Infrastructure Week 12 – Binding by Machine

Have you enjoyed following along with Infrastructure? Remember, even if you haven’t even started your quilt, you can make it anytime and I’m here to help cheer you on! We’ve come to the very last step of making the quilt and I’m “sew” excited to share my tutorial for binding by machine.

Infrastructure Quilt

Click here to get the Infrastructure quilt kit while supplies last.

Step 1 Trim the Quilt

Infrastructure Quilt in Progress

I like to use a large square ruler at the corners and along straight ruler for the sides. I trim the extra batting and backing flush with the edges of the quilt so that I can get a nice, tight binding. I’ll sew with an accurate 1/4″ seam and try not to cut off any points along the edges.

Step 2 – Cut the Strips and Sew Continuously

Geo Pop fabric for binding

The length to cut your strips is a personal preference. For this quilt I experimented and cut them out at 2 1/2″ wide so it would give me enough room to finish by machine. But I usually like to cut them narrower at 2″ so I get a nice tight binding that’s even on both sides. Here’s an easy way to calculate the # of strips you’ll need. Take the perimeter of the quilt and add 10″. Then divide that number by 40″ and that will tell you how many strips to cut.

Tiny Hex Fabric Binding

Sew the strips together end to end, mitering each of the corners so you get a long continuous strip. Cut one end at a 45 degree angle so the end and beginning are hidden. Then press the entire binding in half, wrong sides together.

Step 3 – Bind by Machine

Sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt and then secure it to the FRONT of the quilt with a decorative stitch so that it becomes part of the design!

Infrastructure Quilt using Geo Pop

Watch me sew the Binding & Follow Me on YouTube!

I’ve put together a short 6 minute video showing how I sew the strips and attach the binding by machine.

The difference between hand binding and machine binding is which side of the quilt I sew it on. I sew it to the back and finish by front by machine. Or I sew it to the front and finish on the back by hand. But whichever technique you choose is completely up to you!

Click here for my hand binding tutorial.

THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY & HEATHER’S VERSION

Click here to check out Heather Black’s tips for binding by hand on her blog at Quiltachusetts.

While you are there be sure to enter the giveaway on Heather’s blog. Aurifil is giving away two large cones of their 40 weight, 3 ply thread in fave colors of dove and light beige.

Aurifil Thread Cones

QUICK LINKS

I sure love seeing everyone’s progress pics. You can also share on instagram by tagging  us @christaquilts  and @quiltachusetts and use the search hashtag #infrastructurequilt in your post so others can see, too!

Infrastructure Quilt Along Week 11 – Machine Quilting

And now we get to my favorite part of making a quilt – machine quilting!!! There are so many different ways to quilt this quilt. Heather Black did an amazing job custom quilting hers, and I took the opposite approach with one of the simplest designs you can do – decorative machine stitching.

Decorative Stitch Machine Quilting

Infrastructure Machine Quilting Detail Using a Decorative Stitch

Thoughts on Thread

Christa Watson Aurifil Thread

Click here to get my Aurifil Thread Kits in Colors, Neutrals, or my newest Variegated box.

So the first thing to do is choose the thread you’d like to quilt with. I piece AND quilt all of my quilts using Aurifil, 50 weight, 100% cotton thread from my 3 thread collections. It’s thin, yet strong and blends into my quilts so all you see is the yummy texture. I use leftover bobbins for piecing my next quilt and I never have to worry about which bobbin matches which spool since they are all the same weight!

I like to use the same color thread in top and bobbin so that I don’t get “pokies” on my quilt – those little dots of thread that appear when your tension is the tiniest bit off and you are using highly contrasting thread.

Aurifil Thread

The light gray/blue #5007 can be found in my Piece and Quilt Neutrals collection.

I used Aurifil #5007 light gray/blue from my Neutrals thread box. It’s one of my favorite go-to neutrals because it blends with nearly every color. When I’m doing an allover edge-to-edge quilting design, I don’t want to have to stop and switch thread colors while I’m quilting.

Because the spools hold so much thread on them, it took me less than one spool to quilt the entire quilt, including the front and back.

Make a Quilting Plan

I love figuring out HOW I’m going to quilt ahead of time, so I don’t have to think too much. I will usually print out a copy of the quilt top from the pattern (you can photocopy the pattern cover for personal use, OR you can take a picture of your finished quilt top). Then I draw all over it until I come up with something I like. I include quilting suggestions in ALL of my quilt patterns to help you out with each quilt you make.

