The Making of Diamond in the Rough Part 2 – The Quilting

Click here to read about Part 1 – My design process for Diamond in the Rough.

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

Diamond in the Rough hanging at QuiltCon 2017. I’m with Linda Permann, my editor at Craftsy. I credit her with helping me put a name to the process I use to figure out how to quilt each quilt. It’s called “The Quilter’s Path.” Click here to register for my class of the same name.

Now I’m excited to tell you about how I quilted Diamond in the Rough, since that’s my favorite part of making any quilt! First of all, I printed off a copy of the EQ7 design on a regular 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. (You can do the same thing by taking a picture of your quilt top and printing it onto paper – black and white is perfectly fine!!)

Machine Quilting Plan

This is the actual sketch I submitted to QuiltCon Magazine when it was accepted.

I always, always make a quilting plan before I quilt so that I can figure out the quilting path I’ll take to get it done. It’s like a puzzle – figuring out what designs I want to put where and how to maneuver around the quilt with the fewest stops and starts. I’m not too worried about scale here. I’m more interested in seeing how the texture of the quilting will look and where I may need to switch thread colors.

Of course, I have to sketch with black ink to see my design, so my quilting plan is pretty rough and quite stark when you look at it. However, from experience I know that I prefer to use a blending thread so that all you see is the overall texture, rather than the individual stitches.

Diamond in the Rough quilting detail

Overall, I’m really happy with how the quilting turned out. I’m just a little bummed that you can’t see the quilting in the black areas. I quilted a textural pebble design in the black triangles. Although I love the contrast of black and white, each time I quilt on black, I remind myself that it doesn’t show up as well as I would like. So I may need to use less black fabric in the future!!

I’m really happy with how the “Switchbacks” and “String of Pearls” quilting turned out in the white areas of the quilt. I teach how to quilt both of those designs in my book Machine Quilting with Style. It was super fun to combine them together in this quilt!

Quilting Detail on Diamond in the Rough

I used very dark gray, red, and white 50 weight cotton thread from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt collection for the machine quilting which I did all on my BERNINA. You can sort of see the pebble quilting on the top row of black diamonds in the image above.

Here’s a view from the back of the quilt where you can see the pebbles better. I normally use the same color thread in the top and bobbin so that any tension imperfections are not noticeable. However, since I didn’t want the dark gray thread showing up too strongly on the light back, I used an invisible thread in the bobbin when I quilted the pebbles. Here’s a tip: wind your bobbin slowly and only fill it half full!

Managing the quilt bulk while machine quilting

First I stitch in the ditch with the BERNINA dual feed before adding free-motion quilting.

Here’s the quilt in progress underneath my machine. I use a very technical process I call “scrunching and smooshing” to wrestle the bulk of the quilt. It’s really no more complicated that twisting and shoving enough of it out of the way so I can see what I’m doing. Here’s another tip: when working with a large quilt on a small machine, just remember you are only quilting about 5-6 inches of the quilt at any time, so it’s normal to stop and shift a LOT!!

QuiltCon 2017 Cover

Right now you can get a digital copy of my Diamond in the Rough quilt pattern in QuiltCon magazine. It includes the instructions for the piecing only, but when the rights revert back to me next year, I’ll release it on my own, most likely in multiple sizes with quilting suggestions.

I was pleased with the comments I received from the QuiltCon judges about the quilt:

  1. Strong offset focal point.
  2. Varied quilting motifs were well chosen and fit areas well.
  3. Strong geometric shapes create graphic visual appeal.

I’ve had at least one quilt in each QuiltCon and have yet to win a ribbon, but it’s still fun to get them accepted. In fact, the main reason I submitted this design for the magazine was that it was a guaranteed entry into the show. Since the other 5 I entered didn’t get in, I was really happy that this one did.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

Making this quilt reminds me what I love most about the modern aesthetic: strong geometric forms, minimalist designs, and plenty of negative space for fun machine quilting. Although I love ALL quilts, making those on the modern end of the design spectrum truly make my heart happy!

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Pantone Quilt Challenge for 2017 – Featuring Greenery

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to help spread the word about the upcoming Pantone Quilt Challenge for 2017, featuring Greenery. In my opinion, it’s a much more palatable color than those that have been chosen the last couple of years!

Pantone Color of the Year Greenery

This year’s challenge is hosted by Rebecca Bryan of Bryan House Quilts and Sarah Elizabeth of No Hats in the House.  The basic idea is that you use Greenery to create a quilt and enter into one of 3 categories.

Pantone Quilt Challenge 2017 judges Carolyn Friedlander, Jennifer Sampou and Christa Watson I’m excited to be one of the judges along with Carolyn Friedlander and Jennifer Sampou.

