Machine Quilting with Style: Focal Point Re-Imagined + A Secret Revealed

Focal Point was such a fun design to both piece and quilt! I made it specifically for my book Machine Quilting with Style as part of my quest to go more modern with my designs. I remember attending a lecture by Heather Grant at the very first QuiltCon in 2013. She gave us several great tips on how to go more modern. Two of my favorites used in this quilt are asymmetry and cropping your design. Later once I got to know Jacquie Gering, she reminded me to make sure my modern quilts always had a “focal point.”


Christa with Focal Point at QuiltCon 2016. Quilt Measures 45″ x 45″.

I was thrilled to be able to share Focal Point at QuiltCon earlier this year and of course, I had to take the obligatory “here’s the quilt from my book pic!”

More Neutrals

I used Amy Ellis’ fabric to make the original version of the quilt. Her debut line was called Modern Neutrals which I thought was so appropriate for the quilt. When her next line, Chic Neutrals came out around the same time as the book I thought it would be fun to recolor it using those fabrics. (She’s since released a third line which I think would be just as fab!)

Focal Point - Chic Neutrals no lines

Focal Point recolored in EQ7 with Chic Neutrals by Amy Ellis for Moda

For another color idea, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes a bit. Many times when I’m designing, I’ll go through tons of different color iterations until I find the one that’s just right. Focal point actually started out in this icy blue colorway, before I applied Amy’s fabrics to it:


Focal point in classic blue and white.

I once heard it said that you know you have a good design on your hands when it can look good in any fabrics. Hopefully that’s how you all will feel when making the quilts from my books!🙂

A Secret Revealed and a Giveaway!

It’s always fun to reveal secrets when sharing my books and patterns. Now I have another big announcement I can finally share. I’m an Aurifil thread designer! This week, Aurifil debuted my brand new line, The Piece and Quilt thread collection.


It’s a line of 24 threads in 50 weight cotton: 12 Neutrals and 12 Colors. These are my favorite threads that I use for every part of  quilt making: piecing, quilting and binding! In fact, the light gray that I used to quilt Focal Point is included in the neutrals collection.


To celebrate the one year birthday of my first book, and now my debut thread collection, you can win them before you can buy them!! To win a 12 pack of the neutrals, leave a comment here at my site, letting me know what your go-to thread colors are.

To win a 12 pack of the colors, head over to the Auribuzz blog and follow the intructions over there. Due to shipping limitations, this giveaway is open to all of my US friends. Be sure and ask for these by name at your favorite quilt shop – they’ll be arriving soon!

Last Week’s Winner

Last but not least, I’d like to congratulate Zina C. who won a copy of EQ Mini. I’m sure she’ll be able to put this software to good use!! Next week is quilt market so I won’t have another book post. But come back in 2 weeks for another winner and another re-imagined quilt!

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

Quilt As Desired Article 4: Handwork Makes a Comeback

Today I’m continuing to share the 5 part series of articles that I originally wrote for the National Quilting association as part of my Quilt as Desired column. This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of the Quilting Quarterly.

Click here to read the other machine quilting articles I’ve written. Happy reading!



Machine Quilting with Style: Square in a Square Re-Imagined

Square in a Square is my second favorite quilt from my book Machine Quilting with Style. (Click here to find out which one is my favorite.) I really tried to play with alternate grids and negative space when I designed this quilt. I combined two of my go-to motifs when quilting it: free-motion boxes and walking foot square spirals. I love that it includes a bit of both methods I teach in the book.

Square in a Square is currently being exhibited in the modern category of the Pacific International Quilt Festival and it hung at Road to California earlier in the year. I love entering my quilts into shows so they can be seen by a wider audience.🙂


Square in a Square 60″ x 60″ by Christa Watson. Photography by Brent Kane for Martingale.

Imagine the Possibilities

My BQF (Best Quilting Friend) Stacy from Farm Road Quilts made this fun version which is is just perfect for Halloween! During the original blog hop a year ago, a bunch of my friends each remade one of the quilts from the book. Click here to see all of the variations – they are so fun!


Square in a Square made by Stacy Cooper of Farm Road Quilts.

I design all of my quilts in EQ7 and I have embraced my inner control freak that needs to know exactly what it’s going to look like even before I begin, LOL!! So here are a couple more fun variations that I came up with, using Amanda Murphy’s playful Sewing Room collection for Benartex.


I think using the light gray background is probably more my style, but I wanted to push the envelope and see how fun and it would look using the sewing machine fabric as the background combined with funky bright solids.

Click here to get some of this fun fabric!!


