Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Voting Begins Today!

Don’tΒ  forget to vote for your favorite quilts in the Spring 2014 Blogger’s Quilt Festival!

Spiraling out of Control is in the Original Design category and Modern Trees is listed in the Home Machine Quilted category. You can vote for one quilt per category, and there are a total of 11 categories in which to vote.

Modern Quilt

Spiraling out of Control by Christa Watson, 70″ x 70″

You can vote for Spiraling Out of Control here.

Modern Trees

Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″

You can vote for Modern Trees here.

Have fun and good luck to all who entered!

Blogger’s Quilt Fest Entry – Modern Trees (Home Machine Quilted)

I’m excited to share another entry into the online Blogger’s Quilt Festival. It’s called Modern Trees. I finished it in December of 2013, and I’ve entered it into the Home Machine Quilted category.

You can view my other entry here.

Modern TreesModern Trees, 43″ x 50″ by Christa Watson, Home Machine Quilted

Modern Trees was made as one of my free quilt alongs and you can still access all of the tutorials to make your own version of this quilt here.

Because I love to encourage and teach others how to free-motion quilt on their home machines, I’ll tell you a little bit more about the machine quilting on this quilt.

Quilting Modern TreesI think free-motion quilting on a domestic machine is super fun and relaxing!

I knew that I wanted to evoke the feeling of snow, but wanted to mix up the background quilting to make it a little more modern. I usually have better results if I plan out my quilting first. Rather than sticking with one motif, I roughly divided the quilt into 3 sections as shown in my diagram below:

20131022_trees_quilt_sketchThe swirls in the top section represent the sky full of billowing clouds ready to burst! The middle section shows snowflakes and snow clusters gently falling to the ground; and the bottom section evokes snowdrifts piling up on the ground. I also decided to throw in a few words just for a touch of holiday whimsy – it’s fun to doodle!

I don’t always stick exactly to the plan, but sketching out my quilting designs gives me a rough guideline to follow.

20131120_quilting_modern_trAs you can see, I used a washable blue marker to write the words, and to draw the larger snowflakes and the star. I quilted the rest of it without marking, adding lots of yummy texture and varying the size of the motifs for interest.

Quilting SwirlsQuilting the swirls was definitely my favorite partΒ  – they are so fun and forgiving! It’s interesting to see how much “poof” is created when quilting so densely.

20131105_aurifil_threadsAnother fun part of any quilt is picking out matching threads for each section. After a couple of years of trial and error and testing on numerous quilts, Aurifil has become my go-to thread for piecing and quilting.

I like to match my threads as closely as possible so you see the texture of the quilting rather than the thread. πŸ™‚ I tried to quilt each tree with a different motif to “decorate” it.


Here’s a closeup of the quilting after the blue marks have been removed – so yummy! (Forgive the lighting – this was taken before I got better lighting in my sewing room!)

20131120_fmq_detail_1And one more, just for fun… (with more bad lighting….)

FMQ Trees DetailThe quilting on this piece actually went very quickly. It took a total of 13 hours and I only worked on it for a couple of hours a day. I think that’s a reasonable amount of time, considering the density of the quilting and customization of the designs. Can’t you just imagine how tactile all this texture feels?

If you like Modern Trees, you can vote for it in the Home Machine Quilted category, starting May 23rd. Entries will appear randomly each time, so you may need to scroll through to find the picture of Modern Trees.

You can also click here to get all the free tutorials to make your own version! πŸ™‚

Modern Trees

Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″

Thanks for stopping by!

More Modern Trees Finishes

I just had to share a few more of my followers’ Modern Trees quilt along finishes and some detailed pictures of the quilting. The pictures below were all shared from my flickr group so be sure to hop on over there to see more!

Modern Trees Quilting Detail

Quilting Detail from NevaCanSew – Fabulous!

Modern Trees Quilt Finish

EllasCottage Finish – Love that background fabric!

Modern Trees Quilt

Grammie Q’s finish – so pretty in pink!

Modern Trees Quilting

JosiesSecret quilting detail – just stunning!

Modern Trees Finish

Gooses Bags and Gifts – way to make it “sew” unique!

By the way my MIL was so taken with my version that she’s asked me to make another one just for her. At first I thought I would try to finish it in time for Christmas this year, but on better reflection decided I’d better wait until next year.

So if you are just finding my modern trees tutorial and are inspired to make one of your own but have run out of holiday sewing time, it will still be there for you when you are ready to start!

Machine Quilting Inspiration

I love scheduling two weeks in between quilt along tutorials. That gives everyone time to work at their own pace. It also gives me a chance to highlight a few of the WIP’s that everyone is sharing on flickr and on their blogs.

Susan's Trees

Susan N – Desertsky Quilting

Today I especially wanted to give a shout out to a few gals who have already begun machine quilting their quilts.Β  I’ll start off with Susan from Desertsky Quilting. She whipped up 4 blocks into this cute quickie table runner. She stitched a simple outline around her trees which shows up wonderfully on the back in the photo below:

Susan's Quilting Detail

Susan’s Quilting Detail

I love Susan’s can-do attitude with her quilt. She said, “The walking foot really helped me, and I don’t know if I’ll go beyond straight lines and wavy lines with that, but it was fun, and I loved how easy it was!” It tickles me when quilters like Susan realize that you really can add extra dimension to your quilts, even with simple quilting!

She made my day with her sweet comments when she said, “Your encouragement gave me the confidence I needed and I loved every minute of it.Β  The quilting is my favorite part.” Me, too, Susan!!

Straight Lines

Katie’s Straight Line Quilting

Katie A. did a fantastic job straight-line quilting this adorable baby quilt made from leftover blocks. Don’t you just love the texture her quilting adds? Fantastic!


