QuiltCon 2015 Judging Results #3 – Abacus

Ahh, Abacus. I finally made a quilt incorporating negative space! I also explored my love of machine applique which I just don’t do enough of. ๐Ÿ™‚

abacus_quiltconAbacus, 32″ x 32″ย  by Christa Watson. It was judged as a “small quilt” although it could have easily fit into the applique or negative space categories, too. A bigger version may be in order!

Abacus is probably one of the quickest modern quilts I’ve ever designed and made. The colors and layout came together quickly and the quilting was simple to design and easy to execute. Entering it into QuiltCon was an afterthought, but I’m glad I did because it was fun to see it hanging in the show. I was also very pleased that it hangs nice and straight.

Here are the judges’ comments for Abacus, a modern wall quilt:

  • Quilting stitch well done.
  • Binding well applied.
  • Push your own boundaries in color and design.

abacus_detail_smDetailed quilting on Abacus – quilted with a walking foot – so fast, easy and fun!

After sharing all 3 of my QuiltCon quilts (the other two evaluations are here and here), a clear trend emerges. All three commentaries proclaim excellent workmanship and two of them specifically mentioned good binding which is usually the number one suggested improvement in quilt shows. Where I need to ramp up my game is in my design. I need to go a little more bold and a little more modern and I’m totally cool with that!

In my quilt show experience over the years, it seems that traditional shows put more of an emphasis on workmanship whereas modern and art quilt shows give more value to design impact. While both are important in a well-made quilt, I’m certainly encouraged to “push my own boundaries in color and design” for future quilts.

I will still continue to enter modern quilts into traditional shows, but there’s nothing like getting good, informative feedback from judges who have an eye trained towards modern design.

ย Abacus is available to purchase as a PDF pattern.

QuiltCon 2015 Judging Results #2 – Optical Illusion

Optical Illusion is the second of the three quilts I entered for judging at QuiltCon. I actually made this quilt specifically for QuiltCon, so I was very pleased when it got in. I’ve been crushing on simple geometric designs in a limited color palette, so this quilt really allowed me to explore that desire. I definitely think more black and white quilts are in my future.

And yes, it moves when you scroll it! ๐Ÿ™‚

optical_illusion_quiltconOptical Illusion 67″ x 88″ by Christa Watson.

Most people were surprised at how big it was in person.

Optical Illusion was placed into the piecing category which includes this description, “quilts that are machine pieced and reflect a particularly strong or innovative use of piecing.” I guess you could say this quilt was pieced innovatively, although I was secretly hoping for it to be in the minimalist category. I’m still learning exactly what minimalism means. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are the positive judges’ comments, along with my commentary:

  • Quilting motif supports the design. I’m glad – since that’s what I was going for – geometric simplicity that doesn’t overpower the quilt.
  • Binding is well proportioned and applied. Double yay since the binding on this quilt is what stressed me out the most!

cwatson_opticalillusion_detDetail of quilting on optical Illusion – free-motion boxes.

Here are the areas for suggested improvement, along with my thoughts:

Design direction lacks focus. I was afraid of this – the judges viewed the quilt so close up that I’m afraid they missed the point of the quilt. I don’t think they read the artist’s statement either, so to them it probably just looked like a bunch of black and white squares, and they didn’t get to see the effect of the optical illusion.

I had one slight disappointment in that whoever printed off the paperwork for the show got the name wrong. I had entered it as “Optical Illusion” (I went back and double checked all my acceptance emails to make sure it wasn’t my error), but the title was listed as “48”. I can only imagine that was some kind of typo or mail merge glitch. However, much to the credit of the MQG, they did fix it immediately, once I notified them. Unfortunately, it was too late to know whether or not the incorrect title had any impact on the judging. But you know what? Rather than get all upset about it, I’ve learned through experience sometimes these things just happen. Inadvertent mistakes can be made by volunteers who are doing their best, so there’s no need to beat them up about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

The best part about sharing this quilt was seeing the reaction it generated. I’m sure I’ll enter it into more shows in the future.

Quilt should be cleaned before entering into competition – lint. I knew I’d get knocked down on this. The quilt wasn’t linty or dirty, but the batting bearded (shed) like crazy through the black fabric on both front and back. When using dark solid fabrics, I need to stick to a black batting or one that doesn’t beard, like 100% cotton. I used Quilter’s Dream Orient which I’ve used before in print quilts with no problems. The batting is a mix of bamboo, silk, tencel and cotton. I’m not sure which fiber caused the problem, but that just means it’s time to experiment and make more quilts!

I share these critiques with you so that we can learn together what makes a successful quilt.

OpticalIllusion_quiltcon_meStanding next to Optical Illusion for scale. Though I’m pretty short so that may not help much.

