My Cup Runneth Over…

I just found out two very exciting pieces of news today, and forgive me if I can’t help but put them out there for all the world to see!

Excitement #1 – Colorful Chevrons Takes 3rd at Paducah!

Thanks to my friend Linda H. for sending me this phone pic. She just happens to be there covering the story for AQ magazine and was able to show me the good news. The funny thing is, I couldn’t remember when QuiltWeek started and had my dates confused. I was thinking I wouldn’t hear anything about it until at least next week!

AQS Paducah Modern 3rd PlaceColorful Chevrons won 3rd place in the Large Wall Quilts – Modern category.
Click here for a list of all the winners.

Excitement #2 – I’ve Been Nominated for Teacher of the Year!

I’ve been nominated for 2014 Teacher of The Year, presented by the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals. Although I didn’t win, I’m in total agreement with who was chosen. In fact, after reading the email announcing the 8 nominees and the winner, I’m completely awed and humbled to be among those who made the final list.

teacher of the year image

No, I’m not going to spill the beans and spoil any surprises yet. The winner and all of the finalists will be given coverage in the Spring Issue of The Professional Quilter, and it will be up to any of them if they want to announce it publicly first. :-)

My cup truly runneth over….

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Christa's Quilts, Sew and Tell, Teaching | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Favorite Tools – Batting Shears

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared some of my favorite tools (mostly because I’ve been using the same old stuff)! But recently, I splurged on a pair of batting scissors and I’m very pleased with my latest purchase.

batting_shearsBatting shears are pretty spendy but I think they are well worth the money.

I bought a pair of these funky looking scissors a few weeks ago and finally put them to the test while trimming the batting for my Herringbone quilt. I’m not exactly sure what the funky angle is for other then allowing you to cut through bulky battings with ease. The soy batting I used wasn’t really thick but it was still so much easier than using regular scissors.

batting_shears_2So put a pair of these on your holiday or birthday wish list. Think of batting shears as one of those luxury quilting items that’s not necessary, but sure is nice to have!

I’ll leave you with a quilting tip of the day: write on a corner of your batting what the fiber content is so that you can keep track once you take it out of the packaging. My handwriting isn’t great, but this does say “Soy” even though it looks like “Joy.”  Well, you know how much joy I get from quilting my quilts, so it’s all good. :-)

soy_batting_cornerMark your batting pieces and leftover scraps so you know what’s what!

Posted in Favorite Tools | Tagged | 10 Comments

Free EQ7 Downloads – Including Many of My Designs

One of the things I love about Electric Quilt software is being able to share some of my designs with others that use the program. Recently, I added two more of my designs to EQ’s Projects Download page.

Be sure to check out my Jolly Jelly Roll quilt (which was my first-ever quilt along):

Sugar Sweet Jolly Jelly Roll Quiltand my Ultra Modern Dresden paper pieced block: (which I haven’t made… yet!)

20140411_modern_dresdenFor more free EQ7 downloads, click here. My projects are all listed most recently, but there are literally hundreds of free designs for you to try.

While you are there, be sure to check out the bio’s of all of the other EQ7 artists!

Posted in Christa's Quilts | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Fabric Friday – Get the “Skinny” on New Kona Roll Ups and Dots!

For Fabric Friday, I’m happy to feature some colorful new precuts from Robert Kaufman. I adore working with solids and was pleased to see the addition of more solid colored Jelly Roll bundles (Kaufman calls them Roll-Ups) – 2.5″ strips of all one color!

kona_rollsSome of the new Kona Solid Roll-Ups. Aren’t they yummy?

I stock every new color they have: Parchment, Purple, Riviera, Bahama Blue, Blue Grass, Lipstick, and Coal. Along with basics (snow, white, black, etc.), this makes for a great base of colors from which to choose!

The new colors, along with many of the previous colorways are also available in precut skinny strips (1.5″ wide) and charm packs.

kona_skinnyGet the “skinny” on these brand new Kona solid precuts!

