Writing Book 4 – Part 2: Contract Accepted, Work Begins

If you are new to my blog, I’ve begun documenting my progress as I write a book from start to finish. In my last post, I discussed the book proposal process, so be sure to check that out! I’m currently working on my fourth book, and kinda maybe sorta know more about what I’m doing this time around. Just kidding about the “sorta” part, but it’s always a learning process, for sure!!

Christa Watson Books

I’ve written 3 books on my own and have been featured in numerous collaborations with my publisher Martingale/That Patchwork Place, a few of which are shown here.

So here’s what’s happened so far. After I submitted my proposal back in April of this year, I met with my publisher in person in May at Spring Quilt Market 2018 in Portland, OR. I had an in-depth meeting with the acquisitions editor and content editor to nail down the specifics of what the new book will be about (machine quilting – duh!!)

I had originally wanted to go in one direction with the book, but when they pointed out that some of the content I wanted to include was already covered in my first three books, they helped me narrow down my focus and solidify the overall direction for this new book.

Martingale Collaboration Books

Two new Martingale titles that debuted at Spring Quilt Market include Fat Quarter Favorites, featuring my quilt on the cover, and Lunch Hour Patchwork which includes my modern mini.

A couple of months after our meeting at market, Martingale offered me the formal contract in writing, which of course I accepted, and I made myself a time line/to do list of all the steps I’ll need to finish on time.

The first section of the book isn’t due until the next February and the final manuscript, instructions, and samples are due by the end of summer 2019. I’m thrilled because this will give me plenty of time to create the book along with other new and exciting projects I have in the works.

The most wonderful part about working with a publisher is that although I create all of the content, including “placeholder” photos and illustrations, Martingale has a team of professionals who photograph and illustrate everything based on my images. I love it when they take what I create and make it look even more beautiful!

Publishing Agreement for my Next Book

Happy mail! Getting the contract in the mail is always an exciting day!

Book 4 (as I will be calling it until the cover art is finalized) is slated to be 96 pages which is the same length as my most recent book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Of course that can change depending on final editing, and it’s due to be published in September of 2020 (also subject to change). I have a working title for the book, but even that can be tweaked.

As an example, for my first three books, the publisher named the first two while I titled the third. I have a feeling that the title for Book 4 is something we both are in agreement on! (Sorry for all the teases, but I’m giving away only as much as I can at this point.)

I can’t say enough about how excited I am to work on this new book. It’s actually something that many of my students have been asking for, so I love being able to meet their needs. And the best thing about machine quilting is that it’s timeless: the ideas I create now will be just as relevant in two years when the book is available for sale. Even though that seems like a long way off right now, I know that time is going to fly!

Christa at Quilt Market 2015

Doing a demo for my first book at quilt market in 2015

While I can’t discuss the specifics of my contract, I can tell you that royalties are based on the wholesale price of the book, and I will also have the opportunity to purchase them wholesale myself. In fact, most authors who sell their own books make more from direct sales of their books than they do in royalties, so it’s something to keep in mind if you are considering writing a book, or purchasing a book directly from the author.

Now the real work begins. The toughest part for me is balancing out my workdays so that I work on my book a little each week, rather than trying to cram in everything right before the deadline. I’m currently planning in detail everything that needs to be done, and my publisher was fabulous to work with on the timing, since I let them know I wouldn’t really be able to start on it in earnest until after Fall Market later this year.

Machine Quilting Demo

Machine quilting demo to promote my latest fabric and book at Spring Quilt Market 2018. I will be doing lots and lots and lots of quilting over the next few months. I can’t wait!

I have to be honest and say it’s been nice to have a two year break from book writing, since work on my previous book was completed in 2016, a full year before the publish date. But now I feel refreshed, re-energized, and excited to dive into the new work! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress, and will share a few sneak peeks as I can, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you have questions about the book writing process, please ask away in the comments below. If there’s enough interest, I’ll be glad to do a separate blog post devoted to answering your questions about anything I haven’t covered so far. I love sharing what I know and inspiring others to reach their goals, no matter how big or small!

Kits for and fabrics for my Craftsy Classes are now Back in Stock

Many of you have asked me when Craftsy will offer more kits for my beginning class: Startup Library – Quilting. The good news is that they are available once again! The first round of kits performed so well, that they finally ran out of fabric using the original prints so they decided to re-kit it with a similar collection with the same look and feel of the original.

