Bonus Quilt Along – Make My Charming Chevrons Pattern with Alyssa from Penguin and Fish

I know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the start of my Squiggles QAL which officially launches next Monday. But in the meantime, you can quilt along either virtually or in real time with my friend Alyssa Thomas of Penguin and Fish. All you need is a copy of my Charming Chevrons pattern and your favorite charm packs (5″ squares).

Each weekday night from now until she finishes, Alyssa is posting a live “relax and craft” video stream on Facebook. Then she’s uploading the recordings to YouTube so anyone can view them later. So you can make the quilt along with her, or just hang out and watch her sew! If you do choose to sew along, you can share your progress in my facebook group or hers. (Scroll to the end for all the pertinent links you’ll need.)

Click the image above to watch the very first video with Alyssa.
She’ll be broadcasting her progress each weeknight until she’s finished the quilt!

I love Charming Chevrons so much that I’ve already made it three times, and I recolored it a 4th time using my Modern Marks fabric. Check these out for inspiration, and notice how all 4 versions feature the same block, but rotated in a slightly different position. All 4 layouts are included in the pattern.

Charming Chevrons at QuiltCon 2013

The original Charming Chevrons, shown above, made its debut at QuiltCon in 2013. It was my first time ever entering a national show. It went on to win viewer’s choice in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival in 2013 so it was a banner year!!

Colorful chevrons

A larger remake, Colorful Chevrons with a navy blue background, was my first magazine submission and it graced the cover of Quilty in 2013. It went on to win 3rd place in the first ever modern category at AQS Quilt Week in Paducah, a ribbon at my local guild’s show, and founder’s choice at MQX.

Feathered Chevrons with Kona Solids

Photography credit: Kitty Wilkin

When Robert Kaufman invited me to curate a bundle of solid fabrics for them, I decided to make a third version using my Kona Designer palette in bright citrus hues with a dark gray background. I call this version Feathered Chevrons and it was included as part of the Quilter’s Planner pattern bundle for 2017. The layout above is included in the Charming Chevrons pattern.

Charming Chevrons with Modern Marks

Finally, after making 3 solid versions, I wanted to see what it would look recolored in EQ8 using my Modern Marks collection from Benartex/Contempo. I colored it using the “Double Chevrons” layout that’s also included in the pattern.

Charming Chevrons includes 4 sizes and these are the fabric requirements & # of charm packs needed to make each size:

Links to all the Fun:

Purchase the Print version of Charming Chevrons here.
Purchase the PDF version of Charming Chevrons here.
Click here for the first YouTube video from Alyssa.
Click here to like and follow her page where she’ll post live videos.
Click here to share your progress in my Facebook Group: Christa Quilts.
Click here to share in Alyssa’s group: Penguin & Fish Crafters.
Get the Modern Marks Charm packs here.

Save the Date: I’m teaching In Australia September 19-22, 2018!

Just a quick note to invite all of my friends “across the pond” to join me at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival in Adelaide this coming September! It’s long been on my bucket list to teach internationally and I was thrilled when I received the invitation to teach at this prestigious show!

Australian Machine Quilting Festival

Click here to see the lineup of Instructors for AMQF 2018.

Student registration opens in March of this year, but for now, you can save the date and check out the lineup of amazing instructors that will be featured this year, including favorites such as Ricky Tims and Cindy Needham. I’m personally excited to meet Kat Jones, the 2017 QuiltCon best of show winner. I just love her work!

Modern Logs by Christa Watson

I will be teaching my Modern Logs quit pattern, along with several machine quilting classes.

I’ll share another blog post when it’s time to register – but for now, click here to bookmark the site and keep checking back for updates. They’ll be adding even more fabulous instructors to their lineup and the class schedule will be posted later this spring.

Modern Machine Quilting

Some of the motifs that students will learn in my machine quilting classes.

Even if you aren’t anywhere near Australia, this is the perfect excuse to take the exotic quilting vacation you’ve always wanted. I’d love to see you there!

