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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sneak Peek #1 from Piece and Quilt with Precut

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

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

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

Sneak Peek #1 from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quilt Las Vegas 2017 – A Recap and a New Milestone

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

Machine Quilting demo by Christa Watson

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

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

My Quilts in the Show

Churn Dash Slide from I Love Churn Dashes

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

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

Machine Quilting Detail by Christa Watson

Machine Quilting Detail on Churn Dash Slide

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

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

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

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

Quatrefoil Applique by Christa Watson

Quatrefoil Applique, 1st Place Applique

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swirling Butterflies by Christa Watson

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

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

Detail free-motion_quilting

Free motion improv quilting detail.

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

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

Fractured Puzzle by Christa Watson

Fractured Puzzle, 2nd Place Modern

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

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

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

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

Puzzle Box Pattern

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

Other Favorite Quilts from the Show

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

Vicki Ruebel Machine Quilting

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

Viva Las Vegas by Melissa Curley

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

Machine quilting students

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

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

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The Making of Diamond in the Rough Part 2 – The Quilting

Click here to read about Part 1 – My design process for Diamond in the Rough.

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

Diamond in the Rough hanging at QuiltCon 2017. I’m with Linda Permann, my editor at Craftsy. I credit her with helping me put a name to the process I use to figure out how to quilt each quilt. It’s called “The Quilter’s Path.” Click here to register for my class of the same name.

Now I’m excited to tell you about how I quilted Diamond in the Rough, since that’s my favorite part of making any quilt! First of all, I printed off a copy of the EQ7 design on a regular 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. (You can do the same thing by taking a picture of your quilt top and printing it onto paper – black and white is perfectly fine!!)

Machine Quilting Plan

This is the actual sketch I submitted to QuiltCon Magazine when it was accepted.

I always, always make a quilting plan before I quilt so that I can figure out the quilting path I’ll take to get it done. It’s like a puzzle – figuring out what designs I want to put where and how to maneuver around the quilt with the fewest stops and starts. I’m not too worried about scale here. I’m more interested in seeing how the texture of the quilting will look and where I may need to switch thread colors.

Of course, I have to sketch with black ink to see my design, so my quilting plan is pretty rough and quite stark when you look at it. However, from experience I know that I prefer to use a blending thread so that all you see is the overall texture, rather than the individual stitches.

Diamond in the Rough quilting detail

Overall, I’m really happy with how the quilting turned out. I’m just a little bummed that you can’t see the quilting in the black areas. I quilted a textural pebble design in the black triangles. Although I love the contrast of black and white, each time I quilt on black, I remind myself that it doesn’t show up as well as I would like. So I may need to use less black fabric in the future!!

I’m really happy with how the “Switchbacks” and “String of Pearls” quilting turned out in the white areas of the quilt. I teach how to quilt both of those designs in my book Machine Quilting with Style. It was super fun to combine them together in this quilt!

Quilting Detail on Diamond in the Rough

I used very dark gray, red, and white 50 weight cotton thread from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt collection for the machine quilting which I did all on my BERNINA. You can sort of see the pebble quilting on the top row of black diamonds in the image above.

Here’s a view from the back of the quilt where you can see the pebbles better. I normally use the same color thread in the top and bobbin so that any tension imperfections are not noticeable. However, since I didn’t want the dark gray thread showing up too strongly on the light back, I used an invisible thread in the bobbin when I quilted the pebbles. Here’s a tip: wind your bobbin slowly and only fill it half full!

Managing the quilt bulk while machine quilting

First I stitch in the ditch with the BERNINA dual feed before adding free-motion quilting.

Here’s the quilt in progress underneath my machine. I use a very technical process I call “scrunching and smooshing” to wrestle the bulk of the quilt. It’s really no more complicated that twisting and shoving enough of it out of the way so I can see what I’m doing. Here’s another tip: when working with a large quilt on a small machine, just remember you are only quilting about 5-6 inches of the quilt at any time, so it’s normal to stop and shift a LOT!!

QuiltCon 2017 Cover

Right now you can get a digital copy of my Diamond in the Rough quilt pattern in QuiltCon magazine. It includes the instructions for the piecing only, but when the rights revert back to me next year, I’ll release it on my own, most likely in multiple sizes with quilting suggestions.

I was pleased with the comments I received from the QuiltCon judges about the quilt:

  1. Strong offset focal point.
  2. Varied quilting motifs were well chosen and fit areas well.
  3. Strong geometric shapes create graphic visual appeal.

