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 It’s not for publication, nor is it for a class sample, and I really didn’t need anyone else’s approval to do this.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.

quilting_in_progress

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.

QuiltCon Class Registration Opens June 25!

QuiltCon registration begins Thursday (June 25th) for Modern Quilt Guild members at 7 AM Pacific Time. General registration opens July 1. I’ll be teaching 4 workshops (two on EQ, and two on Free-Motion Favorites).  I will also be a panelist for a discussion on how I stash my fabric, moderated by Rossie Hutchinson.

Click here for descriptions, times and dates for each of my workshops.

CQ_classesClick here for the QuiltCon class schedule and catalog.

Free Admission for Members

If you are an MQG member, be sure to register ASAP! The first 1000 paid registrations get a free goody bag. AND if you register by November 30th, you get free admission to the show. How great is that?!

Are you planning on attending? If so, I can’t wait to see you there!

PS – If you are new to my blog, be sure to sign up for Friendly Threads, my email newsletter.

 

QuiltCon Class Schedule Now Available – And I’m Teaching

Come take a class with me at QuiltCon! The now-annual Modern quilt show and conference will take place Pasadena, California, from February 18-21, 2016.

QuiltCon2016_catalog

I’ll be teaching 4 workshops: two sessions of free-motion quilting and two classes on EQ7.

I will also be a panelist for LE16: What I Stash and How – moderated by Rossie Hutchinson on Saturday, 1:30-2:30

Here are the descriptions and times for each of my classes:

830 Free-Motion Favorites for the Modern Quilter
830A Thursday, Feb. 18, 6-9 p.m. (Domestic Machine)
830B Friday, Feb. 19, 6-9 p.m. (Sit-Down Mid-Arm)

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Take your modern free-motion quilting to the next level by learning a dozen different fillers that will add depth and dimension. Let go of perfection by quilting asymmetrical textures that require little to no marking. Students will practice on sample squares or orphan blocks to discover geometric alternatives to straight- line quilting. This fast-paced workshop is for quilters comfortable with basic free-motion quilting techniques. Taught on a sit-down machine.

220 Getting Started with EQ7
Friday Feb. 19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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. Class also includes a trunk show of the instructor’s quilts designed in EQ7 for inspiration. This is a hands-on computer class, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed prior to class.

221 Designing Modern Quilts in EQ7
Saturday Feb. 20, 6-9 p.m.

cwatson_EQmodern

Take your modern designs to the next level by learning how to manipulate them in EQ7. Topics will include drawing improv blocks, scaling and numbering foundation piecing templates, applying a layer of quilting, designing custom set quilts, manipulating borders, incorporating negative space, going off the grid, changing sizes, and more. 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 prior to class . Students may use EQ7 for either PC or Mac.

I can’t wait!

If next year’s QuiltCon follows the previous trends, classes will sell out quickly, so be sure to mark your favorites and get online quickly, once registration opens. Whether or not you take a class from me – I’d still love to see you there!

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. 🙂 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! 🙂

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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. 🙂

iquilt

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?

Let’s Have a Giveaway – Courtesy of QuiltCon!

A week later, I’m still basking in the glow of the awesomeness that was QuiltCon. Why don’t we have a giveaway so that I can share some of that awesomeness with you?

Quiltcon2015QuiltCon Magazine features many of the show quilts plus new original patterns.

First up, is a copy of QuiltCon magazine from Interweave. I was thrilled that two of my quilts were showcased in the magazine so I eagerly bought a copy for myself at the show. The publisher kindly sent me another copy for being a contributor, so I’m happy to pass that along to one of you!

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Spiralling Out of Control and Modern X were both featured in QuiltCon Magazine.

Next, I received a bit of swag in my goody bag so I’m happy to offer up this beautiful charm pack of Casablanca by Benartex to one of you!

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Here’s How to Enter:

  • Leave a comment below, letting me know whether or not you are thinking about attending a future QuiltCon. You can also mention if you were in Austin, or if you followed along virtually!
  • I will draw 2 winners at random, one for each prize, and will announce their names on Thursday, March 5th.
  • The contest is open to everyone, and comments close Wed, March 4th at 9 PM EST.

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!

Button Button – Who’s Got a Button?

The next step I’m taking in my branding re-design is to change up my logo. My friend Sabrina from Slovly drew this caricature of me a few years ago in exchange for a quilt (of course)! I recently bought the rights from her so that I can now incorporate it into everything I do.

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My graphic designer Lindsie has taken the artwork and created a series of logos for me which I’ll share more of later. For now, the first thing on the agenda is to order some buttons for pin-trading at QuiltCon. (Check out #quiltconpinswap on instagram to see who’s bringing what!)

