Quilt Shops that Carry Fandangle Fabric

Great news to share! I’m starting to update my list of quilt shops that have ordered Fandangle so far (see below). If you are a shop out there that carries my fabrics, or know of a shop who stocks it who’s NOT on this list, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be glad to add them.

Fandangle fabric by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo

Click here to read more about each design from Fandangle.

Shops that Carry My Fabric

This is by no means a complete list as many shops purchase through a distributor (rather than from the manufacturer) and many shops will receive their orders over the next several months, so I’ ll update this list as needed!

Shops listed with ** carry both of my fabric lines: Modern Marks and Fandangle.
Underlined shops carry the full line (but may sell out quickly so check for availability.)

If the shop sells online, their name below will be a clickable link.
Copy and paste each shop name into google for contact info and/or website.

Shops located in the US
International Shops
Distributors

Quilt shops may contact these companies directly for ordering information

Fandangle Fabric and Matching Shoes

Fandangle by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio
Click here to purchase patterns featuring Fandangle Fabric

Quilt Shops that Carry Modern Marks

Here’s a list of stores that purchased  Modern Marks.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio

Please know that there are many, many more stores that carry my fabric – these are just the shops that I personally know about. Also, since the line has now been out for about a year, some shops may be sold out – so check with them for current availability.

If you see my fabric at any shop not listed below, please leave a note in the comments and I’ll be glad to update the list!

If the shop sells online, their name below will be a clickable link.
Copy and paste each shop name into google for additional contact info and/or website.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here for free patterns using my fabrics.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Last Call for Modern Marks Fabric Yardage

It’s so fun to think it was just a year ago that I released my first fabric line and my second one is in stores now. It’s been wonderful to work with Benartex (Contempo Studio) and they’ve given me wide latitude to design what I want – fabrics that I would actually put in my quilts!

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to grab some Modern Marks by the yard.

I recently got the notice that Modern Marks is on its last print run which means that once Benartex sells out of their current stock, that’s it. So I went ahead and grabbed a bit of everything left in stock to share with you all in 2 yard increments for just $18 each (plus shipping.)

I also grabbed enough for my personal stash so that I’ll be able to use it in future quilts, too!

Modern Marks Fabrics Available for Purchase

As of today, here’s a list of prints that are still available, first come first served.

Modern Marks Main Print by Christa Watson for Benartex Contempo Studio

Click here to purchase Modern Marks in Red or Lime.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Half Ovals in Fuchsia, Orange, Turquoise, or Teal

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Herringbone in Red, Lime, Jade, or Navy

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Quirky Triangles in Pink/Orange, Green, or Blue

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Crosshatch in Lime or Blue

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Crossmarks in Pink, Jade, or Turquoise

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Click here to purchase Boxes in Light Blue, Cream, or Orange

I’m happy to ship internationally and can fit up to 8 yards in a priority mail flat rate envelope. (Just leave me a note on your order to refund any excess shipping charge if applicable.)

Click here to see everything left in stock.

Modern Marks fabric scraps

What will you make with Modern Marks???

Modern Marks Fabric Swatches Archive

Modern Marks was my first fabric line that I designed for the Contempo division of Benartex Fabrics. They released in September of 2017, and because Benartex reprints fabrics as long as they are selling, most of them are still available. Although I’m now promoting my second fabric line, Fandangle, (which ships to stores this month), I realized that I need to archive all of the Modern Marks prints in one place so that I can link back to them as needed.

Modern Marks Fabric by Christa Watson

Fat Quarter bundles of Modern Marks are available while supplies last.
Click here for Modern Marks Precuts.
Read my blog post about the fabric design process and fabric rejects.

Modern marks was inspired by many of the marks I like to make – whether by hand or machine. Several of them are based on machine quilting designs and they all incorporate graphic geometry which I love so much! I wanted them to work well when cut up into quilts and add a spark of color to any project.

Modern Marks

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

The main print comes in four colors: Red, Orange, Lime, and Turquoise

The namesake print is mashup of many of the coordinates, and even includes a few motifs which didn’t make the final cut of the collection. I’m definitely revisiting some of the shapes in future fabric lines as my goal is for all of my fabrics to work seamlessly between collections.

