Simple Strips Quilt Along – Machine Quilting

I have to say, we’ve now reached my favorite part of my Simple Strips Quilt Along – machine quilting! Because I’m sharing these tutorials over on the BERNINA blog at We All Sew, I wanted to really show what these machines can do, and how anyone can have success quilting on a home sewing machine!

BERNINA machine quilting

This week focuses on using a decorative stitch to create incredible machine quilting texture. I also how teach how to achieve this type of look in both of my books. It’s that important to me to spread the word that yes, you can, make a “professional” looking quilt using the machine you currently have.:-)

Click here for the latest quilt along tutorial.
Click here to share your progress in my facebook group: Quilt with Christa.

Illusions Pattern Now Available in Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine

When I first made my Illusions quilt and shared it at QuiltCon in 2015, right away many of you began asking for a pattern for it. Although I was swamped with writing my first book at the time, I had always planned on coming back and creating a pattern for it.

Christa Watson Illusions

Illusions at QuiltCon in 2015. You can see I have a thing for bold, graphic geometry!

Fortunately, the folks at Modern Quilts Unlimited saw it at QuiltCon and asked me to pattern it for their magazine. In fact they also asked me to pattern my other QuiltCon 2015 entry, Spiraling Out of Control, which was showcased in the Fall 2015 issue.

The quick story behind the design is that it comes from a classic optical illusion called “Cafe Walls.” I saw this image many years ago on the back of a kid’s restaurant menu and knew that one day I would turn it into a quilt.

Illusions MQU

Illusions Quilt in the Spring 2016 issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited

It took a little tweaking to get the design and proportions right in EQ7, but once I did, I knew at once I’d be able to make the quilt while still preserving the illusion.


My EQ7 sketch of Illusions – I like to see what it looks like before I make the quilt!

I quilted illusions with “boxes” – a very simple, yet graphic geometric design and I switched thread colors in the black and white areas so that the design would be more subtle.


I show how to quilt “boxes” in my book Machine Quilting with Style.

If you are interested in making your own version of this graphic quilt, pick up a copy from Modern Quilts Unlimited today. In fact, I would highly recommend subscribing to their magazine. I can’t give away secrets yet, but just know that I’m highly involved with the next issue as well!:-)

MQU Spring 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Cornered

Click here to get your autographed copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.
Click here to see all of the quilts from the book, as they are added each week!
All photography courtesy of Brent Kane and Martingale.

Take a look at Cornered – a simple yet striking design that can be used as a table topper, baby quilt, or wall decor. Although Angela and I chose to use solids for our versions, it would look equally beautiful in your favorite prints!

Corned quilt by Christa Watson

Christa’s Version – Pretty in Pink.

I often like to color code my quilts, where each fabric showcases a different quilting design.

Free Motion Quilting Detail

Free-motion quilting detail showing one of my favorite combinations – Swirls and Pearls.

Cornered by Angela Walters

In Angela’s version, she shows you several different ways to quilt the same block!

For the record, Angela Walters quilts on a Handi-Quilter Long arm and I quilt on a domestic sit-down machine, a BERNINA 770 QE. But no matter which machine you choose, our goal is to help get you comfortable with the machine quilting process!

Christa Watson Books

Click here to purchase my machine quilting books and let me be your cheerleader as I guide you to machine quilting success! After all, that’s my favorite part of making a quilt!!

Simple Strips Quilt Along – Spray Basting Tutorial

Pop on over to  We All Sew (BERNINA’s blog), where I am sharing my Wall Spray Basting Tutorial. This is an idea I’ve had for quite some time and I’m so excited that it works!!

Spray Basting Tutorial

My absolute favorite way to baste a quilt is by using 505 adhesive spray. My best tip is to spray the quilt top and quilt backing (rather than the batting) and then iron the whole thing when you are done. That way the whole quilt sticks together and you don’t have any shifting when machine quilting on a regular home sewing machine!

Click here for the full tutorial, and feel free to adapt it to your sewing-room setup.:-)

Sharing is Caring

If you are quilting along, be sure to share your work in progress over in my Facebook group at Quilt with Christa. You can also hashtag it on instagram #simplestripsqal. love to see how you are doing!

Facets Quilt Wins 2nd Place Modern in Paducah 2016!

