Pre-order My New Fall Patterns

I release quilt patters twice a year now, in conjunction with my new fabric lines. (More about the fabric later…) So today I’m happy to introduce 4 new patterns which will be released on November 16, but you can get them at a discount when you preorder now!

Christa Quilts Patterns

All four of my new patterns are available as print or PDF. Print versions will be shipped to you approximately November 16th. When you order the PDF version through my Craftsy shop, you’ll be able to download the cover now, and then the pattern itself will be emailed as an update on November 16th.

Use coupon code SAVE10 to get 10% off the price of the print version. The PDF version is automatically on sale through November 16th. (The code and sale applies to all current patterns in stock, too!) Here’s what’s new:

Pieced Primrose

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Pieced Primrose Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Geese in the Garden

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Geese in the Garden Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Blooming Wallflowers

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

Blooming Wallflowers Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

LatticeWork

Click here to purchase the PDF version instant download.
Click here to order the print version which will be shipped.

LatticeWork Quilt Pattern

Click the image above to enlarge the detailed materials list.

Wholesale Inquiries

These patterns will be available from most major distributors. Or email me christa@christaquilts.com for order info.

I hope you’ll enjoy making these quilts as much as I did!

Finished Quilt – Sparkling Stars

I’m excited to finally share “glamour” shots of my finished quilt Sparkling Stars which  was made to showcase my latest fabric line – Fandangle – from Benartex Contempo Studio.

Sparkling Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

I design all of my quilts in Electric Quilt so that I know exactly how they are going to look with the chosen fabrics. The EQ design is shown above left. The finished quilt is above right.

My favorite thing about this quilt (besides the fabric of course) is the quilting design I chose. I quilted it with a large continuous spiral. This is one of my favorite designs to quilt with a walking foot or dual feed.

Spiral quilting detail

I teach how to quilt the continuous spiral design in my book Machine Quilting with Style, and also in my Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path.

This quilting design is super fun and fast to quilt and it’s hard to go wrong! I used a variegated Aurifil 50 weight thread to add a little something “extra” to the quilt.

Walking foot quilting large spiral

In these extreme closeups the slight wobbles give the quilt interest and when you step back to admire the quilt, all you see is amazing texture!

Spiral Quilting on Sparkling Stars

Below are some more pictures we took while on a recent family vacation at the beach. We love taking long walks and exploring our surroundings to scout out scenic locations.

Sparkling Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

It was Jason’s job to climb to the edge of this rocky cliff and style the quilt. All the while I was holding my breath, hoping the wind wouldn’t catch the quilt and toss it into the sea!!

Sparkling Stars quit photography

Just imagine how peaceful this was, the waves breaking on the rocks, and us enjoying mother nature at it’s best! Every now and then a wave would splash on the rocks., but fortunately we were high enough up  that the quilt didn’t get wet.

Sparkling Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

I love how the wind blew the quilt so that it naturally folded on itself.

The bright colors really stand out against the gray ocean, charcoal colored rocks, and even the sandy beach.

Sparkling Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

One of our favorite vacation spots is Hermosa Beach, California, and I think I need to go on lots more adventures just so we can take more pics of my quilts in scenic locations!

Sparkling Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Sparkling Stars quilt kit – (only a few left!)

Sparkling Stars Finished Stats

Sparkling Stars Quilt Pattern

Click here to purchase Fandangle fabric for a limited time.
Click here to view all of my quilt patterns for sale.

Sparkling Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

Links to additional information about this quilt

Click here for the making of Sparkling Stars part 1
Click here for the making of Sparkling Stars part 2
Click here for the making of Sparkling Stars part 3

Fandangle Fabric is Here – Get Your FQ or 1/2 Yard Bundle for a Limited Time

While I was on vacation last week, I was thrilled to get the text from my friend letting me know my big delivery of Fandangle fabric had arrived – whoo whoo!! Needless to say, I’ll be spending the next couple of days cutting and folding fabric bundles!!

Boxes of Fandangle Fabric shipped from Benartex

Thank goodness my friend brought in the boxes from out side while I was gone!!

