My Quilts from Modern Quilts: Designs of a New Century – Modern X and HST

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for the brand new book published by The Modern Quilt Guild and C&T Publishing, Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. 

It’s a beautiful coffee table book presented in hard cover with images of over 200 modern quilts.

Modern Quilts Book

Click here to pick up your copy of Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century.

I always like to give a little behind the scenes backstory about how I end up being featured in collaborations such as this one. Sometimes it’s luck, other times it’s tenacity, and most of the time, it’s a bit of both!

When I attended the first QuiltCon in 2013, I knew right away that the time had finally come to start getting published and raise my professional quilting profile. One of the lectures I attended was on publishing a book, given by the editor of C&T, with panelists such as Angela Walters, among others. I came home from the show on fire and ready to get to work! Although I ultimately went with a different publisher for my own books, I’ve always been impressed with the quality of books published by C&T (and will be a small part of another book of theirs coming up in 2018 – so stay tuned).

An early “profile” image of me with Modern X back in 2014.

As soon as I could, I starting participating in Modern Quilt Guild events, submitting quilts to their shows each year, teaching at QuiltCon, giving webinars, and being one of their designers of the month (back in 2014-the first year they launched that program.) In other words, I got involved!!

When the MQG had a call for entries for this book, I eagerly applied. They looked through images of all the quilts that were submitted along with entries into all previous QuiltCons and I was pleased to end up with two quilts in the book!

Modern X

Modern X Quitling Detail

Check out #modernxquilt on instagram to see many amazing versions of this quilt!

Click here to get the PDF version of Modern X quilt pattern.
Click here to get the print version of Modern X quilt pattern.

Modern X was featured as one of the quilt patterns of the month created by and for MQG members. Here’s a fun fact: It was my suggestion that the MQG feature the quilts of the month as a special exhibit at QuiltCon which they’ve done every year since 2015!

Modern X at QuiltCon with Bill Volckening

Modern X on display during the “special exhibits tour” given by Bill Volckening at QuiltCon 2015

This quilt has gone on to win an award at a local quilt show and has been in a couple of traveling exhibitions of modern quilts. This is also the quilt I talk about when I share the importance of batting and basting in my lectures. (Originally I used a polyester batting for Modern X which created all kinds of puckers because it’s so slippery. I un-quilted, re-basted, and re-quilted this quilt using a cotton blend batting and was much happier with the results!)

HST (The Original)

HST Quilt

The original HST quilt. My photography isn’t great since this was taken before we got good equipment. However the photos in the book are top notch!

HST (Half -Square Triangle) was originally patterned way back in issue 5 of Make Modern Magazine. When I originally made the quilt in 2015 I knew I had created a special design and wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for 2016. However, when I went to wash the quilt, I used a “gentle” wash powder that ended up bleaching parts of the quilt!

bleach stain on HST quilt

The quilt now has random bleach stains throughout. 😦

Needless to say I was devastated. Since I’m always one to try and turn lemons into lemonade, I was pleased when this quilt was still able to be selected for the book. With some clever photoshop editing, you can’t see the bleach stains in the book photography and I’m glad it was able to be included.

Machine Quilting HST

Quilting Detail on HST

Since I love making functional quilts, I still use the quilt every day and it’s nice and warm because I used super thick cotton batting. I quilted HST with a lot of straight line quilting, and I created a woven texture in the background by alternating the direction of the lines. I threw in a few random spirals in the lighter gray blocks.

HST pieced backing

HST Backing – I love making pieced backs from leftovers!

The only thing I wasn’t happy about HST (besides the bleach stains) is that doesn’t hang well because I used a woven textured background fabric. Because of the looser weave, the background ended up stretching too much as I quilted it.

So even thought it was painful to accidentally “ruin” a quilt, I decided that if I remade the quilt, I’d be able to create an even better version and try out some different quilting ideas.

HST Remix

HST Remix by Christa Watson

I was pleased to sneak in a little of my Modern Marks fabric for the binding!

And now there’s another happy ending to this story. Because I loved this design so much, I knew I had to remake it and submit it for QuiltCon 2018. I almost cried when I received my acceptance that it made it into the show!

The background of the HST remix is all pieced from regular cotton solids so they were nice and stable and didn’t stretch. In both versions, the negative space is made from individually pieced background squares to add a bit more dimension rather than using large chunks of fabric.

HST's in progress

Improv-pieced HST’s

There are some slight differences from the first version. Because I ran out of fabric, I had to do some improv piecing to get enough triangles. I also decided to make them slightly bigger so that it would fit my bed. I also kept the idea of random pops of yellow and lighter gray but tried not to duplicate the layout exactly.

