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….


Spiraling out of Control Update – My Quilt Gets Around!

In my “former” life as a traditional quilter years and years ago, I hardly ever kept any of my quilts. I would finish them off just in time to send them to a show, use them as a teaching sample, or give them as gifts. My show and teaching quilts were mostly earmarked to give away even before they were made, and usually after only one showing. So I never really understood the value of keeping and sharing the same quilts in several venues. Until now.

Modern QuiltSpiraling out of Control by Christa Watson 70″ x 70″

I love how my friend Leanne from She Can Quilt says she is a “quilt-show enterer” rather than a “show quilter.” I think I will adopt that moniker, too. Somehow it seems less intimidating. I’ve been enjoying entering my Spiraling Out of Control quilt in several competitions this year while helping to spread the modern quilt aesthetic.

Spiraling Out of Control started off as my entry into the Riley Blake/MQG challenge, made it’s appearance at my local show, traveled to AQS Charlotte for a brief appearance, and most recently was accepted as part of the Modern Quilt Guild Showcase for the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX.

spiraling_backBacking detail of Spiraling out of Control by Christa Watson

As an added bonus, it will be showcased in Quilt Scene Magazine which is a special issue that focuses on Quilt Market and Festival each year. What fun! Right now my quilts get to travel more than I do; but hopefully in the future, I will get to go with them more often! 🙂

Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Voting Begins Today!

Don’t  forget to vote for your favorite quilts in the Spring 2014 Blogger’s Quilt Festival!

Spiraling out of Control is in the Original Design category and Modern Trees is listed in the Home Machine Quilted category. You can vote for one quilt per category, and there are a total of 11 categories in which to vote.

Modern Quilt

Spiraling out of Control by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

You can vote for Spiraling Out of Control here.

Modern Trees

Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″

You can vote for Modern Trees here.

Have fun and good luck to all who entered!

Blogger’s Quilt Fest Entry – Spiraling Out of Control (Original Design)

I’m excited to participate in the Blogger’s Online Quilt Festival with my first of two entries, Spiraling Out of Control. I am entering it into the Original Design category and voting begins May 23rd.

You can view my other entry here.

Modern Quilt

Spiraling Out of Control, 70″ x 70″ by Christa Watson, Original Design

Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis will have seen this quilt before. However since I’m entering it into the Original Design category, I thought I’d share with you a little bit about the design process that went into making this quilt.

Parallel Lines

I started with this block I had created in EQ7 for a modern design competition. After being selected as a finalist, I held onto the design for a bit, thinking I might do something more with it later. When the MQG’s first fabric challenge of 2014 was announced, I started playing around with my design again, seeing how it could evolve by changing a few lines.

Improv String BlockI kept the light background, added more lines, and drew them at odd angles rather than parallel. I digitally colored the strips using the challenge fabric we were to work with. I liked where this was going, but thought it needed something more dramatic.

So I pieced two sample blocks using two different backgrounds – dark and medium grey. I wanted to see which colorway would provide the most visual impact.


I used the lighter grey block as a sample to test various machine quilting designs.

At this point my gut was telling me to go with the darker background fabric, but just to be sure, I started recoloring my original digital layout. Once I got this far with the coloring, I knew the darker fabric was the right choice. 🙂

spiraling_color_choicesSince I knew I wanted each block to be different, I had to figure out a way to sew the blocks without using traditional paper-foundation piecing methods. I solved the problem by cutting long strips of fabric in various widths and lengths, and sewing them together improvisationally, keeping the overall diagonal line intact. I then trimmed up the blocks using a large square ruler so they were all the same size.


The hardest part was making sure the shorter strips were longer than the ruler!

So that’s how this quilt design came to be. In addition to design, machine quilting is one of my favorite steps of the quilt-making process. Here are some detailed shots of the machine quilting and thread choices:

aurifilYummy Aurifil threads in matching colors!

straight_line_quiltingStraight-Line Quilting in the Negative Space

 quilting_zig_zagsQuilting zig-zags in matching thread colors – lots of threads to tie off later!

color_backColorful Thread-play on the Back

spiraling_detailQuilting Detail – Front

Spiraling Out of Control measures 70″ x 70″ and it has been one of my most fun quilts to make! You can vote for it as your favorite in the Original Design category of the Blogger’s Quilt Festival starting May 23, 2014.

Please note: quilts will show up randomly in each festival category, and they will not be numbered or named. You may need to scroll through to find my quilt on the category page. 🙂

As always, thanks for your support!

Christa’s Soap Box – Modern Quilting Validation

It’s no secret I’ve fallen head over heels for modern quilting and the community that surrounds it. Because of this vibrant movement, I’ve probably made more meaningful quilts in the last year than I have in the previous ten years combined! This weekend my tastes were validated when 3 of my modern quilts took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons in my traditional guild’s annual quilt show. 🙂

20140404_ribbon_buttonsRibbon winners got to wear these buttons of pride while walking around the show!

I’ve been a member of the Desert Quilters of Nevada going on 18 years now. It’s a lively group, full of encouragement and support. Even though I’m one of the youngest of the 400+ member group (and have been ever since I joined nearly 2 decades ago), the guild has offered me a place to share my quilts, practice my teaching skills, and attend amazing workshops and events.

20140404_stringofpearls_dqnString of Pearls by Christa Watson, 1st Place – DQN Pieced Category 2014

DQN is very open minded when it comes to the latest happenings in the quilt world. They have a very healthy art quilt subgroup and they’ve even recently started a modern “circle.”

I’m super excited that they’ve invited me to teach String of Pearls at this year’s annual quilting retreat. But I’m even more jazzed that the theme of the retreat is going to be “It’s a Modern World.” I mean, how cool is that??

20140404_dqn_modern_x_2ndModern X by Christa Watson, 2nd Place – DQN Modern Category 2014

At the show it was fun to see people walk by Modern X and do a double take. One gentleman I spoke to, a long-arm quilter by trade, couldn’t figure out where I started and stopped my lines of stitching.

When I told him I quilted long lines from one edge of the quilt to the other on my Bernina, he said you couldn’t really do that type of uninterrupted straight-line quilting on a long arm. (Score one for the domestic quilters!)

20140404_dqn_spiralling_3rdSpiraling Out of Control by Christa Watson, 3rd Place – DQN Modern Category

And I have to admit, it was super validating when Spiraling Out of Control took a 3rd place ribbon. This is probably my most favorite quilt to date and one where I really stretched myself doing stuff I’d never tried before. I always try to remind everyone (including myself) that I don’t enter my quilts in shows to win ribbons, but it sure is like icing on the cake when they do!

I have to give a final shout out to this fabulous quilt below which is NOT mine. It was made by one of my students who began it in my Charming Chevrons class last year. I couldn’t have been more proud to see that ribbon hanging on it!

20140404_dqn_grey_chevy_stuGray Chevy by Suzanne Mayfield, quilted by Brenda Alcorn, 1st Place – DQN Modern Category

Suzanne kindly credited me in her description as the pattern designer, so in some small way, I even got to be a part of this award-winning quilt, too!

20140404_chevy_tagWell, now you know what this means – it’s time to go make more quilts!