Half Ovals

Modern Marks Fabrics Half Ovals Print by Christa Watson

Half Ovals comes in four colors: Dark Fuchsia, Orange, Light Turquoise and Teal

I knew I wanted to include a “dot” print in this line but wanted it to be more interesting than the standard polka dot. I also wanted to make sure that with this coordinate, it would cut up nicely no matter which way you rotated the print.

Herringbone

Modern Marks Fabric Herringbone Print by Christa Watson

Herringbone comes in four colors: Red, Lime, Jade, and Navy

This print is one of the blenders in the line that’s based on one of my machine quilting designs – a simple zig-zag. The beauty of fabric design is that the lines don’t have to be continuous like my machine quilting is!

Boxes

Modern Marks Fabric Boxes Print by Christa Watson

Boxes comes in three colors: Light Blue, Cream/Lime, and Light Orange

Boxes is based on one of my favorite modern machine quilting motifs of the same name. The quilting design is a continuous/allover design, but I wanted the print to not be so obvious that it was a quilting design, so the squares are less dense than the quilting design with just a few of them overlapping. These fabrics also read a little lighter so that they can provide contrast to the darker, bolder prints.

Crossmarks

Modern Marks Fabric Crossmarks Print by Christa Watson

Crossmarks comes in five colors: Pink, Gold, Green, Turquoise and Jade.

This is the simplest print of the bunch but very effective. It serves as the blender, basic, or tone-one-tone of the group.

Quirky Triangles

Modern Marks Fabric Quirky Triangles Print by Christa Watson

Quirky Triangles comes in three colors: Pink/Orange, Green/Blue, and Navy/Blue

I knew I wanted to include a triangle print but something a little more unexpected than the usual tossed triangles. Adding a pop of color emphasizes the asymmetry and irregularity of the print which I really like.

Crosshatch

Modern Marks Fabric Crosshatch Print by Christa Watson

Crosshatch comes in three colors: Tangerine, Light Lime, and Royal

Crosshatch is another basic/blender print. Adding the random pops of filled in squares gives it a little more quirkiness and originality to your basic crosshatch/plaid design.

Modern Marks with Color Weave

The full Modern Marks line includes the 26 prints I designed above, plus 5 coordinating Color Weave basics in Cobalt Blue, Fuchsia, Citrus, Kelly Green, and Electric Blue.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane for my first collection. Click here to see current list of shops that carry my fabric and feel free to email me if you know of a store that carries it that’s not on the list. I’ll be glad to add them!

Simple Strips Quilt Along Revisited – Make a Quilt from Start to Finish

Last year I hosted a really fun quilt along as part of my BERNINA Ambassador obligations. (It’s a fun gig by the way – I travel the country letting folks know how much I love my machine which is something I did anyway before I became it became “official.”) So today I thought it would be fun to revisit the quilt along for those of you who are new to my blog, or missed it the first time around.

Simple Strips Quilt Along

Links to the Simple Strips Quilt Along

The quilt tutorials are all hosted on the BERNINA blog at We All Sew and they’ll be there indefinitely, so you can make this quilt on your own schedule, any time you want. Just click the hotlinks below to get each set of instructions for this quick and easy quilt!

Week 1 – Materials List and Cutting
Week 2 – Pieced Quilt Top Tutorial
Week 3 – Wall Basting Tutorial
Week 4 – Decorative Stitch Machine Quilting
Week 5 – Machine Binding Tutorial

I made this quilt before I started designing fabric and it works well with any fabrics you choose, whether coordinated or scrappy. Fabric selection is super simple too – it just requires 20 strips (or 1/2 of a jelly roll) of print fabric and the same amount of background/light fabric.

Simple Strips – Modern Marks

Simple strips recolored with Modern Marks

And just for fun, I wanted to see what it would look like recolored in MY fabric – because as a fabric designer, I wish I had time to make ALL the quilts in my prints, LOL!! The recoloring shown above uses a bundle of the Modern Marks prints plus 1 1/2 yards of the cream/lime Boxes print for background and 1/2 yard of the Navy Herringbone for binding.

Here’s what it looks like recolored in Fandangle, my newest fabric collection. I thought it would be fun to separate the warms and cools for a more curated look:

Simple Strips – Fandangle Warm and Cool

Simple Strips in Warm colorway of Fandangle

This coloring can be made from a fat quarter bundle of Fandangle in warm plus 2 yards of Confetti Crosshatch dark gray for the background and binding.

