Christa’s Soap Box – Why I am Not a Longarmer

At my guild’s annual quilting retreat I attended this past weekend, I made an important discovery about why I am not a longarmer – my arms are not long enough, LOL!

Long Armers

You need long arms to be a long-armer.

During the retreat, I hung out with many of my BQF’s (Best Quilting Friends), including the amazing talented long-armer and nationally award winning quilter Cory Allender. (That’s quite a few adjective for one sentence). 🙂

She told me how she made the switch from quilting on her domestic machine to a long arm because her hands and fingers kept getting in the way. So I quickly snapped a picture to compare our hand sizes. Holy cow – what a difference!

Size Matters

Hand size really does matter!

I honestly have tried to quilt on a long arm. I’ve taken classes with Angela Walters, tried out machines every time I attended a quilt show, and seriously chatted with Lisa Sipes about getting a long arm when I was in the market for a new machine.

However, no matter how I tried, or what I adjusted, I always felt like I was driving a tank. It also doesn’t help that I’m only 5′ tall.

Machine Quilting

I love my Bernina!

So now that I’m pretty comfortable machine quilting on my Bernina, I am happy to say that I’m proud of being a domestic machine quilter. After all, it doesn’t really matter how you (or other people) quilt your quilts, so long as you have fun doing it!

One more thing: I recently discovered a fabulous blog by Amy Johnson of Free-Motion Quilting Adventures. She actually machine quilts on her domestic machine using long-arm rulers. How fantastic – I must find out more and try that out for myself, soon!


Free Motion Curved Crosshatch Quilting with Long Arm Ruler
Image Courtesy of Amy K. Johnson



Craftsy Class Review: Dot to Dot Quilting by Angela Walters

Dot to Dot Quilting is the 3rd in a series of  online machine quilting classes by Angela Walters. Along with her other two classes, Machine Quilting Negative Space, and Free Motion Quilting with Feathers, Angela helps you to conquer your fear of machine quilting your own quilts.

Her warm, humorous manner along with her motto, “close enough is good enough” really put me at ease in this class. Even though she is a professional long arm quilter, Angela Walters teaches this class entirely on a domestic machine. Can we say “versatile”?

Dot to Dot Quilting

Dot to Dot Quilting is a way to quilt intricate designs on your quilt top with little to no marking, using points on the quilt as a guide.

Angela covers 3 of her favorite quilting motifs in this class (starbursts, lattice and diamonds), plus some cool FMQ variations for borders, sashing and blocks that create entirely different looks. In this class Angela shares how she thinks it’s easier to learn one design and tweak it 5 different ways, rather than learning 5 different designs. Clever!

After watching the first couple of lessons, I quickly quilted up these little diamond and starburst sample motifs, just to get the hang of it.

FMQ Practice

Dot to Dot Practice

Being able to watch Angela quilt “live” on video, then being able to pause and try it out immediately is an excellent way to learn. 🙂 I really like how I can go back and rewatch the segments again, to review what I just learned and make sure I really get it.

Here are a couple more quilting doodles I tried, to get a feel for the process. I just used some scraps I had lying around, quilting with whatever thread was in the machine.

Filling in the Diamonds

Filling in the Diamonds

Because I enjoy learning and sharing free-motion quilting techniques, I appreciate it when Angela demonstrates things that I also teach, such as using a blending thread whenever possible. This allows you to see the quilting texture, rather than the stitches themselves.

Dot to Dot Quilting is broken down into 8 different segments of about 8 to 10 minutes each, plus an introduction at the beginning. This is a wonderful way to watch because for me personally, I only have about 10 minutes of uninterrupted free-time at any given point in the day!

FMQ Practice

More of Christa’s Quilt Doodles – This is Fun!

Angela first shows how to quilt the designs in roughly square shapes, then uses a variation on a theme to show how to fit the designs into other shapes, too. Her designs are very scale-able, which means you can quilt them in any block size, large or small. She shows how to quilt them in a regular, classic way, and then she changes it up by starting off-center, or in a corner. The possibilities are endless!