Click here to check out Startup Library: Quilting

Friendship Stars quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Friendship Stars Quilt Kit

Although you can certainly get the kit without the class (it comes with a detailed pattern), you can also get the class and make your own version using any fabrics you choose.

This quilt was super fun and fast to make because the blocks are simple to piece and the quilting is easy enough for a beginner to handle. I quilted the remake using the same quilting plan as the original and the class includes step by step tutorials on how to quilt it the same way shown here:

Friendship Stars quilt by Christa Watson

In the class I go over how to quilt gentle wavy lines with your walking foot, plus two fun and easy to learn free-motion designs: stipple and continuous curves.

As a recap, here’s what the projects look like for my other two classes:

Click here to check out Startup Project: Starry Path

If you’ve already tackled Friendship Stars and want to go to the next level, kits are also available for my followup class: Startup Project – Starry Path Quilt. It was fun to try out a completely different color scheme and expand my repertoire of star blocks!!

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit

Click here to check out The Quilter’s Path

I made three versions for this class to show how to quilt with a walking foot, free motion – or both! It’s fun to see how the same design looks in different fabrics, with different quilting!

Pinwheel Quilts from The Quilters PathFabric selection for this class is super easy – just pick two jelly rolls in colors that you like.

Enroll in My Classes at Your Convenience

My Craftsy classes are available for you in two ways – either a la cart where you own it forever, or you can sign up for Craftsy Unlimited which gives you 24/7 access to all three of my classes as long as you continue with your subscription. Either way you view – you have unlimited access to me when you take any of my classes, and each one comes with a free pattern to make the projects featured in the class! Here are the relevant links below:

And remember – I’m here to help you each step of the way so you can enjoy making a complete quilt from start to finish as much as I do!

Friendship Stars Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the new Friendship Stars Quilt Kit

QuiltCon 2019 Catalog Just Released – Here’s What I’m Teaching

I’m excited to be teaching at QuiltCon once again February 21-24 in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been to every QuiltCon since it began and this will be my third time as a member of the faculty. I’m most excited about the fact that although I’ll be plenty busy teaching 3 workshops and a lecture, I’ll still have plenty of time for all of the social events, too.

QuiltCon 2019 CatalogClick here to get the complete QuiltCon 2019 catalog.
Member registration opens June 26 and general registration begins July 10.

My QuiltCon 2019 Teaching Schedule

DSMQ200 Walking Foot Wonders, Thursday Feb. 21, 9-5

Learn to stitch beyond the ditch and unleash the power of your walking foot to quilt modern or traditional designs. Walking foot motifs to be taught include: wavy lines, decorative stitches, irregular grids, several different spirals, straight‐line designs, and more. You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts! This is a hands-on machine class with machines provided for each student.

Walking foot Quilting Workshop


QDR010 Plan Your Quilting (A), Saturday Feb. 23, 2-5 PM Or
QDR011 PLan Your Quilting (B), Saturday Feb. 23, 6-9 PM

How do you get from “quilt as desired” to a cohesive quilting strategy? Students
will practice sketching quilting motifs on paper, then learn strategies to apply those designs to an actual quilt top. Students will each have a chance to create several different quilting plans using images of their own quilts printed on paper, as well as learning how to create quilting plans for a wide variety of quilt designs. This is hands‐on drawing workshop.

Plan Your Machine Quilting


lec22 Infusing Modern into Machine Quilting, Sunday Feb. 24, 10:15 AM

This informative lecture is full of examples from previous QuiltCons, demonstrating how the modern aesthetic can apply to the machine quilting process. Learn how negative space, minimalism, graphic geometry, improvisation and other hallmarks of the modern aesthetic can be incorporated into your machine quilting work.

Attendees will gain a better understanding of why many modern quilters choose to employ an abundance of straight line and “industrial looking” designs rather than quilting overly ornate and perfectly symmetrical motifs. Suggestions on how to incorporate graphic and linear free‐motion quilting as an alternative to straight‐ line quilting will also be explored.

The last time I taught at QuiltCon I was part of a panel lecture/discussion about managing your fabric stash with the lovely and talented Judy Gauthier, Rossie Hutchinson and Mary Fons.