Infrastructure Quilting Plan

Above is the illustration that’s included in my Infrastructure Quilt Pattern. Here’s the basic idea: choose a decorative stitch on your sewing machine and quilt a series of lines across the quilt from one side to the other.

Make them as light or dense as you like and use my “divide and conquer” method: quilt one set of lines “near” the ditch instead of IN the ditch for each row. Then go back and quilt additional passes across the quilt, shrinking up the open spaces until the entire area is filled.

You can use ANY decorative stitch on you sewing machine. Play around with length and width settings until you find something you like, and stitch on a practice sample before you quilt on the real thing. Here’s a picture of the settings I chose on my machine, a BERINA 770 QE:

BERNINA 770 QE

I’m using decorative stitch #16 which is known as a running stitch or a broken zig-zag. It creates several stitches each time it zigs and zags, so you can make it bigger than the default settings and it still looks great! I adjusted my width to 6.0 and my length to 3.0 because I like the way it looks. Don’t forget to use a zig-zag needle plate so you don’t break a needle when it moves back and forth!!

The Quilting

Here are some beauty shots of the decorative stitch quilting in process. I made sure to NOT try to line up the quilting lines perfectly because I love a more organic look. The more quilting I did, the more beautiful texture it added to the quilt and the more the thread blended in. After all, the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with MORE imperfect stitches!!

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

Here’s what it looks like when I’m stitching “near” the ditch in each row. You can see all the imperfections up close, but fortunately they get hidden when more quilting is added.

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

I’m filling in the spaces between the first pass with randomly spaced lines. I’m using the 20D foot on my BERNINA with the integrated dual feed. It works just like a walking foot and I don’t have to mark anything. I’m using the edge of the foot as a guide for some of the lines.

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

What this section looks like when it’s completely filled in.
None of the lines match up and some are a bit irregular – I love this look!!

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

Another section complete. Look how well the stitching blends in to the quilt!

Infrastructure Machine Quilting

This is one of my favorite designs because it adds great texture to ANY quilt! 

See it In Action

Here’s my latest YouTube video, showing me quilting this decorative stitch on my quilt. It did take a few hours to accomplish, but I just worked on it a few minutes at a time over several days. It’s my joy and my zen when I get to do mindless quilting like this, and once you let go of perfection, it’s really quite fun!

Next week we’ll finish up with machine binding, including another video tutorial – so stay tuned!!

This Week’s Giveaway & Heather’s Version

Heather did some amazing custom quilting on her computerized long arm machine. Pop over to her blog at Quiltachussetts for more about how she chose her designs.

While you are there be sure to enter the giveaway on Heather’s blog. One lucky winner will receive one box of my Variegated thread collection, courtesy of Aurifl!! How cool is that???

Variegated collection by Christa Watson

Quick Links

Infrastructure Quilt

Finished Infrastructure quilt on my design wall!! You’re almost there!!!

Quilt Market Wrap Up Fall 2019 – Showcasing Gridwork

I had an amazing time at fall quilt market last month. This is the semi-annual trade show where I get to debut my new fabric and patterns. I was able to share my newest fabric line, Gridwork which is shipping to shops in January of next year.

My Gridwork Booth

Quilt Market Fall 2019 Gridwork

My booth featured two new quilt patterns that I released, plus fabulous quilts made by my friends: Charisma Horton, Heather Black, Annie Unrein and Linda Sullivan.

Gridwork by Christa Watson for Benartex

Here’s a closeup of the Gridwork fabrics displayed in my booth.

The Shoes!!! And Matching Outfits!!!

Each time I have a booth, I love creating something fun to wear from my fabrics. This year, I made 4 aprons and paired them up with fun pairs of Fluevog shoes. Each market I purchase a new pair that matches my fabric which is always a great excuse for shopping, right?

Gridwork Fabric & Fluevog Shoes

Day 1:  I designed the Citron colorway of Gridwork to match my fave pair of shoes!!

Gridwork Fabric Fluevog Shoes

Day 2: It’s so fun to match my outfit to my quilts!!

Gridwork Fabric Fluevog Shoes

Day 3: I bought the blue pair this season and they are sooo comfy!!

Gridwork Fabric Fluevog Shoes

Day 4: here’s a closer look at the purple patent leather shoes I got to wear twice.