Because I want to encourage folks to buy my fabric at their local quilt shop (updated list of where to buy coming soon) – I’m only going to be offering bundles and kits for a limited time, so grab them while you can!!

Benartex Strip-pies

I love how the new Strip-pies (jelly rolls) are packaged flat and are arranged by warm and cool!
These will be going into the Dot ‘n Dash kits for our upcoming quilt along.

Fandangle 10 Piece Bundles

Fandangle (which is a fun word that means ornamentation or embellishment) includes an assortment of bright, geometric prints in warm and cool colorways. To make it easy on your budget, I’m offering 10 piece bundles in either fat quarters (18″ x 22″ each) or half-yard cuts (18″ x 36″). Of course you can get them both if you’d like some of the entire line.

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson in the Warm Colorway

Click here to get your 10 piece bundle of Fandangle in the warm colorway.

Fandangle Fabric by Christa Watson Cool Colorway

Click here to get your 10 piece bundle of Fandangle in the cool colorway.

Winners of the 3 Fandangle Quilt Patterns

I almost forgot!! It’s time to announce the winners of the 3-pack of quilt patterns that I released to go along with the line. I loved reading all of your comments on whether you preferd PDF or print patterns and am happy to say I offer my quilt patterns in both versions for your convenience!

Congratulations to Monica from the US, Jayne P. from the UK and Wayne M. Winners have been notified via email.

Fandangle Quilt Patterns

Click here to purchase any of my quilt patterns in printed format.
Click here to purchase any of my quilt patterns in DPF download format.

Stay tuned later this week as I’ll share some beauty shots of the quilts I made from Fandangle. While we were at the beach we took advantage of some gorgeous locations for some styled photography that I can’t wait to share with you.

Fandangle Fabric Bundle by Christa Watson

Thanks for your support of my fabrics. I love being able to design them for you!
When you create with them, please share your finishes in my facebook group, or on Instragram with the hashtag #fandanglefabric. I can’t wait to see what you make!

Introducing Tic-Tac-Toe on the Cover of Fat Quarter Favorites

I love it when I get to reveal a quilt that I worked on many moons ago! Meet Tic-Tac-Toe, a fat quarter quilt featured on the cover of Fat Quarter Favorites – a new collaboration book from my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork Place that releases today!

Fat-Quarter-Favorites

This was one of those “secret sewing” projects that I worked on last year. I shared a few sneek peeks on my Instagram account while making it so if you scroll back through a year’s worth of posts, you can see some of it in progress, LOL!!

The book features 13 original designs by a dozen different designers all based on fat quarters (plus additional background fabric where needed).

I was in such a hurry to make this quilt that I forgot to take many in-progress pics, but here’s a shot of me “scrunching and smooshing” the quilt through the machine as I quilt:

Scrunching and smooshing to machine quilt

It helps to have a wider throat space on my BERINA so there’s more room for the quilt!

I only saved on detail pic where you can see the quilting while I added and pressed the binding. I quilted it with a dense allover free-motion square spiral design – one of my favorite “modern machine quilting” designs! (It’s similar to “boxes” – another fave design but you go round and round a couple times to get the spirals.)

square spiral design machine quilting

For the pieced design, I played around with the idea of combining blocks that look like X’s and O’s. It took several tries to adjust the proportions so they felt right. The O blocks came pretty quickly, but it took awhile until I was happy with the X blocks. I originally started with bigger center stars and they evolved into the design shown here. I extended the gray lines all the way to the borders to give it a bit more movement and overall I’m pleased with how well it turned out!

Tic Tac Toe by Christa Watson from Fat Quarter Favorites

Tic-Tac-Toe by Christa Watson, 76″ x 76″

Once I have the basic design in place it also takes me a bit to refine the sizes so the fabric yardage is used more efficiently. That’s why a lot of times, you’ll see me do scrappy bindings, so I can use up a bit more of the fun prints in the quilt!

If you like my design click here to see images of all 13 quilts from the book – I’m sure there’s something for everyone!

