spray basting

Can you imagine a more beautiful place to baste a quilt??

Once the quilt top and back are sprayed outside, we brought them in doors to assemble on a couple of work tables.

Basting: smooth the batting

The trick to good basting is to smooth out each layer of the quilt! A long acrylic ruler helps.

Although there were lots of quilts to baste, we made a party of it, helping everyone get theirs done so the process went very quickly!

Quilt Basting - pressing the quilt

Another trick is to iron the quilt once it’s basted to set the glue and smooth out wrinkles.

During class, I did a mini-lesson on both walking foot quilting and free motion quilting. and the students picked which techniques and designs they wanted to try, based on their skill level and ambition.

Machine Quilting in progress

Students learned how to “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt underneath their machines.
Walking-foot quilting detail of the quilt above is shown below:

walking foot quilting detail on stepping stones

I was so proud of them for going outside their comfort zones and trying out different techniques. Those that wanted to do custom quilting practiced on a sample block like I suggested so they could see how the design would work with the thread and fabrics they chose.

custom quilting on stepping stones

One student’s custom quilting design. Although it’s taking her much longer to quilt this intricate design in each block, the results will be well worth it at the end!

Once the quilts were quilted, it was time to bind. I taught them how to apply an even 1/4″ binding by starting with 2″ strips. They were even willing to finish it by hand and most of them added the final stitches on the last morning before the closing ceremony.

Hand binding stepping stones

You can get a LOT of binding done while chatting hanging out!!!

Although class time went for 6 hours a day Monday-Thursday and 1/2 day class on Friday, most of the students took advantage of bonus sewing time in the evenings. I also worked on an upcoming project during that time (which I’ll reveal shortly) and we all had a grand time! It really was like an intimate quilting retreat. None of the students knew each other before class but were BQF’s (best quilting friends) at the end of the week!

It really felt like quilt camp for adults and I have to say I had just as much fun as they did!!

Finished Stepping Stones Quilt

First quilt!! It’s never too late to learn!!

It’s rare that I get to teach an intense in-person class like this but it’s such a joy to see them all do such a fabulous job. We even had one sweet quilter that had never made a quilt before and hadn’t even touched a sewing machine in over 30 years. But with help and encouragement of the class, she had a fabulous finish and was so proud of it!!

Fiber Arts Studio at John C. Campbell Folkschool

The Fiber Arts Studio wouldn’t be complete with out a Barn Quilt Block!!

We were very lucky to call the Fiber Arts Studio at the Folkschool our home away from home for a week. This is the third time I’ve been able to teach here, and it just gets better and better! (See my previous two classes here and here.)

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

Folkschool Quilt Class, June 2018

Just remember – if you decide to have fun making your own version of Stepping Stones quilt – I’m here to cheer you on!!

The Patterns are Here! The Patterns are Here!

I got some happy mail this weekend – a shipment of my latest print pattern releases. The quilts below are all made from my Fandangle fabric which ships to stores in July, but I’ve written the patterns so that they will look fabulous in any fabrics you choose! I’ve blogged a lot about the quilts already (see links below each image in case you missed it), but now I’m excited to tell you what makes the patterns themselves extra special.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Sparkling Stars quilt by Christa Watson made from Fandangle fabric

Sparkling Stars designed and made by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

For starters, all of my patterns are full color throughout. They are professionally printed, folded into a half-sheet size booklet, and staple-bound by GotPrint.com. I select high-quality glossy paper for the insides and the covers are slightly thicker which makes them a little more sturdy.

Because I purchase them in a higher volume, I’m able to get a quantity discount which I pass on to you all in the form of a lower price point. The MSRP for my print patterns is $9.95 which is much lower than the $12-$14 price I’ve seen for similar quality patterns.

Sparkling Stars PatternSparkling Stars Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Quilt Pattern

For Sparkling Stars, I included a very detailed materials list so that you could replicate the look in similar colors even if using different fabrics than I did. I also included detailed diagrams and charts by colorway so that it’s easy to follow along and not get lost.

Here’s an example of one of the many full-color illustrations that are included in the pattern:

Sparkling Stars Blocks

If there’s enough room in the pattern, I’ll usually throw in a closeup image of the quilting for inspiration. As an FYI, patterns need to be formatted so that they use up 8 or 12 sides (4-6 full pages). Most of mine tend to be on the longer end so that I can put in as much detail as possible.

