Finished Quilts – Surplus Strips in Warm and Cool

Click here to get the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – print version.
Click here to get the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – PDF version.

Surplus Strips quilts made from Fandangle by Christa WatsonThis pattern is perfect for using up leftover jelly roll strips, or color-coordinated scraps!

I made two versions of Surplus Strips to showcase the warm and cool colorways of Fandangle, but this pattern would look great in any fabrics! The name of the pattern is a play on words. I’ve been enjoying seeing lots of plus quilts with a modern vibe and I wanted to design a pattern that could be easily made with 2 1/2″ precut strips.

Surplus Strips Warm by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Fandangle fabric to make your own version of Surplus Strips.

You could use all new fabric like I did, or you could use your leftovers or the “surplus” from your scrap bin. The easiest way to pull fabrics is to select a couple of colors you like and pair them with a high-contrast background fabric.

Surplus Strips Cool by Christa WatsonIt only takes 9 different 1/3 yard cuts + background, but you can go as scrappy as you like!
One 2 1/2″ x 40″ strip will be enough for 2 blocks.

The inspiration for Surplus Strips came from some really cool looking hotel carpet I saw during one of my many travels last year. Whenever I see a great textural image or architectural design, I always snap a pic because you never know when inspiration is going to strike!

I love the asymmetrical plus shapes shown below. When I saw that, I immediately knew I wanted to make a quilt based on this design. Of course it took awhile to figure out the math and get the proportions and colors right, but it was a fun challenge to figure out!

Inspiration for my desing - hotel carpet

Some worn hotel carpet was the inspiration behind the design of my Surplus Strips quilts.

I quilted both versions of Surplus Strips with a different allover free-motion design similar to designs in the fabric line. On the warm colorway, I quilted “jagged stipple” which inspired the “Paper Cuts” design in the collection.

Free Motion Quilting on Surplus Strips Warm

My jagged stipple quilting motif inspired the “Paper Cuts” print, above, in orange and yellow.

Because I had a limited amount of fabric while making these quilts, I didn’t have enough of any one fabric for the backing of the warm version, so I created an interesting secondary composition, or “back art” instead!

I sewed a few extra plus blocks and used nice big leftover chunks of coordinating prints. I love making pieced backings when I have enough time, and it’s a great way to add interest to the quilt.

Surplus Strips Warm Pieced backingPieced backings are my favorite!! It’s almost like a two -sided quilt!

When quilting the cool colorway, I used another favorite free-motion motif which inspired another one of the prints in the collection:

Free Motion quilting detail on Surplus strips by Christa WatsonBe sure to click any of the images in this post to enlarge and see more details.

My arrowheads quilting design is a really dense echo triangle shape which is fun to quilt and adds tons of texture. It inspired the “Triangle Trinkets” print which you can see peeking out on the back and in the blue/green print above and below.

free-motion detail by Christa Watson

Don’t you love the refreshing ocean colors of blue and green??

I had so much fun making these quilts and now I want to make them in a rainbow of colors!! The quilt pattern makes it super easy to do and is written for both yardage or precut strips.

Surplus Strips Quilt PatternClick here to view all of my quilt patterns – print versions.
Click here to view all of my quilt patterns – PDF versions.

Surplus Strips Finished Stats

  • Designed and made by Christa Watson
  • Completed May, 2018
  • Finished sizes 67″ x 82″
  • Pieced and quilted on my BERNINA 770 QE
  • Quilt design: free motion jagged stipple (warm) and arrowheads (cool)
  • Fabric is Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio
  • Quilting thread: Aurifil 50 wt #3660 Bubble Gum (warm) and #4662 Creme De Menthe (cool)
  • Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Silk (warm) Tuscany 100% Cotton (cool)

Surplus Strips quilts in warm and cool, made with Fandangle fabric by Christa WatsonClick here to get yardage of Fandangle for a limited time.

More About the Making of Surplus Strips

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 3 – Machine Quilting and Binding

Although machine quilting is my favorite part of making any quilt, I really enjoy the entire process from start to finish. Even though I’m on a tight deadline, it’s been fun to document my progress on Surplus Strips as I go. Be sure to check out my last post for tips on piecing the quilt top and basting it.

Choosing Thread Color

Aurifil Thread Variegated Pink

Audition thread to see which color blends in best. For multicolor quilts, go with a lighter thread on a darker fabric, rather than darker thread on lighter fabric.