Simple Strips Fandangle Cool

This coloring can be made from a fat quarter bundle of Fandangle in cool plus 2 yards of Confetti Crosshatch light gray for the background and binding.

Although the instructions for Simple Strips are written using precut 2 1/2″ strips, you can totally make your own bundles from your stash, scraps, or even fat quarters.

Do You EQ? (Bonus Download)

Here’s a bonus for those of you who like to work with Electric Quilt software:

Click here to get the Simple Strips EQ download file to resize or recolor this quilt. (It only works if you have the software installed on your computer.) Because I don’t have all the time in the world to make all the quilts, recoloring them virtually gives me the satisfaction of seeing what it would look like “in the cloth!”

Sharing is Caring

Remember, if you make this quilt or any of my designs for that matter, I’d love to see them! You can email me pics to christa@christaquilts.com, include a link to your own blog or social media in the comments, share pics in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group or tag me @christaquilts and #christaquilts on Instagram.

I hope you enjoy making this quilt!!

Improv Squares Finish with Machine Quilting Details

Now that I’ve been blogging again on a regular basis, I’ve realized I haven’t shared about some quilts I made from Modern Marks. And since I’ll soon be starting on quilts from my next line of fabric, I want to make sure I’ve documented my recent finishes!

Improv Squares by Christa Watson, made from Modern Marks

I recently shared a spray basting tutorial for Improv Squares, but here are some beauty shots of the finished quilt, taken in the desert behind our home in Las Vegas.

The inspiration for Improv Squares was a broken wooden fence that I drove by several years ago. I snapped a picture of the fence and kept it in my phone for a long time, until I was ready to do something with it.

Improv Squares Inspiration

The holes in the fence made an interesting pattern that I though would be fun to do something with. I also wanted to further explore the concept of “Structured Improv” – a technique I’ve been playing around with for several years now.

Improv Squares by Christa Watson

The improv part is that you sew a bunch of fabric together randomly. The structured part is that all of the block units are a similar shape  – rectangles. All of the blocks finish the same size so they can be placed randomly in the design, yet no two are the same.

Machine Quilting Tips

Aurifil Vareigated thread

When I’m working with busy prints and I want the fabric to be the star of the show, I’ll try to choose a thread that blends in. Because Modern Marks is so colorful and I wanted to use all of the prints in this quilt, I chose a variegated thread that would add fun layer of texture to the busy prints

My favorite variegated thread is 50 weight Aurifil #3817 Marrakech. It’s fun to see the color changes while I’m quilting, and I love quirkiness that it gives the quilt! It also seems to match any rainbow-colored quilt I make!

Machine Quilting Jagged Stipple

Because I was in a hurry to get this quilt finished, I quilted an allover/edge to edge design on a rather large scale. The quilting is still very dense, but by quilting larger shapes, I was able to cover more area very quickly.

I used one of my favorite designs – a  geometric, jagged stipple rather than a smooth curvy stipple. I was able to complete the quilting on this throw size quilt in an afternoon, rather than several days whenever I do more intricate custom quilting.

Jagged stipple quilting

I love this texture so much, it inspired one of the fabric prints in my second fabric line!
More about that later…….stay tuned!!

Incidentally, whenever I teach machine quilting, I always have the students practice quilting both angular shapes, and curved designs. Some people find it easier to quilt one vesus another, so it’s a good exercise to try and see which type of design you prefer!

As you can see in the detail picture below, the jagged motif gives some interesting texture to the quilt, without overpowering the overall design.

Allover jagged stipple

Improv squares is now available as a pattern, either as a printed version, or a PDF download.
If you make one, I’d love to see it! After all, the fun of designing quilts for others to make is seeing the variety!

Improv Squares quilt

Share your progress wtih me on social media with the hashtage #improvsquaresquilt. You can also share images of any projects you make from my books, patterns or fabric in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group.

Click here to get the Imrpov Squares Quilt Pattern – printed version shipped to you.

Click here to get  the Improv Squares Quilt Pattern – instant PDF download.

Improv Squares Quilt Pattern using Modern Marks Fabric

Improv Squares STATS:

  • Finished Size: 66″ x 80″
  • Fabric: Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex
  • Batting: Hobbs 100% Cotton
  • Thread: Aurifil 50 weight cotton #3817 Marrakech
  • Machine Quilting Design: Jagged Stipple
  • Completed: October, 2017

Improv Squares quilt

Spray Basting Tutorial – Using a Table

Recently I shared a tutorial on spray basting using a design wall. Today’s tutorial shows how to modify the spray basting process using a table instead. Note that my pictures are all taken outside but once the quilt layers have been sprayed outdoors,  you can assemble the quilt inside using any size table.