I work with my graphic designer Lindsie to lay out the text, photos and illustrations, and if there’s extra room, I’ll throw in an extra diagram, tip, or quilting suggestion. I want you to have as much fun making these quilts as I did, and I try to pack as much helpful info into each pattern as I can!

Spiral quilting detail from Sparkling Stars

Quilting detail included in the pattern – inside front cover.

Surplus Strips Quilts

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Warm Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Cool Colorway of Fandangle

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Cool Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Quilt PatternSurplus Strips Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern

For Surplus Strips, I wanted to show how you could use up leftover 2 1/2″ strips sorted by colorway to create a dynamic, scrappy looking quilt. In my patterns, I’ll try to include different methods of using your fabric (either yardage, scraps or precuts) whenever possible so you can make the best use of your stash!

Quilting Detail of Triangle Trinkets

Detail of the Triangle Trinkets motif quilted on the cool colorway.

I’m really excited that I was able to include machine quilting diagrams and detailed images in this pattern. Because many of the prints in my fabric lines are based off of my favorite machine quilting motifs, it was fun to include a different allover quilting design for each colorway.

Machine quilting detail of Surplus Strips

Do you see how the quilting design is the same as the Paper Cuts print? So fun!!

Pearl Pendants Quilt

Pearl Pendants Quilt by Heather Black

Pearl Pendants, designed and made by Heather Black, 60″ x 72″
Click here to read more about Heather and this gorgeous quilt.

It was really fun to collaborate on Pearl Pendants with my talented friend Heather Black of Quilt-achusetts. She designed and made the quilt using Fandangle plus Contempo Colorweave coordinates.

We both co-wrote the pattern and it was fun to go back and forth to ensure that the pattern was easy enough to understand and follow. My husband, Jason, who is NOT a quilter was very helpful in proof-reading to make sure even a novice could understand how to make this stunning quilt!

Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern by Heather Black and Christa WatsonPearl Pendants Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern

My favorite illustration included in the pattern is the very detailed chart of blocks which specifies exactly how many of each unit to make to get the same look. We included plenty of step by step diagrams so that you’ll have no problems making this fun quilt while practicing your curved piecing. Of course you can easily substitute the colors below for completely different fabrics, and it will still look great!!

Pearl Pendants Chart of Blocks

The pattern also includes full-sized templates to make the blocks in two different sizes, or you can use a specialty curved ruler if that’s your preferred method.

Heather has become quite proficient at quilting on her longarm and she loves to combine hand-guided work with a bit of computerized work in the quilting detail shown below:

Quilting Detail for Pearl Pendants

How to Purchase Christa Quilts Patterns

(1) Anyone can purchase my complete line of print patterns at shop.christaquilts.com.

(2) PDF versions of my entire pattern line are available in my Craftsy shop (click here).

(3) Quilt shops and other retailers can contact me via email christa@christaquilts.com for wholesale pricing information and exclusive specials.

(4) My fabrics and select patterns are also available wholesale through Checker Distributors and Brewer Sewing.

If you are a quilting instructor and wish to teach a class from any of these patterns, please contact me to get the wholesale pricing discount. I’m happy for others to teach from my patterns (or books) as long as each student purchases their own copy.

Sparkling Stars in the Benartex Contempo Booth at Quilt Market

Here’s Sparkling Stars hanging in my booth at Spring 2018 quilt market. Be sure to catch my next post where I’ll share all about my quilt market experience!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 3 – Spiral Quilting

Today I’m finishing up the making of Sparkling Stars, one of the brand new quilt patterns made from my brand new Fandangle fabric collection. Fandangle means embellishment or ornamentation and rather than embellishing my quilts with baubles and beads, I do it with fabric and thread!

Spiral quilting detail

Spiral Quilting Detail on Sparkling Stars

Marking the Center Spiral

Because I was on a tight deadline to finish this quilt, I chose a really fun walking-foot quilting design that looks great and is easy to do. I went with the large continuous spiral which is one of the designs I teach in my quilting classes and also in my book with Angela Walters, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

Marking the Center Spiral

The trick to this design is to mark the center spiral, and then follow it around with the edge of your walking foot until the entire thing is quilted. I like to use a small circle shape to start. A spool of Aurifil thread works great by the way!!

Aurifil Variegated Thread

Speaking of Aurifil thread, I used  variegated 50 weight cotton #4650 Leaves for the quilting. I’ve really been enjoying using variegated threads on colorful quilts because they add an extra bit of texture and dimension to my quilts. In this case, it really emphasizes the “sparkling” effect.