There will be first, second, and third prizes for all the categories, plus several random “door prizes”. The deadline for all entries is May 29th. Check out either of their blogs (Becca’s and Sarah’s) for complete details. I can’t wait to see all of the amazing entries!

The first place winner in the Quilt Top category will win a box of my Piece and Quilt Thread Collection, courtesy of Aurifil.

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Aurifil Designer Block of the Month 2016 – A Finished Quilt!

I’m pleased to share this beautiful quilt finish by Pat Sloan, an all around amazing person and coordinator of the Aurifil Designer of the Month Series.

Aurifil Designer of the Month 2016 Quilt

If you are just now finding out about this, you can get each of the free block patterns here including those for 2017!

Pat has also created instructions to make the layout here.

My block is the improv star shown on the first row on the right.
Improv Star block for Aurifil

Click here to get the free download to make this block pattern.

I am a huge fan of Aurifil thread. In fact, I use 50 weight cotton thread for everything I do – piecing, quilting and binding. I released my first thread collection with Aurifil at the end of last year. It’s appropriately named the Piece and Quilt Collection.

Piece and Quilt Aurifil thread by Christa Watson

I’m super excited to be working with Aurifil on an exciting adventure coming up next year. I hate to be a tease, but I’ll let you know more about it soon, so stay tuned!!!

Click here to get my Piece and Quilt Collection in Colors or Neutrals.

Piece and Quilt Neutrals Aurifil Thread from Christa Quilts

When you make the Aurifil Designer of the Month quilt, click here to share it on Pat’s site!

finsihed-aurifil-quilt-2016-with-pat-sloan

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My Aurifil Thread Collections are Now Available

One of the biggest reasons for going to quilt market this year was to launch my Piece and Quilt Thread Collection for Aurifil. This has been a dream of mine a couple of yeas in the making and it feels so great to finally share them with the world!
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Christa and Aurifil CBDO Alex Veronelli at Fall Quilt Market 2016

I first began using Aurifil 50 weight cotton back in 2013 after trying out numerous brands, thread weights, and fiber contents. After making dozens of quilts for publication and for family and friends, I can definitely say these threads are prefect for everything I do: piecing, machine quilting, machine applique, and binding.

My favorite thing about sticking with the 50 weight cotton for everything, is that I always have the right color on hand. Plus, any leftover bobbins from machine quilting can get used up when I piece my next scrappy quilt!

The Piece and Quilt Collection comes in both Colors and Neutrals and I really took my time choosing them. I wanted to make sure I offered enough variety that you could literally piece and quilt any quilt with just these two collections:
piece-and-quilt-colors-box
piece-and-quilt-colors-thread

Piece and Quilt Colors Include:

2425 Bright Pink
2250 Red
4020 Fuchsia
2520 Violet
2130 Medium Butter
1133 Bright Orange
2920 Light Brass
2884 Green Yellow
2886 Light Avocado
1148 Light Jade
2725 Light Wedgewood
2783 Medium Delft Blue

piece-and-quilt-neutrals-box

piece-and-quilt-neutrals-thread

Piece and Quilt Neutrals Include:

2311 Muslin
5021 Bamboo
1246 Dark Grey
5007 Light Grey Blue
2326 Sand
2372 Dark Antique Gold (Brown)
2315 Pale Flesh
2405 Oyster
2024 White
2615 Aluminium
2605 Grey
4241 Very Dark Grey

Color selection tips:

  1. When you don’t have an exact match, go a shade or two lighter with your thread. A lighter thread on a darker fabric will blend in better than a darker thread on a lighter fabric.
  2. Use very dark grey instead of black on black fabrics so you can see the texture of the thread rather than having it disappear.
  3. Use the darker neutrals when piecing dark or very highly saturated fabrics.
  4. Try out the lighter neutrals like oyster and bamboo (in addition to white and muslin) when piecing lighter to medium colored fabrics.

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Ask for my Piece and Quilt Collection at your favorite quilt shop, or get them directly from me at ThePrecutStore.com. I look forward to seeing what you make with them!

Machine Quilting with Style: Focal Point Re-Imagined + A Secret Revealed

Focal Point was such a fun design to both piece and quilt! I made it specifically for my book Machine Quilting with Style as part of my quest to go more modern with my designs. I remember attending a lecture by Heather Grant at the very first QuiltCon in 2013. She gave us several great tips on how to go more modern. Two of my favorites used in this quilt are asymmetry and cropping your design. Later once I got to know Jacquie Gering, she reminded me to make sure my modern quilts always had a “focal point.”

focal_point

Christa with Focal Point at QuiltCon 2016. Quilt Measures 45″ x 45″.

