Laura Wasilowski Workshops and a Craftsy Class Discount

I had the pleasure of meeting quilt artist Laura Wasilowski this weekend. She came to teach a couple of workshops on applique for one of the quilting guilds I belong to, Desert Quilters of Nevada.

Christa and Laura

Christa and Laura Wasilowski During Class

Let me tell you, she was extremely entertaining. She told us her story of how she got into quilting and gave us the history of how she founded her “infamous” Chicago School of Fusing, complete with song and dance, literally!

Those who attended the workshops got to have a “graduation ceremony” where we ll became “iron – maidens” (get it??)

Laura Wasilowski Workshop

Fowl Play – Birds Wiith No Egrets Workshop

On Friday, we used one of her bird patterns to create a pictorial scene. Each of the students created a unique piece of art as we learned her methods of fusing and selecting designs.

On Saturday, Laura taught us how to combine shapes and free-form drawing to create our own zen-like quilts. This was definitely appealing to me and I’m going to try to develop a larger applique quilt based upon my fabric sketch I made.

Modern Art

My Zen-Doodle Quilt – “Modern Art”

Laura was so pleasant to be around and very inspiring with her encouraging attitude. She even gave me a special Craftsy offer to share with those of you who are interested in taking the online version of her workshop. Use this link to sign up for Hand-Stitched Collage Quilts and get 50% off the class registration fee. How cool is that??

Here are a few of the beautiful pieces from the rest of the class:

Artwork on Display

Artwork on Display

Like many class projects, these will probably sit around as UFO’s for awhile, but the hours of classes this weekend were definitely time well spent!

Yvonne's Aztec Piece

Yvonne’s Aztec Piece

Cactus Doodle

Cactus Doodle

Sew and Tell – Meet Lisa Sipes

For show and tell today, I want to introduce you to my new friend and amazing machine quilter, Lisa Sipes.

I was first introduced to Lisa’s work when I attended Road to California last year. Her quilt, BeDazzled really dazzled me. The bright solid colors really spoke to me and this was even before I started using them in my own quilts.

Bedazzled by Lisa Sipes

Bedazzled by Lisa Sipes

Fast forward to QuiltCon this year and who won best of show? Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Lisa Sipes with their quilt, Double Edged love. I mean can you see all the detail in that quilting? This gorgeous quilt is a fantastic modern interpretation of the classic  double wedding ring quilt pattern.

Double Edged Love

Double Edged Love by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Lisa Sipes

And guess who took Viewer’s Choice at QuiltCon? Again, it was Lisa’s amazing quilting along with Alison Glass’ impeccable applique in “Overgrown” that stole the show.

Overgrown Quilting Detail

OverGrown – Detail of quilting by Lisa Sipes

I believe it’s amazing quilting like this that is becoming one of the hallmarks of the modern quilting movement. I recently had a chat with Lisa to talk about her inspirational work.

Lisa began quilting near the end of 2008 when her mother suggested she take up long arm quilting as a new career direction (after dabbling in such varied occupations as accounting and bartending).

Lisa Sipes

Lisa Sipes

Lisa does all of her quilting on a Gamill long arm machine. She is a Gamill quilting artist which means she gets to travel with them showing off what these machines are capable of.  Her work has been seen in such magazines as American Patchwork and Quilting, Generation Q, and Modern Quilts Unlimited.

She does mostly quilting these days and her friends help with the piecing. Like any good artist, she always has several designs in her head that just HAVE to get made someday (I can relate!) as therapy to soothe the soul.

It takes her anywhere from a few day to a couple of weeks of focused effort to achieve such impeccable results. She doesn’t quilt just for the sake of quilting, but instead likes to have conversations with the quilters to determine how the quilt would best be quilted.

Sometimes she bases the quilting on the name of the quilt or why it was made or for whom. Other times, her inspiration comes from the design of the quilt or fabric. In all cases, she tries to make the quilting tell a story, such as her collaberation with Thomas Knauer for In Defense of Handmade:

In Defense of Handmade

In Defense of Handmade by Thomas Knauer and Lisa Sipes

This quilt is the actual barcode representation of a celebrity designed quilt that was mass marketed and sold through department stores. According to the quilt’s artistic statement, “the… bar code becomes a place for color and play… in lieu of the homogeneity of the factory-made.” Lisa’s painstaking quilting, tied off at every single straight line start and stop embodies the meaning of this quilt. It is beautiful hand-crafted work, indeed.

