How to Cut Fabric for Optical Illusion Quilt Along Part 1

Cutting out the fabrics to make Optical Illusion is pretty straightforward. Just follow the cutting instructions on page 2 of the Optical Illusion Quilt Pattern. You can reference my previous post on choosing fabric color combos that will work. For my version I used highly contrasting black and white for the squares with gray for the long skinny strips.

Optical Illusion Quilt

Click here to get the optional Optical Illusion quilt kit (while supplies last).

Before cutting, I highly recommend starching your fabric. This will keep the smaller skinny strips from stretching out of shape and will give body to your pieces as you handle them. I like to use inexpensive starch from the grocery store. I spray one side of my fabric and iron from the opposite side. Then repeat for the other side. It works like a charm!

Cutting the Squares

When cutting the squares, the easiest way is to first cut strips from your fabric, then subcut those strips into the square sizes as indicated in the pattern. If you are using a directional fabric like I did, you can choose to have the print always running in the same direction, or let it be more random. The choice is completely up to you depending on the look you want.Optical Illusion SquaresStill need the Optical Illusion pattern? Get a printed version or get the instantly downloadable pdf. Refer to the quilt pattern for the number of squares to cut for your size.

When it comes to cutting the rest of the units that are a slightly different size (for the starting and ending rows), be sure to label them to keep the sizes organized. I’m constantly referring to my pattern for unit size and placement so I keep everything in the right spot!

Cutting the Skinny Strips

When you are cutting out long skinny strips, you’ll either need to piece together shorter lengths of fabric to get a long enough piece or you can rotate your fabric and cut them parallel to the selvage so that there aren’t any seams. This is the method I recommend in the quilt pattern.

cut parallel to selvage

Cut long strips parallel to the selvage.

You can fold your fabric into about four layers by shaking it out so it hangs straight, then folding it in half, and half again parallel to the selvage. If your folded length of fabric is longer than the width of your cutting mat, I recommend getting another cutting mat and another ruler so that you can line things up along the entire edge.

Once everything is cut, you are ready to start sewing your pieces together next week! Feel free to take your time, or work ahead. The choice is up to you and you are the boss of your quilt!

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

More Quilt Along Info:

Optical Illusion: Supply List, Schedule and Color Combos

Are you ready to join me for the adventure of a lifetime? Or at least a fun sewing escapade over the next several weeks? I’m excited to guide you as we make my Optical Illusion quilt from start to finish.  All you need is a copy of the Optical Illusion quilt pattern and a can-do attitude!

Optical Illusion Quilt

Optical Illusion made from Geo Pop, 67″ x 88″
Scroll this image to see the lines move!

My original version was sewn up in bold black, white and gray from my Geo Pop fabric line. I had requests to see how it would look in other colorways, so thank goodness for EQ8 software which allowed me to quickly recolor lots of fun combinations!

I made some of them into quilt kits which you can pick up if you desire, or just use them as a color guide and pick something similar from your stash.

Color Play: Choose Light, Medium and Dark

The trick to making the design work is the interplay of the values. Value is just the lightness or darkness of a fabric compared to its neighbors. For this design to work you need three fabrics that read as light, medium and dark.

So take a look at these color combos and scroll your screen up and down to see the illusion of the lines waving back and forth. Pretty trippy right?

The illusion works because the medium fabric is ALWAYS used for the skinny strips whereas the light and dark color combos are used for the squares.

Here’s another group of colors that also showcases the illusion with some interesting color combos:

Solids, or fabrics that read as a solid look best for the bold, graphic design, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use prints. Just be sure you choose something that is mostly one color or color family per print. Here’s another color grouping that works well:

Remember, for best results, use the lightest and darkest fabrics are for the squares, with the medium for the skinny strips. To test the value of your fabrics, take a picture set on gray scale from your camera phone. Then you can easily tell which should be classifued as light, medium or dark.

That’s a dozen different combinations that WORK! (Many are available as kits for the Quilt Along.) I have no idea why our brains read it this way, but it sure is cool, don’t ya think??

Now…

Watch what happens when the skinny strips are LIGHTER or DARKER than the two colors in the squares. It creates too much contrast and doesn’t give the illusion.

These 4 colorways above and below still make a nice looking modern quilt, so don’t despair if your color combos don’t work exactly as you thought. Part of the fun is learning new things, right??