The Patterns are Here! The Patterns are Here!

I got some happy mail this weekend – a shipment of my latest print pattern releases. The quilts below are all made from my Fandangle fabric which ships to stores in July, but I’ve written the patterns so that they will look fabulous in any fabrics you choose! I’ve blogged a lot about the quilts already (see links below each image in case you missed it), but now I’m excited to tell you what makes the patterns themselves extra special.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Sparkling Stars quilt by Christa Watson made from Fandangle fabric

Sparkling Stars designed and made by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

For starters, all of my patterns are full color throughout. They are professionally printed, folded into a half-sheet size booklet, and staple-bound by GotPrint.com. I select high-quality glossy paper for the insides and the covers are slightly thicker which makes them a little more sturdy.

Because I purchase them in a higher volume, I’m able to get a quantity discount which I pass on to you all in the form of a lower price point. The MSRP for my print patterns is $9.95 which is much lower than the $12-$14 price I’ve seen for similar quality patterns.

Sparkling Stars PatternSparkling Stars Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Quilt Pattern

For Sparkling Stars, I included a very detailed materials list so that you could replicate the look in similar colors even if using different fabrics than I did. I also included detailed diagrams and charts by colorway so that it’s easy to follow along and not get lost.

Here’s an example of one of the many full-color illustrations that are included in the pattern:

Sparkling Stars Blocks

If there’s enough room in the pattern, I’ll usually throw in a closeup image of the quilting for inspiration. As an FYI, patterns need to be formatted so that they use up 8 or 12 sides (4-6 full pages). Most of mine tend to be on the longer end so that I can put in as much detail as possible.

I work with my graphic designer Lindsie to lay out the text, photos and illustrations, and if there’s extra room, I’ll throw in an extra diagram, tip, or quilting suggestion. I want you to have as much fun making these quilts as I did, and I try to pack as much helpful info into each pattern as I can!

Spiral quilting detail from Sparkling Stars

Quilting detail included in the pattern – inside front cover.

Surplus Strips Quilts

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Warm Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Cool Colorway of Fandangle

Surplus Strips Quilt in the Cool Colorway of Fandangle
Designed and Made by Christa Watson, 67″ x 82″

Surplus Strips Quilt PatternSurplus Strips Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern

For Surplus Strips, I wanted to show how you could use up leftover 2 1/2″ strips sorted by colorway to create a dynamic, scrappy looking quilt. In my patterns, I’ll try to include different methods of using your fabric (either yardage, scraps or precuts) whenever possible so you can make the best use of your stash!

Quilting Detail of Triangle Trinkets

Detail of the Triangle Trinkets motif quilted on the cool colorway.

I’m really excited that I was able to include machine quilting diagrams and detailed images in this pattern. Because many of the prints in my fabric lines are based off of my favorite machine quilting motifs, it was fun to include a different allover quilting design for each colorway.

Machine quilting detail of Surplus Strips

Do you see how the quilting design is the same as the Paper Cuts print? So fun!!

Pearl Pendants Quilt

Pearl Pendants Quilt by Heather Black

Pearl Pendants, designed and made by Heather Black, 60″ x 72″
Click here to read more about Heather and this gorgeous quilt.

It was really fun to collaborate on Pearl Pendants with my talented friend Heather Black of Quilt-achusetts. She designed and made the quilt using Fandangle plus Contempo Colorweave coordinates.

We both co-wrote the pattern and it was fun to go back and forth to ensure that the pattern was easy enough to understand and follow. My husband, Jason, who is NOT a quilter was very helpful in proof-reading to make sure even a novice could understand how to make this stunning quilt!

Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern by Heather Black and Christa WatsonPearl Pendants Covers – Click above image to enlarge
Click here to purchase the Pearl Pendants Quilt Pattern

My favorite illustration included in the pattern is the very detailed chart of blocks which specifies exactly how many of each unit to make to get the same look. We included plenty of step by step diagrams so that you’ll have no problems making this fun quilt while practicing your curved piecing. Of course you can easily substitute the colors below for completely different fabrics, and it will still look great!!

