New PDF Pattern Release – Stepping Stones (on Sale)

After the success of my most recent pattern launch for Positive Direction, I’m back again with my second new release of the year. I’d like to introduce you to Stepping Stones, available as an instant PDF download through my Craftsy pattern shop.

Stepping Stones quilt pattern by Christa Watson of Christa QuiltsClick here to get Stepping Stones on sale now for just $5.95!

Stepping Stones was originally patterned as “Easy Going” in Quilts and More magazine and available in one size only. Now I have expanded the pattern to include 4 sizes from Crib to Queen. It’s super fast to make and is perfect to use up that favorite fat quarter bundle you’ve been hoarding. Or bust your stash by cutting each block from 2 different fabrics!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern in 4 Sizes

Make Stepping Stones in 4 sizes: Crib, Throw, Twin or Queen!

Stepping Stones fabric requiremenets

Stepping Stones Fabric Requirements – It’s Fat Quarter Friendly!

I used Me + You Hoffman batiks which gives it a bit of a modern vibe. I chose cool colors of teals, blues, and greens with a bit of yellow and tan to create some warm pops of color. I used leftovers to make a whimsical scrappy binding.

Machine Quilting Boxes on Stepping Stones

I also include quilting suggestions so that you can quilt it the same way I did, if you are so inclined. I quilted Stepping Stones using one of my favorite geometric motifs – boxes. This quilting motif looks great on both modern and traditional quilts.

Machine Quilting Plan for Boxes

I love including quilting plans and machine quilting suggestions in my patterns!

Machine Quilting Detail

I used Aurifil 50 wt. 100% cotton thread from my Piece and Quilt Collection to make the quilt from start to finish. I’ve curated a rainbow of color that allows me to piece, quilt and bind any quilt I wish to make!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Jason and I had a great time taking pics out in the desert behind our home. I enjoy making the quits, and he enjoys photographing them so you can really see the details!

The key to making this quilt sparkle is by choosing several very light fabrics for the skinny strips between the blocks. Then, when it comes to choosing colors for this quilt, anything goes!

Stepping Stones by Christa Watson

Stepping Stones is on sale now at the intro price of just $5.95 through the end of the month, on Tuesday February 28th. After that, it will go back up to the regular price of $9.95 so grab it while you can! Then be sure to share your progress with me in my facebook group while you make it.

Click here to view my PDF pattern shop and stock up on your favorites!

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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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Two Fun New Books To Share – I Have Quilts in Both

Like many of you I love making quilts! But what you may not know is that one of the reasons I love writing patterns and books is that the deadlines for completion motivate me to finish things! I’m excited to be part of two brand new books coming out in June, published by my favorite publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place.

I Love House Blocks from Martingale/That Patchwork Place

The first is called I Love House Blocks, and it’s part of Martingale’s “Block Buster Quilts” series where a ton of different designers each make their own interpretation of a quilt based on a traditional block. (Click here to see the last one I was a part of – I Love Churn Dashes.”)

I’m thrilled to have my house quilt shown on the cover! It’s the one on the left and it’s called “My Hometown.” I used bright and cheery by Moda fabric from Pat Sloan in my version, but think it would be just as cute your favorite fabric collection!

Click here to preorder I Love House Blocks.

Rock Solid book using Kona Solids

The second book I am thrilled about is called Rock Solid and it’s a collaboration between Martingale and Robert Kaufman. All 13 quilts in the book are made from Kona Cotton solids. I haven’t even seen the rest of them yet, but I can already tell I’m gonna love this book!

I’m excited to be a cover girl on this one, too. My quilt “Lanterns” is shown on the left, using my exclusive Christa Watson designer palette in 28 vivid shades of red, orange, yellow and green. My quilt is made from just two jelly rolls – My designer palette and Kona Coal.

Click here to preorder Rock Solid.

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – Part 6

Welcome to part 6, the final post where I’ve been offering suggestions to some of my readers’ most challenging machine quilting issues. Get more tips by reading part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Craftsy Filming Behind the Scenes

On set during the filming of my Crafty class: The Quilter’s Path where I show you how to quilt many of the quilting motifs I write about on my blog and in my books and patterns!

Problem: I have a hard time getting ideas from my head into reality.
My suggestion: I used to have this same problem until I started creating a machine quilting plan for each quilt I make. I take a picture or make a printout of my quilt top and then I figure out the quilting path I need to take to work my way around the quilt. Below is the plan I made for my Positive Direction quilt pattern.