I applaud Lisa for bringing the art of machine quilting to a higher-level. Whether you quilt on a long-arm like she does, or use a domestic machine like I do, I hope you appreciate the artistry and vision that quilting can bring to a quilt.

Celebrity Quilter Sightings

As most of you know, I attended QuiltCon last week, the modern quilting show and conference. You can see pictures of the quilts here and read about my adventures here.

Today I thought it would be fun to share with you a few pictures of many of the “quilting celebrities” I met. These are such wonderful women and I want to be just like all of them when I grow up. As you look through the pictures, you can realize just how short I am!

Angela Walters

Christa with Angela Walters

Here’s me with modern machine quilting goddess Angela Walters. She scrunched down to make me not feel so short. Nice of my BFF to do that, LOL! (Read this post to get that!)

Quite by accident I ran into Mary Fons, while talking to her publisher, and the next day I met her mom Marianne checking out quilts at the show. I told Marianne she was the one who helped start me on my quilting journey. Fons & Porter’s Quilter’s Complete Guide was the first book I ever bought, over 18 years ago! (Too bad I didn’t have it on me for an autograph!)

Mary Fons

Mary Fons, Christa, Kristy Loeffelholz (publisher)

Marianne Fons

Marianne Fons, Christa

I was able to listen to a wonderful lecture of Anna Maria’s journey from artist to fabric and afterwards she posed with me and a couple of my buddies (Becca and Deirdre from the skill-builder BOM). She’s due now with baby #7 – whoo- hoo!

Anna Maria

Anna Maria with Groupies

I was pleased to meet Alissa Haight Carlton in person. I advertise on her modern quilting blog and I was able to tell her what a wonderful job she and the QuiltCon committee did! (And I was excited to finally see a successful quilter about my height, LOL!!)

Alissa Haight Carlton

Christa, Alissa Haight Carlton

They say tall people are more successful – well, I’ve never had a problem with my size and what I lack in height I make up for in feisty-ness!

Finally, I got to share a moment with Jacquie Gering during the show. She brought everyone to tears discussing her own personal quilting journeys and inspiration. She talked about being a “Maker” and that really resonated with me!

Jacquie Gering

Christa, Jacquie Gering

Her book, Quilting Modern (that she co-authored with Katie Pedersen) was the very first book I read about modern quilting, less than a year ago. You can read about that here.

If I can follow in any of these ladies’ footsteps, I will consider myself blessed!

More Amazing Quilts from QuiltCon 2013

QuiltCon was the most amazing quilting event I’ve ever been to in my life! You can see pictures of all of the Award Winning Quilts by clicking on these links below:

Participation RibbonMy head is so full of inspiration right now that I feel like it’s going to burst! I think I will spend most of  this week blogging, and  getting my ideas organized and written down.

Every quilt that was entered received a participation button that looked like a mini-ribbon, so it’s like my own personal keepsake.

I can’t thank the organizers enough for all their hard work! I am already anticipating the next QuiltCon in 2015.

Here are more beautiful quilts from the show that really touched me in some way:

Touch This Quilt

Touch This Quilt by Elizabeth Hartman, Hillsboro, Oregon

QuiltCon Block Challenge

QuiltCon Block Challenge by Members of the Modern Quilt Guild
Assembled and Quilted by Elizabeth Hartman

Spin Dr.

Spin Dr. by Angela Walters, Kearney, Missouri

In Defense of Handmade

In Defense of Handmade (Bar Code) by Thomas Knauer
Quilted by Lisa Sipes, Utica, New York


Texas by Dana Michaelsen, Quilted by Angela Walters
Los Angeles, California


Pointless by Laura Bisagna, Winchester, California


Stella! by Susan Strong, Quilted by Ardelle Kerr
Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada

Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild

Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild Charity Quilt 2011
By Members of the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild and Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild


Concerto by Alyssa Lichner, Gilbert, Arizona

Charming Chevrons

Charming Chevrons by Christa Watson, Las Vegas, Nevada

It was such a pleasure to be a part of this experience! If you like my Charming Chevrons quilt above, you can follow my free tutorial series on how to make it.

