Circle Stars Workshop Part 1 – Drafting

I’m finally ready to share some pictures with you from Gail Garber’s workshops I took last weekend.  You can see some of Gail’s beautiful quilts with her signature colorful flying geese in my earlier post HERE. She’s one of the most fun quilting instructors I’ve ever had!

Gail Garber WorkshopShe started us off with a private show & tell of her beautiful quilts and we spent a little time introducing ourselves. What a perfect way to start a class – creating camaraderie to boost our morale for the weekend of work ahead! Getting into the nitty-gritty the picture below shows  the types of supplies we needed to create such complicated quilts. It wasn’t too intimidating since she walked us through the procedures step-by-step. You can purchase many of these supplies from Gail Garber’s website HERE.Drafting SuppliesI spent most of the first day designing and drawing with a compass and pencil. Gail used such friendly terms like “make a fish tail” rather than scary math terms like “bisect the angle”. Her approach was fun and certainly doable! Be sure to click the pictures below for closeups.

Drafting the StarGail with CompassDrafting perfect stars was fun once I knew how!

Drafting DesignPaper Pieced PatternOnce we were happy with our design, we made a paper pieced pattern pie!

I managed to get one wedge of my star sewn by the end of the weekend. What a success!

Finished PieceSeveral friends and guild members took this fun class. Shown above: Jean, me, Gail Garber, and Karen. (Jean and Karen both make award-winning quilts that you can see HERE.)

Finished Hearts and Feathers Wholecloth Quilt

I’ve been having a blast making my Hearts and Feathers Wholecloth quilt with Leah Day & her quilt-along crew over at The Free Motion Quilting Project. I’m happy to say it’s finished!

Finished Wholecloth QuiltI blogged about this a couple of weeks ago when I finished the quilting but wanted to add a few more of the step by step pictures showing how I made the quilt.

Using a LightboxI used my lightbox to trace the paper pattern onto my red batik fabric. I was amazed at how well I could see through the dark fabric!

I taped down the paper pattern underneath so it wouldn’t shift. Then I made sure to line it up very carefully when I needed to move the light.

My next investment: a bigger lightbox!! (This was late at night so I was wearing my comfy-cozies!!)

Soaking the QuiltThis was my first time soaking and blocking a quilt. Completely drenching it  in a tub of water easily removed the marks and starch I had applied previously.

I let it dry out between a couple of towels for about a day and a half. It hangs super flat!

For a larger quilt I would tumble it in the dryer for a little while first.

To make the quilt hang square, I used a large square up ruler to trim the edges. I used the outline of the motifs as a guide. I made sure to stipple around the quilt more than I needed so that I could trim off any excess microstippling and it would be completely quilted.

Trim the QuiltTrim the extra stippling.For the machine quilting, I used a very thin polyester thread in the top and bobbin, but I hand-bound it with cotton. I like to have the same colors in different thread types so I can mix and match when needed. I love this quilt!

Superior Threads

Hearts and Stars Wedding Quilt

I recently made wedding quilts for my husband’s two sisters. The first one I’m blogging about today was for his sister Cresen who got married about two years ago. (I’ll show pictures of the other one next week.) I titled this one simply Hearts and Stars.

Hearts and StarsI made the blocks in a  quilting class years ago but was never quite sure what to do with them. When Cresen got married they matched her home decor nicely!

Both sisters are really into the Day of the Dead theme, so of course I had to include that fabric on the back. This red fabric is from Alexander Henry, called “Paseo De Los Muertos”. An alternate title for this quilt could be “Americana De Los Muertos.”Day of the Dead Backing Fabric

For the star quilting I made a template out of a sticky label and stitched around the outside edges. I also added lots of micro-stippling for texture. Click the pictures to see closeups.

Star Quilting

Heart Block

For the borders, I played around with some loopy stitching and used a stencil to mark a double-wedding ring motif around the outer border. It took5 hours to mark the outer border and 4 hours to quilt it. But I was loving every minute of it! I used wool batting because it seems to show of the quilting more. I quilted it with Superior Threads Highlights TriLobal polyester (40 weight)  in the top with matching Bottom Line thread in the bobbin. I changed threads to match the fabrics so the texture would show, rather than the stitches.