I paired up the aprons and shoes with a matching Tshirts that I had custom printed with #gridworkfabric on the front and #benartex on the back. I figured I was the best walking advertisement for my fabrics, right??

Benartex Gridwork Tees

The People!

It’s always fun to meet up with new friends at quilt market and make new connections with quilt shops who carry my fabric, and designers who want to work with my fabric. But the highlight of working with Benartex has been getting to know the other fabric designers. All of our looks are so different, yet they complement each other very well!

Benartex Fabric DesignersBenartex designers featured at fall quilt market included: Paula Nadelstern, Cherry Guidry, Shelley Cavanna, Ann Lauer, Weeks Ringle (& Bill Kerr), me and Amanda Murphy.

We roped our fearless leader, Benartex president David Lochner into posing with us and he was such a good sport! A you can tell, we like to have a good time!!

Over the 3 years since I’ve been with Benartex, I’m especially grateful to learn from superstars like Eleanor Burns and Paula Nadlestern. These ladies have been my heroes since I began quilting over 20 years ago and I pinch myself that I get to call them my colleagues and friends!!Christa Watosn, Paula Nadelstern, and Eleanor Burns

Paula Nadelstern and I shared some fun moments on the show floor when I gave her some Instagram posting tips. She repaid the favor by recommending me for some upcoming teaching events, so stay tuned for more!

Another highlight of the show was the Benartex company dinner in which I got to sit next to Eleanor Burns. She made my night when she complimented me on my energy level. This is high praise from the energetic queen of quilting!!

The Projects!!

It was fun to spot my fabrics in other booths. I love it when designers want to showcase my fabrics in their new patterns because that exposes my fabrics to their customers who may not have seen it yet. And in turn, I get to share some talented designers with you all!!

By Annie with Geo Pop and Gridwork

By Annie had a wonderful display of bags, containers and other projects made from both Gridwork and Geo Pop. It was fun to see how great they looked next to colorful fabrics from Tula Pink! 

Brewer Booth

Brewer is one of the distributors that also carries my fabric and patterns for shops to purchase all in one spot. I was thrilled that they wanted to hang two of my quilts in their booth to promote my current patterns: Infrastructure and Color Weave. This is a great example showing how well my fabrics from different collections mix and match with each other.

Dapper from The Stitch TV Show

My friends Lynn and Pam from The Stitch TV Show created a fun new pattern called Dapper, featuring colorful bowtie blocks made from Gridwork + solids. They are always a hoot to listen to online and in person!!

Everyday Stitches and Gridwork

Jenifer Dick from Everyday Stitches also debuted a new fun pattern in her booth at quilt market using Gridwork fat quarters + background fabric. I love seeing how others use my prints!

I had a fabulous, though exhausting time and I’m thrilled with how many more shops are getting interested in my fabric. If you want to share the fabric love, be sure to ask your local quilt shop to order Gridwork (and any of my other fabrics) from their Benartex sales rep. Now it’s time to make more quilts!!

The Making of Bling Quilt Part 1 of 4 – Choosing Fabrics

I enjoy sharing my process of quilt making so that you can have more success when you make your own quilts. Over the next 4 blog posts, I’ll share my process for making Bling – one of my newest patterns featuring my 4th fabric collection – Geo Pop for Benartex/Contempo. Of course it would look great in any fabrics, which is what today’s topic is all about.

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

I love this design for Bling, and especially enjoy making fat quarter friendly quilts. When choosing fabrics, the easiest way to choose colors for a successful quilt is to pick a whole bunch of fabrics that you like with the same theme or color scheme, then pair them up with a highly contrasting background fabric.

Geo Pop fabric by Christa Watson

Geo Pop fat quarters for Bling.

For example, I knew I wanted to use as many fabrics as I could in the line and most are all very bright. So bright, bold, and geometric was my fabric “theme” for this quilt.

Because there’s a lot going on with the fabrics themselves, I paired them up with the lightest fabric in the line and the darkest fabric in the line to ensure there was contrast between the main fabrics and the background. I honestly couldn’t decide which I liked better, so I decided to make both quilts!

Geo Pop fabric by Christa Quilts

I used Tiny Hex black for the darker background and Op Squares white for the lighter one.

For me, fabric selection really is that easy. I don’t get hung up too much on color theory; rather I just go with my gut feeling. After all, most of us are pretty successful choosing what to wear each day, so choosing the colors our quilts will wear isn’t that much different, right?

