Sew and Tell QuiltCon Entries

For Sew and Tell this week I thought I would share with you the quilts that I submitted for entry into QuiltCon. This was a scary step for me as I’ve never tried to enter a big show before. But it’s one of my quilting goals – so here’s hoping at least one of them gets in!

Charming Chevrons is the first quilt I knew I wanted to enter. After the time-consuming (but fun!) amount of quilting I did on it for my tutorial, I thought it deserves a shot. You can read the text I submitted with the entry below.

Charming Chevrons

What is more traditional than a half square triangle? What is more modern than solid colored chevrons with irregular pebble quilting? My quilt, Charming Chevrons, is a marriage of both. Inspired by a couple of colorful Kona charm packs and the desire quilt the heck out of something, I experienced pure bliss in designing and making this quilt. I used 18 different colors of thread for the pebbles.

Next, I emailed them a picture of my Busy Hands quilt which I’ve already blogged about a few times before. But here it is in its entirety. (I didn’t even bother counting how long it took for the FMQ – I would probably need to declare myself insane if I did!!)

Busy Hands

Although I’ve been a quilter for quite a few years, this is my first modern quilt. I discovered this eclectic style earlier this year and have been thoroughly smitten! “Busy Hands” embodies everything I love about modern quilts: bright clear colors, bold geometric shapes, and clean lines with lots of negative space for detailed quilting. Making modern quilts is a great way to keep my hands busy! I did all of the quilting my regular home sewing machine.

And finally, just for fun I included my Baby Bricks in pink. I was able to submit 3 quilts so I figured more quilts would increase my chance of at least one getting in! (Yes I will be sad if none make it into the show, but no matter what, it was an amazing experience to at least try.)

Baby Bricks

I designed Baby Bricks as a way to piece a quick modern quilt with simple shapes. I took a classic stacked bricks design and modernized it by adding negative space between the rows. This allowed me to showcase some fun fabrics while balancing the straight lines of the quilt with whimsical double loops. I love the way the batting poofs up in the areas that are not over-quilted. This gives some extra dimension to the piece.

Updated December 28th – I’m in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so thrilled I can hardly speak (or type). I just found out that  my Charming Chevrons quilt above got juried into QuiltCon. This is so exciting!!!!!! I’ll post more later in a separate followup post. Yay for me (giving myself a big hug and pat on the back….)!!

Giveaway Day Blog Hop – Win a Charm Pack of Your Choice

Giveaway DayDecember is turning out to be a great month for giveaways!

I just gave away 2 pairs of Machingers gloves last week. Now I am participating in Sew Mama Sew’s Giveaway Day which actually lasts all week long! (Plus there’s another giveaway fest sponsored by the Quilting Gallery starting next week on December 10th.)

Here’s my giveaway: I am offering one free charm pack of your choice to 2 lucky readers! To enter,  leave a comment on this post stating which charm pack you’d love to get your hands on. Here are just a few samples out of all the charms I offer:

Sew Stitchy Charm Pack

Farmers Market Charm Pack

Mod Century Charm PackBella Solids Charm Pack

You can visit my web store at to see which charms I have in stock. What’s more – if you don’t want to wait to win the contest, you can fill your stash with your favorite charm packs because they are on sale at 20% off all during the contest!

While you are visiting, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter and blog so you can stay informed of all the latest and greatest “quilty” stuff!

The contest runs through Friday, December 7th at 5 PM PST and two winners will be chosen at random from all comments received (one comment per person, please). I will post the winning names here on this post at that time and will also contact them via email.

My giveaway is open to everyone, both in the US and across the world.

Good luck and happy hopping!

Updated 7:15 PM, Friday December 7th – We Have Our Winners!!

Thank you everyone who commented. This was a fantastic giveaway and this is the most comments I’ve ever received on a single post so that was exciting, too. By far the most popularly requested charm pack was “Sew Stitchy” – I love that one, too!