Positive Direction Machine Quilting Plan

Problem: I’m not sure which batting to use.
My suggestion: Try out a different batting for the next several quilts and see how each performs. Take note of the shrinkage, softness and what the quilting stitches look like. Some battings like cotton, will make the quilting appear more flat because it doesn’t have a lot of loft. Others, like polyester or wool will give a better stitch definition because they are more lofty, or puffy. My favorites are cotton, wool and soy.

Problem: Too much time passes between quilt projects and I feel like I’m losing my skills.
My suggestion: machine quilting is like learning a musical instrument: the more you practice, the more you’ll be able to “play.” If you are in between projects, keep a stack of small scraps of fabric and batting to stitch on for a few minutes each day. Just quilting for 5 min each a couple times a week will keep your quilting muscles in shape!

Machine Quilting Practice

Problem: I get discouraged whenever I compare myself to other quilters’ skills.
My suggestion:
Anyone who has just started their quilting journey will definitely go through this. It’s one thing to be inspired and another to feel inadequate. Just remember that it takes a lot of time and practice to get good at anything. I always encourage newer quilters to embrace walking foot quilting first because it’s pretty much fool-proof. Then, move onto tackling free-motion when you are more comfortable.

Walking Foot Quilting

I always teach walking foot quilting before moving onto free-motion. It’s virtually goof-proof!

Problem: How do I get out of the “stipple” rut?
My suggestion: I recommend collecting as many books as you can about machine quilting, taking a lot of classes, and seeing quilts up close and personal. Start sketching quilting motifs that appeal to you and try them on your quilts. If you have a toolbox full of 4-5 designs you really like, you can mix them up and quilt them in different areas of your quilt!

Problem: I want to try ruler-work quilting but I’m not even sure where to start.
My suggestion:
enroll in my friend Amy Johnson’s Craftsy classes on ruler work. She has two of them and pretty much covers all the basics. It’s amazing what you can do with specialty rulers on your domestic machine.

Quilting with Rulers on Your Home Sewing Machine

Click here to learn more about ruler work and see a class preview.

Problem: I don’t want to practice, because I hate wasting fabric on “learning.”
My suggestion: I don’t think “learning” is ever a waste. 🙂 However if you want to make something practical out of your practice sandwiches, create a stitch journal. Try out different quilting designs on similar sized practice pieces. Write on each which thread you used and other details like stitch length, batting etc. Then get some grommets or a key chain and punch a hole in the corners of each sample to link them together. Whenever you are stumped on an idea, refer to your journal for inspiration!

Problem: I’m not coordinated when it comes to machine quilting. It feels awkward.
My suggestion: when I started quilting it felt weird too, and I still can’t get the hang of longarm quilting (which is why I stick to a sit-down machine). Try to position your quilt and yourself a few different ways to see if you can get in a comfortable position. Quilting is a skill that requires a different muscle movement than anything else so it can take awhile for it to feel more natural. Don’t give up! Also try different hand positions when quilting. Try keeping your hands flat, raised, or gripping the edge of the quilt to see which feels more comfortable.

All Craftsy Classes on SaleClick here to see which classes are on sale, including mine!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips! If you haven’t already done so, be sure and enroll in my Craftsy Class, The Quilter’s Path. All brand new Craftsy classes are on sale for $19.99 or less this weekend only! Sale runs from today through Sunday, so stock up on this massive sale!!

Machine Quilting Tips

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Come See Me at QuiltCon in The Electric Quilt Company’s Booth!

QuiltCon, the 4th annual modern quilt show put on by The Modern Quilt Guild is coming soon! It will be held in Savannah, Georgia from February 23-26, 2017 and I can’t wait! I’ll be teaching 5 classes and giving a lecture which are all sold out! However, if you are attending and didn’t make it into one of my classes, I’ll be doing a book signing and meet ‘n greet in The Electric Quilt Company‘s booth #337 on Friday, February 24, from 12-1 PM.

Amy Friend and Christa Watson at QuiltCon 2017

Following mine, you’ll get a chance to meet another EQ7 ambassador, Amy Friend who just released her second book! She’ll be in the booth on the same day from 1:30-2:30. If for some reason you won’t be there that day, you can still stop by the booth see some of our quilts “in the cloth.” They’ll be on display in booth #337 for the entire show.

