Piece and Quilt with Precuts Quilt 5: Starstruck

In my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts, I teach how to quilt fun motifs using a walking foot, free-motion, or both! Today’s quilt, Starstruck is the first in the free-motion section. Just as in the previous walking foot section, the quilting designs build in complexity allowing you to gain confidence as you go!

Starstruck by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Starstruck Photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane.

Design It

All of the quilts in the book were designed using EQ7 software from The Electric Quilt Company. I’m the type of person who needs to have everything all planned out before I start cutting because I want to know what the final design will look like before I begin. I’ve tried designing on the fly as I create, but my brain just doesn’t work that way, LOL!! So take a look at what I was able to create in EQ7 before I made the quilt:

Starstruck Design in EQ7

Although I didn’t worry about putting the fabrics in the exact same position or rotating the stars the exact same way, I did use the same fabric swatches that were in the quilt. This allows me to really see if the design will work the way I want it to! Of course I could always go back into my EQ7 design and change it to match the finished quilt, but this was good enough for me!

Check out what the same design looks like when I switch out the fabrics for a more colorful palette! I love how easy it is to virtually recolor my quilts in EQ7. You may recognize this as my fabric collection that comes out this fall. Last week on my blog I shared my work in progress, and of course I’ll share the final finish once the fabric is available (in November.)

Starstruck using Modern Marks

The colors for Modern Marks are a little more vibrant on screen than they are in person.

Piece It

Starstruck is made from 24 fat quarters that can be separated into lights and darks like my neutrals version shown below. Or if you want it to be bright and cheerful like the one shown above, you can pair up fat quarters from your favorite colorful bundle to create contrast. Each fat quarter will make one center star, one background of another star, and part of the pieced border, so it’s fun to mix and match the prints!

Quilting Loops on Starstruck from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

An allover edge to edge design is the easiest way to practice free-motion quilting

Quilt It

When you want to learn a new free motion design, the best way to practice is on a real quilt. Start on one side of the quilt and meander your way across the quilt until you’ve covered every inch of it with your free-motion design. You’ll be a pro at that motif by the time you finish!

Machine quilting closeup on Starstruck

I chose Aurifil cotton 50 weight 2326 Sand for the machine quilting. It works well with neutrals.

I quilted a fun loop and star design on Starstruck but you could easily throw in other motifs like hearts, flowers and more. And if your stitches aren’t perfect, that’s ok. The best way to hide imperfect quilting is to surround it with more imperfect quilting, so all you see is the overall texture rather than the individual stitches.

More Starstruck inspiration

Isn’t it great to see the designs presented in different fabrics? Check out these three alternate versions below and be sure and visit each bloggers’ site for more about their process and more giveaways!!

Sherri Noel – Rebecca Mae Designs

Star Struck by Sherri Noel

Sherri Noel of Rebecca Mae Designs chose to go full color with a sprinkling of gold and gray. She was able to create good contrast with the bold busy fabrics, and her pretty picture makes me want to cuddle up on that comfy porch!!

Head over to Sherri’s blog to see more of her process including some closeups of her awesome quilting.

Lissa LaGreca – Lovingly Lissa

Starstruck by Lissa LaGreca

Here’s a view of Lissa’s gorgeous quilt top. I love the soft tan, brown, and gray neutrals she chose. I once heard that the hallmark of a great quilt design is that it will look good, no matter which fabrics you choose!

Hop on over to her blog at Lovingly Lissa to see how she quilted it. It’s a lovely finish!

Sandra Healy Designs

Sandra Healey Starstruck

Sandra of Sandra Healy Designs is working on two different projects using the Starstruck blocks. She’s working on a table runner using the fabrics with a white background above, and a pillow with a pretty pink background below.

In the book I recommend chain piecing all of the blocks at once and then lay them out into a pleasing arrangement. This allows you to finish your tops faster which leaves you more time for fun machine quilting.