Congratulations to these 2 winners below, chosen at random. I will be emailing you directly on how to claim your charm pack from my store at

Sara from who said, “Love the Domestic Bliss charm pack!”

Terry from who commented, “Would love Pat Sloan Eat Your Fruits and Veggies Charm Pack…thanks for the chance!”

Thanks for participating – this contest is now closed.

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.7 – Quilting Chevrons Part 1

As I quilted my Charming Chevrons quilt this week I realized it would be way too much “homework” to try to get it all into one post. Therefore, I’ve broken down the steps into two parts. I’ll cover the straight line quilting this week, and then the free-motion quilting (FMQ) in next week’s post.

I had so much fun quilting this quilt! Machine quilting is my absolute favorite part of making any project. I often spend much more time on the quilting than I do in piecing the top.

It took me a total of 5 Hours to quilt the straight lines.

Step 1 – Stitch in the Ditch

Probably one of the most important (and often overlooked) parts of quilting any quilt successfully is to first outline all of them major seams by stitching in the ditch. This may be the most boring  step because you can’t really see your stitches. However, it can really make your quilt “pop”, no matter what additional quilting you add to it.

Be sure to start with a brand new needle when quilting. I used a Size 90 Topstitch needle for all of my machine quilting. The longer shaft and larger eye eliminated stress on the thread passing through the needle. My quilting was smooth and trouble free!

Though I list step 1 and 2 separately, you can combine them if you wish, and do all of the quilting at the same time.

Step 2 – Quilt The Chevron Echoes

If you have marked straight lines onto your background, you can stitch them with a walking foot. I like to match my thread as closely as I can do my background so that you notice the quilting first, not the thread. I used Isacord polyester in the Sterling silver color for all of my straight line quilting. It was weighty enough to show the quilting and there were no issues with thread breaks.

Starting on one edge of the quilt, stitch one straight line at a time all the way over to the other edge of the quilt. This means no tying off or needing to bury threads. I simply started a few stitches off the quilt on either side to anchor my threads.

I started quilting in the center row of my quilt and worked my way across half of the quilt. When I got to the end I rotated the quilt and finished the other side.

I did have to pivot each time the lines zigged and zagged so I got really good at pushing and scrunching the bulk of the quilt out of my way. The Machingers gloves helped me keep a good grip on the quilt. (They also helped keep the quilt clean from any chocolate residue left on my fingers during snack break time!!)

I removed the Pinmoors, one a time as they got in my way while quilting. Once the straight quilting was finished, I removed the rest of the pins.

Step 3 – Removing the Blue Lines

Because I like to see my work as soon as possible, I like to remove the lines immediately once I am done quilting them. One word of caution here, be sure to test your fabrics to make sure they are color fast before you spray water all over your quilt. If there are any worries about color bleeding, you can remove the lines with an aqua eraser pen or a wet toothbrush instead so you can more easily guide where the water goes.

If the blue lines resurface later, I simply wet them again, or soak the whole quilt when finished (if I know I’m not going to have any issues with fabric bleeding).

Doesn’t the back of the quilt look scrumptious, too?

Additional Ideas

If you don’t want to hassle with marking or quilting straight lines, you can quilt a wavy decorative stitch instead. It goes a little faster and you don’t have to be so precise. I used this type of quilting on my first tutorial – The Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt.

I feel very accomplished this week – how about you?

Quilt Along Schedule (Links are active once each step has been completed.)

Sew and Tell and Giveaway Winners!

I quilted all weekend on my Charming Chevrons quilt and am really pleased with the progress so far. It was pure bliss to sew for hours on end while my hubby entertained the kiddos with movies and games. But more about that later. Here’s a sneak peek, and I’ll post more pictures on this week’s Do-It-Yourself Quilt Along.

Christa's Charming Chevrons

Diana, AKA Quilting Grandma sent me a picture of her version of Charming Chevrons, made from Berenstain Bears Charm Packs. Aren’t the colors just wonderful?? I love how she added the extra borders, and her choice of solid green for the background is just awesome!