During my book signing, I’ll have copies of both of my books available for purchase and I’ll be happy to sign anything else you would like as well (a quilt, my patterns, your arm…. the possibilities are endless!!) And you can even just stop by and chat for a few minutes if you want – it’s always fun to meet fellow quilt enthusiasts!!

Christa Quilts and EQ at QuiltCon 2017

Both Amy and I love to design in EQ7 because we can see what our finished projects will look like before we begin cutting! I designed 11 of the 12 quilts from Machine Quilting with Style in EQ7. (The 12th was actually designed by my husband on his iPad). When you stop by the booth at QuiltCon, you’ll get a chance to see my actual computerized renderings in the booth! I think it’s fun to see them side by side next to an image of the real quilt. In fact, my favorite feature of the software is being able to import swatches of any fabric I want so that I can see audition different possibilities ahead of time.

I have more “extra” events scheduled, so stay tuned for details and I hope to see you there!

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – Part 5

Part 5 of Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges continues with more fun quilting problems to solve! Check out part 1, part 2,  part 3  and part 4 for more solutions!

Christa Quilts

Problem: Sometimes I get bored quilting the same thing over and over.
My suggestion: Break down the quilting into different designs and quilt them in different areas of the quilt. Also be sure to listen to something fun while you quilt! I love listening to audio books or quilting podcasts while I sew. It makes the time pass quickly and I feel like I’m being super productive at the same time!

Problem: My stitches vary in size.
My suggestion: You know what? So do mine, but that’s totally okay. When you step away, you won’t even notice. The only way to get perfectly sized stitches is with a stitch regulator and I know that’s not available on all machines, so I usually don’t even use one on my own work. Stitch length consistency will get better over time, but I wouldn’t  stress about it too much. 🙂

Problem: How do I quilt negative space other than with straight lines?
My suggestion: I show several different geometric variations in my “Plumb Lines” quilt from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. I quilted this quilt to answer that problem. Although straight lines are awesome, I wanted to give free-motion quilters some modern alternatives for straight-line quilting. Try out linear designs such as zig-zags and or other cool geometric shapes. Have fun experimenting or combine them together for even more ideas!

modern machine quilting

Detail of geometric/linear free-motion designs that you can quilt in negative space.

Problem: I don’t feel like I’m in control.
My suggestion: when begining your free-motion quilting adventures, embrace that fact that it will take awhile to get the hang of it. To put it more bluntly, yes, you are going to suck at it for awhile and that’s okay! Just like it took you a while to learn how to write, so too is machine quilting a brand new skill. Just be patient and keep at it and it will get better, I promise! One suggestion I offer my students is to make up 7 small practice pieces. Quilt one a day for a week and you’ll see a noticeable improvement!

Problem: How do I manage dealing with a bulky quilt?
My suggestion: scrunch and smoosh the quilt out of the way as much as possible while you quilt. There’s a brand new apparatus out there called “The Weightless Quilter” which I just got and can’t wait to try! It basically holds the quilt up of the table for you while you quilt.

weightlessquilter

Click here to see a video of the Weightless Quilter in action!

Problem: My machine is too light.
Solution: My guess is that this is more of a problem with the table than your machine. I suggest using the largest table you can, and embedding your machine into the table so it’s flush with the top.  If you don’t have a table you like, check out the affordable sewing tables that Leah Day sells. You can always add extra tables surrounding it to make your work area larger.

I hope you are enjoying these suggestions. I’ve got a couple weeks’ more worth of questions to go – so I’ll keep going until I answer them all. 🙂

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – part 4

Welcome to part 4 of my series that helps you solve your most challenging machine quilting issues.  You can read part 1, part 2 and part 3 for more helpful advice.

Christa Watson shares tips and advice for domestic machine quilting

Publicity image for my Craftsy Class: The Quilter’s Path where I share more quilting tips!

Problem: I have health issues that don’t allow me to quilt as much as I  would like.
My suggestion:
I totally understand! I recently had a bad fall and injured my left arm, so I haven’t been able to touch a machine in weeks. When my health is not up to par, I try to do other things that don’t wear me out such as playing with new designs on the computer, or getting inspiration from reading quilting books and magazines.