Do you recognize what kind of sewing machine that is? Amanda is a BERNINA ambassador just like me, so I’m sure that influenced her artwork. Hmmm. maybe a smaller version of this would make a perfect sewing machine cover for my BERNINA!!🙂

Giveaway Time! Win EQ Mini!!

Speaking of designing in EQ7, my good friends at The Electric Quilt Company recently released their latest software, EQ Mini. It’s a scaled down, less expensive version of EQ. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to get their feet wet designing their own quilts, but isn’t sure where to start.


One winner will receive either a boxed physical copy or an email code to download directly from the website, so that means this giveaway is open to everyone! To enter, leave a comment letting me know if you’ve ever designed your own quilt. For a bonus entry, share a picture of it in my Facebook group at Quilt with Christa.

And now it’s time to congratulate last week’s winner’s, Bec B. and Sharon T. who each won a copy of 180 Doodle Quilting Designs. It’s been so fun to read all of your comments each week and see the quilts you are making!

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.

Quilt As Desired Article 3: Filler Designs Add Texture

Today I’m continuing to share the series of machine quilting articles that I originally wrote for the National Quilting association as part of my Quilt as Desired column. This article first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of the Quilting Quarterly.

Click here to read the other machine quilting articles I’ve written.

Happy reading!


Machine Quilting with Style: Static Re-Imagined

Static is by far the simplest quilt to make from my book Machine Quilting with Style. It’s my tongue in cheek version of a pixelated quilt design because there’s nothing to see in the “static.”🙂 Here’s the original version, created in a simple palette of pink, purple, and yellow. Although I used yardage for my version, it’s very jelly roll friendly since the blocks are all made from 2 1/2″ wide strips.


Static 56″ x 64″ by Christa Watson. Photography by Brent Kane.

Colorful Static

When it came time to recolor this graphic quilt, I decided to try out two extreme variations. The first is using Tula Pink’s True Colors, a line of basics meant to coordinate with her wilder print collections. The blocks are rotated haphazardly to give the random static-looking appearance as shown in the original pattern. I must say, I kind of like this version even better than the original; I’m a sucker for bright color!

Static Tula Pink

Colorful Static – Using Tula Pink’s True Colors for FreeSpirit

Black and White Static

No surprises here – I had to design a black and white version, too! For this one, I didn’t rotate the blocks and I like the subtle pattern it gives to the overall design. Now I must add this to my collection of black and white quilts! I used Thicket by Gingiber for Moda for this colorway.

Static Black and White

Black and White Static – Using Thicket by Gingiber for Moda

Isn’t it fun to play with extremes? You can find precut strips for both True Colors and Thicket (plus tons of other options) at my alter ego location:

Celebration Giveaway

It’s been so fun choosing winners and giving away yummy prizes each week as we celebrate the one year birthday of my first book. So let’s first congratulate last week’s winner Elizabeth R. who won a 3 charm pack prize pack from The Precut Store.


This week, two winners will each receive a copy of 180 Doodle Quilting Designs, (one physical copy, one e-copy) of which I’m pleased to be included along with 8 other contributors. Truth be told, after writing 2 books back to back, it’s been fun to participate in several compilation books with other fabulous designers. (Ahem – more about those coming soon!!)

To enter, leave a comment below telling me about the easiest quilt you’ve ever made. For a bonus entry, share a picture of it in my Facebook Group at Quilt with Christa.

View Even More Colorways

When I originally celebrated the release of Machine Quilting with Style, a dozen friends joined me by each remaking one of the quilts in the book in their choice of fabrics.

Click here to see them all!


The original quilts from Machine Quilting with Style, pieced and quilted by yours truly.

And hey, it’s totally okay if you like a some of the alternate versions better. Shh don’t tell, but I do, too, LOL!!!

Quilt As Desired Article 2: Embrace the Line

This week I’m sharing my Quilt as Desired article which was originally published in the winter 2014 issue of Quilting Quarterly magazine from the National Quilting Association. I’ve changed the original formatting to better fit the blog format. You can purchase a PDF pattern for Mini Churn Dash from my Craftsy store.

Mini_patternMini Churn Dash along with the pattern originally published in the magazine.
Click here to purchase Mini Churn Dash pattern  for just $4.95.

“Making a mini quilt is a great way to explore a new design style. It’s also a fun excuse to give machine quilting a try. The time and material investment are minimal, and it’s easy enough to quilt a mini on nearly any sewing machine you can think of.

“However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when quilting a mini: (1) the quilting should not overwhelm the piecing design and (2) the scale of the quilting should be in proportion to the rest of the quilt.