I’ve had at least one quilt in each QuiltCon and have yet to win a ribbon, but it’s still fun to get them accepted. In fact, the main reason I submitted this design for the magazine was that it was a guaranteed entry into the show. Since the other 5 I entered didn’t get in, I was really happy that this one did.

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

Making this quilt reminds me what I love most about the modern aesthetic: strong geometric forms, minimalist designs, and plenty of negative space for fun machine quilting. Although I love ALL quilts, making those on the modern end of the design spectrum truly make my heart happy!

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Craftsy Sale – All Machine Quilting Classes Under $20

I love a great sale don’t you? From now through the end of the day on Monday, March 13 (11:59 PM MDT), you can get all Craftsy classes on sale for under 20 bucks. How cool is that? I know many of you have signed up for my Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path which is fabulous!! Thank you!! xoxo. If you enjoyed that one, here are some other quilting classes I’d highly recommend by the very talented Christina Camelli::

Machine Quilting ClassClick here to get The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting for $19.99

And

Wild quiltingClick here to get Wild Quilting for just $19.99

Of course, if you haven’t had a chance to sign up for my class yet, I’d recommend that, too!

Click here to get The Quilter’s Path for just $19.99!

Then learn how to make a quilting plan and coming both walking foot quilting with free motion motifs. Happy quilting, friends!!

Three Pinwheel Quilts: From EQ7 Sketch to Finished Quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pink Pinwheels quilt designed in EQ7

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

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

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

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

EQ7 sketch of teal/gray pinwheel quilt by Christa Watson

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

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

Finished Teal Pinwheels quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Answers to Your Machine Quilting Challenges – Part 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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New Pattern Release – Positive Direction

I’m excited to announce after a long hiatus that I am releasing individual patterns once again! The first one of the new batch is called Positive Direction, and it’s now available as a downloadable PDF through my Craftsy pattern shop.

Positive Direction quilt pattern by Christa Quilts

Positive Direction was originally featured in Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine and available in one size only. But whenever I re-release a pattern on my own, I offer it in four sizes which gives you a lot more options to customize it.

Positive Direction Pattern Cover by Christa Quilts

Positive Direction includes patterns for four sizes: Crib, Lap, Throw, and Full.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern Requirements

Use up strips or scraps to make this fun, modern quilt!

Because I think machine quilting suggestions are just as important as piecing instructions, in the pattern, I’ve included a quilting plan along with directions on how I quilted it. I’ve also included several detailed photographs to inspire you on your quilting journey. In my patterns, I never include the words “quilt as desired.” I want you to have just as much confidence quilting it as you do piecing it, so I try to make it clear and easy to understand, if you want to re-create what I did.

Machine Quilting Straight Lines and Pebbles

I combined straight lines and pebble quilting to highlight the pieced design. I used Moda Scraps in shades of red, aqua and navy to create a modern Americana themed color scheme that looks great year-round. I quilted it using a light gray thread from my Aurifil Piece and Quilt Neutrals collection.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

Choose your favorite colors and prints to make this quilt uniquely your own! The key to effective contrast in this design is choosing a light background such as white, a medium neutral such as gray, and then three of your favorite colors in strong solids or prints.

Click here to purchase a PDF of Positive Direction.

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

All photography taken by my talented husband Jason in the desert behind our home.

If you have any questions or want to share your progress while making this quilt, please share them in my Facebook Group: Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see!

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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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My Quilting Stencils in Love Patchwork and Quilting

Today I have fun news to share! I worked with the lovely folks oversees to include a fun freebie in the latest issue (#44) of Love Patchwork and Quilting!

Love Patchwork and Quilting Cover Issue 44

Love Patchwork and Quilting likes to include a special gift to go along with each issue. They contacted me about 6 months ago, asking if we could collaborate to create some quilting stencils based on quilting motifs from my books, Machine Quilting with Style and The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.

Christa Watson Stencil

I’ve never had my own stencils before, so this was a fun opportunity!

Christa Watson Books

Click here to get signed copies of my books.

That was an easy “yes” for me to say! I chose 5 of the most versatile designs from both books: Swirls and Pearls (shown below), Boxes, Double Loops, Continuous Spiral and Square Spiral.

Stencils Deisgned by Christa Watson

Although you don’t need stencils to quilt the designs in my books, they are a fun way to see if you like quilting on marked lines. The issue also includes a short profile of me and my books along with some bonus quilting tips.

Love Patchwork and Quilting is produced overseas, but is available locally at Joann, Barnes & Noble, or your local quilt shop. It’s also available by subscription. Click here for more information on where to buy.

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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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