To see where else I’m headed, click here for my 2018-2019 teaching schedule.

Happy New Year 2018 – Word of the Year – Squiggles Quilt Along

Happy Quilty New Year 2018! My words for this year are “simplify and focus.” I got caught up in the social media rat race last year, and near the end of the year I decided to scale down my social media presence so I could simplify my life and focus on what’s important. You can read my about my decision on a previous blog post here.

My Pride and Joy – Watson Family, November 2017

My oldest heads off to college this week (at BYU Idaho), and I’ve got a full year of teaching and creating lined up. I’m also excited to be blogging on a regular basis again where I can share indepth tutorials and lots of inspiring quilt images.

After a couple year break, I’m super excited to be hosting my next quilt along, featuring Squiggles from my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Squiggles recolored in Modern Marks

I’m remaking Squiggles using my Modern Marks fabric line from Benartex.
Click here to get Modern Marks charm packs to make a similar version!

The Squiggles quilt along will run each Monday for 6 weeks, starting January 15.

Click here for the Squiggles Quilt Along Supply List and Schedule

I hope you’ll share pictures of your quilt along progress, so I can cheer you on! Use the hashtag #squigglesquilt on Instagram, and post pictures of your progress directly to my Christa Quilts Facebook Group. I’m excited to start the fun in 2 weeks!!

Christa’s Soap Box – A Look Back at 2017

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

January – An Injury & A Visit

Angela Walters and Christa Watson

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

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

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

February – Lots of Teaching!

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

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

March – Lots of Ribbons!

Churn Dash Slide

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

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

April – Lots of Patterns!

Christa Quilts Patterns

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

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

May – An Anniversary Celebration

Christa & Jason at the Beach

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

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

June – Judging Beautiful Quilts

Best Modern Quilt Vermont Quilt Festival 2017

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

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

July – 2nd Craftsy Class Release

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

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

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

August – 3rd Book Release

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

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

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

September – More Teaching!

Teaching at MQX quilt show

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

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

October – First Fabric Release

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

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

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

November – Family Fun!

Watson Family Dia De Los Muertos

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

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

December – More In-Person Quality, Less Online Quantity

Teaching at Quilt Addicts Anonymous

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

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

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

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

My Quilts from Modern Quilts: Designs of a New Century – Modern X and HST

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for the brand new book published by The Modern Quilt Guild and C&T Publishing, Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. 

It’s a beautiful coffee table book presented in hard cover with images of over 200 modern quilts.

Modern Quilts Book

Click here to pick up your copy of Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century.

I always like to give a little behind the scenes backstory about how I end up being featured in collaborations such as this one. Sometimes it’s luck, other times it’s tenacity, and most of the time, it’s a bit of both!

When I attended the first QuiltCon in 2013, I knew right away that the time had finally come to start getting published and raise my professional quilting profile. One of the lectures I attended was on publishing a book, given by the editor of C&T, with panelists such as Angela Walters, among others. I came home from the show on fire and ready to get to work! Although I ultimately went with a different publisher for my own books, I’ve always been impressed with the quality of books published by C&T (and will be a small part of another book of theirs coming up in 2018 – so stay tuned).

An early “profile” image of me with Modern X back in 2014.

As soon as I could, I starting participating in Modern Quilt Guild events, submitting quilts to their shows each year, teaching at QuiltCon, giving webinars, and being one of their designers of the month (back in 2014-the first year they launched that program.) In other words, I got involved!!

When the MQG had a call for entries for this book, I eagerly applied. They looked through images of all the quilts that were submitted along with entries into all previous QuiltCons and I was pleased to end up with two quilts in the book!

Modern X

Modern X Quitling Detail

Check out #modernxquilt on instagram to see many amazing versions of this quilt!

Click here to get the PDF version of Modern X quilt pattern.
Click here to get the print version of Modern X quilt pattern.