“When making my Mini Churn Dash  I knew I wanted to apply the two principles listed above, as well as include an element of modern machine quilting to the piece. Straight-line quilting has been an extremely popular way to add texture to full sized quilts, and I hoped this quilting design would look great on a modern mini. As with any quilt I make, I first drew up a practice sketch to audition my design:

Straight Line Quilting
“I quilted the parallel lines in an asymmetrical pattern, using tape as a guide to vary the width of the spacing between quilting lines, anywhere from 1/8” to 1/2” apart. I used a shorter than normal stitch length to keep the quilting in scale with the quilt.

Straight Line Quilting
I quilted additional straight lines using the edge of my even-feed (walking) foot as a guide, changing the needle position to vary the width of the spacing. I kept quilting until it felt “finished”. I used a thin cotton thread in a light grey color that seemed to blend in to the background rather than play a starring role.

Straight Line Quilting
“You can quilt asymmetrical lines using other designs such as wavy lines, or decorative stitches on your sewing machine. So the next time you are stumped when quilting a modern mini, just think of what kinds of textures you can create, starting with a simple line!

Click here to read the other machine quilting articles I’ve written.

Spiral Flower Machine Quilting on Maggie’s First Dance BOM

My good friend Jacquelynne Steves has been hosting a gorgeous free Block of the Month program she started over the summer, and I finally have a free minute to tell you about it! It’s a 6-part series called Maggie’s First Dance featuring 5 adorable blocks plus border and finishing instructions.

Maggies First Dance

Click here to sign up and get all of the blocks that have been shared so far.

This month’s  design is the setting block, and I thought it would be perfect to showcase one of my favorite free-motion quilting designs: spiral flowers. So I decided to make a cute mini from one of the blocks and take pictures of my process so I can walk you through how I did it. This block uses my no-mark method for free-motion quilting that I teach in both of my machine quilting books.

Aurifil Thread

Step 1 – choose your thread

Look at your beautiful finished block and think about how you want to quilt it. I always like to audition several thread choices to see which one will look the best. In this case I chose to go with a light yellow, 50 weight cotton Aurifil. White or light gray would have looked nice, too. I’m going to quilt it with one color thread only so that I can custom quilt the entire block without starting and stopping.

Quilt Design Sketch

Step 2 – Sketch Your Design

Print out a color copy of your block on paper and sketch out some design ideas. This allows you to plan out how you will move around the block quickly and efficiently before you try it on the real thing. I chose  a large spiral flower in the center of the block surrounded by pebbles.  I’ll repeat the flower petal design in the white areas, and add some more pebbles in the corners. This will allow me to quilt the entire design in one pass, traveling (backtracking) in the seams if needed to quilt each section of the design.

I only sketched enough of the design to give me a general idea of what I was going to quilt. Of course, you can draw the design over the whole block if you prefer. Doesn’t it look like I drew right on the block? Don’t worry, it really is just a color printout of the block.🙂

Free Motion Center Spiral

Step 3 – Start the Center Spiral

Starting in the middle of the block, pull up the bobbin thread to the top and move it out of the way for now. You can go back and tie off the knot later and bury the thread within the batting. Or just start with a series of teeny-tiny stitches to lock your beginning threads in place.

Quilt a small spiral to start and then immediately turn the spiral into a series of small, irregular flower petals. It doesn’t matter which direction to stitch in, or how many petals you quilt as you spiral around. Aim for nice, smooth stitches, but they don’t have to be perfectly uniform in length.

Spiral Flower Quilting

Step 4 -Complete the Center Block

As you echo back out around the center spiral, quilt a series of petals that don’t quite touch each other. Fill in all of the space, backtracking in the seam if needed to get to any areas you missed. Again, notice that each petal is not perfect or uniform. You are aiming for texture over perfection.

Pebble Quilting

Step 5 – Fill in the Rest of the Block

I quilted the area around the flower with pebbles, a dense texture that would allow the floral quilting to really pop. Because I used the same color thread, I was able to easily switch back and forth between quilting motifs as needed. To create interest in the block, I repeated the petal shapes in the outer portion of the block, with an extra pop of pebbles in the corners.

Although I’m only showing one block as an example, you can easily apply this design to all of the setting blocks. I like dense textural motifs that lend themselves well to any size block or quilt!

Ta-Da! Enjoy Your Finish

Machine Quilted Block

If you are new to machine quilting, I recommend making one or two practice blocks like I did to get the hang of it, or to try out different quilting ideas. You can always refer to your practice blocks as a stitch journal of your progress. I turn mine into class samples, so I don’t have to pack up a suitcase full of quilts when I teach.🙂

Let’s Have a Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Jacquelynne’s latest BOM installment, 7 other bloggers and I have teamed up to give away a fun prize pack of my PDF patterns, perfect for practicing your machine quilting skills! So that means that 8 people will win, one for each stop on the blog hop below.