Improv Squares Quilt Using Modern Marks

The quilt shown in this tutorial is Improv Squares, made from Modern Marks fabric.
Click here to get the Improv Squares quilt pattern – printed version shipped to you.
Click here to get the Improv Squares quilt pattern – instant PDF download.

Step 1 – Spray the back side of the backing and quilt top

Be sure to spray the layers outside, or in a well ventilated area. If you have sensitivity to chemicals, I recommend wearing a dust mask. I use 505 basting spray and a large sheet to protect the surface I’m spraying on.

I’m using a lightweight folding plastic table, so it’s easy to move. I just store it out of the way in the garage when I’m not using it.

Spray Basting

The table you are using doesn’t have to be bigger than the quilt. When I’m spraying, I cover the center section of the quilt first, and then the sides. For this step, you don’t even need a table; you can lay out a sheet or dropcloth on the ground or wherever you have room.

I used a small park near my home so that I’d have plenty of room, and also nice scenery for photography!

Hold the can an arm’s length away and spray evenly and generously. Make sure to get good coverage on the quilt. To ensure the can is spraying consistently and doesn’t get clogged, spray a few squirts on your dropcloth before applying it to the quilt.

Spray Baste

Although I pressed the top and backing separately before I began, you can see some fold lines on both layers. But not to worry – this gets pressed out at the end. If you spray the top and backing separately, it uses less spray than spraying the batting, and it’s easier to manage.

Once both layers have been sprayed, you can fold them up and bring them inside to finish the assembly process (or stay outside and set the layers aside like I’m showing here.) The layers will be sticky, but not stuck, and you don’t have to assemble them right away – the adhesive doesn’t dry out.

Remove the drop cloth or sheet from the table and then lay out the backing wrong side up.

Spray Baste

Step 2 – Add the batting

I like to fold the batting in half long ways so that I can put the fold line roughly in the center of the backing. You can see in the picture below that it’s not exactly even and that’s ok. As long as the batting and backing are bigger than the quilt top, you’ll have some wiggle room so that you don’t have to line things up perfectly.

In fact, my batting is actually a little longer than the backing so it’s easy enough to trim away the excess. Working on a table is great because it won’t hurt your back like the floor can.

Spray Baste

Open up the batting so you have coverage on all sides. Even if the sides hang down to the ground – that’s okay. The excess will get trimmed away.

Spend time smoothing out the backing. You can lift and reposition it if needed. Work out any wrinkles or bubbles, using your hands and a long acrylic ruler.

I’m using Hobbs cotton batting for this quilt. I like natural fiber battings because they cling to the fabric and they aren’t slippery. (Polyester has a tendency to slip while you are shoving the quilt through the machine which can cause puckers.)

Spray Baste

Once you smooth out the center section, adjust the layers so that you can smooth out the sides, too. Take your time here to really get it nice and flat. Smoothing out the layers also smashes them together so that they stick together better and don’t shift.

You can also iron your batting before you baste to get it nice and flat. I use a spray bottle and a dry iron. With cotton batting, you can put the iron directly on the batting. With more delicate battings like wool, you can cover the area you press with a piece of fabric. Be sure to use a dry iron so that it doesn’t shrink up the batting.

Spray Baste

Step 3 – Add the Quilt Top

Add the top in the same way that you added the batting – get it roughly in the center and make sure there’s coverage all the way around the edges. You can see it’s still a bit wrinkly from handling and moving it around. That’s okay – you’ll iron it again at the end.

Spray Baste

Trim away the excess batting and backing so you’ll have less bulk to deal with. If you have a super large quilt that touches the ground, you can always place two tables side by side to give you more room to work.

I use specialty batting scissors – they cut through the layers like butter, and trimming goes super fast! I only leave about an inch or two on all sides when I trim. That way it’s less likely that I’ll flip the quilt under itself and accidentally quilt through the extra layers!!