This week has been crazy busy and exhilarating! I was packing up to teach at EQ Academy earlier in the week when I got the email notice that Facets had won an award at AQS Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky – the mother of all quilt shows! Knowing I wouldn’t be able to attend due to my prior teaching commitment, I lamented the fact that I’d miss the awards ceremony and hoped someone I knew would be able to take pictures for me and let me know how it did.

By the way, when you get these emails from quilt shows, they don’t notify you of placement – they just say you have won “an award.”

Facets Quilt

Facets, 2nd at AQS Quilt Week Paducah 2016 – photo courtesy of Cassandra Beaver.

Then when I heard that AQS would be broadcasting the awards ceremony live on You Tube I was so excited to watch! As I’ve said many times before, I don’t enter to win – I just want my modern quilts to be seen out there in the world wide web of quilters!

To start off the awards presentation, names of all of the Honorable Mentions were rattled off at once. When my name was not listed among this group, my heart skipped a beat and I thought, “OK, this is cool – I’m up a for another 3rd place finish.” After all, I had scored a distinctive yellow, pink, and green dogwood ribbon two years prior for Colorful Chevrons – the very first time Paducah debuted the modern category. At the time I considered it a fluke, thinking the only reason I got the award is that there wasn’t much competition.

AQS Awards Ceremony

Then they announced 3rd place and it wasn’t my name. Say what?? Anyone who’s ever entered or won at Paducah realizes that even a 3rd place finish awards more prize money than many 1st place finishes!! (Enough to pay for many more quilt show entries – the fees really add up fast.)

When my name was announced for 2nd place, I whipped out the iPhone, my hands shaking so badly that I barely managed to snap a dark picture on the computer screen before it disappeared from sight. I completely missed the first place finish because I was still in shock. (Thank goodness for social media so I was able to catch up later in the day).

Modern Quilts at Paducah

Paducah 2016 Modern Winners – From left to right: Facets (2nd), Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts by Cassandra Beaver (1st);  Big Love by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill (3rd).

This win is especially validating because I had entered Facets into AQS Phoenix earlier in the year, with a bittersweet story as the result. Although I wasn’t disappointed that it didn’t ribbon in Phoenix, I was pleased to learn that AQS wanted to feature the quilt in their 2018 wall calendar. However, my excitement was quickly dashed when they had to rescind the offer about 5 minutes later, after learning the quilt had already been published in my first book.


Machine Quilting with Style features 12 show-worthy quilt patterns, including Facets!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with entering published quilts into quilt shows of course, but since AQS also publishes books, they didn’t want to feature a competing publisher’s quilt image, even though the pattern wouldn’t have been included.

The audible sigh on the other end of the phone line was followed by a meek, “well….. just let us know…. if you have anything else we can consider…..” (I promptly gave them my email so they could send me details on how to submit a calendar entry, but all I got back was crickets….)

Facets Quilt AQS Paducah

Pat Sloan at Paducah with Facets – I love this pic!!

So yes, getting a ribbon for Facets was extra meaningful to me!! And now the best part of this story comes full circle. The lovely and talented Pat Sloan first invited me to be a guest on American Patchwork and Quilting Podcast back in 2014, shortly after attracting her notice with my first Paducah ribbon. Since that chance encounter she’s become a great mentor and friend. After the news of my win, she sent me this adorable picture of herself standing next to the quilt.

Thanks to social media, I felt like part of the action! Maybe one day I’ll get to go to Paducah.:-)

Facets Machine Quilting

Facets Quilting Detail – photo courtesy of Kathy Mathews.

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Plumb Lines

Today I get to share with you my personal favorite quilt pattern from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Plumb Lines. This quilt was designed by Angela Walters, and I love how modern it is!  Thanks to the beautiful photography by Brent Kane and Martingale, I’m excited to share these quilts with you each week!

Plumb Lines Quilt

Above is my version of Plumb Lines, created in a trendy color scheme of gray and yellow. Both Angela and I used solids for a majority of the quilts in this book, so the machine quilting really shows up. However, I wanted to incorporate a few of Angela’s prints here and there. Below is a detail showing a very subtle yellow plaid, from one of Angela’s earlier fabric lines.

modern machine quilting

This quilt is a great example of modern geometric free motion designs!

Below is Angela’s version of Plumb Lines in a striking combo of teal and peach. We wanted to share as many quilting motifs as possible in our book, to really get your creative juices flowing!