Spiral Quilting

Machine quilting detail variegated thread

Yes, I had to rotate the quilt about a bazillion times, but once you get past the first few spirals it goes very quickly. It really helps to use a hands free system (knee-lift) or hover feature if you have one so that you can keep your hands on the quilt at all times.

I don’t ever stress too much about perfection in my quilting. If it wobbles a bit while quilting, I know that once my face isn’t two inches away from the quilt, it won’t be noticeable. Another walking foot quilting tip is to lower the presser foot pressure while quilting (not all machines can do this so check your manual). I also increase the stitch length to 3.0 to help compensate for friction and drag on the quilt.

Scrunching and smooshing the quilt

Rather than using a walking foot, I use the BERNINA dual feed that’s built into my 770 QE. It allows me to get the same result, but I can use different feet. I use the 20D foot – the open toe embroidery foot – for straight line quilting, and the 37D – 1/4″ patchwork foot – for attaching my binding.

Binding the Quilt

I use skinnier strips cut at just 2″ for my binding so that they finish at 1/4″ on both sides of the quilt. Click here for my binding tutorial for a previous quilt.

Attaching the Binding

I will press the binding to the back of the quilt and then keep it in place with about 200 binding clips all the way around the perimeter. I know some people like to use just a few clips and that works too!

Securing The Binding

When I bind, I keep the quilt away from me and bind from right to left. I use a thimble to protect my finger and push the needle through with the middle finger of my left hand. I think it’s interesting that there’s no one right way to do it. Some people do it holding the quilt in the opposite direction, while others stitch from left to right. As long as you are comfortable stitching, that’s the important thing!

Binding a Quilt

I know that binding by machine goes a lot faster, but there’s something I love about snuggling with the quilt at the end for a little hand-stitching. It’s like my reward after all the work it takes to make a quilt! Plus, I just really really like the way hand binding looks.

The final step in my quilt making process is to photograph the quilt. Thankfully Jason does that for me since I do NOT like that part, LOL!! We use my design wall to take flat shots that will be used for the cover of the quilt pattern. The hardest part is getting the lighting right! Later on, we’ll do pretty styled shots outside, but that’s a completely different process.

Photographing Sparkling Stars Quilt

I hope you’ve enjoyed the making of this quilt! You can now purchase the pattern by using any of the links below. And if you make one, be sure to share and use #sparklingstarsquilt on social media so I can see your progress!

Purchase the Pattern, See Previous “Making Of” Posts

 

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 1 – The Design and Sewing the Blocks

Now that I’m back home from quilt market, I have time to share about the process of making Sparkling Stars, one of the quilts from Fandangle, my new fabric line from Benartex/Contempo.

Sparkling Stars Design

Whenever I make an original quilt, I first create it in Electric Quilt Software using the actual fabric swatches I plan to use. If it’s a scrappy-looking quilt, I won’t worry too much about color placement while I design. However, for Sparkling Stars, I took quite a while re-arranging the colors until I was pleased with how they looked.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars PDF Quilt Pattern.
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Print Quilt Pattern (Ships by 5/31).

I knew I wanted to use all 20 fabrics from Fandangle, but in a cohesive way. So I literally tried every fabric in the line in each part of the star blocks above until I was pleased with the final color arrangement. (I usually don’t save the “reject” versions because they are numerous and I don’t want to get confused by multiple images of the same file I’m working on.)

Fandangle Cut Units for Sparkling Stars

I love a pretty stack of cut units!

I planned the design months before I received fabric samples so that I could get the pattern written ahead of time. I knew time would be short in making the quilt so I tried to get as much work done ahead of time as I could. Once I start on a quilt, I’ll make it pretty quickly from start to finish since I’m usually working on a deadline.

Sparkling Stars HST's

Stacks and Stacks of HST’s in progress…

Making the Blocks

I try to assembly line my process, so I’ll cut everything ahead of time, then sew all the sub-units at once rather than constructing a quilt block by block. It’s much more efficient and I can pattern test as I go by doing it this way.

Sparkling Stars in Progress

I keep similar units together to stay organized.

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces that go into making this quilt so I try to be as careful as I can during every step of the process. I sew with a consistent quarter inch seam, press my seams open, and trim my units as needed to the correct size. By taking care during each step of the process, it ensures the final blocks will go together smoothly.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

Sparkling Star Quilt Blocks in Progress

When the sub-units are complete, I stack them up and lay them out in order next to my sewing machine so that I can chain piece as much as possible. I also take pictures as I go so I can look at a reduced view of the quilt blocks to make sure nothing is turned the wrong way before sewing together.