Diana's Chevrons

And I couldn’t resist sharing this picture of Martha from Illinois, modeling her Machingers Quilting Gloves on her new Tiara machine. I have to say I’m a little bit jealous of all that quilting space under the machine!

Quilting with Machingers

That got me to thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to win some of my favorite gadgets and quilting tools I talk about? Since I just reviewed Machingers Gloves last week, I’m going to give two lucky readers each a pair of gloves to try out.

It’s easy to enter, simply post a comment (any comment) and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll randomly select 2 winners and post their names here on the blog. I’ll also notify them via email. Contest ends this Friday, November 30th at 9PM Pacific Time (Midnight Eastern).

Good luck!

Updated November 30th, 9:30 PM

Thank you all for participating. This was a fun contest to run and all of the comments were much appreciated! We now have our winners!

The first winner, drawn at random is:


Right now, I’m using a pair of slightly textured gardening gloves. The disadvantage is that they’re fairly bulky and not particularly grippy. The advantage is that I can blame any quilting gaffes on the gloves ;-) Thanks for the great giveaway opportunity.

The second winner, also drawn at random is

Evelyn H:

I haven’t done your Chevron quilt, but I made the Jolly Jelly Roll. I love that pattern. I would love a pair of the quilting gloves, which are on my Christmas wish list! Thanks for doing this and for your fun tutorials.

Congratulations, ladies! I will be emailing you shortly with your winning prize!

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.6 – Marking and Basting the Chevrons

Grid MarkingAlthough basting a quilt is my least favorite “chore” of the whole quilting process, it’s a necessary step so I can get to my most favorite part which is the machine quilting. I always have better results if I take the time to properly mark and baste my quilt.

It took me a total of 2.5 hours to mark the top and prepare my quilt for machine quilting.

This doesn’t include the time it took to sew my quilt backing which took an additional 1.5 hours.

I wrote a separate pieced quilt backing tutorial where I could show off my “back art”.

Step 1 – Marking The Quilt Top (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

If I know the design I’m going to quilt ahead of time, I will mark my lines before I baste, using a water-soluble blue marking pen. (Test ahead of time to be sure your marks will come out and that your fabrics are color-safe.)

June Tailor Grid Marker

For my Charming Chevrons, I chose to mark a set of grid lines following the outline of the chevrons. I used a June Tailor grid marker to speed up the process. I drew my lines so that they were about 1/2″ apart. I marked the top at my dining table while watching a movie with the family!

Step 1 – Preparing to Baste (30 Minutes)

Be sure your backing is at least 3″-4″ larger than your quilt top on all sides. (Professional long-armers need even more space than this but since I know you will all be quilting your own quilts, you can get away with less space if you are careful with your layout!)

Roll of Batting

Roll out your batting if cut from a roll, and cut it a couple of inches bigger than your quilt top. If you are using a packaged batting, be sure to unfold it and air it out a day or two before you begin to remove as many wrinkles as possible.

Be sure you have a nice big area for basting. You can use the floor, your kitchen table, a couple of utility tables, or even some tables thrown together at your local library or quilt shop.

Give your backing a final pressing before laying it out. Remove any excess threads and smooth it out a flat as you can onto your basting surface. Clamp or tape down all sides of your quilt backing. I use binder clips on two sides of the quilt where the backing meets the edge of the table. I tape down the other two sides.

Layer 1 Quilt Backing

Layer 1 – Quilt Backing

Spread out your batting onto your quilt backing. Again, smooth it out so there are no wrinkles and puckers. You don’t need to clamp down the batting. For my quilt I am experimenting with a double batting. I laid down a layer of Warm-N-Natural Cotton, then a layer of Wool on top of that. I’ll let you know how I like it when it comes to quilting!

Layer 2 Quilt Batting

Layer 2 – Quilt Batting

Finally, spread out your quilt top as smoothly as possible. Since I use two tables to baste, I use the center between the tables as my reference point for where the middle is. This helps me keep the quilt top straight.