My favorite motif I quilted is this diamond star. I stitched it completely with my free-motion foot and no marking. 🙂

Filling in the Diamonds

Christa’s Diamond Star, FMQ

Angela states that quilting is like handwriting – she can show you how to form the shapes, but it’s up to you on how you develop your own signature style.

At the end of the class, she shares tons of different examples of dot-to-dot quilting from quilts that she has finished. This was one of my favorite parts of the class – I love looking at all that quilting eye candy!

Dot to Dot Quilting

Angela Walters’ Dot to Dot Quilting

Angela includes a free sample pattern in the course materials along with stitching diagrams and quilting design variations. I recommend tracing them with your fingers or sketching them on a piece of paper before quilting to get your “muscle memory” flowing.

Another highlight of the class is reading the comments left by other class members as they watch. Both Angela and the other classmates are quick to answer the questions I have while watching. I highly recommend Dot to Dot Quilting!

Christa’s Quilt Along 6.6 – Swirls and Pearls FMQ Tutorial

Are you having fun quilting your String of Pearls quilt yet? I know I am! For today’s lesson, I am going to demo “swirls and pearls” quilting – the motif I quilted in the negative space (the grey areas) of my quilt.

Swirls and Pearls

Swirls and Pearls Quilting

I chose this design because I like how the swirls echo the idea of the square spirals in the square blocks. And of course, I had to throw in some pearls (or pebbles), too! In fact, this motif would also work as an allover design across the surface of your quilt. Remember, take these ideas, play around with them and make them your own. 🙂


Free Motion Quilting Tools

I recommend using a free-motion slider and machingers quilting gloves, along with a topstitch needle and a darning foot to get started with free-motion quilting.

I quilted with So Fine 50wt polyester in the grey areas, and Aurifil 50wt cotton thread in the colored squares and the black areas.

Hint: Be sure to read my intro to free-motion quilting tutorial here.

It took me a total of 20 hours to finish quilting this week. (I loved every second of it!)

Step 1 – Sketching and Practicing (About an Hour)

The biggest mistake I usually make in my quilting is not “auditioning” how the quilting designs will look first. Sometimes there’s a huge difference between what I see in my head and what I can actually stitch out. So first, I start doodling on paper to get a feel for how the design will flow.


Sketched Diagrams

Once I’m happy with my design, I will quilt a practice piece (“sandwich!”) using the same fabrics, batting and thread as my quilt. I can work out any thread or tension issues here, before diving into my quilt.

Practice PiecePractice FMQ


I tried to recreate the same negative space as in my quilt so I would know how much area I need to quilt and the approximate scale.

Step 2 – Quilting Swirls and Pearls in the Background Blocks (10.5 Hours)

First, I quilted all of the full “blocks” of negative space in between the pearl squares. It took me about 25 minutes per section so I spread it out over several days. After about 1-2 hours of quilting, I need to get up and do something else. Remember – you can’t rush art!


Start near a corner or side.

Hint: use a blending thread color so you see the quilting texture, not the thread!

I started and ended each section of quilting by stitching a few tiny stitches in place. It wasn’t a big deal to cut thread between each block section. After quilting about 2 blocks worth, I found my rhythm.

Filling In

Fill in all the Spaces

I randomly filled in the spaces with both large and small swirls, with clumps of pearls sprinkled in whenever I needed to fill in smaller gaps. It’s fine to back-track (quilt over previous lines of stitching) to reach the next section of unquilted space.

Step 3 – Quilting the Partial Blocks (4 Hours)

I waited to quilt the partial blocks around the edges for the end. I thought I might quilt something different here, then decided against it. I liked the uniform look of swirls and pearls throughout the entire background.

Quilting the Negative Space

More Background Quilting

Once I got to the outside edges, it gave me momentum to keep going, since I was nearly finished! I quilted right to the edges. Some of the design will be covered by the binding and that’s ok.

Swirls and Pearls FMQ

Swirls and Pearls FMQ

At this point, I decided I needed wanted to add more straight quilting to the black areas connecting my pearls, aka the “strings.”