Modern X was featured as one of the quilt patterns of the month created by and for MQG members. Here’s a fun fact: It was my suggestion that the MQG feature the quilts of the month as a special exhibit at QuiltCon which they’ve done every year since 2015!

Modern X at QuiltCon with Bill Volckening

Modern X on display during the “special exhibits tour” given by Bill Volckening at QuiltCon 2015

This quilt has gone on to win an award at a local quilt show and has been in a couple of traveling exhibitions of modern quilts. This is also the quilt I talk about when I share the importance of batting and basting in my lectures. (Originally I used a polyester batting for Modern X which created all kinds of puckers because it’s so slippery. I un-quilted, re-basted, and re-quilted this quilt using a cotton blend batting and was much happier with the results!)

HST (The Original)

HST Quilt

The original HST quilt. My photography isn’t great since this was taken before we got good equipment. However the photos in the book are top notch!

HST (Half -Square Triangle) was originally patterned way back in issue 5 of Make Modern Magazine. When I originally made the quilt in 2015 I knew I had created a special design and wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for 2016. However, when I went to wash the quilt, I used a “gentle” wash powder that ended up bleaching parts of the quilt!

bleach stain on HST quilt

The quilt now has random bleach stains throughout. 😦

Needless to say I was devastated. Since I’m always one to try and turn lemons into lemonade, I was pleased when this quilt was still able to be selected for the book. With some clever photoshop editing, you can’t see the bleach stains in the book photography and I’m glad it was able to be included.

Machine Quilting HST

Quilting Detail on HST

Since I love making functional quilts, I still use the quilt every day and it’s nice and warm because I used super thick cotton batting. I quilted HST with a lot of straight line quilting, and I created a woven texture in the background by alternating the direction of the lines. I threw in a few random spirals in the lighter gray blocks.

HST pieced backing

HST Backing – I love making pieced backs from leftovers!

The only thing I wasn’t happy about HST (besides the bleach stains) is that doesn’t hang well because I used a woven textured background fabric. Because of the looser weave, the background ended up stretching too much as I quilted it.

So even thought it was painful to accidentally “ruin” a quilt, I decided that if I remade the quilt, I’d be able to create an even better version and try out some different quilting ideas.

HST Remix

HST Remix by Christa Watson

I was pleased to sneak in a little of my Modern Marks fabric for the binding!

And now there’s another happy ending to this story. Because I loved this design so much, I knew I had to remake it and submit it for QuiltCon 2018. I almost cried when I received my acceptance that it made it into the show!

The background of the HST remix is all pieced from regular cotton solids so they were nice and stable and didn’t stretch. In both versions, the negative space is made from individually pieced background squares to add a bit more dimension rather than using large chunks of fabric.

HST's in progress

Improv-pieced HST’s

There are some slight differences from the first version. Because I ran out of fabric, I had to do some improv piecing to get enough triangles. I also decided to make them slightly bigger so that it would fit my bed. I also kept the idea of random pops of yellow and lighter gray but tried not to duplicate the layout exactly.

Quilting Plan

Quilting plan for HST

A draft “quilting plan” for HST remix. I obviously went in a different direction, but kept some of the elements in my final version. It often takes me many tries until I get a design I like.

The hardest part was deciding how to quilt it! I went through dozens of iterations of quilting plans until I could find something I liked. To make a quilting plan, I’ll print a copy of the design from EQ8 and will try sketching out different ideas until I’m pleased with how it looks. (You can do something similar by printing a photo of the quilt top.)

Although this takes time, it saves me hours of time ripping out a quilted design that looks great in my head, but doesn’t actually work on the quilt!

quilting plan for hst remix

Another quilting plan in progress – it’s getting closer to what I actually did!

Machine Quilting on HST RemixClick the image above to see closeup details.

I think my favorite part of the quilting was quilting some irregular chevron designs in each of the HST blocks and adding a bit of  “embellishment” by randomly quilting a different free-motion design in a few of the blocks.