Along with boxes and boxes of Kona solid precuts, I also got in the latest Kaufman geometrics – an awesome assortment of dots! They are “Spot On” scrumptious.

kaufman_spot_onSpot On – Primary Perfection Colorway by Robert Kaufman

Spot On comes in 6 different colorways: Dress Up, Holiday Glitz, Prep School, Primary Perfection, Shadow Play, and Summer Lovin’. Click here to see them all! Personally, I love Shadow Play (below) because I never get tired of black, white and grey. :-)

spot_on_shadowI love the fact that Robert Kaufman is working hard to bring more and more precuts to market. It’s my somewhat lofty goal to eventually carry every precut there is. So if you see a current bundle out there that I don’t have – please leave me a comment and I’ll try to pick it up!

Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 12 Comments

How to Get the Most out of Your Craftsy Classes

As many quilters do, I love to learn new techniques and keep up with the latest quilting trends. I’m willing to travel far and wide to attend national quilt shows and meet my favorite quilting personalities. However, there’s a part of me that’s a self-proclaimed homebody, so I love the fact that Craftsy makes it possible for me to take amazing quilting classes from the comfort of my own home.

Craftsy BOMQuilt Design from Craftsy’s Free 2014 BOM

I recently had a chance to interview a few of my favorite Craftsy instructors. They had many interesting things to say in  regards to teaching and interacting with students via the Craftsy platform:

Domestic quilting expert Leah Day explains the difference between the free content on her blog and her online Craftsy classes that you register and pay for. Says Leah, “My paid content is usually longer, more in-depth, and definitely more step-by-step. I’m willing to hold your hand and take you through every question I know you’re going to ask.

“Craftsy is also worlds different from YouTube because of the interactive platform which allows you to ask questions, post photos, chat with other students, and bookmark sections of the video to go back to.”

20140320_leah_day

Image courtesy of LeahDay.com

I am a very visual learner. When someone tells me something or tries to explain a concept to me, I usually nod politely while I’m thinking about my next quilt. But once they show me hands-on – that really grabs me and engages my attention! That’s why I’ve signed up for so many classes myself – so I can have access to them at anytime of day or night and watch them literally on demand.

Angela Walters began adding online classes to her roster when she discovered that it allowed her to reach even more quilters. At well over 10,000 students for her first class alone, she says, “I am so humbled and thrilled that I get to connect with so many quilters. I love seeing their pictures and engaging with them on their platform.”

Angela WaltersChrista and Angela at QuiltCon – she truly is one of my heroes!

Camille Roskelley enjoys the online learning format, both as a student and as an online instructor. Camille focuses on the convenience of piecing with precuts in her classes.

As a busy mom of young boys, Camille says, “I’m always trying to figure out ways to fit quilting into everyday life, so I have to make the most of the time I have. In class, I show how to cut, press, and piece in a way that you can walk away from it, and come back right where you left off, while always making the most of your time… even if you have as many distractions as I do!”

camillePhoto courtesy of Craftsy

Remember that video teachers are like regular teachers and that they are real people, too. They each have their preferences, methods, and unique quilting habits. So take what you want, leave the rest, and learn something from everyone. :-)

Remember the saying, “Do what you love?” These fabulous instructors are doing it! Here are their suggestions on how to make the most of your online experience:

  • From Leah Day: “Be open minded. Don’t be rigid in thinking there’s only one way that a certain technique can be done, or only THAT material can be used for THAT technique.” (In other words – ignore the quilt police!)
  • From Angela Walters: “Engage on the website. Not only by asking the instructor questions, but also by sharing pictures and talking to other students. It makes the class more like a community!”
  • From Camille Roskelley: “I have found I get the most out of a class if I watch a lesson closely once and sew along with it the second time around. I also suggest you take as many classes as you can to see other quilters’ techniques because we all do things differently!”

20140320_leah_craftsyLeah Day filming her Craftsy class. Photo courtesy of Leah and Craftsy.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m a cheerleader for all things quilting. These amazing instructors not only make that job easier, they also inspire me to try things I never would have dreamed of before!