Spray Baste

Step 4 – Smooth Out the Layers

Smoothing out each layer as you add it is such a critical step. When your quilt sandwich is flat and smooth, it makes the machine quilting process so much easier! The reason I love using basting spray is that every inch of the quilt is stuck to every other inch. This prevents shifting of the quilt and greatly reduces the chances that you’ll get a tuck or pucker while quilting.

Spray Baste

Use the long ruler again to smooth out the center of the quilt. You can also use it to help line up the pieced seams and nudge things back into place if needed. It’s almost like pre-blocking the quilt before you quilt it.

Spray Baste

Once you’ve smoothed out the center, you can work on the edges. Roll up the excess so that it doesn’t drag on the ground as you shift the quilt around.

It usually takes me a good 20 minutes to smooth out each layer of the quilt, but it’s time well spent!

Spray Baste

Step 5 – Press the Basted Quilt on Both Sides

The secret to good spray basting is to press the quilt once it’s layered. The heat of the iron sets the glue and it smooshes the quilt together so it’s nice and flat. I press the back side first, working out any excess bubbles or wrinkles. Then I flip it over and press the front.

I use a big board which fits on top of my ironing board, giving me more room to work.

Spray Baste

I’ve developed this basting method over the last few years and I can honestly say it makes a huge difference in how my quilts turn out. Just remember, you are putting a lot of wear and tear on the quilt when you scrunch and smoosh it through the opening of your machine. But with this method, nothing shifts and it’s easy to just focus on one area of the quilt at a time.

Feel free to pin and share this tutorial with your friends. My goal is to get more people quilting their own quilts while enjoying the process from start to finish!

Your Chance to win a Rainbow Taffy Quilt Kit + Machine Quilting Tips

April Update!! My Quilt Won the Championship!!
Thanks for all your Votes!!

I know it’s a little silly to get all excited about a fun promotional contest, but it really means a lot to me that so many of you have picked Rainbow Taffy as your favorite free pattern from Benartex so far. Today is the last round of voting to determine the final fan favorite, and one lucky voter will take home a kit of the winning quilt! Will it be Rainbow Taffy?? See below for details:

Benartex March Madness Voting

Final matchup: Rainbow Taffy from Modern Marks versus Violette from Gloaming

Click here to cast your vote for Rainbow Taffy on Benartex’ blog: Sew In Love with Fabric.
Click here to vote a second time in their Sew Interesting Facebook group.

You can also vote over on their Instagram account @benartex_fabrics.

Well, it all comes down to today and the final matchup between my pattern and my friend Shelley Cavanna’s. I met Shelley last fall when her booth was near mine in the Contempo section of Benartex at Quilt Market. She, too was debuting her first line of fabric and we got to know each other as we chatted on the floor for 3 days. So I will be happy no matter which of us wins!

Shelley Cavanna and Christa Watson at Benartex

Half the fun of attending quilt market is getting to meet new designer friends!!

Rainbow Taffy Quilting Tips

Here’s a tip for choosing thread: if you want your quilting to blend in, choose a thin, 50 weight thread in a color that is slightly lighter than the prints in the quilt. I chose a lime green Aurifil which actually acted as a neutral. It didn’t stand out too much on the white fabric and it added bit of sparkle to this colorful quilt!

Lime Green Aurifil Thread

Here’s another tip: the more quilting you add, the more the quilting design recedes into the background and becomes a textural element, rather than a focal point point motif. And rather than thinking you are quilting your quilt to death, you are really quilting the life into it by adding an extra layer of design!

Boxes quilting Detail

I quilted Rainbow Taffy using one of my favorite modern free motion motifs, “Boxes.”

In fact, I love this design so much, I included it as one of the prints in the line, seen in orange below. I thought it would be so “meta” to quilt boxes on boxes, LOL!!

Boxes print from Modern Marks

Here’s my tip for quilting an allover, or edge-to-edge design: start on one side of the quilt, and meander your way around the quilt, block by block. Allover designs are perfect for quilting a quilt in a hurry, since you don’t really have to worry about quilting different designs in different areas of the quilt.

Scrunch and Smoosh

I work my way from right to left across the quilt, rotating in the middle when it gets bulky.
To deal with the bulk – scrunch and smoosh it out of the way as you go.

Allover designs are also fantastic to hide any less than perfect seams. If they don’t match up perfectly, you can obscure this fact by adding a layer of texture right on top of the quilt.