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

Geo Pop – 20 Colors for Bling.
Click here to get the kit of 20 FQ’s plus background fabric.

My Bling quilt pattern calls for 20 fat quarters + 4 yards of background fabric for the Twin size that I’m making. Geo Pop has 25 prints in the line including several light and dark grays. To ensure I had the most contrast possible, I pulled out the 5 light and dark grays and just use the more colorful prints. I’ll plan to use the leftovers in another project, or add them to my stash.

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

I pulled these grays out of the bundle and will use them in another project.
You could also piece them into the back of the quilt.

For the white version, I’m using some of the leftovers to make a scrappy binding that frames the quilt. For binding on the black version, I’ll use the same fabric as the background so that the the negative space goes all the way to the edges – two slightly different looks for two great quilts!

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

Geo Pop full collection – 25 colorful prints!

The first step after choosing fabrics is to prewash and starch. I always prewash any fabric that’s a fat quarter or larger. My favorite starch is inexpensive Faultless premium starch from the grocery store. To prevent flaking, I spray starch on one side of the fabric, and then iron it from the opposite side, then repeat for both sides of the fabric.

In the next post, I’ll show you these lovelies all cut and ready to piece, so stay tuned!

Relevant Links:

***Thanks for your purchase – your support of our mom and pop shop makes my day!!***

LatticeWork Quilt Part 2 of 2 – Quick and Easy Walking Foot Quilting

If you missed it, click here for part 1 – tips on sewing the LatticeWork quilt top.

LatticeWork quilt by Christa Watson

LatticeWork is made from charm packs; I used my Abstract Garden fabric line.

Today I’ll be sharing how I quilted my LattticeWork quilt using a super simple, fast and fun walking foot quilting design. It’s called “wavy grid” and it’s one of my fave designs when I’m on a deadline, so you’ll probably see it in lots of my quilts!

Here’s a close detail shot of what it looks like quilted with my Aurifil Variegated Thread collection. I love the funky modern texture it adds to the quilt, especially where the thread contrasts the most:

LatticeWork Quilt Detail

The most fun part about machine quilting is choosing which thread color I’m going to use to quilt it. Because this quilt was so colorful, I could have used nearly any hue and it would look great. Below are the colors in my Variegated Collection.

Variegated collection by Christa Watson

Variegated collection by Christa Watson

Click here to get my Aurifil Variegated Thread Collection.

I chose to go with the cheddar/orange color because the variegation is really subtle and it reads as one shade of orange. But I love the slight sparkle that the it adds to the quilt!

Wavy Grid Quilting Detail

How to Quilt a Wavy Grid

Because I’m quilting continuous lines all the way across the quilt from edge to edge, it’s easiest done with a walking foot (or a built in dual-feed system like I’m using on my BERNINA 770 QE). The idea is to quilt a “line” from one end of the quilt to the other and slightly rotate the quilt from side to side to form the wavy lines.

First I do what I call “anchor” quilting: stitching in or near the ditch along the major seam lines to secure the quilt. Then I made additional passes across the quilt in both directions, creating a wavy grid. With each pass across the quilt, the gap in between the lines shrink. You can quilt a 2″ grid, 1″ grid, 1/2 grid, etc. depending on the look you want. Notice that nothing is marked – I just eyeball the spacing and it ends up looking great!!

Here’s a 4 minute silent video of me quilting the wavy grid on my LatticeWork quilt. I’m still getting the hang of editing videos but this is a good start!! Notice how I make one path across the quilt in both directions, then keep subdividing the area until the grid gets to the size I want. I hope you enjoy it!!

In the video above, notice how I stop and shift a lot. I’m quilting the area near my hands which is only a few inches at a time. When I feel like I’m starting to reach, that’s when it’s time to stop and shift the quilt. But you’ll get the hang of quickly so it’s not too disruptive.

I’m also quilting from edge to edge into the batting so I don’t have to worry about tying off my threads. I’ll just trim the excess and cover it all with binding when finished.

If you’d like to make this quilt , click either of the links below to purchase the pattern in your favorite format. I appreciate your support of my small mom and pop shop!

Lattice Work Quilt Pattern

If you have any questions about this quilt in particular, or the machine quilting process in general, please ask them in the comment box. I’d love you to enjoy making this quilt as much as I did!

LatticeWork quilt by Christa Watson

Happy piecing and quilting!!

