A Crazy Sewing Weekend (and a Bit of a Back Story)

I was a little MIA last week due to a crazy sewing weekend a few days before. Crazy, but fun!! So it all has to do with my latest big project which will officially be revealed later this year: I designed a line of fabric for Benartex!! Say what???

So here’s a (not-so) quick back story and then onto my latest sewing adventures….

Sew Pro 2016

Discussing the value of joining professional associations at Sew Pro in 2016

Last fall I attended Sew Pro, an industry event for those wanting to make quilting their business. Although it was mainly geared toward those that are just getting their feet wet in the industry, I thought I would attend in order to decide whether or not I wanted to add fabric design to the list of things I do. Tula Pink was one of the keynote speakers along with other fabric designers like Alison Glass and Pat Sloan. After listening to them share more about their process (and seeing their joy in loving what they do), I decided that yes, I wanted to give fabric design a try – so I set about trying to learn how to make that happen, thinking it would likely take a long time to break into that area of the industry.

Benartex Contempo

But then – literally two days after I arrived home from Sew Pro – I got a call from Benartex asking if I wanted to design fabric for their Contempo division. (“What the what??” was my initial response, LOL!!)ย  I’ve never had such a case of the universe listening to me and acting so quickly. For those that don’t know, BERNINA owns Benartex, and since I’m a BERNINA ambassador I guess I was already on their radar. But getting that phone call so soon after I decided I wanted to design fabric was really uncanny. Had they contacted me a week before, it very well could have been a different answer…

So to make a long story even longer… I’ve spent the time from then until now (in between other projects) working with Benartex on my debut line which will be in stores this November.

Designing and producing fabric is such a huge process that revolves around creating the images, translating them into digital printable files, finalizing them on paper, and then getting samples from the overseas mill to make sure it all looks good. The timing is always tricky and it’s hard to plan long term until you are on a regular designing schedule. (In anything new I do, there’s always stuff I don’t know that I don’t know, LOL!!) So that brings us to my crazy sewing weekend.

Modern Marks Swatches

Finalizing fabric swatches on paper before they go to the mill for printing…

While images were being sent to the printer and strikeoffs (small samples from the mill) were sent to me, I was also coordinating with BERNINA to teach a couple of machine quilting classes at their annual flagship event for dealers, BERNINA University. This year it was happening right in my backyard here in Las Vegas (again – thanks, Universe!!)

As luck would have it, my sample yardage arrived 4 days before the start of BU. Benartex told me that if there was anyway I could get a few sample quilt tops made in time, they’d be happy to hang them up in their booth at the event, and allow shop owners to order early.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Sample yardage for me to work with…

Now, I usually do all my own “stunts” – priding myself in creating every stitch of my quilts myself. But with just a 4 day lead time, I knew I’d need to call in the reinforcements. Thank goodness for a mom who sews and was willing to drive the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house on a moment’s notice. Between the two of us, we were also able to wrangle a few more sewing friends who took shifts throughout the weekend sewing, pinning, pressing, and helping us keep our sanity.

Sample Sewing Sweatshop!

With the help of 8 friends over 4 days, we were able to sew up 5 quilt tops!!

All in all, we were able to complete 5 tops just in the nick of time, and the feedback I received from attendees at the event made all the craziness worth it! Needless to say, I’ll have a bit more time to quilt them in time for fall quilt market, thank goodness.

Now, I know I run the risk of spoiling the surprise by sharing so much so early, but I just can’t help it – I hate keeping secrets!! If you happen to run your own shop, or you want to recommend my collection to your favorite local shop, please let them know they can contact Benartex directly for more info about Modern Marks by Christa Watson. The collection images won’t be up on Benartex’ website for a few more months, but shops “in the know” can pre-order now (wink…. wink…)

Modern Marks at BERNINA University

I enjoyed sharing sneak peeks of my fabric with attendees at BERNINA University.

Click here see the promotional flyer showing off digital images of the 5 quilt tops I made. I was in such a rush that I didn’t even photograph them when they were done, but I’m sure I’ll share a few more sneak peeks as I finish quilting them over the next few months. So stay tuned!

