Machine Quilting Tips in Modern Patchwork Magazine

I love that more and more people are jumping on the modern quilting bandwagon! I’m a huge fan of quilting magazines and I love that more and more of them are devoted to the modern aesthetic. I’ve been pleased to work with several of them (in between other sewing deadlines) so I’ll be sure and share updates with you whenever I’ve published something new.


My quilting tips are found on page 38 in this issue of Modern Patchwork!

I was recently able to share some of my favorite domestic machine quilting tips in the summer issue of Modern Patchwork Magazine. I’ll share a little bit about how this came about, for those of you who are interested in what goes on “behind the scenes.”

The Modern Quilt Guild put out a call for submissions for QuiltCon magazine last year (for this year’s 2016 issue), so I submitted the idea originally for that magazine. When I heard back, they said they had already selected content for QuiltCon magazine, but would I be willing to write it up for Modern Patchwork, since they are owned by the same company? That was a quick and easy yes.

Then, quite by chance, the editor happened to be in one of my QuiltCon classes earlier this year. I love when stuff like this happens. It makes me feel like we are all friends and associates in this industry, connecting us together in more ways than one.

Christa Watson Books

My books – all about quilting on a domestic machine!!

I wrote up my top 10 tips for domestic machine quilting, then got permission from my publisher to share a few images from my books to go along with the article. That way, the photography would be of the highest quality, and help cross promote the books. Because I’m the type of person who likes to make sure I dot my i’s and cross my t’s (and because I want to make sure I never step on any toes) I always try to keep everyone in the loop of what I’m doing and make sure I never share the same the exact same content word for word.


Credit goes to Angela Walters, my co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting for her version of Swirling Butterflies, the white quilt shown in the title of the article.

Although I write and teach about the art of machine quilting on a regular basis, I always try to present my material in a somewhat different way between books, patterns, and workshops. Besides, it really helps to hear/read the same information in different ways to really let it sink in.

In addition to my article, the current issue of Modern Patchwork has loads of other interesting articles to read as well as a plethora of fabulous machine quilting designs. It’s a little on the pricey side for one issue, but it’s worth it because it has as much content as a book!

Click here to get your hands on a copy of Modern Patchwork, and be sure to let me know what other quilting magazines you enjoy, modern or not!

Check out 180 Doodle Quilting Designs – Free Motion Ideas for Blocks, Borders, and Beyond

I’m so excited to tell you about a brand new machine quilting book that I am privileged to be a part of. It’s called 180 Doodle Quilting Designs and it features a plethora of free motion quilting ideas for blocks, setting triangles, and borders. The book has been published by my friends at Martingale/That Patchwork Place (who published both of my machine quilting books.)


This book is different from most machine quilting books out there, in that it is more of a reference book rather than a how-to book with patterns. This clever idea was the brainchild of acquisitions editor Karen Burns, and it features 60 different motifs from 9 talented designers. Each motif is shown how it would work 3 different ways, for a total of 180 possible designs. Check out fun free-motion quilting ideas from:

  • Yours truly – I’m so inspired by seeing my fellow contributors’ designs!
  • Vicki Ruebel – One of my super talented BQF’s (best quilting friends).
  • Karen Burns – Be on the lookout for more collaborations you are sure to love!
  • Melissa Corry – This girl can finish more quilts in a week than most can do in a month!
  • Lori Kennedy – Shh, don’t tell – I have a quilter’s crush on her!!
  • Maddie Kertay – Irreverent and awesome founder of the BAQS (you’ll need to google it… :-))
  • April Rosenthal – I want to be her when I grow up.
  • Sheila Sinclair Snyder – Amazing award winning quilter.
  • Angela Walters – Need I say anything more??

Here’s an example of how the information is laid out for each design:


Plus there’s some handy-dandy info at the front of the book with tips on how to use it, such as tracing over the motifs to get a feel for how each design will flow. I love adding books like this to my reference library. They are great to look through whenever I’m stumped for a machine quilting idea!

As of this writing, 180 Doodle Quilting Designs was ranked #1 new release on Amazon in quilting. To help it stay there, click here to purchase your copy and then be sure to leave an Amazon review. You’ll be glad you did.:-) Now I’m off to a do a little more doodle quilting of my own…..