Christa’s Soapbox: Thoughts About Being a QuiltCon Juror 2019

QuiltCon – the modern quilting show and conference hosted by The Modern Quilt Guild – has recently opened quilt submissions for their 2020 show, so I thought now would be an appropriate time to share about what it was like to be on the jury of the 2019 show.

I’ve attended every event since the first one in 2013, have been lucky enough to have at least one quilt in every show, and have taught there 3 times so far (2016, 2017, 2019). In fact, I credit QuiltCon and The MQG with changing the course of my quilting career – for the better! So it was quite an honor and great responsibility when they invited me to be on the jury for the 2019 show, which took place in Nashville in February.

Cute QuiltCon Ribbons

QuiltCon award ribbons from the very first show in 2013

Now as you can imagine, I’m taking a bit of a risk here in even talking about this publicly since I know what a heartbreak it can be when your quilt doesn’t get in. Trust me, I’ve read enough “what were they thinking??” comments on social media to make my stomach turn. And I really do wish I could reach out and give every single person a huge hug for entering your gorgeous, wonderful, fabulous quilts!! It was truly a pleasure to see all 1800+ of them!!

Therefore, I thought it would be helpful and educational to talk about the experience in an open and honest way, with my hope for you to understand more about the process. I’ll be as transparent about it as I can, and would ask you the courtesy of being polite in your comments about this post.

My Quilt, “Charming Chevrons” hung in the very first QuiltCon in 2013!!

What’s a Juried Quilt Show?

First of all, let’s start with the basics. A “juried” show means that in order to display your quilt in the show, you must fill out an artist statement and include a high quality digital image of your finished quilt. A  panel of “jurors” (usually 4-5 people) look at each and every submitted quilt and then vote on which ones they believe should be a part of the show. The number one reason why a show is “juried” is simply because of supply and demand. There are only so many spots to hang quilts, and the number of entries far out weighs the number of spots available.

For example, each year QuiltCon receives approximately 1500-1800 entries and only has room for about 350 quilts. So that means 3 out of 4 quilts simply will not hang in the show due to space constraints. By comparison, a large national show (such as Road to California, Paducah, AQS, etc.) will likely have space to display 600-700 quilts or more, and my guess is that they don’t get anywhere near as many quilt entires. In fact, a friend recently told me that the upcoming International Quilt festival in Houston was able to accept about 75% of the quilts submitted this year. So please keep that in mind as I share more thoughts below.

To be clear, the JURY process and the JUDGING process are done by completely different people. The jury decides which quilts will hang in the show for the  judges to see.

Spiraling out of Control

My quilt, “Spiraling out of Control” hung at QuiltCon in 2015. Some day I’ll make a pattern!!

The QuiltCon Jury Process

Most of what I’m sharing here has been shared publicly so I’m not spilling any well-kept secrets. It’s up to an individual juror to decide whether or not they want to let others know they were part of the jury (after the show has ended of course). For obvious reasons, most people tend to stay silent about it.

Click here to read QuiltCon’s published judging and jurying documents.

In a nutshell, each juror takes a look at each and every single quilt that has been entered and gives it a numerical ranking. No juror knows how any other juror is voting and the final number is based on an average of all scores by all jurors. The juror gets to see two images of the quilt – an overall shot and a detail image. They can also read the artists’ statements if they so choose, but the juror does NOT see the names of who submitted each quilt. In this way, jurying is “blind” and fair.

The quilts that get the highest ranking are then accepted into the show, up until the maximum number of entries.  When there is a tie – usually for the mid-range of scores above the cutoff – the jury meets to discuss those quilts in more detail and decide which ones will be accepted until the total has been met. The MAJORITY of quilts fall into this category. So if yours didn’t make it in, I’m sure it barely missed the cutoff! (So try, try again!!)

The only category that was not juried was the youth category (quilts made by members under the age of 18). According to The MQG FAQ, “in order to encourage the next generation of quilters, in this category at least one quilt is accepted per quilter, should space permit it.” So if you know a child that wants to get involved with the show, I highly recommend encouraging them to enter!

My quilt, “Focal Point” from my first book hung at QuiltCon in 2016.

The Jury Takes Their Job Very Seriously

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard false rumors that the jury has an “agenda” on which type of modern quilt will be accepted (or not). That’s simply not true. I can tell you from my experience that the jury is a well-rounded group of folks with diverse backgrounds, quilting experience, and areas of artistic expertise. However, one thing the jury all has in common is that they make modern quilts and understand the modern aesthetic.