I’ve been playing around lately with Aurifil variegated thread, so I chose a pink (#3660 Bubble Gum) for the warm colorway of Surplus Strips. I wasn’t sure how much thread I’d end up using, and since I only had one spool on hand, I chose a 50 weight thread in a similar color for the bobbin. I always try to use the same or similar color in top and bobbin so that I don’t get “pokies” – dots of thread on the top or bottom of the quilt.

Aurifil Creme De Menthe on Surplus Strips

The teal colored thread has a more pronounced color change than the pink.

For the cool colorway, I went with Creme De Menthe #4662. No matter which color thread you use, the more quilting you add, the less you’ll notice the thread and the more you’ll just see the overall texture.

Free-Motion Quilting Surplus Strips

Machine Quilting Surplus Strips

I scrunch and smoosh the quilt under the machine any way I can.

Whenever I quilt, I always start on the right side of the quilt and work my way towards the center. When I reach the middle, I rotate the quilt and keep on going. For an allover/meander type block, I just focus on one are of the quilt so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

Free Motion Quilting Jagged Stipple

I love the slight color change with the pink variegated thread!

Because many of the fabric prints I design are based on some of my favorite machine quilting motifs, I really wanted to play that up with these quilts. For the warm colorway, I quilted “jagged stipple” which is one of the quilt designs I love to teach in my workshops. Can you see how it’s basically the same motif as the “Paper Cuts” print from Fandangle?

Free Motion quilting jagged stipple

Jagged stipple is one of the motifs included in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

When quilting an allover design, sometimes it will show up on some fabrics and blend into others. But that’s okay. I love the overall texture that it gives to the quilt!

For the cool colorway, I quilted triangles that are similar to the “Triangle Trinkets” print from Fandangle. Any of the designs I quilt can be quilted on a smaller or larger scale. My rule of thumb is that if it’s an allover design, I’ll quilt it larger to fill more space quickly. For smaller, custom areas of the quilt, I’ll usually scale down the quilting motifs.

Free Motion Quilting Triangles

I love how the variegated thread gives depth and dimension to the quilt!
I also teach this quilting motif in my latest quilting book.

In my workshops, I always stress the point that I don’t worry too much about making my designs perfect. I like the irregular overall texture you can get from free-hand doodling with your machine. Besides, the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches!!

Triangle Trinkets from Fandangle

I chose Triangle Trinkets in turquoise for the backing.
Click here to see larger images of each fabric from Fandangle.

Binding the Quilt

Click here for my step by step binding tutorial from a previous quilt.

Press the binding

After I attach the binding to the quilt by machine, I press it away from the quilt. This makes it easier to wrap around the back of the quilt to ensure a nice flat binding.

Attaching the binding

The BERNINA Dual Feed acts just like a walking foot, but I can use any specialty “D” foot.

When I first started binding my quilts, I used 2 1/4″ strips, However, lately, I’ve cut them 2″ and I attach them using my BERNINA dual feed and 1/4 patchwork foot. This allows me to get an even quarter inch binding on both sides of the quilt.

Binding Surplus Strips

It was fun to make some extra blocks and throw them on the back of the quilt!

Once I wrap the binding to the back, I secure in place with Clover Wonder Clips. I like to secure the entire edge so that it’s ready to hand-finish without interruption. It usually takes about 3 boxes of Wonder Clips to go around the entire edge, but you could definitely use fewer if you like.

Binding with Wonder Clips

I quilted triangles on the front to match the triangles on the back!

Even though I’m on a tight deadline to finish these quilts, I still enjoy binding by hand. I was able to finish the warm colorway on an airplane trip last week, and I finished the cool colorway while watching a movie with my family.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Click here to preorder Surplus Strips quilt pattern – ships on or before June 1.

Now all that’s left is to photograph these quilts, swap out the digital pattern cover above with the actual quilts and get them off to the printer! The PDF pattern will be coming soon, and you can pre-order the print version of Surplus Strips now.

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm Colorway

I had a whole row to myself on a recent flight and was able to finish this quilt on the plane!

Click here to pre-order bundles of Fandangle Fabric.
Click here to see all Fandangle quilt patterns.

Now I have one more quilt to finish up, and then it’s time to pack for quilt market. More about that soon, I promise!!