Update – Video Tutorial

Check out this clever video that my friends at Martingale made, showing how to use the book. Simply trace, doodle and quilt! You’ll gain confidence in no time! (Press the play icon to view. )

The Skull Quilt Mini and a Fun Quilt Swap

My local modern quilt guild, Las Vegas MQG recently teamed up with the Orlando MQG to do a modern member mini quilt swap. It was So. Much. Fun! Each team leader from both guilds assigned us someone to make a quilt for and we were given an interest sheet about what our partner liked and didn’t. We made a mini quilt for one person, but then received a mini from a different partner (scroll to the end to see the awesome quilt I received from Rene’!)


Skullduggery by Christa Watson, 15″ x 17″

So here’s the quilt I made for Frank Palmer of Full Frontal Quilt and Dyeworks, who thinks “Black is fabooshalicious and red is a neutral.” He also loves “odd and unusual things and skulls and tattoos.” (As a side note, Frank was a guest on the Crafty Planner Podcast earlier this year so I knew I needed to make him something that would fit his fun personality!)


I stitched in the ditch using the BERNINA dual feed, which acts much like a walking foot.

I pieced the quilt from solid black and red squares, so that it would retain the pixelated look. Then I stitched in the ditch around the major skull sections to outline the design and anchor the quilt for additional free-motion quilting.


Free-motion quilting wtih the BSR, using matching Aurifil thread – #2250 Red.

Next, I free-motion quilted a wavy flame design in all of the red areas. I thought the look of the flames matched the feel of the design quite nicely! I used a matching Aurifil 50 cotton weight thread in red. I quilted it using the BERNINA stitch regulator which helps my stitches stay nice and even. Though truth be told, I can quilt just as easily with or without the regulator. I love using the open toe so I can see my quilting stitches easier.


Finally, I quilted the background with a dense pebble texture, using one of my favorite neutrals – Aurifil #4241 Very Dark Gray. It’s not quite black so it actually shows up on black fabrics better than straight black does.

Skullduggery EQ7

Like all of my quilts, I created this design using EQ7 software so that I knew exactly how to put it together before starting. As an added bonus for my fellow EQ7 users, I’ve made the file available for you if you want to make your own version (just be sure to credit me as the designer if you do).

Click here to get the Skullduggery EQ7 file download.
Note, this link will only work if you have EQ7 installed on your computer.

If you make a version of this quilt or any of my other patterns, please be sure and share it in my Facebook Group: Quilt with Christa.:-)


This is the quilt I received in the swap. I love solids and black and white so this suits me to a T!

Feathered Chevrons Finish

I’m so happy to have finished another version of my Charming Chevrons pattern! This layout is called Feathered Chevrons, and I made it using my Kona Designer series charm packs, plus Kona Coal.


Feathered Chevrons by Christa Watson, 64″ x 80″

This is the third version of Charming Chevrons I have made, and all three layouts are available in the original pattern, along with 4 different sizes.

Click here to purchase a PDF pattern of Charming Chevrons.
Click here to purchase a print pattern of Charming Chevrons.


I love it when the quilting shows up well on the back.

I used some leftover chunks of Kona solids to make a pieced backing. I love how the quilting really shows up on the back. I stuck a label on the lower back corner before I put the binding on so I would only have to hand-sew it along two of the sides.


On the test sample, I quilted the swirls flowing in opposite directions. On the quilt, I quilted them all flowing in one direction. Other than that, I stuck to the original plan.

Like I do for most of my quilts, I made up a test block so that I could see how the quilting design and thread color looked before diving in. Even though it’s a little more effort to do this, it saves me a lot of aggravation in the long run. If I like how this piece looks, then there won’t be any surprises when I’m quilting the quilt, and I can just relax and enjoy the process.


I filled in all of the gray background areas with switchbacks, one of the motifs I teach in my book Machine Quilting with Style. Notice how I stitched an area of relief inside the block, by quilting straight lines about 1/4″ away from the seams. This allows the different sections to pop, and also shrinks up the amount of area I need to quilt.


Next, I filled in the chevrons with a motif I call “swirl-feathers.” It’s a new design for me, made up of swirls that branch off of each other rather than filling in the whole space. Then I filled in the spaces in between the swirls with pebbles.

I quilted it entirely on my BERNINA 770 QE. I anchored the quilt by quilting straight lines with my integrated dual feed (which works like a walking foot) and then the free-motion sections with my BSR (BERNINA stitch regulator.)


You’ll be hearing more about some of my favorite Aurifil thread colors in the coming months.