For further discussion and some more examples, check out this video from my Facebook Live “Ask me Anything” series. Click the image below to play. It’s just under and hour and I go through color combinations as well as other quilty tips and advice asked by the audience. (I do these live sessions each wee k and have started posting them on YouTube so be sure to subscribe!)

In my examples, I’ve used mostly prints that read as one color for the best results. But don’t worry—the modern quilt design looks cool whether the illusion works or not!

Optical Illusion Supply List

Start thinking about the colors and fabrics that you would like to use, and gather up the needed supplies. The quilt pattern comes in three sizes. Click the pattern image below to expand.

Optical Illusion Quilt Pattern

Here’s what you need for the Twin size quilt top (67″ x 88″), which is what I made:

Get the Optical Illusion Quilt Kit, while supplies last!

Optical Illusion Quilt with Good Vibes Fabric

I can’t wait to show you how to quilt the walking foot spiral design!

Quilt Along Schedule

The links below will go live as each part is posted. Bookmark this page and refer back to the schedule anytime in the future to work on this quilt at your own pace.

Optical Illusion Quilt

SHARing is caring

If you’re an Instagram junkie (like me!), please tag me at @christaquilts and use the hashtag #opticalillusionquilt so I can see what you are doing and cheer you on!

If you’d like to ask questions or need additional help, please participate in my Christa Quilts Group on Facebook. It’s a great place to encourage your fellow makers and get additional ideas for fabric choices and a quilting plan!

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Be sure to enter your email address in the box on the sidebar of this blog. If you are viewing this on your phone or tablet, scroll aaaaaaaallllllllllllll the way down to the bottom of the page to find the email address box.

Optical Illusion Quilt Along Begins May 19th! Read about the origin of this design…

I’m super excited about my next quilt along which will kick off on May 19th with a complete sewing schedule and supply list. Every time I share my Optical Illusion quilt, I love how many people ask for the quilt pattern.  I’ve also had numerous requests for a quilt along, so I was finally able to work it in to my schedule, yippee!

Optical Illusion – Made from Geo Pop Fabric

Optical Illusion Quilt

Origin of an Idea

Several years ago, my family and I were out to dinner and I saw this really cool optical illusion on the back of a kid’s menu. As with most things whenever I see an interesting design, I wonder to myself, “can I make a quilt out of that??” The design was called “Cafe Walls” and here’s a public domain image of it:

Cafe Walls design

Cafe Walls Optical Illusion

So I began to design in EQ8. It took awhile to get the proportions right and I decided that for an interesting quilt, I preferred the lines to run vertically rather than horizontally.

Once I was happy with my design, I made a version of it from solid fabrics, to try out the idea. It actually hung in QuiltCon back in 2015 and I had sooo many requests to turn it into a quilt pattern, but was so overwhelmed with other deadlines at the time that I had to put it on the back burner for awhile.

I did manage to get it into an issue of a magazine, that is sadly no longer in print, and then I kept putting off the editing and rewriting I needed to release on my own.  Since then I’ve seen several different design variations, so it’s fun knowing I’m not the only one who thought this would make a fabulous quilt!

Christa Watson Illusions

The original version of Optical Illusion Hung at QuiltCon in 2015

Finally, the timing was right to recreate the quilt and pattern when I released my fourth fabric line, Geo Pop for Benartex. I included a lot of black and whites in this colorful collection and  knew I wanted to do something special with them!

Geo Pop by Christa Watson

Black and White Prints from Geo Pop Fabric

As you can see from the detail pic below, I only needed one black fabric, one white fabric, and one gray fabric to create the design. The biggest test for me was to see if the illusion would still work using prints – and I’m thrilled that it does!!

Optical Illusion Quilt from Good Vibes Fabric

Print fabrics used from Geo Pop: Mosaic Dots White, Op Squares Charcoal and Tiny Hex Grey

So I really hope you’ll join me for this quilt along to make your own version. Here’s a hint as you start thinking about colors: It doesn’t have to be strictly black and white. But you need good contrast between the lightest color (white), the darkest color (black) and the medium color (gray) to make the illusion work. And the further back you stand, the more you will see the illusion.

Next week I’ll post the full supply list and quilt along schedule, and we will actually dive into making the quilt starting on Tuesday, May 26. So that gives you plenty of time to start gathering your supplies.

Get the Optical Illusion Quilt Pattern

For now, grab a copy of the quilt pattern or optional kit and be sure to sign up to get an email whenever there’s a new blog post. You can do that by entering your email address in the sidebar if you are viewing this on a computer. Or scroll AAALLLLL the way down to the bottom of this post if viewing on your phone.

