The Making of Diamond in the Rough Part 2 – The Quilting

Click here to read about Part 1 – My design process for Diamond in the Rough.

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

Diamond in the Rough hanging at QuiltCon 2017. I’m with Linda Permann, my editor at Craftsy. I credit her with helping me put a name to the process I use to figure out how to quilt each quilt. It’s called “The Quilter’s Path.” Click here to register for my class of the same name.

Now I’m excited to tell you about how I quilted Diamond in the Rough, since that’s my favorite part of making any quilt! First of all, I printed off a copy of the EQ7 design on a regular 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. (You can do the same thing by taking a picture of your quilt top and printing it onto paper – black and white is perfectly fine!!)

Machine Quilting Plan

This is the actual sketch I submitted to QuiltCon Magazine when it was accepted.

I always, always make a quilting plan before I quilt so that I can figure out the quilting path I’ll take to get it done. It’s like a puzzle – figuring out what designs I want to put where and how to maneuver around the quilt with the fewest stops and starts. I’m not too worried about scale here. I’m more interested in seeing how the texture of the quilting will look and where I may need to switch thread colors.

Of course, I have to sketch with black ink to see my design, so my quilting plan is pretty rough and quite stark when you look at it. However, from experience I know that I prefer to use a blending thread so that all you see is the overall texture, rather than the individual stitches.

Diamond in the Rough quilting detail

Overall, I’m really happy with how the quilting turned out. I’m just a little bummed that you can’t see the quilting in the black areas. I quilted a textural pebble design in the black triangles. Although I love the contrast of black and white, each time I quilt on black, I remind myself that it doesn’t show up as well as I would like. So I may need to use less black fabric in the future!!

I’m really happy with how the “Switchbacks” and “String of Pearls” quilting turned out in the white areas of the quilt. I teach how to quilt both of those designs in my book Machine Quilting with Style. It was super fun to combine them together in this quilt!

Quilting Detail on Diamond in the Rough

I used very dark gray, red, and white 50 weight cotton thread from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt collection for the machine quilting which I did all on my BERNINA. You can sort of see the pebble quilting on the top row of black diamonds in the image above.

Here’s a view from the back of the quilt where you can see the pebbles better. I normally use the same color thread in the top and bobbin so that any tension imperfections are not noticeable. However, since I didn’t want the dark gray thread showing up too strongly on the light back, I used an invisible thread in the bobbin when I quilted the pebbles. Here’s a tip: wind your bobbin slowly and only fill it half full!

Managing the quilt bulk while machine quilting

First I stitch in the ditch with the BERNINA dual feed before adding free-motion quilting.

Here’s the quilt in progress underneath my machine. I use a very technical process I call “scrunching and smooshing” to wrestle the bulk of the quilt. It’s really no more complicated that twisting and shoving enough of it out of the way so I can see what I’m doing. Here’s another tip: when working with a large quilt on a small machine, just remember you are only quilting about 5-6 inches of the quilt at any time, so it’s normal to stop and shift a LOT!!

QuiltCon 2017 Cover

Right now you can get a digital copy of my Diamond in the Rough quilt pattern in QuiltCon magazine. It includes the instructions for the piecing only, but when the rights revert back to me next year, I’ll release it on my own, most likely in multiple sizes with quilting suggestions.

I was pleased with the comments I received from the QuiltCon judges about the quilt:

  1. Strong offset focal point.
  2. Varied quilting motifs were well chosen and fit areas well.
  3. Strong geometric shapes create graphic visual appeal.

I’ve had at least one quilt in each QuiltCon and have yet to win a ribbon, but it’s still fun to get them accepted. In fact, the main reason I submitted this design for the magazine was that it was a guaranteed entry into the show. Since the other 5 I entered didn’t get in, I was really happy that this one did.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

Making this quilt reminds me what I love most about the modern aesthetic: strong geometric forms, minimalist designs, and plenty of negative space for fun machine quilting. Although I love ALL quilts, making those on the modern end of the design spectrum truly make my heart happy!

