Machine Quilting with Style: Lightning Re-Imagined + Quilt Market Giveaway

Lightning, from my book Machine Quilting with Style is one of three examples in the book of “structured” improv: my method of using improv techniques to randomly sew pieces together, then assembling them into a recognizeable block.


Lightning 72″ x 96″ by Christa Watson. Photography by Brent Kane for Martingale.

The traditional rail fence was my starting point for Lightning. However, rather than using only the same 4-5 fabrics, I used a favorite colorscheme of scrappy black, white and gray, with pops of yellow and green to create the lightning streaks.


I also created a secondary composition on the back with leftovers of many of the same fabrics I used in the top. My publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place was kind enough to create a free PDF download of the backing pattern.

Let’s play and see what happens when we substitute the yellow streaks with another popular color such as blue:


Alternate colorway, designed in EQ7.

What if we use red for the flashpoints, and then choose only black and dark grays for the background:


Alternate colorway, designed in EQ7.

As you can see, this is just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities!! Click here to see another version, made pretty in pink.

Quilt Market Giveaway!

Since I just returned from quilt market (more about that later), I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of swag with you. Hoffman fabrics gave me two of these fantastic fat quarter bundles from their Me + You batik collection. That means I get to select two winners this week!


To enter, leave a comment letting me know if you’ve ever made a rail fence quilt before, and which bundle you would prefer to win – cool or warm. For a bonus entry, share your rail fence quilt in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa. (US winners only, or willing to pay shipping if int’l.)

I’ll choose the winners next Thursday and share their names on next Friday’s post with the next re-imagined quilt from Machine Quilting with Style, and another giveaway! Lightning is the 8th quilt in the book, so that means there are only 4 more to recolor. I hope you are having as much fun seeing the alternate versions as I am!

Machine Quilting With Style

Click here to purchase a signed copy of Machine Quilting with Style.
Click here to see all of the quilts from the book.

238 thoughts on “Machine Quilting with Style: Lightning Re-Imagined + Quilt Market Giveaway

  1. Sharon says:

    Love the rail fence for a quick quilt for kids. Always have fun picking from my stash when making one. I love either bundle. The colors are great.
    Thank you for the giveaway.

  2. Nancy says:

    I like your version of the rail fence. It adds a lot to the pattern. I have made several of them in the past, but have given them all away as gifts! I would be happy with either bundle if I won. Thanks for sharing the awesome giveaway.

  3. Thunder says:

    The first large quilt I made was a rail fence. I made it for one of my sisters. I like both bundles, but if I have to pick one… I’d go with the warm. Thanks for the chance.

  4. Rachell Reilly says:

    I completed a rail fence and log cabin block each on the first sampler quilt I ever made. I haven’t revisited the rail fence block since then, but I bet it would be easy for jelly rolls!

  5. Kimmy J says:

    I made a rail fence quilt for my grandson for his wedding. Will be making another one for my great grand baby due Feb 2017, your lightening version would be perfect!. It too, will be a rail fence. If I win, warm would be best as we are going into winter. 🙂 Thanks!

  6. Sandy says:

    Never made a rail fence, but I’m getting a lot of ideas and inspiration from looking at your designs! Would love the warm colors. Thank you!

  7. Karen says:

    The last rail fence I made was for my grandaughter Penny almost 3 years ago. It was a diagonal set and the middle rail had a contrasting color square in the center. I want the warm colors when I win. Thanks.

  8. Robin says:

    I have never made a rail fence quilt. I have been collecting black/white prints which would look lovely combined with the cool color way bundle in this quilt pattern!

  9. Suzanne Caflisch says:

    I’ve made several Rail Fence Quilts! My all time favorite quilt is the Log Cabin, and the Rail Fence was a natural one to try from there. I’ve used the Rail Fence pattern for many a baby quilt. I’m going to be trying your Lightning pattern; I love the one with red/black/grey, and improv is so much fun!!!! If you pick my name I would like the either bundle but would choose the warm! Thank you for doing this.

  10. Amy L says:

    We played strip poker in our quilt guild two years ago, and I made a rail fence quilt top out of my strips. Hmm, maybe it’s time to get it out and quilt it… and I like both color schemes, but if I have to choose, it would be the warm one.

  11. Kristine Clay says:

    I haven’t done rail fence but as you showed, it looks so versatile and easy to put together. Inspiring! I’d love some solids and am a huge fan of the blues and purples but I use a lot of red too so I like them both. Thanks for the awesome introduction to rail fence!

  12. Betsy says:

    I have made a rail fence doll quilt, but I can see many more possibilities with your pattern! The warm colors really appeal to me, but love the cool grouping as well.
    Thanks for sharing your swag!

  13. Sheila champion says:

    I’ve never made a rail fence quilt, but would love to. If I win the cool color I will try one. You make beautiful quilts. Thank you for the chance to win. Good luck everyone.

  14. Marsha Dugan says:

    My very first quilt was a rail fence. I worked very hard and brought a very crooked row to proudly show my coworker. She told me it would look better if I unsewed and squared up my blocks. After licking my wounds, I did as she suggested and she is now my very best friend and quilting partner. LOL. Would love the purple/blue Hoffman group. Thank you all for this opportunity.

  15. Sheila champion says:

    I’ve never made a rail fence quilt, but woul love to try it if I win the fabric. I love the cool color bundle. Thanks for the chance to win, and good luck to all that has entered.

  16. Margaret N says:

    i made a rail fence baby quilt. I do not have a picture as i gave it away and didn’t take pictures of all my quilts way back when. I would love the cool bundle. Thanks for the opportunity!

  17. Mary Green says:

    I’ve been making the traditional Rail Fence quilt pattern for 25 plus years now. It’s my go-to pattern for making signature toppers (no batting and tied with DMC) for shower gifts for at least a dozen brides. And it’s an easy pattern to teach friends how to cut and sew a quilt. But…I have never done one with your wonky rails. I have a humongous stash and wonder how it would look in diagonal colors like a rainbow. IF/WHEN I win your drawing, I would like either color wave tho the warm would be something new for me to work with.
    Thanks for the chance to win it.

  18. Roberta Johnson says:

    I love these alternate colorways, especially the blue. Thanks for the opportunity to win some swag from market. I would choose the blue/purple bundle.

  19. sorchagirl says:

    A Rail Fence pattern was my first quilt, created to celebrate my nephew’s birth in 1986. The gender of the baby was not known at the time so the quilt had both blue and pink “rails”. This nephew will be married December 10th and another quilt is in progress to celebrate the event. Please consider the Cool combo of fabrics for me. Thanks for a chance in the giveaway.

  20. Carol Kuse says:

    I have never made a rail fence quilt although it is on my bucket list. I love both sets, but the cool is really my colors. Thank you.

  21. dser28 says:

    I haven’t made a rail fence quilt yet, but I would love to make one. Both bundles are lovely, but I really like the cool colors.

  22. Pam says:

    I made a small rail fence quilt as part of a beginning quilt class. I like the warm fat quarters, but I would be happy with either.

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