A Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts: Student Work from my Latest Workshop

Last week I taught a week-long class at John C. Campbell Folkschool on how to make a complete quilt from start to finish. Everyone made the same quilt from my Stepping Stones quilt pattern – but as you can see in the group pic below, they all look so different – and so fabulous!

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

A Colorful Plethora of Stepping Stones Quilts

Last Saturday, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia along with my mom, Jason and two of my kids. My mom and the kids stayed with my aunt and uncle for the week while Jason and I drove over to the Folkschool. He took a photography class while I taught quilting, and we both had a fabulous time!

Fabric Cutting for Stepping Stones Quilt

Cutting in Progress. Each student chose their own fabrics and they were all fabulous!

My students got to work right away, cutting their fabrics to make their quilts. I love how most of them chose bright colors, but I’ve seen this design worked up in a wide variety of fabrics and it always turns out great!

Stepping Stones Quilt Blocks in Progress

Quilt blocks in progress – some students sewed theirs together randomly while others took time to carefully arrange each piece and either way works great!

It was fun to see the blocks going up on the design walls in the studio space. There was plenty of room to spread out and most students had their quilt tops pieced by the second day.

stepping stones quilt in progress

Quilts in progress decorated the walls beautifully all week!

They were excited to try out my spray basting technique and we had a gorgeous spot to baste, just outside the studio door in the lush green hills of Brasstown, NC.

spray basting

Can you imagine a more beautiful place to baste a quilt??

Once the quilt top and back are sprayed outside, we brought them in doors to assemble on a couple of work tables.

Basting: smooth the batting

The trick to good basting is to smooth out each layer of the quilt! A long acrylic ruler helps.

Although there were lots of quilts to baste, we made a party of it, helping everyone get theirs done so the process went very quickly!

Quilt Basting - pressing the quilt

Another trick is to iron the quilt once it’s basted to set the glue and smooth out wrinkles.

During class, I did a mini-lesson on both walking foot quilting and free motion quilting. and the students picked which techniques and designs they wanted to try, based on their skill level and ambition.

Machine Quilting in progress

Students learned how to “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt underneath their machines.
Walking-foot quilting detail of the quilt above is shown below:

walking foot quilting detail on stepping stones

I was so proud of them for going outside their comfort zones and trying out different techniques. Those that wanted to do custom quilting practiced on a sample block like I suggested so they could see how the design would work with the thread and fabrics they chose.

custom quilting on stepping stones

One student’s custom quilting design. Although it’s taking her much longer to quilt this intricate design in each block, the results will be well worth it at the end!

Once the quilts were quilted, it was time to bind. I taught them how to apply an even 1/4″ binding by starting with 2″ strips. They were even willing to finish it by hand and most of them added the final stitches on the last morning before the closing ceremony.

Hand binding stepping stones

You can get a LOT of binding done while chatting hanging out!!!

Although class time went for 6 hours a day Monday-Thursday and 1/2 day class on Friday, most of the students took advantage of bonus sewing time in the evenings. I also worked on an upcoming project during that time (which I’ll reveal shortly) and we all had a grand time! It really was like an intimate quilting retreat. None of the students knew each other before class but were BQF’s (best quilting friends) at the end of the week!

It really felt like quilt camp for adults and I have to say I had just as much fun as they did!!

Finished Stepping Stones Quilt

First quilt!! It’s never too late to learn!!

It’s rare that I get to teach an intense in-person class like this but it’s such a joy to see them all do such a fabulous job. We even had one sweet quilter that had never made a quilt before and hadn’t even touched a sewing machine in over 30 years. But with help and encouragement of the class, she had a fabulous finish and was so proud of it!!

Fiber Arts Studio at John C. Campbell Folkschool

The Fiber Arts Studio wouldn’t be complete with out a Barn Quilt Block!!

We were very lucky to call the Fiber Arts Studio at the Folkschool our home away from home for a week. This is the third time I’ve been able to teach here, and it just gets better and better! (See my previous two classes here and here.)

Students' Stepping Stones Quilts

Folkschool Quilt Class, June 2018

Just remember – if you decide to have fun making your own version of Stepping Stones quilt – I’m here to cheer you on!!