Layer 3 Quilt Top

Layer 3 – Quilt Top

Step 3 – Pin Basting (45 Minutes)

Pinmoors for Quilt BastingI mention this every time I get to this step of the quilting process, but I really love Pinmoors for basting!

They go into the batting quickly and come out super easy when machine quilting.

You get 50 per pack and it took just over 3 packs (168 to be exact) to baste my Chevrons quilt. I put one pin and Pinmoor anchor in each colored triangle and that was enough for this size quilt.

Because my batting was a little thicker, the longer flower pins worked great for getting through all the layers.

Trim the Excess

The last step before I begin quilting is to trim up the extra couple of inches around the quilt.

I don’t cut off all the excess, but I do trim it up pretty close so I have less bulk going under the arm of the machine.

I am super excited to quilt this puppy!

Be sure to email me pictures of your progress – it’s so fun to see all the variety!

Quilt Along Schedule (Links are active once each step has been completed.)

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.5 – Charming Chevrons Quilt Top

This week I assembled my Charming Chevrons quilt top made from just four charm packs. Be sure to scroll to the end of this post for links to all of the previous weeks’ tutorials. For your convenience, quilt kits are available for a limited time in 3 different colorways.

It took me a total of 3 hours to follow the steps below and finish sewing my quilt top. (I think it took longer than that just to edit the pictures and write this blog post!)

Charming Chevrons Quilt TopAnd yes, this is my actual completed quilt top, not a computer generated picture.

Step 1 – Sewing the Block Pairs (45 Minutes)

Lay out your chevron blocks in a pleasing arrangement on your design wall or other large flat surface. You will have 7 rows with 6 blocks per row for a total of 42 blocks.

Sew each row into pairs of 2 blocks each. Each row will have 3 pairs of sewn blocks. Now you have 21 w’s instead of  42 v’s! (Yes, I’m missing a row in the picture because it wouldn’t fit on my design wall. You should still have 7 rows.)

Chevron Block Pairs

Step 2 – Sewing the Pairs into Rows (1 Hour)

Now you can sew 2 pairs of chevron blocks together in each row. You can see a “hole” in my quilt where I’ve flipped the second pair onto the first along the right side edges. I left the third pair of each row on the design wall so I can remember where each one goes as I sew.

Sewing the RowsNow that you have 2/3 of each row finished, you can add the last pair to the end of each row. Be sure to pin generously and flip over any seams if needed so that your seams lie flat.

Partial Rows

PPress The Seamsress the seams so that they are all going the same direction in each row.

Be sure that your seams for rows 1, 3, 5 and 7 are all going one way and that rows 2, 4, and 6 are pressed in the opposite direction.

You could also press them open if you prefer. This took me a little while but it was worth it.

Step 3 – Join The Rows to Complete The Quilt Top (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

Join 2 rows together at a time, pinning at the intersections. You will then have 3 pairs of sewn rows with one row left over. Press each long seam open.

Joining The RowsNow join these last 3 seams to complete the quilt top and give it a final pressing. It’s fun to see how the actual top turned out compared to my original computerized drawing. I like the chevrons with the tips pointing down better. But you can decide either way!

Computer Design

Computer Designed Version

Finished Quilt Top

Actual Quilt Top

I’m very pleased with how my top turned out – now I can’t wait to see yours! Please email me pictures of your work in progress and I’ll be glad to share them here on my blog.

Sewing Schedule (All links will be active once each step has been completed.)

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.4 – Charming Chevrons Block Tutorial

This is the week where our Charming Chevrons quilts really start coming together! We will sew all of the blocks and start laying them out so that the top can get finished by next week. Be sure to scroll to the end of this post for the complete tutorial schedule.

It took me a total of 2 hours, 15 minutes to sew and press all 42 of my Chevron blocks.Chevron Blocks

Step 1 – Sewing the Half-V’s (1 Hour)

Each chevron looks like a V and each half of the block is a mirror image so keep that in mind while assembling your units.