Pearl Pendants Chart of Blocks

The pattern also includes full-sized templates to make the blocks in two different sizes, or you can use a specialty curved ruler if that’s your preferred method.

Heather has become quite proficient at quilting on her longarm and she loves to combine hand-guided work with a bit of computerized work in the quilting detail shown below:

Quilting Detail for Pearl Pendants

How to Purchase Christa Quilts Patterns

(1) Anyone can purchase my complete line of print patterns at shop.christaquilts.com.

(2) PDF versions of my entire pattern line are available in my Craftsy shop (click here).

(3) Quilt shops and other retailers can contact me via email christa@christaquilts.com for wholesale pricing information and exclusive specials.

(4) My fabrics and select patterns are also available wholesale through Checker Distributors and Brewer Sewing.

If you are a quilting instructor and wish to teach a class from any of these patterns, please contact me to get the wholesale pricing discount. I’m happy for others to teach from my patterns (or books) as long as each student purchases their own copy.

Sparkling Stars in the Benartex Contempo Booth at Quilt Market

Here’s Sparkling Stars hanging in my booth at Spring 2018 quilt market. Be sure to catch my next post where I’ll share all about my quilt market experience!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Part 1 – The Design and Sewing the Blocks

Now that I’m back home from quilt market, I have time to share about the process of making Sparkling Stars, one of the quilts from Fandangle, my new fabric line from Benartex/Contempo.

Sparkling Stars Design

Whenever I make an original quilt, I first create it in Electric Quilt Software using the actual fabric swatches I plan to use. If it’s a scrappy-looking quilt, I won’t worry too much about color placement while I design. However, for Sparkling Stars, I took quite a while re-arranging the colors until I was pleased with how they looked.

Sparkling Stars Quilt

Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars PDF Quilt Pattern.
Click here to purchase the Sparkling Stars Print Quilt Pattern (Ships by 5/31).

I knew I wanted to use all 20 fabrics from Fandangle, but in a cohesive way. So I literally tried every fabric in the line in each part of the star blocks above until I was pleased with the final color arrangement. (I usually don’t save the “reject” versions because they are numerous and I don’t want to get confused by multiple images of the same file I’m working on.)

Fandangle Cut Units for Sparkling Stars

I love a pretty stack of cut units!

I planned the design months before I received fabric samples so that I could get the pattern written ahead of time. I knew time would be short in making the quilt so I tried to get as much work done ahead of time as I could. Once I start on a quilt, I’ll make it pretty quickly from start to finish since I’m usually working on a deadline.

Sparkling Stars HST's

Stacks and Stacks of HST’s in progress…

Making the Blocks

I try to assembly line my process, so I’ll cut everything ahead of time, then sew all the sub-units at once rather than constructing a quilt block by block. It’s much more efficient and I can pattern test as I go by doing it this way.

Sparkling Stars in Progress

I keep similar units together to stay organized.

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces that go into making this quilt so I try to be as careful as I can during every step of the process. I sew with a consistent quarter inch seam, press my seams open, and trim my units as needed to the correct size. By taking care during each step of the process, it ensures the final blocks will go together smoothly.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

Sparkling Star Quilt Blocks in Progress

When the sub-units are complete, I stack them up and lay them out in order next to my sewing machine so that I can chain piece as much as possible. I also take pictures as I go so I can look at a reduced view of the quilt blocks to make sure nothing is turned the wrong way before sewing together.

For these particular blocks, I made sure turn turn the “Beaded Curtain” print so that they were all facing the same direction. The rest of the prints are non-directional so they didn’t matter.

Seams Pressed Open

I sew with a shorter stitch length and press seams open as I go for best results.
Then I’ll pin the units together as I sew to get accurate seam joins.

Rather then sewing the blocks into rows, I sewed them into 4-patch units so they’d be easier to manage. It also allows makes me feel like I’m getting more done since it’s a lot of pieces to sew! The biggest tip is to just sew one step of ALL the blocks at a time and then take a break so it doesn’t get too monotonous.