And now… I’m off to enjoy a much-anticipated family vacation at the beach. After the crazy busy (but fun) year I’m having, I’m looking forward to unplugging for a few days…

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Fabric Friday – Michael Miller Modern Basics

The good news today is that I’m going to share some pretty pictures of mouthwatering precuts from Michael Miller. That bad news is, these are a limited run. Back when Jason and I decided to focus on selling precuts, patterns, and thread, we knew that meant we wouldn’t be able to carry all fabric brands. So we met with all of our vendors to let them know we were eager to carry whatever precuts they had to offer.

Recently, Michael Miller produced a fabulous line of Modern Basics precuts, but then decided they weren’t going to stay in the precut business. I hope they change their mind in the future, but for now, consider these as hard to find and gobble them up while you can:

modern_basics_bloomModern Basics – Bloom includes 45 graphic prints in juicy shades of pink, purple, and orange. Precut bundles come in fat quarters, charm packs, strip rolls, and 10″ squares.

modern_basics_oceanModern Basics – Ocean, in cool shades of blues and greens, is available in 45 piece fat quarter bundles and 10″ precut squares. Aren’t they refreshing?

modern_basics_neutralModern basics – Neutral also comes in a 45 pack in your choice of fat quarters, charm packs, strip rolls, and 10″ squares. You gotta have plenty of neutrals in your stash!

crayon_boxModern Basics – crayon box is just as colorful as the name implies! These graphic bundles are available as charm packs, precut strips, and 10″ squares.

Click here for more details on all Michael Miller Modern Basics.

Christa’s Soapbox – On Destashing…

I surprised quite a few followers on Instagram recently when I posted a picture of what my current stash looks like. After 20 years of quilting I’ve dejunked, destashed and cleaned out my space to the point that I finally realized that I am just not a fabric hoarder.

tiny_stash

Now to be fair, the bottom shelves (shown empty in the pic above) are filled with a few WIP’s, but not many – only enough that I can count on one hand, and mostly stuff that I can’t show in public yet. I’ve opined on my minimalist tendencies before and have to say this wasn’t an overnight process. And, I do have a small personal stash of precuts in another unit. But scraps? Overflowing bins? Not happening!!

precut_stashMy precust stash – waiting to be made into quilts!

I started with about 2 storage units worth of piles of fabric, which by some standards, still isn’t a ton. I pared that down to 1 storage unit about a year ago, and then recently whittled it down to about half of a cabinet for fabric, half for wip’s, and then the second cabinet for tools, supplies, thread, magazines, etc. And a whole empty shelf that makes me proud!! I need negative space in my storage, too, it seems!

The reason I can live this way (nearly stash-less) is mainly because of the way I create. First, I design the projects I want to make in EQ. Then I import fabric swatches or colors I want to work with. Once I’m finished with my design, then I shop for fabric. I’ve tried it the other way around, trying to come up with a plan around a specific fabric and it just doesn’t work for me. I know this will invariably mean that by the time I’m ready to make a quilt, the fabric I want may not be available. But that’s okay, there’s always something else that will work, right?

precutsPrecuts in my garage workspace – awaiting shipment to Amazon.

Now I know some of you will say, “but that’s not fair – you have a whole store full of fabric!” Well, yes, that is true, but we don’t store it here. We process it when it comes in and then ship it off to the Amazon warehouses for storage.

The bottom line is, I realized that I would rather have the space than fabric that just sits on my shelves languishing. But don’t worry – I’m not trying to encourage others in my minimalist tendencies – it’s just what works for me. I’m just as happy to get excited for my friends when they show me pics of their amazing stashes because you know what? It works for them! ๐Ÿ™‚

How do you like to store your stash? I’d love to see pics – please share them on my facebook group at Quilt With Christa!

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Last Call for Fabric Clearance – We’re Shutting Down the Old Site!

But first, I need to announce my charm pack winners. Congratulations to Peg H. who won the Moda charm pack blog giveaway, and @fedewala who won the instagram bundle. Thanks so much for your input on my newsletters, too. Monday was the preferred day, so I’ll take a week off and start sending them again on a regular schedule. That works better for me, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just in case you missed it, you can sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

Now for the bigger news, we are downsizing and shutting down the old website at the end of the day tomorrow, Wednesday, June 25th and everything remaining is now 50% off.

ChristaQuiltsThis is so we can concentrate our efforts on our new leaner (but in no way meaner) precut store where we sell fat quarter bundles, charm packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes, and just about any precut you can think of from all the major manufacturers. We also carry a large selection of Aurifil thread by the spool or by the bundle. It’s been so fun to seek out new precuts and new ways to use them!