Block UnitsFirst, separate all of your triangle squares from last week  into 4 equal piles, orienting them to form a V.

Note that each half of the V is made from two triangle squares of the same fabric. You should have a total of 42 sewn triangle squares per pile.

Since each half of the block is a mirror image,  I will be sewing one half at a time.

Starting with the left half of the block – the left V – I laid a stack of units next to my sewing machine. They are oriented in the direction I will sew them. Chain piece all left V units.

Chain Piece the VsStacked Units Chain Piecing means sewing pairs of blocks with no stops.

After sewing all of your left V stacks, finger press (or use a wooden seam roller) from the back and then again from the front. Press them all to the same side and repeat for all halves.

Press Front SidePress Back Side

You should have a total of 42 left V units.

Now, repeat the steps above for the other half of the blocks, the right V units. Be sure to press the right halves in the opposite direction so they nestle when sewing the blocks.

Press OppositeRight V Units


Repeat for a total of 42 right V units.

Step 2 – Joining the Halves (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

Pin the two halves of each block together. If desired, you can flip over any seams so that they will nestle with the other side of the block – look at the pin on the far right below.

Pin the Chevron Halves

The key to sewing crisp points on these blocks  is to hit the “sweet spot” when sewing your seams. Sew from the side where you can see a little “x” made by previous seams. This is right where my pin intersects the block below.

Sew Through the X

When you have sewn all of the blocks together, press or seam-roll them again on both front and back. When finished, you will have a total of 42 blocks.

Finished Chevron BlockPress the Chevrons

Because of the way this quilt is laid out, you will want the major seams in your blocks to alternate. To do this make sure you press 18 blocks in one direction and 24 blocks the opposite direction. You’ll have 3 rows of block seams one way and 4 going the other way.

Seams Pressed Opposite

Once your blocks are complete, you can start laying them out in a pleasing color arrangement on your design wall (watch which way you pressed the seams).

Kona Solids Kit

Kona Solids Kit

You’ll notice that in my original drawings I started with the  Chevrons pointing up first. But now that I’ve laid them out, I think I prefer them as shown in the photo above with the points starting down. It’s your choice! I have kits available for all 3 colorways shown.

American Jane Kit

American Jane Kit

Coquette Kit

Coquette Kit

Sewing Schedule (All links will be active once each step has been completed.)

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.3 – Trimming the Triangle Squares

I am very glad I decided to take some time putting together my Charming Chevrons Do-It-Yourself Quilt Tutorial, and spread it out over several weeks. This week’s step of making the triangle squares is a very simple process; however it was a little time consuming.

It took a total of 3 hours to complete the steps below. That’s not bad considering I’m giving you a whole week to complete it, but I suggest you break it up over a few cutting sessions. It’s too tedious to do all at once! Scroll down to the end for the complete schedule.

Step 1 – Cutting the Squares in Half (20 Minutes)

With your ruler, rotary cutter and mat, slice each pair of sewn squares in half on the diagonal, down the middle on your previously drawn line. You may use scissors instead, but rotary cutting them is definitely faster.

Line up Your Ruler

Cut the Squares ApartEach pair of squares has been sewn together 1/4 inch away from the drawn line, yielding 2 half square triangles per each pair of charm squares (following last week’s instructions).

I like to stack them up as I cut, keeping the same pairs of colors together. They look like little fabric sandwiches. Yummy!

Sewn Triangle Stacks

Step 2 – Pressing the Triangle Squares (1 Hour)

It took me longer then normal to press the squares because I starched each block first.

Press the BlocksI am not sure if I’m happy with the results so I mention this with caution – test on the back side or some scrap fabric first or just skip it.

I got starch marks on the front sides of several of the blocks.

I had to soak them in water to get the marks out.

And yes, I used Mary Ellen’s Best Press which was not supposed to leave any residue.

So I’m not sure if I had my iron on too high of a setting, or perhaps it doesn’t work well with solids?

