Yes, You Can Quilt With Rulers on a Home Machine

Have you guys ever tried ruler work on your domestic sewing machines? I’m just getting started on this new-to-me machine quilting technique. However, today, I’m going to share a few words from my friend Amy Johnson who blogs over at Amy’s Free-Motion Quilting Adventures. She’s an expert on quilting with rulers and has a brand new Craftsy Class out. But before I do, I have to share a funny story of how we “met”.


I stumbled upon Amy’s blog about 2 years ago and was immediately in awe of her amazing free-motion skills. In fact, she went back and found the first comment I ever left on her blog:

“Oh my gosh – you are like my long lost kindred spirit/free-motion quilter friend! Ruler work on a domestic machine – who ever heard of such a thing? Tell me more!! I would love to be able to do this on my BERNINA. Please find out whatever you can. I’m on a mission to convince more and more quilters that they can do amazing fmq on their domestic machines and this is like the missing link.”

Ok, so maybe I was a bit over-excited about the idea of using ruler work on a domestic machine. In fact, once Amy realized that I wasn’t an internet stalker, we began to get to know each other a bit better online. Hopefully one day, we’ll even be able to met in person.

Now here’s Amy, in her own words (photos courtesy of Amy and Craftsy):

So what exactly is ruler work? Actually, it’s not a new technique. What is new is my adaptation of this long arm technique for use on a stationary machine, whether that’s a regular sewing machine or a sit-down long arm. A thick, usually acrylic ruler is laid down on the quilt top and the free motion stitches are laid down by pressing the foot, a special ruler foot, alongside the edge and letting that ruler guide the stitches for straight lines and smooth curves.

Ruler work in progress

The main difference is that a long arm quilter moves the machine’s foot over the quilt to run alongside the edge of the ruler and with a stationary machine, we have to move the quilt and ruler as a unit alongside the foot. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds!

In fact, you don’t have to be an expert at free motion quilting in order to use rulers. You can use this technique as long as you are comfortable moving the quilt sandwich under the needle. Some FMQ novices like how the ruler ‘tells’ them where to go next and there are some fancy rulers available that can help make more complex quilting motifs by just following the edge of the ruler.

stitching with ruler

One thing you do really need is a “ruler foot” for your machine. This is a high edged free motion foot that safety guides the ruler without allowing it to slide over or under the foot. Not all machine brands have such a foot available yet, but there are at least two “after market” manufacturers of ruler feet that make feet to fit nearly every brand machine out there. Additionally, the Janome ruler foot that I use fits on many other makes and model of machine.

Ruler feet

Then there are the rulers. We all joke about our fabric stash, followed by a thing for threads, especially if you do a lot of your own quilting or are an art quilter. But rulers are a new addiction for me and anyone who messes with ruler work will start eyeing these pretty pieces of acrylic. Thankfully, they don’t get used up or worn out!

Why would someone want to use rulers in quilting? Well, for one, they yield straight lines and smooth curves without a bunch of marking, or with the use of a walking foot which can be tricky if there’s much turning of a large quilt needed. The use of rulers by long arm quilters aids the quilter in making designs that were common with hand quilting, in a time efficient manner: stitch in the ditch, crosshatching, swags, piano keys, and even spines on feathers. So adapting the use of rulers on stationary machines helps us with these designs. Not to mention that the use of rulers can give a nice structure to a quilt from which to then fill in with regular free motion quilting. It’s also a great way of making a cohesive design with great impact, without a lot of dense stitching. Though ruler work looks great with dense fillers worked between it, too.

feathered frame border

Is ruler work just for traditional designs then? Absolutely not! Take a look at some of the quilting by Angela Walters and Judy Madsen for starters. They’re long arm quilters, but they do pretty modern style work and they both use rulers for a lot of their designs. Rulers can help give a great geometric structure to the negative space commonly found in modern quilts.

Lines and Loops sampler block

Then there’s my work. My quilting style runs a wide swath across genres of quilting, from art, modern, and traditional. I like to just say I’m an artistic quilter. The improvisational vibe and large amounts of negative space in many modern quilts speak to me. I’m currently working on a sampler quilt that shows a more modern feel, and the majority of the quilting design work is done with rulers followed by some dense fills of FMQ.

Amy Johnson on set at Craftsy

I am so excited to have this technique turned into a class with Craftsy, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine. I’ve shared ruler work on my blog and even made videos on YouTube  but nothing compares to the in depth instruction on the Craftsy platform. Students can ask me questions and get answers quickly. We can all share projects on the platform, too, and their camera guys are miles ahead of my own photography skills. I’m so tickled to hear back from my students and they are loving the class.

Thanks to Christa for allowing me space on her fabulous blog to tell you about quilting with rulers and my new Craftsy class. I am so glad she turned out to be a fabulous quilting teacher, blogger, and hard working business woman!

You are welcome Amy! I do what I can to help spread the word about other amazing domestic machine quilters. After all, everyone has their own style and I highly recommend learning from as many different instructors as you can. :-)

Don’t you think Amy’s class sounds fabulous? It’s on my to-watch list for sure. I just checked, and Quilting With Rulers on a Home Machine is on sale at Craftsy now, so be sure to grab it while you can!