I love to use Aurifil 50 weight cotton for piecing and quilting all of my quilts. It’s lightweight yet strong and I never have any issue with thread breaks. I used  Aurifil 2920 Light Brass for the swirls and 2605 Grey for the background.


If you make your own version of Charming Chevrons, please share it in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see you progress! I’m also happy to chat about machine quilting over there and answer your questions in the group for all to see.

Fabric Friday – Desert Bloom Fabric from Amanda Herring

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared some of the pretty fabrics we carry over at The Precut Store. But today I couldn’t resist telling you about my friend Amanda Herring’s new fabric collection called Desert Bloom, from Riley Blake.


Amanda at Spring Quilt Market. She matches the fabrics in her new line!

Desert Bloom is a pretty collection of florals and geometrics in trendy shades of red and aqua with a little gray thrown in. The thing I love about Amanda’s fabrics is that they are all so different, yet stand alone on their own. They usually sell out pretty quickly, too!


The fat quarter bundle includes one of every print from the line, shown above.

Riley Blake recently started offering all of their new collections in full size precut bundles, which thrills me to no end. As a designer, it’s much easier to design quilt patterns using precuts when they are all a standard size. I’m pleased to say that we have all of the Desert Bloom precuts currently in stock: 21 piece fat quarter bundles, 42 piece 5 inch squares, 42 piece 10 inch squares (stackers), and 40 piece 2 1/2″ strips (Rolie Polies).


The rest of the precuts include duplicates of each print.

Click here to view and purchase Desert Bloom Precuts, and thanks for your support!

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting: U-Turns

Thanks for joining Angela Walters and I on our journey as we’ve shared our quilts from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Today we’ll show the last quilt, U-Turns, made in different fabrics with drastically different quilting, done either on a sit-down domestic (me) or a stand up long-arm (Angela).


In this quilt, I pay homage to Angela, by choosing one of her first fabric designs as the print in my version of U-Turns. I quilt all of my quilts exclusively on a BERNINA 770 Quilter’s Edition, which gives me lots of room to scrunch and smoosh my quilts under the machine.


In my version, I’ve combined several of my favorite designs which are super easy to do on thin sashing and borders: wavy lines, double loops, and switchbacks.


Angela also shows how to do some super fun and easy designs and she includes several ideas for quilting around the corners on her long arm. It’s much easier than you think!

I had such a fabulous time writing this second book with Angela. She was a fantastic co-author, and this book gave me a chance to expand on some of the ideas I presented in my first book, Machine Quilting with Style.

Christa Watson Books

Where to Buy

Sharing is Caring

Be sure to share your progress on your projects from either book in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa. You can also share your machine quilting progress, ask questions and get advice about future projects!

Check out My Chat on Sit and Sew Radio Podcast

I’ve been enjoying a new podcast called Sit and Sew Radio, hosted by Stephanie Soebbing of Quilt Addicts Anonymous. I was pleasantly surprised when Stephanie reached out to me and invited me to be on the show!

sitandsewradioStephanie’s format is really great: she usually has 3 guests from the quilting and sewing industry and each segment is really quick – only about 10 -15 minutes in length. That makes the show super easy to listen to when you’ve just got a few spare minutes here and there.


So far I’ve enjoyed each of the episodes (pictured in the image above). The name is just perfect, too! I really do love to sit and sew while listening to quilting podcasts!!

In my episode we chat about QuiltCon and I share a few machine quilting tips from my books.

Click here to listen to my interview directly on Stephanie’s website. Or download it from Itunes or Stitchr and listen to it on your phone.:-) Happy listening and quilting, my friends!


Here’s a sneak peek of the quilting on my latest quilt – more details coming soon!


The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Quatrefoil Applique

Quatrefoil Applique from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting was by far the most fun quilt to quilt (even though I’m sure I say that about every quilt)! For my version, I really wanted it to be a showcase of tons of different quilting designs – sort of like a free-motion sampler.


I used a cheery fat quarter bundle of Kona Solids in pinks and oranges (called Blushing Bouquet) and quilted a dozen different motifs with lots of variations.


Christa’s version – it’s a machine quilting sampler!

I quilted a different design in each petal and echo quilted around the edges, filling the background with dense pebbles, allowing the motifs to really pop!

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

All photography by Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane

Angela and I really wanted to pack the book full of as many ideas as we could, so there are over 50 different quilting designs for you to try (along with 10 complete quilt patterns).


Angela’s version – very dramatic!