HST remix quilting detail

I gave a nod to the original HST with a touch of straight line quilting and modern spirals.

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out and I’m pleased that the original HST is preserved in the book, and folks will get to see HST remix “in the cloth” at QuiltCon next year!

More detail of HST remix

I loved using Alison Glass handcrafted batiks for this quilt!

Click here for a list of all the stops on the Modern Quilts blog hop, and to see more of the beautiful quilts in the book! There are no patterns in the book, just hundreds of pages of beautiful modern quilts for you to explore. I highly recommend this volume for anyone interested in modern quilts!

Finished Quilt: Color Weave, QuiltCon Entry + Quilting Tips

Today I have another quilt finish to share! Now that I’m not inundated with too many projects and too little time (yay for balance!), I can actually blog more about quilts I’ve recently finished, and I love sharing my virtual show and tell with you!

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave was published in issue 21 of Modern Quilts Unlimited. Photo Credit MQU.

Modern Quilts Unlimited is one of my all-time favorite magazines and it’s such a thrill when my work appears in their pages. Fun fact: the editor, Laurie Baker and I met backin 2014 when she helped edit my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and we’ve been friends ever since!

Color Weave Backstory

I originally made Color Weave to be included in my most recent book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts, since it’s completely sewn from 2 1/2″ strips. While the book was in the layout and editing stage, the editors realized it was going to be too long (what? Me wordy???) and we had to make the agonizing decision to cut this project.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

I love quilts with simple color schemes. Pick any 3 colors to make this quilt!

This happens with craft books more often than you realize, because book publishers would rather have too much content to choose from than not enough. For budgeting purposes, they have to stick to a strict page limit that’s agreed ahead of time in the book contract, and there’s only so many ways you can lay things out with a limited number of pages.

Precut Pieces for Color Weave

I love it when all of the pieces of a quilt are cut and ready to sew!

So after I held my 5 minute pity party, I contacted MQU and asked if they’d be interested in publishing this pattern in their magazine and they said yes! FYI – if you are interested in getting into magazines, editors are always on the lookout for great content and the fact that my quilt was ready to go meant they could schedule it for any issue where they needed to fill pages.

Machine Quilting Details

Needless to say I was thrilled that Modern Quilts Unlimited was excited to publish the pattern for Color Weave, and I was even more pleased that they included the instructions on how to quilt it as a free “web extra” on their blog. (See below image for link.)

Color Weave Web ExtraPhoto Credit – Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine

Click here to get my machine quilting instructions for Color Weave, courtesy of MQU magazine.

Random crosshatch is actually one of my favorite ways to quilt a quilt with your walking foot (or dual feed) and it is so easy to do! Rather than painstakingly trying to mark and create a perfectly symmetrical grid, I use the piecing seams as a guideline for my lines.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

I started off by quilting in the ditch between all the seams to stabilize and anchor the quilt. Then I filled in between the grid with straight lines at random intervals. I used the edge of my walking foot as a guideline for spacing, moving the needle position to create narrower or wider lines.

QuiltCon Acceptance

I knew right away when I received this quilt back from the magazine that I wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for their 2018 show. I haven’t really seen a design like this before, so I thought it had a good shot of getting into the innovative “Piecing” category.  I’m pleased that others will be able to see it at next years’ show because one of the reasons I enter shows is to share my work with a wider audience who might not have discovered me yet.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

Quilting detail from Color Weave. Just remember: the best way to hide an imperfectly straight line is to surround it with more imperfectly straight lines!!

It took me awhile to figure out how to create the woven effect in the piecing. It’s like an optical illusion, and I’m sure the quilt would look totally different using scrappy prints, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

When trying to quilt parallel lines, just remember that “straight-ish” lines are perfectly ok! When you are two inches away from the quilt, you’ll notice all the imperfections. But once you back away from the quilt, all of a sudden your eye sees the overall texture rather than the individual stitches.