This QuiltCon is shaping up to be one of the best, yet! There are loads of meetups and mixers and the class catalog offers the widest variety of lectures and workshops they’ve ever offered. I’ve got my eye on a design workshop I want to take, and there are plenty of lectures I’m interested in, too!

I hope you’ll make plans to attend, whether or not you take any workshops. QuiltCon is unlike any other quilt show I’ve attended – there’s definitely a party atmosphere there and half of the fun is the socializing! Leave a comment if you plan to attend and let’s get this party started early!!

My Newest Craftsy Class – Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

It’s here – it’s here! The launch of my third Craftsy class – whoo whoo! Just after I made the sneak peak announcement earlier this week, the class went live! So today I’d like to introduce you to Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt.

craftsy Class Starry Path Quilt

Click here to preview my class Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

In this nearly 3 hour long class, I teach how to make this stunning quilt I designed featuring two different types of star blocks and three different types of triangles.

It was created as a followup class to my comprehensive start-to-finish class, Startup Library: Quilting. But of course, anyone can enroll and make this stunning quilt:

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit, while supplies last

The class comes with the complete pattern to make the Starry Path Quilt above, and there’s even an optional kit. I chose to make it from basic blenders in a cool color scheme of lime, green aqua, blue and turquoise. I paired it up with a solid gray background for maximum impact. I’m really pleased with how well the design turned out and I loved taking my time to be as accurate as possible.

And, because you all know I loooove machine quilting, I threw in a bonus lesson on how to quilt elongated swirls. Isn’t it just fully of yummy texture??

Swirls quilting on Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

The class materials include step-by-step drawing lessons showing how to form the basic swirl design, plus a page for you to print off and practice drawing your own quilting plan. (It’s a nod to the technique I first introduced in my machine quilting class, The Quilter’s Path.)

The exclusive Starry Path pattern is easy to follow along as you watch the class, and I’ve sprinkled in as many helpful hints as I can to ensure your success with this quilt!

Starry Path Quilt with Christa Watson on Craftsy

I can’t help fondling my quilts, LOL!!

In Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt, I share my best tips and tricks for accurate cutting and piecing so that you can get stunning results, every time. My top tips for piecing any quilt?? Slow down when you are sewing, maintain an accurate 1/4″ seam and use lots of pins to get those intersections to line up precisely.

Starry Path Quilt in Progress

The best thing about my Craftsy classes is that unlike my live classes, you actually get to watch me sew and quilt. That way you can and see where I place my hands, and how I manipulate the fabric. With the magic of filming to speed things up, it’s actually fun to watch!

Starry Path Class Overview

Here’s a breakdown of what’s covered in each section and length of each lesson. The total class runs for just under 3 hours, and if you’ve ever heard me speak, you know that I can cover a lot of info in a short amount of time. So you really get more “bang” for your buck with my classes!!

Boundless Fabric from Craftsy
1. Getting Started (32 min)
Meet Christa and go over everything you’ll need for your project, the Starry Path quilt. Then she shares tips for cutting both yardage and fat quarters. Plus, see how to check and correct your seam allowance early on. This way, your blocks will be the correct size.
Sawtooth Star Block Piecing
2. Sawtooth Star Block (39 min)
Piece the classic flying geese unit four at a time! Christa shows you how to mark, sew, press and cut, and add simple squares to create the Sawtooth Star block. She helps you chain piece a few blocks at a time to speed up your stitching, and shows you how to use webbing to keep your blocks together as you go.

Christa Starry Path Quilt

3. Garden Path Block (30 min)
Learn how to cut and sew with the popular Tri-Recs specialty ruler that you can use in many other quilts. Find out how to properly cut and line up the pieces, add simple four-patches and solid units for a beautiful block, and save time by chain-piecing it.
Garden Path Block
4. Pieced Border (30 Min)
Follow along as Christa guides you to create the colorful pieced border that surrounds the Starry Path Quilt. See how to pair half-square triangles to form this hourglass unit, also known as the quarter-square triangle. Then batch-assemble the border strips.

Christa Sewing

5. Quilt Top Assembly (23 Min)
Now you’re ready to put your quilt blocks together! Here, discover a technique called webbing that will keep your blocks in order as you assemble the inner quilt top into rows. From there, sew the rows together, then add the solid and pieced borders.
Machine Quilting Swirls with Christa Watson
6. Machine Quilting Swirls (20 Min)
Wrap up class by finishing your basted Starry Path quilt with an all-over free-motion design. Christa discusses thread choices, then shares the benefits of making small samples to practice your designs. Afterwards, get her tips on maneuvering this quilt on your home machine as you add the final touches.

