Featured Designer: Heather Black of Quiltachusetts

Today I’m happy to have a guest post from my friend Heather Black of Quiltachusetts. Heather is a talented designer of modern quilts and when you visit her blog, you’ll recognize some of the designs on her published page.

Heather Black

Her most recent adventure is fabric design, and I know you’ll enjoy hearing about that. Take it away, Heather!

I’m so honored that Christa asked me to be a guest on her blog. Christa was one of the first quilters I met online and she’s been a mentor as well as a friend through the years. 

She encouraged me to follow my own sensibilities when it came to designing quilts and gave me the courage to branch out into fabric design when Paintbrush Studio came calling.

Fat quarters of Sketchbook by Heather Black for Paintbrush Studio

Earlier this year my first fabric line, Sketchbook for Paintbrush Studio, was released. I don’t know what I would have done without Christa’s support and guidance. The fabric line was inspired by a quilt I designed called Swatches.

Swatches by Heather Black

When I designed this quilt, I wanted the pink swatches to look like paint cakes, but the quilting is where I really found inspiration for the fabric line. 

I liked the black outline quilting around the paint cakes. It reminded me of doodling or sketching, and from there I began playing with shapes and textures that had the same feel and look.

Detail, Swatches by Heather Black

I also designed three different quilts to go along with the fabric line. They’re Sketchbook Sampler, Office Daydreams and Topsy-Turvy. Two of the designs are fat quarter friendly, and they use Painter’s Palette Solids as the background.

All of the prints from the line and the patterns are now available in my shop, quiltachusetts.com.

I’m so thankful to Paintbrush Studio for taking the risk and giving me a chance to design fabric. I really love the process and the creativity of it all.  My second fabric line, Road Trip, will be out before the end of the year. It’s all very exciting.

Again, this fabric line was inspired by a quilt I designed, and that quilt was inspired by all the road trips my family took and still takes. We’ve driven all over the USA and parts of Canada. 

I really appreciate the memories and time spent with my parents and siblings. The Road Trip fabric line is a combination of bright cheery colors and geometric shapes.

Road Trip by Heather Black

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a bit about the inspiration behind my quilts and fabric. I love the design process and making quilts and I encourage all quilters to add their own personality to every quilt they create.

Detail, Road Trip by Heather Black

Isn’t it great to see that Heather has found her creative voice? She has a unique style all her own. It was fun to hear how her modern quilt designs inspired fabric designs! Be sure to visit Heather’s website and her blog, and follow her on Instagram: @quiltachusetts.

How to Calculate Quilty Math – Cheat Sheets and a Free EQ7 Design

I had a fun time presenting my MQG webinar topic, Fun With Figures: How to Calculate Quilty math. If you are a Modern Quilt Guild member and you missed it, it will be available as a recording on the MQG community site.

For the presentation, I put together a few formulas and cheat sheets of numbers I use to help me in my calculations. I’m happy to share those with you.

Click here to view my Quilty Math page.

Ice CrystalsIce Crystals, designed in EQ7 by Christa Watson. (C) 2014 for Personal Use Only.

Just for fun, I also designed this easy quilt design called Ice Crystals. During the presentation, I went through step-by-step how to calculate the yardage to make this quilt. Since I designed it in Electric Quilt I thought I would share it with you as an EQ7 download.

EQClick here for the EQ7 download (you must have the software for this to work).

If you are inspired to make a quilt from this design, I’d love to see it!



Sewing With Certainty – Designing Quilts

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled post for today to bring you a a few of my thoughts on designing quilts. Jessica from Quilty Habit is currently featuring this topic on her Sewing With Certainty series, so I thought I’d jump in with a few words of my own. :–)

Sewing with CertaintyFirst off, I love designing quilts. I’ll either tweak a commercial pattern (like my Baby French Roses Quilt), or design something original if the mood strikes. Next to machine quilting, I think designing is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt because the possibilities are endless. However, that’s also one of the downsides to designing – sometimes there are too many possibilities that it’s hard to stay focused!