I have had quite a number of people asking me for a pattern for this quilt. I am in the process of writing one now, so stay tuned!

QuiltCon 2015 Judging Results #1 – Spiraling Out of Control

I recently received all 4 of my quilts back from QuiltCon. Three of those were judged so I thought it would be fun to share the results with you along with my commentary. I’m a big advocate of sharing your work in local and national quilt shows and being open minded when it comes to the judges’ critiques. Because I really want to delve into this subject, I’ve decided to write about each of the three quilts in three separate blog posts over three days.

spiraling-at-QuiltConSpiraling Out of Control by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

The obligatory picture of me next to the quilt for scale. I’m still figuring out how to not make my quilts wavy when they hang, but the majority of show quilts do this, so I don’t feel so bad.

Spiraling Out of Control. It was placed into the improv category by the show organizers (entrants did not select their own categories this year). That category had the largest number of entries, so it was fun to be one of them. I’m still on the fence as to whether I like the idea of not having to pick a category, or if I’d rather have more say in the process. The great thing about QuiltCon is that it answers the question of “What is a modern quilt?” Just look to any QuiltCon quilt in any category as an example of at least one element of modern quilting.

Many of you may remember Spiraling from the MQG quilt challenge sponsored by Riley Blake last year. The great thing about that contest was that it challenged me to be creative while working within a limited palette.

Here are the judges’ comments for this quilt:

  • Well quilted
  • Good design choices in the quilting
  • Would have liked to see more variety and exploration within the blocks

spiraling_detailClosup of the quilting using lots of straight lines for texture.

I’m really pleased that the judges thought my workmanship was well done. I was a little stressed about the quilting not being perfect because I actually free-motion quilted all of the straight lines so I wouldn’t have to turn the quilt! Getting good feedback on my workmanship makes me feel better about my efforts.

The last point is definitely valid, but this is where it’s tricky for the judge to know the full story behind the quilt. As a design challenge, my variety of colors was limited so I couldn’t explore too much there. Also, I wanted all of the blocks to give the same diagonal effect so I really didn’t want to change the overall look or feel of the block structure. So maybe this quilt would have fared better in the modern traditional category since it also looks like a modernized version of a traditional string pieced block, although the techniques I used are vastly different.


Photo credit goes to planetdorth on instagram. I love the juxtaposition of the guys’ striped tee next to this quilt. It was fun to watch people stare and get lost in this quilt!

All in all though, I’m very pleased that it was part of the show and for sure I will try to go out on a limb more with future designs. One of the best things about having this quilt in the show is that it definitely raised my profile as a quilter and several people came up to talk to me about it. It’s already been featured in a couple of different magazines and has been seen in several shows, so the time I took to make it has been well worth it. Suffice it to say that a pattern is definitely coming, but it will be a few months down the road….


Christa’s Soap Box – My Thoughts about Modern Quilting Post QuiltCon

I’m throwing in some more random QuiltCon pics while I wax philosophically below. ๐Ÿ™‚ Click here to see most of the quilts from the show, courtesy of Sew Mama Sew.

It’s no secret that in the last few years my quiltmaking style has definitely changed. I’ve enjoyed making quilts for 20 years now, but only discovered the modern quilting style back in 2012 when I first heard about the movement in a traditional quilting magazine. I was instantly stopped in my tracks when I realized this is what I had been searching for, but didn’t know it!

caseyyorkI loved Casey York’s lecture on finding modern inspiration in art! Quilt by Debbie Grifka.

I also love it that people are so passionate about their opinions! I’m not one to stir up debate, but I love reading the emphatic appeals from quiltmakers on one hand who don’t want to be labeled and those on the other hand that do! Isn’t it so awesome that within the larger quilting community, there’s room for all styles and tastes?

jacquie-teachingI picked up some great tips from Jacquie Gering on being a better teacher. We also had some great conversation about modern quilts and what a wonderfully unique show QuiltCon is!

Going to QuiltCon in 2013 put me on a career path that inspired me to publish patterns, write a book and return to teaching quilting after a long absence. Attending QuiltCon again in 2015 solidified my desire to want to make and share even more!

Lee-and-ChristaLee Heinrich and I stealing a few moments to chat on the show floor. Be sure to read Lee’s QuiltCon comments here. I think she’s right on the money!

Although I do consider myself a “modern” quilter, I’m pleased as punch to be friends with those who don’t share my zeal and enthusiasm for the aesthetic. During and after my trip from QuiltCon I heard from several quilters who realized that maybe “modern” is not their thing, and that’s totally OK!! Because you know what – it certainly is my thing! ๐Ÿ™‚


Getting some great tips from Cristy Fincher from Purple Daisies about submitting a class proposal to Craftsy. She’ll be launching her first class soon – stay tuned for details!