Quilting Plan

Quilting plan for HST

A draft “quilting plan” for HST remix. I obviously went in a different direction, but kept some of the elements in my final version. It often takes me many tries until I get a design I like.

The hardest part was deciding how to quilt it! I went through dozens of iterations of quilting plans until I could find something I liked. To make a quilting plan, I’ll print a copy of the design from EQ8 and will try sketching out different ideas until I’m pleased with how it looks. (You can do something similar by printing a photo of the quilt top.)

Although this takes time, it saves me hours of time ripping out a quilted design that looks great in my head, but doesn’t actually work on the quilt!

quilting plan for hst remix

Another quilting plan in progress – it’s getting closer to what I actually did!

Machine Quilting on HST RemixClick the image above to see closeup details.

I think my favorite part of the quilting was quilting some irregular chevron designs in each of the HST blocks and adding a bit of  “embellishment” by randomly quilting a different free-motion design in a few of the blocks.

HST remix quilting detail

I gave a nod to the original HST with a touch of straight line quilting and modern spirals.

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out and I’m pleased that the original HST is preserved in the book, and folks will get to see HST remix “in the cloth” at QuiltCon next year!

More detail of HST remix

I loved using Alison Glass handcrafted batiks for this quilt!

Click here for a list of all the stops on the Modern Quilts blog hop, and to see more of the beautiful quilts in the book! There are no patterns in the book, just hundreds of pages of beautiful modern quilts for you to explore. I highly recommend this volume for anyone interested in modern quilts!

Christa’s Soap Box – Modern Quilting Validation

It’s no secret I’ve fallen head over heels for modern quilting and the community that surrounds it. Because of this vibrant movement, I’ve probably made more meaningful quilts in the last year than I have in the previous ten years combined! This weekend my tastes were validated when 3 of my modern quilts took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons in my traditional guild’s annual quilt show. 🙂

20140404_ribbon_buttonsRibbon winners got to wear these buttons of pride while walking around the show!

I’ve been a member of the Desert Quilters of Nevada going on 18 years now. It’s a lively group, full of encouragement and support. Even though I’m one of the youngest of the 400+ member group (and have been ever since I joined nearly 2 decades ago), the guild has offered me a place to share my quilts, practice my teaching skills, and attend amazing workshops and events.

20140404_stringofpearls_dqnString of Pearls by Christa Watson, 1st Place – DQN Pieced Category 2014

DQN is very open minded when it comes to the latest happenings in the quilt world. They have a very healthy art quilt subgroup and they’ve even recently started a modern “circle.”

I’m super excited that they’ve invited me to teach String of Pearls at this year’s annual quilting retreat. But I’m even more jazzed that the theme of the retreat is going to be “It’s a Modern World.” I mean, how cool is that??

20140404_dqn_modern_x_2ndModern X by Christa Watson, 2nd Place – DQN Modern Category 2014

At the show it was fun to see people walk by Modern X and do a double take. One gentleman I spoke to, a long-arm quilter by trade, couldn’t figure out where I started and stopped my lines of stitching.

When I told him I quilted long lines from one edge of the quilt to the other on my Bernina, he said you couldn’t really do that type of uninterrupted straight-line quilting on a long arm. (Score one for the domestic quilters!)

20140404_dqn_spiralling_3rdSpiraling Out of Control by Christa Watson, 3rd Place – DQN Modern Category

And I have to admit, it was super validating when Spiraling Out of Control took a 3rd place ribbon. This is probably my most favorite quilt to date and one where I really stretched myself doing stuff I’d never tried before. I always try to remind everyone (including myself) that I don’t enter my quilts in shows to win ribbons, but it sure is like icing on the cake when they do!

I have to give a final shout out to this fabulous quilt below which is NOT mine. It was made by one of my students who began it in my Charming Chevrons class last year. I couldn’t have been more proud to see that ribbon hanging on it!

20140404_dqn_grey_chevy_stuGray Chevy by Suzanne Mayfield, quilted by Brenda Alcorn, 1st Place – DQN Modern Category

Suzanne kindly credited me in her description as the pattern designer, so in some small way, I even got to be a part of this award-winning quilt, too!

20140404_chevy_tagWell, now you know what this means – it’s time to go make more quilts!

Tutorial – How To Bind a Quilt

I love making every part of a quilt, including the binding, so I thought I’d share with you my favorite method for binding my quilts. It’s called continuous length, double fold, straight of grain binding. That’s a mouthful, but it’s how I do all my quilts.

the quilt Shown is Modern X. Pattern available here.