Posted in Quilting Classes | Tagged | 10 Comments

Herringbone WIP – Simple Stipples and FMQ Tips

Today I’ll share with you how I’m quilting my Herringbone quilt. Just call me the stipple queen. :-) I did all piecing and quilting on my Bernina 710 without a stitch regulator.

stipplingHerringbone by Christa Watson; free quilt pattern designed for Camelot Fabrics

I spent the first 10 years of my quilting career stippling everything I could get my hands and needle on! Then I took a break due to stipple burnout and starting spending way too much time quilting more labor intensive custom designs on my quilts. However, for Herringbone, I returned to my favorite go-to allover motif: stippling!

Since I wanted the quilting to enhance the graphic nature of the design rather than steal the show, I chose to go with a thin, 50 weight Aurifil thread in both top and bobbin. I tried out several colors to see which would blend in the most with both the yellow and grey fabrics.

aurifil_thread_choicesTip: audition thread colors before you begin quilting. The grey blends best!

I ended up going with Aurifil #2600-Dove which I think is just the perfect shade of light grey! It surprised me how well it seemed to disappear into the yellow fabric – providing scrumptious texture, rather than a heavy, “thready” appearance.

For this quilt, I practiced on a few scraps first (like I always do) and tested my machine’s tension. Here’s a quick tip: if your machine has really nice tension when you are sewing regular seams, it shouldn’t need to be adjusted too much for free-motion quilting.

herrinbone_quilting_glovesI usually quilt with flat hands forming a hoop – gotta love those Machingers!

Don’t be afraid to experiment a little until you get a pretty stitch! For some reason, the day I quilted it, I was able to achieve more consistent stitches with the feed dogs engaged, but covered with a Supreme Slider. I didn’t fret about why, I just went for it. I’m very pleased with the consistency of my stitching on this quilt and I think slowing down just a little helped, too.

I made a label ahead of time and ironed it to the backing fabric with fusible web before I quilted it. Because I am using a thin blending thread, the quilting stitches will hold the label in place nicely without too much distortion of the writing.

herringbone_label

I chose to use a coordinating chevron print from the line for the backing – “sew” fun!

I also tried Soy batting for the first time with this quilt and I really like it. It stuck really well to the quilt while spray basting, and I like the drape and heft of it. I reminds me most of quilting with a nice cotton batting (like Warm ‘N Natural) but with a little more loft to it. Now I need to see how it washes up!

bamboo_battingSoy Blend batting given to me by my friend Cory. It was fun to try!

I timed myself like I usually do, and it took less than 4 hours to completely stipple this baby. After spending over 40 hours intricately quilting my last quilt, that was like a speed record for me! (Hmm – I need to seriously quilt more quick and fun allover motifs for the next few quilts….)

Now I’ll go get the binding put on and share the final reveal next time!

Roundup of Machine Quilting Blog Posts I’ve Written:

I’d like to leave you with links to several blog posts I’ve written about machine quilting, both here on my blog and for Craftsy. Some of my tools and techniques have changed slightly and a few things may be repeated, but I’ve covered a lot of basics:

 

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Sew and Tell, Tutorials | Tagged , | 26 Comments

Christa’s Soap Box – Learning a New Skill

I think it’s great to learn new skills, especially when it comes to quilting. After all, how do you know whether you will like something or not unless you give it a try? I recently had the chance to try painting on fabric, and even though I ultimately decided it wasn’t my “style,” it was still fun to learn a new technique!

20140401_cory_paintingChrista and Cory painting away!

My friend Cory came over recently and showed me how to use Setacolor paints to add a little life to this wallhanging I made a couple of years back (before I found modern quilting).

hearts_feathers_wholeclothHearts and Feathers Wholecloth. Free pattern courtesy of Leah Day.

It’s a gorgeous free-motion quilting design from Leah Day. As you can see in the “before” picture above, you can hardly see the quilting. This is where my “matching threads” philosophy perhaps went a little too far.