But far be it from me to ever demand any of my friends or fans to follow in my footsteps. Instead, I’ll continue to explore the modern aesthetic and will seek to educate myself (and others) about it whenever I get the chance. Because what I love most about the quilting community are the many friendships I’ve made while pursing this passion.

quiltcon-crepesDelicious crepes for brunch with fellow bloggers. The food and conversation were delicious! Visit Elizabeth’s blog at OP Quilt to see a much better picture of the group than the one I had!

I loved the quilts of QuiltCon because you could really see the heart and soul that went into each of them. I enjoyed viewing so may original compositions and appreciate that there was such an emphasis on aesthetics and design. I’ve also been exploring how to incorporate many of the principles of modernism (negative space, minimalism, asymmetry, clean lines, abstract design and even improvisation) into my machine quilting and it’s been a fun ride!

quilt-admirersYes, I totally admit to stalking my quilts! It was so exciting to see people admire my work!

I’ll leave you with one of the first things I said to members of my local MQG when I recently took over as president:

Just because you enjoy modern quilts doesn’t mean you have to BE a modern quilter. And just because you consider yourself part of the movement doesn’t mean you have to make exclusively modern quilts. ๐Ÿ™‚


Best of show – i Quilt by Kathy York. When I saw it in person, I didn’t see the larger “I” at first. Then I realized it has so much meaning in the message!

Now, who wants to go make a quilt?

More Quilts From QuiltCon 2015

I can express more in pictures than I can in words, so here are a few more fabulous quilts from QuiltCon:

(Click here for my previous QuiltCon 2015 post)

2014-quilts-of-the-month2014-quilts-of-the-month-2Above, 11 of the 12 modern quilts of the month from 2014 were on display including Modern X, which was my pattern for March. The PDF quilt patterns are available for free to all Modern Quilt Guild members on the community site in the members-only forum.

Optical-IllusionIt was fun to get a picture of myself standing next to Optical Illusion to show the scale of the design. It was fun to see people standing back to get a better look!

AbacusI loved meeting so many of my online friends in person includingย  Michelle Wilkie, and our quilts got to be “neighbors” in the show! Abacus was my solid quilt and Neighborhood was hers. They both hung in the “small quilts” category.

Cheryl_places_you'll_goI loved this small piece, titled “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by my friend and roommate, Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist designs. It reminds me of the art quilts that Michael James made in the 90’s, way back before I was ready for modern and contemporary designs!

I took so many pictures that I can’t possibly share them all in one post, so I invite you to follow me on instagram (or click here: @christaquilts) to see more! You can also search the hashtag #quiltcon to see thousands more images from the show. It truly was a social media event!

Now I can’t wait for QuiltCon 2016 in California. ๐Ÿ™‚


My Experiences From QuiltCon 2015

QuiltCon 2015 has been the most amazing event! It feels like a grand reunion of online friends who’ve never met! The quilts, lectures and social encounters are unlike any other show I’ve ever attended. I’ve seen the most beautiful quilts, I’ve met the most inspiring people, and I’ve had the most amazing experiences!

The Quilts

The picture below shows a small montage of some of the ribbon winners. Click here for pictures and names of all the QuiltCon 2015 winners.

Winners-MontageQuiltCon is the largest display of modern quilts in the world!

The People

I met and reconnected with many of my online friends from blogging and instagram, just a few of which I managed to photograph below:

quiltcon_people Cheryl Brickey (my roommate) and Amy Garro; Kristy Daum, Gemma Jackson, (me), Yvonne Fuchs, Malka Dubrawsky (Moda designer), Andres Rosales and Cristy Fincher; Daryl from Andover with Chris, The Tattooed Quilter, Leanne from She Can Quiltย  and me; Jacquie Gering, and Krista Hennebury.

The Experiences

A Show like QuiltCon is more than about just quilts. Making connections and experiencing new things are all part of the fun!the_experiences

  1. Coming full circle with Marianne Fons, from whom I bought my very first quilting book, and her daughter Mary Fons who published my very first quilt pattern in her magazine 20 years later!
  2. QuiltCon Pin Trading – such a fun way to remember everyone I met!
  3. Getting temporarily tattooed from Sarah Watts of Cotton and Steel. (Permanent tattooing was also a thing – just not my thing!)
  4. Being interviewed to talk about Spiraling Out of Control by the Quilt Alliance project.
  5. Sharing Modern X as part of the special exhibits tour with Bill Volckening.
  6. Being asked to autograph a copy of QuiltCon Magazine in which 2 of my quilts from the show were featured – such a surreal moment!