Starry Path Quilt by Christa Watson

I had so much fun making this quilt and I’m sure you will too! The best part about enrolling in my class is that you have my help and support 24/7. Got a question about the class or want to share your progress? Use the interactive class platform to share with me and fellow students. It’s like a virtual classroom with me at your side!!

Click here to enroll in Startup Project: Starry Path Quilt

Click here to get the Starry Path Quilt Kit

Elongated Swirls quilting by Christa Watson

I can’t wait to “see” you in class!

Join Craftsy Unlimited for All You Can Watch Classes (Including Mine!)

You guys – I’m so excited! It’s almost time for the launch of my brand new Craftsy class!! But before it goes “live” I invite you to join Craftsy’s new subscription service “Craftsy Unlimited.”

craftsy unlimited

Click here to start a free trial of Craftsy Unlimited and watch all my classes for free!!

How is this different from regular Craftsy – you say?? Rather than paying a one time fee to own the class, Craftsy Unlimited is a monthly streaming service, similar to Netflix, Hulu, etc. but on your computer. With Craftsy Unlimited, you don’t own the class, but you have access to the entire library and class materials of thousands of classes 24/7 as long as you are a member.

The coolest thing is that you can actually combine both services if you want to – join Craftsy Unlimited to check out classes you may be interested in, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a purchase. Later, you can permanently purchase any classes you know you’ll want to keep forever.

Starry Path Quilt Blocks

Sneak peek of my brand new class, coming really soon!!

For instructors, we get compensated slightly differently for either model, but Craftsy Unlimited is a great way to support your favorite teachers. The more you watch our classes on Craftsy Unlimited, the more we get paid!! So even if you own my other classes already, you can view them in Craftsy Unlimited and it’s sort of like giving me a little bonus each time you watch. 🙂

Speaking of which, if you decide to join Craftsy Unlimited, be sure to check out my current classes:

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

The Quilter’s Path is like taking one of my in-person workshops. I teach you how to make a quilting plan and give you tons of ideas for both walking foot quilting and free-motion designs. Plus, you get to see how I actually “scrunch and smoosh” a real quilt under the machine. But the best part is you can pause, rewind, and watch your favorite parts over and over again!

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Startup Library Quilting is great for beginners who want to learn to make a quilt from start to finish. I cover all the basics – choosing fabrics, reading a quilt pattern, rotary cutting, piecing, basting, machine quilting – walking foot & free-motion –  AND binding! It’s the whole shebang right from the comfort of your home!!

Craftsy Quilting Class taught by Christa Watson

Screen shot from my newest class, coming soon!!

Click here to start a free trial of Craftsy Unlimited and watch all my classes for free!!

In the new class, I focus a lot on accurate cutting and piecing, plus there’s a bit of machine quilting at the end. So watch for the new reveal soon!

Squiggles Quilt Along Week 6 – Machine Quilting Tips

This week we get to my favorite part of any quilt – the machine quilting!! For Squiggles, I quilted it with my walking foot. I always recommend starting off with walking foot quilting for beginners because it really is no-fail quilting. In the book, I show you how to quilt organic, squiggly lines with the walking foot, for the original version made from Pat Sloan’s The Sweet Life charm packs:

Machine Quilting Ideas

Squiggles Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

The original version of Squiggles: pattern & quilting instructions available in my latest book.
Click here to get your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.
Click here to purchase The Sweet Life charm packs seen above, while they last.

If you’d like to quilt fun, fast and easy squiggle lines, follow along in the book on page 19 to see the instructions and quilting plan for Squiggles

Another quick and easy way to finish this would be to quilt a wavy grid, following the directions for “Gridwork” on pages 26-27. Check out a closeup of the wavy grid quilting below:

Gridwork quilting with a walking foot

For my Squiggles remake from Modern Marks fabric, I wanted to try out a different design that I mention briefly in the book on page 21 as a “make it your own” idea.  Rather than quilting wavy lines, try quilting irregularly spaced “straight-ish” parallel lines to create a random crosshatch grid.

Random crosshatch quilting

I chose a highly contrasting Aurifil thread in Jade so that it would show up on the busy prints.
The thread is from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Colors.

