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. Gail Kelly says:

    Oh my, I am really psyched about that dark background with the bright red! I have made rail fence blocks but never an entire quilt with them. Should you draw my name, I would prefer the warm bundle. Thx for the opportunity!

  2. Diane Beavers says:

    Rail Fence would be a first for me…and I have Machine Quilting w/Style in E Book…I’ll check it out again. I love the warm bundle. Thank you.

  3. Patty H says:

    The first quilt class I took was a rail fence quilt and I did a string pieced quilt for my grandson that is laid out in a rail fence pattern. So fun and easy. I’d love to have either bundle, but prefer the cool colors.

  4. Marjorie Nath says:

    I have never made a rail fence quilt but it is a beautiful pattern. Both colorways are beautiful but the cool colors are my favorite.

  5. Norma Sterbemz says:

    I have made a traditional rail fence quilt, but I am fascinated by your modern improv quilt. You have me hooked on improv quilting. It is so relaxing.

  6. Nancy says:

    I have not made a rail fence quilt. So hard to choose a bundle. I would normally choose the cool, but think I will go for the warm collection — seems to be calling my name ! Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. Lana Dougherty says:

    I’ve never made a Rail Fence Quilt but maybe someday…..I love all things Hoffman, especially their Batiks! My choice would be the warm colors, but either one is fine with me. Thanks for offering them to us!

  8. Kalynn says:

    I have made several rail fence quilts, they are lots of fun. Both color schemes are beautiful, today I would choose the warm colors.

  9. karen lovely says:

    I think way back when I did a rail fence block for practice but never did a quilt. I do love your lightening railfence. It would be perfect for my grandson! I live the cool colors.
    Thank you, Karen

  10. Marilyn says:

    One of the first quilts I made was a traditional rail fence. It is a great design for philanthropy quilts. Your variation would be fun to make. I like the warm colorway.

  11. Camille says:

    I have made a rail fence quilt. I let my 7 year daughter select the fabrics and we were both thrilled with the finished nap quilt.

  12. Dixie M says:

    Made a rail fence quilt for our youngest daughter but would like to try a jazzed up version such as your Lightning Re-Imagined quilt. Love the colors of both bundles however have an older daughter decorating with the cool colors …. would love to make her a quilt with those. Must keep things equal you know.

  13. Linda says:

    Rail fence was my first quilting attempt but it wasn’t nearly as exciting as your new variations. I love the more modern emphasis.

  14. mindi says:

    Love your rail fence variations! I’ve never made one, but I like yours so much I just might have to make one now. Thanks for the chance to win a fat quarter bundle from quilt market! My fave color is blue, with purple a very close second, so I like those cool colors best. 🙂 But…those warm colors are pretty too.

  15. Kris LeBlanc says:

    The first quilt I ever made was a Rail Fence, in shades of yellow, hand-pieced and hand-quilted, for our first daughter. She’s now 32 and just had their first, a girl, in September!
    That rail fence quilt is washed and ready at our house now for grandbaby visits.
    I would love to win either bundle, but the cool set would be my first choice. Thanks for the chance to win!

  16. Veline says:

    I have made several rail fence quilts and given them all away. Now I want to make one like your Lightning! The cool colors are my favorite.

  17. Sandy Bailey says:

    I have not created a rail fence quilt, but it would be fun to try. I like yours with the lightning effect. I always lean towards the cool colors.

  18. Julie says:

    I have made quite a few rail fences for charity quilts! I love them, especially yours. Can’t wait to give it a go!

    I’d go warm, all the way!!!

  19. Rita S says:

    Love your quilt and thanks for sharing different versions by changing the accent fabric. I have made a rail fence quilt that I gave for a fun raiser to stop a Land Fill being built near a Grant Wood painting site in Iowa. We got it stopped, yea!

  20. Cy Swendsen says:

    I have made several Rail Fence quilts. That was the first quilt pattern I taught to my ladies in the beginning quilt class I taught at our church. I started them on this pattern in a lap size, as it makes a pleasing design and introduced them to proper use of rotary cutter, mat and rulers, along with the importance of the 1/4″ seam, and proper pressing. All of the 8 ladies, some with NO previous sewing experience, completed their quilts. Most of the ladies, and some new comers, continued on with our classes, learning new techniques and making bigger quilts for the 8 years that I taught. Some of the group still sews and quilts together even after I had to leave due to family commitments and a cross country move.

  21. Carol Coulter says:

    There were three rail fence blocks in my first quilt made in a class. I enjoyed making them because they were so easy. I knew they were made correctly – not sure about the rest of the blocks in that quilt! I would love to make an entire quilt of those blocks in some form. My favorite blocks are the warm ones.

  22. vjanies says:

    I have not made a Rail Fence quilt. I would like to try this one. I love the black and white with red lightning. I prefer the cool colors in the give away. Thanks!

  23. Elizabethdx says:

    I’ve never made a rail fence but I love your interpretation. I did get your book so I hope there is a Lightning in my future. If I had to pick a bundle I would declare for cool, although I have to say I would be very thrilled with the warm bundle. Both are beautiful!

  24. Georgette K says:

    The rail fence quilt was one of the first quilts I made. That was well over 20 years ago and I still love that pattern. I would love to win the warm colored bundle because it’s out of my comfort zone (a little) but I would love to try it.

  25. Rosemary says:

    The only rail fence I’ve made was in a sampler quilt years ago. I love batik fabrics, but I’m not usually one who makes the same block over and over in a quilt! Love the lightening part of your quilt. I can see it made with a variety of colors, such as grays and blues that resemble the midwestern sky in summer.

  26. Phyllis says:

    I have never made a rail fence quilt but it looks like a wonderful fast gift! I would love the cool bundle. Thanks for the chance to win….can’t wait to see everyone’s stories from quilt market!

  27. Linda Webster says:

    I made a rail fence quilt when I first started quilting. I love the pattern and plan to use again in the future. It’s amazing how different Lightning looks with each colorway. I’d be very happy to win either one of the bundles.

  28. Laura says:

    I’ve made a rail fence quilt or two. Love your updated version! I’ll pick the warm colors as these are lacking in my fabric collection.

  29. Jamie says:

    I made my quilting mom a rail fence quilt for Christmas back in 2012. I haven’t made another since, but have thought about it. Thanks for the chance of winning a FQ bundle. Love them both, my first choice is the cool.

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