Step 4 – Adding more Straight Quilting (4.5 Hours)

Using my my even feed (walking foot), I quilted about 1/4″ to 3/8″ away from the seams using the edge of my foot as a guide. I did not try to line things up perfectly as I prefer a more natural, organic, not-made-by-computer look. Follow the same path as shown in my straight line quilting tutorial, but quilt away from the edges.

More Texture

Adding Texture to the Strings

After getting this far, I figured I may as well add one more line of quilting around each pearl square. It only took an extra 3 minutes per block, including starting, stopping and clipping the threads each time. Yes, I rotated each side and smooshed the quilt out of the way when needed – the extra throat space on my machine came in really handy for this.

Outline Quilting

Outline Quilting

Here’s sending you a big high-5 when you finish quilting! Remember to share pictures of your FMQ progress at Christa’s Quilt Along on flickr.

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

String of Pearls Quilt Along

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Christa’s Quilt Along 6.5 – String of Pearls Straight Quilting

I am “sew” excited for this week’s lesson! We are finally to my favorite part of the quiltmaking process – machine quilting. Before we jump straight in, please read my intro to FMQ tutorial here. It explains a bunch of beginning basics that I find helpful.

Spiral QuiltingThere are three important things I want you to keep in mind as you are quilting:

  1. First, I am extremely proud of you for making it this far! Machine quilting is not for the faint of heart, but I promise you, if you stick with it, you will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with knowing you did it yourself!
  2. Second, I love to quilt the heck out of my quilts. It usually takes me more time to do the quilting than the piecing, basting and binding combined. With that said, how much time you want to spend quilting is entirely up to you. Make it your own, and be proud of your work!
  3. Third, don’t get hung up on inconsistencies in your quilting, or any wonkiness that may occur. After all, we don’t want our quilts to look like they were made by a computer, right? Embrace the imperfections that come with a hand-made piece of art. 🙂

Now, let’s start quilting! It took me a total of 12 hours to do all of the straight quilting for String of Pearls. That’s only about 1/2 the quilting – more to come in the next lesson!

Step 1 – Stitching in the Ditch (6 Hours – ugh!)

Ok, so even though I love quilting, stitching in the ditch is a little boring. However, it’s one of the most necessary steps of good machine quilting. SITD anchors your quilt and provides stability so that your more exciting stitching designs can shine!

Stitch in the DitchUse a walking foot or even feed for straight quilting. (My new Bernina came with built-in even feed). Insert a brand new needle and test your tension on a practice scrap before you start quilting. I recommend using a pair of machingers gloves to help grip your quilt.

Stitching in the DitchI started by stitching the outlines of all of my black “strings”. I took a few minutes to look at the piecing design to figure out how to make as few starts and stops as possible. The lines in red below show my stitching path for each row. I used black thread and quilted on the black fabric side of the ditch.

Ditching DiagramI started quilting one of the middle rows of the quilt first, one row at a time. There were a total of 6 rows to quilt, 2 sides per row. When I got to the end of one side of a row, I rotated the quilt and came back up the other side. It took about an hour per row to quilt.

Hint: put on a nice audio book while quilting and try to only finish 1-2 rows per day, or per quilting session. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish!

Audio Book while Quilting

Quilting and Audio-Reading

It’s ok to stitch over your previous lines of stitching if needed. This is called backtracking and is perfectly fine. Turn the quilt as needed to outline the “strings”.  I used the continuous reverse feature on my sewing machine to stitch backwards at times so that I didn’t have to turn the quilt so much. Just slow down and stitch slowly if you do this. With practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

Stitching in the DitchAbove is a picture of my backing, showing where I got a little off track while following my path. I meant to SITD each row completely, before moving onto the next row. However, I got a little “lost” while turning my quilt. That’s ok, too! As long as you eventually outline all of the blocks, you are good to go.

I only stitched around the outline of the black areas. Stitching around each colored square is part of step 2 below.

