My Week at the Folkschool – How to Make a Modern Quilt

Last week I embarked on an exciting adventure that I want to share with you. I spent 5 full days teaching a full group of students How to Make a Modern Quilt at the John C. Campbell Folkschool. Although it’s hard to capture such a full week in one blog post, here’s a little recap:

fiber_studioThe fiber arts building housed both the weaving studio and the quilting studio in separate halves of this beautiful structure, complete with a barn block!

Day 0 – Arrival and check in. This wasn’t a full day of teaching, but as soon as I got off the airplane (in Atlanta) I took a beautiful scenic drive through the woods of Georgia to the mountains of North Carolina. The Folkschool is located in a quaint little town called Brasstown and it was a beautiful place where time literally seemed to stand still. As soon as I was out of the car, it was time to check-in for teacher orientation, enjoy a wonderful southern dinner (the first of many delicious meals), and then meet the students.

Fortunately many of my students had been there before, and knew their way around, so they were able to lead me to the quilting studio, a huge space that was fully equipped for some serious sewing (though most of my students brought their own machines).

openstudioThere was enough space for all 12 students to each have their own table, design wall and cutting area, plus plenty of ironing boards. We even had room for full-size basting tables!

Day 1-2 Cutting and sewing. Once the students had settled in and organized their supplies, it was time to cut fabrics and learn some modern quilting basics (letting go of perfection, embracing asymmetry, discovering improvisational piecing.) Throughout the week it was fun getting to know the quilters and their various styles. As a teacher, I love to share my methods but I am so happy for each student to settle into her own process and find a comfortable work-flow.

modernblocksSome of the Modern Logs blocks starting to emerge. I love all the fabric choices!

Day 3 – More block sewing and piecing the backs. Throughout the class I encouraged the students to work at their own pace. Some decided to make bigger quilts, others took their time with the process, and they all seemed to embrace the design possibilities in their backing.

pieced_backingIsn’t this a great pieced backing?

A few of the students even made me smile by throwing in a few random pops of color to their wonky blocks. They agreed that they were channeling their inner Jacquie Gering. ๐Ÿ™‚

colorpopDay 4 – Basting and machine quilting. This was the day that many had been waiting for, a chance to learn how to quilt their own quilts! They all agreed that they preferred spray basting hands-down to pin-basting and were pleased to learn some of my tips and tricks: such as smoothing each layer with a long ruler, applying spray to the top and backing (not the batting) and ironing the whole thing to set the glue. Each time a quilter finished her backing, several others came together to get it basted in mere minutes. It was quite the efficient process!

machinequilting2This combination of modern fabrics and nearly solids makes my heart sing!

Our week just happened to coincide with Southern Appalachian Modern Quilt Guild meeting, so several of the students and I were able to attend. We got to see inspiring show ‘n tell, eat yummy treats and watch a wonderful slideshow recap of QuiltCon highlights. I even picked up a couple of great ideas to share with my local modern quilt guild (LVMQG).

wovenrunnerPam’s SAMQG show ‘n tell – her original woven fabrics pieced into a table runner.

Pam Howard is the Resident Weaver at the Folkschool and a member of the SAMQG. She was in my class and we became fast friends. She’s experimenting with incorporating her hand-loomed fabrics into her quilts. Isn’t that a cool idea?

modernlogs

Day 5 – The finish and closing ceremony. I am so proud of my students! After a full week of nearly-non stop quilting, smiles were aplenty as everyone got to display their work for the entire school to see. From basketry to woodworking, to tin-smithing, photography, soapmaking, beadwork and more, just about every craft you could think of was well-represented.

folkschoolcraftsSeveral of the arts and crafts on display at the Folkschool Closing ceremony.

If you’ve never been to the Folkschool, I highly encourage you to visit. They run week-long classes year ’round and I can’t wait to return!

For those of you near the Little Rock, Arkansas area, I will be teaching a shorter version of Modern Logs at the NQA 46th annual quilt show June 18-20, 2015 along with a few other classes. Click here for details.

I just made some new BQF’s (best quilting friends) and I’d love to meet some more!

Quiltique Fall Teaching Schedule – More Modern Classes Coming Up!

I’m excited to announce my fall teaching schedule at Quiltique in Las Vegas. Based on the the popular response from last trimester, I will once again be teaching Modern Logs and Modern Machine Quilting. Check out the pictures below from last season’s classes – my students had a great time and made some gorgeous modern quilts!

modern_logs_purpleModern Logs looks great in blues and purples with a pop of green!

Here are the dates and times if you’d like to learn with me:

  • Modern Logs – Saturday October 4, 11, 18 from 2-5 PM
  • Modern Machine Quilting – Thursday, December 4, & 11 from 6-9 PM

modern_logs_studentsYes, you can quilt it yourself, and I’ll teach you how!