Sparkling Stars Blocks in Orange

These blocks will sparkle and glow in the final quilt!

When the blocks are complete, I’ll press them with a hot, dry iron on both front and back. This ensures nice flat blocks which will be much easier to machine quilt!

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

There are a total of 25 blocks in 6 different fabric combinations.

I wrote up the quilt pattern so that it would be extremely easy to follow along either using the same fabrics I did, or using similar colors to get the sparkling effect. Fandangle will start shipping to stores at the end of June, but you can pre-order bundles of the prints and yardage of the grays (along with the quilt pattern) over at shop.christaquilts.com for a limited time.

Sparkling Stars Quilt Blocks

While I’m not offering kits, you can get the enough fabric to make this quilt when you purchase 1/2 yard bundles of both the cool and warm colorways; plus 3 yards of the light gray, and 2 yards of the dark gray. There will be a little left over that you can use for other projects.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I show how I put the quilt top together!

Pearl Pendants PDF Pattern Now Available for Purchase

Great news! While I’m in the throws of quilt market prep for next week, I was able to finalize the Pearl Pendants quilt pattern that my good friend Heather Black from Quilt-achusetts and I collaborated on. Heather designed and made this stunning quilt to showcase Fandangle in my booth at quilt market next week, and we both co-wrote the pattern.

Click here to purchase and instantly download the PDF pattern for Pearl Pendants

Click here to pre-order the print version (ships on or before June 1.)

Pearl Pendants pattern by Heather Black and Christa Quilts

I like to offer my patterns in both print and PDF versions because I know that some folks like to have instant access while others like to work with the physical pattern.

Check out a detail of the beautiful quilting the Heather did:

Quilting Detail for Pearl Pendants

She quilted a combination of straight lines, plus a spirograph/floral motif in each of the blocks. Didn’t she do such a stunning job?? The quilt is made from 20 fat quarters of Fandangle fabric plus background, but of course it would look great in other fabrics, too!

I’ll share  more pics of this quilt as soon as I get back from quilt market, so stay tuned!!

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 2 – The Quilt Top and Basting

As I prepare for International Quilt Market, which is an industry trade show held this spring in Portland, Oregon (May 18-20), I’m sewing like a madwoman, finishing up samples to promote my new quilt patterns and Fandangle fabric line. I’m currently working on two versions of my Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern – in warm and cool colors. Click here to read my previous post about making the blocks.

Color Arrangement

Surplus Strips Blocks in Cool Fandangle

Arranging tiny blocks was much faster than using my design wall!

Although I designed both colorways in EQ8, I didn’t finalize the exact color placement for each block. Instead, I did something very low tech. I printed out a version of the quilt with the same number of blocks that I made and then cut out all of the tiny paper blocks to arrange on my work table. It actually went a lot faster than putting up the blocks on my design wall and arranging them there.

Surplus Strips Paper Blocks - Warm Fandangle

I like being able to rearrange the blocks until I’m happy with their color placement.
These paper blocks are only about 1″ wide!

Once I was happy with the color arrangement, I printed out the final layout in color, and organized the blocks on my work table by color. In other words, the printed out layout served as a “virtual” design wall that takes up a lot less space!

Surplus Strips Blocks Fandangle Warm Colorway

I printed out the layout in EQ8 which serves as my “virtual” design wall.

It was super fast to sew the blocks into rows using my printed out layout as a guideline. This quilt goes together in vertical columns, rather than horizontal rows, so I just had to make sure I kept everything in the correct orientation as I sewed.

Surplus Strips blocks Fandangle Fabric warm colorway

I sewed the blocks and sashing in order according to my printed out layout.

Pressing Seams Open

I used this process for both the warm and cool colorway, and it went super fast! Pressing all of my seams open really helped the quilt top lie flat when I gave it a final press. It also made it soooo much easier to line up the seams accurately! Because there’s no nesting, it’s important to pin generously while joining the blocks and rows. But I actually get better results and perfect seam joins when I press seams open & use pins, so it’s worth it to take the extra time.