For these particular blocks, I made sure turn turn the “Beaded Curtain” print so that they were all facing the same direction. The rest of the prints are non-directional so they didn’t matter.

Seams Pressed Open

I sew with a shorter stitch length and press seams open as I go for best results.
Then I’ll pin the units together as I sew to get accurate seam joins.

Rather then sewing the blocks into rows, I sewed them into 4-patch units so they’d be easier to manage. It also allows makes me feel like I’m getting more done since it’s a lot of pieces to sew! The biggest tip is to just sew one step of ALL the blocks at a time and then take a break so it doesn’t get too monotonous.

Sparkling Stars Blocks in Orange

These blocks will sparkle and glow in the final quilt!

When the blocks are complete, I’ll press them with a hot, dry iron on both front and back. This ensures nice flat blocks which will be much easier to machine quilt!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

There are a total of 25 blocks in 6 different fabric combinations.

I wrote up the quilt pattern so that it would be extremely easy to follow along either using the same fabrics I did, or using similar colors to get the sparkling effect. Fandangle will start shipping to stores at the end of June, but you can pre-order bundles of the prints and yardage of the grays (along with the quilt pattern) over at shop.christaquilts.com for a limited time.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

While I’m not offering kits, you can get the enough fabric to make this quilt when you purchase 1/2 yard bundles of both the cool and warm colorways; plus 3 yards of the light gray, and 2 yards of the dark gray. There will be a little left over that you can use for other projects.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I show how I put the quilt top together!

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 2 – The Quilt Top and Basting

As I prepare for International Quilt Market, which is an industry trade show held this spring in Portland, Oregon (May 18-20), I’m sewing like a madwoman, finishing up samples to promote my new quilt patterns and Fandangle fabric line. I’m currently working on two versions of my Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern – in warm and cool colors. Click here to read my previous post about making the blocks.

Color Arrangement

Surplus Strips Blocks in Cool Fandangle

Arranging tiny blocks was much faster than using my design wall!

Although I designed both colorways in EQ8, I didn’t finalize the exact color placement for each block. Instead, I did something very low tech. I printed out a version of the quilt with the same number of blocks that I made and then cut out all of the tiny paper blocks to arrange on my work table. It actually went a lot faster than putting up the blocks on my design wall and arranging them there.

Surplus Strips Paper Blocks - Warm Fandangle

I like being able to rearrange the blocks until I’m happy with their color placement.
These paper blocks are only about 1″ wide!

Once I was happy with the color arrangement, I printed out the final layout in color, and organized the blocks on my work table by color. In other words, the printed out layout served as a “virtual” design wall that takes up a lot less space!

Surplus Strips Blocks Fandangle Warm Colorway

I printed out the layout in EQ8 which serves as my “virtual” design wall.

It was super fast to sew the blocks into rows using my printed out layout as a guideline. This quilt goes together in vertical columns, rather than horizontal rows, so I just had to make sure I kept everything in the correct orientation as I sewed.

Surplus Strips blocks Fandangle Fabric warm colorway

I sewed the blocks and sashing in order according to my printed out layout.

Pressing Seams Open

I used this process for both the warm and cool colorway, and it went super fast! Pressing all of my seams open really helped the quilt top lie flat when I gave it a final press. It also made it soooo much easier to line up the seams accurately! Because there’s no nesting, it’s important to pin generously while joining the blocks and rows. But I actually get better results and perfect seam joins when I press seams open & use pins, so it’s worth it to take the extra time.

Seams Pressed Open - Cool Colorway, Fandangle Fabric, Surplus Strips Quilt

Seams pressed open ensures a nice flat top, with no lumps and bumps!

When pressing seams open, be sure to use a shorter stitch length (like 2 instead of 2.5) to secure the seams. A shorter stitch also makes it less likely that you’ll see thread poking through the seams, too!

Bonus Measuring Tip

Measuring long borders

Use a ruler to extend the cutting length on your mat for long borders: place the folded end on the ruler, and cut on the mat. If I needed more length, I’d rotate the ruler longways.

Here’s a bonus tip when working with borders that are longer than your mat. When cutting, I fold the border fabric in half and use an “extend a ruler” – my phrase for extending the cutting length by using a ruler, lined up at the edge of the mat. I’ll use as many extra inches as needed to get a nice precise measurement when cutting. Just divide the needed length in half and count over that many inches on the extension ruler and mat.