Starstruck Pillow

Didn’t she do a fantastic job with the quilting on her cushion? She was able to get over her “fear of free-motion” with a little practice and I think she did an amazing job! Head over to Sandra’s blog to read more about her progress with the book!

Today’s Gift: EQ7 Education + Win Your Own Copy!

Because I’m so busy traveling and teaching machine quilting, I’m not able to share my knowledge of EQ7 in person as much as I’d like. So here’s the next best thing – click the links below to download  two PDF class outlines from my previous live classes.


You can also click this link to peruse the EQ site for tons of self-study tutorials. I have to say, the folks at Electric Quilt give the greatest customer support I’ve seen. They’ll help you answer any and all questions you may have.

Then be sure and pop over to the EQ blog for your chance to win your very own copy of EQ7. I have to warn you though – you may spend more time designing than you actually do quilting!

Signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts

If you’ve been inspired so far, don’t forget to grab a signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.
I’m here to cheer you on in your quilt making journey, every step of the way!

Click here to view the blog hop schedule


























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.








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

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!










It’s a Year Full of Giveaways from Electric Quilt

I had so much fun teaching EQ7 to two groups of students at QuiltCon, and I’m looking forward to teaching a more in-depth 3 day class at EQ Academy coming up April 21-23 in Ohio. But one of the best things about being a designer and EQ7 artist is getting to know the wonderful folks behind the company.

EQ_academy_groupMary Ellen Krantz and I will be teaching EQ7 for beginners, Barb Vlack will be teaching an intermediate level EQ7 class and Yvonne Menear will be teaching EQ stitch.

The Electric Quilt Company was founded by Penny McMorris and Dean Neumann in 1991 (coincidentally the year I graduated from high school) and it’s been going strong now for 25 years? Can you believe it!!


To celebrate such a milestone my friends at EQ have partnered up with various companies in the quilting industry to bring you a year full of amazing giveaways! Each month, one of their industry partners will be giving away a copy of EQ7 of their site, and EQ will be giving a way a prize pack of quilting goodies on theirs. So there’s 2 chances to win each month!

Who’s ready to win???

EQ Row Along Starts September 1st

Do you enjoy making row quilts? Some blogger friends of mine are hosting a row-along in September and I invite you to join them! You do NOT have to have Electric Quilt software to join.


Here are the Details:

Doesn’t that sound fun?


Join Me at EQ Academy Next Spring

Good news for those of you who wish to take an EQ7 class from me but didn’t get into my classes at QuiltCon – I’ll be teaching at EQ Academy in Ohio next spring! Here are the details:


Getting Started With EQ7 with Christa Watson

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016 – Saturday, April 23, 2016
Location: Perrysburg, OH
Skill level: Beginner

In this comprehensive 3-day workshop, students will enjoy hands-on computer instruction for 6 full hours of class each day. In addition to learning the basics of EQ7 for Windows or Mac, additional topics will include: using the Block Library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing original quilts, scaling and numbering foundation piecing templates, applying a layer of quilting, calculating yardage, and more. Gain confidence in your design skills, knowing how your finished quilt will look before making the first cut!

Class registration opens on August 18th.

In addition to my class, there will be three other classes offered at the same time to meet your needs. Students will register for one class only and will be with the same instructor for 3 days. We’ll be BQF’s (Best Quilting Friends) by the end of the week!

Click here for all EQ Academy classes. I hope to see you there. 🙂


Why I Love Electric Quilt

First things first, my friends at Electric Quilt did not sponsor this post in any way. 🙂 However, they recently featured me in an ad campaign for a couple of magazines (McCall’s Quilting May/June and American Patchwork & Quilting June issue) so I thought I would share a little bit more about why I enjoy using their software, plus show a few designs that are a blast from my past. I’ve come a long way!