APQRAnd thanks to those of you who listened and cheered me on during my interview on Pat Show’s quilting podcast yesterday. I was super nervous to go on, but she instantly put me right at ease. What a fun lady and a great host! If you missed it live, you can listen to all of Pat’s archived podcasts here, and you can subscribe to the show via Itunes (search for American Patchwork and Quilting Radio).

Sew and Tell – More Quilty Love and My Latest Feature Article

I wanted to share a little more Quilty magazine love today and give a little plug for my latest article in the hopes that you will check it out and pick up a copy for yourself!

The Quilty team did such a fantabulous job editing and presenting my latest feature article called “Digital Printing – an Evolution in Fabric.” It’s on pages 86-88 in the March/April 2014 issue. It was a fun topic to write about and I actually learned a lot in the process.

Quilty March 2014

Quilty March 2014

I think Quilty is one of the best quilting magazines ever. (No they are NOT paying me to say that, I just think it’s true.) Editor Mary Fons is super high energy – even more than me – and if you’ve never seen her live, be sure to check out her lecture from QuiltCon in 2013 to see what I mean.

QuiltyIt was super fun to pick out the pictures to along with the article, and I had a chance to interview several folks in the fabric industry who are the movers and shakers, so that was enlightening, too. Many fabric companies you recognize and buy from are represented in the article as well as a fantastic new-to-me company who burst onto the scene last year- Modern Yardage.

20140228_modernyardageIn the article, I basically talk about some of the history of the digital fabric industry and a few of the pros and cons – for sure more pros! It will be fun to see where this technology leads us and to see what kind of impact it makes on future quilt design.

Fabulous Fabric Reps!

Fabulous Fabric Reps – Elliot and Janet of JEH

I have to give a shout out to my fabulous Robert Kaufman sales reps for putting me in touch with many of the right people to interview for this article. It was serendipity when I was meeting with them one day and they happened to mention these new digital fabrics. I was like, “Hey I’m writing an article about that – tell me everything you know!” So it’s always fun to be in the right place at the right time, talking to the right people!

In case you missed it, you can read about my previous Quilty appearances here and here.

Thanks, You Guys – I am Officially De-Stashed!

Thanks so much to everyone who helped me de-stash yesterday. I couldn’t believe the response! I spent all day Friday going through my stash, packing it up and shipping it out. I sent out a total of 33 flat rate boxes worth of Stash and it feels great!

Stash

Boxes of Stash

For those of you that missed out, there is still good news for you. I am sort of doing the same thing with my store inventory, but not quite as dramatic. Right now I have over 800 fabrics on clearance, until they sell out. They are anywhere from 20% to 50% off so you can still get your fabric fix for cheap. ๐Ÿ™‚

Click here for my store clearance section – over 800 items on sale!

Part of all this fabric cleansing is to make way for changes in my quilting direction, both personally and professionally. I recently realized I need to redo my sewing studio to make it more comfortable and useable.

Stash Before

Stash – Before

Step one is cleaning and organizing my stash. I’m waiting for those mini cardboard fabric organizers to arrive so that I can make make the most of my shelf space.

Stash Cleansing

Stash Cleansing

Step two is setting up a better design wall. Right now I have a small portable flannel wall and it’s just not cutting it – I need more space for designing!

Stash - After

Stash – After

Step three is cleaning up my store to make it more focused and efficient. The less time I need to spend working, the more sewing and designing time I will have.

I really live by the philosophy that less is more. In other words, the less clutter I have, the more quilts I’ll be able to make!

New Stash to Wash

New Stash to Wash

Now I’m off to spend the morning washing and ironing this lovely pile of fabrics since I have room for them once again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Angela Walters Textures Fabric and a Winning Quilt

One of my quilting heroes, Angela Walters, recently launched her own line of fabulous fabrics modern fabrics. When I met her at QuiltCon I told her that I planned to carry them in my store.

Angela WaltersNow that plan has become a reality. I just received the wonderful 10 piece collection of Textures, her debut line from Art Gallery Fabrics.Angela Walters Textures


The modern textural look of these prints really appeals to me. I especially love the panel print which was recently featured in a contest sponsored by Art Gallery fabrics.