More Pressing

Press the quilt on both sides

Speaking of pressing, once the quilt top is finished, I give it a final press on the front, too. It seems to make the quilt nice, flat and crisp, so it’s ready to baste! Whenever I press anything on my quilt, I always use a dry iron. I don’t like steam because it can burn your fingers and distort the fabric. Also, if the iron leaks or spits, you can get a nasty mess! If I need a bit of water for an unruly seam, I’ll just use a spray bottle filled with water instead.

Virtual Home and Studio Tour

Surplus Strips Quilt Tops Warm and Cool

Look closely and you can see 2 quilt tops waiting underneath the warm colorway. Plus there’s some yardage of Fandangle peeking out underneath the cool colorway.

When my quilt top(s) are finished and pressed, I hang them over the stair railing on the upper floor of my home so they don’t get wrinkled. Upstairs is my husband’s office, my daughter’s room, our bedroom and my sewing loft. Downstairs is my son’s room, work area for The Precut Store, living room, dining area, and kitchen. It’s a comfy home and we use every square foot!!

Here’s an image of my studio space, across from the stair railing where I hang my quilts in progress. This picture was taken back in 2014 for a magazine profile. It’s pretty much still the same!

Christa's Sewing Room

Image of my sewing studio 2014 – with 3 quilt tops that are still unfinished LOL!!

Our backyard is just off the kitchen downstairs, and is where I keep a plastic table set up on the patio for spray basting. I don’t spend nearly enough time in my yard as I do my sewing room, so it needs a little work, LOL!!

Spray Basting

Basting Outside

Click here for my spray basting tutorial using a design wall.
Click here for my spray basting tutorial using a table.

Once the backing and top are sprayed outside, I then bring them inside and assemble them on my design wall indoors.

Surplus Strips Batting

Take a picture of the batting with the quilt, and take note of what you like/don’t like.
I’m using Hobbs cotton batting for the cool colorway.

To keep track of which batting I use, I take a picture of the batting with the quilt top so I can remember. For these quilts, I used Hobbs cotton for the cool colorway and Hobbs silk for the warm. I used those particular battings because they are what I had on hand and didn’t have time to order anything else, LOL!!

But I love using natural fiber battings like cotton, wool, or silk because they cling to the quilt, provide good stitch definition, and allow the quilt to breathe and hang well.

Surplus Strips Warm Colorway backing

I’m using Hobbs Silk batting for the warm colorway.

Although the quilt pattern calls for all of one fabric for the backing, I had fun and made some bonus blocks with some of the leftover strips. Because I only have a limited amount of Fandangle yardage right now, I got creative with my piecing and used three different warm prints instead.

Surplus Strips Warm basting

Click here for a tutorial on how I made my design wall – back in 2013.

I like to make sure I have several inches of extra batting and backing beyond the quilt top. That way I don’t have to line things up perfectly, and the extra will get cut off when it’s time to bind.

Once it’s basted, I’ll trim down the backing and batting so that there’s only 1-2 inches sticking out. This prevents them from flipping backwards under the quilt, causing you to accidentally stitch through them while quilting. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done that!!

Pressing the Quilt After Basting

Notice how closely I trimmed the layers, with only about an inch or two of batting/backing sticking out beyond the quilt top. This prevents quilting the quilt to itself!

The final step is to press the quilt – yet again!! After it’s basted, I’ll press the quilt, first on the back, and then again on the front. This helps set the glue so the layers don’t shift. But more importantly, it allows me to work out any creases or bubbles on either side of the quilt. One the quilt is nice and flat, it’s sooo much easier to machine quilt!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa WatsonClick here to preorder the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – print version.
Click here to preorder Fandangle fabric bundles + background.

I hope you are enjoying seeing my progress as I make these quilts. Once they’re finished and photographed, I’ll release the patterns in both PDF and print. For now, you can pre-order the print version over at Shop.ChristaQuilts.com along with fabric to make them. (FYI the Fandangle 1/2 yard bundle + 5 yards of gray will be enough to make either quilt top.)

Now it’s time to quilt them – so stay tuned for part 3!!

Quilt Las Vegas 2018 and Lots of Gorgeous Modern Quilts

My local quilt guild, Desert Quilters of Nevada. recently held their 28th annual show of Quilt Las Vegas. I’ve been entering off and on over the years since the early 2000’s and it’s still exciting to participate after all these years.

DQN Quilted banner by Karen Garth

Desert Quilters of Nevada quilted banner made by past president Karen Garth

The competition is always fierce, and the judging is always performed by a certified judge. Even after all these years of entering this show, it’s still thrilling whenever one of my quilts wins a ribbon and I love the feedback provided by the judge.