When I’m able to sew but feel like I don’t have the time or energy to do much, I set a timer for 15 minutes and get right to the machine. Even sewing one or two seams can give me a really satisfying feeling. Finally, if you can’t quite do the things you used to, that’s okay. See what you are able to do and don’t be timid about asking for help from others.

Problem: I do not like basting and always get puckers.
My suggestion:
Basting is definitely the least fun part of the process. It’s taken me many years to figure out how to baste without getting puckers. The key is to get all 3 layers of the quilt really flat before putting them together, and taking time to smooth them out as you layer them.  I prefer to use 505 basting spray and then iron the whole quilt after basting to smooth it out and set the glue. I’ve also had success with pin basting, too.

Tutorials on quilt basting for machine quilting

Students basting in a recent class I taught. Use a long ruler to help smooth out the quilt.

Click here to find several different tutorials I’ve written about the basting process. I’m sure one will work great for you! If all else fails, you can actually pay a longarmer to quilt long basting stitches on your quilt and then skip the process all together!

Problem: I don’t know how to use my new fancy machine.
My suggestion: I would say that’s a nice problem to have, LOL!! Whenever I teach newer quilters, I always recommend that they get acquainted with their machines right away. I know it’s kind of boring to do, but reading through the owner’s manual is really the best thing to do to get to know your machine. If you purchased it from a dealer, they should offer new owner’s classes for free. Another tip is to google, “how do I _______ on my _______ (make and model) machine” and fill in the blanks. I’m sure you’ll find a wealth of videos and tutorials to help you out!

Problem: I need help making pretty spirals (or other designs).
My suggestion:
Practice, practice, practice! It may not make perfect, but practice will make progress. Part of my teaching method is to have students draw out their motifs onto paper ahead of time to learn how the shapes are created.

Practice Drawing for free motion quilting

My drawings don’t look nearly as good as my quilting, but they are important to practice!

One thing to keep in mind is that most people will draw designs from left to right (if they are right handed), but quilting is usually done from right to left (starting on the right edge of the quilt). So keep that in mind and draw in many directions to get comfortable with the movement.

Problem: How do I get over my lack of confidence and fear of failure?
My suggestion: Just remember that you are learning a brand new skill and it takes time to learn a new muscle movement. Diving in and getting started is the best way to tackle any problem. If you are a brand new quilter, start with walking foot quilting first, and the move on to free-motion when you are most comfortable. Then remember this advice: the best way to hide imperfect stitches is with more imperfect stitches! One line of quilting will stand out like a sore thumb. But surround that line of quilting with more (imperfect) lines and all of a sudden you notice the overall texture, not the individual stitches.

Problem: I don’t know which thread to use for machine quilting.
My suggestion:
Grab my Piece and Quilt Collection from Aurifil! It’s 50 weight low-lint cotton that is perfect for sewing and machine quilting, as the name implies. The best thing about only using one type/brand of thread for everything I do is that I can stock up on tons of colors, without breaking the bank. Plus, any leftover bobbins from machine quilting can be used when piecing my next quilt!

Piece and Quilt Aurifil thread by Christa Watson

My Colors collection includes every color of the rainbow. The Neutrals group is versatile and includes way more than just black, white and gray. These two collections will provide blending thread colors for virtually any quilt you are going to make!

Click here to see which colors are included in each group.

Piece and Quilt Neutrals Aurifil Thread from Christa Quilts

Ask for my threads at your favorite quilt shop, or purchase online from The Precut Store.

Problem: How do I get an even stitch length?
My suggestion: That’s one of those things that will develop over time. When you are quilting with a walking foot (or dual feed system) the stitch length setting on your machine will work with the feed dogs to provide even stitches. Some newer machines with free-motion quilting include an option to use a stitch regulator. I learned the old fashioned way on a machine without a regulator and the key is to balance the rhythm of your hands moving the quilt through the machine with the speed at which you are quilting. It’s more of an art than a science and it’s like learning how to drive a manual car. But if you practice for 10 minutes a day, every day for a week, you’ll definitely see some improvement!

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s trouble shooting session. There’s still a whole bunch of problems to get through, so keep checking back each week for more! If you enjoy these tips and advice, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my machine quilting books that will help you put this advice into practice on real quilts!

Click here to purchase signed copies of my books, Machine Quilting with Style
and The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

Christa Watson Books

You can also find them on Amazon, from my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork place which offers a free e-copy with every print copy purchased, or from you favorite local quilt shop!