Random Crosshatch Grid by Christa Watson

Quilting Tip:  If you want your quilting to show, use a solid back. If you want to hide your quilting, using a busy back. I always use the same color thread in top and bobbin because I’d rather see the quilting show up on the back, than little dots of bobbin color on the top!

color Weave Stats:

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Photo Credit: Jason Watson

Modern quilts are my favorite. Now I just need to make more of them!!

Finished Quilt: Modern Puzzle + Quilting Tips

Meet Modern Puzzle – one of the quilts I made for quilt market this past fall. The quilt pattern is a free PDF download and it’s made from one Pinwheel (aka Jellyroll) of Modern Marks + one pinwheel of white/gray neutrals from Benartex.

Modern Puzzle Free Qult patter by Christa Watson

Click here to download my Modern Puzzle quilt pattern for free.
Click here to get the precuts to make this quilt.

I recently wrote up a spray basting tutorial using my design wall using Modern Puzzle as my example. Now I’m ready to share more about the quilting process. Because I was in a hurry to get this quilt done, AND I really wanted to show off the fabrics rather than the quilting, I used a simple wavy line design that I teach in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Click the image below to enlarge it so you can see the quilting detail:

Machine Quilting detail - wavy lines

Making a Quilting Plan

Whenever I’m quilting an allover design using my walking foot (or dual feed system), I use a method I call “divide and conquer.” The basic idea is that I make one pass across the quilt, stitching near the ditch rather than IN the ditch.

This allows me to use my seam lines as a guideline for spacing so that I don’t have to mark anything. Once the quilt is stabilized, or “anchored,” then I’ll add additional wavy lines, one pass across the quilt at a time.

Quilting Plan for Modern Puzzle

Quilting plan for Modern Puzzle – I’ll fill in more lines on the quilt until it feels finished.

I introduced my audience to the concept of making a “quilting plan” in my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and my first Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path.  Now I love to seeing that so many have embraced this concept with their own quilts!

Quilting Modern Puzzle

Each time I quilt a set of wavy lines across the quilt, the space to fill gets smaller and smaller.

Whenever I quilt any quilt, I “scrunch and smoosh” it under the machine however I can. Having a wide area between the needle and the side of the machine is really nice, but not absolutely necessary. As long as you shove the quilt out of the way and only focus on one area at a time, it’s easy  to do!

Overlapping wavy lines

Once the lines got close enough, I overlapped a few of them for extra texture.

My philosophy when it comes to machine quilting is, “more is more.” For example, one individual line of stitching will stand out like a sore thumb. However, when you surround that line with additional quilting lines on both sides, all of a sudden, you notice the overall texture before you see the individual stitches.

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

When it comes to choosing thread color for a highly contrasting quilt such as this one, it’s best to use a lighter color thread rather than a darker one. A lighter thread will blend in more on darker fabrics, rather than the reverse.

Aurifil Cotton Thread

For Modern Puzzle, I chose a light gray/blue from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Neutrals from Aurifil. Even with dense quilting, one large spool was plenty of thread, and I like to use the same color in top and bobbin to help hide any tension issues.

Quilting Detail on Modern Puzzle

Dense quilting is my favorite way to hide quilting imperfections!

Behind the Scenes

Fun fact: when I got my fabric samples for Modern Marks back in July, I had about 4 days to whip up 5 quilt tops to display at a special event for BERNINA dealers taking place here in my hometown of Las Vegas. Because BERNINA owns Benartex, the dealers got to see sneak peeks of the fabric before it was debuted at quilt market in October.

Quilts in Progress

Honest sewing room and quilt top making frenzy: notice the fabric samples in the left corner rolled on a tube – this is how fabric comes from the factory before it’s folded onto bolts!!

This was my chance to introduce myself to shop owners who hadn’t heard of me yet, so it was a huge opportunity if I could finish the samples in time. So I called in the reinforcements – my mom and a few friends – and we sewed non-stop to get them done! It was a fun impromptu retreat and I’m thankful to say, the fabric was well received. Thank goodness I only needed to finish the tops and was able to quilt them over the next 3 months at a more leisurely pace!