Below are my entries from the show along with the judge’s comments, plus several more that caught my eye. I’m so happy to see that more and more members are making modern quilts, and especially that more are being accepted into non-modern categories. Enjoy the virtual show!

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson

Diamond in the Rough, made in 2016. 2nd place, Modern category.
Originally patterned in QuiltCon magazine 2017, it hung in QuiltCon last year and also received an honorable mention in the modern category at UQSM quilt show in 2017.

Judge’s comments for Diamond in the Rough

  • Repetition of shape unifies design while variations provide interest.
  • Very graphic presentation.
  • Very good piecing.
  • Quilting designs are well-chosen for their areas.
  • Good machine quilting technique.
  • Slight imbalance in tension noted with red thread. Continue to strive for accurate retracing.
  • Bit of red in binding was a good choice.
  • Binding is good.

Positive Direction Quilt by Christa Watson

Positive Direction, made in 2016. 2nd place, Holiday category.
Originally patterned in one size in Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.
Updated pattern now includes 4 sizes, available as print pattern or PDF download.

Judge’s comments for Positive Direction

  • Good interplay between quilt top design and quilting design.
  • Very good accuracy in piecing.
  • Good machine quilting technique.
  • Strive for more accuracy in retracing bubbles.
  • Binding is well done.

Scrap Happy by Christa Watson

Scrap Happy, made in 2017. 2nd place, Pieced – One Person category
Cover quilt + patterned in American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, October 2017.
I recently gifted this quilt to my son to take with him to college.

Scrap Happy Machine Quilting Detail

Machine Quilting Detail on Scrap Happy

Judge’s comments for Scrap Happy

  • Good definition between figure and ground.
  • Good machine piecing.
  • Colors are well balanced across quilt top.
  • Quilting designs further enhance definition between figure and ground.
  • Continue to strive for consistent stitch length in machine quilting.
  • Pieced binding enhances scrappy feel. Corners should be square.

I always mention to my students when teaching machine quilting not to stress too much about consistent stitch length when making their quilts. Yes, judges notice my “imperfections” in my quilts, but they still like them enough to award them ribbons, and I love making them without stressing about creating perfect stitches!

Other Gorgeous Quilts

Autumn Path quilt by Vicki Ruebel

Autumn Leaf by Vicki Ruebel of Orchid Owl Quilts
1st Place Pieced – One Person category and best machine quilting.

Vicki is a great friend and amazing quilter. We encourage each to other enter lots of quilt shows and I don’t even mind that she usually beats me every time, LOL!!

I love our friendly competition because it always pushes me to be a better quilter. Incidentally, her quilt was also patterned in the same issue of American Patchwork and quilting that has Scrap Happy on the cover. There’s even a bonus article on how she quilted it!

The Big Pickle by Vicki Ruebel

The Big Pickle, also by Vicki Ruebel. 1st Place, Modern

Yep, this one beat mine in the modern category, but isn’t it fabulous? This quilt nabs an award at each show it is entered, and deservedly so!

Corn Flowers by Cory Allender

Corn Flowers by Cory Allender and her Instagram quilting bee.
2nd place, collaboration/group quilt.
Design source: Blossom Heart Quilts Beehive

I love the quilting on this quilt. Cory is an amazing award winning longarm quilter and she’s nailed both the modern and traditional aesthetic.

Diamond Rings by Karen Garth

Diamond Rings by Karen Garth, Honorable Mention Modern Category
Original design and made by Karen

Karen, the past president who made the DQN banner at the top of this post always creates such stunning, dynamic work. I have a thing for black and white and this design really makes my heart sing!

Float by Melissa Bonilla

Float by Melissa Bonilla – Modern Category
inspired by Floating Embers

Every time I attend quilt shows, I wish I could bring my own ribbons! If so, I would have put one on Melissa’s quilt above. I may actually have to do that at a show someday. Hmmm, maybe I can create my own “Christa’s Choice” ribbon!!!

Modern Logs Quilt

Super Star Bingo by Lynda Blair – quilted by Cory Allender – Modern

I walked by this quilt and was stunned by the gorgeous colors and fabric placement. I was thinking “why do I love this quilt?” and on closer inspection realized the maker had used my Modern Logs quilt pattern to make it, LOL!! She even gave me credit in her artist’s statement as the design source.

