A Crazy Sewing Weekend (and a Bit of a Back Story)

I was a little MIA last week due to a crazy sewing weekend a few days before. Crazy, but fun!! So it all has to do with my latest big project which will officially be revealed later this year: I designed a line of fabric for Benartex!! Say what???

So here’s a (not-so) quick back story and then onto my latest sewing adventures….

Sew Pro 2016

Discussing the value of joining professional associations at Sew Pro in 2016

Last fall I attended Sew Pro, an industry event for those wanting to make quilting their business. Although it was mainly geared toward those that are just getting their feet wet in the industry, I thought I would attend in order to decide whether or not I wanted to add fabric design to the list of things I do. Tula Pink was one of the keynote speakers along with other fabric designers like Alison Glass and Pat Sloan. After listening to them share more about their process (and seeing their joy in loving what they do), I decided that yes, I wanted to give fabric design a try – so I set about trying to learn how to make that happen, thinking it would likely take a long time to break into that area of the industry.

Benartex Contempo

But then – literally two days after I arrived home from Sew Pro – I got a call from Benartex asking if I wanted to design fabric for their Contempo division. (“What the what??” was my initial response, LOL!!)  I’ve never had such a case of the universe listening to me and acting so quickly. For those that don’t know, BERNINA owns Benartex, and since I’m a BERNINA ambassador I guess I was already on their radar. But getting that phone call so soon after I decided I wanted to design fabric was really uncanny. Had they contacted me a week before, it very well could have been a different answer…

So to make a long story even longer… I’ve spent the time from then until now (in between other projects) working with Benartex on my debut line which will be in stores this November.

Designing and producing fabric is such a huge process that revolves around creating the images, translating them into digital printable files, finalizing them on paper, and then getting samples from the overseas mill to make sure it all looks good. The timing is always tricky and it’s hard to plan long term until you are on a regular designing schedule. (In anything new I do, there’s always stuff I don’t know that I don’t know, LOL!!) So that brings us to my crazy sewing weekend.

Modern Marks Swatches

Finalizing fabric swatches on paper before they go to the mill for printing…

While images were being sent to the printer and strikeoffs (small samples from the mill) were sent to me, I was also coordinating with BERNINA to teach a couple of machine quilting classes at their annual flagship event for dealers, BERNINA University. This year it was happening right in my backyard here in Las Vegas (again – thanks, Universe!!)

As luck would have it, my sample yardage arrived 4 days before the start of BU. Benartex told me that if there was anyway I could get a few sample quilt tops made in time, they’d be happy to hang them up in their booth at the event, and allow shop owners to order early.

Modern Marks by Christa Watson

Sample yardage for me to work with…

Now, I usually do all my own “stunts” – priding myself in creating every stitch of my quilts myself. But with just a 4 day lead time, I knew I’d need to call in the reinforcements. Thank goodness for a mom who sews and was willing to drive the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house on a moment’s notice. Between the two of us, we were also able to wrangle a few more sewing friends who took shifts throughout the weekend sewing, pinning, pressing, and helping us keep our sanity.

Sample Sewing Sweatshop!

With the help of 8 friends over 4 days, we were able to sew up 5 quilt tops!!

All in all, we were able to complete 5 tops just in the nick of time, and the feedback I received from attendees at the event made all the craziness worth it! Needless to say, I’ll have a bit more time to quilt them in time for fall quilt market, thank goodness.

Now, I know I run the risk of spoiling the surprise by sharing so much so early, but I just can’t help it – I hate keeping secrets!! If you happen to run your own shop, or you want to recommend my collection to your favorite local shop, please let them know they can contact Benartex directly for more info about Modern Marks by Christa Watson. The collection images won’t be up on Benartex’ website for a few more months, but shops “in the know” can pre-order now (wink…. wink…)

Modern Marks at BERNINA University

I enjoyed sharing sneak peeks of my fabric with attendees at BERNINA University.

Click here see the promotional flyer showing off digital images of the 5 quilt tops I made. I was in such a rush that I didn’t even photograph them when they were done, but I’m sure I’ll share a few more sneak peeks as I finish quilting them over the next few months. So stay tuned!