QuiltCon 2019 Catalog Just Released – Here’s What I’m Teaching

I’m excited to be teaching at QuiltCon once again February 21-24 in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been to every QuiltCon since it began and this will be my third time as a member of the faculty. I’m most excited about the fact that although I’ll be plenty busy teaching 3 workshops and a lecture, I’ll still have plenty of time for all of the social events, too.

QuiltCon 2019 CatalogClick here to get the complete QuiltCon 2019 catalog.
Member registration opens June 26 and general registration begins July 10.

My QuiltCon 2019 Teaching Schedule

DSMQ200 Walking Foot Wonders, Thursday Feb. 21, 9-5

Learn to stitch beyond the ditch and unleash the power of your walking foot to quilt modern or traditional designs. Walking foot motifs to be taught include: wavy lines, decorative stitches, irregular grids, several different spirals, straight‐line designs, and more. You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts! This is a hands-on machine class with machines provided for each student.

Walking foot Quilting Workshop


QDR010 Plan Your Quilting (A), Saturday Feb. 23, 2-5 PM Or
QDR011 PLan Your Quilting (B), Saturday Feb. 23, 6-9 PM

How do you get from “quilt as desired” to a cohesive quilting strategy? Students
will practice sketching quilting motifs on paper, then learn strategies to apply those designs to an actual quilt top. Students will each have a chance to create several different quilting plans using images of their own quilts printed on paper, as well as learning how to create quilting plans for a wide variety of quilt designs. This is hands‐on drawing workshop.

Plan Your Machine Quilting


lec22 Infusing Modern into Machine Quilting, Sunday Feb. 24, 10:15 AM

This informative lecture is full of examples from previous QuiltCons, demonstrating how the modern aesthetic can apply to the machine quilting process. Learn how negative space, minimalism, graphic geometry, improvisation and other hallmarks of the modern aesthetic can be incorporated into your machine quilting work.

Attendees will gain a better understanding of why many modern quilters choose to employ an abundance of straight line and “industrial looking” designs rather than quilting overly ornate and perfectly symmetrical motifs. Suggestions on how to incorporate graphic and linear free‐motion quilting as an alternative to straight‐ line quilting will also be explored.

The last time I taught at QuiltCon I was part of a panel lecture/discussion about managing your fabric stash with the lovely and talented Judy Gauthier, Rossie Hutchinson and Mary Fons.

This QuiltCon is shaping up to be one of the best, yet! There are loads of meetups and mixers and the class catalog offers the widest variety of lectures and workshops they’ve ever offered. I’ve got my eye on a design workshop I want to take, and there are plenty of lectures I’m interested in, too!

I hope you’ll make plans to attend, whether or not you take any workshops. QuiltCon is unlike any other quilt show I’ve attended – there’s definitely a party atmosphere there and half of the fun is the socializing! Leave a comment if you plan to attend and let’s get this party started early!!

Join Craftsy Unlimited for All You Can Watch Classes (Including Mine!)

You guys – I’m so excited! It’s almost time for the launch of my brand new Craftsy class!! But before it goes “live” I invite you to join Craftsy’s new subscription service “Craftsy Unlimited.”

craftsy unlimited

Click here to start a free trial of Craftsy Unlimited and watch all my classes for free!!

How is this different from regular Craftsy – you say?? Rather than paying a one time fee to own the class, Craftsy Unlimited is a monthly streaming service, similar to Netflix, Hulu, etc. but on your computer. With Craftsy Unlimited, you don’t own the class, but you have access to the entire library and class materials of thousands of classes 24/7 as long as you are a member.

The coolest thing is that you can actually combine both services if you want to – join Craftsy Unlimited to check out classes you may be interested in, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a purchase. Later, you can permanently purchase any classes you know you’ll want to keep forever.

Starry Path Quilt Blocks

Sneak peek of my brand new class, coming really soon!!

For instructors, we get compensated slightly differently for either model, but Craftsy Unlimited is a great way to support your favorite teachers. The more you watch our classes on Craftsy Unlimited, the more we get paid!! So even if you own my other classes already, you can view them in Craftsy Unlimited and it’s sort of like giving me a little bonus each time you watch. 🙂

Speaking of which, if you decide to join Craftsy Unlimited, be sure to check out my current classes:

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

The Quilter’s Path is like taking one of my in-person workshops. I teach you how to make a quilting plan and give you tons of ideas for both walking foot quilting and free-motion designs. Plus, you get to see how I actually “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt under the machine. But the best part is you can pause, rewind, and watch your favorite parts over and over again!

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Startup Library Quilting is great for beginners who want to learn to make a quilt from start to finish. I cover all the basics – choosing fabrics, reading a quilt pattern, rotary cutting, piecing, basting, machine quilting – walking foot & free-motion –  AND binding! It’s the whole shebang right from the comfort of your home!!

Craftsy Quilting Class taught by Christa Watson

Screen shot from my newest class, coming soon!!

Click here to start a free trial of Craftsy Unlimited and watch all my classes for free!!

In the new class, I focus a lot on accurate cutting and piecing, plus there’s a bit of machine quilting at the end. So watch for the new reveal soon!

I’m Teaching in Las Vegas at the New Quilt Show this October!

I’m excited that the quilting scene in Las Vegas is now big enough to support two quilt shows a year! I’ll be sharing my entry results from Quilt Las Vegas soon (a show I’ve been participating in for over 20 years). But now I’m excited to be involved with the newest show, “Points West” hosted by the Las Vegas Quilters.

Las Vegas Quilt Show

Click here for my lecture and teaching schedule at the show.

Points West Quilt Show will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center October 18-20, 2018. It’s the only time I’ll be teaching in my home town of Las Vegas this year. So I invite you to take one of my workshops, or attend one of my lectures.

Here’s what I’ll be teaching at the show:

Walking Foot Wonders

Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 9am-4pm
Class Length: Full day – Machines provided
Skill Level: All levels

Class Fee: $80
Click here to register for this class.

Walking foot Quilting Workshop

Quilt shown is “Little Man’s Fancy” from my book Machine Quilting with Style

Class Description: Learn to stitch beyond the ditch and unleash the power of your walking foot to quilt modern or traditional designs. Walking foot motifs to be taught include: wavy lines, decorative stitches, irregular grids, large continuous spirals, several straight line variations, and more! You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts!

Class will also include a discussion on basting, favorite tools and supplies that make the job easier, plus tips for putting it all together on a real quilt.  Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples.

Free Motion Favorites

Friday, October 19, 2018, 9am-4pm
Class Length: Full day – Machines provided
Skill Level: All levels

Class Fee: $80
Click here to register for this class.

Free-motion quilting

Quilt shown is “Quatrefoil Applique” from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Class Description: Embrace perfectly imperfect quilting! That means little to no marking, and a whole lot of gorgeous texture. Ease into free-motion quilting with asymmetrical wavy lines, then move onto loops, traditional and modern stippling, plus curvy fillers like wishbones and cursive l’s that can expand to fit any space. Finish it off with several swirl variations, and you’ve got a toolbox of motifs to try on your next quilt!

Class will also include a discussion of basic free-motion quilting tips and tools, plus figuring out how to combine motifs together in the same quilt. Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples.

Lecture & Trunk Show

Lecture: How Do I Quilt It?

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 1pm

Lecture Fee: $25
60 minute presentation Includes slide show, Q&A and book signing.

Click here to register for this lecture

The secret to successful quilting is in the planning and preparation. I’ll guide you through the steps I take to make each quilting experience fun and stress free Once you see my methods, you’ll feel empowered to quilt your own quilts! Learn how I baste my quilts, make a quilting plan, choose thread colors, divide and conquer each task, and apply rich texture with little to no marking of the quilt.

I love to share my quilts along with tips and tricks for better machine quilting!

Modern Quilting Trunk Show

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 6pm

Lecture Fee: $25
60 minute presentation Includes physical quilts, Q&A and book signing.

Click here to register for this trunk show.

I enjoy making complete quilts from start to finish, and am excited to show you the latest quilts from my books and patterns. This is your opportunity to get up close and personal with my quilts as I share my creative journey along with explanations of what makes them “modern”. Exact quilts shown will vary.

Points West Quilt Calendar

Quilt Las Vegas will also feature a full slate of regional and national instructors including Frieda Anderson, Mel Beach, Carmen Geddes, Nancy Mahoney and more!!

Click here to see the full list of instructors and the classes they’ll be offering.

There will also be a quilt competition, vendor mall, plus plenty of other fun events, and award winning quilter Marilyn Badger will be the judge and featured artist at the show. If you are near the Las Vegas area, or want to make a vacation out of it, I invite you to join me at the show. This event is brand new to Las Vegas and I can’t wait for it to get here!

Registration Now Open for the Australian Machine Quilting Festival (AMQF) 2018

This is mainly for my Australian friends, or for anyone who wants to take a trip with me down under this September! Registration is now open for the Australian Machine Quilting Festival in Adelaide, Australia. Yep, I’m going and taking the family, too!!

Australian Machine Quilting Festival

I’m thrilled to be joining some amazing instructors including Ricky Tims, Cindy Needham, Angela Huffman, Kathleen Riggins and many more. I’m just sad that I’ll be so busy teaching that I won’t have a chance to take any of their classes!! Though maybe I’ll have to sneak in a lecture or two…

Here’s my complete schedule of classes and events:

Click on any of the links below to register for that event, plus detailed information.
Please note, there is a one time registration fee that also includes admission to the show. The registration fee is required before you can enroll in any workshops.

Click here to register for AMQF

Thursday, Sept 20

Quilting Large Spirals

I can’t wait to share my machine quilting methods and best tips for quilting on a regular home sewing machine. All of the ideas I teach can be found in my three machine quilting books.

Friday, Sept 21

Modern Logs Quilt Pattern

I love teaching improv piecing using my Modern Logs quilt as the class sample. Even if you can’t attend, you can still get the print pattern here and the PDF version here.

Saturday, Sept 22

Christa Watson Quilts

Click here to download the complete class catalogue.

It’s going to be such an amazing event! Since I’ve never been to Australia I’m going bring the family with me so that we can turn this into a really fun working family vacation. They’ll get a chance to tour the country while I’m teaching, and then we’ll add on a few days so that I can see the sites, too. Be sure and leave me a comment letting me know what to add to our “must-see” list!

Binge Watch Craftsy for Free Today – 24 Hours Only

Many of you know I’ve long been a fan of Craftsy’s online learning format even before I became an instructor for them. So I’m excited to share the news about something they’ve never done before – 24 hours of free video watching today only!!

The free day is now over – but you can get both of my classes for 50% off the regular price!

Click here to get access to your free 24 hours of Craftsy Viewing!

The Quilter's Path by Christa WatsonMy first class: The Quilter’s Path
2+ hours of machine quilting instruction using your walking foot, free motion or both.

The Fine Print

Today only from 12:01 AM through 11:59 PM (Monday, September 4, 2017) Craftsy is allowing streaming access to their site to check out their library of over 1200+ online classes. You’ll have access to any class for 24 hours, but you won’t be able to download or save them. And you won’t have access to the Q&A instructor forum or the class materials.

Christa Watson Startup Library QuiltingMy second class: Startup Library – Quilting
Nearly 6 hours of lessons that teach you how to make a quilt from start to finish!

This is such a fabulous way to “try out” a new class you’ve been thinking about, with no obligation. If you like the class, you can of course purchase it right there on the spot, and you’ll own it forever. If you haven’t seen my classes yet, I encourage you to check them out, but be warned – it’s over 8 hours of viewing between them both! And if you already own my classes, check out Craftsy’s lineup of quilting classes – it’s the most popular subject!

So click here to head over to Craftsy and let the binge watching begin!!

The free day is now over – but you can get both of my classes for 50% off the regular price!

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Your Chance to Win the Kit from my Craftsy Class – Startup Library: Quilting!

It’s just been a month since the launch of my new Craftsy class, Startup Library: Quilting, and already I’ve taught hundreds of students how to make a complete quilt from start to finish!! I love how the Craftsy platform allows me to interact with my students and see their progress, even though we might be thousands of miles apart! For those of you who are new to the blog, or Craftsy, let me tell you a little more about this class. Then see the end of this post for a giveaway to get you started!!

Christa Watson Startup Library Quilting

Click here to get 50% off Startup Library: Quilting (valid thru 10/8/17)

In class, you’ll explore a range of key tools and techniques as you learn to make a quilt from start to finish. I’ll guide you step-by-step through preparing your fabric, cutting out the pieces and sewing them into blocks, as well as basting, machine quilting, and binding to help you finish your quilt with ease. Plus, when you learn with Craftsy you can work at your own pace and ask me questions as you go. By the end of my class, you’ll be quilting with confidence in no time!

WHAT YOU NEED

Lesson 1: Fabrics & Tools (28 min)
It’s every quilter’s favorite part of project prep: shopping! In this first lesson, I’ll explain the fundamentals of quilting and what to keep in mind when shopping for supplies.

Startup Library Quilting

Lesson 2: Know Your Machine (24 min)
Understand what type of sewing machine best suits your needs, including the features worth splurging on (or not!). Then, get familiar with your machine as you learn to thread it, wind a bobbin and keep an accurate seam allowance.

SETUP

Lesson 3: Working with Patterns (9 min)
Follow along as I go over the information included in your quilting patterns. Find out how to work with patterns as you piece your tops, plus get tips for successfully choosing projects.

MAKE IT

Lesson 4: Cutting the Pieces (38 min)
Before you begin sewing, you’ll need to cut the pieces for your blocks. Learn to work with a rotary cutter and mat as you cut yardage, fat quarters and more.

Christa Watson Craftsy Class

Lesson 5: Chain Blocks (24 min)
Get right into action by sewing up your first quilt block, the Chain! Find out how to keep track of all nine pieces as you sew and press the first block, then make quick work of the piecing by sewing several blocks together at once.

Lesson 6: Star Blocks (32 min)
Ready to throw some half-square triangle units into the mix? Here, you’ll sew the second block of your quilt. Find out how to tame stretchy edges and ensure all of your star points face the right direction.

Christa Watson Craftsy Class

Lesson 7: Assembling the Quilt Top (27 min)
Now, it’s time to have some fun! Arrange and organize your quilt blocks before you sew them together. Then, sew blocks into rows and rows into the inner top – you’ll love my method for keeping blocks in order as you sew!

Lesson 8: Borders (27 min)
Your quilt top is almost done! All you need to do is add the solid and scrappy borders to set off the design. Learn how to piece and add each border, and fix it if it’s slightly too long for your quilt.

Lesson 9: Backing & Batting (11 min)
In this lesson, you’ll prepare the remaining layers for your quilt. Learn how to choose and prepare batting — the center layer of the quilt — and piece the backing fabric.

Christa Watson Craftsy Class

Lesson 10: Basting (8 min)
The secret to quality quilting? Basting, which holds all of the layers together securely. I’ll teach you how to spray-baste the layers and assemble your quilt, explaining why pressing helps you ensure solid results.

Lesson 11: Find Your Quilting Path (38 min)
Quilting — the stitching that holds layers together — can really accentuate your piecing work. Discover different ways to accomplish this, from working with a long-arm quilter to using your domestic machine. And, see how to stitch-in-the-ditch and apply decorative wavy lines using your walking foot.

Lesson 12: Free-Motion Quilting (23 min)
Ready to dip your toes into free-motion quilting? This method allows you to move your needle in any direction. If you’d like, stitch a stipple and continuous curve design on your quilt, or practice for your next quilt project.

Christa Watson Machine Quilting Craftsy Class

Lesson 13: Binding (13 min)
Finish the edges of your quilt by applying a binding. I’ll show you how to prepare for this step. Learn to cut and piece the strips to create the binding, calculate the length you need for any quilt, and square up — or trim — your quilt.

Lesson 14: Binding the Quilt (37 min)
You’re almost there! In this final lesson, find out how to sew the binding to the quilt and finish it by hand. Easily turn with the corners and join the tails with my expert instruction, then get ready to enjoy your quilt!

Christa Watson Craftsy Class

For a limited time, you can get 50% off the regular price of my class when you use this link. The regular price will show on the home screen, but once you click “add to cart” you’ll see the discount. Just for comparison, this class is approximately 2-3 times longer than a “regular” Craftsy class, so it’s a tremendous value, especially when you get it on sale!

GIVEAWAY TIME!
Here’s a behind the scenes secret to share: as I was making the quilt, Craftsy sent me extra fabrics just in case. I ended up with enough fabric for an extra kit. Since I’ve already made the quilt twice (once ahead of time to test it, and a second time on video) – I don’t need to make a third, so I’d rather pass the extra fabric along to you! The kit includes one fat quarter bundle + background to make the quilt top and binding as shown in the class.

Lily and Loom Fabric

This giveaway is open to all (int’l winner just pays shipping). To enter, leave me a comment letting me know how many UFO’s (Unfinished Fabric Objects) you currently have! Once you take my class, you’ll be armed with the skills to finish them up! The giveaway will remain open through Sunday night, Aug 13, 2017 and I’ll choose a winner first thing Monday morning.

Click here to learn more and watch a preview video for Startup Library: Quilting

Update: Winner Selected and Comments Closed

Congrats to Susan M. who has been contacted via email.

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My Week at Craftsy – May 2017

It’s been a little bit quieter around here the last few weeks, because I’ve been hard at work getting ready to bring you some new exciting things coming this year! The first sneak peek I can share is that I just wrapped up filming on my next Craftsy class that will debut later this summer.

Christa on Set at Craftsy

This was my last day of filming and I got to cuddle up with the quilt I made on set once we finished. I’ll tell you more about this quilt when the class  is ready – it was so fun and fast to make!!

My new class is part of Craftsy’s debut “Startup Library” which consists of longer, in-depth courses across all of their major craft topics. They are aimed at beginners or those who may be involved in one craft, but want to try their hand at something new. I was so pleased to represent quilting!

Startup Library: Quilting with Christa Watson

I was there filming for a total of 5 days, and prior to that I worked with their great editorial team for months, honing in on the content that I’ll be presenting. In a nutshell, I got to focus on my favorite topic: teaching new students how to make a complete quilt from start to finish!

Christa with the Craftsy Crew

Christa and the Craftsy crew – we made a great team! And yes, there were smoothies….

On Set at Craftsy

My fabulous  content editor, Linda Permann helped me baste on camera. I wanted to make sure I included this important step, and I love that she got to cameo as my “helper!”

Returning to Craftsy for a second time was much less stressful because I knew a little bit more about what to expect this time around, such as getting my hair and makeup professionally done each day, and knowing that we would put in long hours of work which would get edited down to just a few minutes. I love the magic of television!!

Christa Watson and Angela Walters at Craftsy

Angela Walters and I took turns in the hot seat getting professionally made up each day by the lovely and talented Danica. This is was my favorite way to start each day!

While I was there, I got to mingle with a couple of others on set who were also filming their next projects. Angela Walters happened to be there at the beginning of the week, filming the next season of The Midnight Quilt Show.

Joshusa John Russell: Man About Cake

And Joshua John Russell from Make About Cake was there at the end of the week, gearing up for the next series of episodes for his popular YouTube show. Behind the scenes fact: I asked him how much cake he ate in each episode and he told me he never touches the stuff. True story!!

Now that I’ve written three books and filmed two classes, I can really appreciate the similarities and differences between both types of delivery. A book is a longer, slower sort of project, while a video class has a much quicker turnaround, but is also more intense. I’ve realized that I love creating both types of products, and I’m so grateful work with people who have a knack for editing and polishing my content so that I can look my best!

Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, if you haven’t purchased my first class yet, you can click here to get 50% off of The Quilter’s Path. (Be sure to add the class to your cart to see the discount.)

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

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Three Pinwheel Quilts: From EQ7 Sketch to Finished Quilt

For my Craftsy class that launched last month, I made the same Pinwheel quilt three different ways, with different fabrics and quilting designs. Now I’m back to share a little more up close and personal about each quilt.

Walking foot quilting from The Quilter's Path Craftsy ClassDetail of Walking Foot Quilting on Pinwheels Quilt #1.

As an EQ ambassador and artist, I pretty much do all of my quilt designing in EQ7. So I thought it would be fun to show you each of the quilts along with their original sketches that I drew.

EQ7 Drawing of Pinwheels QuiltThis is my sketch of the first pinwheels quilt shown in my online class, using 1930’s repro prints. I didn’t worry about the prints being an exact match. This sketch just gave me an idea of how busy prints would look against a dark blue background.

Pinwheels quilt, machine quiltied with a wavy grid design using a walking foot/dual feed

When it came to making the first quilt with a navy background, I actually had enough fabric to make two quilts (using a jelly roll of Boundless 1930’s Delights along with a jelly roll of Boundless Solids Navy.) The version above was the finished sample shown in class. I made a second one shown below to stitch on during filming as I demonstrated one of the walking foot quilting techniques. Rather than making two of the exact same quilt, I divided the prints into two colorschemes – patriotic and pastel.

Contrasting thread on pinwheels quilt. Quilted with BERNINA dual feed during Craftsy filming.

You’ll notice I quilted both quilts with a different colored thread. The patriotic one was quilted with a medium blue thread while the pastel one was quilted with a light yellow, both from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt Collection of 50 weight cotton threads.

I wanted to show the difference of what “blending” thread looks like verses “contrasting” thread. I think they both look great, and it’s a personal preference of whether you want your thread to show, or be more subtle. In either case, the quilting adds great texture to the quilt, don’t you think?

Pink Pinwheels quilt designed in EQ7

For the second quilt shown in class, I chose a pretty pink and white color scheme, using the default solids in the EQ7 palette. Many times I’ll design my quilt in solids and then add prints later. But more often than not, I really like the solid version, too! Again, I didn’t worry about the colors being an exact match – using a variety of pinks gave me the scrappy look I was going for.

You’ll notice I left my lines in the sketch this time so you can see how the blocks fit together. One of the options I love in EQ is being able to turn the seam lines off and on, depending on whether or not I want to view the quilt design that way.

Pink quilt with allover loopy machine quilting. From The Quilter's Path Craftsy class by Christa Watson.

Here’s the finished quilt using Boundless Solids in Tickled Pink and Bright White. For this quilt, I demonstrate how to quilt an allover free-motion design using the blocks as a guide to travel around the quilt. I used some of the leftover precut strips for the binding to add a touch of whimsy!

EQ7 sketch of teal/gray pinwheel quilt by Christa Watson

Finally, for the teal/gray version it was easy to swap out the colors from the original design. I will usually draw one design in one colorway and then try out lots of options until I find something I’m happy with. Sometimes I will start with a specific color scheme or fabric collection in mind and design around it. Other times, I’ll come up with my design and colors and then find fabrics to match.

Either way, my all-time favorite function in EQ7 is being able to import colors and fabric swatches if needed, so I know what the quilt will look like before I start! I prefer to do all of my thinking and planning ahead of time so that all I have to do is enjoy stitching once it’s time to actually make the quilt!

Finished Teal Pinwheels quilt

As you can see, the final quilt is more teal and less green than the sketch but it was close enough for what I wanted! I used a precut strip roll of Bounders Blenders Aura Coastal Escape for the blocks with Boundless Solids in Nickel for the background and binding.

For this third version, I combined both walking foot quilting with free motion to create combined custom quilting. The trick is planning how to make your way around the quilt, also known as “finding your path!” In between each of the “real” quilts, I demonstrate many more quilting motifs on quilt blocks so you can see how to quilt around the seams.

When it came time to creating the Pinwheels pattern (included as a bonus freebie in the class materials), using EQ7 made it easy for me to isolate parts of the design to create the quilt pattern.

Free Pattern included in The Quilter's Path Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Above is a sneak peek of one of the pattern pages using my EQ drawings as stepouts. I’d be lost without it! Machine quilting is definitely my favorite part of making a quilt, so I’m glad I have good tools that help me design faster so there’s more time for sewing!

Christa Watson's Craftsy Class: The Quilter's Path

Learn how to quilt these quilts and more in The Quilter’s Path: Plan It, Stitch It, Quilt It.

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – part 3

As we continue on with this series of trouble shooting your machine quilting challenges, be sure to read part 1 and part 2 for more helpful advice. And now, onto more suggestions:

Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

My goal is to help you love machine quilting as much as I do!

Problem: keeping size consistent on large scale designs
My suggestion: I have found that when it comes to domestic machine quilting, it’s much easier to quilt smaller scale designs because you have less room to work on the bed of the machine, compared to a long arm. If you want to quilt a larger scale design, I suggest marking it. Or if you are quilting a large scale textural filler, keep something nearby that is roughly the same size (such as a drawing of the motif, or a 3D item) so you can constantly refer to it for scale.

Problem: maintaining good speed control
My suggestion: free-motion quilting requires you to balance the speed of two things at the same time: the rate at which you push the quilt through the machine, and how fast your machine stitches. It’s like driving a car with a manual transmission for the first time – it takes some getting used to. Work on starting with a slower speed and aim for smooth stitches. Be sure and take a few “test drives” on practice scraps before you head out on the highway (quilting the real quilt)! Once you are comfortable with the process, then try to increase your speed.

Problem: I can’t get smooth curves
My suggestion: try a more modern, geometric design such as square boxes, triangle texture, or a more jagged stipple. Some people seem to have a natural inclination to quilt either curving or geometric shapes. If you struggle with either, practice quilting one design on a large section of the quilt with blending thread and don’t criticize yourself too harshly. It will get better with practice. Also, spend time sketching out your design on paper so that you can practice drawing the smooth, fluid shapes.

Triangle Texture and Pebble Quilting by Christa Watson

Try quilting both curves and angles to see which you like best. This is detailed quilting of “Broken V” from my book Machine Quilting with Style.

Problem: skipping stitches, nesting issues, thread breakage
My suggestion: these problems are usually caused by one or more of these factors – wrong needle size for the thread you are using; bent, nicked, or dull needle; incorrectly threaded upper thread; tension too tight; bobbin inserted incorrectly; machine not oiled or delinted often enough. Be sure to always thread with the presser foot up and then trouble shoot each of these issues one by one. A tiny silicone disc called a Magic Genie bobbin washer can also help on machines that don’t have built in bobbin sensors.  If all else fails, it may be time to take your machine in for service.

Problem: I don’t like free motion quilting
My suggestion: that’s perfectly fine, you can quilt tons of designs using just a walking foot! In my Craftsy class and in my books, I show how you can quilt several differnt quilts completely using walking foot techniques. Also, Jacquie Gering just wrote a fantastic new book called Walk that goes deeper into this subject.

Walk by Jacquie GeringClick here to preview Walk by Jacquie Gering.

Problem: I don’t know how to quilt a quilt that has a lot of blocks, like a sampler.
My suggestion: I’d go either super custom or super simple. An allover design either quilted with a walking foot or free motion is the easiest and would be quilted regardless of the piecing or block designs. This type of quilting adds a layer of tecture to the piece, and if done with a blending thread, becomes secondary to the overall design of the quilt. However, if you want to draw attention to the individual blocks, then custom quilting each one and treating it as a separate element is the way to go.

Free Motion Quilting a Sampler

I’d suggest taking a look at Leah Day’s Craftsy class, Free-motion Quilting a Sampler as a great place to start!

Problem: getting stuck in corner, missing areas in allover designs, getting boxed in 
My suggestion: Contrary to what the quilt police might think, it’s reall okay to stitch over previous lines of quilting, or cross over your lines if needed. I usually like to sketch out a quilting plan on top of a picture of my quilt top. That allows me to plan out the direction I’ll take to quilt each section of the quilt.

I hope you are enjoying these machine quilting tips. I love being a cheerleader for “do it yourself” quilting and I try to make the process as approachable as possible. I’ll be back again next week with more suggestions!

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