I can only speak to my experience doing this one time, but I can assure you that we were not instructed to favor any type of quilt over any other, we were not told to create a certain look for the show (other than modern) and we were expected to look at the quilts objectively without bias or favoritism. If we felt we couldn’t judge a quilt fairly on its own merits, then we could recuse ourselves from judging that quilt. There was no absolutely no drama when it came to any discussions and the whole experience was completely professional.

The jury IS allowed to enter a quilt into the show, (as are the judges) but they are NOT allowed to be judged- AND the jurying is still blind. So none of the jury knew if they were voting on other members quilts! For full disclosure, I did get ONE quilt juried into this year’s show – my Blooming Wallflowers quilt – but I had entered two more that didn’t get accepted. So yes, I got those “reject” letters, too!!

Diamond in the Rough Quiltcon 2017

My quilt “Diamond in the Rough” hung in QuiltCon 2017 and was in QuiltCon magazine that year.
It will be part of the Aurifil exhibit at this year’s International Quilt Festival in Houston.

Why Quilt Photography Can Make or Break Your Quilt

Unfortunately, there were a number of quilts that weren’t accepted simply due to poor photography. If we can’t tell if it’s finished or not, if we can’t see the quilting, if we can’t see the edges or the binding, it most likely won’t get in. If there are people in the quilt photo blocking the quilt, we can’t see what you are trying to show.

Also, some people try to get a “leg up” on the competition by creating a collage of more than one photo in the same image which usually works to their detriment. If we can’t tell what we are looking at, it most likely goes in the “not accepted” pile. We don’t need to see the back of the quilt unless that’s the side you are entering. Just show the front on a clear flat surface, with nothing distracting in the picture. And don’t “style” the shot. We just want to see the quilt, not a beautiful background or distracting props.

Also, it breaks my heart to see a quilt entry with poor lighting or fuzzy focus. There have been times where I’ve seen a gorgeous quilt photo later on social media (after the entries have been finalized) and I thought, why didn’t they use THAT image for their entry instead of the fuzzy one?? So again: good, clear, well-lit, uncluttered photography is a MUST.

Color Weave Quilt

The original version of Color Weave hung at QuiltCon in 2018.
it was in Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine which is now sadly out of print!! 

My Personal Thoughts

The biggest take away from my experience on the jury is that it was extremely fair. For me, it was a very touching and heart-warming experience to look at each and every one of the quilts and read ALL of the artists’ statements. Some brought me to tears, others made me my heart sing with joy, and many made me think deeply about their work.

With over 1800 quilts to look at, I didn’t keep track of the hours and hours and HOURS I spent viewing all of the amazing, wonderful quilts. But It was the most uplifting quilting experience I’ve ever had – and if there were enough room, I would have accepted them all. I truly felt it an honor to interact with these quilts in such an intimate way.

One of the coolest things I heard this year was that so many quilters who were rejected previously were able to get something in this year. So you never know until you try. And I’ve seen many quilters who didn’t make it into QuiltCon go on to enter (and win) in other shows.

So I welcome your thoughtful questions and kind comments about the process. Of course I can’t speak to any individual quilts in the show as to why they were or were not accepted. And due to the sheer numbers of of quilts involved, there’s no feasible way to share individual juror feedback on any of the quilts. But what I can do is encourage you to enter future quilt shows.

Blooming Wallflowers by Christa Watson QuiltCon 2019

My one and only quilt that was juried into QuiltCon 2019 – Blooming Wallflowers.

It was so wonderful for my fellow jurors and I to be entrusted with your quilts. We all volunteered our time because we are just as passionate about quilts as you are. So please, if you entered a quilt and it didn’t get in, don’t think badly of the process, of THE MQG, or of your quilt. I can tell you personally that I saw your quilt and LOVED it – and would encourage you to keep making quilts, and PLEASE keep sharing them with the world!

I’m happy to continue this discussion in the comments as long as everyone plays nice. 🙂

Color Weave Quilt Along Week 6 – Stitching in the Ditch

Now we’ve reached my favorite part of the quilt-making process – machine quilting!! Quitling will be broken up into 2 parts so that it won’t feel so overwhelming. The quilting design I’ve chosen – random crosshatch, is actually very easy to do, but it can be a bit time-consuming if you like your quilting to be as dense as mine.