Ready for picture overload? Here goes:

bind_0

Note: I used Kona Solid Charcoal for my binding strips with Aurifil thread #1246.

Step 1 – Calculate and cut your binding strips

bind_1Measure the perimeter of your quilt by adding the length and width of your quilt and multiplying that by 2. Then add an extra 10 inches to deal with seams and corners. For example, my quilt measures 56″ x 70″. Here’s how I calculate my binding:

56+56+70+70+10 = 262 inches needed

Next, take this measurement and divide it by 40 inches. This will tell you the number of strips you will need to cut, with 40″ of useable fabric. My number is 6.55 which I will round up to 7 strips of fabric.

bind_2I like my binding to finish approximately 1/4″ on both front and back. Therefore I will cut my strips at 2 1/4″ wide. You can cut them wider if you prefer more of the binding to show.

I need to cut a total of (7) 2 1/4″ wide strips to bind my quilt.

Step 2 – Sew the binding into a continuous length

Place two strips right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew them together at a 45 degree angle across the diagonal. Sewing mitered seams like this helps distribute the bulk. If needed, you can draw a straight line across the diagonal, or press one of the ends along the diagonal to form a sewing line.

bind_3If you are using solid fabric like me, it will be a little trickier to keep track of which is the “right” side. You can use a pin or piece of tape to designate the right side if you like. Be sure to trim the starting edge of your binding at a 45 degree angle, too.

bind_4

Step 3 – Press the binding

Press the binding wrong sides together along the entire length.

bind_6Step 4 – Attach the binding to the quilt

Trim off the excess backing and batting before you attach your binding. I use a large square ruler for the corners, and a long straight ruler for the sides.

bind_5Quickly run your binding along the perimeter of your quilt to ensure you won’t have any seams falling in the corners. If you do – move the binding up or down a few inches to avoid seams at the corners.

bind_7Starting at least 6″ – 8″ away from the corner, place your binding on the front side of the quilt and leave a tail of about 6″ – 8″. Line up the open binding ends with the edge of your quilt. The folded edge should be facing towards the quilt.

bind_8Starting at the pin shown in the previous photo above, stitch the binding onto the front of the quilt with 1/4″ seam allowance. Use a walking foot or even-feed if possible. When you get to a corner, stop stitching 1/4″ away from the corner and sew off the corner.

bind_9At this point, your corner should look like this:

bind_10Take the quilt off the machine and fold the binding up and away from the quilt as shown. Keep the edge of the binding in line with the edge of the quilt as shown.

bind_11Bring the binding back down, creating a tuck of fabric underneath. This will form the miter on the front of the quilt.

bind_12Starting from the edge of the quilt, stitch the next side of binding down until you reach the next corner and repeat this process for all four corners.

bind_13Leave an ending tail of 6″ – 8″ of binding. Trim off the excess leaving a few inches of overlap to work with. Open up the end of binding and place the beginning tail inside it.

bind_14

Using the cut angled end as a guide, lightly mark a line right up next to it. Then cut 1/2″ away from this measurement to account for seam allowances on both ends.

bind_15Put the two tail ends right sides together, and sew with 1/4″ seam to complete the continuous loop of binding.

bind_16Close up the binding and finish stitching it down on the front of the quilt. You are now ready to finish stitching the binding down on the back of the quilt.

bind_17Step 5 – Secure with clips

I find it easier to completely secure the binding to the back of the quilt with clips before I begin hand-stitching it down. For a throw sized quilt it takes about 100 wonder clips to go all the way around the quilt. Pins or hair clips work well, too.

bind_18Step 6 – Hand stitch the binding on back

Put on a good movie and enjoy the relaxing process of hand work for a pretty finish.

Don’t want To Hand Stitch? machine binding tutorial Here.

Thread several needles using the same cotton thread you used to sew on the binding. Clip off about 18″ of thread to use at a time. Wrap the thread around the needle 3 times and pull it to the end of you thread to create a quilter’s knot. You can double your thread for extra strength and durability.

bind_19I use a thimble to help push the needle through the fabric when needed.

Tuck the knot underneath the binding, then grab a bite of the backing of the quilt and then a bite of the binding to complete each stitch.

bind_20Continue forming each stitch by bringing the needle in behind each previous stitch and pushing it out ahead of the last stitch. Pull the thread slightly taut as you go.

bind_21When you get to the corners, be sure to sew them closed. Take a few stitches on the back to close the miter. Push the needle through to the front, stitch the front of the miter closed, then push the needle to the back again.

bind_22When you are near the end of a length of thread, make a knot, then take a stitch through the backing and batting only, pop it through the backing and cut off the excess. Continue in this manner until you’ve sewn down the entire quilt.