Also, if there’s any fullness in your quilt, or it doesn’t lay quite flat, dense allover quilting can draw up some of that excess, and you can use your fingers to smooth out and problem areas while you quilt – just be careful that they don’t get in the way of the needle!

Machine Quilting Texture

See how that lime green thread blends in?? I love it!!

If you happen to run out of thread while you are quilting, you can just back up about 1/2 an inch and quilt a little bit on top of your previous quilting. Stitching on top will help secure the threads, and on a buys quilt, it’s hardly noticeable.

Rainbow Taffy by Christa Watson

One other tip – try not to play “bobbin chicken!” If you have a low bobbin indicator on your machine, try to stitch off the end of the quilt and put in a fresh bobbin. If you are quilting with cotton thread, you can always use that bit of leftover thread when piecing your next scrappy quilt!

Vote For Your Chance to Win a Rainbow Taffy Quilt Kit

Rainbow Taffy Quilt by Christa Watson. Made from Modern Marks.

To wrap up March Madness, Benartex is generously offering one lucky voter a chance to win a kit of the winning quilt! Voting closes Monday, April 2 at Noon EDT.

So head over to the Benartex blog now to cast your vote. The winner will be selected at random. You can also submit a bonus vote in their Facebook Group and Instagram @benartex_fabrics.

I sure loved making this quilt and I know you will, too. Click here to get the free pattern.
Good luck and thanks for playing!!

Vote for your Favorite “Final Four” and Stock up on Free Quilt Patterns from Benartex

Ok so I’m not much of a sports fan, but I am just a tiny bit competitive, LOL!! Benartex has been hosting a fun March Madness matchup to determine this year’s favorite free pattern. They started with 50, then voting narrowed it down to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight and now the Final Four. I’m pleased that my pattern, Rainbow Taffy has made it all the way so far and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that with your help, it will be voted #1 fan favorite!!

Rainbow Taffy by Christa Watson made from Modern Marks

Today is the semi final match and voting runs through 11:59 AM EDT tomorrow. Then voting for then final matchup starts at noon Eastern time on Friday. So if you want to join in the fun with me, here’s what you can do:

Click here to vote for Rainbow Taffy by leaving a comment on the Benartex Blog.
Click here to join the Benartex group on Facebook and vote again in their group poll.

There are some free fabric prizes to be won, and of course everyone who participates is a winner with access to dozens and dozens of fabulous free patterns!

Free Pattern Rainbow Taffy

Click here to get the free Rainbow Taffy Quilt Pattern + a Bonus Modern Marks Pattern
Click here to access the entire free pattern library from Benartex

On Fabric Design and Rejects – Those That Didn’t Make the Cut for Modern Marks

I’ve been getting a lot of positive support for the idea of sharing more of my behind-the-scenes work, so thank you for the enthusiasm!

Today I thought it would be fun to share something I don’t think many designers do – my fabric rejects, or those that didn’t make the cut when I designed my first fabric line, Modern Marks with Benartex/Contempo. I’m sure the reason designers don’t do this is because they know people would be clamoring for it, and be sad that they can’t buy the rejects LOL!!

Modern Marks Bundle

Modern Marks Swatches – It was hard to narrow it down to these final designs!
Contempo is Benartex’ modern/contemporary division.

Now before I get into it sharing some rejects, I’ll explain how I work with my fabric company since I’m sure many of you are curious about it. First – I create a mood board, with colors, ideas and styles I’m trying to achieve. I also draw out most of my designs by hand and select the colors I want to use.

Because I’m not computer savvy when it comes to creating repeats (the amount of distance between design elements so that a design can print continuously), I work with a fabric stylist and graphic designer at Benartex who help me with the technical work. Just as I utilize the services of a book publisher and graphic designer to make my books and patterns the best they can be, it’s been wonderful to collaborate with a fantastic company who has the same vision for fabric as I do.

Modern Marks Pinwheel from Benartex

I wanted Modern Marks precuts to be exciting and dynamic – and I love the results!

Since everything is finalized in the computer, it’s very easy to produce a LOT of different variations of the design in nearly unlimited colorways and print them out in color on paper before they go to the fabric mill for printing. However, because a fabric company is producing dozens of different lines each season, any particular designer is limited in the number of final designs that can actually be printed.

Hence the problem of narrowing things down. My rejects vastly outnumber those that I chose. Not only did several designs not make the cut, but I also had to narrow down which prints would be offered in what colorways. Those were some tough decisions to make, but I was pleased with the final result.