Plumb Lines Quilt

Don’t you just love Angela’s gorgeous filler motifs? They are so fun and easy to do!

Click here to get your autographed copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Simple Strips Quilt Along Update at We all Sew

Be sure to pop on over to We All Sew, BERNINA’s blog for the next step of my Simple Strips Quilt Along! This week’s tutorial is all about making the pieced quilt top.

simple strips qal

If you are just joining me, be sure to check out the materials list and cutting for Simple Strips. It’s so easy, you can catch up in no time! Then share your progress on instagram #simplestripsqal or in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa.:-)

New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop – Sign up by April 30

I love the online quilting community and one of the best ways I got to know people online was by participating in the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop several years ago. My friends Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl, Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs, and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter are teaming up again to bring you this fun event. New bloggers can sign up to be on the hop, while more experienced bloggers can join in the fun and find some great new blogs to follow!

New Bloggers Blog Hop

2016 New Quilt Bloggers Participation Criteria

The technical criteria to participate in the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop is as follows:

  1. If you have been blogging mainly about modern quilting (modern quilting to you is modern quilting to us.),
  2. for less than 2 years,
  3. writing at least 4 posts a month,
  4. are willing to agree to be actively involved in the blog hop through visiting and commenting on the other blogger’s hop posts,
  5. and have or are willing to open a Facebook account to participate in the group discussions.

Please indicate your interest in joining by filling out the registration form.

The goal of the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop is to provide advice, tech help, and introduce new modern quilters to the online community. Registration is open April 4th through April 30th or until 100 bloggers have registered.

General Timeline:

May: Getting to know the group via Facebook group, Critiques, Editing and improving your blog to get ready for the hop
June and July: New Quilt Bloggers Hop

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Swirling Butterflies Quilt

Each week I’m sharing a different quilt design from my new book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Now, although I really prefer modern designs, sometimes it’s fun to mix it up and try something different. This week, meet Swirling Butterflies, a totally doable wholecloth quilt.

Note: all photography credit goes to Brent Kane and Martingale.

Swirling Butterflies Wholecloth Quilt

My version of Swirling Butterflies – just divide and conquer to get the job done!

Although the design looks very complex, it’s easier once you break it down. I only marked the medallion and border. The rest of the background was filled in with what I like to call “improv machine quilting.” For this quilt, I did something I rarely do: used a contrasting Aurifil thread. I tell you, it was scary while I was quilting it, but I’m pleased with the end result.

Detail free-motion_quilting

Detail of free-motion quilting on Swirling Butterflies

I chose to make a black wholecloth version with highly contrasting thread while Angela made her beautiful version more traditional on white fabric with more of a blending thread. Look closely for a few other differences in the details.

Swirling Butterflies Angela Walters

Angela Walters’ version of Swirling Butterflies – isn’t it just stunning?

Click here to purchase an autographed copy of Machine Quilting with Style, signed by us both.

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Simple Strips Quilt Along Over at We All Sew

Want to make a quick and easy Jelly Roll quilt? Then be sure to join me for my Simple Strips Quilt Along which just launched over on the BERNINA blog at We All Sew.

Super Simple Strips Quilt Along

This quilt along will work a little differently than my previous quilt alongs, since I’m sharing it over at BERNINA, but it will be just as fun! I will be sharing 5 weeks of step-by-step tutorials showing you how to make a complete quilt from start to finish. I am proud to be a BERNINA ambassador and I do all of my piecing and quilting on my B770 QE.

New Quilt Along

Super Simple Strips – Piecing in Progress on the BERNINA 770 Quilter’s Edition

But of course, you can use your favorite machine to make this quilt! I’m going to show you how to do some very easy decorative machine quilting, plus we’ll even finish it by machine.:-)

To get started pick up a jelly roll of your favorite fabric. Either choose a Jelly Roll that has half light/half dark strips; or grab a smaller bundle in a nice solid background color to go with your regular sized roll (you need a total of 40 strips for the quilt).


I chose to go with half a Jelly Roll of Valley by Sherri and Chelsi for Moda, plus a Jelly Roll Junior of Bella Solids in Ivory.

The complete supply list and quilt along schedule are posted at We All Sew – so please follow along each week, then share your progress in my Facebook group Quilt with Christa, or on instagram, #simplestripsqal.