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All of the Quilts from Both of My Books

I’ve been enjoying getting back to blogging on a regular basis, and I’ve also noticed an uptick in new followers – so I want to welcome all my new friends. I recently reorganized my blog so it’s easier to see the quilts I’ve made in the past. I decided to create one page where you can view all of the quilts from my current books. (I can’t wait until the fall when I’ll update it again for book 3, but more about that later…)

If you are new around here, please enjoy this bit of quilty eye candy, it’s very image heavy!

Quilts from Machine Quilting with Style

Machine Quilting With Style

13 friends each remade the 12 quilts + 1 of the backings. I have included their versions, too. Photography of my quilts courtesy of Martingale and Brent Kane. Here’s the order in which they are presented in the book:

ripplesRipples, made by me

ripples_melissa

Ripples, made by Melissa Corry and her MIL Barbara

mqws_rainRain, made by me
Juried into QuiltCon 2016
Shown at MQG Exhibit at Int’l Quilt Festival

rain_drizzle_cheryl

Drizzle, made by Cheryl Brickey

color crystals.Color Crystals, made by me

colorcrystals_vicki

Color Crystals, made by Vicki Ruebel
Honorable Mention, PIQF 2015
Faculty Award, MQX New England 2016

technicolor_backing

Technicolor backing made by me

technicolorbacking_ida

Urban sunrise, made by Ida Ewing
Best Machine Quilting, Pahrump Quilt Show 2016

Little Man's FancyLittle Man’s Fancy, made by me

littlemansfancy_tina

Little Man’s Fancy, made by Tina Guthmann

staticStatic, made by me

static_quilt_lee

Static, made by Lee Heinrich

square in a squareSquare in a Square, made by me
Juried into Road to California, 2016

squareinasquare_stacy

Square in a Square, made by Stacy Cooper

focal_point

Focal Point, made by me
Juried into QuiltCon 2016

Focal Point - Chic Neutrals no lines

Focal Point, recolored in EQ7 using Chic Neutrals fabric from Amy Ellis

focalpoint_amy

Focal Point, made by Amy Garro

Lightning and backing

Lightning, made by me
Bonus backing tutorial from Martingale
Juried into Road to California 2016

lightning_leannePink, made by Leanne Chahley

Candy_PopCandy Pop, made by me
Awarded 3rd Place, Applique at DQN 2016 Quilt Show

candypop_linda

Candy Pop, made by Linda Hungerford

BrokenVBroken V, made by me

brokenv_sharon

Broken V, made by Sharon McConnell

Facets_Kona

Facets, made by me
2nd Place Modern, AQS Paducah 2016
Juried into AQS Phoenix 2016
Quilt Along Blog Series 2016

facets_kristy

Facets, made by Kristy Daum

Finals B1324.inddPearl Gray, made by me
1st Place Large, Single Maker, DQN 2016 Quilt Show

pearl_gray_alyce

Pearl Gray, made by Alyce Blyth

Quilts from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Angela Walters and I each made the same ten quilts in our own choice of fabrics and quilting motifs. There are 10 different patterns presented along with over 50 different machine quilting designs.

Choosing Colors

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Choosing Colors by Christa Watson

Christa’s version – in rainbow order.

Choosing Colors made by Angela Walters

Angela’s version – mix it up and throw in a scrappy binding!

Swirling Butterflies

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Swirling Butterflies Wholecloth Quilt

Christa’s version – bold and contemporary.

Swirling Butterflies Angela Walters

Angela’s version – white and traditional.

Plumb Lines

Click here to read more about this quilt.

My version of Plumb Lines won 2nd Place, Modern at HMQS in 2016.

Plumb Lines Quilt

Christa’s version – free-motion alternatives to straight line quilting.

Plumb Lines Quilt

Angela’s version – peachy keen!!

Cornered

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Corned quilt by Christa Watson

Christa’s version – pretty in pink!

Cornered by Angela Walters

Angela’s version – make your friends green with envy when you learn how to quilt these motifs!

Directionally Challenged

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Directionally Challenged by Christa Watson

Christa’s Version in shades of blue with walking foot quilting and FMQ.

Directionally Challenged by Angela Walters

Angela’s version in red showing how to break down large blocks for quilting success.

Migration

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Migration Quilt

Christa’s version – grid quilting in warm earthy tones.

Migration by Angela Walters

Angela’s version – jewel box quilting with lots of negative space fillers.