My Weekend at QNNtv

This past weekend, I flew to Handi Quilter headquarters in Salt Lake City to film 3 video segments for I’ll be a guest on Quilt It – The Longarm Quilting Show, coming up next spring. Although I am NOT a long-arm quilter, I was able to share tips and tricks for free-motion quilting using the sit-down Sweet 16 machine. In addition to talking about many of the machine quilting designs from my book, I was able to let the viewers in on some other fun surprises, including details of the quilt right behind me. (Don’t worry – I’ll spill the beans on that one soon….)

qnn_ontvA lot of work goes into producing a video segment. Thank goodness for the professionals!

I must admit, it was pretty nerve-wracking, since I’ve never filmed anything before, but Jodie Davis, the host of Quilt It, put me right at ease. The film crew were great, the Handi Quilter gals were fun, and they took great care of us!

dinner_crewDinner with some of the gang the night before filming. Food calms all nerves!

The whole crew went out to dinner the night before my scheduled filming day and it was a great way to meet everyone and get out all the butterflies about what to expect.

It was fun to meet some of the other Quilt It “Stars” including Joe Cunningham (aka Joe the Quilter) and Kelly Cline, who does stunning work on traditional quilts and vintage linens. Plus, it was super fun to hang out with Rebecca Bryan and Stephanie Palmer since they were filming the same day as me. I love life’s little moments like that.

qnn_guestsFrom Left to right above: Joe Cunningham, Kelly Cline, Stephanie Palmer & Rebecca Bryan. There was a huge “green room” where we could stack our quilts and prepare for filming.

We took turns being silly, cheering each other on and calming each other’s nerves. It was so reassuring for them to tell me I looked and sounded great, while my heart was thumping hard inside my chest!! I’m sure they felt the same way, and from my vantage point, they rocked it!

Personally, I think QNNtv is pretty cool. It’s a monthly subscription service that gives you access to hundreds of quilting shows on demand, anytime. My episode is slated to air next March (I think) and if you are interested in checking it out now, you can Subscribe to QNNtv here.

Now it’s time to get back to my regularly scheduled quilting life!

Four of My Quilt Patterns Are Now Available in Print

Thanks to those of you who have been with me for awhile, following along with my journey into pattern creation. It has literally taken me 10 years to finally make the plunge into pattern design. I began with 4 of what I thought would be my most popular designs, and started in January to take the necessary steps to get them into print.


I’ve also researched the best ways to get them to you all and here’s what I have come up with:

I chose these outlets to start as that’s what I feel I can manage right now. So far, so good. I’m already getting good traction and I’m sure I’ll add more distribution networks as I grow. I’ve received a nice re-order from Moda/United Notions, which means that local quilt shops are starting to carry them, which is super exciting! Of course, I don’t know which shops, so if you see them “out there in the wild” please let me know. Please feel free to recommend them to your favorite quilt shop, too!

Now, the next step is to start on the next batch of patterns. As always, stay tuned!

Christa’s Soapbox – On Destashing…

I surprised quite a few followers on Instagram recently when I posted a picture of what my current stash looks like. After 20 years of quilting I’ve dejunked, destashed and cleaned out my space to the point that I finally realized that I am just not a fabric hoarder.


Now to be fair, the bottom shelves (shown empty in the pic above) are filled with a few WIP’s, but not many – only enough that I can count on one hand, and mostly stuff that I can’t show in public yet. I’ve opined on my minimalist tendencies before and have to say this wasn’t an overnight process. And, I do have a small personal stash of precuts in another unit. But scraps? Overflowing bins? Not happening!!

precut_stashMy precust stash – waiting to be made into quilts!

I started with about 2 storage units worth of piles of fabric, which by some standards, still isn’t a ton. I pared that down to 1 storage unit about a year ago, and then recently whittled it down to about half of a cabinet for fabric, half for wip’s, and then the second cabinet for tools, supplies, thread, magazines, etc. And a whole empty shelf that makes me proud!! I need negative space in my storage, too, it seems!

The reason I can live this way (nearly stash-less) is mainly because of the way I create. First, I design the projects I want to make in EQ. Then I import fabric swatches or colors I want to work with. Once I’m finished with my design, then I shop for fabric. I’ve tried it the other way around, trying to come up with a plan around a specific fabric and it just doesn’t work for me. I know this will invariably mean that by the time I’m ready to make a quilt, the fabric I want may not be available. But that’s okay, there’s always something else that will work, right?

precutsPrecuts in my garage workspace – awaiting shipment to Amazon.

Now I know some of you will say, “but that’s not fair – you have a whole store full of fabric!” Well, yes, that is true, but we don’t store it here. We process it when it comes in and then ship it off to the Amazon warehouses for storage.

The bottom line is, I realized that I would rather have the space than fabric that just sits on my shelves languishing. But don’t worry – I’m not trying to encourage others in my minimalist tendencies – it’s just what works for me. I’m just as happy to get excited for my friends when they show me pics of their amazing stashes because you know what? It works for them! :-)

How do you like to store your stash? I’d love to see pics – please share them on my facebook group at Quilt With Christa!