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My Trip to QuiltCon 2017

QuiltCon 2017 which took place in Savannah, GA, was such a flurry of activity and excitement! I taught 5 classes, gave 1 lecture and had 2 book signings, not to mention multiple meet ups and business brunches. It was a fantastic experience, although quite exhausting. The only thing I regret was not having more time to see the show. I could have spent days staring at all of the amazing quilts and reading all of the artists’ statements. One thing is for sure, I returned home on fire, ready to make some more modern quilts! Here are just a few of the highlights for me…

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

Linda and I took a picture in front of my Diamond in the Rough Quilt at QuiltCon.
I’ll share more detailed pics about this quilt in a future blog post.

One of the fabulous people I ran into was Linda Permann, the acquisitions editor for my Craftsy class. We discussed how well my current class is going and talked about future collaborations as well. I’ll be sure and keep you posted as that unfolds! Oh yeah, and she totally made her top. Isn’t it cute???

Machine Quilting Practice, student work from a class by Christa Watson

Student work from “Free-Motion Alternatives to Straight Line Quilting”

I taught three machine quilting classes and was so thrilled watching my students unlock the power of domestic machine quilting. Each time one of them would tell me how much fun they were having, I made sure to let them know it’s just as much fun for me, too!

Student work from Christa Watson machine quilting class at QuiltCon

Student work from “Free-Motion Improv” class

In each class, I shared inspiration images and a mini trunk show so they could see how I apply the motifs I quilt onto actual quilts. Then we practiced drawing out each design so the students could get a feel for how to quilt each shape. The most fun part of any class is when a student takes one of the designs and really makes it their own. I also love it when I hear comments like “I think I can DO this!!” Yes – you definitely can!!! 🙂

View from the stage at QuiltCon

View from the stage before my lecture. I love how everyone chats and makes  friends!!

I gave a lecture about tips and tricks for quilting on your home sewing machine. My #1 tip is to make a quilting plan and find your path so that you know what you are going to do before you get there. It was really fun to speak to an audience full of enthusiastic quilters and I even brought a few of my quilts so they could come up afterwards and see them “in the cloth.”

Student Work in EQ7 Class

Caroline from Sew Can She attended my EQ class and wrote up a really nice blog post about it.

I also taught 2 Electric Quilt classes plus had a book signing in their booth. The best moment of class for me was when a student said “Now I don’t need to actually sew quilts any more. I can just make them virtually in EQ!!
The Gals of EQThese gals that work for EQ are so amazing! From left to right it’s Jenny, Sara, Christine and Ann. They helped me out in the booth during my book signing as well as during my class. If you ever need technical support for the software, they are happy to give it! (That’s my Square in a square quilt from Machine Quilting with Style that was hanging in their booth.)

Pam and Lynn from The Stitch TV Show

While getting ready for my book signing in the EQ7 booth,  I ran into some friends of mine, Pam and Lynn from TheStitchTVShow.com. They ended up helping me set things up and they hung around for a bit, so I always had someone to talk to, LOL!! Lynn is the one that is the same height as me so we decided to put Pam in the middle and create a “Pamwhich.” 🙂

Angela Walters, Christa Watson, Tula Pink at QuiltCon 2017

Tula and I both agree that Angela is the best co-author ever!

Probably the funniest moment of the show came when Angela and I were signing copies of our book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Tula Pink heard that we were there so she ended up crashing the party and it turned into the 3 of us signing both our books we wrote with Angela.

While Angela and I were writing our book, she was also working on the book with Tula. I joked around with everyone that I totally didn’t mind that she “quilts around” LOL!!! 🙂

Stephanie and Stephanie, the Quilting Podcasters

Two quilting podcasters, both named Stephanie

I personally think that QuiltCon is the most interactive quilt show out there. Not only could you hear squeals of delight as internet friends met each other for the first time, but you could take part in the show even if you weren’t there. QuiltCon set up a podcast booth right on the show floor where they invited 4 well-known podcasters to record interviews during the show. I was fortunate enough to be invited to chat for a few minutes with Stephanie from Sit and Sew Radio.

Sit and Sew Radio Podcast

Click here to listen to Sit and Sew Radio – the first QuiltCon edition.

You can also check out thousands of pics on instragram with the hashtags #quiltcon and #quiltcon2017. Plus the MQG has posted images of all the winners.