Congratulate yourself on a great finish!

20140404_dqn_modern_x_2nd

 

Modern X Pattern is available for purchase here.

Tutorial and Tips: How to Spray Baste a Quilt

2018 Spray Basting Update

I’ve updated this method to show I use my design wall to assemble the layers.
Click here for the updated tutorial.

Original Tutorial (From 2014):

I have been dabbling with using 505 basting spray to hold the three layers of my quilt together while quilting. I’ve learned a few things along the way and would like to share them with you. Thanks to Ann Petersen for introducing me to this method of basting.

spray_basting_0Yes, you get to see my ugly backyard during this tutorial. Yay, you!

Tips Before You Begin

First of all, when basting a quilt with spray, it is best to use pre-washed 100% cotton fabrics. The spray make not stick as well to other fibers. Also, if you like to starch the back of your quilt to make it slicker and aid in machine quilting, wait to do this until after you have spray-basted the quilt.

For best results, choose a natural fiber batting made of cotton, silk or wool (or a blend that is mostly cotton) because the adhesive tends to stick better. Finally, be sure to use the spray adhesive outside, or in an extremely well ventilated room with the doors and windows open.

Now on to the Tutorial

Begin by setting up one or two tables on which to work. Alternatively you can place a sheet on the ground, or even drape your fabrics over a wall if needed. Lay out the backing of your quilt first, wrong side up. You will be applying the spray to the wrong side of the fabric.

spray_basting_1Working outside is best so that fumes can dissipate.

Not shown in the photo: place a towel or two on each end of the table under the backing to protect it from over-spray.

Shake the can well before beginning. I have only used the 505 spray, so I cannot speak to the effectiveness of the other brands. Starting on one end of the quilt, spray the adhesive smoothly back and forth across the surface of your quilt. It should be very tacky to the touch. Set the backing aside and move on to the quilt top.

spray_basting_2Not a very flattering picture, but I’m keeping it real!

Lay out the quilt top and use the same method to apply spray evenly over the wrong side of the top and set it aside. I sprayed the center section of the quilt top and then went back and sprayed the sides. I didn’t move the top; I just sprayed the edges while they were hanging off the table.

spray_basting_3Lay out your quilt top wrong side up.

I usually hang my top and backing wrong side up over a railing while waiting to assemble them. You can also fold them up and open them later as needed. The quilt pieces will be tacky but can still be opened up if the sticky ends touch each other.

spray_basting_4I drape my quilt tops over a railing in my sewing room.

Using a large surface (like a couple of long plastic tables pushed together), spread the backing wrong side up and tape or clamp down the edges. Next, place your layer of batting on top.

spray_basting_5Tape the backing down with painter’s tape, wrong side up.

It is really helpful if you can grab an assistant to help you place the batting directly on top of the backing without having to move it around too much. Grab the quilt top, again with help, and place it on top of the other two layers, right side up.

Take some time to smooth out all 3 layers until it is nice and flat. Once you have worked out any wrinkles, take the whole sandwich over to your ironing board and press it together from the back of the quilt. This will help set the adhesive and works best with natural fiber battings. If needed, press the front side as well.bastingYou are now ready to quilt!

The quilt shown is Modern X, made as a free pattern for members of the Modern Quilt Guild. Pattern available for purchase here.

Modern X – A Free Pattern for Modern Quilt Guild Members

I’m pleased to share with you my latest quilt finish – Modern X.

I made it for the Modern Quilt Guild as a free pattern for their members. One of the benefits of being a MQG member is getting a free pattern with each of their monthly newsletters in 2014. I got selected to be “Miss March.”

modern_x_cquilts_mqgModern X – designed, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson – 56″x 70″

All of the quilts of the month will be shown at a special exhibit at QuiltCon next year, so it will be exciting to see them all presented in one place.

If you are not a member of the Modern Quilt Guild (why not?) I also have this pattern available for sale in my Craftsy Pattern Store. It runs 7 pages in length and also includes diagrams on how to machine quilt it, if you are so inclined.

I used Kona Cotton Solid fabrics for the quilt and it is pieced and quilted using Aurifil threads in 50 wt. cotton. Here’s a detailed shot of some of the quilting:

aurifil_quiltingBe sure to come back later in the week as I’ll share a couple of basting and binding tutorials I put together for this quilt. 🙂