Step 2 – Quilting Square Spirals (6 Hours)

I decided it would be fun to quilt a sort of maze or square spiral in each colored block. Before I started on my quilt, I practiced the quilting motion on a few scraps so I could get a feel for how to turn each side of the spiral while quilting. I did NOT try to keep each of the lines a consistent width. More random = more modern!

Spiral QuiltingThere was a lot of stopping and starting and changing thread colors, but it only took about 10 minutes to spiral quilt each block. I used a light grey thread in the bobbin for all of the spiral quilting so I didn’t have to change bobbins each time I switched top thread colors.

Spiral FrontSpiral Back

I like to keep a variety of colored threads on hand to match my fabrics as much as possible. Prewound bobbins are great to use when you only need a small amount of one color. I put them on the top spool pin and they work fine!

Colorful ThreadBecause of the numerous stops and starts, I began quilting each block by stitching 6-8 teeny tiny stitches, slowly increasing or decreasing the stitch length at the beginning and end of each block of quilting.

I quilted all of the same color blocks before switching thread colors. Different shades of the same color can still be quilted with the same thread!

Square Spirals QuiltingFor fun, I mixed it up a little by throwing in a few random blocks with titled spirals. I thought this added a little more interest to the quilt. This will work well with the design I will free motion quilt in the grey background during the next lesson.

Off Center Spirals

Off Center Spirals

Here are a couple of other ideas you can use to quilt your version of String of Pearls:

Quilt straight or wiggly lines over the entire quilt surface using a walking foot.

Straight QuiltingWiggly Quilting

Please continue to share pictures on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along. I enjoy seeing everyone’s beautiful work – I’m sure you’ll be inspired, too!

Quilt Along Schedule – links will be active at the completion of each step:

String of Pearls Quilt Along

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Sew and Tell Baby French Roses #7 – Finished!

I am excited to share a finish with you today! I actually finished it last week just in time for it to win a ribbon in my guild’s quilt show. But with all of the quilt show excitement, I didn’t have time to share a little bit about the binding process plus a few in-process shots.

Roses for Katelyn

As you can see, the binding is made from leftovers of the pastel pink, yellow and blue plus some of the white. Scrappy bindings are really starting to grow on me! I stitched the binding finish by hand,  switching thread colors as needed. For detailed steps, you can read my hand binding tutorial here and my machine binding tutorial here.

Clover Wonder ClipsI used Clover Wonder Clips to keep the binding in place. These are my new favorite tool! With one box of 50 I was able to go completely around the quilt. These work way better than pins or hairclips and the hold the corners nice and tight, too.

I used Pearl Bracelets in Cotton Candy for the backing.

Quilting Plan

Actual Quilting

Here’s a side by side comparison of what I thought I would do for the quilting, and then what I ended up actually quilting. Sometimes I change things on the fly, or I get better ideas as I go along.

Christa's Bernina

I’m starting to get asked more often about what machine I use to make my quilts. I have a a 17 year old Bernina 1630 with a nice big drop-in table. I always practice a bit before I start quilting and use the queen-size Supreme Slider whenever I do any FMQ.

Here’s what Baby French Roses looked like after washing. It’s starting to shrink up a bit and the raw edges are getting nice and fuzzy:

French Roses WashedIt’s such a cozy quilt and I hope my sister loves it! It’s going to her new baby girl.

Cuddly RosesFrench Roses Finished Facts:

  • Quilt Name: Roses for Katelyn
  • Pattern Name: French Rose Buds by Heather French
  • Finished Size: 35″ x 42″
  • Materials: Kona Cotton Solids, Wool Batting
  • Thread: Glide Polyester and Bottom Line Polyester
  • Finished April, 2013
  • Patterns and Kits are available in my shop while supplies last.
Jenna with cousin Katelyn

Made for baby Katelyn

You can read my previous WIP on this quilt here:

  1. Baby French Roses #1- Cutting the Fabrics
  2. Baby French Roses #2- Machine Applique
  3. Baby French Roses #3 – Finished Top
  4. Baby French Roses #4 – FMQ Practice
  5. Baby French Roses #5 – Basting
  6. Baby French Roses #6 – Quilting

Christa’s Quilt Along 5.9 – Hugs ‘n Kisses FMQ Double Flowers

This week’s lesson is probably the most fun part of making this quilt! Today I will focus solely on quilting decorative flowers in the center of the O’s (or in my case the space in between the x’s). Because of this, I’ve added on an extra week of quilting to this quilt along.