Machine Quilting Detail from Best of Show at QuiltCon 2017

Machine Quilting detail of Bling, the best of Show winner by Kat Jones.

QuiltCon 2018 will be Pasadena, California with keynote speaker Carolyn Friedlander, then in 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. So far, I’ve attended every show, and I plan to keep going to it every year because I personally think it’s the best party around!

QuiltCon 2018

For further reading, check out my experiences from:
QuiltCon 2016
QuiltCon 2015
QuiltCon 2013

Come See Me at QuiltCon 2017 – Updated Schedule

I’m pleased to announce that I have added another book signing/meet ‘n greet to my QuiltCon schedule. On Saturday, February 25th from 12:30-1:30 Angela Walters and I will be signing copies of our co-authored book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with Intown Quilters in booth #348.

Meet Angela Walters and Christa Watson at QuiltCon

I’ll also be doing a book signing on Friday, February 24th from 12-1 PM in the Electric Quilt Company booth #337. Four of my quilts from Machine Quilting with Style will be on display for you to see “in the cloth.”

Christa Watson at QuiltCon in 2017

Both of my books will be available for purchase at both events. I hope you can make it!

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Christa’s Soap Box – Why I Enter Quilt Shows and a Few More Thoughts

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a series of “soap box” articles. These aren’t meant to be controversial, but rather a chance for me to gather my thoughts on certain topics and share them with you. It’s great to have a conversation about quilting that goes a little deeper than the usual quilt tutorial or eye candy inspiration. I’ve been so crazy busy over last year that I’ve barely had time to think big thoughts, let alone share them with you, LOL!!

Participation Ribbon

My first national quilt entry was QuiltCon 2013. At the time they gave hand made ribbons to ALL entrants. It’s the only QuiltCon ribbon I’ve ever received and I love it to death!!

Quilt show season is upon us so I thought I’d write a little about why I like to enter my work into shows. I do it for three basic reasons:

  1. To give myself a deadline to shoot for. I’ve realized that if I don’t give myself a deadline to do something, then it just doesn’t happen!!
  2. To share my work with a wider audience. Because quilting is my job (and IMHO the best one in the world!), it behooves me to come up with creative ways to get my name out there.
  3. Because it’s fun to see my quilt hanging in a big show and sometimes, on a lucky day, I just may snag a ribbon.Fractured Puzzle RibbonSome shows give monetary awards while others don’t. It depends on the show.

Now, I have to say, entering a show isn’t for the faint of heart. Most large shows are juried, which means that if there are more entries than spots in the show, a small panel of jurors will look through all of the entries and select what they feel will be the best representation for a show. Getting into a juried show can be thrilling; getting rejected can feel like a punch to the gut, especially if you made a quilt specifically for that show.

Facets Quilt

Facets got a ribbon at AQS Paducah, but was a “quiltconreject” for 2017, along with 4 other entries. That’s ok because I know it’s a very subjective process – you win some, you lose some!!

Plus, it’s expensive to enter shows. The average price of entering a quilt in a large show can range anywhere from $10 to $25 per quilt, or more, and there’s no refund if you quilt doesn’t get accepted. Then you have to pay for the shipping, depending on the show it can either be one way, or both!! I look at these costs as business expenses (again, because it’s part of my job), but they can definitely add up!

quiltcon-rejects

For the record, here are the other 4 quilts I entered that didn’t make it into QuiltCon: Candy Pop, Feathered Chevrons, Lightning, Square in a Square. I had my 5 second pity party and then I moved on. Each of them has already been in another show, or will be shown in one soon.

With many of us sharing our work online and in social media, getting likes and positive comments all the time, it can feel a bit jarring when the quilt show circuit isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. But in the end, whether a quilt gets into a show or not, or whether it wins recognition or not, I think it’s still tons of fun to try.

