Finished Quilt: Modern Puzzle + Quilting Tips

Meet Modern Puzzle – one of the quilts I made for quilt market this past fall. The quilt pattern is a free PDF download and it’s made from one Pinwheel (aka Jellyroll) of Modern Marks + one pinwheel of white/gray neutrals from Benartex.

Modern Puzzle Free Qult patter by Christa Watson

Click here to download my Modern Puzzle quilt pattern for free.
Click here to get the precuts to make this quilt.

I recently wrote up a spray basting tutorial using my design wall using Modern Puzzle as my example. Now I’m ready to share more about the quilting process. Because I was in a hurry to get this quilt done, AND I really wanted to show off the fabrics rather than the quilting, I used a simple wavy line design that I teach in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Click the image below to enlarge it so you can see the quilting detail:

Machine Quilting detail - wavy lines

Making a Quilting Plan

Whenever I’m quilting an allover design using my walking foot (or dual feed system), I use a method I call “divide and conquer.” The basic idea is that I make one pass across the quilt, stitching near the ditch rather than IN the ditch.

This allows me to use my seam lines as a guideline for spacing so that I don’t have to mark anything. Once the quilt is stabilized, or “anchored,” then I’ll add additional wavy lines, one pass across the quilt at a time.

Quilting Plan for Modern Puzzle

Quilting plan for Modern Puzzle – I’ll fill in more lines on the quilt until it feels finished.

I introduced my audience to the concept of making a “quilting plan” in my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and my first Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path.  Now I love to seeing that so many have embraced this concept with their own quilts!

Quilting Modern Puzzle

Each time I quilt a set of wavy lines across the quilt, the space to fill gets smaller and smaller.

Whenever I quilt any quilt, I “scrunch and smoosh” it under the machine however I can. Having a wide area between the needle and the side of the machine is really nice, but not absolutely necessary. As long as you shove the quilt out of the way and only focus on one area at a time, it’s easy  to do!

Overlapping wavy lines

Once the lines got close enough, I overlapped a few of them for extra texture.

My philosophy when it comes to machine quilting is, “more is more.” For example, one individual line of stitching will stand out like a sore thumb. However, when you surround that line with additional quilting lines on both sides, all of a sudden, you notice the overall texture before you see the individual stitches.

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

When it comes to choosing thread color for a highly contrasting quilt such as this one, it’s best to use a lighter color thread rather than a darker one. A lighter thread will blend in more on darker fabrics, rather than the reverse.

Aurifil Cotton Thread

For Modern Puzzle, I chose a light gray/blue from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Neutrals from Aurifil. Even with dense quilting, one large spool was plenty of thread, and I like to use the same color in top and bobbin to help hide any tension issues.

Quilting Detail on Modern Puzzle

Dense quilting is my favorite way to hide quilting imperfections!

Behind the Scenes

Fun fact: when I got my fabric samples for Modern Marks back in July, I had about 4 days to whip up 5 quilt tops to display at a special event for BERNINA dealers taking place here in my hometown of Las Vegas. Because BERNINA owns Benartex, the dealers got to see sneak peeks of the fabric before it was debuted at quilt market in October.

Quilts in Progress

Honest sewing room and quilt top making frenzy: notice the fabric samples in the left corner rolled on a tube – this is how fabric comes from the factory before it’s folded onto bolts!!

This was my chance to introduce myself to shop owners who hadn’t heard of me yet, so it was a huge opportunity if I could finish the samples in time. So I called in the reinforcements – my mom and a few friends – and we sewed non-stop to get them done! It was a fun impromptu retreat and I’m thankful to say, the fabric was well received. Thank goodness I only needed to finish the tops and was able to quilt them over the next 3 months at a more leisurely pace!

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

I love how the bright pops of color in in Modern Marks contrast against my desert surroundings. This is one of my favorite quilts, and the dense quilting makes it so snuggly!!

Remember, if you make Modern Puzzle, (or anything else from my books, patterns, or fabric) I’d love to see your progress! Please share in my ChristaQuilts Facebook community. I’d love to cheer you on!!

Modern Puzzle Stats:

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

All outdoor photogrophy taken by my husband, Jason Watson. (C) 2017

Modern Puzzle Quilt – Get the Free Pattern!

Modern Puzzle is a quilt I designed and made to show off my debut fabric line from Benartex, called “Modern Marks.”

Click here to get the free Modern Puzzle pattern.

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

It’s full of brightly colored geometric prints that are perfect for quilts in any size and style!

Modern Puzzle Using Modern Marks

I used Modern Marks from Benartex/Contempo for this quilt – it’s bright and cheerful!

Modern Puzzle is a remake of the design I originally created called “Puzzle Box” that showed off some solid fabrics, but I never actually made the quilt. Now that my fabric is out there in the world, I was excited to see how well this design looks using prints!

Modern Marks Fabric

Modern Marks prints and Colorweave coordinates

Modern Puzzle is super fast and easy to make from 2 sets of precut strips – one bundle of colorful prints, and another set for the background. Benartex calls their precut strips “Pinwheels” but they are also known as Jelly Rolls, Pixie Strips, Rollie Polies, Roll Ups, etc. depending on the manufacturer. Each precut bundle includes 40 strips, 2 1/2″ x 42″.

Modern Marks Pinwheel from Benartex

For my quilt I used one Pinwheel of Modern Marks plus one neutral background bundle in gray/white that I asked Benartex to offer along with my fabric. I love how the neutrals really allow the brighter prints to pop!

Click here to get the Modern Marks Precuts.

Neutral Pinwheel from Benartex

Because the fabric images are finalized months before the fabric was ready, I was able to play around in Electric Quilt software to come up with lots of fun designs using my fabric. When I show the “real” quilt you’ll be amazed at how much it looks like the original drawing!

Modern Puzzle Free Pattern from Christa Watson

Modern Puzzle Designed Using EQ

Don’t you just love a snuggly, colorful quilt?? Full reveal coming soon!

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

Bungle Jungle Modern Quilt – Week 1

Before I’ve even finished my current project, the Little Rascals baby quilt, I’ve already started on my next charm pack design! I was inspired by Leah Day’s modern quilt on her free-motion quilting blog.  However,  I’m making mine a little more uniform and less wonky.

I started with one charm pack of Bungle Jungle – a set of 42 precut squares that measure Bungle Jungle with Solid White5 inches. That means the finished size of each square is4 1/2″. I wanted to surround the squares with lots of open space for quilting, so I grabbed 2 yards of  of Kona Cotton Solids in white.

I cut  fifteen 4″ wide strips of white and sub-cut them into 42 pieces that measure 4″ x 5″ for the short side of the blocks and and 42 pieces of 4″ x 8 1/2″ for the long side of the blocks.

I stacked the pieces up next to my sewing machine in order so they were all ready to sew. Some of the prints are directional, but I won’t worry about that as I sew this quilt together. That will add to the “charm!”

Stacked and Ready to Sew

Bungle Jungle Block

To help with quilting later, I pressed all of the seams open. This helps reduce bulk and prevents shadowing of the seams. I will sew a total of 42 blocks, one for every charm square.

This week I will work on arranging the blocks into a pleasing setting. I’m loving it already!

Bungle Jungle Blocks LayoutThe Modern Quilt aesthetic really appeals to me with lots of negative space and clean lines. One of the hallmarks of this design style is to use lots of solid fabric and crisp, clear colors.

If you’d like to follow along, grab 1 charm pack of your choice and 2 yards of background fabric, then sew a total of 42 blocks like those shown above. (I’ve only finished 12 blocks so far.) I’ll continue to blog about this project until it’s done, including quilting and binding.