French Rose BudsBaby French Roses Changing up the color placement and tweaking the borders was a fun way to make it my own.

I’ve recently learned that in quilt-making, good design usually trumps good workmanship. Yes, it’s the best of both worlds to have both in a quilt. However, if the resurgence in popularity of modern Gee’s Bend style quilts are any indication, these amazing quilts gained their fame because of their bold and graphic design, not because of their craftsmanship. I will take a well designed quilt over a perfectly stitched one any day! 🙂

Gee's Bend Quilt

Gee’s Bend Quilt, picture courtesy of WhyQuiltsMatter.org

So where do you start when designing? How about with the basics? Say you want to make a quilt from squares. Start off with a any size square you like (charm packs and layer cakes are a great place to start since they are already precut). Set them side by side in a 6×7 grid and you can make a simple quilt that looks like this:

Charm Pack Quilt

Christa’s Quick and Easy Charm Pack Quilt

This is a quick, easy and fun design that took almost no thought and effort to put together.  So how do you jump off from there into making a truly exciting design? Well, what if you took the same idea of using squares, and threw in a bit of negative space? Then perhaps you could come up with something like this:

Charm Pack Quilt

“Busy Hands” quilt construction, using Bungle Jungle precuts

This is very neat and orderly, but play around the spacing and orientation of your blocks to create a totally different and modern look:

Alternate Layout

Alternate Arrangement – I didn’t use this one but I think I need to make a similar quilt sometime!

Let’s get back to our simple squares again and go off in a different direction. Try using larger squares connected with sashing and cornerstones:

Design Sketch

EQ7 design sketch by Christa Watson

Now, what if you limited your color palette to just one or two colors and put sashing around each and every block? Notice how much of a graphic punch is added when the focal point (the color) really contrasts from the background as in Sea of Squares:

Sea of Squares

Sea of Squares by Christa Watson

One last thing to try: take your squares, surround half of them with solid frames, and resize the rest to match. Ditch the cornerstones and remove few of the blocks to create more negative space. Isn’t this a fantastic modern design?:

Love Squared

Love Squared, picture by Lindsey Weight and shared with permission

The beautiful quilt above was designed and made by my talented friend Lindsey from Inspiring Creations – and no – she didn’t design it based on my examples. I actually started with her design and worked backwards while writing this post. I pulled examples of my own quilts to illustrate how I would go about designing a quilt like this. Click here for her free quilt pattern!

Now I invite you to play around with other shapes and see what you can come up with. Next on my agenda: playing with HST’s (half-square triangles)!

Colorful Chevrons20140107_hst_220141017_hst_1

So many design possibilities… “sew” little time!

WIP Wednesday – Christmas Edition

Today I am just going to share a little bit of the work in progress that’s been happening this week. I can’t believe Christmas is so soon! It really is the most wonderful time of the year. 🙂

I have finished the design for my next quilting tutorial, which I’m calling “Sea of Squares.” I love the combo of crisp blue and white – especially in the winter. Now that I’ve finally gotten the hang of EQ7, I plan on designing all my quilts this way – the possibilities are endless!

Sea of Squares

I will post the supply list next week, right after Christmas, so you will have something to look forward to after your holiday festivities are over!

Next, we’ve been like busy little elves around here wrapping presents as soon as we get them. The kids helped me wrap for the first time this year and they quite enjoyed it. We made pretty good timing of it too, as we are usually doing this the night before, LOL!!

Christmas Wrapping

And finally, I just had to share a picture of  this adorable Nativity Scene that my daughter made with her girls’ activity days group (sort of like girl scouts at church). It helps remind me of the reason for the season. 🙂


Yes – it’s made from graham crackers and candy and is quite edible – though she won’t dare let us think of it! (My favorites are the animal crackers and the licorice shepherds’ canes.)