Pattern Giveaway

Visit each of these blogs to increase your chances of winning. Leave a comment at each for your chance to win! The giveaway is open to everyone and runs through October 10th.

Farmhouse Quilts

My Go-Go Life

The Crafty Quilter

LilyPad Quilting

Grey Dogwood Studio

The Quilting Nook

EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Christa Quilts – You Are Here!

New Around Here? Everyone’s a Winner!

Puzzle Box Pattern

Click here to get my free Puzzle Box quilt pattern.

As an extra bonus for anyone new to my blog, be sure to check out Friendly Threads, my weekly email and get this free PDF pattern instantly. My Puzzle Box pattern uses two Jelly Rolls and goes together super quick!

Machine Quilting with Style: Little Man’s Fancy Re-Imagined

Are you enjoying seeing alternate colorways of the quilts from my book, Machine Quilting with Style? I’m having a blast recoloring them all. Sometimes I think making “virtual” quilts is just as much fun as the real thing, but a lot faster!!🙂 This week, let’s take a look at Little Man’s Fancy:

Walking Foot Quilting

Little Man’s Fancy 36″ x 36″ by Christa Watson. Photography by Brent Kane.

Baby Boy Blue

The quilt design is my riff on a traditional block called “Gentleman’s Fancy,” hence the similar name. In addition to the original layout shown above in the book,  I also shared how you can just flip a couple of rows to make a really cool oversized star design, a great size for that little fella in your life:

Fancy Star

Fancy Star – designed in EQ7.

Pretty in Pink

But what I’d really love to do is remake it in a pretty pink version, perfect for a little princess! This time I chose pink, red and gray swatches from Deb Strain‘s latest line for Moda. It’s actually a Valentine’s collection but works just as well for this version!


Pretty Pink Star

What if you wanted to make a bigger quilt? Just make more blocks and multiply the yardage requirements by four to make this cuddly throw. Isn’t it fun to play around with the possibilities??

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink 72″ x 72″ made from 4 blocks.

Giveaway Time!

Congratulations to Jamie N. and Kris L. They each won  a White Dream 80/20 queen batting and a Natural Dream 80/20 queen batting, courtesy of Quilter’s Dream.

The Precut Store

This week, I’m giving away a mystery bundle of 3 Moda charm packs, courtesy of The Precut Store. They are so brand spankin’ new, they aren’t even in stores yet. But trust me, you will love them!

To enter, leave a comment telling me about the favorite baby quilt you have made. For an extra chance to win, share a picture of it in my Facebook Group: Quilt with Christa. This giveaway is open to everyone with the stipulation that an international winner will pay 1/2 of the shipping (we’ll split it to keep it fair, K??)

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your makes – it gets me all excited to keep on quilting!!

Machine Quilting with Style

Click here to see all of the quilts from Machine Quilting with Style.

Quilt As Desired Article 1: Modern Machine Quilting

Last week I shared an article that Jacquie Gering and I had written for the National Quilting Association which dissolved last year after 46 years as an organization. Now that a period of time has passed and the rights have reverted back to me, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share with you the series of articles I wrote for them about Machine Quilting. There’s a total of 5 articles (2 of which were never published) and I plan to share them with you approximately once a week. Hopefully you’ll pick up a tip or two. Happy reading friends!

Note: The following article was written as a sample of my writing style and helped me land the free-lance writing gig. NQA asked if I wanted to go ahead and use it for my first column, but I chose to write on a different topic which I’ll share next time. So this is the first time this article is being shared in public.

Modern Machine Quilting

 Whether you prefer to quilt by hand or machine, or send your quilts off to a professional for finishing, I’m here to share my expertise and offer advice on how to enhance your quilt’s overall appearance with appropriate quilting choices. This will be a regular feature in each issue of the Quilting Quarterly. We hope you enjoy it!

I love to make modern quilts and explore how to quilt them. Functional modern quilts are meant to be used and washed and they often include vast expanses of negative space. For bed quilts, the quilting should provide enough texture and interest to fit into a modern décor, without being so excessive that the quilt becomes scratchy, stiff and unusable.

I will illustrate an example of functional, modern machine quilting on a quilt I designed named Abacus. It’s made from circular blocks that are machine appliqued. It is sewn together in rows with increasing lengths of grey strips forming the background.


The first thing I do when considering how to quilt a quilt is take a picture of the actual quilt top or the quilt pattern, and print it off in color on a piece of 8 ½” x 11” paper. I will then sketch different quilting ideas until I come up with something I like.