Border Detail

Here it is hanging up in a my guild’s quilt show. Alas, it did not win a ribbon because there were so many other more beautiful quilts in the show. But my sister in-law was happy to receive it and I was thrilled to get in more free-motion machine quilting practice!

Hanging Nicely!

Thread Painting with Nancy Prince

I took 2 fabulous classes at Road to California.  Thread Painting with Style

They were called “Alpine Rose” and “Thread Painting is as Easy as 1,2,3”, both taught by Nancy Prince. She was an absolutely amazing instructor and I’m addicted now to her techniques. I bought her book “Thread Painting with Style” and am thoroughly enjoying reading it. You can visit her website

She made her classes both personable and fun and I learned something that I never thought I would try. It’s basically free motion embroidery and embellishing with thread.

Thread Painting ClassFree Motion Embroidery

On the first day’s class we learned how to fill in a floral design completely with thread and make a stand-alone embroidery design. The techniques were comfortable to me since I do a lot of free-motion quilting and machine applique. This was the next logical step and I can’t wait to combine it with my current work.

Tree EmbroideryFarmer ShadingBe sure to click on the pictures to see them closer up. Nancy showed an example of how shading really changes the look of a piece. It was amazing!

Christa and NancyNancy loves to combine her thread painting with beautiful landscapes which she paints or prints onto prepared for dying background fabric.

Next, we learned how to make trees and bushes. By simply following some guidelines, we were able to make very realistic-looking trees.

Her classes were well organized and included kits with the backgrounds all ready to go. At right is Nancy’s quilt that she based our second day of classes on.

Below is a tree canopy that I thread painted and some shrubbery that fellow classmate Kathy made.  Kathy was one of the first quilting students I ever taught years and years ago. It was fun to meet up with her again in class!

Thread Painted Foliage

Road to California Wrap-Up

I attended the Road to California quilters conference this past weekend and it’s probably the most quilting fun I’ve had in my life! I attended some amazing classes, viewed many outstanding quilts, did some fun shop-hopping, and hung out with my good quilting buddy, Judy. All pictures shown here were taken with permission of Road to California staff & artists and are for your personal enjoyment only.

Thread TherapyThe first stop on my journey was to visit with Dr. Bob of Superior Threads. I signed up for two thread painting classes so I had to make sure I had enough supplies. After this weekend, I am head over heels for these threads. I placed an order for more and will soon be stocking them in my shop. My favorites? MasterPiece cotton 50 weight for piecing and shiny 40 weight tri-lobal polyester for machine quilting and embroidery.

Here are some pictures of a few quilts that just made my heart sing! The quilt below is titled “Life in Holly Ridge”, made by my teacher for the weekend, Nancy Prince.  I’ll go into more details about her wonderful classes in my next post. This quilt had the most amazing embroidery and thread painted details. Each of the figures was individually constructed!

Holly Ridge Quilt The picture below shows Cindy Needham’s quilt, “Infinity”. My friend Judy took a fabulous machine quilting class from Cindy who also happens to be an educator for Superior Threads.

Cindy Needham InfinityIt was fun for each of us to take different classes then tell each other what we learned!

Bronn JourneyWhile walking the show, we could hear the sounds of beautiful harp music playing by Bronn Journey.  What a serene and peaceful way to view the quilts!

He and his wife Katherine make beautiful music together. With her voice and his harp,  you can hear a sampling of their music on their website at

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next year.  Be sure to read the next two posts coming up about the rest of my weekend!

Quilting Retreat

This weekend I attended my guild’s annual quilting retreat. It was an out-of town adventure that was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing again and recharge my energies for the upcoming holiday sewing and gift-giving season.

Quilting FriendsThe theme was “Girlfriends” and it was all about hanging out with your sewing buds and appreciating their friendship.

Here’s a picture of me and my BQF (best-quilting-friend) Stacy. We’ve been going to the retreat together for years and it’s the most time we get to spend together all year!

