The Making of Diamond in the Rough Part 1 – My Design Process

Let me tell you a little about the making of my Diamond in the Rough Quilt, my entry into QuiltCon 2017 that was patterned in QuiltCon Magazine. I want to share quite a bit of detail so I’m going to split this up into two posts.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

Have you noticed how often quilters match their quilts???

Designing in EQ7

I actually came up this design while working on another quilt pattern. The premise for the other design was to use a colorful bundle of fabric, and I originally wanted to do something with HRT’s (half rectangle triangles.) Often, I will start in black and white so I can play with design without color getting in the way. And then many times, like in this quilt, the black and white version takes on a life of its own and becomes a totally different design.

It was easy enough to whip up a simple HRT layout in EQ7:

Diamond in the Rough first sketch

I ended going in a completely different direction for the other quilt but saved this basic layout to come back to later. Once I did, I started playing around with the different shapes that could be made from HRT’s in EQ7. I started with harlequins and I kept all of the construction lines showing so that I could see where all the seam lines would be.

Black and White Harlequins

And then I stated playing around with the individual rows. I really liked the graphic diamond shapes that were possibly simply by rearranging the layout of the individual units.

Harlequin and Diamonds Design

I decided to throw in a big diamond just because and that really struck a chord with me. I decided to add a very skinny border in EQ7 which would represent the binding. I also played around a bit with the bottom rows to see what interesting graphic components would emerge. Many times during my design process, the design will go in several different directions and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the possibilities.

However, at this point, I knew I had a keeper! It just needed a pop of color…

Diamond in the Rough sketch

Finally, I added a pop of red by coloring the center diamond plus a small patch of binding on the lower right. I also decided it needed one more row of HRT’s along the bottom to balance the design. Then I hid the seam lines so that I could get a clear visual of what the finished design would look like once sewn together.

Diamond in the Rough Final Design

I love working in EQ7 because I know I’ll be happy with the design before I ever make the first cut. In the next post, I’ll write about how I designed the machine quilting and share a few closeups of the quilting.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

I love it when my finished quilt looks just like my original sketch! The final quilt measures 56″ x 72″ and was made with solids and Color Weave from Benartex. I quilted it with 50 weight Aurifil in Very Dark Grey, White, and Red from my Piece and Quilt thread collection.








The Beehive Quilts – Double Star Block

This month I’m pleased to be a part of The Beehive, a quilt block tutorial series hosted by Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts.

My block of the month is called Double Star, which finishes at 12″ x 12″.

Double Star Block

Be sure to hop on over to Alyce’s blog for the Double Star block tutorial, plus see what the block looks like in repeat, and check out Alyce’s version in an alternate colorway. If that’s not enough, there’s also an extra bonus for EQ users!


Click here for links to all of the Beehive block tutorials.

Free EQ7 Downloads – Including Many of My Designs

One of the things I love about Electric Quilt software is being able to share some of my designs with others that use the program. Recently, I added two more of my designs to EQ’s Projects Download page.

Be sure to check out my Jolly Jelly Roll quilt (which was my first-ever quilt along):

Sugar Sweet Jolly Jelly Roll Quiltand my Ultra Modern Dresden paper pieced block: (which I haven’t made… yet!)

20140411_modern_dresdenFor more free EQ7 downloads, click here. My projects are all listed most recently, but there are literally hundreds of free designs for you to try.

While you are there, be sure to check out the bio’s of all of the other EQ7 artists!

I love EQ – Do You? Electric Quilt Software is One of My Favorite Tools

I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed Electric Quilt (EQ) software until I stepped back and counted all of the projects I’ve designed recently using this program. All of my quilt alongs have been designed in EQ7, plus several of my award winning quilts.

Electric Quilt Software

I thought it would be fun to post some before and after pics of my most recent projects that were designed in EQ7.

Since I love designing and using solid fabrics so much, it’s fun to see that the finished quilts look pretty close to the original designs. Sometimes the color placement may vary but you get the general idea.