The pen marks indicate the quilting lines, but not necessarily the color of the thread. I will quilt Abacus with a series of gently waving lines, using my walking foot on my home machine and slightly turning the quilt to form the waves as I stitch. This can also be accomplished by using a decorative stitch and maxing out the length and width. (Be sure try out different stitches to find one you like!)


Next, I will practice on a smaller sample piece with the same fabrics, thread, and batting I plan to use for the quilt. I think grey is a nice neutral thread choice, and I will use the seam lines between the rows to give me a relatively straight guideline to follow. Spending time on these steps now helps prevents disappointment down the road when a quilt doesn’t turn out like I envision it in my head.


Finally, I will quilt the real quilt, starting in the middle of the quilt and quilting the wavy lines from top to bottom, moving halfway across the quilt. When I get to the edge, I will turn the quilt around and quilt the other half.


If you are using a long-arm machine to quilt this quilt, just load it from the side and quilt the wavy lines back and forth horizontally across the quilt, advancing the quilt as you go.


Click here to purchase a PDF version of my Abacus quilt pattern.


Abacus 32″ x 32″, designed pieced and quilted by Christa Watson

Color Blog Series – Black and White

Have you all read about the year-long Color Blog Series? It’s hosted by my friend Michelle Wilkie who blogs quite regularly over at Factotum of Arts. First a little background: Michelle and I got to be pretty good internet friends and finally were able to meet in person at QuiltCon 2015. We thought it was fate when two of our mini quilts were hung up next to each other during the show. I’m excited to see her again next spring when I’ll be presenting a workshop for her guild The Triangle MQG.


Me and Michelle at QuiltCon 2015 – notice my black and white bag!!

I was excited to choose Black and White for my color this month.  I think one of the reasons I like using black and white so much is there’s not much color theory involved. You can’t get more opposite when pairing contrasting black and white together! So I thought I’d share a few quilts I’ve made using this graphic combo and talk a little bit about each.

Modern X

Modern X

Modern X was the first quilt I made using black and white. I created it for the Modern Quilt Guild’s pattern of the month series back in 2014 and after making it, was hooked on using this color combo. I used black and white Kona solids to create the highest amount of contrast possible, and created a focal point by coloring the X with a pop of yellow-green. Pattern available here.


Christa Watson Illusions

The design of Illusions was on my mind for quite a few years before actually making it. I got the idea from the optical illusion known as “cafe walls” and wanted to see if the illusion would still work in quilt form. Again, I used solid black and white, with solid gray forming the skinny lines between the squares. To really see the optical illusion in action, scroll your screen up and down a few times to see it wiggle.🙂


Quilting detail on Illusions, using black, white and gray threads to match.

Illusions hung at QuiltCon in 2015 and caught the notice of the editors of Modern Quilts Unlimited, where the pattern was subsequently published in the Spring 2016 issue.



Ahh Lightning!! This time I used prints to create the strong contrast. The thing I learned in working with black and white prints is that you need to separate them into piles of white prints on mostly black background and the opposite: black prints on a mostly white backround. If too many of the prints have equal amounts of both colors, the contrast will be lost when mixed with other fabrics. I love throwing in a bit of gray when working with black and white prints to give the composition a bit of extra interest.

Again, I chose to accent part of the design using yellow-green solids. I guess I have a thing with black, white and green! Lightning is patterned in mybook Machine Quilting with Style, and I used leftovers to make a fun pieced backing!


Click here for a tutorial on making the pieced backing.



Lately I have been having a thing for HRT (half-rectangle triangle) designs. Usually when I design in EQ7, I start out with solid black and white. That’s where this design is now. I’m sure I will tweak it quite a bit before coming up with a final layout. I may even completely change the colors, too. But for now, using black and white while designing allows me to create the most graphic impact I can, allowing me to focus on the design, rather than the colors I will eventually use. The funny thing is, each time I’ve started a design in black and white, I want to make that version, too!

Double Star Quilt

Double Star Quilt

I designed this Double Star Block for a friend’s monthly block tutorial series (The Beehive from Blossom Heart Quilts) and I love secondary pattern that emerges when the blocks are placed together side by side. This is one of those ideas that I designed in gray scale first, and then just decided to keep it that way! Although I only made one block for the series, I’m dying to make a whole quilt from these!


Click here to get my double star block tutorial.

How about you? I’m curious to know what your favorite color, or color combination is. Please leave a comment and let me know! The be sure to follow along with the color series to see other fabulous combos.

Click here to read all of the color series posts on Factotum of Arts.