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

I love how the bright pops of color in in Modern Marks contrast against my desert surroundings. This is one of my favorite quilts, and the dense quilting makes it so snuggly!!

Remember, if you make Modern Puzzle, (or anything else from my books, patterns, or fabric) I’d love to see your progress! Please share in my ChristaQuilts Facebook community. I’d love to cheer you on!!

Modern Puzzle Stats:

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

All outdoor photogrophy taken by my husband, Jason Watson. (C) 2017

Mini Frequency – A Collaboration with Leah Day

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

Mini Frequency by Christa Watson

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

Leah Day – Your Machine Quilting Friend

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

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

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

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

Our Quilty Collaboration

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

Frequency by Christa Watson for Piece and Quilt with Precuts

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

Here are some in-progress pics of the piecing:

Mini Frequency Block Piecing

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

Frequency Blocks

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

Behind the Scenes: Fabric Printing

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

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

Mini Frequency Quil Top

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

Leah Works Her Magic

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

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

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

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

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

Binding Tips

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

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

Quilting Detail on the back of Mini Frequency

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

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

 

Squiggles Quilt Along Schedule – Grab Your Fabric and Get Ready!

Let’s kick off the next year in quilty style, with a Quilt Along!! If you remember the launch of my newest book last summer, I teased the idea of remaking one of the quilts from the book in my new fabric. Readers were able to vote on their favorite quilt, and when to start the Quilt Along.

Well guess what? We’re going to start the Quilt Along on Monday, January 15 and it will run for 6 weeks, going through every step you need to make the Squiggles quilt below, from start to finish!

Suiggles with Modern Marks

Squiggles Quilt Kits are available for a limited time, with black or white background.

I’ll be remaking my version of Squiggles using my Modern Marks fabric + black background, but of course, you can choose any fabrics you like!

Here’s the Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List. Each week as I write create each step, I’ll update the links below so that this post can serve as a landing page for the quilt along.

2018 Quilt Along Schedule

Click the hotlinks below to get to each blog post.

Modern Marks Fabric

Supply List

  • Copy of my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts
  • Two – 5″ charm packs of background solid or tonal fabric (or a total of 77 squares)
  • Four – 5″ charm packs of print fabric (or a total of 154 squares)
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for binding
  • 3 1/4 yards of fabric for backing
  • 56″ x 70″ piece of batting (I recommend Hobbs batting)
  • Approx. 1200 yards (or one large spool) of thread for quilting (I recommend Aurifil)
  • Sewing Machine with new needle and basic sewing supplies
  • Rotary cutting equipment (6″ acrylic ruler, mat, standard cutter with new blade)

So gather your fabrics, your copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts, and start sharing on social media (#squigglesquilt and Christa Quilts on Facebook).

The original version of Squiggles, as shown in the book:

Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

We’re just a month away from a quiltin’ good time!!

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Christa’s Soapbox – On Quilt Show Acceptance and Rejection

It’s that time of year again, where you can find an inspiring virtual quilt show on Instagram. Just search the hashtags #quiltconreject and #quiltcon2018 to see many of the quilts that were entered into next year’s show (happening in Pasadena, CA Feb 22-25, 2018).

HST Remix by Christa Watson

I’m pleased that HST Remix shown above was accepted into QuiltCon 2018. I’ll be blogging more about this quilt and the other one that made it in, so stay tuned!

QuiltCon has been happening since 2013 and as social media has grown, so has the sharing which is nothing short of inspiring. In the early days of QuiltCon, feelings were a little more raw when many who had entered a show for the very first time ever, felt that their quilts not getting in was somehow a rejection of themselves, rather than a simple fact of math. About 1400 quilts are usually entered each year and there’s room to display only about 350 of them. So that means quilt entrants only have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting in. Or in other words, 75% of the quilts that are submitted won’t make it in.