Random Crosshatch quilt plan

My favorite designs to quilt are those than can go all the way across the quilt without starting and stopping. That way I don’t have to worry about tying off and burying my threads. The random crosshatch above is basically a series of straight lines quilted across the quilt in both directions with a walking foot. You start and end each line of quilting in the batting, and that will get all trimmed up later once you add the binding.

Thread Choices

I also don’t want to stress too much over thread color. I prefer to use 1-2 colors for the whole quilt, if possible. My thread of choice is Aurifil 50 weight cotton because it comes in any color I need. It’s thin but strong and blends into the quilts I make rather than being the star of the show.

Because this quilt has so much color in it, I chose to use threads from my new Variegated Thread Collection. I used #4650 Leaves for the top of the quilt. Although it will show up on the gray sections, by the time I add lots of texture, it won’t be that noticeable.

Aurifil variegated thread

I like to “audition” my thread choices before I begin quilting.

For the bobbin, I used #3852 Liberty since it reads more pink. For 95% of my quilts, I use the same thread in top and bottom. But every now and then I’ll use two different colors when it makes sense.

The thread will still be visible on both sides, but with so many different colors (in the fabric and thread), these were the best choice. I made a practice piece with leftover scrap fabrics and tested both threads to make sure I’d be happy with the results before I started quilting my quilt.

Aurifil Variegated Thread

 #3852 Liberty and 4650 Leaves can both be found in my Variegated Thread Collection from Aurifil.

Machine Quilting – Stitch in the Ditch

To break the quilting into easier, doable steps, this week we’ll focus on just stitching in the ditch in both directions. This will secure the quilt for further quilting later, and will also evenly distribute the bulk of the quilting across the quilt. You can also decide at any point how lightly or densely you’d like to quilt the rest of the lines.

Here’s a short video clip showing how I deal with the quilt as I stitch in the ditch. I’m using my BERNINA dual feed foot which works the same way as a regular walking foot. I have an open toe so I can see what I’m doing and I reposition the quilt a lot so that my quilting lines are smooth the entire time. Also, pressing my seams open makes it sooo much easier to stay in the ditch!!

Notice in the video below that when I quilt an area without seams, I just eyeball the straight-line I’m stitching. Because it’s never more than 2″ that I have to eyeball, it works pretty well.

First, I started quilting from the right side of the quilt towards the middle. I quilted in the ditch every 2″ since that’s the finished size of my strips. I quilted all of the vertical seams first, then rotated the quilt and quilted all of the horizontal seems to create a quilted grid.

It’s easier to work from the side of the quilt towards the middle, because that’s less bulk to deal with at the beginning. By the time it gets too bulky, you’ll be halfway across the quilt and you can rotate the quilt, continuing from the center to the other side.

Here’s another video of me quilting from a wider angle. I really just scrunch and smoosh the quilt however I can, re-shifting whenever necessary.

Once I “anchor” or stabilize the quilt with ditching in both directions, I go back in and quilt randomly spaced lines, using the edge of my foot as a guideline for spacing. That will be our goal for next week, so I’ll see ya then!

IMPORTANT LINKS

Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – paper version
Click here to purchase the Color Weave Quilt Pattern – digital download
Click here to purchase the Abstract Garden strip roll
Click here to get my Aurifil thread collections
Click here for links to the previous quilt along posts
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook group

Free Quilt Pattern Featuring Abstract Garden Fabric in Modern by the Yard

One of the things I love about designing fabric for Benartex is the free quarterly online magazine they produce, called Modern by the Yard. In each issue they include fabulous patterns made by some of the leading industry designers. I always love it when one of them wants to work with my fabric AND it’s extra special when their quilt with my fabric makes the cover!

Follow the Leader by Heather Black

In the latest issue, the amazing Heather Black has created her stunning quilt “Follow the Leader” which is made from a fat quarter bundle of Abstract Garden plus coordinating background fabric from Fandangle.

Abstract Garden FQ's

Click here to get a fat quarter bundle of Abstract Garden.

I love how Heather “rainbow-tized” the triangles to create color and movement in this quilt.

Follow the Leader by Heather Black

Here’s a fab in-progress shot of the quilt top. She really makes my fabrics sparkle!!

Follow the leader by Heather Black

Click here to download the latest issue of Modern by the Yard and get started on your own version of Follow the Leader, or any of the other great patterns featured in the issue!