Christa’s Quilt Links – QuiltCon Sneak Peek

I’ve put together a little Sneak Peek of a few quilts going to QuiltCon. I do a LOT of blog surfing for inspiration and by chance have come across quite a a few blogs whose quilts have been accepted into this show.

Think of this as a mini show for those of you that cannot attend in person. I think this is only natural since the whole Modern quilting movement essentially started online. It only makes sense that we should all share.

This post is long, but I wanted to show a large enough of picture of each quilt so you can enjoy their beauty. All pictures are re-posted with permission of each quiltmaker.

Leanne from She Can Quilt:





Lee, from Freshly Pieced:

Modern Mirage

Modern Mirage

Shattered Spectrum

Shattered Spectrum



Faith from Fresh Lemons:

Off Centered Improv

Off Centered Improv

Belle Wave

Belle Wave

Kati From The Blue Chair:

From the Blue Chair

Unraveled, Broken Diamonds, NY Beauty Mini

(Unraveled was featured in the latest issue of Modern Quilting Unlimited – Yay Kati!)

Melissa from Happy Quilting:



Melissa has a tutorial on how to make this pretty quilt here.

Katie from Swim, Bike Quilt:

Desert Stars

Desert Stars, Dear Stella Challenge

Amy from The Cute Life:


Birthstones, Madrona Road Challenge Winner to be Displayed in Michael Miller’s Booth

Be sure to visit each of these quilters’ blogs for some fantastic inspiration and and to learn a little bit more about each quilt. To think that my quilt will be hung with these lovelies is a humbling thought. I couldn’t ask for better company.

I am also super excited about all of the classes and lectures being offered at QuiltCon. I will be taking Angela Walters’ machine quilting class and I look forward to translating her long-arm quilting techniques into domestic machine quilting on my Bernina.

There are two lectures that I am most eager to attend; one is on preparing a book proposal and the other is discussing how to get one’s work into magazines. Since these are listed as part of my professional quilting goals, I will be all ears!

Every time I turn around, one of the awesome modern bloggers I follow has gotten one of her patterns published in a magazine or is writing her next book. If that’s not inspiration and encouragement I don’t know what is. 🙂

By the way, if any of you are going, here’s a link to my QuiltCon intro post with my picture. I’m pretty short (but feisty) so you can come on up to me in the halls or on the show floor and I’ll be glad to meet ya!

WIP – Choosing Thread

Spools of Neutral ThreadI spent a lot of time this weekend choosing thread for my current project, my Charming Chevrons quilt. I wanted to go with a neutral palette of grey or silver so I bought a bunch of different brands, weight and types to see which I like best.

I am still on the search for my favorite thread and figured the only way I would find it is by making lots of quilts and trying out different threads.

To see which thread would blend, I spread out a bunch of different colors over the top. I tried some Cotton Masterpiece,  Isacord, Superior Sew Fine #50, and Superior Highlights in shades of taupe, silver and grey to see which I liked best.

Thread Selection

It’s hard to tell from the photo above, but there was quite a variety in the neutrals! My original plan was to quilt straight lines in the chevrons with a darker blending thread and then do some pebbling in the background with silver.  I narrowed down my choices and stitched them out on a practice scrap.

Sample on Grey

All of the thread choices looked great on the the Ash Grey fabric but I couldn’t find a thread that would blend well enough with the solid colors. Also I prefer the look of the pebbling on the colors rather than straight lines. So I’m going to switch my plan – I’ll quilt straight lines on the background and then pebble the solid colors. That way the thread that shows will be a lot more interesting!

Practice Quilt SandwichI will write about which threads I finally ended up using once I start the actual quilting!

Quilt LabelOn my last finished project I began taking notes of which threads I used and how I like them.

The easiest way for me to record this was by writing it down on the label on the quilt.

I always have good results when quilting with cotton but I want to have success using polyesters, too.

For my Pink Baby Bricks quilt I used Isacord in the cream areas and was happy with the results.

I had no breaks, no snags and I could really see the quilting.

No wonder Leah Day recommends it so highly!

Vanilla Isacord Thread

Because I love quilts with tons of quilting all over the surface, I am also learning how to estimate how much thread I will use so I know how much to buy. For my Busy Hands quilt (throw size) It took a full 1600 yard spool of thread for each of  the top and bobbin quilting. I prefer to use the same thread in top and bottom because I get better results that way.