HST Remix Detail

Detail of HST Remix. For each quilt show entry you usually provide two images – an overall view of the entire quilt plus a closeup so they can see the machine quilting.

What I’ve noticed this year is a much more upbeat attitude: sure quilters are still disappointed when their beautiful work doesn’t make the cut. But when they look at the sheer volume and amazing workmanship of others that also were “rejected”, they seem to take it in stride.

I’ve certainly known my fair of disappointment and rejection. I’ve entered quilts into QuiltCon every year from the beginning and each year my non-acceptences or “rejects” have far outnumbered those that were juried in.

(FYI – a “juried” show means you send in a digital image of your quilt during the application process and a group of people who are completely different from the judges look at all the quilts and decide which will best represent the show. It’s usually based on individual scoring of each quilt, and the jurors don’t know who makes each quilt. Those quilts with the highest jury scores are accepted until all spots have been filled.)

Colorweave quilt

Colorweave is the second quilt that was accepted into QuiltCon. It’s simple yet graphic.

I have managed to have at least one quilt in each QuiltCon (see them here: 2013, 2015, 2015, 2015, 2016, 2017, but some of it was pure luck: for the first QuiltCon back in 2013, no one really knew about it until the entry deadline had passed, so the odds of getting in back then were MUCH higher. Then in two of the previous shows, the only reason I got in was because of “automatic” triggers: I had a quilt in the 2017 issue of QuiltCon magazine which was a guaranteed entry, and in 2016 one of my quilts was in the MQG showcase which was also an automatic entry for that year.

Coloweave - walking foot quilting

Detail of the quilting on Color Weave – random crosshatch lines quilted with a walking foot

And you know what? I’ve never won a ribbon at QuiltCon before. I certainly don’t enter to win – the joy for me is in the sharing. But it is kind of ironic, that I’ve been able to get a ribbon at many of the national quilts show I’ve entered, but none at QuiltCon. There’s no bitterness at all there, just a simple acknowledgement that QuiltCon is unlike any other show out there, which is one of the things I love about the show. Heck, some of the quilts that have won ribbons at other national shows never even made it into QuiltCon, which just goes to show that just because a quilt didn’t get in, doesn’t make it less amazing or not worthy.

QuiltCon reject 1

“Rejection #1” – S.W.A.K (Sealed with a Kiss)

If you are one of those feeling a little bruised because your quilt didn’t make it into QuiltCon (or another show for that matter), might I offer this bit of encouragement: you are doing your best work right now and it will only get better!

If you are new to the quilt show circuit then I recommend you start with a local or regional show first. Usually they aren’t “juried” shows which means they’ll accept quilts on a first-come first basis until the slots fill up. This is a great way to see how it all works – filling out an application, getting your quilt to and from the venue, what it feels like to read judges’ comments, etc.

QuiltCon reject 2

“Rejection #2” – Spools. Both this quilt and SWAK above are from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts which just goes to show a quilt can still be publication worthy and not get into a show.

Then, once you’ve got your “big-quilter” britches on, go for the national shows. They all have a different aesthetic, different jurors, and different judges. Quilt show entering and judging is EXTREMELY subjective, so as long as you know that going in, you’ll be okay.

Machine Quilting Backing Detail

The back of Reject #3 which I can’t reveal yet because it’s slated to be published in a magazine next year. Even though it wasn’t juried into QuiltCon, it will be displayed in the publisher’s booth.

Here’s just a small list of shows that I enter regularly with links to their websites. I only enter shows with modern categories, so that limits things a bit, but know that there are a whole slew of shows out there and if you google “quilt show entry” you’ll find a wealth of information. If there’s a show you particularly like that’s not listed below – please leave details in the comments for others to see.

National Quilt Shows I Usually Enter:

Now, let’s go make some more fabulous quilts, whether they are included in a quilt show or not!!