Results from my Entries into DQN Quilt Show 2019 – Quilt Las Vegas

Earlier this spring, my local quilt guild held their annual show which has been going on for nearly 30 years (I think). It’s always fun to participate in my guild, and even more thrilling when my entries get a ribbon. So I thought I’d share them with you – along with the judging feedback I received:

Bling – Honorable Mention, Modern Category

Bling Quilt by Christa WatsonBling quilt pattern is now available in Print (click here) or PDF (click here).

This is the original version of my Bling quilt, made using a Fandangle fat quarters plus white background fabric. (I recently remade 2 more versions of the quilt using Geo Pop fat quarters with white or black background.)

Judge’s Comments for this quilt:
  • Print choices and placement create a lively quilt.
  • The woven quilting design contributes movement and texture.
  • Very good binding technique.
  • Pieced binding frames quilt well and contributes to unity.

Modern Star Struck – 2nd Place Pieced, Single Maker

Modern Starstruck by Christa Watson

The pattern for Starstruck can be found in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

This is one of my favorite quilts because it was made using every fabric in my very first fabric line Modern Marks. The pattern comes from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts and I was happy to be able to get a good color contrast without using any background fabrics. It’s all in how you pair them up! (The original quilt from the book was made in black and white.)

free-motion quilting on starstruck

Click here to get a Modern Marks fat quarter bundle – while supplies last!

The prints in this quilt are pretty busy so it’s hard to see the quilting, but I really enjoyed quilting it densely with 2 different designs in each block – that’s a total of 48 different motifs in one quilt!

Judge’s Comments for this quilt:
  • Excellent variety of prints create visual texture.
  • Very good value contrast between stars and background in individual blocks.
  • Blocks are well pieced.
  • Outside quilt edges should be straight and corners should be 90 degrees.
  • Good binding technique.

Color Weave – 1st Place Modern

Color Weave Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to join the quilt along to make this quilt.
Color Weave was made from Abstract Garden precut strips + background.

It’s always hard to get a good pic of quilts hanging in a show, due to lighting and space constraints, but I love how the quilting shows up in this picture. I was pleasantly surprised at the positive comments I overhead about this quilt while walking the show. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a thing for bright, rainbow quilts!

Judge’s Comments for this quilt:
  • Beautiful color gradation.
  • Print choices lend wonderful visual texture.
  • Strong vertical lines are created through fabric placement.
  • Outside quilt corners should be 90 degrees.
  • Variegated thread unifies quilt top and provides visual accents on gray background fabrics.

Overall, I’m very pleased that the judge liked my bold bright colors and my busy fabric prints. The quilting wasn’t the star of the show in any of these quilts – and in fact, 2 of them utilized very simple walking foot quilting. I haven’t been entering as many quilt shows this year because I’ve been so busy designing fabrics and writing quilt patterns. But this was just the boost I needed to make it a priority once again!

New Quilt Patterns Featuring Geo Pop!

I’m excited to release three new patterns that I created to showcase my new fabric line, Geo Pop which will be shipping to stores in August/September. Just like all of my quilt patterns, they will look great in any fabrics you choose! And they are available in either print or PDF.

Bling – Fat Quarter Friendly

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Bling comes in three sizes and is made from 20 fat quarters plus background. I loved the design so much I had to make it twice! The key to color success is choosing a very high contrasting background. I wanted to show off the black and white prints from Geo Pop and I love how they turned out!

Optical Illusion – 3 Colors, Fun to Look At!

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

It only takes 3 fabrics to create this stunning Optical Illusion! Scroll up and down to watch the lines play tricks on your eyes. Yes, they really are straight!! I’ve made my version using geometric prints in black, white and gray, but I’d love to see this made up in other colors, too! I’ve included instructions for 3 sizes and like all of my patterns, it also includes machine quilting suggestions.

Infrastructure – a Modern Row Quilt

Infrastructure Quilt Pattern

This stunning quilt is a collaboration between me and my very talented friend Heather Black. I sent her digital images of Geo Pop early on and asked her to come up with a fun modern design with straight piecing (rather than the curves she’s well known for). I think she knocked it out of the park with this design while cleverly using every fabric in the line. I love this quilt so much that it will be my next quilt along in September, once the fabrics have been released. I can’t wait!!

Once Geo Pop hits stores later this year, I’ll share more about the making of each quilt. Remember – I’m here to cheer you on every step of the way so that you enjoy making these quilts as much as I did!