And now… I’m off to enjoy a much-anticipated family vacation at the beach. After the crazy busy (but fun) year I’m having, I’m looking forward to unplugging for a few days…








Christa’s Soap Box – I like to Share

Hi friends! It’s been a loooong time since I’ve written a “soap box” post! But don’t worry, they aren’t as scary or “controversial” as the name may imply, LOL!! My blog is my happy place, so I try keep things uplifting and positive around here. My soap box posts are just a chance for me to share my thoughts and feelings about quilting in general, with no other purpose than to be sort of a journal for me to capture what I’m thinking about, and a place for you to respond if you feel so inclined.

(I’ve included a few pictures from my week at Vermont Quilt Festival so that it’s not all text.)

Feathered Chevrons at Vermont Quilt Festival

Feathered Chevrons was my entry into the Faculty Exhibit at Vermont Quilt Festival 2017.

Recently I’ve been thinking about social media sharing. I have social media accounts in all the places (FB, IG, pinterest and soon to be YouTube.. yadayada.. – just go to the appropriate spot and type Christa Quilts), but I always return to my blog as my “home base.” It’s the one place I can go to write long form essays, share indepth written tutorials, and post lots of pics.

Don’t get me wrong, the bite-sized snippets that we all share on Instagram, Facebook, etc. are great. And you can’t beat the reach of a dedicated weekly email newsletter. However, I feel like there’s so much “noise” out there that sometimes things can get lost. I just recently returned from a teaching trip and I realized how much I enjoy the personal face-to-face interactions with my students in a classroom environment. Although there’s no way to replicate that exactly on social media, I feel like my blog is the next best thing and here’s why:

Christa Watson trunk show of quilts

Some of my quilts on display after my machine quilting trunk show.

When I teach an in-person class, the students are coming to me. They’ve signed up for the class, have prepared their class materials ahead of time, and they are excited to learn. Once they’ve read the class description, they know what to expect and we all have a fabulous time. We have created a community and many times we create relationships that extend far beyond the scheduled teaching day.

Student work - free motion quilting class with christa watson

Student practice in my free-motion quilting class.

When I blog, you come here to read what I’ve written, or be inspired by what I’m sharing. Many of you even leave comments which I do my best to answer to directly, and I really like that interaction. I really do consider you all friends here and try to treat my blog as an extension of my classroom. I’m NOT standing on a street corner (or better yet – at the entrance to a quilt shop) yelling “hey come take my class – I want to teach you something!” as crowds of people shuffle by on their way to do something else. Yet, that is sometimes how social media can feel. So. Much. Noise.

All of this is to say I’m going to start spending a little more time here, and posting more often. Don’t worry, I’ll still be in alltheotherplaces. And I have no set schedule that I have to keep up with. Sometimes I may only have time to share once a week with a quick update. Other times I may share several in-depth posts in a row. But it will definitely be thoughtful and with purpose.

At times my posts will need to be promotional (gotta pay the bills); other times they may be poignant (writing helps me think).

Student work from String of Pearls

Student work from my String of Pearls class.

After I wrote my fist book in 2015, things got really crazy really fast. Now 3 books, 2 Craftsy classes and one soon-to-be-revealed-big-project later, I realize that I miss blogging regularly. So I’m jumping back into it. Although I know I won’t post everyday, I realize I do best when I capture thoughts and ideas and write a little bit each day. So it may take me 3 days to write a post, but I’m excited to make blogging part of my regular routine again.

Student work on Facets from Machine Quilting with style by Christa Watson

Student work in my improv piecing class. We made Facets from Machine Quilting with Style.

It’s been nearly 7 years since I first started blogging and I still enjoy it – so thanks to all of you who have been with me since the beginning. And I offer a warm welcome to those of you who’ve just joined! Now I gotta go jot down some more ideas about my next post….

Happy quilting, friends!








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.


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 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.)


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!



Christa’s Soap Box – How the Heck I Sleep and Still Get so Much Done

As I travel around the country and meet so many great new friends, I’m often asked, ‘how do I get so much done?’, often followed by – ‘do I ever sleep?’ The quick answer is that I’m very organized, and yes, I LOVE to sleep! I wouldn’t have the energy to do as much as I do if I didn’t get my rest. But what I don’t do is waste a lot of time, or watch much TV.