Press Seams to the Darker SideIs anyone else familiar with this? I’m still a starching newbie.

This is why I’m making this quilt in real time – so I can learn these things!

So if you just press your squares without worrying about starch or sizing, it will be quicker!

I pressed all of my seams toward the darker fabric.

Once my stacks were all pressed, it was time to trim them to size!

Step 3 – Trimming the Triangles (1 Hour 40 Minutes)

This was the tedious part because you will be trimming a total of 168 squares 1 at a time! So set aside a few afternoons and enjoy the process!

With a square ruler and a sharp cutter, trim the blocks so that they measure 4 1/2 inches. Line up the diagonal line of your ruler on the seam of the blocks.

Trim the Blocks

Then trim the sides. You may be able to trim only on 2 sides, or you may need to trim all four sides depending on where you need to slide your ruler so that the diagonal line stays in the center of the block.

Half Square Triangle Blocks

Block TrimmingsWhen you are all finished trimming, you will have a leftover pile of cuttings.

I think it looks rather pretty, don’t you?

You can use it as colorful stuffing or confetti.

Or how about wrapping up used needles or rotary blades with these scraps, put them in a bag, and safely throw away these sharp objects!

Sewing Schedule (All links will be active once each step has been completed.)

UFO Weekend

This weekend was the first time in awhile that I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything but sew! (And take care of the kids and do laundry and clean the house and cook and work…)

I didn’t finish anything, but I worked a little bit on a bunch of projects I have going on right now so I feel very accomplished!

I finished a couple more paper-pieced units from my Deb Karasik workshop:

Paper Pieced Units

I sewed together all of my half-square triangles for my Charming Chevrons quilt tutorial later this week:

Half Square Triangles

I hand-sewed (yes-by hand!) another chunk of my Winding Ways quilt:

Hand Pieced Winding Ways

And I machine quilted a couple more squares of my Busy Hands quilt.

Busy Hands FMQ

All in all, it was a productive weekend!

Charming Chevrons Follow Up Questions #1

I am starting something new with my Charming Chevrons quilt-along. Each week or so I will post follow-up questions and answers the day after that week’s tutorial is posted. This will be so that I can answer any questions, or follow up on any suggestions while making your quilt.

Charming Chevrons Original Size

Charming Chevrons Original Size 48″ x 56″

You can either ask your questions on any of my blog posts, or email me directly and I’ll answer them here on the blog.

The first question is from JennyWren in Tx. She asked about which day will I be posting the weekly tutorials.

That’s an easy one to answer!

Usually on Wednesdays, depending on when I get that week’s step finished. My goal is to be about a week ahead of you guys but sometimes life gets in the way. If I get really behind, I’ll post no later than Thursday of that week, but I’ll really try to get it up as early on Wednesday morning as I can. How’s that for an answer?

Kathie asked if it was ok to use a Layer Cake to make the quilt larger.

Absolutely! I have two ideas on how to do this:

1. Use one layer cake of print/color fabric and one layer cake of background. Cut each piece into four – 5″ squares, yielding 168 per layer cake. This is twice as many squares as I have listed for my pattern (mine calls for 2 charm packs of print, 2 packs of background or about 1/2 a layer cake’s worth each). This will make a larger quilt measuring 64″ x 80″.

Charming Chevrons More Squares

Charming Chevrons More Squares

2. Still use a total of 2 Layer Cakes, but treat each one as an oversized charm square and follow the same pattern, making adjustments for the size of the blocks. This will still yield a larger quilt but with bigger blocks, rather than more smaller blocks as in answer number 1 above. It would measure about 72″ x 90″ (less waste lost to seams yielding bigger blocks).

Charming Chevrons with Layer Cake Blocks

Charming Chevrons with Layer Cake Blocks

Here’s another way to think of it. If you can find a layer cake with an even amount of light/dark pieces, you can get 2 of the same layer cake. Then separate the lights from the darks and treat them as two separate cakes!

Great questions! Keep ’em comin’!