My Modern Crafty Friend – and a Fabulous Herringbone Quilt

I just had to share some sew and tell today from my friend Alexis who blogs over at Persia Lou. (Pictures re-posted with permission.) She made these 2 lovely modern herringbone quilts for her kids’ room. Aren’t they fabulous?

Modern Herringbone QuiltsShe’s going with a vintage Disney theme for their room and the quilts will be a focal point.

Disney RoomI’m so proud of Alexis because she took the plunge and quilted them herself on her not-too fancy Singer sewing machine. If she can do it, so can you!

Machine QuiltingHere’s a great closeup diagram that Alexis made, detailing her stitching plan:

Quilting PlanAlexis got some solid fabric from me and used my Charming Chevrons quilt along as a guide.  She enlarged the design by cutting 8″ squares instead of 5″. By simplifying the color palette and tweaking the blocks a little, she really made them her own.

Blue HerringboneIsn’t it amazing how a quilt design can evolve just by changing the colors and rotation of the blocks? Nice job, Alexis!!

Finished Quilts

Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Vote Now Through May 30, 2013

Bloggers Quilt FestivalHave you had a chance to visit the Blogger’s Quilt Festival yet?

Hosted by Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, it’s a semi-annual celebration of blogging and quilting.

Here are my two entries, Charming Chevrons and Roses for Katelyn.

Charming ChevronsRoses for Katelyn

I’ve already blogged about each one separately and they are entered into the Home Machine Quilted category and the Applique category, respectively. You can click the underlined links to vote for each one.

In fact, you can vote for your favorite quilts in a total of 15 different categories. Not only can the bloggers who entered win prizes, those who participate and leave comments during the festival can win prizes as well, so it’s a win-win!

But prizes aside, the best reason for participating is viewing all of the wonderful quilts and reading the stories behind the quilts. I’m off to vote!

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Spring 2013 – Charming Chevrons

Welcome to anyone visiting from the bloggers’ quilt festival this spring! My name is Christa and I’m excited to be a part of this fantastic shin-dig! 🙂

I am entering my quilt, Charming Chevrons, into the home machine quilted category and I would love to have your vote! (You can see my other entry here.)

Charming Chevrons

Charming Chevrons 46″ x 54″
Machine pieced and quilted by Christa Watson

It measures 46″ x 54″ and was pieced and quilted by me on my Bernina 1630. I used a double batting of wool and cotton which helps it hang straight and adds a lot of body to the quilt (though it was a little tough to quilt through!)

Marking the Straight Lines

Marking the Straight Lines

Quilted Chevron Block

Quilted Chevron Block

Charming Chevrons was my first “crossover quilt” which got me knee-deep into modern quilting and designing less than a year ago (although I have been a quilter for nearly 18 years).

When I started Charming Chevrons I’d just barely heard of the modern quilt movement and was wanting to go a little bolder with my quilts. I had just designed this quilt for one of my quilt alongs and it has led to some really great things.

Machine Quilting

Machine Quilting

Since finishing, Charming Chevrons was juried into QuiltCon, received a 2nd place ribbon at my local quild’s quilt show, and inspired me to submit a design idea to a quilting magazine. I’m also going to teach a class on it for my guild’s retreat this fall.  I love this little throw!

It took me 5 hours to quilt all of the straight lines in this quilt and nearly 23 more hours to quilt all the pebbles. But you know what – I loved every single minute of it! For me, machine quilting is my zen. I can discard the cares of the world and really get into the rhythm of the stitching, creating wonderful texture on fabric with just thread and the machine.

Charming Chevrons Back

Charming Chevrons Back

I especially like the back of the quilt. I love how the expansive negative space really showcases all of the colorful quilting. I even considered entering the back side as the main part of the quilt, LOL!

No matter what happens with my sewing in the future, I know that modern quilting will now be a huge part of it!