Random Crosshatch Quilting Tips

Here are a few tips on how I approached quilting the second version of Squiggles:

Machine Quilting Squiggles

I always start quilting on the right hand side of the quilt and “scrunch and smoosh” the bulk of the quilt as I go. First I make one pass across the quilt in both directions to anchor the quilt for more quilting later. This breaks up the quilting, secures it in place, and allows me flexibility on how densely I want to quilt it.

Start and end off the quilt

I try to choose designs that allow me to start and end each line of stitching off of the quilt in the batting. Then I don’t have to tie off all those pesky threads!! For best results when using walking foot/dual feed quilting, try to stitch in one direction rather than stitching the lines up and down or back and forth across the quilt.

It will help prevent puckers or “whiskering” that looks like little creases caused by the shifting of the fabric. I make one pass across the quilt from right to left, quilting “anchor” lines depending on how wide the blocks are. Then I rotate the quilt when I reach the middle, and keep on going to the other side.

Use gloves to move the quilt

I wear Machingers gloves to help grip the quilt and give me a little more power when I push the quilt through the machine. I also use my hands as a hoop and only focus on the area I’m quilting between my hands. It’s not a very larger area, so I re-position my hands and the quilt A LOT while quilting, and that’s ok!

For the random crosshatch, some of the “anchor” lines will be in the ditch, while some of them may be randomly to the side of the ditch. Below are three different ways that I mark or randomly quilt straight lines across the quilt:

Marking With a Washable Pen

Marking Straight Lines

Use an acrylic ruler and washable marking pen to mark guidelines if needed. I used a combination of marking and eyeballing when quilting my straight-ish lines. Mostly I changed it up so I could dry out several different methods. Hey, what I can I say? I’m always experimenting!

Painter’s Tape

Use Painter's Tape as a Guide

Painter’s tape is one of my favorite marking tools! I can place it at random intervals, using my long acrylic ruler to keep the lines straight. The best part about quilting random lines is that I can stitch along both sides of the tape to quilt 2 lines at a time!

Bonus tip: rather than putting the needle next to the tape, put the edge of your quilting foot next to the tape. It will space the lines out a little wider, and you won’t accidentally stitch through the tape!!

Walking Foot Guide Bar

Using a guide bar for quilting

You can also use a guide bar to follow along a seam line, or previously quilted line. Just decide how far apart you want your lines, and adjust the width of the guide bar appropriately.

Notice that I’m using the BERNINA dual feed rather than a walking foot. My machine has a built in mechanism that attaches to the back of a specialty “D” foot, giving me more options of which foot I can use. It acts just like a walking foot and performs the same function. I also like using an open toe so I can see exactly where the needle is stitching.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

Here’s what Squiggles is looking like after a few random passes across the quilt in both directions.

Keep on Quilting!

Walking Foot Quilting

Continue quilting randomly spaced liens both horizontally and vertically across the quilt until you are happy with the spacing. The hardest part is knowing when to stop!!

Machine Quilting Random crosshatch

Click here to purchase a Squiggles Quilt Kit made from Modern Marks fabric.

And just remember, if you aren’t happy with the way it looks, just keep quilting. When I had only quilted a few lines on the quilt, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like the end result, and the thread really stood out like a sore thumb. However, once I added more lines, all of the sudden, I couldn’t see any of the imperfections, and I love the amazing texture that was created!

Remember to share your progress!

Part of the fun of any quilt-along is seeing all of the variety everyone is making. Check out my ChristaQuilts group on Facebook to cheer on your fellow quilt-alongers and post pics of your WIP’s (works in progress). You can also tag me on instagram @christaquilts and #squigglesqal.

The next post will go up in 2 weeks, giving everyone a chance to catch up on their progress!
Click here for the previous Squiggles Quilt Along tutorials.

Save the Date: I’m teaching In Australia September 19-22, 2018!

Just a quick note to invite all of my friends “across the pond” to join me at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival in Adelaide this coming September! It’s long been on my bucket list to teach internationally and I was thrilled when I received the invitation to teach at this prestigious show!

Australian Machine Quilting Festival

Click here to see the lineup of Instructors for AMQF 2018.