Mara C’s Swirls

I adore the quilting that Mara (aka Simon Says Sew) is adding to the background of her trees. It looks like a blustery day in the forest, blowing up piles of snow drifts! I think Mara’s made at least 4 different Modern Tress so far. Can we say teacher’s pet? πŸ™‚

Loops Swirls

Anne J. Loops and Swirls Quilting

Look at those fun loops and swirls that Anne J. has added to her background! Isn’t it great? She’s going for swirling snow and scattered snowflakes. I love it!

There are many more beautiful quilts that everyone is sharing. The fabric choices and color combinations are simply amazing. You can see more fabulous pics here on my flickr group.

My hope with this quilt along is that you will not be afraid to jump in and give machine quilting a try. (And don’t worry – if machine quilting’s not your thing you can still play with us and sew along!)

Background Quilting

Background Quilting for Christa’s Modern Trees

Here’s a sneak peek of my FMQ progress. I’ll give some more in-depth tutorials on background fillers when I finish quilting Modern Trees next week!

More Modern Trees Inspiration

While we are in between tutorials for my Modern Trees Quilt Along, I thought I would share some more fabulous WIP’s from Flickr. I’m very pleased to see how everyone’s really taking my pattern and making it their own. That makes me happy. πŸ™‚

Mara C. (aka Simon Says Sew on flikr) is working on several versions including the two below. I love how she added a cute tree fabric for borders and made a table runner with some leftover blocks from another version.

Mara's Modern Trees

Mara’s Modern Trees

Mara's Table Runner

Mara’s Table Runner

I love how desertskyquilts used a green background for her trees rather than cream. You can personalize this design however you like!

Green Background

Use any background color you like! From desertskyquilts on flickr.

Carolyn (aka sweetboaterchick) chose a completely different layout, offsetting her rows of trees. Isn’t it fantastic?

Carolyn's Sweet Trees

Carolyn’s Sweet Trees

And who says they all have to line up? Make a forest of trees if you like, just like A. G. Lindsay did. (I was hoping someone would choose this layout!)

A.G. Lindays' Layout

A.G. Lindays’ Layout

Want to make it bigger than my sample? Just add more rows and borders like Jody K. from New Jersey did.

Extra Rows

Make it bigger with more rows and borders. Made by Jody K.

Or add a touch of whimsy with fun pieced borders, like Lindsey from Inspiring Creations.

Pieced borders by Lindsey.

Pieced borders by Lindsey.

I’m telling you, this is just a drop in the bucket of all the awesomeness that is being shared in my quilt along flickr group. Join the fun by posting your QAL WIP’s (say what?) or browse everyone else’s for some virtual inspiration. It’s never to late to start this project on your own schedule, sewing at your own pace.

I’ve started quilting my trees and can’t wait to share the machine quilting process with you next week! Yes, you really can quilt your own quilts. πŸ™‚

Click here for the complete quilt along schedule for Modern Trees.

Favorite Tools – Tri Recs Acrylic Rulers

I’m using the set of Tri Recs acrylic rulers for my current quilt along, Modern Trees. This ruler set has been one of my favorite tools for a good 10+ years now and I’ll tell you why.

Tri Ruler

Tri Ruler

Recs Ruler

Recs Ruler

Not only does it make amazing tree blocks like those shown below, but you can make tons of other shapes, too!

Solid Trees

Solid Trees

Improv Trees

Improv Trees

My friend Lindsey who’s quilting along with everyone else, started playing around with her tri recs tools a few days ago (you buy it as a complete set of 2 rulers in the same package). She came up with this really cool diamond block.

Diamond Block

Diamond Block Using Tre-Recs

Even though she said it’s probably nothing new, the fact that she “discovered” this block while playing around is a testament to how versatile this tool is. She’s even written up a tutorial here.


54-40 or Fight Block

One of my favorite traditional quilt blocks is the 54-40 or fight block – a star variation.

(The name has reference to a political campaign about boundary lines.)

This image is courtesy of Quilter’s Cache – click here for a tutorial.

Notice how the star points are basically reversing the values from my tree tops above. The tutorial suggests using templates. You could also take some time with the math to figure it out. But, it’s just much easier to use the ruler set and not have to think about it.

For those of you that have never used the tri recs tool before, here’s a link to a fabulous you-tube tutorial from some of my favorite people – Fons and Porter.

My only suggestion for improvement would be for the manufacturer to make a ruler that’s bigger than 6 inches finished so I can make larger blocks. πŸ™‚

Click here to read more of my favorite tools blog entries.

Modern Trees Quilt Along Inspiration

Ok gals (and maybe a few guys). I am totally blown away by what you all are doing with your Modern Trees Quilt Along. I feel like I’ve lit a spark of creativity and you are turning it into a full-blown bonfire of inspiration. Yeah, maybe I’m not so good with the metaphors, but the blocks are really amazing to me.

Here are just few pics I pulled from my flickr group:

Improv Blocks

Joanna P’s Improv Blocks

Tree Block

Myrth McDonald’s Block

Scrappy Trees

Lattegirl40 – lovin’ the scrappy!

Green Trees

Barbara P’s Layout

Check out this fun block that Melissa over at Happy Quilting came up with.

Paper Pieced Trees

Paper Pieced Trees

It’s actually a different size, but is a good alternative for those who may want to make a bigger block, or who don’t have the tri-recs ruler used to make my version. Melissa’s block measures 10″ x 10″ finished and is paper pieced. She’s posted a blog tutorial on how to make it.

I’m thinking how fun it would be to combine larger and smaller blocks in the same quilt. Remember, this is your quilt so feel free to adapt it, innovate and truly make it your own!

The next Modern Trees QAL Tutorial will be posted next week.