Fabric Design in Progress

Modern Marks fabric design in process – this group included too many lights, not enough mediums and several prints and colorways that I ultimately had to reject. You may see some of these ideas revisited in future fabric lines in a different way… so stay tuned!

You’ll notice many designs in the photo above that didn’t make the cut – including those super light boxes prints and the tossed triangles on the right. Although I loved the boxes, these versions were too light for the rest of the group. I ended up adding color to the backgrounds to make them read as a light-medium so that they could mix better with the other prints when using them all in the same quilt. But not to worry, I’ll be re-visiting the idea of adding more background prints in future fabric  lines.

Although the triangles above were very close to my original vision for them, once I saw them in repeat, the style didn’t fit with the rest of the group. They were a bit too whimsical and not quite the retro-modern look I was going for. Fortunately, since then I’ve been able to tweak the triangles into something I like better, and they’ll be appearing in a totally different way in my next fabric line coming out later this summer. So it just goes to show an idea is never wasted!!

Modern Marks

Finalizing the Modern Marks print selections on my design wall and grouping them by colorway. I numbered them and made a bunch of notes for the fabric company so we’d both be on the same page when it came time to print them. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the end result.

So now that you’ve had a bit of a sneak peek into my process, here are a few more examples of certain prints that I loved and why I ultimately rejected them. I’ve grouped the images below into the “reject” and the final versions and explained why I made each decision.

Modern Marks Design in Progress

Heartbeat vs. Herringbone

I really, really liked both of these – Heartbeat and Herringbone. They both started from the same original concept – a zig-zag line on a saturated background. However, I felt that the image on the right was more versatile and dynamic.

I design fabric in much the same way that I design quilt patterns – I start with one basic idea (zig zags, triangles, lines, etc.) and then brainstorm all the different ways that I can explore that concept. It’s a fun way to work and it ensures I’ll never run out of ideas!!

Modern Marks Design in Process

Plus vs. X

The two designs above were the hardest to finalize. If I’d had room in the collection I would have included them both. While I actually like the Plus design more than the X design, I ultimately decided to go with the simpler and more versatile X design, which I named “Crossmarks.” By this point, I already have enough directional prints and needed something that could act as more of a blender print. So Crossmarks it is!

In a well-rounded collection, you need a good ratio of dynamic vs simple designs; directional versus allover/tossed prints, with a nice variety of color and scale. Although each fabric line is limited to about 18-25 prints and has to stand on its own, I’m actually taking the long view and making sure that each fabric line that comes next will still work with the one before.

Modern Marks Half Ovals

Half Ovals – Reject colorways on top, final versions underneath.

The Half Ovals is probably my favorite print of the group. I knew I wanted to include a circle or dot print and so we mocked up this design in All. The. Colors! It was very difficult to narrow them down to the final 4 above.

Although I really really loved the lime green/blue versions on top, this is another case where less is more. Besides, by this point I knew that the one of the colorways of the main print would use similar colors, so I chose the more tone-downed blue on blue half-ovals to round out the collection and add another “blender” print to the mix.

Circles and Triangles in Modern Marks

Donuts vs. Quirky Triangles

When trying to brainstorm the “dot” or “circle” print for the line, I also came up with “donuts” above, left. I may or may not have been hungry when it came time to name this design, LOL!!

But… since I knew that I wanted to include the half-ovals instead, this one had to get the axe. However, I kept the color combo of orange and fuchsia and applied it to one of the Quirky Triangles prints instead.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes look at how I made some of these decisions to design Modern Marks. With this being my first fabric line, it was a huge learning curve but a fun and educational experience for sure!

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

I so enjoyed having my first booth at Quilt Market last fall.

If you can’t find Modern Marks in your local quilt shop, click here for a list of shops that also sell it online. Please leave a comment if you know of any other stores that carry it. My list is very  small so far, but based on the sales data, it’s in many more stores than I know about, so please help me update my list.

I’m excited that Modern Marks has been well received so far, and that I get to design more collections for Benartex. In fact, as soon as I returned from Fall Quilt Market last year, I got right to work on the next fabric line that comes out this summer. My sample yardage should be here soon, and then I’ll get right to work making quilts and finalzing patterns in time for Spring Market. Based on the kind feedback you all have been sending me, I’ll be happy to share more about that too – so stay tuned!