I bought the first version of the program way back when it was EQ4. Back in the days when I was teaching a lot locally (before I discovered modern quilting and realized people would buy my patterns), I used EQ to draw diagrams which I would use as handouts for my classes. The user functionality was somewhat limited and I printed everything in black in white,  but I was able to do pretty much whatever I needed to for my class presentations.

20150320_eqsketch1An early EQ5 sketch where I took a commercial pattern, redrafted and resized it.

I have to admit that I’ve never used the calculate fabric function, because I prefer to do my own math. But, I use most of the other functionality and especially love to be able to import swatches of fabrics and print off full color images of my designs. I also save images of the quilt and individual blocks in photoshop, and then manipulate them to use when writing my patterns.

Over the years I’ve upgraded to EQ5, then EQ6, tried it for awhile on a Mac using parallels, upgraded to EQ7 on a regular PC, and am finally using the EQ7 Mac version natively and I love it. Although it’s still written for windows, there is no difference in functionality between the standard version and the Mac version that I can tell.

20150320_eqsketch2An EQ6 design I made for my oldest son once I learned how to import fabric swatches directly into the program. He sketched the space shuttle and I turned it into a quilt with wonky stars.

I have to tell you I am by no means an expert EQ user. However, I did force myself to sit down and go through the manual, page by page and try out all the tutorials. I’m a learn-as-needed sort of person, so now whenever I need to learn how a particular function works, I just go through their help system, and check out the tutorials and lessons on the EQ site. When all else fails, I google what I’m looking for and will usually run across someone’s step-by-step blog tutorial.

I also really like how many other EQ users will share some of their project download files for free to other users. I’ve also shared quite a few, and you can find my free downloads here.

20150320_eqsketchtempleOne of my early EQ7 experiments where I redrew a paper pieced block to f it inside of a larger frame and added applique lettering. This was a gift for a dear friend & church leader.

So far EQ7 has served me well, and I now use it to design every quilt I make. I will have to disappoint some of you though, and let you know I’ve decided not to pursue teaching classes on how to use it. I did think about this for awhile, but honestly, my time is limited and I’d rather spend it teaching piecing and quilting classes rather than software classes. But the good news is that there are tons of online classes at EQ University that you can check out.

Yes, purchasing EQ software is an investment in both money and time, but for me it was totally worth the cost!

Countdown to Christmas with Free EQ7 Designs

I’m excited to be featured on the Do You EQ blog today by my friends over at Electric Quilt! For the next 3 weeks they are sharing 15 free downloadable designs by many of your favorite EQ7 designers. Of course, you need to have the software to use the designs, but once you’ve saved them, you can play around with them and change them up however you like! Click here to join the fun. 🙂

EQ7 Christmas Countdown 1Modern Trees, my most popular Quilt Along is being featured today!

Speaking of EQ7 fun, I just got the latest version of EQ Stash, a downloadable collection of hundreds (thousands?) of fabric swatches by all the major fabric companies including Andover (Allison Glass Handcrafted anyone?), Art Gallery, Free Spirit, Kona Solids, and much much more. This will save me tons of time when picking out palettes! Click here to check it out (it’s like super-cheap).


How to Calculate Quilty Math – Cheat Sheets and a Free EQ7 Design

I had a fun time presenting my MQG webinar topic, Fun With Figures: How to Calculate Quilty math. If you are a Modern Quilt Guild member and you missed it, it will be available as a recording on the MQG community site.

For the presentation, I put together a few formulas and cheat sheets of numbers I use to help me in my calculations. I’m happy to share those with you.

Click here to view my Quilty Math page.

Ice CrystalsIce Crystals, designed in EQ7 by Christa Watson. (C) 2014 for Personal Use Only.

Just for fun, I also designed this easy quilt design called Ice Crystals. During the presentation, I went through step-by-step how to calculate the yardage to make this quilt. Since I designed it in Electric Quilt I thought I would share it with you as an EQ7 download.

EQClick here for the EQ7 download (you must have the software for this to work).

If you are inspired to make a quilt from this design, I’d love to see it!