Textures PanelIn fact, my friend Kelli from Seriously I Think it Needs Stitches won the contest with her fabulous Mod Geocruiser Quilt. Isn’t it great? You can read about her inspiration here.

Mod Geocruiser

Mod Geocruiser by Kelli Fannin
Make it Right Winner

I think Kelli did such a fabulous job with the textural quilting, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can find more inspiration here to see how others creatively used the Right Angles Panel.

I’m way excited because I also preordered Angela Walters’ next collection, Legacy, due out later this fall. Here’s Angela’s Legacy Quilt, shown at market this past spring. Fabulous!

Legacy Quilt

Angela Walters’ Legacy Quilt

Christa’s Quilt Along 5.1 – Hugs ‘n Kisses Supply List

Free Quilt Pattern

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Time for another fun quilt-along! My Hugs ‘n Kisses design is based on a quilt I made several years ago. If you look closely, it’s similar to the quilt shown on my blog’s header. Over the years I’ve had several requests for this quilt pattern, so I finally decided to make one!

Hugs 'n Kisses

Hugs ‘n Kisses

About This Quilt – Finished Size 48″ x 64″

I designed this quilt using EQ7ย  so that it will work with Jelly Rolls or precut strips.ย  Although I am making this quilt in the size stated above, you can easily double the yardage requirements, purchase additional kits, or add borders to make it bigger.

Kissing Booth Jelly Roll

Kissing Booth Jelly Roll

Kona Snow Roll Up Strips

Kona Snow Roll Up

Kona Solids Brick

Kona Solids Brick


Fabric Requirements (Hugs and Kisses Quilt Kits are available for a limited time.)

  • 1 Jelly Roll of print fabric. You may use any jelly roll or set of precut strips you like as long as you have at least 38 – 2.5″ strips.
  • 2/3 Jelly Roll of solid or background fabric,ย  or 24 – 2.5″ strips.ย  If you prefer to purchase yardage and cut the strips yourself, you will need 1.75 yards.
  • 1/2 yard fabric for the binding in a coordinating color – I prefer to use solid 2.25″ strips. Purchase a little more if you like wider strips.
  • At least 52″ x 68″ piece of batting; my favorites are high quality cotton or wool.
  • 3 yards of non-directional fabric the backing, or scraps and fat quarters to total about 3.5 yards if you prefer to make it scrappy like I do.
Machingers Gloves

Machingers Gloves

Supreme Slider

Supreme Slider

Superior Needles

Superior Needles


Supplies Needed


If you have any questions please be sure to join my flickr discussion or email me directly at christa@christaquilts.com.

Quilt Along Schedule – Links will go to each active post when published.

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Learned from QuiltCon 2013

My head is still reeling from all of the QuiltCon awesomeness over the weekend. I hope you are not tired of me blogging about it yet! You can read about many the awesome quilts here.

When I arrived at the Austin Airport, I knew I was for a treat. In fact, I met a couple of gals on the plane headed to QuiltCon who were so friendly, even though we had just met. This was just the beginning of a weekend full of fun and friendship. Most everyone who attended was meeting people for the first time, and I felt like we all finally found an excuse in this world to be nice to each other. If all the world quilted, it would be a peaceful world indeed!

Austin, Texas Airport

Austin, Texas Airport

The first day there, I started running into people that I had only met online before. Here are Faith from Fresh Lemons and Katie from Swim, Bike, Quilt. They were so sweet and fun to hang out with. In turn, they introduced me to several of their other blogger friends and we all had a wonderful dinner together Thursday night. When I asked how they all knew each other, they all responded the same, “from blogging, of course!” I knew right then and there that these were my peeps!

Faith and Katie

The next day I took a machine quilting class with Angela Walters. Angela is probably the most fun and enthusiastic quilting teacher I’ve ever met. I took lots of notes, not only on how to be a better machine quilter, but how to be a better quilt teacher, too! I asked her if she’d be my BFF and she said, yes!! (I think she says yes to everyone – but hey, I don’t care. I quilt-around, and I am not ashamed to admit it!)

Angela Walters

Here’s Lee (from Freshly Pieced) and I next to the long-arm machines. While I prefer to quilt on my Bernina, the class was wonderful because Angela taught us techniques and design ideas that we could apply to any quilt. She gave me permission to share some of the designs in my quilts – so watch for that in my next quilt-along!