What friendship retreat would be complete without a Tea Party to top it off? During our Saturday lunch, the ladies all got dressed up in their sunday best complete with hats and flowers to go with the theme. Each table was decorated with a hand made tea-cozy quilt. These quilts were raffled off to guild members (along with other prizes) during the weekend. We love to win stuff!!

Tea Party Ladies

Tea Party

Table Decorations

Stacy and I taught a class on machine applique while we were there. We used a pattern from the book Patches and Posies (available for sale on my website).

Patches and PosiesTeri Christopherson, the author, let us borrow her quilt as a sample for our class.  It’s a great pattern for either hand or machine applique, using the button-hole stitch or traditional methods. I showed the class how to machine applique with fusible web and a decorative machine stitch.

Stacy's Posy Quilt

Stacy's Posy Quilt

Stacy walked around the class helping and encouraging the students as we went along. We felt like it was a successful class when one of the students who had previously decided to hand stitch hers decided to put her machine to use after trying my method.

Christa Quilts and Appliques!It was a fabulous weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Machine Binding Demo

Here’s the step-by-step process I use when binding my quilts by machine. The method is similar for traditional hand finished hidden-stitched bindings, too. Be advised, this post has lots of pictures. Many are shrunk to fit. Click on the individual pictures for closeup details.

First, start by squaring up your quilt with a 90 degree corner. Use long rulers to trim the sides. Trim the batting and backing flush with the top.

Square Up the QuiltEdges Trimmed EvenYes, I dress up when I sew. Don’t you?? 🙂

Next, I select my binding pieces. Usually it’s a color to match the top. For this quilt, I used leftover pieces for a scrappy binding. Measure around the perimeter to find the total length needed. I cut enough 2 1/4″ strips to go around, adding about 10-12 inches to the total perimeter for seam allowances and mitering at the corners. Join the strips together with a miter to form a continuous strip. Trim the excess corners.

Measure the Perimeter

Measure Perimeter

Join Strips with a Miter

Miter Corners

Trim Excess

Trim Excess

Press all of the seams open, then fold the whole strip wrong sides together and press along the length with an iron. It should now measure about 1 1/8 inches wide with right sides showing. Trim the start of your binding on a 45 degree angle. For your convenience and to prevent tangles, you can wrap a ready-to-sew binding around an empty spool of thread.

Press Seams Open

Press Open

Right Sides Out

Right Sides Out

Binding Spool

Binding Storage

Top Stitch

Top Stitch

Sew off Corner

Sew off Corner

Angle Binding Up

Angle Up

Start sewing with the binding on top of the quilt, face up. Stitch with a slightly wider than 1/4″ seam.

Leave at least a 5 inch “tail” and start on a side, away from the corners.

When you get to the corner, stop 1/4″ away from the edge, pivot and sew off at the corner. Then, take the binding out of the machine, and flip it up so that it is flush with the edge. Next,  flip it back down and create a tuck underneath by folding the excess piece.

Folding Down

Folding Down

Excess Tuck

Excess Tuck

Fold Back

Fold Back

The excess piece will form the miter on the front.

You can now start sewing the rest of the binding onto the front, stopping and repeating the same process at each corner. When you get back to the beginning, stop with a gap between the beginning and ending pieces. Trim off some of the excess (green in the photo) but not too much. Then mark the angle where the beginning piece meets the end.

Begin Again

Begin Again

Leave a Gap

Leave a Gap

Mark the Fit

Mark the Fit

Using a small ruler, measure 1/2″ away from this marked line. The line should be on a 45 degree angle and you are cutting 1/2″ away from this. This will enable the ending and beginning pieces to fit nicely together. Sew them together, offsetting the little dog eared triangles to get an even seam. This will connect your continuous binding, start to end.

Measure 1/2 Inch

1/2" From Mark

Close The Gap

Close The Gap

Connect the Ends

Connect the Ends

Close the Fold

Close the Fold

Stitch Down the Rest

Sew the Close

Close the fold and trim the “ears”.

Then sew the gap closed.

Now you are ready to flip the binding to the back and stitch it down by machine (or hand if desired). I stitch from the backside of the quilt, so the bobbin thread will be in a color to match the topside of the quilt. My favorite machine stitch is the serpentine stitch. It is both functional and decorative and it hides mistakes. Plus if you meander a little off the edge it still works!

