Monday, September 14, 2015


As the transition from Summer to Fall gets completely underway in our household I look forward to new adventures both with my kids growing up and new work ventures. With my kids back at school I have more time to be in the studio working on plans for teaching. Every time I start a class sample I find a few new classes lurking within the process. Staying focused is the big challenge for me but I really love the possibilities that exist within this exploration. I started working on a sample for my upcoming  QuiltCon class, Piece as you Quilt. In this class students will learn how to use their longarm for the very popular QAYG (Quilt as you go) method of piecing and quilting simultaneously. This is a great technique for creating quilted panels which can be used for a million different projects. I have made tote bags, throw pillows, placemats and pot holders...the list goes on and the possibilities are endless.

 Pictured below are a few boxy totes made from QAYG panels that were quilted on a domestic machine but I have found the Longarm to be a much quicker way to get these panels made.

The technique I use is log cabin based and has a very improvisational feel. Below is the first panel that I experimented with.

 I have been finding ways to incorporate gentle curves, as well as the "illusion" of curves with the quilting, this process is very relaxing. Be warned, if you experiment with this you may never want to do anything else on your longarm again.
After feeling like I was gaining proficiency I decided to try my hand at a larger project...dare I say a quilt....pieced entirely on the longarm. Definitely easier said than done and I'm pretty sure I learned more about what one should NOT do than what you should do. Regardless,  I have come to really love this process, and I hope I am able to organize it enough to comfortably teach it in the future. For me it has been very freeing and a complete escape from many of the quilting rules(both real and imagined) that I have tried to abide by over the last ten years. 
Technically, the quilt I have created is somewhat of a eloquently displayed on the solid white fabric I brilliantly chose for the back. There is a lot of raw edge piecing and very messy quilting throughout. I have to admit, if you are a perfectionist this may not be the technique for you, but if you are willing to take a leap of faith you may want to join me once I figure out how to teach this.
I began with a 45" square piece of white solid fabric for the back, yep, there it is big mistake number one. Note to self, if quilting may be questionable use a busy back, or at the least don't use SOLID WHITE.
  I floated a similar sized piece of batting and began in the middle. I started with only white fabric because in my mind I was going to create a piece as you quilt, whole cloth. 
 I'll probably revisit that idea later as the possibilities are intriguing but perhaps I'll call it something other than the term used to describe the complete opposite of what it is. 

So far so good, all piece as you go on the longarm. Unfortunately though, as the quilt grew, my throat space did not. While the horizontal seams were still manageable the long vertical ones were not. 
Uh Oh. This was not going as planned and although there may be tutorials out there that make this work I am not one to consult the internet for help. 
(unless, of course it involves diagnosing a fictitious and uncommon disease that either myself, one of my friends, pets, children, loved ones or all of the above must obviously have).

I took it off the frame and decided to hang it on the design wall to see if I could work myself out of this dead end. Hmmm. Look at all of those lovely half square triangles I had floating around on my design wall. 

Why can't I use those? 
 Yes, as it turns out I talk to myself, and through the years all of this talking to myself has led me to believe a lot of things about quilting that may or may not be true or even real. 
Like, raw edge is bad.
 Quilting lines can not cross. 
Points need to match. 
Seams need to match.
Straight lines should be straight. 
Iron to the left, iron to the right, iron seams open.
Don't iron.
Quarter inch seams are correct. 
Hammers should not be used in quilting. 
As you can see being in my head is exhausting and I am done with these rules.
 So, shut up Krista and do what you want and above all else stay OFF the Internet and so I did.

 Since I began working from the center out, it only made sense to continue in this direction and embrace the medallion style of quilting that it seemed to be gravitating toward.
Shut up the voices, reload onto the longarm and start breaking some rules.

That wasn't there before, but it is now and I worked the quilting in to match the quilting behind it, the back is a mess, but I don't really care.