Yes, I’m human like everyone else, and can get caught in the time-suck that is the internet. I can also get bogged down if I’m having an off day, or if I succumb to the social-media-comparison trap. But my desires to succeed in my business outweigh my desire to worry too much about what other people are doing, so I pretty much set daily/weekly/monthly goals for myself and try to stick to them as much as possible.


Being efficient – taking a trail walk with my husband and son to shoot some styled photography of my quilts. It’s an example of  family time, exercise, and work all rolled into one!

I think of it this way – quilting is my job and even though I think it’s the best job, I still treat it as my job, with work to be done on a daily basis, and larger projects that are spread out over a longer period of time. When I used to work as an accountant, no one ever wondered how I managed to complete my audits on time, or marveled at how many tax returns I was able to do during tax season. (Of course maybe if they had, perhaps I would have never left! Just kidding!!)

I will admit to having more ideas and things to accomplish than I’ll ever be able to do in my lifetime, but it is still fun to dream about getting them done…. someday. When I’m on a super tight time crunch like when writing a book, I’ll certainly slow down in other areas, such as blogging. I went from blogging almost daily in 2012 to about once a week at my busiest in 2015. Now I’m keeping up with a manageable schedule of about 2-3 times per week, with no pressure to stay on a strict schedule.

This year I probably said yes to travel too many times. Once I realized I was over doing it though, I slowed the pace by raising my teaching fees and only booking one event per month for 2018 and beyond. I certainly don’t want to do too much and experience burnout, so I’ve been much more careful about what I say yes to now.

I’ll end with an answer to another often asked question – ‘how do you achieve work/life balance?’ My answer is that my work is a part of my life, just like anyone else’s job is a part of theirs. If I didn’t enjoy quilting so much, I wouldn’t be doing it in all of my “free” time. 🙂

My Word for 2017 – Learn

My 2016 word of the year was ‘Relax.’ I’m not really sure how well I accomplished it, since I’m a self-professed workaholic. But, because my work and my hobby is one and the same, I could kind of fudge it since quilting really is a relaxing thing for me to do! For 2017 I have a lot of big goals on the horizon I want to accomplish. And they all revolve around one big word:


I need to learn how to design on the computer using adobe illustrator. There are some big projects I want to tackle next year that will require this skill. I’ve enrolled in a couple of online courses (Intro to Surface Pattern Design by Bonnie Christine on Skillshare and one from Alma Loveland on Atly.) Plus I just found out my library supports a free Lynda.com subscription so I’ll definitely put that to good use!


The first thing I learned to draw in Illustrator was these raindrops, which was pretty fun. I have a LONG way to go, but I’m tackling it one day at a time. Follow me on instagram @christaquilts to watch my progress unfold as I practice for about 15-30 min. each day.

I also want to learn how to better manage my time. (I’ve already starting putting one thing into practice regarding time management, saying  more “no” and less “yes!”) I’ve also begun using Toodledo – a computer and phone app that is basically a glorified to do list. I’m getting in the habit of writing everything down I need to do and breaking it into smaller steps. It’s sort of the same process that David Allen advocates in his best selling book Getting Things Done.


Jason wants to learn how to shoot and edit YouTube videos so we can start offering short video tutorials to help enhance my books, patterns and classes. He’s added a few  technical books to his library, including the one he’s studying right now, The DSLR Filmmaker’s Handbook.

Learning a new skill requires practice and patience and lots of extra time. It will require us to be efficient so we can squeeze our study time into our otherwise busy schedules. (It reminds me of when we were young newlyweds in college, but that’s another story for another day!) Rest assured, if and when our independent studies turn into something tangible, you’ll be the first to know! 🙂

If you have a word for the year, or a big goal you’d like to accomplish, please leave me a comment. I’d love to know what it is. Here’s to a fantastic 2017!


Christa’s Soap Box – Why I Make My Own Quilts

Recently, as I’ve been working long hours in my business, I’ve been thinking more and more about WHY I like to make my own quilts and do all my own “stunt sewing.” What I mean by that is that I enjoy every part of the quilt making process. From designing the pattern, to finishing the final binding stitches by hand, I really do enjoy taking ownership of the entire process. What you may or may not know is that many designers enlist the help of others to complete their projects, and this is TOTALLY OK!!