Many people enter larger shows forgetting that there are a ton of local opportunities, too. I entered my local guild’s show for many years (and still do), until I finally got up the guts to enter my first national show (QuiltCon in 2013). I knew the competition would be fierce even the first time around, so I did a lot of research into what makes a “show quality” quilt and did my best to adhere to those standards (a clean and appropriately quilted quilt with square corners, flat edges and evenly applied binding). Luckily, one of them got in back then, and each year I’ve submitted, I’ve gotten both rejections and acceptances.

diamonds_quilting

The back of my QuiltCon 2017 accepted entry. It’s all I can show for now since it’s for publication. It’s quilted as heavily as those that were rejected, so it’s all just a big crap-shoot anyhoo!! 🙂

I also enter lots of other shows on a regular basis, too, so I know the drill. However, with each entry, it’s still nerve-wracking, knowing I could be kissing my hard earned money goodbye. Quilting is definitely an emotional outlet and there’s always raw feelings –  elation when one gets accepted and dejection when one doesn’t. But I can say the more shows I enter, the easier it gets. They are all run with similar rules and deadlines so once you know the system, it’s easier to get into a routine.  Plus, the rejections get easier to handle, too. And here’s the biggest tip I’ve learned with quilt shows – enter ALL of them! What gets rejected from one show has many times gotten a ribbon at another show. So you never really know until you try.

fractured-puzzle_resizeMy entry into the MQG challenge that didn’t make in into QuiltCon 2016 but went on to win an award at MQX later in the year. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – until you are tired of trying and then it’s totally fine to move onto something else!!

So if you are thinking about entering a show, or nursing your wounds from not getting into one that you really liked, just remember your work is amazing because you did it. I bet you had a great time, making it, too. And if quilt show entering is not your thing, that’s totally okay! It definitely takes a thick skin to get over feeling rejected and it’s hard not to take it personally. But here’s one thing I can guarantee: if you share your quilts with me and my facebook friends, we would absolutely love to see them and will give you a virtual high-five!!

Related Reading

Here’s a roundup of posts I’ve written on similar topics – there’s a lot of info here:

List of shows to enter with modern categories:

**Disclaimer*** I welcome your considerate and thoughtful comments on this post. This article came about as my response to all of the chatter about QuiltCon on instagram over the last few days, both positive and negative. If you want to see an amazing virtual quilt show, check out the hashtags #quiltcon2017 and #quiltconreject. There’s some amazing work that just blows me away!!

QuiltCon Article from NQA

I love being a cheerleader for modern quilting. When I stumbled upon the style in 2012 and attended the first QuiltCon in 2013, it really changed the course of my quilting career in so many positive ways. I was able to meet people making art that really resonated with me and I was able to find my voice within the larger quilting community.

Back in 2014-2015 I wrote a regular column about machine quilting for the National Quilting Association, which sadly, went defunct at the end of last year. During my time writing for them, I was also able to co-author an article about QuiltCon with Jacquie Gering for NQA’s magazine, The Quilting Quarterly.  Because I’ve grown my readership quite a bit since that time, I wanted to republish this article so that any of you who missed it the first time around get a chance to read it. This is especially important for those of you who may not have yet attended QuiltCon, or might be going for the first time in 2017. It will give you a better idea of what to expect when you go. I’m re-sharing it here with Jacquie’s permission as well as the former editor of NQA magazine. Enjoy!

QuiltCon Article page 1

QuiltCon Article page 2

QuiltCon Article page 3

QuiltCon Article page 4

QuiltCon Registration Opens June 25, 2016 for MQG Members, July 8 for General Public

Have you picked out your classes for QuiltCon 2017? It’s going to be the modern quilting party of the year!! Registration opens this Saturday (June 25th) at 7 AM PST for Modern Quilt Guild Members, and July 8 for the general public. Be sure to register as soon as you can because classes sell out fast!

Click here for the complete catalog and descriptions of all lectures and classes.