Seams Pressed Open - Cool Colorway, Fandangle Fabric, Surplus Strips Quilt

Seams pressed open ensures a nice flat top, with no lumps and bumps!

When pressing seams open, be sure to use a shorter stitch length (like 2 instead of 2.5) to secure the seams. A shorter stitch also makes it less likely that you’ll see thread poking through the seams, too!

Bonus Measuring Tip

Measuring long borders

Use a ruler to extend the cutting length on your mat for long borders: place the folded end on the ruler, and cut on the mat. If I needed more length, I’d rotate the ruler longways.

Here’s a bonus tip when working with borders that are longer than your mat. When cutting, I fold the border fabric in half and use an “extend a ruler” – my phrase for extending the cutting length by using a ruler, lined up at the edge of the mat. I’ll use as many extra inches as needed to get a nice precise measurement when cutting. Just divide the needed length in half and count over that many inches on the extension ruler and mat.

More Pressing

Press the quilt on both sides

Speaking of pressing, once the quilt top is finished, I give it a final press on the front, too. It seems to make the quilt nice, flat and crisp, so it’s ready to baste! Whenever I press anything on my quilt, I always use a dry iron. I don’t like steam because it can burn your fingers and distort the fabric. Also, if the iron leaks or spits, you can get a nasty mess! If I need a bit of water for an unruly seam, I’ll just use a spray bottle filled with water instead.

Virtual Home and Studio Tour

Surplus Strips Quilt Tops Warm and Cool

Look closely and you can see 2 quilt tops waiting underneath the warm colorway. Plus there’s some yardage of Fandangle peeking out underneath the cool colorway.

When my quilt top(s) are finished and pressed, I hang them over the stair railing on the upper floor of my home so they don’t get wrinkled. Upstairs is my husband’s office, my daughter’s room, our bedroom and my sewing loft. Downstairs is my son’s room, work area for The Precut Store, living room, dining area, and kitchen. It’s a comfy home and we use every square foot!!

Here’s an image of my studio space, across from the stair railing where I hang my quilts in progress. This picture was taken back in 2014 for a magazine profile. It’s pretty much still the same!

Christa's Sewing Room

Image of my sewing studio 2014 – with 3 quilt tops that are still unfinished LOL!!

Our backyard is just off the kitchen downstairs, and is where I keep a plastic table set up on the patio for spray basting. I don’t spend nearly enough time in my yard as I do my sewing room, so it needs a little work, LOL!!

Spray Basting

Basting Outside

Click here for my spray basting tutorial using a design wall.
Click here for my spray basting tutorial using a table.

Once the backing and top are sprayed outside, I then bring them inside and assemble them on my design wall indoors.

Surplus Strips Batting

Take a picture of the batting with the quilt, and take note of what you like/don’t like.
I’m using Hobbs cotton batting for the cool colorway.

To keep track of which batting I use, I take a picture of the batting with the quilt top so I can remember. For these quilts, I used Hobbs cotton for the cool colorway and Hobbs silk for the warm. I used those particular battings because they are what I had on hand and didn’t have time to order anything else, LOL!!

But I love using natural fiber battings like cotton, wool, or silk because they cling to the quilt, provide good stitch definition, and allow the quilt to breathe and hang well.

Surplus Strips Warm Colorway backing

I’m using Hobbs Silk batting for the warm colorway.

Although the quilt pattern calls for all of one fabric for the backing, I had fun and made some bonus blocks with some of the leftover strips. Because I only have a limited amount of Fandangle yardage right now, I got creative with my piecing and used three different warm prints instead.

Surplus Strips Warm basting

Click here for a tutorial on how I made my design wall – back in 2013.

I like to make sure I have several inches of extra batting and backing beyond the quilt top. That way I don’t have to line things up perfectly, and the extra will get cut off when it’s time to bind.

Once it’s basted, I’ll trim down the backing and batting so that there’s only 1-2 inches sticking out. This prevents them from flipping backwards under the quilt, causing you to accidentally stitch through them while quilting. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done that!!