Super Star Bingo Text

I’m totally happy when people make quilts from my patterns and enter them into shows, and I especially love it when they give credit to the designer. 🙂

Quilt Show Quilts

Bertha (left) by Melissa Curley – Third Place Modern
Theresa’s Crayon Box (right) by Theresa C – Third place, small pieced

I took this picture from the show which illustrates what I love about quilting and the quilting community. From minimalist modern designs to blinged and bedazzled art pieces – there’s truly something for everyone when it comes to quilting!

Ben Modern Quilt by Melissa Curley

Ben by Melissa Curley –  Judge’s Choice – Show Theme Category

Here’s another fabulous piece by Melissa Curley. I’m a fan of everything she makes and her sense of design and color are spot on! I think it’s kinda cool that she gives all of her quilts first names. Read her artist statement below, explaining the fun pop culture reference.

Artists Statement at Quilt Show

I hope you’ve enjoyed the virtual show and remember – entering quilts into shows isn’t really about the competition. It’s about sharing your work with a larger audience and inspiring others to make quilts they’d only dream about!!

Introducing my second fabric line – Fandangle – from Benartex/Contempo

I just got a delivery of fabric samples from my next fabric line which will be shipping to stores this summer! I call it Fandangle which a fun, silly name that means “excess ornamentation or embellishment.”

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson Cool Colorway

Click here to pre-order a bundle of Fandangle in the Cool Colorway.

I named this collection Fandangle as sort of an inside joke to myself. It’s a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that I don’t actually embellish or be-dazzle my quilts with any type of bling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, but it’s just not my style.

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson in the Warm Colorway

Click here to pre-order a bundle of Fandangle in the Warm Colorway.

Fandangle Fabric Designs

The names are super fun and playful, too! Here’s a little bit more about each design:

“Baubles and Bits” is a medium to large scale print with fun flourishes. If you look closely, you can see a nod to my previous collection with the inclusion of some subtle boxes – one of the prints from Modern Marks. To give the print more depth, I also added some scattered triangles, and just the tiniest hint of beads, which show up more prominently in its own print.

Fandangle Fabric, Baubles and Bits print

Baubles and Bits comes in two colors: teal and red.

“Sparkling Squares” features retro star bursts and fun flourishes This is a companion print to Baubles and Bits but on a much smaller scale. I love being able to take a design element and try it out in different configurations – just like creating a quilt layout, right??

Fandangle fabric - Sparkling Squares

Sparkling Squares comes in two colors: teal/multi and orange/multi.

“Triangle Trinkets” is based on one of my modern machine quilting designs. But I didn’t want this print to read as a simple line drawing (I saved that idea for Paper Cuts, below.) This would make a fabulous backing print: you could quilt your quilt from upside down, following the outline of each triangle to add depth and dimension to your quilt!

Fandangle fabric -Triangle Trinkets

Triangle Trinkets comes in three colors: peach, lime and teal.

“Beaded Curtain” was inspired by another one of my machine quilting designs, “string of pearls.” But if you look closely, you’ll see all sorts of fun shapes – ovals, rectangles, squares, and there’s even some quirky triangles in there (another shape from Modern Marks).

Fandangle fabric - Beaded Curtain

Beaded Curtain comes in four colors: red, pink, lime and turquoise.

“Paper Cuts” looks most like one of my free-motion line drawings. I based it off of my “jagged stipple” motif, which many of my students tell me what their regular stipple looks like anyway. So they can rest assured that it’s a bona-fide modern design, NOT just a “creative” mistake, LOL!! I thought Paper Cuts was a more descriptive name that fits in with the artsy theme.

Fandangle Fabric Paper Cuts

Paper Cuts comes in four colors: yellow, orange, green and turquoise.

“Confetti Crosshatch” is the most versatile of the group. This is a remix of “Crosshatch” from Modern Marks, but on a smaller scale. It’s a prefect blender print and works fabulous as a background or binding. I was thrilled to include two shades of gray!

Fandangle fabric - Confetti Crosshatch

Now that my samples have arrived, I’ll be sewing like a mad woman in time to complete several quilts for quilt market. I’ll be sharing my process so be sure to follow my blog.

Feel free to pin and share any of these images to spread a little Fandangle fun with your friends. Then ask your favorite quilt shop to order Fandangle next time they meet with their Benartex/Contempo sales rep.

Fandangle Fabric Line by Christa Watson

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex will be available in stores Summer 2018!

Click here to pre-order Fandangle bundles by colorway.
Click here to pre-order quilt patterns featuring Fandangle.