In addition to teaching how to quilt, I love talking about the business of quilting, too!

Some enjoy designing, some enjoy piecing, some enjoy quilting or finishing, and some like to do it all. For a prolific designer that has weekly or monthly deadlines, many times there’s simply not enough time to do all of the work themselves, so they enlist the help of “sewing fairies” (sometimes paid, sometimes not, depending on the arrangement). This can be mutually beneficial to both parties, each getting to do what they love best. After all, the worst thing a sewing professional can do is miss his or her deadlines, if they want to stay in business and build relationships with other industry companies.

Binding by Hand

I’m one of those weirdos that actually loves to hand bind. I love the slow-pace stitching!

I’ve had many offers both to help with my sewing, or to be a stunt sewer or quilter for others. And every time I’ve politely declined. I’ve been pondering why that is. The best I can come up with (other than my type A control freak personality that I try to keep under wraps) is that I’m afraid it would feel more like “work” and less like “fun” if I only did one thing over and over and over.

While machine quilting is certainly my favorite part of the quilt-making process, it’s not the only thing I want to do. I actually tried machine quilting for hire many years ago and it was not the right fit. Quilting for me is very meditative, and each part of the process engages a different area of my brain. I actually get bored if I only do one thing over and over, so by constantly switching back and forth between designing, piecing, quilting, and hand-sewing it allows me to fully enjoy each part of the process. I’ve even come to enjoy basting, once I figured out an efficient method!

Busy Hands Quilt

Machine quilting is my favorite technique – but I enjoy the entire process.

I realize that in the end, doing all of my own work will mean that I make less quilts. But I’m totally okay with that. I also prefer to make one quilt at a time from start to finish, rather than having a whole bunch of WIP’s (works in progress) going on at the same time. That’s just too much mental chaos for me, LOL!! I enjoy the process of making, but I also love the thrill of getting to the finish and checking it off my list!

Because teaching machine quilting is a big part of my focus right now, I think it helps me relate to my students by piecing my own quilts. Quilting a real quilt is a LOT different than demonstrating a free-motion design on piece of plain fabric. So, by quilting a quilt top I’ve pieced myself, I’ve gained experience on how best to prepare a quilt top FOR machine quilting. I also have lots of time to think about what machine quilting designs will look best on the quilt I’m currently making, while I’m piecing it. I’m of the opinion that “you can’t rush art” so by having this extra thinking time, I’m usually ready to go once it’s time to quilt.


I love a yummy stack of finished quilts!

I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about my process, and why I do things the way I do them. Again, remember, this is is NOT a one size fits all strategy.  It’s just what works for me. My biggest goal with quilting is to help encourage you to do what works for best for YOU.  🙂

So what are your thoughts? Do you prefer one part of the process over any other? There are no wrong answers here, I’m just curious. 🙂

Christa’s Soap Box – Why I Enter Quilt Shows and a Few More Thoughts

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a series of “soap box” articles. These aren’t meant to be controversial, but rather a chance for me to gather my thoughts on certain topics and share them with you. It’s great to have a conversation about quilting that goes a little deeper than the usual quilt tutorial or eye candy inspiration. I’ve been so crazy busy over last year that I’ve barely had time to think big thoughts, let alone share them with you, LOL!!

Participation Ribbon

My first national quilt entry was QuiltCon 2013. At the time they gave hand made ribbons to ALL entrants. It’s the only QuiltCon ribbon I’ve ever received and I love it to death!!

Quilt show season is upon us so I thought I’d write a little about why I like to enter my work into shows. I do it for three basic reasons:

  1. To give myself a deadline to shoot for. I’ve realized that if I don’t give myself a deadline to do something, then it just doesn’t happen!!
  2. To share my work with a wider audience. Because quilting is my job (and IMHO the best one in the world!), it behooves me to come up with creative ways to get my name out there.
  3. Because it’s fun to see my quilt hanging in a big show and sometimes, on a lucky day, I just may snag a ribbon.Fractured Puzzle RibbonSome shows give monetary awards while others don’t. It depends on the show.