Busy Hands Quilting

I really wanted to the quilting to stand out, not the thread, so I chose a very thin thread, Superior’s 60 weight Bottom Line for all of that quilting. The stitching looked great and it even blended it on the colored fabrics. However, I had a huge amount of thread breaks because the thread just wasn’t strong enough for my high speed free-motion quilting.

I love all of the different quilting styles out there and the quilters promoting them. Leah Day likes to be very artistic with her quilting and really show off her awesome designs. Angela Walters prefers her thread choices to blend into the background. Deb Karasik is happy to change thread colors hundreds of times on the same quilt. Cindy Needham is a Superior Threads spokesperson and has her own distinctive heirloom style.

Whether you love tons of quilting or prefer simpler designs, I think it’s important to try out a bunch of different threads and styles of quilting so you can find your own “voice”. Happy quilting!

Weekend Workshops

On Friday and Saturday several guild members and I took two fabulous classes from award-winning quilter Deb Karasik.  From choosing fabrics to improving my paper piecing and binding skills, the entire weekend was a blast. The best part about it was no traveling!

Friday morning I headed off to class with these two stacks of fabric in tow, an assortment of Fossil Ferns from my stash and a stack of Kona Solid fat quarters, along with some grey.

Fossil FernKona Solids

Friday Class

For the first quilt, I finished 4 triangle segments which will form the quilt center.

I tried to mix in grey with the Fossil Ferns, but as you can see, they just didn’t work well together.

I’m going to take the grey out and swap it for either black or white.

Or I may remake these blocks with the Kona Solids and grey.

What do you think?

Saturday ClassFor the next quilt, I was feeling more confidant because it didn’t require the use of any backgrounds – just lots of great contrast.

I was originally going to use my solid fat quarters but I stuck with the fossil ferns instead.

I really wanted to modernize these quilts but I’m not sure the block designs have the right “look” for a modern quilt.

That’s ok – it was still a great learning experience anyway!

As you can see, we didn’t get a ton of blocks done, but I did learn that starch is my friend and I’m not afraid of paper piecing.

Fun with GlueDeb even did a excellent demo about applying binding with glue first before sewing it down. You can see a wonderful binding tutorial on her website.

Below is a photo of some fellow quilt guild members with a finished block from Friday’s class. They are standing in front of Deb Karasik’s class sample for the day.

Friday's ClassAnd here is a picture from Saturday’s class. I’m the shortest and I get the least done in class, but I still think I have the most fun!! There were about 20 students in each class each day and a few of us took both classes. It will be fun to see everyone’s finished quilts!

Saturday's ClassA couple of gals laid their blocks down next to each other just for fun. Don’t they look great?

Finished Blocks

This pattern looks amazing in any colors. Thanks for the great weekend, Deb!

A Visit with Deb Karasik

Last night, Deb Karasik visited my local quilting guild (Desert Quilters of Nevada) for a lecture and trunk show. Her work is absolutely amazing, and she was the most entertaining quilt speaker I’ve ever seen. She told us stories of her rise to quilt fame, with a smile on her face and the funniest stories I’ve ever heard. I can’t even begin to rephrase them!

Fun DebDeb KarasikClick on these photos for a larger view to see the look on her face.

She was so priceless!

Of course, she showed us many award-winning beautiful quilts, and with the assistance of her husband, “Mr. Deb” we got to see them all.

Mr. Deb and assistant Lana

Deb is staying in town for the weekend offering two classes, today and tomorrow. I am taking both of them. Today’s class is called “Look Ma, No Curves!” Saturday’s class is called, “Batik Wheels.”

Deb Karasik - Look Ma, No Curves

Deb Karasik – Look Ma, No Curves

Deb designs her original quilts using Electric Quilt software, and she uses paper piecing techniques to create her beautiful one-of-a-kind creations. You can see more of her lovely work on her website as well as find products that make the process easier.

Deb Karasik - Batik Wheels

Deb Karasik – Batik Wheels

I am excited to take Deb’s classes and will be sure to post an update with pictures from my fun-filled weekend!