As a reminder, here are the classes I’ll be teaching:

(220) Getting Started with EQ7 – Thursday 2/23 9-5

introtoEQ7

In this comprehensive workshop, students will learn the basics of Electric Quilt Software – version 7 for Windows or Mac. Topics include: learning to use the block library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing simple quilts, calculating yardage and more. This is a hands-on computer class, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(826) Machine quilting Spirals and Swirls – Thursday 2/23 6-9 PM

center_spiral

Learn how to quilt modern, geometric spirals and swirls using both walking foot and free-motion motifs. Students will learn how to quilt stunning designs such as large continuous spirals, geometric spirals, and several swirl variations. Spirals can be quilted in different areas of your quilts, or used as an allover design. Combine motifs for even more possibilities! Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(LE08) Quilting on Your Home Sewing Machine: Tips and Tricks – Friday 2/24 10:30-11:15 AM (lecture)

trunk_show

There are quite a few differences between quilting on a long arm and quilting on a sit-down home sewing machine. Although many of the same motifs can be quilted on either machine, the techniques on how to approach the quilting are different. In this lecture, I will share her best tricks on how to approach quilting on a sit-down machine. Plus, I’ll answer your questions and share tips on how to become a better quilter.

(232) Designing Modern Quilts in EQ7 – Saturday 2/25 6-9 PM

Designing-Modern-Quilts-in-EQ7-Image

Take your modern designs to the next level by learning how to draw and change them in EQ7. Topics will include drawing improv blocks, manipulating borders, incorporating negative space, going off the grid, changing sizes, and designing custom set quilts. We will work at a quick pace, so students should be comfortable with the basics of EQ7 prior to class. This is a hands-on computer workshop, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(817) Free Motion Alternatives to STraight Line Quilting – Sunday 2/26 9-12

fmq_straight_line_alternatives

Go beyond the straight line and use your free-motion quilting skills to their fullest. In this workshop, students will learn how to turn basic shapes into linear free-motion quilting designs. Quilt them as allover designs across the surface of your quilt, or use them sporadically to create custom quilting motifs. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(833) Improv Machine Quilting – Sunday 2/26 2-5

improv_machine_quilting_image

Liberate yourself from traditional quilting symmetry by combining your favorite machine quilting motifs in a seemingly random way. Add amazing texture to the negative spaces in your quilts and create your own unique combinations. The class will cover basic free-motion filler designs such as pebbles, swirls, leaves, paisleys, triangles, and more. Learn how to improvisationally combine them for stunning results. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

Who’s going to QuiltCon?

Let me know if you plan to attend – I would love to see you there!

My QuiltCon 2017 Workshop Schedule – Catalog Available Now!

I’m super excited for QuiltCon East 2017 in Savannah Georgia! After having a blast teaching in 2016, I’m so excited to return in 2017! The 2017 Catalog is available now.  Registration for Modern Quilt Guild Members opens June 25th. Public registration opens July 1.

teaching_at_quiltcon_2017_v2

I am excited to be teaching 2 classes on EQ7, 3 classes on domestic machine quilting, plus a lecture. Here’s my schedule, in order:

(220) Getting Started with EQ7 – Thursday 2/23 9-5

introtoEQ7

In this comprehensive workshop, students will learn the basics of Electric Quilt Software – version 7 for Windows or Mac. Topics include: learning to use the block library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing simple quilts, calculating yardage and more. This is a hands-on computer class, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(826) Machine quilting Spirals and Swirls – Thursday 2/23 6-9 PM

center_spiral

Learn how to quilt modern, geometric spirals and swirls using both walking foot and free-motion motifs. Students will learn how to quilt stunning designs such as large continuous spirals, geometric spirals, and several swirl variations. Spirals can be quilted in different areas of your quilts, or used as an allover design. Combine motifs for even more possibilities! Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(LE08) Quilting on Your Home Sewing Machine: Tips and Tricks – Friday 2/24 10:30-11:15 AM (lecture)

trunk_show

There are quite a few differences between quilting on a long arm and quilting on a sit-down home sewing machine. Although many of the same motifs can be quilted on either machine, the techniques on how to approach the quilting are different. In this lecture, I will share her best tricks on how to approach quilting on a sit-down machine. Plus, I’ll answer your questions and share tips on how to become a better quilter.