Charming Chevrons

Charming Chevrons
Desert Quilts of Nevada Quilt Show

Bloggers Quilt FestivalBlogger’s Quilt Festival hosted by Amy Ellis

May 17 – 24 – Linkys Open & Nominate for Viewer’s Choice

May 24 – 30 – Vote for favorites in each of the categories

May 31 – Winners announced

Updated – 6/2/13  Thanks so much to everyone for your votes.

It was such an honor to receive a Viewer’s Choice Award for this quilt!

QuiltCon Here I Come! Charming Chevrons Juried-In

I just got the best news ever! I just found out that my Charming Chevrons quilt was accepted into QuiltCon, the modern quilting conference taking place in Austin, Texas in February.

I am practically speechless and beside myself with joy! I am already registered to attend the conference, and in fact just booked my plane ticket today.  This is like icing on the cake! 🙂

Here is the front of Charming Chevrons (you can click to enlarge):

Charming Chevrons Front

And here is the back (which I think is just as much fun as the front):

Charming Chevrons Back

One of the quilting goals I made for the new year was to get a quilt accepted into a major show. Well, now I can cross that one off the list. (Or maybe I should say I’ll add to it?)

I will update the goal to read, “Win a ribbon at a major quilt show.” I’m sure this new goal will take much more than a year to accomplish, but I believe anything is possible with enough patience and perseverance!

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.9 – Finishing Charming Chevrons

Free Quilt Pattern

Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free pattern!

I’ve come to the end of my Charming Chevrons tutorial and it’s kind of sad. I really loved every minute of making this quilt! Today I will demo binding. Scroll to the end for links to the previous steps plus my announcement for my next DIY quilt-along starting next week!

Charming Chevrons Quilt

Christa’s Charming Chevrons

If you like this quilt and want to make one just like it, Charming Chevrons quilt kits are available from my shop for a limited time.

Step 1 – Trimming The Edges (10 Minutes)

When the quilting has been completed and all of your basting pins removed, it’s time to trim the extra backing and batting and square up your quilt.


Use a large square ruler for the corners and a long 6 to 8 inch wide ruler for the sides. The markings on the ruler help keep things nice and even. I use the long lines to make sure I am cutting straight.

If the quilt seems a little wavy, I will block it at the end after binding by soaking it in the washing machine, and laying it out flat on a table to dry. (I do this only if I know for sure the fabrics won’t bleed when wet – I’ve had way too many “accidents.”)

Step 2 – Making the Binding Strips (15 Minutes)

Binding 2I sew continuous double fold straight grain binding strips that I make myself.

Cut enough 2 1/4″ wide strips to go around the perimeter plus about 10 extra inches.

For this quilt I cut a total of 7 strips that measured 2 1/4″ by the width of the fabric (40″-42″).

Join the strips together on a mitered (45 degree) angle to smooth out the seam formed by sewing the strips.

Join all the strips together so that you have one continuous piece with the joined seams all going the same direction.

At the beginning of the binding, cut off one end at a 45 degree angle. Then press the binding in half lengthwise (press seam allowances open).

Angled Binding

Press Binding

Step 3 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt by Machine (35 Minutes)

Sewing the BindingLeave a few inches of a “tail” unsewn when you begin.

Do not start at a corner, and quickly measure your binding around the perimeter of the quilt to ensure it is long enough.

Try not to end up where you have any of your seams in the corners. Adjust your start if needed.

Use a matching cotton thread in the top and bobbin and use the same thread to finish your binding (whether by hand or machine).

Using a walking foot, sew with 1/4″ seam allowances and stop when you reach exactly 1/4″ inch from the end of your first corner. Take the quilt off the machine and fold the corner like the pictures below. This will create nice crisp mitered corners when you fold them over.

Click on the pictures below to see a larger version for more detailed closeups.

Stop at Corner

Fold Up

Fold Down

Repeat for all corners of the quilt and leave a few inches of “tail” when you near the end.

Binding EndOpen up both folded ends and with a pen, mark where the beginning meets the end.

Cut off the excess 1/2″ away from the marked line (for seam allowances) and join the two ends together.