Student registration opens in March of this year, but for now, you can save the date and check out the lineup of amazing instructors that will be featured this year, including favorites such as Ricky Tims and Cindy Needham. I’m personally excited to meet Kat Jones, the 2017 QuiltCon best of show winner. I just love her work!

Modern Logs by Christa Watson

I will be teaching my Modern Logs quit pattern, along with several machine quilting classes.

I’ll share another blog post when it’s time to register – but for now, click here to bookmark the site and keep checking back for updates. They’ll be adding even more fabulous instructors to their lineup and the class schedule will be posted later this spring.

Modern Machine Quilting

Some of the motifs that students will learn in my machine quilting classes.

Even if you aren’t anywhere near Australia, this is the perfect excuse to take the exotic quilting vacation you’ve always wanted. I’d love to see you there!

To see where else I’m headed, click here for my 2018-2019 teaching schedule.

Finished Quilt: Color Weave, QuiltCon Entry + Quilting Tips

Today I have another quilt finish to share! Now that I’m not inundated with too many projects and too little time (yay for balance!), I can actually blog more about quilts I’ve recently finished, and I love sharing my virtual show and tell with you!

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave was published in issue 21 of Modern Quilts Unlimited. Photo Credit MQU.

Modern Quilts Unlimited is one of my all-time favorite magazines and it’s such a thrill when my work appears in their pages. Fun fact: the editor, Laurie Baker and I met backin 2014 when she helped edit my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and we’ve been friends ever since!

Color Weave Backstory

I originally made Color Weave to be included in my most recent book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts, since it’s completely sewn from 2 1/2″ strips. While the book was in the layout and editing stage, the editors realized it was going to be too long (what? Me wordy???) and we had to make the agonizing decision to cut this project.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

I love quilts with simple color schemes. Pick any 3 colors to make this quilt!

This happens with craft books more often than you realize, because book publishers would rather have too much content to choose from than not enough. For budgeting purposes, they have to stick to a strict page limit that’s agreed ahead of time in the book contract, and there’s only so many ways you can lay things out with a limited number of pages.

Precut Pieces for Color Weave

I love it when all of the pieces of a quilt are cut and ready to sew!

So after I held my 5 minute pity party, I contacted MQU and asked if they’d be interested in publishing this pattern in their magazine and they said yes! FYI – if you are interested in getting into magazines, editors are always on the lookout for great content and the fact that my quilt was ready to go meant they could schedule it for any issue where they needed to fill pages.

Machine Quilting Details

Needless to say I was thrilled that Modern Quilts Unlimited was excited to publish the pattern for Color Weave, and I was even more pleased that they included the instructions on how to quilt it as a free “web extra” on their blog. (See below image for link.)

Color Weave Web ExtraPhoto Credit – Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine

Click here to get my machine quilting instructions for Color Weave, courtesy of MQU magazine.

Random crosshatch is actually one of my favorite ways to quilt a quilt with your walking foot (or dual feed) and it is so easy to do! Rather than painstakingly trying to mark and create a perfectly symmetrical grid, I use the piecing seams as a guideline for my lines.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

I started off by quilting in the ditch between all the seams to stabilize and anchor the quilt. Then I filled in between the grid with straight lines at random intervals. I used the edge of my walking foot as a guideline for spacing, moving the needle position to create narrower or wider lines.

QuiltCon Acceptance

I knew right away when I received this quilt back from the magazine that I wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for their 2018 show. I haven’t really seen a design like this before, so I thought it had a good shot of getting into the innovative “Piecing” category.  I’m pleased that others will be able to see it at next years’ show because one of the reasons I enter shows is to share my work with a wider audience who might not have discovered me yet.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

Quilting detail from Color Weave. Just remember: the best way to hide an imperfectly straight line is to surround it with more imperfectly straight lines!!

It took me awhile to figure out how to create the woven effect in the piecing. It’s like an optical illusion, and I’m sure the quilt would look totally different using scrappy prints, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

When trying to quilt parallel lines, just remember that “straight-ish” lines are perfectly ok! When you are two inches away from the quilt, you’ll notice all the imperfections. But once you back away from the quilt, all of a sudden your eye sees the overall texture rather than the individual stitches.

Random Crosshatch Grid by Christa Watson

Quilting Tip:  If you want your quilting to show, use a solid back. If you want to hide your quilting, using a busy back. I always use the same color thread in top and bobbin because I’d rather see the quilting show up on the back, than little dots of bobbin color on the top!

color Weave Stats:

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Photo Credit: Jason Watson

Modern quilts are my favorite. Now I just need to make more of them!!