Now, I have to say, entering a show isn’t for the faint of heart. Most large shows are juried, which means that if there are more entries than spots in the show, a small panel of jurors will look through all of the entries and select what they feel will be the best representation for a show. Getting into a juried show can be thrilling; getting rejected can feel like a punch to the gut, especially if you made a quilt specifically for that show.

Facets Quilt

Facets got a ribbon at AQS Paducah, but was a “quiltconreject” for 2017, along with 4 other entries. That’s ok because I know it’s a very subjective process – you win some, you lose some!!

Plus, it’s expensive to enter shows. The average price of entering a quilt in a large show can range anywhere from $10 to $25 per quilt, or more, and there’s no refund if you quilt doesn’t get accepted. Then you have to pay for the shipping, depending on the show it can either be one way, or both!! I look at these costs as business expenses (again, because it’s part of my job), but they can definitely add up!


For the record, here are the other 4 quilts I entered that didn’t make it into QuiltCon: Candy Pop, Feathered Chevrons, Lightning, Square in a Square. I had my 5 second pity party and then I moved on. Each of them has already been in another show, or will be shown in one soon.

With many of us sharing our work online and in social media, getting likes and positive comments all the time, it can feel a bit jarring when the quilt show circuit isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. But in the end, whether a quilt gets into a show or not, or whether it wins recognition or not, I think it’s still tons of fun to try.

Many people enter larger shows forgetting that there are a ton of local opportunities, too. I entered my local guild’s show for many years (and still do), until I finally got up the guts to enter my first national show (QuiltCon in 2013). I knew the competition would be fierce even the first time around, so I did a lot of research into what makes a “show quality” quilt and did my best to adhere to those standards (a clean and appropriately quilted quilt with square corners, flat edges and evenly applied binding). Luckily, one of them got in back then, and each year I’ve submitted, I’ve gotten both rejections and acceptances.


The back of my QuiltCon 2017 accepted entry. It’s all I can show for now since it’s for publication. It’s quilted as heavily as those that were rejected, so it’s all just a big crap-shoot anyhoo!! 🙂

I also enter lots of other shows on a regular basis, too, so I know the drill. However, with each entry, it’s still nerve-wracking, knowing I could be kissing my hard earned money goodbye. Quilting is definitely an emotional outlet and there’s always raw feelings –  elation when one gets accepted and dejection when one doesn’t. But I can say the more shows I enter, the easier it gets. They are all run with similar rules and deadlines so once you know the system, it’s easier to get into a routine.  Plus, the rejections get easier to handle, too. And here’s the biggest tip I’ve learned with quilt shows – enter ALL of them! What gets rejected from one show has many times gotten a ribbon at another show. So you never really know until you try.

fractured-puzzle_resizeMy entry into the MQG challenge that didn’t make in into QuiltCon 2016 but went on to win an award at MQX later in the year. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – until you are tired of trying and then it’s totally fine to move onto something else!!

So if you are thinking about entering a show, or nursing your wounds from not getting into one that you really liked, just remember your work is amazing because you did it. I bet you had a great time, making it, too. And if quilt show entering is not your thing, that’s totally okay! It definitely takes a thick skin to get over feeling rejected and it’s hard not to take it personally. But here’s one thing I can guarantee: if you share your quilts with me and my facebook friends, we would absolutely love to see them and will give you a virtual high-five!!

Related Reading

Here’s a roundup of posts I’ve written on similar topics – there’s a lot of info here:

List of shows to enter with modern categories:

**Disclaimer*** I welcome your considerate and thoughtful comments on this post. This article came about as my response to all of the chatter about QuiltCon on instagram over the last few days, both positive and negative. If you want to see an amazing virtual quilt show, check out the hashtags #quiltcon2017 and #quiltconreject. There’s some amazing work that just blows me away!!

QuiltCon Article from NQA

I love being a cheerleader for modern quilting. When I stumbled upon the style in 2012 and attended the first QuiltCon in 2013, it really changed the course of my quilting career in so many positive ways. I was able to meet people making art that really resonated with me and I was able to find my voice within the larger quilting community.