My Newest Craftsy Class – Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

It’s here – it’s here! The launch of my third Craftsy class – whoo whoo! Just after I made the sneak peak announcement earlier this week, the class went live! So today I’d like to introduce you to Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt.

craftsy Class Starry Path Quilt

Click here to preview my class Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

In this nearly 3 hour long class, I teach how to make this stunning quilt I designed featuring two different types of star blocks and three different types of triangles.

It was created as a followup class to my comprehensive start-to-finish class, Startup Library: Quilting. But of course, anyone can enroll and make this stunning quilt:

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit, while supplies last

The class comes with the complete pattern to make the Starry Path Quilt above, and there’s even an optional kit. I chose to make it from basic blenders in a cool color scheme of lime, green aqua, blue and turquoise. I paired it up with a solid gray background for maximum impact. I’m really pleased with how well the design turned out and I loved taking my time to be as accurate as possible.

And, because you all know I loooove machine quilting, I threw in a bonus lesson on how to quilt elongated swirls. Isn’t it just fully of yummy texture??

Swirls quilting on Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

The class materials include step-by-step drawing lessons showing how to form the basic swirl design, plus a page for you to print off and practice drawing your own quilting plan. (It’s a nod to the technique I first introduced in my machine quilting class, The Quilter’s Path.)

The exclusive Starry Path pattern is easy to follow along as you watch the class, and I’ve sprinkled in as many helpful hints as I can to ensure your success with this quilt!

Starry Path Quilt with Christa Watson on Craftsy

I can’t help fondling my quilts, LOL!!

In Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt, I share my best tips and tricks for accurate cutting and piecing so that you can get stunning results, every time. My top tips for piecing any quilt?? Slow down when you are sewing, maintain an accurate 1/4″ seam and use lots of pins to get those intersections to line up precisely.

Starry Path Quilt in Progress

The best thing about my Craftsy classes is that unlike my live classes, you actually get to watch me sew and quilt. That way you can and see where I place my hands, and how I manipulate the fabric. With the magic of filming to speed things up, it’s actually fun to watch!

Starry Path Class Overview

Here’s a breakdown of what’s covered in each section and length of each lesson. The total class runs for just under 3 hours, and if you’ve ever heard me speak, you know that I can cover a lot of info in a short amount of time. So you really get more “bang” for your buck with my classes!!

Boundless Fabric from Craftsy
1. Getting Started (32 min)
Meet Christa and go over everything you’ll need for your project, the Starry Path quilt. Then she shares tips for cutting both yardage and fat quarters. Plus, see how to check and correct your seam allowance early on. This way, your blocks will be the correct size.
Sawtooth Star Block Piecing
2. Sawtooth Star Block (39 min)
Piece the classic flying geese unit four at a time! Christa shows you how to mark, sew, press and cut, and add simple squares to create the Sawtooth Star block. She helps you chain piece a few blocks at a time to speed up your stitching, and shows you how to use webbing to keep your blocks together as you go.

Christa Starry Path Quilt

3. Garden Path Block (30 min)
Learn how to cut and sew with the popular Tri-Recs specialty ruler that you can use in many other quilts. Find out how to properly cut and line up the pieces, add simple four-patches and solid units for a beautiful block, and save time by chain-piecing it.
Garden Path Block
4. Pieced Border (30 Min)
Follow along as Christa guides you to create the colorful pieced border that surrounds the Starry Path Quilt. See how to pair half-square triangles to form this hourglass unit, also known as the quarter-square triangle. Then batch-assemble the border strips.

Christa Sewing

5. Quilt Top Assembly (23 Min)
Now you’re ready to put your quilt blocks together! Here, discover a technique called webbing that will keep your blocks in order as you assemble the inner quilt top into rows. From there, sew the rows together, then add the solid and pieced borders.
Machine Quilting Swirls with Christa Watson
6. Machine Quilting Swirls (20 Min)
Wrap up class by finishing your basted Starry Path quilt with an all-over free-motion design. Christa discusses thread choices, then shares the benefits of making small samples to practice your designs. Afterwards, get her tips on maneuvering this quilt on your home machine as you add the final touches.

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

I had so much fun making this quilt and I’m sure you will too! The best part about enrolling in my class is that you have my help and support 24/7. Got a question about the class or want to share your progress? Use the interactive class platform to share with me and fellow students. It’s like a virtual classroom with me at your side!!

Click here to enroll in Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit

Elongated Swirls quilting by Christa Watson

I can’t wait to “see” you in class!