Double Flowers

When I took Angela Walters‘ Quilting Negative Space class at QuiltCon, she showed us a quick sketch of how to make these adorable flowers. I was immediately struck and knew I wanted to use them in a future quilt along and asked her about that. She was cool with it. So here is my version of her “double flowers” and how I stitched them out.

Flower 1First, start quilting a little spiral in the center of the block. This does not have to be exact.

Flower 2Next, start “bouncing” off the spiral to create a few smooth petal shapes. You may or may not touch the center spiral and that is ok.

Flower 3For the second row of petals, try to echo the first row and stitch all the way to the space in between each petal.

Flower 4For the 3rd row, bounce around the petals again, but do not echo them exactly. You will have more petal “bumps” this time around.

Flower 5Echo the 4th row (and every even row), and connect your stitches in between each petal.

Flower 6On row 5 (and every odd row), bounce around again, creating more petals that do not connect to the centers.

Flower 7Finish up by echoing row 6 and then going straight into a background design to fill the rest of the space (or add more rows of petals if desired). I quilted a close series of vertical lines all the way around each flower.

Flower 8Secure your threads and then move onto the next block. It took about 8 minutes to stitch out each flower, or a total of about 8.5 hours to quilt all of the centers. Do not rush it!

Border FlowersFor the borders, I marked the rest of the block outline, then stitched the same flower in the negative space. This took an additional 5 hours for all of the border flowers.

Alternate Quilting

Here is a simpler quilting design I stitched on my original Hugs and Kisses Quilt. I used stencils to mark motifs in the middle of the O blocks plus the surrounding fabric. A fun fill such as pebbles or stippling would look great too!

Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt Kits are available for purchase while supplies last. If you have any questions about this week’s homework, please be sure to join my flickr discussion, leave a comment, or email me directly at

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

Hugs 'N Kisses

Hugs ‘N Kisses 48″ x 64″

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Christa’s Quilt Along 5.8 – Hugs ‘n Kisses Stitching in the Ditch

Although machine quilting is my absolute favorite part of making a quilt, stitching in the ditch is my least favorite part of the quilting process. Stitching in the ditch means quilting right in the middle of the seam lines, usually outlining a block or part of the quilt. Think of stitching in the ditch as the anchor that holds the quilt together and provides stability so you can have fun quilting more exciting motifs later (as in next week)!

Step 1 – Gather the Needed Supplies

My Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt is basted and ready to go so now it’s time to give a little thought to quilting supplies and thread selection.  Below are my absolute favorite supplies for machine quilting: a Supreme Slider, quilting gloves, a free-motion foot and a walking foot.

Machine Quilting Supplies

The Supreme Slider enables me to slide the quilt around easily during free-motion quilting.  It sits on the bed of the machine and covers the feed dogs so I don’t even have to drop them if I don’t want to (some machines perform better when the feed dogs are still engaged). However, one word of caution – remember to remove it when doing any walking foot quilting or you’ll stitch right through it!

I wear a pair of quilting gloves the entire time while quilting (both with the walking foot and the free motion foot). They allow me to grip the quilt, smoosh it around and push it through with ease. If you can only buy one tool for quilting, this is my number one recommendation. They are machine washable, too.

Thread and Needles

My favorite needles to use are titanium topstitch needles from Superior Threads. They have a longer eye so the thread can easily glide through the hole. I use them for all sewing from piecing to quilting. I use a size 70 or 80 needle for thinner polyester threads (50-60 weight) and a size 90 needle for thicker (30-40 weight) cotton or polyester threads, or specialty threads.