The mottled batik fabric I used was so busy that you can’t really see the stitching. I thought about going over the quilting again with a contrasting metallic thread to make it stand out, but Cory suggested paint instead. So I figured, what they heck, I’ll give it a try. :-)

hearts_paintingFabric Painting in Progress

It took a few coats to get a nice even application of color and it about drove me crazy trying to keep the painting inside the stitching lines, but overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. The only thing I don’t like about fabric painting is how it makes the surface rough and scratchy rather than soft and supple (leading to my preference for modern utility quilts).

hearts_feathers_finishedAnd not to be outdone, here’s a shot of a gorgeous piece that Cory’s currently working on:

20140331_cory_paintingHave you ever tried painting on fabric? If so, what are your thoughts about it?

 

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Soapbox | Tagged | 32 Comments

Craftsy Class Review – Elizabeth Dackson’s Start Free-Motion Quilting

I’m excited to review another fantastic Craftsy class with you today! It’s Elizabeth Dackson’s “Start Free-Motion Quilting” and I love it on so many levels! Although machine quilting is one of my favorite subjects to teach, I cannot get enough free-motion quilting education myself. :-)

ed_fmqEveryone has their own different ways of teaching which is why I highly recommend taking as many classes as you can from as many different instructors as you can. When it comes to free-motion quilting, it really helps to learn those techniques over and over again so they really sink in.

Elizabeth’s class is broken down into a series of 9 easily digestible lessons for a total of just over 3 hours of class time. After traveling far and wide to take classes from well-known instructors, I think this class is quite a bargain indeed. :-)

Specific quilting motifs taught in class include stipple patterns, loopy flowers, woodgrain, circuit board, wishbones, mock clamshells and more. Once you get the hang of how these designs are formed, you’ll be adding them to your quilts in no time!

20140411_fmq_elizabethAll images courtesy of Elizabeth Dackson and Craftsy; shared with permission.

Elizabeth prefers many of the same tools and supplies that I do: she encourages the use of quilting gloves (on larger sized quilts), enjoys quilting with an open-toe free-motion foot for visibility, and enjoys machine quilting with Aurifil thread.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel great as a quilter knowing that I’m doing at least a few things right, LOL!! I really like Elizabeth’s “golden rules of quilting” which I think everyone should have posted in their sewing rooms.

The Golden Rules of Quilting

  1. Practice, practice, practice!
  2. Give yourself permission for things not to be perfect right away.
  3. Walk away and take a break if you feel that you’re getting frustrated.

Throughout the lessons, Elizabeth sprinkles in other techniques for you to learn such as how to start and stop, burying your threads, tips on batting, and how to baste. Rather than hitting you over the head with all of the material at one time, it’s presented in smaller snippets that are easier to understand and remember.

To keep it real, Elizabeth shows images her first very first quilt. It’s quite amazing to see how far she’s come by simply diving in there and quilting her own quilts. She’s great at encouraging beginners that they’ll get better in time. :-)

20140411_elizabeth_1st_quilt

Elizabeth’s first quilt – isn’t it great? Check out the class for quilting closeups.

My favorite part of any Craftsy class is reading through the questions that are asked by students, along with the instructor’s responses. Usually when I’m watching a lesson, I’ll read through all the questions first, then go on and watch the lesson. It makes me feel like I haven’t missed anything and it helps give me a really thorough understanding of the material presented.

One of my favorite tips that I read in the Q&A is Elizabeth’s emphasis on experimentation as a great way to find out what settings and tools work best for your particular machine.

I hope that this gives you just a taste of Start Free-Motion Quilting. Whether you are an absolute beginner or more experienced with free-motion quilting, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have!

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Herringbone WIP – Tips on Working With Directional Fabric

I finished sewing my Herringbone quilt top this week and I wanted to share with you a few new things that I tried while making it.

herringbone_top_closeupHerringbone quilt top, using the free pattern I designed for Camelot Fabrics.

Herringbone is made from a plethora of HST’s (half-square triangles). Usually, the fabric direction doesn’t matter, but in this case, I wanted to figure out how to line up the directional fabrics I was using so that they all went the same way.

herringbone_cut_fabric_squaresI used Gray Matters More fabrics in yellow and gray – so yummy!