(223) Designing Modern Quilts in EQ7 – Saturday 2/25 6-9 PM

Designing-Modern-Quilts-in-EQ7-Image

Take your modern designs to the next level by learning how to draw and change them in EQ7. Topics will include drawing improv blocks, manipulating borders, incorporating negative space, going off the grid, changing sizes, and designing custom set quilts. We will work at a quick pace, so students should be comfortable with the basics of EQ7 prior to class. This is a hands-on computer workshop, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(817) Free Motion Alternatives to STraight Line Quilting – Sunday 2/26 9-12

fmq_straight_line_alternatives

Go beyond the straight line and use your free-motion quilting skills to their fullest. In this workshop, students will learn how to turn basic shapes into linear free-motion quilting designs. Quilt them as allover designs across the surface of your quilt, or use them sporadically to create custom quilting motifs. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(833) Improv Machine Quilting – Sunday 2/26 2-5

improv_machine_quilting_image

Liberate yourself from traditional quilting symmetry by combining your favorite machine quilting motifs in a seemingly random way. Add amazing texture to the negative spaces in your quilts and create your own unique combinations. The class will cover basic free-motion filler designs such as pebbles, swirls, leaves, paisleys, triangles, and more. Learn how to improvisationally combine them for stunning results. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.


The rest of the time, I’ll be walking the show floor, checking out the quilts, and of course trying to meet as many of you! Let me know if you are planning to attend.

Download the QuiltCon 2017 catalog here.

Christa’s Soapbox – QuiltCon 2016 is NOT Your Traditional Quilt Show

Today I will talk a little bit about the quilts from QuiltCon. I took a bazillion pictures on the last day of the show, as part of my preparation for a webinar on Modern Machine Quilting (which I’ll be presenting to members of The Modern Quilt Guild in April). However, rather than overloading this post with pics, I’ll just share a few of them here. For a complete list of winners visit The Modern Quilt Guild Blog.

Read my earlier post about why I think that QuiltCon is about more than just quilts.

Blog_bos

Best in Show Winner – Pieced and Quilted by Melissa Averinos – My Brother’s Jeans

First of all, QuiltCon is NOT like any other show out there. While I was at the show and perusing social media, I ran into comments somewhat disparaging the Best in Show Quilt for not being up to par with other national quilt show winners. I also remember some grumbling at QC 2015 and 2013 that some quilts that earned accolades at other traditional shows got nary a ribbon at QuiltCon. My answer is that QuiltCon is QuiltCon – it’s not trying to be like any other show, and for that I am grateful.

blog_best_hmq

Best Home Machine Quilting – Pieced by Members of the Albuquerque MQG, quilted by Renee Hoffman of Quilts of a Feather

I was so thrilled to see Renee win such a high honor. For me this truly is the epitome of a modern quilt. You can look closely to see that she combined many traditional quilting elements successfully into a modern design. I love it! Yes you CAN combine swirly motifs and feathers in a modern quilt. It’s not always just about straight line quilting! It’s all in how you do it.

blog_AMQG_detail

The details on this quilt are so fabulous! I’ll discuss it more as part of my upcoming webinar.

One of the things that excites me about the quilting community is that there truly is something for everyone. If you love to spend 500 hours machine quilting a quilt, you can – and I think that is fantastic! I’ll admire your breathtakingly beautiful workmanship and appreciate the skill, thought and precision that goes into each stitch.

If you pour your heart and soul into a design, and rather than spending a small fortune on having it professionally quilted to perfection, you decide to quilt it yourself so you can take ownership of the entire process, I’ll equally applaud your perfectly imperfect stitches.

In fact, I was able to have a very in-depth conversation about this topic with Annie Smith – host of Quilting Stash Podcast. Click here to listen to our hour long QuiltCon chat, or find it in Itunes.

quilting_stash_podcast

Annie and I discussed QuiltCon, my books, and my first ever BERNINA sighting!

Something unique about QuiltCon is that they hire 3 judges with 3 different areas of expertise to judge their shows. There’s a certified quilt judge, a modern quilter, and an artist outside the realm of quilting. So with these 3 combined voices, I think they are able to evaluate each quilt as a whole rather than the individual sum of its parts.