Free-Motion Quilting Idea Blog Hop

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You all know I’m a sucker for machine quilting and I love it when others helps spread the message, that yes, you CAN quilt your own quilts! 🙂 Prolific quilter and author Amanda Murphy has just released her latest project, The Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book.

coverIt’s chock full of ideas on how you can apply specific motifs to actual blocks. It includes over 150 step-by-step designs that are sure to jump start your creativity! Just take a look at these two ideas from the book:

fmqmotif_1fmqmotif_2

I love it that the book is organized so that you can look up the motifs by quilt element or design family. But what makes the book extra special is that you can apply these ideas to your quilts whether you are a stand up long arm quilter, or a sit-down machine quilter. Amanda started off as a domestic machine quilter (like me) and she’s now the spokesperson for the new BERNINA long arm, so of course I think she has great taste in machines!

Here’s Amanda, in her own words, describing why she wrote The Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book:

“I wanted to write an idea book to help people figure out how to quilt their quilts by breaking them down into a series of steps.  Each quilt element featured in the book has multiple designs but all are based on the same basic allover designs featured in the front of the book – so it is easy to create a cohesive look.  For instance, there are several designs for quilting flying geese, and they work well with other designs that feature the same families.  There are also coordinating borders, sashing, and stand alone designs.  There is a simple table runner design included to get you started.”

FMQIdeaSampler_Cover_SM

As an added bonus, Amanda and her publisher have teamed up to offer a companion to The Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book. It’s called the Free-Motion Quilting Idea Sampler and is available as a PDF download which gives you loads of block patterns to piece and practice on!

FMQIdeaSampler_1318_SMSampler Quilt for Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book

Giveaway

Leave a comment telling me your favorite free-motion quilting motif. (Mine is swirls!) Contest is open to everyone through the end of the week. US winners will receive a hard copy of the book; international winners will receive an e-copy.

Blog Tour

Check out the rest of the stops on the hop for more inspiration, and your chance to win a copy of The Free-Motion Quilting Idea Book:

Yes, You Can Quilt With Rulers on a Home Machine

Have you guys ever tried ruler work on your domestic sewing machines? I’m just getting started on this new-to-me machine quilting technique. However, today, I’m going to share a few words from my friend Amy Johnson who blogs over at Amy’s Free-Motion Quilting Adventures. She’s an expert on quilting with rulers and has a brand new Craftsy Class out. But before I do, I have to share a funny story of how we “met”.

Craftsy_class

I stumbled upon Amy’s blog about 2 years ago and was immediately in awe of her amazing free-motion skills. In fact, she went back and found the first comment I ever left on her blog:

“Oh my gosh – you are like my long lost kindred spirit/free-motion quilter friend! Ruler work on a domestic machine – who ever heard of such a thing? Tell me more!! I would love to be able to do this on my BERNINA. Please find out whatever you can. I’m on a mission to convince more and more quilters that they can do amazing fmq on their domestic machines and this is like the missing link.”

Ok, so maybe I was a bit over-excited about the idea of using ruler work on a domestic machine. In fact, once Amy realized that I wasn’t an internet stalker, we began to get to know each other a bit better online. Hopefully one day, we’ll even be able to met in person.

Now here’s Amy, in her own words (photos courtesy of Amy and Craftsy):

So what exactly is ruler work? Actually, it’s not a new technique. What is new is my adaptation of this long arm technique for use on a stationary machine, whether that’s a regular sewing machine or a sit-down long arm. A thick, usually acrylic ruler is laid down on the quilt top and the free motion stitches are laid down by pressing the foot, a special ruler foot, alongside the edge and letting that ruler guide the stitches for straight lines and smooth curves.

Ruler work in progress

The main difference is that a long arm quilter moves the machine’s foot over the quilt to run alongside the edge of the ruler and with a stationary machine, we have to move the quilt and ruler as a unit alongside the foot. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds!

In fact, you don’t have to be an expert at free motion quilting in order to use rulers. You can use this technique as long as you are comfortable moving the quilt sandwich under the needle. Some FMQ novices like how the ruler ‘tells’ them where to go next and there are some fancy rulers available that can help make more complex quilting motifs by just following the edge of the ruler.

stitching with ruler

One thing you do really need is a “ruler foot” for your machine. This is a high edged free motion foot that safety guides the ruler without allowing it to slide over or under the foot. Not all machine brands have such a foot available yet, but there are at least two “after market” manufacturers of ruler feet that make feet to fit nearly every brand machine out there. Additionally, the Janome ruler foot that I use fits on many other makes and model of machine.