Stitch on Back

Stitch on Back

Be sure to click on the picture to see details!

Serpentine Stitch

Serpentine Stitch

When you get to a corner you need to fold up one edge, then the other and continue sewing.

Fold Corner

Fold Corner

Other Side

Other Side

This binding looks as pretty on the back….

Machine Stitched BindingAs it does on the front!


French Roses Machine Applique Quilt

Yay! I finally finished another quilt! This quilt was started in a class I took from my guild several weeks ago. I used fusible applique and machine blanket stitching techniques. I’m showing the finished quilt first, then you can see the steps I took to get there:

Christa's French Roses QuiltOnce the blocks were fused together on the background, I selected matching threads for the pink and green blocks. I have fallen in love with Superior Threads and will soon carry them in my shop. Next, I carefully blanket stitched around the edges of each piece. The trick here is to use an open-toed applique foot so you can see what you are doing. Stitch slowly and pivot often so you can guide the stitches smoothly around the fabric edges.

Matching ThreadMachine Applique Buttonhole StitchClick on the pictures to see closeups!

I like it when the back of the block looks as crisp and clean as the front! This takes good tension. One the block is all stitched, it gives a really nice texture, I think.

Buttonhole Stitching on the BackFused and Stitched Rose blockFinally, here’s a closeup of the quilting. I stippled loops and flowers in on the background squares, outlined all the applique, then used the serpentine stitch to quilt wavy x’s in the borders and finally finished with random loops around the outside border. I used the leftover scraps for the pieced binding (which I’ll post a demo on later). I love this quilt!

French Roses Closeup QuiltingHere’s another guild member’s top,  in different colors with raw edge stitching and leaves:

French Roses Quilt Top

Weekend Charm Pack Quilt

The most meaningful quilt I have ever helped with is this adorable charm pack quilt made by my daughter Jenna! I blogged about our sewing time together here and here. Jenna did all of the sewing, machine quilting and binding. She even won an award for it at our local show.

Jenna's Charm Pack QuiltJenna picked out an Oliver + S City Weekend charm pack with coordinating pink for the binding from my stash. For this part of our mother/daughter sew-in, we had to cut the batting and safety pin baste the layers together on our well-used kitchen table.

Trimming the BattingPin Basting.

Then came time for the most fun part: machine quilting!! Jenna was such a big girl feeding Machine Quilting Wavy Stitchesthe quilt through by herself and checking to be sure all the layers were secure.

She used a serpentine stitch to quilt between the rows of all the blocks. It’s a super cute stitch and much easier for little hands to do than stitching in the ditch.

Flannel Quilt BackingI think she liked picking out the quilt backing just as much as touching all the fabric squares. She loved the soft feel of the flannels and was thrilled two include 2 shades of pink in her quilt!

It’s fun to see the back of the quilt. You can make out the quilted design around all the squares and we were both very impressed that we actually got the back seam to line up with a row of stitching.

It makes this quilt reversible!

I helped her a lot with the binding which we did completely by machine. First we sewed the binding onto the front like usual. Then we flipped it over and stitched it down on the back using the same serpentine quilting stitch.

Machine BindingBinding by MachineDecorative Stitch BindingJenna loved sewing & is now asking when she can make her next quilt!

Amy Butler’s Sunday Sling Bag

Sunday Sling Bag ClassCutting the FabricI began making Amy Butler’s Reversible Sunday Sling Bag in a sewing class with my friend Jessica about 2 months ago (you can tell it’s an older picture since this is pre-haircut!!). Anyway we both used different techniques to cut our pieces. Jessica used scissors while I wanted to rotary cut as much as I could.

Finished Amy Butler BagBook BagJessica chose to make the large bag which is big enough to hold lots of kids’ books!

Isn’t it cute? I love the fabric she chose for the lining inside. We both used regular quilt-weight cotton which holds up really well. I am working on the smaller sized bag but mine is still in pieces while she recently finished hers. At least one of us is getting things done!