I truthfully do not know whether or not they take the artist’s statement into account when choosing their winners, but I’m pretty sure that overall design trumps workmanship when it comes to picking the winners and I’m okay with that. This is not to say that it’s a blanket excuse for shoddy workmanship, but I’d rather see someone be rewarded for their own best efforts rather than feel like they can’t even enter because their work isn’t “good enough.”

christopher_black_white

I love black and white quilts! This one was made by my good friend Christopher Thompson, aka The Tatooed Quilter. He nailed it on the machine quilting, too! He said he was inspired by the wavy lines from my book and created his own version of “organic matchstick quilting”. I love it!

christopher_quiltingdetail

Detail of machine quilting on Let’s Connect by Christopher Thompson

One of the things that I found particularly refreshing about QuiltCon was that there was so much originality in the quilts on display. As a designer, of course I’m flattered when someone purchases my patterns to make a quilt, but there’s something special about seeing a new work at a quilt show that I haven’t seen a hundred times before.

Paige_plus

I love the design and texture on this piece by Paige Alexander. Her work is always so fresh and inspiring! Both she and Christopher get bonus points from me for doing their own work.

blog_mod_mood

This was my favorite quilt from the show, Mod Mood by Debbie Jeske from A Quilter’s Table, made from Bee Sewcial bee blocks. I saw this one coming together on Instagram and thought it was something special. I love the retro vibe! It won a 1st place for group quilts.

It’s always thrilling to share my own quilts in any quilt show, whether they win ribbons or not. I was pleased to have two of my quilts from Machine Quilting with Style on display at QuiltCon. Of course I had to grab the obligatory “hey look at the quilts in my book” photo op! 🙂

rain

 “Rain” was in the minimalist category at QuiltCon. Thanks to Becca Bryan for photography!

focal_point

The title of “Focal Point” pays homage to Jacquie Gering who gave me the best piece of design advice when making modern quilts – “always have a focal point.”

One of the things I love about QuiltCon that truly sets it apart from other shows, is the beautiful display of charity quilts. Each local MQG chapter is invited to create a quilt with a specific theme that will be then donated to their local area after the show. You can see a snippet of my guild’s charity guilt – “Home is Where the Heart Is”  in the podcast picture collage earlier in this article.

blog_seattlemqg

These are the most beautiful charity quilts I’ve even seen, with beautiful details and amazing workmanship. The one is my favorite  – Flame of Inspiration by the Seattle MQG.

Jason is always pushing me to go more modern and I learn more about the aesthetic with each quilt I make. I’m sure there will be continuing discussion on what makes a quilt modern as well as what makes a quilt win a ribbon, and I love to be part of the dialogue! Feel free to add to the conversation below, but just remember, this is my space, so please be considerate and thoughtful when you comment.

For more inspiring modern quilts, check out #quiltcon and #quiltcon2016.

 

QuiltCon 2016 – Modern Quilting is About More than Just Quilts

I returned from QuiltCon yesterday and it was such an amazing experience. As I begin to process everything, the thing that sticks out most in my mind is the community aspect of it all. In fact, for today’s post, I won’t even be talking about the quilts. But don’t worry, I’ll get to them later. 🙂

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Lunch on the Steps with Melissa – pictured are Melissa Averinos, Molli Sparkles, Lacy J. Law, Becca Bryan, Violet Craft, Monica-Solario Snow and another gal in the upper left whom I met but sadly forgot her name (if you are out there new friend – please speak up!)

It’s been stated that the modern movement is part attitude/part aesthetic. The modern quilting community itself is a huge part of that! QuiltCon is unlike any show I’ve ever been to and it’s so unique in that you really feel like you are among friends. It’s so fun to meet up with instagram/facebook friends in person and have longer, more in-depth face to face conversations. I think we all love being a part of something and being around others who get it.

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One of the fun things I got to do was take part in a panel discussion on how to stash our fabric. The moderator was Rossie Hutchinson and panelists were myself, Mary Fons and Judy Gauthier. I was able to give Mary a big hug and thank her for giving me my first “big break” in the quilting community (when she selected my Charming Chevrons quilt for the cover of Quilty magazine back in 2013). Chatting with her before the panel began felt like we were old friends catching up.

I love being part of both the local and national MQG community. So many of my local Las Vegas MQG members attended, since the show was only a few hours drive. I didn’t realize what a huge help they would be in helping me set up and break down my classes each day.

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My “roadies” – Melissa B., Ida, Melissa C. and Vicki with our guild’s group entry.