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Fabric Friday – A Little Cotton and Steel Love

I’ve mentioned before that I carry Cotton and Steel bundles in my precut store. Today I’d like to give them some love and also let you know that I also decided to get the double gauze bundle, too. Now, I’m not a garment sewer so I’m not really sure what to do with double gauze, but it looked so pretty, I couldn’t resist!

cs_double_gauzeDouble gauze – 15 half yard cuts – what would you make?

Other luscious bundles include Kim Kight’s Cookie Book (my favorite):

cs_cookie_bookAnd Mesa by Alexia Abegg – I just can’t resist graphic, southwest designs!

cs_mesaNow here’s the best news, several of the older bundles that haven’t sold out are now on sale! Be sure to scoop them up before they are gone.

Click here for all Cotton and Steel precut bundles and happy shopping!

EQ Row Along Starts September 1st

Do you enjoy making row quilts? Some blogger friends of mine are hosting a row-along in September and I invite you to join them! You do NOT have to have Electric Quilt software to join.


Here are the Details:

Doesn’t that sound fun?


Podcasts I listen to

Several of you have asked which podcasts I listen to so I thought I’d share my list here. They are a mix of business, wellness, crafting and quilting. Because it’s a long list and I’m feeling a bit lazy today – I’m just showing pictures from my phone rather than including actual links.

These are all available in Itunes and if you google them, it will take you to their websites where they have links to listen. The dates below indicate the last time the podcast was upload. Note: these pics are about a week old and they are in no particular order. Enjoy!


podcast_2podcast_3podcast_4podcast_5What are your favorite podcasts? If you have recommendations, please leave me a comment. I listen to these while I quilt and exercise so I’m always looking for more great content to listen to!


Fabric Friday – Lecien Precuts (and a new link to share)

Today I’m sharing a new-to-me brand that we just started carrying in our precut store. But before we get to that, I wanted to announce that my brilliant husband Jason has purchased the domain name The Precut Store. It will remain under the Christa Quilts brand, but instead of having to get there from my blog, or trying to remember how to find it on Amazon, you can just google The Precut Store or Precut Store, or bookmark this link in your browser:

Cool, huh? He and our oldest son are also currently working on a behind the scenes project to create a storefront shell which will make it easier to browse and search for our precuts on Amazon. I don’t have a date yet on when that will be finished, but I’ll keep you all in the loop when it occurs.

And now, check out these gorgeous new precuts from Lecien:

lecien_sushi_rollsLecien precut strips are called Sushi Rolls – isn’t that cute? This is Child Smile, a retro 30’s group.

lecien_modern_basicsI love their modern basics in charm squares and strips. This is the cool colorway.

lecien_basicsYou can’t go wrong with Quilter’s Basics – in 2 colorways.

lecien_origamiOr try a pack of shabby chic charms which they call “Origami Squares.”

Have you heard of this brand before? If so what do you think?

Click here to view all Lecien precuts.

Free Pattern for Newsletter Subscribers

I’ve been listening to a lot of business podcasts lately and one of the suggestions everyone mentions is to offer a freebie when people sign up for my newsletter. What a great idea! Although I love to share tutorials and host quilt alongs I don’t know why I never thought of this before!

In fact, I’m in the process of playing around with ideas on how to promote my new Kona designer precuts that are coming in October, and thought I could kill two birds with one stone!

Puzzle Box Pattern

So I’m introducing Puzzle Box – a free pattern for you as a way to say thanks for reading! I’ve designed the quilt in EQ7, my graphic designer Lindsie has created this beautiful cover, and I’m in the process of editing the pattern now. It will be ready for release on Sept. 14th.

Be sure to sign up for Friendly Threads, my email newsletter and I’ll email you a PDF copy of this pattern when it launches . My version of Puzzle Box uses one of my designer roll-ups plus one roll-up of light background fabrics, but of course it would look great in any fabrics!


And don’t worry, current subscribers will also get a copy of the pattern on Sept. 14th, so you don’t have do a thing – other than open my newsletter and read it! :-)

Thanks again for supporting me in all my crazy quilty endeavors!!

Join Me at EQ Academy Next Spring

Good news for those of you who wish to take an EQ7 class from me but didn’t get into my classes at QuiltCon – I’ll be teaching at EQ Academy in Ohio next spring! Here are the details:


Getting Started With EQ7 with Christa Watson

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016 – Saturday, April 23, 2016
Location: Perrysburg, OH
Skill level: Beginner

In this comprehensive 3-day workshop, students will enjoy hands-on computer instruction for 6 full hours of class each day. In addition to learning the basics of EQ7 for Windows or Mac, additional topics will include: using the Block Library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing original quilts, scaling and numbering foundation piecing templates, applying a layer of quilting, calculating yardage, and more. Gain confidence in your design skills, knowing how your finished quilt will look before making the first cut!

Class registration opens on August 18th.

In addition to my class, there will be three other classes offered at the same time to meet your needs. Students will register for one class only and will be with the same instructor for 3 days. We’ll be BQF’s (Best Quilting Friends) by the end of the week!

Click here for all EQ Academy classes. I hope to see you there. :-)