Exploding Star

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Exploding Star by Christa Watson

Christa’s version using Angela’s fabrics with walking foot continuous spiral quilting.

Exploding Star by Angela Walters

Angela’s version quilted with multi-sized spirals.

fractured squares

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Fractured_Squares_Christa

Christa’s version – completely quilted with a walking foot.

Fractured_Squares_Angela

Angela’s version – having fun with improv borders!

Quatrefoil Applique

Click here to read more about this quilt.

Quatrefoil-Applique_Christa

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

Quatrefoil-Applique_Angela

Angela’s version – bold and dramatic.

U-Turns

Click here to read more about this quilt.

U-Turns_Christa

Christa’s version – cool teal solids with a touch of print.

U-Turns_Angela

Angela’s version – perfect for practicing turning a corner!

Christa Watson Books

Click Here for Signed Copies of Both Books

 

Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – part 2

Last week in part 1, I began this series to help troubleshoot the most common machine quilting challenges I hear from you all. I got a whole list of them via my followers on Instagram. I’ll continue to post this weekly series until I’ve gone through them all. Hopefully you’ll pick up a few tips that will encourage you and help improve your quilting skills.

quilting-table

Image from my Craftsy class The Quilter’s Path: Design It, Stitch It, Quilt It.

Problem: Not having a table flush with the bed of your machine.
My Suggestion: While it’s true that it helps to have a nice flat space for quilting, if you look closely at the images from my Craftsy class, you’ll notice that I quilted the whole time on a regular counter-top surface with my machine set on top of it. Google “sewing machine extension table” to find a wealth of resources for custom inserts and extensions. Using a large table will be more beneficial in the long run and you can always build up the area around your machine using styrofoam or heavy books. A small table or adjustable ironing board set up to your left, forming an “L” shape, will help keep the weight of the quilt from dragging, too!

Problem: Not feeling brave enough to to try something new.
My suggestion: Just go for it and don’t look back. Challenge yourself to make a small quilt as a gift or charity donation. Resolve to try a new design or technique and don’t stop until you finish! Then give it away so you never have to see it again. I promise the next one will be sooo much easier!!

Problem: Messy starts and stops.
My suggestion: If you are a beginner, try quilting an edge to edge design where you can start and stop the quilting design off the quilt in the batting. If you are more comfortable with quilting, start by bringing the bobbin thread to the surface of the quilt. Then take a series of 6-8 tiny stitches at the beginning and end of each line of quilting. This will be secure and much less noticeable then quilting forwards and backwards in place. And please, stay away from using the automatic tie off function on your machine. It just makes a mess!

If you want to up your game, check out this great 3 minute video tutorial from my good buddy Leah Day. She shows you how to tie off your thread ends using a self threading “cheater” needle.

Problem: Managing the bulk of the quilt under the machine.
My suggestion: I employ a not-so scientific method of “scrunching and smooshing”  the quilt out of the way however I can. Although it’s super helpful to have a large roomy area under the machine, just remember that you are only dealing with a small part of the quilt at anyone time. Ann Petersen recently filmed her outstanding class Small Machine, Big Quilts, Better results  using a regular sewing machine. She employs methods like quilt-as-you-go and using split batting so you have less bulk under the machine. It’s worth checking out!

Problem: I’m impatient and hate being a beginner.
My suggestion: Here’s a virtual hug – I know how that feels! XOXOXOXOX
When I was first starting out, I wanted things to be perfect. Over the years I learned to embrace my imperfections. Try learning just one or two designs to start and quilt them on everything! When I first conquered stippling, I stippled all my quilts for a solid year and that’s ok. Start out with walking foot designs and then when you are comfortable move on to free-motion. Just remember, if you start out as a beginning machine quilter the same time you start learning to piece, both skills will improve together at the same time.

stipples-spirals

Stipples and Spirals make a fun combination.

Problem: There are too many design options to choose from.
My suggestion: see above answer. 🙂 Just pick one or two you like and start with that. If you can’t narrow it down, write them all down on slips pf paper and throw them into a bag. Choose two of them randomly for your next quilt. Then choose two more for the next quilt, and so on. Wouldn’t it be fun to say “I’m quilting stipples and spirals today” and not even have to think about it?!