I think Angela’s version is just as beautiful! I love the pop of metallic she added to one petal of each block. Her plumb background is vary dramatic and allows lots of space to explore alternate background quilting.

Click here to see the rest of the quilts from the book.

Where to Buy

QuiltCon Registration Opens June 25, 2016 for MQG Members, July 8 for General Public

Have you picked out your classes for QuiltCon 2017? It’s going to be the modern quilting party of the year!! Registration opens this Saturday (June 25th) at 7 AM PST for Modern Quilt Guild Members, and July 8 for the general public. Be sure to register as soon as you can because classes sell out fast!

Click here for the complete catalog and descriptions of all lectures and classes.

As a reminder, here are the classes I’ll be teaching:

(220) Getting Started with EQ7 – Thursday 2/23 9-5


In this comprehensive workshop, students will learn the basics of Electric Quilt Software – version 7 for Windows or Mac. Topics include: learning to use the block library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing simple quilts, calculating yardage and more. This is a hands-on computer class, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(826) Machine quilting Spirals and Swirls – Thursday 2/23 6-9 PM


Learn how to quilt modern, geometric spirals and swirls using both walking foot and free-motion motifs. Students will learn how to quilt stunning designs such as large continuous spirals, geometric spirals, and several swirl variations. Spirals can be quilted in different areas of your quilts, or used as an allover design. Combine motifs for even more possibilities! Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(LE08) Quilting on Your Home Sewing Machine: Tips and Tricks – Friday 2/24 10:30-11:15 AM (lecture)


There are quite a few differences between quilting on a long arm and quilting on a sit-down home sewing machine. Although many of the same motifs can be quilted on either machine, the techniques on how to approach the quilting are different. In this lecture, I will share her best tricks on how to approach quilting on a sit-down machine. Plus, I’ll answer your questions and share tips on how to become a better quilter.

(232) Designing Modern Quilts in EQ7 – Saturday 2/25 6-9 PM


Take your modern designs to the next level by learning how to draw and change them in EQ7. Topics will include drawing improv blocks, manipulating borders, incorporating negative space, going off the grid, changing sizes, and designing custom set quilts. We will work at a quick pace, so students should be comfortable with the basics of EQ7 prior to class. This is a hands-on computer workshop, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(817) Free Motion Alternatives to STraight Line Quilting – Sunday 2/26 9-12


Go beyond the straight line and use your free-motion quilting skills to their fullest. In this workshop, students will learn how to turn basic shapes into linear free-motion quilting designs. Quilt them as allover designs across the surface of your quilt, or use them sporadically to create custom quilting motifs. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(833) Improv Machine Quilting – Sunday 2/26 2-5


Liberate yourself from traditional quilting symmetry by combining your favorite machine quilting motifs in a seemingly random way. Add amazing texture to the negative spaces in your quilts and create your own unique combinations. The class will cover basic free-motion filler designs such as pebbles, swirls, leaves, paisleys, triangles, and more. Learn how to improvisationally combine them for stunning results. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

Who’s going to QuiltCon?

Let me know if you plan to attend – I would love to see you there!

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Fractured Squares

The next quilt I get to share from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is called Fractured Squares. This one was designed by Angela Walters and we each had so much fun choosing fabric colors and quilting designs!


Christa’s version – quilted with straight lines and decorative stitches.

This quilt is another example of what I call “Structued Improv” – starting out with a general plan of how the quilt will look, but not knowing exactly how you are going to get there. This simple to piece quilt consists of a center square surrounded by slightly improv pieced borders.


I quilted my version completely with my BERNINA integrated dual feed, which basically acts as a built in walking foot. I combined straight lines with decorative stitches to create some interesting textures. Then I used a ruler in the center (yes with the walking foot/IDF) to get those nice, straight lines. If you don’t have a ruler, you can totally mark them with a pen, or painter’s tape.


Angelas version – so rich and striking!

I love how Angela combined bright pastels with a deep brown for her version. She used a mix of blending and contrasting threads that allowed her beautiful machine quilting to really pop!

Whether you enjoy quilting using a sit-down domestic machine, or a stand-up longarm, (or even if you prefer to “quilt by check”) we are so excited to share our passion of machine quilting with you in The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. With over 50 different quilting motifs to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect design for your next quilt!

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Click here to purchase an autographed copy, signed by us both!

Click here to see all of the quilts from the book.
All photography courtesy of Brent Kane and Martingale.