If you are in or near the Local Las Vegas area, I invite you to stop by to Quiltique’s Back to School Carnival on September 5th from 5-8 PM to check out the projects and sign up for classes! You can also sign up online after Sept 6th.

sara_fussy_logsFor even more variety – you can fussy cut your centers!

Hope to see you there!

Fun Features – Sew Mama Sew, NQA, American Patchwork & Quilting Radio

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks as I’ve been preparing not only more quilts for publication and more samples for teaching, but I’ve been invited to share a little bit more about myself and my quilts in a few different places. Here’s a list of what’s currently happening along with what’s coming up. ๐Ÿ™‚

20140601_favorite_quilt

This week my Modern Logs quilt was featured on Sew Mama Sew as part of their month-long series, “My Favorite Quilt” curated by Jessica Skultety from Quilty Habit. And yes, for those of you who asked, I do have the pattern available here.

patternModern Logs is now available as a PDF pattern through my Craftsy store.

Jessica asked me a series of really thought-provoking questions about my quilt which was fun to think about and answer. Plus she wrote a really nice intro which made me blush (thank goodness you can’t see that online)! My favorite part of the whole series, in addition to the fabulous quilts that are being shared, is the chance for you to participate!

Sew Mama Sew is running a month-long linkup where you can share your favorite quilts, too! Just write a new blog post and answer the same set of questions I did, thenย click here and scroll to the end of the page to add your link. There’s even a giveaway as part of the series, so how cool is that?

20150615_naqI’m also in the member spotlight on the National Quilting Association’s website for the entire month of June. It includes a little background of my quilting, a picture (that’s a little too large for my tastes, LOL!!), as well as 17 pictures of my recent finishes, all done in the last couple of years. So I invite you to pop on over and take a look. Most of you who have followed me for awhile may have seen all or most of the quilts already, but it was fun to share them all in one place. ๐Ÿ™‚

APQR_2013

And finally – pinch me please – the always lovely and talented Pat Sloan has invited me to be a guest on her podcast, American Patchwork and Quilting Radio, next Monday June 23rd at 4PM Eastern Time. We will be chatting about quilting (of course) and go a little more indepth into how my own quilting has changed over time. It should be fun!

Click here to listen to the podcast live as it happens.

You can also listen to past episodes of the show or subscribe via Itunes.

Modern Logs Quilt Finish

Presenting my latest finish: Modern Logs!

Modern-Logs-FinishedModern Logs by Christa Watson, 48″ x 54″

Modern Logs was one of my fastest finishes ever! From picking out the fabrics, to stitching down the binding, I finished in just under a week. The folks at Quiltique were kind enough to order the Petal Pinwheels line from Michael Miller for this quilt. It’s the same fabric being used in the Modern Quilt Guild’s fabric challenge. I chose coordinating solids and I was off and running (or should I say sewing)!

stripsProbably the hardest part of the whole quilt was deciding on which fabrics to put together, but of course, that’s also the most rewarding part when it all comes together. I made test blocks, wrote copious pattern notes, and practiced quilting on a sample block so that I could test the thread and batting.

test_blockI prefer natural batting when quilting on my home machine – it doesn’t pucker!

I went with Aurifil Dove grey 50Wt. cotton for the quilting (in both top and bobbin) with Quilter’s Dream Cotton in the select loft thickness. I used an elongated ziz-zag stitch – #16 on my Bernina model 710. I adjusted the length and width of the stitch until I was happy with the result.

basting_sprayThis is the fourth quilt I’ve made using 505 basting spray and I’m just in love with it! It sticks every square inch of the top to every square inch of the batting and backing – so important to keep things from shifting and bunching while quilting!

This time I put a sheet under my layers as I sprayed and did it indoors with the windows open. My room is large and well ventilated so fumes were not a problem. I sprayed the backing and top, rather than the batting. I also ironed the whole thing when finished to set the adhesive, a tip I learned from machine quilter extraordinaire Ann Petersen.

back_design_wallI created the backing on my design wall by covering up the top with yardage and leftover scraps. I kept going until the backing was big enough. I love fun pieced backs, don’t you?

Here’s a nice angled shot where you can really see the quilting:

quilting_detailZig zag quilting was super easy and fast to do!

And the back:

finishsed_backingI think quilt backs should be as interesting as the fronts!

Modern Logs finishes at 48″ x 54″ and took a total of 24 hours to complete, including binding by hand. Not bad for a week’s work, and much faster than my last MQG challenge!

Modern-Logs-FinishedModern Logs – designed, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson, 2014

For those of you outside the local area, I will be teaching this quilt as a week-long retreat class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, March 8-14, 2015.

I’ll update my teaching schedule when Folk School registration opens later this spring.