Problem: I don’t know enough design ideas.
My suggestion: Do some fun research. Take a look at beautiful quilts you see in public at quilt shows or online on social media. Pay attention to the quilting details for design inspiration. I also recommend increasing your collection of quilting books – both those that teach machine quilting techniques (like mine), plus books that are a library of design ideas such as 180 Doodle Quilting Designs. Before long, you’ll have too many to choose from! (See my answer to that dilemma above.)

b1381_cover

Problem: I don’t have a very nice sewing machine.
My suggestion: Remember that the most important tool in your tool box is a “can-do” attitude. I started out with a cheapie-not-very-good sewing machine but I persevered. When I knew that quilting was here to stay, I upgraded to a nicer but still low price range machine that could do a little bit more. Once I became more serious, I got my first “nice machine.” This was about 20 years ago and I bought it used from a dealer, for less than half of the original price. It’s only been in the last 3-4 years that I could justify a “really nice” machine. So don’t let the tools stand in your way. Buy, borrow or rent the best you can afford and get as much use out of it as you can.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. I’ll be back next week with more!

 

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – Part 1

While promoting the launch of my new Craftsy Class, I asked folks on Instagram what their #1 challenge was when it comes to machine quilting on a home sewing machine. It generated a lot of great comments, so I thought I’d try and tackle them here. There were so many great questions that I decided to break them up into multiple blog posts.

christaquilts

Click here to get 50% off my class, once it’s in your cart. Coupon expires 4/4/17.

Problem: Tension
My suggestion: Try and adjust the top tension first. If the bobbin stitches poke through to the top, the top tension is too tight, so lower it. If the top stitches show up on the back, the top tension is too loose, so tighten it. Always thread the needle with the foot up to engage the tension properly.

Problem: Choosing Quilting Designs
My suggestion:
Pick one or two designs you like and then go for it. You can pick one design to quilt allover, or break up the design into blocks and background and quilt a different design in each area. Once you are comfortable with a few designs, it will get easier to combine them together. My books are a great resource containing dozens of different designs for you to try.

Problem: Not Knowing Where to Start
My suggestion:
Divide and conquer! Quilt what you know you can easily do first such as stitching in the ditch along the major seam lines. I call this “anchor quilting” which helps stabilize the quilt for more intricate quilting later. I prefer to start on the right side of the quilt and work my way across the quilt, then fill in smaller and smaller sections. My Craftsy Class, The Quilter’s Path, covers this subject in great detail.

free-motion-quilting

Practice won’t necessarily lead to perfection; but it will help you make progress!

Problem: Movement and Stitch Length Consistency
My suggestion:
Practice makes progress. It’s easier to get consistent stitches with a walking foot because the machine is doing most of the work for you. However, when it comes to free-motion, it’s a whole different movement. You need to smoothly guide the quilt under the machine, yet with enough force to push it through at an even speed. In essence, you do the work of the feed dogs since they are covered or disengaged while free-motion quilting. For consistency, a stitch regulator can help, especially for beginners. Also, slowing down can help. Aim for a smooth, fluid movement that begins to feel more natural over time, the more you practice.

Problem: Quilting a Large Quilt on a Small Machine
My suggestion:
Take it one step at a time and remember that only a small area of the quilt is being quilted at any time, so there is a lot of constant scrunching and smooshing to get it out of the way. Aim for designs that don’t need you to turn the quilt very much (such as gentle wavy lines). Also, quilt on the largest table surface you can find. When it’s time to upgrade your machine, get the widest throat/harp space (the area between the needle and arm of the machine) that you can afford.

pastel_quilting

Imperfect wavy lines look great every time and are quick, fun, and easy to do!

Problem: I am afraid I’ll ruin my quilt top.
My suggestion:
Practice on small “cheater” panels first. Turn them into baby quilts and give them away so you don’t have to be reminded of your beginner progress. (Or keep a few to see how far you’ve come!) Take time to make a couple of extra pieced blocks and practice quilting those first so you can see what your design actually looks like before you spend time on a whole quilt. Finally, if you are just starting out, choose an easy design to quilt with your walking foot such as a wavy grid, or a forgiving free-motion design such as random loops. This will give you confidence to keep going, knowing that you can quilt one or two designs that actually looks good!

I hope these suggestions help! If you have a quilting problem you don’t know how to tackle, please leave a comment. I’ll try to include suggestions for as many of them as possible in next week’s blog post! You can also post photos of your trouble spots in my facebook community,  and fellow group members can help make suggestions.