And many more amazing moments that will live in my memory for a long time! I always say I’ve never met a quilt or quilter I didn’t like. But coming to QuiltCon feels like I’ve found my tribe, and for that I am truly grateful. ๐Ÿ™‚

Other Posts from QuiltCon 2015

Book Winner – and Thank You!

Congratulations to Caryn S. who wins a copy of Paper Pieced Modern from my friend Amy Garro. She has been contacted and the book is on it’s way!


I don’t know about you – but I am constantly amazed at the talent I’ve seen in the online quilting community. Between social media and the modern movement I feel like I’m chatting with lifelong friends who really get me and my style. I love it!

Also, – a huge thanks to those of you who helped out with my fabric destash.

2015-02-14destashNow I have a nice clean shelf that I will be filling up with all sorts of fun works-in-progress. For those that missed out, rest assured that I will be doing another one in a few weeks (maybe a couple of months). I still have loads of fabrics and goodies to clean out – stuff I just don’t use anymore.

2015-02-16-quiltconbagSneak peak of that quilt backing on the design wall coming soon….

I’m just about packed and ready for QuiltCon. I leave in the morning and will be sporting my favorite bag (made by my friend Vicki from A Quilter’s Mission) and an awesome lanyard that I got from Sewtopia.

Be sure to keep up with me throughout the week on instagram @christaquilts!

Christa’s Soapbox – QuiltCon’s a Comin’!

This week, I leave for QuiltCon, the the modern quilt show and conference. I’m excited to meet so many of my online friends there, and share my trip virtually with those of you who won’t be attending. I’ll be sure to write up a blog post or two while I’m there, and I’ll have day-by-day action (more like hour-by-hour) live on Instagram @christaquilts.

QuiltConFor those of you who have never gone, be sure to check out my QuiltCon post on Craftsy, for a sneak peek of what to expect. You can also go back and read my original posts from 2013 below. I’ve listed them in reverse chronological order.

Celebrity Encounters from QuiltCon 2013

What I learned from QuiltCon 2013

More Amazing Quiltcon Quilts of 2013

2013 Winning Quilts Part 3

2013 Winning Quilts Part 2

2013 Winning Quilts Part 1

QuiltCon 2013 Sneak Peek

If you will be at QuiltCon, be sure to come say hi and grab a button! Due to a color printing error I actually have twice as many as I originally ordered, so there’s plenty to share!

buttonsThese are the first batch in turquoise – I also have them in teal!

PS: If you enjoy my blog and would like to read about more quilting content, be sure to sign up for Friendly Threads, my weekly email newsletter!

Optical Illusion – The Finish

I was able to finish Optical Illusion just in time to submit it to QuiltCon (the all-modern quilt show and conference). Then I got the exciting news that it was selected for judging along with two of my other entries, Abacus and Spiraling Out of Control. There were over 1300 entries submitted this year which totally blew away the amount of entries received the first time around. What an awesome show it’s going to be!

cwatson_Optical_Illusion_1800Optical Illusion, designed, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson

Here’s a detail shot where you can see the quilting a little better:

cwatson_opticalillusion_detI had a lot of fun sharing this one on Instagram, because when my followers scrolled the reduced sized picture up and down, they could get the lines to move. What a fun trick! See if you can get it to move when you scroll this blog post up and down – it’s an interactive quilt!

Another “optical illusion” for this quilt was totally unintentional but added a fun surprise: when you hold it up to the light, you can see the geometric backing fabric shining through the white squares, creating a “stained-glass” effect. Cool huh?

stained-glassThis quilt is as fun to play with as it was to make! Since I finished ahead of schedule, I took a little time to make a not-so-fancy but utilitarian label for it, using the embroidery stitches on my machine. (It’s a Bernina 710 – since I know you are going to ask!)

labelI know several of you have asked for a pattern for it, so that’s in the works. I probably won’t release it though until after QuiltCon, to give me plenty of time to get it ready (and to see how it does during the judging process, LOL!!)

Now, it’s onto the next quilt….

QuiltCon Show News – Submit your Entries for 2015

I like to encourage others to submit their quilts into shows whether it be at the local or national level, so I’m here with some fun news related to QuiltCon – the biannual quilt show and conference put on by The Modern Quilt Guild.

QuiltConThe MQG education committee has been hard at work getting the word out to prepare for what is going to be an amazing show! The biggest and perhaps most exciting news is that this year, Modern Quilt Guild members can as many quilts as they wish into the show.

It will be a juried show, which means that a panel will select which quilts make it into the show based on an online application with photos. Deadline for entry is November 30, 2014, so there’s plenty of time for you think about what you want to enter, or to make something just for the show!

The Modern Quilt Guild has written up a couple of posts on their blog which explain the category entries and other important info, plus details about upcoming challenges. Click here for part one and here for part two to find out more details. I hope you enter and get to show off your amazing work!