Back in 2014-2015 I wrote a regular column about machine quilting for the National Quilting Association, which sadly, went defunct at the end of last year. During my time writing for them, I was also able to co-author an article about QuiltCon with Jacquie Gering for NQA’s magazine, The Quilting Quarterly.  Because I’ve grown my readership quite a bit since that time, I wanted to republish this article so that any of you who missed it the first time around get a chance to read it. This is especially important for those of you who may not have yet attended QuiltCon, or might be going for the first time in 2017. It will give you a better idea of what to expect when you go. I’m re-sharing it here with Jacquie’s permission as well as the former editor of NQA magazine. Enjoy!

QuiltCon Article page 1

QuiltCon Article page 2

QuiltCon Article page 3

QuiltCon Article page 4

So I did a crazy thing this week….. (HMQS 2016)

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a type A – plan it like I mean it type of person. I live and sleep by my daily to do lists and am the last person in the world who has time to be spontaneous! But when I got the email earlier in the week, that I had won an award for one of my quilts at HMQS (The Home Machine Quilting Show), I knew I had to drop everything to drive 6 hours to Utah to attend the awards ceremony!

HMQS quilt show

Plumb Lines, 2nd Place Modern at HMQS, from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

I’ve had a bit of good luck lately (winning 2nd places at Paducah and MQX), but after gut-wrenchingly replying that no, I could not attend those awards ceremonies, when opportunity came knocking the 3rd time around, I just couldn’t say no!!

So I corralled the troops, hopped in the car and picked up my good buddy Cory Allender on the way, who also received the news that she had won an award. I tried to convince my other friend Vicki Ruebel into going with us since she also won an award, but she had a little more sense of responsibility than I did!

Quilting Room
Mom just moved and showed me her new place – including the biggest sewing room ever!

Thank goodness my mom actually lives halfway between here and the show so we were able to crash at her place for the night and add her to our crew. We got up bright and early the next day to continue the trek to HMQS and got there just in time to check out the show and get a good seat for the ceremony.

And thank goodness for Cory who agreed to drive most of the way there and back so that I could get a little computer work done in the car (including writing up this blog post!)


It’s quite an experience riding in the back seat of my own car. It was quite cozy!

Just before the ceremony started, the anticipation was killing me. I had entered 3 quilts, (all from my new book) in the show, in two different categories, and had no clue as to which one won, or what placement it took. When they announced that Plumb Lines had taken 2nd in Modern, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Honestly, it was the last one I had expected to place. Not that I don’t love these quilts and pour my heart and soul into them, but this quilt was made in a hurry, and on a deadline, rather than specifically FOR a show.

Plumb Lines 2nd Place

I was so excited to finally be able to collect my award in person at the show!!

My smart friend Cory once told me that you’ll have more fun entering shows if you don’t STRIVE for it, and make quilts that please you, rather than trying to please any judge. Wise words indeed.

Cory Allender

Elizabeth’s Butterflies by Cory Allender, 2nd Place Utah’s Own, HMQS

Probably the most fun thing about this whole experience was being able to walk on stage and say thanks to a wonderful organization that puts on such a tremendous show. That, and being able to tell them that it was my BQF (best quilting friend) who had won 3rd!

Vicki and I have this thing going where we are okay to leapfrog our quilts. She beat me recently at a local show and we have sort of a friendly competition going on here – all in good fun, of course!

Bullesye quilt 3rd

Bullseye by Vicki Ruebel – 3rd place Modern, HMQS

So my whole point in sharing this with you is to encourage you to be a little more spontaneous with your quilting, too. Whether that means going to a show you didn’t plan on, or entering a quilt show, maybe for the first time ever – go ahead and do it. I mean – what have you got to lose?? (Except maybe a little time and sleep!) 🙂

My Other Entries in the Show

HMQS Modern Entry

Directionally Challenged in the Modern Category. Read more about this quilt here.

hmqs entry

Swirling Butterflies in the Conventional Machine Category.
See a better picture and learn more here.

Facets Quilt Wins 2nd Place Modern in Paducah 2016!

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

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

Facets Quilt

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

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

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

AQS Awards Ceremony

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

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

Modern Quilts at Paducah

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

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


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

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

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

Facets Quilt AQS Paducah

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

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

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

Facets Machine Quilting

Facets Quilting Detail – photo courtesy of Kathy Mathews.