Christa and Lee

Friday night, I met up with a bunch of gals from Pile O’Fabric’s Skillbuilder Block of the Month. We talked quilting, discussed our BOM progress and had a pincushion swap. This is the one I received from Deirdre – isn’t it the cutest?? Thanks to Alyssa for putting this on!

Christa and Deirdre

In between socializing and viewing all of the lovely Quilts, I attended several of the informative lectures. I learned more about how to get my work published into books and magazines (keep doing what I’m doing, but save a few original ideas to debut professionally in print, not on the blog – sorry gals!)

Magazine Editors

Bill Gardner, Editor-in-Chief of Quilters Newsletter
Vicki Anderson, CEO & Publisher, Modern Quilts Unlimited

I also learned more about the history of modern quilting, and that we women are emotional and can cry at the drop of the hat when overcome by quilting awesomeness!

I learned what “alternate grid” design means. Instead of laying things out neatly in columns and rows, an alternate grid structure is used to create more randomness and I think, a more interesting aesthetic appeal.

Regular Grid Quilt

Regular Grid Quilt

Alternate Grid Quilt

Alternate Grid Quilt

Modern quilting is definitely not art quilting; yet it is not constrained by traditional design.

It’s somewhere in between. In her lecture, Heather Grant said, “Art quilting is to fine art, as Modern quilting is to graphic art.” I also learned that making a quilt from “modern” fabric does not make it modern! (Well, I already thought that, but now it was confirmed.)

Ellen Rushman

Ellen Rushman, Lecture on Modern Quilting Research

Some new areas of modern quilting that I would like to explore are making a low volume quilt (think lots of neutrals), and making quilts on an exaggerated scale (think pixelization but with clearer images). I also want to teach my own modern version of applique.

How will this all of this new knowledge influence me in the future? I now feel a little more focused in the direction that I want to take with my quilting, both personally and professionally. While my next quilt-along is set to launch tomorrow, the one after that will definitely be more modern!

Free Bag from Kaufman

Free Bag from Kaufman

Michael Miller Fabric Reps

Michael Miller Fabric Reps

I also have a better understanding forย  the kinds of modern fabrics I want to add to my store. I will definitely be adding more Kona Cotton Solids, and I will constantly be on the lookout for more cool collections (from Michael Miller and others!)

Watch for my next post on Celebrity Quilter encounters at QuiltCon, later in the week!

BOM and WIP Blocks

I am adding to my list of UFO’s with my BOM and WIP! What in the heck does all that mean?

It means I am starting some more quilts that are quickly becoming Unfinished Fabric Objects. My newest quilt is a Block Of the Month project where I make a couple of quilt blocks each month until it is done. As long as I work on my quilts on a regular basis, they become my Works-In-Progress.

Sound Wave

Sound Wave

Magnum

Magnum

Here are my two blocks that I just finished, following along with the Skillbuilder Block of the Month at PileOFabric.com.

I absolutely love these blocks. I think they are turning out very modern and I am gaining more color confidence in working with solids.ย  I am using Kona Coal Grey as the background and am very pleased with how it looks against the solids.

Modern Block - Not!

Modern Block – Not!

A few months ago I tried to make my first “modern” quilt block by adding grey to a paper pieced block I was making from brightย  mottled fabrics.

The block design was awesome, but it just didn’t work with the grey!ย  I think my blocks above are much better.

In these last few months I have learned that it takes a lot more than simply adding grey to your quilt to make it modern. ๐Ÿ™‚


While sewing my BOM blocks, I used lots of starch to keep the skinny strips nice and straight. I also cut the strips on the grain parallel to the selvedge (instead of cutting them WOF – the Width of Fabric). This grain has less stretch and give to it. While sewing, I also flipped my sewing direction on each successive strip so as not to distort the fabric.

Block Piecing

It’s amazing how much this block shrinks up due to the seam allowances!

I pressed all of my seams open first with a wooden seam roller (loving this tool!) and then with a dry iron. They are nice and flat!

Seam Roller Pressing

You can read my previous BOM post about picking fabrics. If you would like to join me, my friend Alyssa and a few (hundred) others making these fabulous blocks, just go to PileOFabric.com and check out her Skillbuilder Block of the Month.