Pressing the Quilt After Basting

Notice how closely I trimmed the layers, with only about an inch or two of batting/backing sticking out beyond the quilt top. This prevents quilting the quilt to itself!

The final step is to press the quilt – yet again!! After it’s basted, I’ll press the quilt, first on the back, and then again on the front. This helps set the glue so the layers don’t shift. But more importantly, it allows me to work out any creases or bubbles on either side of the quilt. One the quilt is nice and flat, it’s sooo much easier to machine quilt!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa WatsonClick here to preorder the Surplus Strips quilt pattern – print version.
Click here to preorder Fandangle fabric bundles + background.

I hope you are enjoying seeing my progress as I make these quilts. Once they’re finished and photographed, I’ll release the patterns in both PDF and print. For now, you can pre-order the print version over at Shop.ChristaQuilts.com along with fabric to make them. (FYI the Fandangle 1/2 yard bundle + 5 yards of gray will be enough to make either quilt top.)

Now it’s time to quilt them – so stay tuned for part 3!!

The Making of Surplus Strips Part 1 – the Blocks

I sure have enjoyed documenting more of my real-time progress as I create quilts to help promote my patterns, books and fabric. It’s so much more enjoyable to write about my process as I go, rather than trying to recapture the excitement months later!

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Click here to pre-order my Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern.

I’m currently making two versions of Surplus Strips – both in warm and cool colorways of my newest fabric line, Fandangle, which will be shown at Spring Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon, May 18-20. The pattern cover art above is shown using my digitally created images from EQ8 as a placeholder until the quilts are finished and photographed.

Once that’s done, I’ll send it off to the printer and release a PDF pattern, too. For now, you are welcome to preorder the print version which will ship on or before June 1, 2018.

Fandangle Fabrics Cool Colorway

Fandangle Fabric in the Cool Colorway

Although my timeline is tight, I’m still going through the regular process I use to create a well-made quilt. I like to prewash and starch all of my fabrics for two reasons: (1) it gets rid of the excess dye so there’s no chance of bleeding or ruining the quilt and (2) the starch makes the fabric stiffer so there’s less stretch while piecing.

My number 1 starching tip is to spray starch on one side of the fabric, then flip it over and iron the other side. Then repeat – starch the side you just ironed, flip it over again and press from the other side. The prevents the iron from burning the starch so you don’t get flakes! Starching and pressing both sides makes the fabric more crisp so it’s easier to work with. Also – I just use cheap starch from the grocery store and I’ve never had a problem with it.

Fandangle Fabrics Warm Colorway

Fandangle Fabric in the Warm Colorway

My Surplus Strips pattern is written for either precut 2 1/2″ strips or yardage. You can go super scrappy with a single jellyroll + background, or do a color blocked quilt like I’m doing. For yardage, It takes about 1/3 yard of 9 different fabrics plus 4 3/4 yards background + binding.

Surplus Strips Quilt Warm Colorway of Fandangle

I like stacking my pieces so they look pretty!

I paired up the darker gray confetti crosshatch print with the warm colorway of Fandangle, and the lighter gray with the cool colorway. If you are interested in using the same fabrics as me, you can preorder 1/2 yard bundles of Fandangle + 5 yards of either gray and you’ll be set, with a little leftover fabric.

Seams Pressed Open

Pressing seams open ensures flat blocks, and a flat quilt top.

I started cutting out the fabrics for both quilts while I was away on my last teaching trip. When I returned home, I finished cutting all of the pieces for the warm colorway and made all of the blocks in about two days. I used a shorter stitch length for piecing (1.8 instead of the default 2.0) and pressed all of my seams open (with a dry iron, no steam). This will allow the blocks to lie flat for domestic machine quilting.

Surplus Strips Quilt Block Warm Colorway of Fandangle

Surplus Strips Blocks in the Warm Colorway of Fandangle

After piecing the blocks in the warm colorway, I jumped into making the blocks in the cool colorway. I like making two quilts at a time, so I can assembly line the process as much as possible.

Surplus Strips Fandangle Fabric Cool

Units are cut and stacked and ready to sew!