I was thrilled to be able to share Focal Point at QuiltCon earlier this year and of course, I had to take the obligatory “here’s the quilt from my book pic!”

More Neutrals

I used Amy Ellis’ fabric to make the original version of the quilt. Her debut line was called Modern Neutrals which I thought was so appropriate for the quilt. When her next line, Chic Neutrals came out around the same time as the book I thought it would be fun to recolor it using those fabrics. (She’s since released a third line which I think would be just as fab!)

Focal Point - Chic Neutrals no lines

Focal Point recolored in EQ7 with Chic Neutrals by Amy Ellis for Moda

For another color idea, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes a bit. Many times when I’m designing, I’ll go through tons of different color iterations until I find the one that’s just right. Focal point actually started out in this icy blue colorway, before I applied Amy’s fabrics to it:

focal-point-blue

Focal point in classic blue and white.

I once heard it said that you know you have a good design on your hands when it can look good in any fabrics. Hopefully that’s how you all will feel when making the quilts from my books! 🙂

A Secret Revealed and a Giveaway!

It’s always fun to reveal secrets when sharing my books and patterns. Now I have another big announcement I can finally share. I’m an Aurifil thread designer! This week, Aurifil debuted my brand new line, The Piece and Quilt thread collection.

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It’s a line of 24 threads in 50 weight cotton: 12 Neutrals and 12 Colors. These are my favorite threads that I use for every part of  quilt making: piecing, quilting and binding! In fact, the light gray that I used to quilt Focal Point is included in the neutrals collection.

colors-both

To celebrate the one year birthday of my first book, and now my debut thread collection, you can win them before you can buy them!! To win a 12 pack of the neutrals, leave a comment here at my site, letting me know what your go-to thread colors are.

To win a 12 pack of the colors, head over to the Auribuzz blog and follow the intructions over there. Due to shipping limitations, this giveaway is open to all of my US friends. Be sure and ask for these by name at your favorite quilt shop – they’ll be arriving soon!

Last Week’s Winner

Last but not least, I’d like to congratulate Zina C. who won a copy of EQ Mini. I’m sure she’ll be able to put this software to good use!! Next week is quilt market so I won’t have another book post. But come back in 2 weeks for another winner and another re-imagined quilt!

Click here to purchase a signed copy of Machine Quilting with Style.
Click here to see all of the quilts from the book.

Feathered Chevrons Finish

I’m so happy to have finished another version of my Charming Chevrons pattern! This layout is called Feathered Chevrons, and I made it using my Kona Designer series charm packs, plus Kona Coal.

Feathered Chevrons is an alternate of my Charming Chevrons quilt pattern.

Feathered Chevrons by Christa Watson, 64″ x 80″

This is the third version of Charming Chevrons I have made, and all three layouts are available in the original pattern, along with 4 different sizes.

Click here to purchase a PDF pattern of Charming Chevrons.
Click here to purchase a print pattern of Charming Chevrons.

feathered-chevrons-backing

I love it when the quilting shows up well on the back.

I used some leftover chunks of Kona solids to make a pieced backing. I love how the quilting really shows up on the back. I stuck a label on the lower back corner before I put the binding on so I would only have to hand-sew it along two of the sides.

quilting_practice

On the test sample, I quilted the swirls flowing in opposite directions. On the quilt, I quilted them all flowing in one direction. Other than that, I stuck to the original plan.

Like I do for most of my quilts, I made up a test block so that I could see how the quilting design and thread color looked before diving in. Even though it’s a little more effort to do this, it saves me a lot of aggravation in the long run. If I like how this piece looks, then there won’t be any surprises when I’m quilting the quilt, and I can just relax and enjoy the process.

quilting_switchbacks

I filled in all of the gray background areas with switchbacks, one of the motifs I teach in my book Machine Quilting with Style. Notice how I stitched an area of relief inside the block, by quilting straight lines about 1/4″ away from the seams. This allows the different sections to pop, and also shrinks up the amount of area I need to quilt.

swirls_pebbles

Next, I filled in the chevrons with a motif I call “swirl-feathers.” It’s a new design for me, made up of swirls that branch off of each other rather than filling in the whole space. Then I filled in the spaces in between the swirls with pebbles.

I quilted it entirely on my BERNINA 770 QE. I anchored the quilt by quilting straight lines with my integrated dual feed (which works like a walking foot) and then the free-motion sections with my BSR (BERNINA stitch regulator.)

Aurifil-Thread

You’ll be hearing more about some of my favorite Aurifil thread colors in the coming months.

I love to use Aurifil 50 weight cotton for piecing and quilting all of my quilts. It’s lightweight yet strong and I never have any issue with thread breaks. I used  Aurifil 2920 Light Brass for the swirls and 2605 Grey for the background.

feathered_chevrons_quilting_detail

If you make your own version of Charming Chevrons, please share it in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see you progress! I’m also happy to chat about machine quilting over there and answer your questions in the group for all to see.