Finished Quilt: Modern Puzzle + Quilting Tips

Meet Modern Puzzle – one of the quilts I made for quilt market this past fall. The quilt pattern is a free PDF download and it’s made from one Pinwheel (aka Jellyroll) of Modern Marks + one pinwheel of white/gray neutrals from Benartex.

Modern Puzzle Free Qult patter by Christa Watson

Click here to download my Modern Puzzle quilt pattern for free.
Click here to get the precuts to make this quilt.

I recently wrote up a spray basting tutorial using my design wall using Modern Puzzle as my example. Now I’m ready to share more about the quilting process. Because I was in a hurry to get this quilt done, AND I really wanted to show off the fabrics rather than the quilting, I used a simple wavy line design that I teach in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Click the image below to enlarge it so you can see the quilting detail:

Machine Quilting detail - wavy lines

Making a Quilting Plan

Whenever I’m quilting an allover design using my walking foot (or dual feed system), I use a method I call “divide and conquer.” The basic idea is that I make one pass across the quilt, stitching near the ditch rather than IN the ditch.

This allows me to use my seam lines as a guideline for spacing so that I don’t have to mark anything. Once the quilt is stabilized, or “anchored,” then I’ll add additional wavy lines, one pass across the quilt at a time.

Quilting Plan for Modern Puzzle

Quilting plan for Modern Puzzle – I’ll fill in more lines on the quilt until it feels finished.

I introduced my audience to the concept of making a “quilting plan” in my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and my first Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path.  Now I love to seeing that so many have embraced this concept with their own quilts!

Quilting Modern Puzzle

Each time I quilt a set of wavy lines across the quilt, the space to fill gets smaller and smaller.

Whenever I quilt any quilt, I “scrunch and smoosh” it under the machine however I can. Having a wide area between the needle and the side of the machine is really nice, but not absolutely necessary. As long as you shove the quilt out of the way and only focus on one area at a time, it’s easy  to do!

Overlapping wavy lines

Once the lines got close enough, I overlapped a few of them for extra texture.

My philosophy when it comes to machine quilting is, “more is more.” For example, one individual line of stitching will stand out like a sore thumb. However, when you surround that line with additional quilting lines on both sides, all of a sudden, you notice the overall texture before you see the individual stitches.

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

When it comes to choosing thread color for a highly contrasting quilt such as this one, it’s best to use a lighter color thread rather than a darker one. A lighter thread will blend in more on darker fabrics, rather than the reverse.

Aurifil Cotton Thread

For Modern Puzzle, I chose a light gray/blue from my Piece and Quilt Collection – Neutrals from Aurifil. Even with dense quilting, one large spool was plenty of thread, and I like to use the same color in top and bobbin to help hide any tension issues.

Quilting Detail on Modern Puzzle

Dense quilting is my favorite way to hide quilting imperfections!

Behind the Scenes

Fun fact: when I got my fabric samples for Modern Marks back in July, I had about 4 days to whip up 5 quilt tops to display at a special event for BERNINA dealers taking place here in my hometown of Las Vegas. Because BERNINA owns Benartex, the dealers got to see sneak peeks of the fabric before it was debuted at quilt market in October.

Quilts in Progress

Honest sewing room and quilt top making frenzy: notice the fabric samples in the left corner rolled on a tube – this is how fabric comes from the factory before it’s folded onto bolts!!

This was my chance to introduce myself to shop owners who hadn’t heard of me yet, so it was a huge opportunity if I could finish the samples in time. So I called in the reinforcements – my mom and a few friends – and we sewed non-stop to get them done! It was a fun impromptu retreat and I’m thankful to say, the fabric was well received. Thank goodness I only needed to finish the tops and was able to quilt them over the next 3 months at a more leisurely pace!

Modern Puzzle Quilt by Christa Watson

I love how the bright pops of color in in Modern Marks contrast against my desert surroundings. This is one of my favorite quilts, and the dense quilting makes it so snuggly!!

Remember, if you make Modern Puzzle, (or anything else from my books, patterns, or fabric) I’d love to see your progress! Please share in my ChristaQuilts Facebook community. I’d love to cheer you on!!