Ruler feet

Then there are the rulers. We all joke about our fabric stash, followed by a thing for threads, especially if you do a lot of your own quilting or are an art quilter. But rulers are a new addiction for me and anyone who messes with ruler work will start eyeing these pretty pieces of acrylic. Thankfully, they don’t get used up or worn out!

Why would someone want to use rulers in quilting? Well, for one, they yield straight lines and smooth curves without a bunch of marking, or with the use of a walking foot which can be tricky if there’s much turning of a large quilt needed. The use of rulers by long arm quilters aids the quilter in making designs that were common with hand quilting, in a time efficient manner: stitch in the ditch, crosshatching, swags, piano keys, and even spines on feathers. So adapting the use of rulers on stationary machines helps us with these designs. Not to mention that the use of rulers can give a nice structure to a quilt from which to then fill in with regular free motion quilting. It’s also a great way of making a cohesive design with great impact, without a lot of dense stitching. Though ruler work looks great with dense fillers worked between it, too.

feathered frame border

Is ruler work just for traditional designs then? Absolutely not! Take a look at some of the quilting by Angela Walters and Judy Madsen for starters. They’re long arm quilters, but they do pretty modern style work and they both use rulers for a lot of their designs. Rulers can help give a great geometric structure to the negative space commonly found in modern quilts.

Lines and Loops sampler block

Then there’s my work. My quilting style runs a wide swath across genres of quilting, from art, modern, and traditional. I like to just say I’m an artistic quilter. The improvisational vibe and large amounts of negative space in many modern quilts speak to me. I’m currently working on a sampler quilt that shows a more modern feel, and the majority of the quilting design work is done with rulers followed by some dense fills of FMQ.

Amy Johnson on set at Craftsy

I am so excited to have this technique turned into a class with Craftsy, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine. I’ve shared ruler work on my blog and even made videos on YouTube  but nothing compares to the in depth instruction on the Craftsy platform. Students can ask me questions and get answers quickly. We can all share projects on the platform, too, and their camera guys are miles ahead of my own photography skills. I’m so tickled to hear back from my students and they are loving the class.

Thanks to Christa for allowing me space on her fabulous blog to tell you about quilting with rulers and my new Craftsy class. I am so glad she turned out to be a fabulous quilting teacher, blogger, and hard working business woman!

You are welcome Amy! I do what I can to help spread the word about other amazing domestic machine quilters. After all, everyone has their own style and I highly recommend learning from as many different instructors as you can. 🙂

Don’t you think Amy’s class sounds fabulous? It’s on my to-watch list for sure. I just checked, and Quilting With Rulers on a Home Machine is on sale at Craftsy now, so be sure to grab it while you can!

Christa’s SoapBox – Hallmarks of Modern Machine Quilting

There’s been a lot of buzz about modern quilts since the debut of QuiltCon in 2013. And with my recent announcement that I’m part of the QuiltCon 2016 faculty, I thought I’d throw more of my voice into the mix. It thrills me to no end to see so many quilters embracing the modern style as they learn how to design and piece modern quilts. When I returned to QuiltCon in 2015, I noticed that elements of modernism had now been applied to the hand or machine quilting process, too.

Since machine quilting is my favorite technique, I’ll share 5 trends I’ve noticed in today’s machine quilted modern quilts:

1. Functional quilting enhances the design of the quilt without overpowering it.

straightline_hst

Closeup of my HST quilt, which was recently featured in Make Modern Magazine.

Quilting stitches serve a functional purpose by holding the three layers of a quilt together. Over time, sophisticated quilters have learned to add an extra layer of decoration to their quilts by quilting intricate motifs onto the surface. With modern quilts, decorative quilting can be used to make the pieced design come alive, but the quilting is usually a little bit more subdued and is not the star of the show. Because many modern quilts emphasize clean lines and minimalist designs, over-the-top ornate quilting is not often seen on modern quilts.