You can see I cut off a full extra strip’s length of binding but just barely!

It’s better to have too much length than not enough!

Once your ends are joined, finish  sewing down the binding completely to the front of the quilt.

Step 4 – Hold the Binding in Place With Pins or Glue  (30 Minutes)

To baste the binding in place on back, I usually use pins and Pinmoors.  However, for this quilt, I wanted to try a glue pen to temporarily adhere the binding to the back of the quilt.  It worked like a charm and I got to see what the quilt looked like before it was done. I was even able to glue the corners in place to form a pretty miter. That will be much easier to sew!

Glue Stick

Step 4 – Finish by Hand or Machine (Hand Sewing 5 Hours)

Whether I finish my binding by hand or machine, the above steps are still the same. Because I finished this quilt for QuiltCon (and possibly other quilt shows), I chose to sew by hand.  So I got nice and comfy on the couch and watched a couple movies while I stitched away.

Binding by Hand

For more info on both types of finishes, you can read my post about hand-binding and my machine binding tutorial.

Charming Chevrons Tutorials. Click the links below to go to that post.

Here are Charming Chevron’s Vital Statistics

  • Original design, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson
  • Finished size 46″ x 54″, completed November 2012
  • Finished block size 8″, 42 blocks total
  • Made from 4 packs of Kona Cotton charm squares (2 New Classic colors, 2 Ash grey)
  • Pieced backing, shades of grey with pops of color
  • Double batting (Warm-N-Natural and Legacy Wool)
  • Superior Highlights trilobal polyester in top and bobbin  for pebbles (18 colors)
  • Isacord Sterling polyester in top and bobbin for chevron outlines
  • Total piecing time: 9.5 hours
  • Marking and basting: 2.5 hours
  • Total quilting time: 28 hours
  • Total binding time: 6.75 hours

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.8 – Quilting Chevrons Part 2

I love quilting pebbles! I have stippled my quilts like crazy for the last 10 years, but just recently got the hang of pebbling. Jut in time,  too, as I was on stipple burnout!!

Pebble Quilting

The time it took to finish the pebbling on my Charming Chevrons quilt was a little ridiculous though – it took 23 hours!! Yes, that’s right. The pebbling took more time to do than every other part of the quilt combined. It gives new meaning to the term Quilt-in-a -Day, LOL!!

Since I don’t really expect everyone to spend that much time quilting this quilt, I will first talk about pebbling in more detail, but then give you an alternative so that you can actually finish this quilt. (But by all means do the pebbling if your heart desires – mine did!)

Step 1 – Doodle on Paper First

Just like you had to learn your alphabet before you could write, so it is with quilting any FMQ (free-motion quilting) design. When I was in kindergarten my penmanship was terrible! (And it hasn’t really improved much since!) You need to practice your quilting “penmanship”, too!

Paper Practice

If you doodle on scraps of paper every day before you begin quilting, it will help you develop muscle memory between what you are drawing with your hands and what you are stitching out on the quilt. This will form a mind body connection so that eventually you will be able quilt without thinking. Think of FMQ as drawing with your sewing needle.

Step 2 – Practice on Scraps Next

I took a few FMQ classes at Road to California 2 years ago. For most of the class, we just made practice samples. If you really want the feeling of completing FMQ on a quilt, practice on charity quilts. You will get great practice and the recipients will love your efforts!