Modern Puzzle Stats:

Modern Puzzle by Christa Watson

All outdoor photogrophy taken by my husband, Jason Watson. (C) 2017

Mini Frequency – A Collaboration with Leah Day

Today I’m excited to tell you about Mini Frequency – a fun collaboration I did with Leah Day, of The Free Motion Quilting Project fame. First, a picture of the finished mini:

Mini Frequency by Christa Watson

A Mini Version of Frequency, Using 1 1/2″ Strips

Leah Day – Your Machine Quilting Friend

Next, a quick background about mine and Leah’s friendship: we met online somewhere around 2012-2013 when I discovered her blog and realized that you didn’t have to wait until you were at retirement age to make quilting a successful full-time job!

We first met in person at Spring Quilt Market back in 2015 and then collaborated on a presentation at Fall Market 2016. When we met up to for lunch at QuiltCon earlier this year, it was inspiring non-stop talk about the business of quilting which I just love! She’s got that “entrepreneur-on-fire” spirit that really motivates me, especially when I see it from women business owners.

Leah Day is as passionate about empowering others to quilt as I am!

Leah just published a brand new quilting book and she launched a new podcast just over a year ago which I will be a guest on soon, so stay tuned for more details about both!

Our Quilty Collaboration

When Leah approached me about working on a small project together, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a “mini” version of Frequency, one of the quilts from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Here’s what the original pattern in the book looks like, made from 2 1/2″ strips.

Frequency by Christa Watson for Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I thought it would be fun to scale down the design, using 1 1/2″ strips instead. I had just received strikeoffs (sample swatches) of my Modern Marks fabric line earlier this year when I started on the mini, so I was able to cut small bits of fabric to make the mini.

Here are some in-progress pics of the piecing:

Mini Frequency Block Piecing

It’s amazing how much the blocks shrink up when you piece them together! I had a fun time deciding which fabrics I wanted to place next to each other.

Frequency Blocks

Rather than making a full-scale version of the original, I chose to make 4 blocks from 1 1/2″ strips. That way I could incorporate every fabric without it being too big.

Behind the Scenes: Fabric Printing

I was able to use strikeoffs for my mini: samples that are printed before the entire line goes into full-scale production. This allows you to check for fabric quality and to determine if everything will print correctly. Check out that piece that’s circled in the top row below. On paper it printed out fine, but when the mill printed it on fabric, the lime x’s on turquoise created an effect called “trapping” which makes it look blurry. So we decided not to print that one.

Instead we changed it to be dark turquoise x’s instead of lime which worked much better. See the fabric circled in the bottom row below. I still thought it would be fun to use both pieces  in my mini to preserve the history of this fabric collection, and a bit of a story to go with it!

Mini Frequency Quil Top

The fabric circled on top was replaced with the one on the bottom row for better printing.

Leah Works Her Magic

Once I had completed the top, I shipped it off to Leah to let her work her quilting magic. For anyone who knows me, they’ll understand what a big deal it is for anyone else to quilt for me. I’ve never had someone quilt a quilt for me so this was a fun stretch for me to give up a little bit of control over that process, LOL!! Needless to say, she did an amazing job!

Leah created a YouTube video sharing her thoughts on how and why she quilted it the way she did. It’s very informative and full of fabulous tips. Plus it’s always so fun and mesmerizing to watch someone quilt and see the way they move the quilt under the machine. Take a look below:

Click here to read Leah’s blog post about our collaboration.

I love how Leah decided to highlight the fabrics with her batting and quilting choices. This is a perfect example of what you can do when working with busy prints. My favorite part of the video is when she holds it up at the end and you can really see how the light hits her beautiful background quilting.

Of course, me being the crazy dense quilter that I am, I decided to add a little extra touch and went ahead and quilted right on top of the prints when I got it back, LOL!! So it just goes to show how different choices can affect the look of a quilt. 🙂

Binding Tips

Press the binding for a nice, flat and tight finish.

I learned a great tip about binding from Leah a few years ago: after you attach your binding, give it a bit of a press with a hot dry iron. This will make a nicer crease and allow you to stitch it down nice and tight.

Quilting Detail on the back of Mini Frequency

Click on the image above to enlarge it and see all the yummy quilting detail on the back.

Here’s the finished mini – I’m really happy with how it turned out, and it means even more that I was able to collaborate with a friend!