2. Quilting motifs are often inspired by elements of graphic design.

fmq_boxes_3

Closeup of Optical Illusion, included as part of QuiltCon 2015

The seven basic elements of graphic design are line, color, texture, shape, size, value and space. These elements can be incorporated into modern machine quilting design motifs, too. Modern quilts often emphasize linear quilting because it adds such a textural quality to the quilt. Think irregular grids, tightly spaced lines (often known as matchstick quilting), and evenly spaced parallel lines. Thread colors, simple shapes, contrasting motif sizes and even the amount of negative space in between the quilting can all play a role in creating a successful modern composition.

Although my new book is not exclusively written to a modern audience, it does include a healthy portion of geometric quilting motifs. It’s what I’m drawn to, and what I love to quilt!

3. Asymmetrical quilting designs add depth and dimension.

Asymmetrical, “off the grid” piecing is one of the hallmarks of modern design. This idea can be incorporated into machine quilting as well. When you can see the hand of the maker in his or her quilt, I’m sure you’ll agree that a quilt doesn’t have to be computer perfect to be both functional and beautiful. Ditch the stencils and embrace irregularity to create perfectly imperfect quilts!

4. The walking foot has been reclaimed.

spiral_quilting

Spiral Quilting with a walking foot, part of my full day class on Modern Machine Quilting

No longer relegated to “stitch-in-the-ditch,” walking foot quilting is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Using a walking foot, or built-in dual feed, quilters can do more than quilt simple straight lines. Think of gently flowing waves, organic, angular textures and continuous large-scale spirals. And don’t forget the possibilities of decorative stitches. Continuous zigzags and undulating serpentines can add drape and body to a quilt, just begging to be snuggled with!

5. Dense free-motion quilting adds incredible texture.

dense_fmq

Detail of Swirls and Pearls free-motion quilting with geometric spirals in String of Pearls

From pebbles and swirls, to shattered lines and echoed spaces, dense free-motion work adds character to a quilt with an extra layer of composition just waiting to be explored. Contrary to popular belief, a densely quilted quilt can be soft and cuddly. Since most modern quilts are meant to be loved and used, they tend to soften up wash after wash. So don’t be afraid to quilt your own quilts, and when in doubt, add more quilting!

 So – what are your thoughts about the “quilting” part of modern quilting? I’d love to know!

I Love Writing about Free-Motion Quilting!

In my latest Quilt as Desired column for the National Quilting Association, I was able to explore how background fills can add depth and texture to your quilts. I love quilting textural designs that add a lot to the quilt with little to no marking.

nqaqad_fillerExcerpt from Quilting Quarterly by the National Quilting Association, Spring 2015 Issue

Speaking of NQA, you still have until April 10th to enter your quilts (especially your modern ones) into their show that will occur June 18-20 of this year. I will be teaching Modern Machine Quilting, along with two other classes and can’t wait to encourage others to give it a try.

I’ve also written a series of articles for Craftsy including tips to get you started free-motion quilting and 5 ways to trouble shoot your fmq.

As I get out there more in the world of quilting, it’s been fun to share my knowledge in different venues. Sometimes I worry that I may repeat a little bit of what I have to say. But then, it makes my day when a kind reader emails me to say, “If it wasn’t for ___ (insert name of venue or website), I never would have found you. Thanks for the tips!”

That’s truly what keeps me going! 🙂

Save 50% on Angela Walter’s Machine Quilting Craftsy Class

One of the perks I love about partnering with Craftsy is getting to pick and choose which Craftsy classes I get to watch, and then sharing information about those classes with you. But what I’m also super excited about is getting to offer exclusive discounts just for my blog readers! Whoo hoo!

20140929_angela_walters

For one week only, you guys can save 50% off of Angela Walters’ latest craftsy class, Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love machine quilting. I also love how well Angela’s designs work on nearly any quilt, no matter what type of machine you use to quilt them.

Angela WaltersMeeting Angela at QuiltCon in 2013 – I’m a huge fan of her work and teaching style!

I’ll tell you a quick story then get onto the review. When I met Angela for the first time at QuiltCon in 2013, I told her how much I loved the design aspect of her quilting and how I would enjoy incorporating some of her techniques into my domestic quilting. She responded by saying, “You get it! The type of machine you use doesn’t matter – it’s the design that counts.” Ever since then, I’ve been a big fan-girl. 🙂

The fact that Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety is demonstrated on a sit-down domestic machine is just icing on the cake!

Angela Walters at QuiltConAngela at QuiltCon – she can rock a feather like no other!!

Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety focuses on six basic quilting designs that anyone can learn:

  • pebbles
  • swirls
  • squares
  • feathers
  • clamshells
  • ribbon candy

By applying small changes to these “staple” designs, you really can creative a big variety of unique quilting textures. Each of the six lessons runs about 20-25 minutes each, which is the perfect amount of time for me to watch a segment while taking a break from work and eating my lunch. 🙂

I also enjoy the format of this particular class in that each of the lessons is independent of the others, so you can watch them in any order. Say for example, you want to skip pebbles for now, and get straight into watching the section on feathers or ribbon candy; you can totally do that and you won’t be behind!

One of my favorite techniques that Angela encourages is the idea of combining designs. I’ve done that before when I quilted pebbles and swirls into the background spaces of my String of Pearls quilt:

Swirls and PearlsI call this combination of designs, “Swirls and Pearls” – it’s so effective!

Although I love being a teacher myself, I also enjoy being a student, especially when I can learn from such a warm and friendly person as Angela Walters. She’s very engaging and is also quick to respond to questions and comments during the class.

In fact, the interactive platform is one of the things I love best about Craftsy classes. The first thing I usually do when watching a class is read through all of the comments and questions that others have left before I begin each section. It gives me a good idea of what is coming up, and I can easily add to the discussion if I feel so inclined.

AW_class_projectDetail of gorgeous quilting posted by one of the students from class, Dana R.

After watching Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety, I’m sure you will be inspired to add all sorts of small changes to your quilting that will result in a big variety of textures and designs! Just imagine the endless possibilities. 🙂

Oh, and be sure to click on the “projects” section of the class to see what your fellow students are making. It’s full of delicious eye candy!

Remember, the 50% class discount is only valid for the next 7 days, so sign up now, before you miss it!

WIP Wednesday – Free Motion Quilting Frenzy

I’ve been quilting like crazy, trying to finish up quite a few projects on a deadline. The sad thing is that I won’t be able to share them for awhile, but the good news is that I can share little work-in-progress snippets here and there. (The pictures are all from my instagram feed so they are not the highest quality – but you get the idea!)

20140809_fmq_4I can get lost in pebbles! They are fun to stitch but very time consuming! I usually put on a good audio book and keep stitching until I can’t stand it or until my shoulders ache – then I take a break and do something else!

I’ve been having a blast playing around with different weights and colors of Aurifil threads as I quilt my myriad of projects. My go-to thread is the standard 50 weight cotton which blends wonderfully with any fabrics.

20140809_fmq_3I’m also experimenting with quilting spirals – in a slightly heavier thread – I love it!

However, I have been getting a little more daring. I usually try to match my thread colors to my fabrics but have been playing with variegated thread colors and heavier weights, too. I’m really liking the 40 weight Aurifil cotton which is just a tad heavier than the 50 weight (the smaller the number – the heavier the thread).

20140809_fmq_1Who doesn’t love a good stipple? Technically, the larger scale is called “meandering.”

I even tried some of the heavier 28 weight which adds a nice definition to the quilting. I love the Aurifil cottons because they go through my machine with ease and they don’t break! I usually use a size 80 needle with the size 50 thread and then switch to a heaver size 90 needle when dealing with the thicker threads. So far, so good.

20140809_fmq_2Loops are a great go-to design anytime. They always look good on any pattern!

I usually stick with the regular 50 weight thread in the bobbin in a similar color so that I can pack a lot of thread onto one bobbin for more non-stop quilting.

20140809_fmq_5Swirls always take my breath away. They don’t have to be perfect, either, to look good!

How about you? What are you working on this week?

20140809_fmq_threadNearly empty spools of thread make me happy!

Quick Quilt Tips Tour – 5 Tips for Faster Quilting on Your Home Machine

Hi old friends, and welcome new ones! I’m happy to be participating in Amy Smart’s Quick Quilting Tips Tour – Round 2. Amy has gathered together several bloggers to offer some of their favorite tips for faster and better quilting. (Click here to read all of the tips shared in Round 1.)

20150529_tips_amy_smartMachine quilting is one of my great passions so I thought I would share some of my favorite tips for faster quilting on your home machine.

Tip #1 – Use Basting Spray

I am a recent convert to using basting spray and I don’t know if I will ever go back to using safety pins. While it takes me the same amount of time to spray baste as it does to pin, I save a ton of time not having to stop and remove pins while quilting.

spray_basting_0Click here for my spray basting tutorial.