One of my favorite moments at the show was meeting up with Angela Walters and Jennifer Keltner (Chief Visionary Officer for Martingale/That Patchwork Place) for a little chat about our book, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting which releases in April. We have something extra special planned for Spring Quilt Market in May and I can’t wait!

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And finally I love, love, love, my community of students. Teaching is one of my favorite parts of my career as a quilter. That spark of excitement on a student’s face when they get it is one of the huge reasons I do what I do!

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Student work from my class “free-motion favorites for the modern quilter.”

I taught two machine quilting classes while at QuiltCon along with two classes on EQ7. I’m always a little unsure of how the material will be received and it makes my day when a student comes up to me at the end of class and tells me how happy they are with what they’ve learned. Yay! That kind of positive feedback propels me to do more. I love it!

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It makes me happy to see students chatting together before class begins.

And the best news is, for anyone who was unable to attend QuiltCon 2016 – I’ll be teaching again at QuiltCon in 2017, this time in Savannah, Georgia. I can hardly wait!

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My MQG Fabric Challenge Quilt and Why It’s Important to go Out of Your Comfort Zone

I recently finished “Fractured Puzzle” which was my Modern Quilt Guild fabric challenge entry. All contestants were given samples of Michael Miller Glitz fabrics and we could add in additional Michael Miller fabrics as desired. My quilt is based on my Puzzle Box quilt design that’s a free download for newsletter subscribers.

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Fractured Puzzle by Christa Watson, 56″ x 60″

This quilt was way, way out of my comfort zone for so many reasons! At first, I thought I would play it safe, and sew together the blocks in a standard, traditional grid format, shown below:

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I really like the graphic quality of this layout, and the Glitz fabrics really play off of each other. Next, I thought it would be fun to add a pop of color with a red Cotton Couture solid:

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By now, I’m really, really starting to like how this is turning out. I shared these pics in social media on instagram and facebook and received a lot of very positive feedback. But then a crazy idea popped into my head, and I couldn’t get rid of it:

What  would happen if if I slashed up the quilt top and then sewed it back together??

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Getting ready to take the first cut – this was so scary!!

Going this route scared me so much because I thought people would really think I’d gone off the deep end. But something in me said I had to try, and that was truly exciting. After all, this WAS a quilt challenge. It’s not for publication, nor is it for a class sample, and I really didn’t need anyone else’s approval to do this. I finally decided to just dive in and  see what happened. What a liberating feeling!!

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Wanna go crazy? Slash up your quilt!!

After making the first cut, things got a little easier. Now I’m liking the fractured look and for a time, I considered adding white strips in between each of the sections, “slash-and-insert” style. I still may explore this idea in a future quilt. But with this one, I decided to sew the sections back together, creating a really fractured, disjointed look.

At this point I’m not quite sure if it’s a modern quilt, or really more of an art quilt, but I don’t care, as I’m truly loving the process!!

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Fractured Puzzle quilt top – a more dynamic design, don’t you think?

The hardest part was figuring how to sew the pieces back together. I felt like I was sewing a puzzle, joining sections back together to create larger units. I knew that I’d lose quite a bit around the edges once I squared it up, but that was totally okay with me.

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After the top came together, I had a really great vision for the quilting, even though I knew it would be a TON of work! With my new BERNINA 770  I quilted tons of straight lines, about 1/4″ apart in each of the fractured sections, following a different angle.

This meant lots of loose threads to tie off at the end, but it was important for me to go with what the quilt “wanted” rather than what was easy. After all, I realized this quilt was more about the process and the journey, rather than the finished product.

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Quilting Detail – it’s all about the angular texture!

I truly enjoyed making this quilt from start to finish. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me the freedom to explore the boundaries beyond traditional design.

I entered it into QuiltCon for 2016 and statistically the odds are slim that it will get in: there were over 1800 entries and only around 325 are accepted. But I’m an optimist and I’ll keep my fingers crossed. 🙂 Besides,  no matter what happens, this was a fabulous journey for me to complete, and I’m now emboldened to make other, “un-safe” choices when it comes to quilting!

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What’s the most interesting, unique, or non-traditional quilt you’ve ever made?
Let me know in the comments, or post pictures over on my Facebook Group: Quilt With Christa.