Here’s Modern Trees, my current quilt along project:

Modern TreesModern Trees

String of Pearls, recently awarded an honorable mention at MQX:

String of PearlsString of Pearls

Charming Chevrons, Blogger’s Quilt Festival winner and displayed at QuiltCon:

Charming ChevronsViewer's Choice

Colorful Chevrons (more about this quilt tomorrow!):

Colorful ChevronsColorful Chevrons

Hugs ‘n Kisses, made for my sweet daughter:

Hugs 'N KissesHugs 'n Kisses

Sea of Squares, an experiment in straight line quilting and designing with charm packs:

Sea of SquaresSea of Squares

I’ve been designing quilts in EQ7 from way back in the days when it was just EQ4! They’ve come a long way in improving the program and I look forward to future enhancements as well. As with anything, the more I use the software, the more proficient with it I become.

EQFor the latest upgrade, I sat down and read the manual and followed along with the tutorials before I began designing. One of my favorite features is the ability to import pictures of any fabric that’s out there so I can see exactly what my project will look like before I start.  I also like how easy it is to design a custom quilt (hint – I like to design it as a single block and then size it to scale).

P.S. – if you enjoy designing your own quilts, be sure to stop by my blog later this week when I announce my next weekly giveaway – it’s a doozy!

Artistic Pieced Quilt Backing Tutorial

As promised, here is a mini-tutorial on how I made my pieced backing for my Charming Chevrons quilt-along. I like to call it “Back Art.”

First, I started with a rough sketch of what I want the backing to look like. I designed it  EQ7, but paper and colored pencils work well, too. Next, I measured my finished quilt top and added three  inches around the perimeter (six inches total to the length & width)  to calculate how large the backing needed to be.  I came up with a backing measurement of 54″ x 60.”

Pieced Quilt Back Diagram

Measure Quilt Top

The thing I like about pieced quilt backs is that it’s almost like making another quilt top. I know how the pieces will fit together and it’s much easier to assemble from large scraps and chunks I have leftover in my stash.

For my backing above, I cut out three chunks of dark grey and one chunk of light grey, plus some assorted colored strips, all Kona Solids.

Light Grey Piece

Going from left to right and top to bottom, we could label these sections 1-4. In this order, the cut measurements are:

  1.  19.5″ x 31.5″ (light grey)
  2. 33.5″ x 33.5″ (dark grey)
  3. 21.5″ x 27.5″ (dark grey)
  4. 31.5″ x 25.5″ (dark grey)

I then cut out several 2 1/2″ strips of color to add a touch of whimsy to the back.

I sewed them to the two opposite corners, log cabin style on either side of a light and dark grey piece.

I was working with some leftover fat quarters so I just pieced enough partial strips to get the length I needed.

Once the light grey chunk was pieced, I added a solid dark grey chunk (#2) to the right side.

Top Half of the BackingI repeated the process for the bottom half of the quilt top also. I sewed 2 1/2″ strips of Kona colors to the left side of a dark grey chunk (#4) and then added the solid piece of grey (#3) to form  bottom half. Then I joined the two halves to complete the backing.

Pieced Quilt Back

While sewing, I made sure to press every seam open and use pins so that my pieces would line up correctly. Because I had a stripe roughly in the center of my quilt, this helped me line everything up straight when it came time to baste the quilt.

I like this technique so much I will probably sew a pieced back for every quilt I do in the future. One more idea I may try on my next quilt backing is to sew a colorful square somewhere on the back near the corner of the quit (but away from the edges). This could serve as a label ready to write on as soon as the quilt is finished!

If you were inspired to create some “back art” of your own, I’d love to see it! You can email your pictures to

Yes I’m old school when it comes to technology. I don’t really use Facebook or Twitter very often and I haven’t gotten on the Flikr or Instagram bandwagon yet – sorry!!