Tip #2 – Embrace No-Mark Quilting

When I jumped on the modern bandwagon (after considering myself a traditionalist for so many years), the best thing I embraced was letting go of perfectionism and symmetry. This meant I didn’t have to mark all of my quilting lines anymore, or use stencils to quilt perfectly aligned motifs. What freedom!

herrinbone_quiltingThere’s nothing quite like a good random stipple to add texture to your quilts. Herringbone, shown above is one of my fastest finishes to date!

My quilting has improved because I can just doodle with my needle and thread while enjoying the improvisational nature of quilting random free-motion shapes and textures.

More TextureNone of the quilting was marked in String of Pearls – I just eyeballed the FMQ and used the edge of my foot as a guide for the straight lines.

Tip #3 – Try Quilting Designs from Edge to Edge

I love quilting lines which can start on one edge of the quilt and end on the other side. This is a huge time saver because there’s no need to bury threads when you start and stop. I quilted the uneven lines of Modern X starting on one side of the quilt, pivoting to follow the design, and then back off the other side.

straight quiltingWhen I felt like my bobbin was getting low, I switched it out so I didn’t have to worry about running out of thread halfway through a line of quilting.

(Bonus tip – since I use Aurifil 50 wt cotton for both piecing and quilting, I use up any partial bobbins on my next piecing project!)

Tip #4 – Use the Same Color Thread in Top and Bobbin

This is a huge time saver because I don’t have to hassle with my machine’s tension to keep tiny pindots of thread from poking through the top or bottom of the quilt. When I want a super-fast finish, I prefer to quilt with one blending thread color over the entire surface of the quilt so that I don’t have to stop and change threads.

test_blockThis recent test block from Modern Logs shows how a thin neutral thread blends in to many different fabrics. It’s such a time-saver when you don’t have to switch thread colors. (I also quilted this quilt using an edge to edge design and it went so fast!)

Tip #5 – Wind Plenty of Bobbins Ahead of Time

It’s much quicker to wind a bunch of bobbins at the start of a project rather than having to stop mid-quilt for more winding. I recently upgraded to a new Bernina 710 sewing machine. One of my favorite features is the huge bobbin capacity, compared to the older machines. So if you get a ever chance to use a machine with a bigger bobbin, I highly recommend it. 🙂

Bernina BobbinsI keep plenty of bobbins on hand and use the biggest capacity bobbin I can.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for faster machine quilting! Be sure to check out the other stops on the Quick Quilt Tips Tour. You just may learn something new. 🙂

Be sure to check out Amy’s new book, Fabulously Fast Quilts. In case you missed it, I recently reviewed it here on my blog.

20140520_fabulously_fast_quilts

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Christa’s Soap Box – Learning a New Skill

I think it’s great to learn new skills, especially when it comes to quilting. After all, how do you know whether you will like something or not unless you give it a try? I recently had the chance to try painting on fabric, and even though I ultimately decided it wasn’t my “style,” it was still fun to learn a new technique!

20140401_cory_paintingChrista and Cory painting away!

My friend Cory came over recently and showed me how to use Setacolor paints to add a little life to this wallhanging I made a couple of years back (before I found modern quilting).

hearts_feathers_wholeclothHearts and Feathers Wholecloth. Free pattern courtesy of Leah Day.

It’s a gorgeous free-motion quilting design from Leah Day. As you can see in the “before” picture above, you can hardly see the quilting. This is where my “matching threads” philosophy perhaps went a little too far.

The mottled batik fabric I used was so busy that you can’t really see the stitching. I thought about going over the quilting again with a contrasting metallic thread to make it stand out, but Cory suggested paint instead. So I figured, what they heck, I’ll give it a try. 🙂

hearts_paintingFabric Painting in Progress

It took a few coats to get a nice even application of color and it about drove me crazy trying to keep the painting inside the stitching lines, but overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. The only thing I don’t like about fabric painting is how it makes the surface rough and scratchy rather than soft and supple (leading to my preference for modern utility quilts).

hearts_feathers_finishedAnd not to be outdone, here’s a shot of a gorgeous piece that Cory’s currently working on:

20140331_cory_paintingHave you ever tried painting on fabric? If so, what are your thoughts about it?