I started out by cutting all of the squares like I normally do. My favorite method of making HST’s is to draw a line down the middle on the wrong side of my background fabric, match it up right sides together with the main print, and sew on either side of the line. Cutting the squares apart on the lines will then yield 2 half-square triangles each.

herringbone_hst_stackDon’t you just love a stack of yummy HST’s? They look like little triangle sandwiches!

For my “experiment,” I flipped the background squares so that half of the lines were left-diagonals, and half were right-diagonals. I then matched up each background square with a print square, keeping the print squares oriented in the same direction.

herringbone_diagonal_lines

After sewing and cutting apart, I ended up with 4 stacks of HST’s with the prints running in 4 different directions, exactly what I wanted for this pattern. Each half of the squares shown above produced two different orientations below.

hst_paisleyI’m very visual, so I had to constantly refer back to my pattern to line up all the pieces in the correct block position. (I’m not sure how the directional shift will look with other HST configurations, but you can test it out and see.)

herringbone_block_diagramThe fabric shown below is one-way directional rather than two, so I just needed to separate them into 2 different directional stacks, rather than 4. Do any of you math geniuses out there remember what type of asymmetry that’s called? I forget!

hst_directional_fabricI still had to mark and sew diagonal lines going left and right for these 2 piles!

Since I decided to get carried away with lining up the prints in my blocks, I decided to match up my border seams as well. To do this, I cut out strips that were the exact same width, following the same design repeat. I then sewed a seam between the motifs, trying to match up the design as best I could. I trimmed the seam allowance down later.

border_match_seamsThe picture below is how it looks on the front. The key is to match the print where it will be less noticeable, like in between rows of design motifs.

border_motifMy final top tip is for joining seams that cross over your triangle points. Sew on the side where you can see the tiny triangle in the seam below. This will help you achieve nice, crisp triangle points. :-)

seam_intersectionIt feels great to have a finished top – or as some would call it, a “flimsy.” I love how it looks exactly like my original EQ7 design (minus the design wall wrinkles and bad lighting). Next time I will share with you how I quilted it.

herringbone_combinedOn the left is my finished top. On the right is my EQ7 sketch. I love it when they match!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christa's Quilts, Sew and Tell, Tutorials | Tagged | 30 Comments

Giveaway Winners and Free Patterns for All

I usually don’t post a separate entry for the winners of my giveaways, but since it was the grand finale last week with lots of prizes, I felt like it deserved a mention. And don’t worry, I’m sure I will be doing more giveaways in the future; they will just be more sporadic. :-)

christas-giveawaysI was actually able to award 14 winners this week instead of 12. I had an overflowing bundle of scraps and an extra layer cake. So congrats to all these fabulous people (I’ve also emailed each of you separately):

  1. Michael Miller Charm PackCarole H.
  2. Robert Kaufman Jelly RollDiana (imsewbusy)
  3. Kona Solids Layer CakeSandra W.
  4. Quilting Treasures Fat QuartersElizabeth O.
  5. Aurifil ThreadCarolyn (cjtrez)
  6. Kwik ClipJanet M.
  7. Signed Quilty MagazineElizabeth W.
  8. ChristaQuilt.com Gift Certificate – Jacqueline in Canada
  9. Charming Chevrons PatternJennifer in Australia
  10. Modern X PatternSuzanne (goldwing)
  11. Fabric Scraps – Vicki P.
  12. Magazine Stack – Chris (Jmike)
  13. Extra Layer Cake – Kathy B.
  14. Extra Scraps – Megan V.

And now, for those of you who didn’t win, I wanted to share some free quilt patterns from Craftsy, just in case you didn’t know they existed. Part of my “job” of being a freelance blogger is that I get to do occasional “pattern roundups” featuring fun patterns from the Craftsy community.

20140301_starFree pattern on Craftsy, courtesy of During Quiet Time and shared with permission.

I recently picked 5 free paper pieced patterns to showcase in a recent Craftsy blog post. This was hard work as there are literally hundreds to choose from!

It’s easy to find the rest of the free patterns. Simply go to patterns on Craftsy and then sort by “lowest price.” All of the free ones will then be shown first. You can literally spend hours combing through them all. Happy hunting!

Posted in Giveaways | Tagged | 14 Comments