Practice Scraps

When I began free-motion quilting, my first efforts looked pretty bad. It took a while for me to put together different combinations of fabric, thread, batting, needles and tension settings. A few quick things I learned while practicing FMQ on my Bernina:

  • Select a needle with a large hole so that the thread doesn’t shred, like Superior Topstich needles. The size depends on the thickness of your thread (size 90 for the heavier polyster thread). Change every 8-12 hours of quilting. I used 3 of them on this quilt.
  • Loosen the bobbin tension slightly.
  • Use the same thread in top and bobbin for most quilts – it hides mistakes and makes for more even tension. I used Superior Highlights polyester in a rainbow of colors.
  • Break your quilting up into sections and don’t rush the process. Although it took a long time to quilt my pebbles, it really worked out to about 33 minutes per chevron block.  Quilting one block a day is not a bad goal.
  • Use a free motion slider, quilting gloves, and bobbin washers for the best quilting combo.
  • It’s Ok to “travel stitch” over your previous lines to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Step 3 – Apply your practice to your actual quilt

Thread DrawerFor this quilt I changed threads with every fabric color. I never could find a neutral that blended in with everything so I used a total of 18 different colors.

When I didn’t have an exact match, I used something close. It gave the quilt some interest without being overpowering.

I quilted the pebbles in sections first.

I quilted a batch of greens, then oranges, then reds, then blues, etc. This helped me from getting too bored. Usually I like to off each my stitches between thread changes. However, because I stitched over many of my quilting lines to form the pebbles, it hid most of my stops and starts. Therefore, I cheated a little and used really small “anchor” stitches at the beginning and end of each color change to avoid tying off.

Pebble Quilting

Step 4 – Alternative Quilting Motif – Loops

Loop QuiltingIf  you are not crazy like me and don’t want to spend this much time quilting your chevrons, try a simple meandering loop instead.

This is my other “go-to” design and it covers your area pretty quickly. In fact, this motif would look great quilted all over the surface if you want to skip the straight line background quilting.

Here’s a little background quilting I did using loops on an earlier quilt. Click to enlarge.

Because I used so many threads, my quilt back turned out just as colorful as the front!

Chevron Quilt Back

Other Resources

Please visit Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project.  Her blog has so many in-depth tutorials on stitching particular FMQ designs. She has a video tutorial showing how to do pebble quilting and loops.

Yes, it was a little crazy to quilt that much, but honestly, I loved every minute of it! Next week it will be time to finish the binding and then I’ll start on another brand new tutorial. Isn’t this fun?? Be sure to check out my other two quilt-alongs here and here.

And, please continue to email me pictures of your Charming Chevrons quilt. I love to see how you are doing, no matter how you quilt it!

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

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.)

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.)

Charming Chevrons Followup #3

It’s so fun to see how everyone’s Charming Chevrons quilts are turning out. Keep emailing me your photos and I’ll be glad to share them here on my blog.

Kathie from California has worked ahead and has completed her lovely chevron quilt top in shades of black, white, and grey. She changed her quilt top up a little by sewing larger blocks and making her top narrower but longer.

She asked about border ideas. I think she could add a thin strip of black and then use her leftovers to make a scrappy pieced border like piano keys or flying geese. Any other ideas??

Kathie's Chevrons

Ellen from Oklahoma was so excited about this project that she’s already completed her first baby chevrons quilt and is now making another. She made her first quilt using one novelty focus fabric featuring owls for the zig zags with a cream background.

Ellen's Chevrons

Owls CloseupI love how she chose the green solid border and the pink binding fabric to pull it all together.

She paper pieced the 3 1/2″ blocks using triangles on a roll.

At left is a closeup of her gorgeous background quilting.

She stitched circles and loops with pink thread in the background and outlined the chevron blocks.

I’m going to do some similar pebble quilting with straight lines for my version in 2 weeks.

Finally, here’s the next chevron quilt Ellen is working on using a pink cupcake novelty fabric and solid white background. This time she cut her triangles from 6 inch squares to start with.

Cupcake ChevronsIf you want to make a similar chevron quilt using just one fabric for the stripes and one fabric for the background you would need about 2 yards of each. Here’s a link to my original Charming Chevrons supply list and sewing schedule.

For those of you wondering why I don’t just have a link up party, or use Flikr, that’s because eventually, I’ll be hosting the blog myself on its own domain which means I’ll have a lot more flexibility and control over the blog and what bells and whistles we can offer. Jason’s working on that right now but we are still a few weeks away from the big rollout. So more on that later…

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.)