Whenever possible, I like to choose a stitch in the ditch thread that blends with most of the colors of my quilt top. In this case a light pink thread will work well for this quilt. A 50 weight cotton or 50-60 weight polyester are good choices for stitching in the ditch. I use the same color thread in top and bobbin.

Step 2 – Stitch in the Ditch to Anchor the Quilt (4.5 Hours)

First, decide which “ditches” you want to stitch. If you are quilting the X and O configuration it’s very easy to stitch between each row of blocks. Start in the middle of the quilt and stitch all of the horizontal rows from one end of the row to the other. Move over one row, and quilt all of the rows on that side. Then finish the other side, turn the quilt 90 degrees and stitch through all of the vertical rows. I’ve also included a closeup of my original Hug’s N Kisses where I was able to stitch through all of the ditches in white thread.

Stitch in the Ditch Closeup

Hugs 'N Kisses

Stitching in between the X and O blocks and should take a lot less time. Because I made my quilt with all X’s, getting in between the ditches took a lot longer.

For the all X configuration, I had to constantly turn and pivot to outline all of the blocks. In some cases, I back-stitched through previous lines of stitching. Here are some in process photos below:

Pulling up the Bobbin ThreadAlways thread your machine with the needle in the “up” position. This ensures proper threading of the top thread in between the tension discs.

When starting a line of stitching, pull your bobbin thread up to the top. Remember this phrase, “needle down, foot down – needle up, foot up” to grab your bobbin thread. You can either tie off your thread ends, or start and stop each  line of stitching with a few tiny stitches to secure your threads.

You can pull your bobbin thread up to the top at the end of a line of stitching by yanking on the top thread until a little loop of bobbin thread comes to the surface. Then pull it through with a needle or small pin.

Stitch in the DitchPivot When Needed

Using an open-toe walking foot really helps so you can see where you are stitching! Try to stay as close to the ditch as possible and slow down if needed so your stitches are straight and consistent. I only removed pins as they got in my way. I left the rest of the pins in for stability as I stitched.

About halfway through quilting, I decided to see if I could stitch in the ditch using my free-motion foot. This is a little more advanced technique which requires a lot of control over the movement of the foot. I found that if I slowed down enough I could stitch in the ditch with my free motion foot. The upside is that I didn’t have to pivot the quilt so much. I could just move the foot where I needed to go to get around all of the ditches.

FMQ Ditching
Whenever I’m quilting, my hands act as a hoop constantly surrounding the needle, giving me more control over the quilting process.

Step 3 – Quilting the Border Outlines (30 Minutes)

Some of the inner border will have already been quilted from outlining the blocks. I quilted the rest of the inner border seams and the outer border seam. This will stabilize the borders for now so I can add more decorative quilting later.

Stitch the BordersYou can see that I’ve left in most of my basting pins. I will remove them as I need to next week when doing the decorative free-motion work.

Stitched in the Ditch

All of my ditches have been stitched! I know it doesn’t look like much but you can sort of see the “poof” left by the quilting. The quilt is nice and flat and stable and I’m ready to move onto the “exciting” quilting next week!

Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt Kits are available for purchase while supplies last. If you have any questions about this week’s homework, please be sure to join my flickr discussion, leave a comment, or email me directly at

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

Hugs 'N Kisses

Hugs ‘N Kisses 48″ x 64″

Grab my Quilt Along button!

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Skillbuilder BOM – January Blocks Quilted

I am excited to share a WIP/block finish with you today! I am participating in Pile O’Fabric’s Skillbuilder Block of the Month series where we sew and quilt two blocks a month using quilt-as-you go techniques. I’ve never made a quilt like this before, and it’s “sew” fun!

Here are my finished blocks from January, called Magnum and Sound Wave. Click each picture to enlarge so that you can see closeups of the quilting detail.

Magnum, Quilted

Soundwave, Quilted

I chose fat quarters of Kona Cotton Solids in shades of red, orange and yellow, with a complement of turquoise thrown in, just for fun. I used cotton threads (Aurifil and Superior) to match all the colors of the fabrics with thin grey polyester thread for the background.