Machine Quilting Tips from Cory Allender

Award-winning quilter Cory Allender visited my guild’s weekend quilting retreat and shared some of her beautiful quilts with us. Cory’s quilts have taken top honors at my guild’s show (Desert Quilters of Nevada) and she has gone one to win numerous awards at prestigious venues like Road to California and HMQS. Her work will also be exhibited at International Quilt Festival in Houston later this year.

Daisy by Patti VanOordt and Cory Allender

Daisy, pieced by Patti VanOordt and quilted by Cory,  was shown during Utah Quilt Fest.

Daisy Quilting DetailsGorgeous, isn’t it? Here are a few more quilts showcasing Cory’s beautiful machine work:

Southwest of Michigan by Cory Allender

Southwest of Michigan by Cory Allender

Detail of Plan B, Pieced & Quilted by Cory

Detail of Plan B, Pieced & Quilted by Cory

Northwest Passage, Top by Diane Johnston

Northwest Passage, Top by Diane Johnston

Noel Detail, Top by Diane Johnston

Noel Detail, Top by Diane Johnston

Are those quilts breathtaking or what? Diane’s exquisite applique is enhanced by Cory’s impeccable machine quilting. I do believe that quilting makes the quilt! Here are a few of Cory’s favorite machine quilting tips and secrets for making show-quality quilts:

  • Use a double batt – Cory likes to use two pieces of batting like Hobbs 80/20 with a layer of wool on top, or a combo of bamboo and silk. It can get a little pricey but the double batting gives the quilts some extra body and makes them drape beautifully.
  • Block all quilts after applying binding – Cory soaks her quilts and forces them into shape, then lets them dry on large pieces of foam core board. If needed, she will “spray block” the binding to help control any hills and valleys.
  • Use the same color thread in top and bobbin – this is also one of my favorite techniques!
  • Use a colorful or busy back – again, something I also advocate to help hide mistakes. When using lots of colored threads on top, this also helps them blend into the backing.
  • Never use dark thread on a light background – this will accentuate every mistake and make all the stops and starts much more obvious!
  • Draw and quilt every day. Cory compared machine quilting to learning to play an instrument. You don’t start off playing a concerto piece the first time you sit down to a piano. The same thing applies to quilting – you must constantly practice your free motion quilting skills to build your muscle memory.

Christa and Cory

Cory, thanks for the great tips and awesome inspiration!

Modern Quilt Musings and QuiltCon

I have recently jumped on the Modern Quilting wagon big-time! I was trying to figure out why this latest quilting movement is so appealing to me and here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. I love all the negative space! Machine quilting is my first love (even more than piecing) and with modern quilts, there is more room to show off intricate FMQ. Plus, it’s easy to add texture with lots of simple geometric quilting.

Modern Free-Motion Quilting

2. Many modern quilts are based on traditional patterns with a twist. Have you seen wonky log cabins and not-your-grandmother’s flower garden hexagons? How about pinwheel remix? To me, modern quilting is different than abstract art quilting (though of course it can include that, too!) I love the traditional roots with an anything goes attitude of modern creativity.

Modern Quilt Blocks

3. Fresh, clear colors with simple designs are very appealing to me. Much of the modern aesthetic is inspired by fashion trends and home decorating. That means most modern quilts are made to be used and loved but that doesn’t mean they are just slapped together. Good workmanship is still an essential part of the quilt-making process.

Simple Modern Quilt

4. Can we say solids??? There are so many tutorials and inspirational photos out there using solids by themselves or in tandem with other fabulous designer prints.  And I love the flexibility of combining different lines of fabric from different manufacturers. Modern quilting is all about getting away from being too “matchy-matchy” and instead, pursuing more eclectic combinations that actually work.

Moda Bella SolidsKona Cotton Solids

These are just a few things I like about modern quilting; I’m sure I will discover many more.

QuiltConThis weekend I signed up to attend QuiltCon, the first international modern quilting conference, presented by the Modern Quilt Guild in Austin, Texas next February. It’s a little out of my comfort zone to travel that far by myself but I know it will be worth it.

I will be taking Angela Walters “Quilting Negative Space” class and am looking forward to lots of informative lectures like “Publishing Your First Book” and “Publishing Your Work in Magazines”. I am excited to meet many of the modern quilting “celebrities” that have made a name for themselves in this industry.