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Aurifil Designer of the Month – March 2016 (That’s Me!)

It is with great pride and honor to announce that I was chosen to be the Aurifil Designer of the Month for March. I’ve designed this exclusive “Improv Star” block as part of the Aurifil Designer Series, hosted by Pat Sloan.

Each month in 2016, you’ll get free access to a brand new blue and white 12″ finished block pattern. Make them each month, share them on Pat’s website and enter for your chance to win a box of thread – 12 large spools for your creating pleasure!

improv_star_styled

My 12″ Improv Star block – click here for the free pattern.

I have to tell you what a whirlwind of a journey it’s been, falling in love with Aurifil threads and using them exclusively for all of my sewing and quilting. I first discovered Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread just a few years ago and it was love at first stitch! Like any other aspect of quilting, at first I struggled to know which materials to use, what threads to try and how to put them all together.

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This is just one of my drawers full of Aurifil thread – I love all that color!

I soon realized that being a prolific quilter, Aurifil satisfied my need to keep things simple and organized. Rather than buying ALL the threads in ALL the colors in ALL the different fibers and weights out there, I could do everything I needed with Aurifil cotton! (And yeah, I still do own almost ALL the colors!!)

aurifil-2016-design-team-photo

If you are an Aurifil thread fan like I am, you can find all your favorite colors and kits at The Precut Store.

New around here?

Be sure to sign up for Friendly Threads, my email newsletter, and get a free PDF quilt pattern!

3 Fun Things for You to Check out…pattern writing, finish-a-long, Aurifil BOM

One of the things I love about the online community (no, blogs are NOT dead!) is all of the community projects that you can be a part of! Last week I introduced my Facets QAL which starts next week, and today I’m here to share a roundup of a few fun things my friends are doing.

#1 – Pattern Writing Series

meadowmist_designs

Cheryl, from Meadow Mist Designs just kicked off her pattern writing series which I know that many of you are interested in. Today, she’s introduced the 6 designers that are going to be part of each weekly roundtable discussion. It was fun putting together my thoughts on various topics, and I love how the series is going to go very in-depth in several areas. Each week will include 2-4 posts from Cheryl and the other designers. It’s going to be a wealth of information, and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two!

pattern_writing_series

Click here to keep up with the Pattern Writing Series.

#2 – Finish Along

Next, I’m one of the sponsors for the Finish Along, coordinated by Leanne from She Can Quilt. I’ll be offering a different prize each quarter, so be sure to sign up and link up your finishes! The Finish Along is also on Instagram at – you guessed it – @finishalong.

2016 button

Click here for the Finish A Long main page.

#3 – Aurifil Designer Block of the Month

Finally, I am proud to be one of the 2016 Aurifil Designers of the month. Pat Sloan and Aurifil have teamed up since 2011 to bring you fun free projects each month, so you can put your collection of Aurifil threads to work!

aurifil-2016-design-team-photo

The theme for 2016 is blue and white blocks, so each month, you’ll get a free block pattern from a different designer. (My month is March.) Heather Valentine kicks of January with her awesome block, Swirl Away, shown below.

heathers_block

Click here to get directions to make the Swirl Away block.

What quilting groups and community projects will you be involved with this year?

Thread Thursday and a Folkschool Sneak Peek!

This week I am having the most wonderful time teaching at the John C. Campbell Folkschool. My students are learning how to make a modern quilt, and I will give a full report next week, once I’m home and rested!

folkschoolsignHaving a great time at the Folkschool. Wish you were here!!

We’ve been here all week and today is machine quilting day in class. Many of my students have chosen to piece and quilt with Aurifil thread, and they are getting great results!

machinequiltingI love this version of Modern Logs – it’s so graphic and cheerful!

Since you aren’t here with me, enjoy some pretty pictures of my favorite thread collections:

thread_tula_pinkTula Pink’s Premium Collection

thread_botanicsBotanics by Carolyn Friedlander

thread_alison_glassAlison Glass Essentials

All of these thread collections and more are available in my thread/precut store!

Aurifil Thread Winner

Thank you for your comments on my last giveaway. I think that’s the most comments I’ve ever received for a giveaway. I guess you guys really like Aurifil thread as much as I do!

abacus_aurifil_threadCongratulations to Kathie H. who won the Abacus thread bundle! I will have another giveaway related to the Abacus Quilt Along this Thursday so stay tuned! And be sure to come back tomorrow for the next quilt along tutorial.

20140909_aurifilSome of my personal stash of Aurifil – you could say I’ve got a passion for thread!