Continuing in this haphazard manner I have almost completed a 45" square quilt. It is not pieced entirely on the longarm, as those half square triangles were pieced and then raw edge appliqu├ęd onto the quilt, but for all intensive purposes it is "mostly" pieced on the longarm. But really, who's keeping track?

Technically, it's a quilt judges nightmare and as you can see, quite messy up close but it has a very collage-like sensibility and regardless of what those voices said, I love it.

I took it off the frame once more to look at it from a distance and get a little bit more perspective on the design, this was my final layout, but who knows what it will end up like. I have it loaded on the longarm again and hope to have it completed in the next few weeks.

Happy to be back to blogging and finding my way in the quilting world. I am looking forward to teaching at QuiltCon in Pasadena, CA in February 2016 and at MQX in Manchester, NH in April 2016.
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week.


  1. A blog post, a totally funky K2 quilt and a new teaching gig. Yay you!!! Thanks for the fun read (and I felt like you were telling me this story in person, so that's a great post in my books). xoxo

  2. I am so sad I won't be seeing you this year at QuiltCon..... BUT.......I did show my piece To the BR Modern Guild made from your last,years class. They LOVED it! Did I say you were a genius, girl???

  3. So I have this class with you at QuiltCon. It was my very first choice. I am loving your quilt, and the rule breaking and the story and all of it.

  4. I'm bummed I'm not in this class at QuiltCon. Your description of your process has me cracking up. Thanks for the warning about the white backing. This sounds like a blast, guess I'll have to go for it on my own sometime. It seems like something one could easily get lost in (like a good puzzle). PS I like how yours ended up looking like beautiful kites going in all directions.

  5. Great post! I love your process - very inspirational!

  6. Christa! This is so cool!! You should make it a rule to break the rules more often! :) I need to try this process!! Thank you for sharing!

  7. I. Love. THIS. What got me back into quilting 5ish years ago was the "new" FMQ and the improv that broke all "the rules".

    Rules are boring. :D

  8. Krista, I love this so much! Your quilting is stunning as always and I love how you have used your pieced blocks as raw edge applique. Quilt as you go on the long arm is so mind blowing as there are a billion ways to do it. Yours is glorious.

  9. I love the piece. I'm curious. Why are you not piecing the whole thing then going back to quilt? Why are you using raw edge instead of ironing the seam allowances back before the machine applique? Is raw edge the look you want for the piece?

  10. It's for "all intents and purposes." :)

  11. Cheers to your bravery and daring, and going where others haven't dared! Keep moving in the direction you're pulled. Love it!

  12. Mind blowing technique to do this on the longarm! I get stumped trying to QAYG on my domestic machine. Repeat after me - there are no rules, there are no rules. This is going to be a great class - good luck and charge on!

  13. Mind blowing technique to do this on the longarm! I get stumped trying to QAYG on my domestic machine. Repeat after me - there are no rules, there are no rules. This is going to be a great class - good luck and charge on!

  14. It doesn't look very messy online, probably more in person. What it is is very cool. Such a fun composition and balance of improv.

  15. dear Krista, I am very sad because although I have registered at Quiltcon 2016, I couldn't find a place to your class, and then I give up to go there! But one day, I wish I had lucky enought to meet you in person and to learn your lessons of breaking rules!
    For awhile, I am happy for learn your amazing process's story, I am sure it is very helpful for all of us, admires of you!! (And you know how much I love and admire your work, since our lovely times of The Bitty Block Committee on Flickr) :)))

  16. So beautyful everything.Best regards Johanna Sternberg from Germany (Friend of Irmela)

  17. Krista-LOVE this process and I love the description of collage quilting! I have done paper collage and I think word fits this well. I love the raw edges and the stitches that give layer and texture. I just found your blog today and I am thinking of a quote that inspires me to be my true self-"comparison is the thief of joy." You have such a wonderful talent and voice in your art. I appreciate the sharing of your work and process. Keep doing what your doing and I will follow along. Thank you.