Here are a couple more piecing tips that make the blocks go together smoothly and stay square: when sewing, I pieced with the gray units on top to ensure that I switched sewing directions each time I joined the units. When you join two seams in opposite directions, it helps prevent block distortion. It’s not a huge deal on smaller units, but if you are sewing long strips together, it can be more noticeable.

Lining up block seams

Step 1 for proper alignment – match up the fabric seams.

Also, in order to get the top and bottom of each plus block to line up correctly, I placed the top unit right sides together on top of the partially sewn block to see exactly where things needed to line up to keep the seams in alignment. The pressed open seams really help me see this part.

Aligning units for quilt blocks

Step 2 for proper alignment – fold back to make sure lines are straight.

Then, I folded it back up partially to make sure it’s in the proper position before sewing. I didn’t actually need to use any pins because the blocks were small enough and I used my fingers to keep the edges lined up at all times.

Surplus Strips Blocks Fandangle Fabric cool colorway

Click here to preorder bundles of Fandangle fabric by colorway + background fabric.
Click here to preorder the Surplus Strips quilt Pattern.

The blocks went together even faster this time around and I love the color distribution! Now it’s time to sew the blocks together and finish up the quilt top. I’ll make both tops and then have a little basting party to make that chore a little less painful, lol!! I’ll be using my spray basting method that you can read about here (wall basting) or here (table basting).

Stay tuned for the next update!

My Pattern Writing Process and Sneak Peeks of Upcoming Quilt Patterns

In an effort to share more of what I’m working on in real time – and to answer to the question – how do I get it all done?? – I’m excited to let you know what I’ve been working on the last few weeks. I’m currently writing and editing the next round of quilt patterns that will be released along with my next fabric line, and I couldn’t be more excited!!

Pattern Writing in Process

I’ve been posing the question to my friends and social media followers, asking if they’d like me to share real time updates, or wait until everything is polished and ready for purchase. I got a resounding “share now!” as the answer which made me sooo happy! I have a hard time suppressing my excitement for what I’m currently working on and I feel like I can be more genuine when I’m sharing in real time.

I also just got word that my fabric samples should arrive some time in the next week or two so I can actually start sewing the designs you see above. I’m also excited to collaborate with my friend Heather Black on one of them because she has the most amazing design sense!!

Pearl Pendants by Heather Black and Christa Watson

Pearl Pendants pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

So here’s a bit of my pattern writing process for those that are curious. First, I design the patterns in EQ8, using digital swatches of the fabrics I plan to use. Next, I write the instructions while I’m waiting for the fabrics to arrive.

While editing the patterns, I use digital images as placeholders for the pattern covers until the quilts are made and can be photographed. Then it’s very easy to swap out the digital images with the photography, without altering the pattern layout. I send the rough draft of the pattern to my graphic designer to lay out and make everything look pretty, and then a technical editor checks all the math to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Sparkling Stars front Cover

Sparkling Stars pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

Once the fabric arrives, I make the quilts following my own instructions so that I can pattern test and see if there are any steps I missed. While I’m making the quilts, digital images of the covers are sent off to the distributors (companies who sell patterns on a mass-scale to quilt shops) so they can get them in their system in time for shops to pre-order.

Once the quilts are finished, they are photographed and cover images swapped out with the real ones, and I do once last round of editing to make sure everything looks right. Then patterns are sent off to the printer for physical copies, and PDF downloads are uploaded to my Craftsy shop for sale.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Surplus Strips pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

As you can imagine, the timing is critical to make sure everything happens in the right order. My process is probably a bit different than pattern designers who aren’t working with a specific fabric line. But I like the challenge of making all the parts fit together.

You can see sneak peeks of the fabric line in the quilt pattern covers above, but I’ll be happy to tell you more about the fabric when my samples arrive in the next few weeks. Quilt shops will be able to order it later this spring, usually around quilt market in May – and I’ll be there in person showing off these quilts and more “in the cloth.” Then the fabric will arrive in shops around mid summer – sometime in June or July. I can’t wait!!