Colorful Thread

I stitched in the ditch through all of the seams first to stabilize them, then filled in each color with a fun design, changing thread colors as I went. I used a quarter to mark the circles.


Add a Quarter

Here are the backs of the blocks. I love how the thread colors stand out!

Soundwave BackMagnum Back

Now I’m off to catch up on February’s Blocks!

Sew and Tell – Meet Lisa Sipes

For show and tell today, I want to introduce you to my new friend and amazing machine quilter, Lisa Sipes.

I was first introduced to Lisa’s work when I attended Road to California last year. Her quilt, BeDazzled really dazzled me. The bright solid colors really spoke to me and this was even before I started using them in my own quilts.

Bedazzled by Lisa Sipes

Bedazzled by Lisa Sipes

Fast forward to QuiltCon this year and who won best of show? Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Lisa Sipes with their quilt, Double Edged love. I mean can you see all the detail in that quilting? This gorgeous quilt is a fantastic modern interpretation of the classic  double wedding ring quilt pattern.

Double Edged Love

Double Edged Love by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Lisa Sipes

And guess who took Viewer’s Choice at QuiltCon? Again, it was Lisa’s amazing quilting along with Alison Glass’ impeccable applique in “Overgrown” that stole the show.

Overgrown Quilting Detail

OverGrown – Detail of quilting by Lisa Sipes

I believe it’s amazing quilting like this that is becoming one of the hallmarks of the modern quilting movement. I recently had a chat with Lisa to talk about her inspirational work.

Lisa began quilting near the end of 2008 when her mother suggested she take up long arm quilting as a new career direction (after dabbling in such varied occupations as accounting and bartending).

Lisa Sipes

Lisa Sipes

Lisa does all of her quilting on a Gamill long arm machine. She is a Gamill quilting artist which means she gets to travel with them showing off what these machines are capable of.  Her work has been seen in such magazines as American Patchwork and Quilting, Generation Q, and Modern Quilts Unlimited.

She does mostly quilting these days and her friends help with the piecing. Like any good artist, she always has several designs in her head that just HAVE to get made someday (I can relate!) as therapy to soothe the soul.

It takes her anywhere from a few day to a couple of weeks of focused effort to achieve such impeccable results. She doesn’t quilt just for the sake of quilting, but instead likes to have conversations with the quilters to determine how the quilt would best be quilted.

Sometimes she bases the quilting on the name of the quilt or why it was made or for whom. Other times, her inspiration comes from the design of the quilt or fabric. In all cases, she tries to make the quilting tell a story, such as her collaberation with Thomas Knauer for In Defense of Handmade:

In Defense of Handmade

In Defense of Handmade by Thomas Knauer and Lisa Sipes

This quilt is the actual barcode representation of a celebrity designed quilt that was mass marketed and sold through department stores. According to the quilt’s artistic statement, “the… bar code becomes a place for color and play… in lieu of the homogeneity of the factory-made.” Lisa’s painstaking quilting, tied off at every single straight line start and stop embodies the meaning of this quilt. It is beautiful hand-crafted work, indeed.

I applaud Lisa for bringing the art of machine quilting to a higher-level. Whether you quilt on a long-arm like she does, or use a domestic machine like I do, I hope you appreciate the artistry and vision that quilting can bring to a quilt.

Christa’s Sew and Tell – A Few Quilt Along Finishes

Here are a couple of great finishes from followers of my previous quilt-alongs:

Joanne P. finished her version of Baby Bricks featuring some fantastic geometric prints. It looks very modern and makes me want to make another one to try out more fabrics! (I’m still in the the process of adding more quilting to my two baby bricks quilts).

Joanne's Baby Bricks

Kathleen W. sent me a picture of her lovely Charming Chevrons finish. Doesn’t it look fantastic in shades of black, white and gray? She did a wonderful job with the quilting, too.

Kathleen's Chevrons

Both of these quilts are posted on my flickr group. I want to see your quilt-along pics, too!

No matter what tutorial step you are on, or which quilt pattern you are making. I hope you’ll join so we can all share in the fun and get inspired!

The link is: