Lanterns Quilt – My Contribution to Rock Solid

Have you seen the awesome new collaborative book from Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Robert Kaufman? It’s called Rock Solid, featuring 13 different quilt designs made from Kona Solids. My contribution, Lanterns, made the cover, so I thought it would be fun to tell you a little bit more about my quilt. But first, look at all that yummy solid goodness on the cover!

Rock Solid Cover

My quilt, Lanterns, was made from one roll-up (jelly roll) of my Christa Watson designer palette for Robert Kaufman, along with one roll-up of Kona coal. Aren’t they a smashing combination??

Lanterns by Christa Watson

I came up with the design while I was playing around in EQ7 (Electric Quilt software) on my Mac. I’m always designing and playing around with shapes and colors. I’ll usually start with a seed of an idea and then it branches off into a design on its own. The fun thing about my process is that I usually end up with at least 4-5 different variations in different stages of completion. Whenever I’m ready to finalize a new design, I start by looking through my “virtual sketchbook” first!

EQ7 design sketch for lanterns

As you can see, my virtual EQ7 sketch is very similar to the final quilt. Usually when I’m playing around, I’ll randomly color the quilt but I don’t worry about whether or not the colors end up in the exact same spot as designed. Just using the same swatches of color is good enough for me to get an idea of how the quilt will look.

Lanterns Quilt Path step 1

Step 1 – Stitch in the Ditch

When it’s time to plan out the quilting, I’ll print off the EQ7 sketch on paper and then start drawing possible quilting ideas. I know that you can actually draw quilting designs in the program, but it’s usually just faster and easier for me to draw it out by hand. 🙂

Lanterns Quilt Path step 2

Step 2 – Echo the Ditch

I usually make a quilting plan for each quilt I make because it’s much faster to draw out several ideas on paper, than try to dive into the quilt with no plan and then not like the results! I finally put a name to this process of  “finding your path” when my first Craftsy class came out earlier this year.

Lanterns Quilt Path step 3

Step 3 – quilt one design in the background between the blocks.

For the actual quilting I use another process I call “divide and conquer” where I break up the quilting into different segments and just attack one segment at a time. I teach this in my in-person workshops and I love seeing other students get it and start applying it to their own quilts!

Lanterns Quilt Path step 4

Step 4 – quilt a contrasting design in the blocks.

As you can see, my drawing lines are pretty wonky, but that’s okay – it’s the actual stitching that counts! Of course, I draw the designs on paper with contrasting ink so I can see them, but when I do the actual quilting, I use a blending 50 wt. Aurifil cotton thread. For this quilt I used just two thread colors – yellow for the blocks and gray for the background (both from my Piece and Quilt Collection).

Machine Quilting Detail from Lanterns by Christa Watson

Machine quilting detail – I can quilt better than I can draw!

I sure had a great time making my solid colored quilt.
Click here to see all of the quilts from the book and grab your copy!

Giveaway!! If you’d like to win an e-copy of this book, just leave me a comment letting me know if you’ve ever made a completely solid quilt before. If so – how did you like it? I’ll choose a random winner at 6 PM Pacific Time on Saturday, June 17th

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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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Machine Quilting Blog Hop – Week 4

Have you been following along with the Machine Quilting Blog Hop? Four friends, (Kristin, Jenny, Vicki and HollyAnne) are working their way through mine and Angela Walters’ book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. They are sharing their amazing practice week by week.

The Original Inspiration

This week they are practicing motifs from Fractured Squares in the book. In my version of the quilt shown below, I quilted straight and wavy lines using a walking foot for the whole quilt.

In Angela’s version, she free-motion quilted quilted fun, geometric motifs on her long arm.

Machine quilting practice

Now let’s take a look to see how the amazing blog hoppers interpreted these designs in their own way.

HollyAnne chose to quilt Angela’s chevron designs, but rather than doing them free motion, she used some of my tips for walking foot quilting. Don’t these look great?

Machine Quilting practice from HollyAnne

Click here to see more of HollyAnne’s practice samples.
She’s included a video on her progress, and has shown how to quilt some of these designs on a real quilt!

Kristin focused on the center motif in my version of Fractured Squares for one of her designs. She also embraced one of my other tips: if you want your machine quilting to stand out, use a highly contrasting thread. If you want it to blend in, use a matching thread.

Kristin Machine Quilting practice.

Be sure to check out Kristin’s blog post to see what she did with the wavy lines!

Vicki also chose to quilt the chevron motifs, and combined them with some of the other free-motion designs from the book. I really love it when others take these ideas and change them up to create new combinations.

Machine Quilting practic with Vicki

Click here to check out some of the other motifs Vicki tried, plus watch her video for more inspiration!

Finally, Jenny combined several of the designs in the same block and I really like how it turned out, don’t you?

Jenny's quilting practice

Click here to read more details of Jenny’s progress on her blog.

Be sure to continue to follow all 4 of them and watch their progress. I think they are doing such an amazing job, don’t you?

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Click here to pick up your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting, signed by me and Angela Walters.

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And Sew it Begins – The Machine Quilting Blog Hop

Hi all – I’m just popping in to let you know the Machine Quilting Blog Hop kicks off today!
Here are all the links to the bloggers who have coordinated this fun event. Visit each of their blogs for the next 10 Mondays to see how they are learning to improve their skills using mine and Angela’s book, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting:

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Click here to get the Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting, signed by me and Angela.
As a special bonus, I’ll throw in a free pattern with your order of ANY of my books!

Quiltin’ Jenny is working her way through the book using some UFO’s to practice her skills. Check out her blog to see details of how she quilted this pretty piece:

Machin Quilting Practice

Head over to Vicki’s blog, My Creative Corner 3 to see a video on how she’s started quilting this lovely modern sampler, plus other tips she’s learned from the book. Do you recognize that improv star block in the upper right?

Machine Quilting Blog Hop Practice

HollyAnne gets bonus points for doing what I recommend in all my classes: sketch it, then stitch it! Be sure to check out her blog to see how well she turned her doodles into actual quilting!

Sketch It, Then Stitch It

Kristin is a natural when it comes to quilting. I love how she used high contrast thread so she can really see what’s she’s doing. Visit her blog to see the other motifs she’s practiced this week, plus some of her favorite tools:

Kristin's machine quilting practice

I’m really impressed with how well they are doing so far. They’ll be working their way through the book, one chapter at a time over the next 10 weeks. I’m excited to watch their progress!

If you are quilting along, you can post comments on any of their blogs and interact with them. You are also welcome to join my Facebook group:  Quilt with Christa and share your progress.

Happy quilting, friends!!

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Pre-Order Piece and Quilt with Precuts – My Next Book!

You guys! I wrote another book!! Piece and Quilt with Precuts will be published this August and I’m now taking pre-orders for signed copies through my site at shop.christaquilts.com.

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa WatsonYou can see lots of sneak peeks here on the cover!! But wait, there’s more…

Now first things first. I’m totally happy for you to purchase the book where you like. However, when you purchase it directly from me, I earn more on each book since I’m the one selling them. Also, when you order from me, you’ll be guaranteed to get them as soon as they ship! The estimated shipping date is August 17, which just happens to be my birthday so that’s super exciting!! I’ll have a grand time, eating cake and signing your books! But don’t worry, I’ll be careful not to spill any, LOL!!

Sneak Peek of Piece and Quilt with PrecutsSneak Peek #1 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts – are you excited?

So FYI, another reason I’m pushing preorders this time around is based on the demand of my last two books. When people preordered them on Amazon, there was a delay in customers getting them because Amazon had to first get them from the publisher, and then fulfill the orders.

Although the publisher knows how many to ship to Amazon, it always takes Amazon several days to process and they get a little bogged down. So when you pre-order your signed copy from me, it’s a win-win for us both and you don’t have to wait!! (Ahem.. plus my preorder price is actually lower than the current price on Amazon as of this writing…)

Sneak Peek of Piece and Quilt with PrecutsSneak Peek #2  from Piece and Quilt with Precuts – one of my favorite motifs to quilt!!

And just to sweeten the deal, with every pre-order of Piece and Quilt with Precuts placed directly through me  before June 30th, I’m going to throw in a bonus pattern from my pattern shop for free!! When you check out, you can let me know which pattern you prefer in the comments. Or just leave it blank and I’ll surprise you. (For anyone who has already pre-ordered, you’ll get a free pattern too – but it will be a surprise!! I don’t want you to feel left out!!)

And did I mention the books will be personally signed by me??? (Wink wink!)

Sneak Peek #1 from Piece and Quilt with Precut

Sneak Peek #3 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts – Alison Glass fabric is so good, it’s in here twice!

Writing this book was such a joy but there’s a crazy story to go along with it. Just after I had turned in my manuscript for my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, I immediately came up with the idea for Piece and Quilt with Precuts – easy to piece patterns made from precuts along with step-by-step machine quilting instructions for each quilt.

So I set to work designing the patterns, fleshing out the details, and submitting a detailed proposal to the publisher. No sooner had I begun work on the book when the folks at Martingale contacted me and said “we love this book and want you to write it. However, can you wait just a bit? We have another idea we’d like you to do instead.” And then I proceeded to write my second book, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with Angela Walters.  So needless to say once that book was finished, it was time to get back to this one! So in essence, I wrote three books in 3 years, one right after another. Crazy huh??

Sneak Peek #1 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Sneak Peek #4 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts – Improv piecing AND quilting in the same quilt!!

Martingale was sooo awesome and supportive during this crazy time. They even offered to help me piece or bind the quilts if needed. But being the control freak that I am, I politely declined. I have this crazy obsession that when it comes to quilting, I must do all my own “stunts”, LOL!! For me, there’s something personally satisfying in taking ownership of every stitch. 🙂

So later on this summer once the book publishes, I’ll share details of all 11 quilts and 18 machine quilting motifs that are included in the book. I’ll also do a blog hop with some friends who will be trying out their own versions of some of the designs.

Sneak Peek #3 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts - Alison Glass fabric is so good, it's in here twice!

Sneak Peek #5 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts – Why quilt straight lines when you can go wavy?

One other thing I wanted to tell you that’s special about Piece and Quilt with Precuts is that the name is all mine. For those that don’t know, whenever you publish a book or magazine pattern, the editor reserves the right to re-name it, or work with you to come up with a name they think they will sell. The first 2 book names came straight from Martingale, and I think they did a fantastic job, since I was totally clueless as to what to choose LOL!! However, when writing this book, the name was all me, baby and I’m so proud that they chose to keep it!!

And now, I know what you are wondering…. have I already started on book #4?? No, not quite yet. I decided I needed a little breather before jumping into my next book idea or 3. And some other big opportunites have come my way that I’ll get to tell you about just after this book launches. So stay tuned, it’s never a dull moment around here!

Click here to preorder your copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

As always, thanks for your support that allows me to do this crazy quilting thing full time!!

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The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – 1 Year Anniversary!

Today is a very special day. It marks the one year anniversary of the book that changed my life!
Writing The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with Angela Walters was not only an amazing experience, but it has led to so many more life changing events! Since the book came out, I’ve taught at QuiltCon, released my first Craftsy class, won awards on 3 quilts from the book, traveled around the country meeting so many of you, and I’ll be sharing a couple new huge things, later on this year.

If you’ll indulge me, I thought it would be fun to share a little yearbook recap of mine and Angela’s encounters since we first met at QuiltCon in 2013.

Christa Watson and Angela Walters

First time we met, in her class at QuiltCon in 2013. We bonded over machine quilting!

Angela Walters and Christa Watson, Spring 2015

Meeting up at Spring Quilt Market 2015 to finalize the details of our book. We had to be stealthy so no one would know what was going on!!

Christa Watson, Jennifer Keltner, Angela Walters

Jennifer Keltner, CVO of Martingale/That Patchwork Place met us at QuiltCon 2016 to give us the first copies of our book before it published that spring. We were so thrilled!!

Angela and Christa at Schoolhouse

Presenting our book to shop owners at Quilt Market in Spring 2016. It was a packed room!

We also collaborated with Patchwork Threads to produce T-Shirts to go along with the book!
Click here to get Angela’s shirt.
Click here to get my shirt.

To help promote the book, our publisher hosted meet and greets and quilting demos at both spring and fall market in 2016. Everyone we met was sooo kind!!

At fall market 2016. We planned out more book publicity and joked about how she had written 6 books by the time I had written 2. I don’t think I can keep up LOL!!

Angela Walters and Christa Watson

Angela paid a visit to my hometown guild in Jan 2017 which happened just after I had injured my arm. Although busy with teaching and lecturing, she made sure I was well taken care of!!

Angela Walters, Christa Watson, Tula Pink at QuiltCon 2017

Most fun photo bomb ever: during our QuiltCon 2017 booksigning, Tula Pink joined in the fun! After all, the “I wrote a  book with Angela” club is pretty small so far!

It’s been an amazing ride and neither one of us is ready to slow down yet! We’ve been very pleased with the reception that The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting has been getting. We each made the same 10 quilts from start to finish, showing different fabrics and quilting designs. So it’s really like 2 books in one. Whether you like to piece, or quilt, or both – we’ve got you covered!!

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Click here to view all of the quilts from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Upcoming Machine Quilting Blog Hop Starts May 1

A fun group of bloggers recently hatched together an idea to do a 10 week-long blog hop, working their way through the book one chapter at a time.

The group consists of HollyAnne, Vicki, Kristin, and Jen. Starting May 1, you can follow them on their blogs (click each of their names) and follow the instagram hashtag #machinequiltingbloghop as they share their real world experiences while improving their machine quilting skills. The best part is, they’ve invited you to join their journey.

Christa HollyAnne Angela

HollyAnne telling us all about their plans for the Machine Quilting Blog Hop at QuiltCon 2017

So grab a signed copy of the book (if you don’t have it already) and join the fun. I I can’t wait to see everyone’s progress! You can check out HollyAnne’s blog here for more complete info.

One more thing, if you’ve made a quilt from the book, or if you’ve tried some of the quilting motifs on your own quilts, please share pics with me in my Facebook Group: Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see how you are doing!

Now it’s time to go put the finishing touches on my next book. Watch for pre-order details about that later this week!!

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Quilt Las Vegas 2017 – A Recap and a New Milestone

Quilt Las Vegas is the annual quilt show put on by my local traditional guild here in Las Vegas, Desert Quilters of Nevada. I’ve been a member of the guild for over 20 years, and I’ve been entering their show for nearly as long. It’s the show that gave me the confidence to start competing nationally. I’ve also learned a lot about what goes on in the judging room as a volunteer. As my quilting skills increased, it’s been reflected in the number of times I’ve gotten a ribbon. However, the show this weekend was a new milestone for me. It’s the first time that everything I entered received a ribbon.

Machine Quilting demo by Christa Watson

One of the show highlights for me was getting to share a machine quilting demo and book signing for one of the local quilt shops vending at the show, Sew Yeah Quilting.

Most of the quilts I make nowadays are usually for a book, magazine, or individual pattern, so I think it’s really helped me focus on doing the best quality work I can. Today, I thought I’d share pics of my quilts hanging in the show, include the judges’ comments, and let you know where the patterns can be found, if you are inspired to make on of your own. Plus there are a couple more that my friends made that I thought were super cool. Enjoy the mini-show!

My Quilts in the Show

Churn Dash Slide from I Love Churn Dashes

Churn Dash Slide, 1st Place, Pieced Large – Single Entrant Category

 I was actually surprised that this one got a ribbon, let alone first place because the quilting on it is really simple. It’s just an allover swirl design. But the the fabrics really make it and I had a fun time taking a traditional design and freshening it up a bit.

Machine Quilting Detail by Christa Watson

Machine Quilting Detail on Churn Dash Slide

Here’s what the judge had to say about Churn Dash Slide:

  • Excellent piecing technique
  • Well balanced tension in machine quilting
  • Appropriate overall quilting design
  • Binding is securely and neatly attached
  • A crisp, clean and fresh approach to a traditional quilt pattern

The pattern for Churn Dash Slide can be found in  I Love Churn Dashes, a compilation published by Martingale/That Patchwork Place (my awesome publisher). I enjoy submitting ideas for their books where they usually feature 14-16 different designers’ patterns all in one collection.

A block from my quilt made the cover of I Love Churn Dashes – so fun!!

Quatrefoil Applique by Christa Watson

Quatrefoil Applique, 1st Place Applique

I made Quatrefoil Applique as a machine quilting sampler to show what some of my favorite quilting motifs would look like stitched out. I’m actually teaching how to make this quilt for the guild’s workshop this May, so it was cool to get a ribbon on it so the students could see it in the show. 🙂

Here’s what the judge had to say about Quatrefoil Applique:

  • Piecing and applique are neatly and precisely executed
  • Excellent quilting technique and multiple patterns elevate simple piecing and applique to a higher level
  • Very good binding technique
  • Well balanced colors and values

The patterns and machine quilting instructions for Quatrefoil Applique, and Swirling Butterflies shown below, are both included in the book I wrote with Angela Walters, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. I’m extra proud of that book now that some of the quilts are getting a bit more bling! (Last year another quilt from the book, Plumb Lines, got a ribbon at HMQS.)

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Christa Watson and Angela Walters

Signed copies of this book are available from me, with both of our signatures.

Swirling Butterflies by Christa Watson

Swirling Butterflies, 2nd Place Open Category (Wholecloth, misc., etc.)

Swirling Butterflies is the only wholecloth quilt I’ve ever made, and it was pretty risky using such a high contrasting thread for the butterflies. But it also pushed me technically, and was super fun and meditative to quilt! The lighting at the show wasn’t super great, so you can see a better detailed closeup of the quilting below. I explored one of my favorite techniques – free motion improv – in the background areas of this quilt.

Detail free-motion_quilting

Free motion improv quilting detail.

Here’s what the judge had to say about Swirling Butterflies:

  • Very good binding technique
  • Excellent machine quilting with precise backtracking
  • An elegant presentation

Fractured Puzzle by Christa Watson

Fractured Puzzle, 2nd Place Modern

This is the second time Fractured Puzzle has been shown in a show and the second 2nd place ribbon! (It got a 2nd place in modern last year at MQX). I love how the red ribbon matches the quilt!

Here’s what the judge had to say about Fractured Puzzle:

  • Very good piecing technique
  • Well balanced machine tension but strive for consistently even stitch length
  • Quilting motifs fill the spaces evenly
  • Binding is securely and neatly applied
  • Strong visual impact

Fractured puzzle is my ultra modern take on the free Puzzle Box quilt pattern I offer for newsletter subscribers. I really pushed myself and went way out of the box by cutting it up and sewing it back together again. But it was a really fun exercise in “what if…??”

Puzzle Box Pattern

Remember – you can always take a pattern and make it your own!

Other Favorite Quilts from the Show

I was bummed that I had very little time to spend at the show, due to other obligations at the same time, but I was thrilled to see ribbons on many of my friends’ quilts. These two quilts really resonated with me:

Vicki Ruebel Machine Quilting

Argyle Gone Wild by Vicki Ruebel of Orchid Owl Quilts. She won 1st Place Pieced Small, AND Best Machine Quilting. I was so excited and proud of her! Click here to see more details of the quilting and making of this quilt. She does amazing work!

Viva Las Vegas by Melissa Curley

My friend Melissa Curley won 1st place Show Theme for her quilt “Lucky.” She names all of her quilts with first names which I think is pretty cool. Lucky was the name of Elvis’ character in the movie Viva Las Vegas. I love how she showed the iconic neon of Vegas, mixed with the more subtle side of “Sin City”

Machine quilting students

In addition to catching up with local quilting friends, it was a thrill to run into some former local students while I was demoing. Kathy and Ofelia shown above were some of my first students way back in 1999. It was fun to connect with them again at the show, and know that they are still prolific quilters! I told them thanks for being great students that allowed me to learn how to become an effective teacher. 🙂

Now it’s time to go make (and enter) more quilts!

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BERNINA Ambassador Blog Hop – Meet Some New Friends!

I love being a brand ambassador for BERNINA and one of the perks about representing this fabulous company is getting to know other amazing ambassadors here in the US. A bunch of us got together recently and thought it would be fun to help our followers get to know more of us better.

BERNINA Ambassador

Scroll to the end of this post for the complete BERNINA blog hop schedule and click all of the links to learn more about each person. 🙂 If you are interested in booking someone for an upcoming guild event or quilt show, each link will go to that person’s website, and emails are included, too.

Christa Watson, BERNINA ambassador

My first project was sewn on a BERNINA back in 1994 and it was love at first stitch! Today, I piece and quilt on a BERNINA 770 QE.

About Christa

I’ve been quilting since the early 90’s but only found my “voice” in the quilting community when I saw a modern quilt in a magazine back in 2012 and attended the first QuiltCon in 2013. I came home from that event on fire with enthusiasm for modern quilting and the larger quilting community in general. Up until that time I had been teaching quilting classes locally, but was under the false impression that I had to wait until my kids were grown and out of the house to start pursuing teaching and publishing as a full time career.

Christa Watson Books

Click here to see all of the quilts from both of my books.

Coming home from QuiltCon was a game changer. I immediately began work on a book proposal which was accepted and then published as Machine Quilting with Style in 2015. That was followed by my second book co-authored with Angela Walters, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting in 2016. I also have a third book coming out later this year (more about that, soon!) My favorite technique to teach is quilting on a domestic machine, and I love seeing that spark of excitement when students realize that they can quilt amazing designs on a home sewing machine!

My family on a recent vacation – these guys are the pride and joy of my life!!

My husband Jason and I run an online store, The Precut Store where we sell precuts and Aurifil thread. He quit his job as a CPA about 10 years ago to join me in the business full-time and we’ve never looked back! Our kids have all worked for us in our business at one time or another and they’ve all decided they are NOT into quilting which is totally ok!!

In fact I have a funny story to tell about mothers and daughters quilting. Although my daughter made a quilt when she was about 8 years old, she has since decided to pursue other creative interests like writing and drawing. She was 12 when I was writing the book with Angela. When she learned that Angela had written a book with her daughter, she came up to me and said, “Mom – is it okay that I don’t want to write a book with you?” I answered, “Of course! Most quilting moms DON’T write actually write books with their daughters, so that’s perfectly fine!”

I have to be truthful and say that quilting consumes most of my day. Since it’s my full-time job I put in a lot of long hours, but since it’s also my hobby, it’s really easy to do! I hope you enjoy getting to know many of the other BERNINA ambassadors – they are quilting and sewing enthusiasts, just like you!

BERNINA ambassador 2015

Some of the BERNINA ambassadors at the 2015 Ambassador Reunion.

BERNINA Ambassador Blog Hop Schedule:

Monday March 20
Lynn Carson Harris harrislc@gmail.com
Kelly Ashton kelly@kellyquilter.com
Diane Doran info@dianedoran.com
Melody Crust melody@melodycrust.com

Tuesday March 21
Kathy Delaney kathy@kathydelaney.com
Christa Watson christa@christaquilts.com
Mandy Leins mandalei@gmail.com

Wednesday March 22
Sandy Fitzpatrick hissyfitz@earthlink.net
Beth Ferrier beth@applewd.com
Cheryl Sleboda cherylsleboda@gmail.com

Thursday March 23
Annie Smith annie@anniesmith.net
Lori Kennedy lckennedy@hotmail.com
Kari Carr kari@newleafstitches.com
Catherine Redford catherine@catherineredford.com

Friday March 24
Joanne Sharpe jzsharpe@yahoo.com
Cherry Guidry cherry@cherryblossomsquilting.com
Jenelle Montilone jenelle@trashn2tees.com

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The Making of Diamond in the Rough Part 1 – My Design Process

Let me tell you a little about the making of my Diamond in the Rough Quilt, my entry into QuiltCon 2017 that was patterned in QuiltCon Magazine. I want to share quite a bit of detail so I’m going to split this up into two posts.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

Have you noticed how often quilters match their quilts???

Designing in EQ7

I actually came up this design while working on another quilt pattern. The premise for the other design was to use a colorful bundle of fabric, and I originally wanted to do something with HRT’s (half rectangle triangles.) Often, I will start in black and white so I can play with design without color getting in the way. And then many times, like in this quilt, the black and white version takes on a life of its own and becomes a totally different design.

It was easy enough to whip up a simple HRT layout in EQ7:

Diamond in the Rough first sketch

I ended going in a completely different direction for the other quilt but saved this basic layout to come back to later. Once I did, I started playing around with the different shapes that could be made from HRT’s in EQ7. I started with harlequins and I kept all of the construction lines showing so that I could see where all the seam lines would be.

Black and White Harlequins

And then I stated playing around with the individual rows. I really liked the graphic diamond shapes that were possibly simply by rearranging the layout of the individual units.

Harlequin and Diamonds Design

I decided to throw in a big diamond just because and that really struck a chord with me. I decided to add a very skinny border in EQ7 which would represent the binding. I also played around a bit with the bottom rows to see what interesting graphic components would emerge. Many times during my design process, the design will go in several different directions and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the possibilities.

However, at this point, I knew I had a keeper! It just needed a pop of color…

Diamond in the Rough sketch

Finally, I added a pop of red by coloring the center diamond plus a small patch of binding on the lower right. I also decided it needed one more row of HRT’s along the bottom to balance the design. Then I hid the seam lines so that I could get a clear visual of what the finished design would look like once sewn together.

Diamond in the Rough Final Design

I love working in EQ7 because I know I’ll be happy with the design before I ever make the first cut. In the next post, I’ll write about how I designed the machine quilting and share a few closeups of the quilting.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

I love it when my finished quilt looks just like my original sketch! The final quilt measures 56″ x 72″ and was made with solids and Color Weave from Benartex. I quilted it with 50 weight Aurifil in Very Dark Grey, White, and Red from my Piece and Quilt thread collection.

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My Trip to QuiltCon 2017

QuiltCon 2017 which took place in Savannah, GA, was such a flurry of activity and excitement! I taught 5 classes, gave 1 lecture and had 2 book signings, not to mention multiple meet ups and business brunches. It was a fantastic experience, although quite exhausting. The only thing I regret was not having more time to see the show. I could have spent days staring at all of the amazing quilts and reading all of the artists’ statements. One thing is for sure, I returned home on fire, ready to make some more modern quilts! Here are just a few of the highlights for me…

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

Linda and I took a picture in front of my Diamond in the Rough Quilt at QuiltCon.
I’ll share more detailed pics about this quilt in a future blog post.

One of the fabulous people I ran into was Linda Permann, the acquisitions editor for my Craftsy class. We discussed how well my current class is going and talked about future collaborations as well. I’ll be sure and keep you posted as that unfolds! Oh yeah, and she totally made her top. Isn’t it cute???

Machine Quilting Practice, student work from a class by Christa Watson

Student work from “Free-Motion Alternatives to Straight Line Quilting”

I taught three machine quilting classes and was so thrilled watching my students unlock the power of domestic machine quilting. Each time one of them would tell me how much fun they were having, I made sure to let them know it’s just as much fun for me, too!

Student work from Christa Watson machine quilting class at QuiltCon

Student work from “Free-Motion Improv” class

In each class, I shared inspiration images and a mini trunk show so they could see how I apply the motifs I quilt onto actual quilts. Then we practiced drawing out each design so the students could get a feel for how to quilt each shape. The most fun part of any class is when a student takes one of the designs and really makes it their own. I also love it when I hear comments like “I think I can DO this!!” Yes – you definitely can!!! 🙂

View from the stage at QuiltCon

View from the stage before my lecture. I love how everyone chats and makes  friends!!

I gave a lecture about tips and tricks for quilting on your home sewing machine. My #1 tip is to make a quilting plan and find your path so that you know what you are going to do before you get there. It was really fun to speak to an audience full of enthusiastic quilters and I even brought a few of my quilts so they could come up afterwards and see them “in the cloth.”

Student Work in EQ7 Class

Caroline from Sew Can She attended my EQ class and wrote up a really nice blog post about it.

I also taught 2 Electric Quilt classes plus had a book signing in their booth. The best moment of class for me was when a student said “Now I don’t need to actually sew quilts any more. I can just make them virtually in EQ!!
The Gals of EQThese gals that work for EQ are so amazing! From left to right it’s Jenny, Sara, Christine and Ann. They helped me out in the booth during my book signing as well as during my class. If you ever need technical support for the software, they are happy to give it! (That’s my Square in a square quilt from Machine Quilting with Style that was hanging in their booth.)

Pam and Lynn from The Stitch TV Show

While getting ready for my book signing in the EQ7 booth,  I ran into some friends of mine, Pam and Lynn from TheStitchTVShow.com. They ended up helping me set things up and they hung around for a bit, so I always had someone to talk to, LOL!! Lynn is the one that is the same height as me so we decided to put Pam in the middle and create a “Pamwhich.” 🙂

Angela Walters, Christa Watson, Tula Pink at QuiltCon 2017

Tula and I both agree that Angela is the best co-author ever!

Probably the funniest moment of the show came when Angela and I were signing copies of our book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Tula Pink heard that we were there so she ended up crashing the party and it turned into the 3 of us signing both our books we wrote with Angela.

While Angela and I were writing our book, she was also working on the book with Tula. I joked around with everyone that I totally didn’t mind that she “quilts around” LOL!!! 🙂

Stephanie and Stephanie, the Quilting Podcasters

Two quilting podcasters, both named Stephanie

I personally think that QuiltCon is the most interactive quilt show out there. Not only could you hear squeals of delight as internet friends met each other for the first time, but you could take part in the show even if you weren’t there. QuiltCon set up a podcast booth right on the show floor where they invited 4 well-known podcasters to record interviews during the show. I was fortunate enough to be invited to chat for a few minutes with Stephanie from Sit and Sew Radio.

Sit and Sew Radio Podcast

Click here to listen to Sit and Sew Radio – the first QuiltCon edition.

You can also check out thousands of pics on instragram with the hashtags #quiltcon and #quiltcon2017. Plus the MQG has posted images of all the winners.

Machine Quilting Detail from Best of Show at QuiltCon 2017

Machine Quilting detail of Bling, the best of Show winner by Kat Jones.

QuiltCon 2018 will be Pasadena, California with keynote speaker Carolyn Friedlander, then in 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. So far, I’ve attended every show, and I plan to keep going to it every year because I personally think it’s the best party around!

QuiltCon 2018

For further reading, check out my experiences from:
QuiltCon 2016
QuiltCon 2015
QuiltCon 2013