Will you be there? If so – I’d love to trade buttons with you! And just because I know you are going to ask, I ordered mine from Cheapest Buttons on Etsy. I went with the 1 1/2″ size. Now I can’t wait to get them!

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!

Book Review and Blog Hop – Vintage Quilt Revival

Today I would like to tell you about some fabulous friends of mine who put their brilliant minds together to create an amazing quilting book that actually has something to say!

QuiltCon Dinner

Dinner in Austin, TX, 2013
From Left to Right: Katie, Christa, Faith, Holly, Lee

At QuiltCon last year, I got a chance to chat about quilting over dinner with Vintage Quilt Revival authors Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich, and Faith Jones (plus their fantastic friend Holly who’s on the hop later in the week).

Even though I didn’t know they were writing their book at the time, their passion for modern quilting was quite contagious! In fact, when I arrived home from QuiltCon last February, I was ready to take on the modern quilting world, in part due to their enthusiasm for it!

Vintage Quilt RevivalSo let me tell you a little bit about their book, Vintage Quilt Revival. In addition to an extremely well written volume that is beautifully illustrated, they have included mini history lessons for each block, plus design notes and tips throughout.

It’s a whopping 159 pages full of creative inspiration and instruction including sections on tools and techniques, new settings and color approaches, and re-imagined blocks that will take your breath away!

The book is organized block by block, with instructions on how to make each of the twenty 12″ finished blocks, followed by a full-sized project to make from each and every block.

Sugar Snow Quilt

Sugar Snow Quilt by Lee – one of my favorites from the book!

And this is where the creativity really comes in. Adapted projects include fun accessories like totes and pouches, to full sized quilts using a variety of settings. The icing on the cake is the included sampler quilts, made by each of the authors showcasing a different way to combine all of the blocks!

Vintage Quilt Revival

Faith’s Sampler Quilt – I absolutely love this setting!

Many of the blocks utilize paper piecing techniques, and the book comes with a CD so that you can print out as many full-sized foundation templates as you need. They’ve thought of everything!

I also give Katie, Lee, and Faith extra credit points for quilting a vast majority of the quilts themselves, including tidbits of inspiration on how they chose the quilting designs. I love it when authors show that it is possible to make amazing modern quilts yourself from start to finish. 🙂

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Katie’s Cut Glass Baby Quilt – I got to recreate a couple of these amazing blocks!

Vintage Quilt Revival is worth reading and perusing as a coffee table book, even if you never make a block – but make a block I did! Each of the 20 bloggers on the hop got to construct a different block from the book using our own colors and fabric choices. Such fun! My block was the Classic Geometric Star Block – the one Katie chose to make her Cut Glass Baby Quilt, shown above.

Geometric Star Block

My version of the Geometric Star Block

Even though this particular block was listed as an “advanced” skill level block. I had no problems following the clear-cut instructions to make my block.

Just for fun, I also made another block with the points going the opposite way and added a little sashing border around it, to demo how fun it can be to mix things up!

Geometric Star Block

Geometric Star Variation, with Border

I’m very touched that the authors have chosen to incorporate all of our sample blocks into charity quilts which will be revealed at the end of the hop. It will be fun to see how they all come together.

Updated – See The Finished Charity Quilts!

I was so thrilled to see the three charity quilt finishes put together by Katie, Lee and Faith. I am impressed with how they were able to take all of the blocks and combine them into three cohesive quilt designs. Remember, the participants had free reign when it came to fabric and color choices. Aren’t they just wonderful?

Katie's Charity Sampler

Katie’s Charity Sampler

Lee's Charity Sampler

Lee’s Charity Sampler

Faith's Charity Sampler

Faith’s Charity Sampler

To see more Vintage Quilt Revival inspiration, be sure to check out the entire blog hop schedule below. I feel truly honored to be included among such talented people!

January 13th (Monday):
Crazy Mom Quilts – Amanda Jean
Don’t Call Me Betsy – Elizabeth
Film in the Fridge – Ashley
Happy Quilting – Melissa
Noodlehead – Anna

January 14th (Tuesday):
I’m A Ginger Monkey – Katy
Quilting Is My Therapy – Angela
A Quilting Life – Sherri
Sew Mama Sew – Kristin
Tall Grass Prairie Studio – Jacquie

January 15th (Wednesday):
Christa Quilts – Christa
Diary of a Quilter – Amy
Quilting Gallery – Michele
Sew Take a Hike – Penny
V and Co. – Vanessa
West Coast Crafty – Susan

January 16th (Thursday):
Bijou Lovely – Holly
Don’t You Know Who I Am – Sukie
Lily’s Quilts – Lynne
One Shabby Chick – Amber

January 17th (Friday):
Swim, Bike, Quilt – Katie
Freshly Pieced – Lee
Fresh Lemons Quilts – Faith