Bling Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

If you really ant to see the illusion in this quilt, scroll up and down to see the lines wiggle!!

Next Week: Choosing Fabrics

In addition to posting the schedule next week, I”ll dive into sharing some tips and trips for successful fabric combos. The quick answer is that you want very good contrast between light, medium, and dark, with fabrics that read as one color. I’ll go in depth with this more next week with good and not so good examples of successful fabric combo’s. See ya then!

New Quilt Pattern – Interlinked Available in Make Modern Magazine

I’m thrilled to introduce a brand new quilt to you today! It’s called Interlinked and was a design I came up with a couple years ago when playing around with some modern design ideas.

Interlinked Quilt PatternInterlinked Quilt by Christa Watson, 64″ x 80″
Made from neutrals of Fandangle, Geo Pop, and Gridwork

I love making all kinds of quilts and most of my designs fall on the “Modern Traditional” side of things. But with Interlinked, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and really embrace modern principles like “minimalism” and “negative space.”

Interlinked Beauty Shots

I’ve also been having fun taking some styled shots of  my quilts. there’s something about surrounding a stark neutral quilt with some earthy color that makes it pop, don’t you think?

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

The most fun part about making this quilt was combining white and gray prints from several of my fabric lines. After releasing my first fabric line, Modern Marks back in 2017, I realized I needed to add more backgrounds and neutrals to work with in each of my succeeding lines. So this one includes white & gray from Fandangle, Geo Pop and my newest line, Gridwork.

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

I used the white/gray “Mosaic Dots” print from Geo Pop for the backing.

Get the Kit!

When I shared sneak peeks of me making this quilt a few months ago, I immediately got requests for kits once the pattern was available. So I’m happy to announce that kits are now in stock and ready to ship over in my online store at shop.ChristaQuilts.com.

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the interlinked quilt kit (fabric only) while supplies last.

The pattern can be found in issue #34 issue of Make Modern Magazine, a PDF publication from my friends down under in Australia! You can purchase single issues, or a fabulous all access subscription that includes ALL back issues. (I actually have been published in their magazine at least twice before – so it will be a fun scavenger hunt to find my previous patterns!!)

Interlinked Quilt by Christa Watson

The quilt is actually really quick and easy to make and you can have fun with the quilting just like I did. I quilted a different geometric design in each fabric of the quilt and it was so fun putting this one together. It’s the first time I’ve made a quilt from my fabrics where I’ve used more than one collection and I really enjoyed the freedom of doing that!

Interlinked Free Motion Quilt Detail

Interlinked free-motion quilting detail – click image above to enlarge.

I hope you enjoyed looking at all these fun pics and I can’t wait to see your version of the quilt. When you make it, please use the hashtag #interlinkedquilt on social media so I can cheer you on!

Where to Buy

Interlinked by Christa Watson

Make the Rounds Quilt Pattern and Kit Available

Did you see this amazing quilt, designed and made by my friend Heather Black? She used my Geo Pop fabric and it’s in the current issue of American Patchwork and Quilting (February 2020).

Make the Rounds by Heather Black

Click here to get the quilt kit for Make the Rounds.

Before the issue went to print, APQ magazine contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to offer kits for this quilt since it’s so eye catching. I immediately said yes and they were kind enough to mention my fabric and include a link to my shop in the magazine pattern.

Here’s a photo of the magazine cover, so you know which issue has the pattern:

American Patchwork and Quilting Cover Feb 2020

It’s no secret that I simply adore all of Heather Black’s quilt designs. She really makes my fabric look good, don’t you think??

This is what she had to say about the design of this quilt, “When making a quilt, I like to choose a theme, either literal or figurative to help guide my choices while picking fabrics and quilting. I wanted to convey a sense of movement, and the name of this quilt [Make the Rounds] helped me pair colors and choose how to quilt the top.”Make The Rounds Quilt by Heather BlackDesigned by Heather Black. Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2020 Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The kit includes the same fabrics shown here for blocks, borders and binding. The background behind the blocks consists of all one fabric.

Of course I’m biased because it’s using my fabric, but I just love the bold design and energy in this quilt! I think Heather did a fabulous job with color placement, and I love how she fussy cut the Mosaic Dots print to create a frame in the borders. Heather is an expert with modern pieced curved designs, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Machine Quilting by Heather BlackQuilting detail on Heather’s quilt.