MQX 2020 Quilt Registration Opens Friday, November 1

Are you planning to attend MQX quilt festival? It takes place April 14-18, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. This will be my second time returning to the show and I can’t wait!

MQX Quilt Show

What I’m teaching

I’ll be teaching my most popular machine quilting workshops and lecture!
Here’s my complete schedule:

148-20 Free Motion Favorites
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
228-20 How do I Quilt it?
Tips for Machine Quilting Success
Thursday, April 16, 2020
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
244-20 Walking Foot Wonders
Thursday, April 16, 2020
1:00 PM to 6:00 PM Eastern Time

free-motion-quilting

Registration Opens at 9AM Pacific/Noon Eastern Time

Many of the classes sell out quickly, so be sure to bookmark the MQX website, create an account, and head there first thing on Friday to sign up. I’d love to see you there!

Click here for my complete list of classes, descriptions, and supply lists.

Walking Foot Quilting

Results from my Entries into DQN Quilt Show 2019 – Quilt Las Vegas

Earlier this spring, my local quilt guild held their annual show which has been going on for nearly 30 years (I think). It’s always fun to participate in my guild, and even more thrilling when my entries get a ribbon. So I thought I’d share them with you – along with the judging feedback I received:

Bling – Honorable Mention, Modern Category

Bling Quilt by Christa WatsonBling quilt pattern is now available in Print (click here) or PDF (click here).

This is the original version of my Bling quilt, made using a Fandangle fat quarters plus white background fabric. (I recently remade 2 more versions of the quilt using Geo Pop fat quarters with white or black background.)

Judge’s Comments for this quilt:
  • Print choices and placement create a lively quilt.
  • The woven quilting design contributes movement and texture.
  • Very good binding technique.
  • Pieced binding frames quilt well and contributes to unity.

Modern Star Struck – 2nd Place Pieced, Single Maker

Modern Starstruck by Christa Watson

The pattern for Starstruck can be found in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

This is one of my favorite quilts because it was made using every fabric in my very first fabric line Modern Marks. The pattern comes from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts and I was happy to be able to get a good color contrast without using any background fabrics. It’s all in how you pair them up! (The original quilt from the book was made in black and white.)

free-motion quilting on starstruck

Click here to get a Modern Marks fat quarter bundle – while supplies last!

The prints in this quilt are pretty busy so it’s hard to see the quilting, but I really enjoyed quilting it densely with 2 different designs in each block – that’s a total of 48 different motifs in one quilt!

Judge’s Comments for this quilt:
  • Excellent variety of prints create visual texture.
  • Very good value contrast between stars and background in individual blocks.
  • Blocks are well pieced.
  • Outside quilt edges should be straight and corners should be 90 degrees.
  • Good binding technique.

Color Weave – 1st Place Modern

Color Weave Quilt by Christa Watson

Click here to join the quilt along to make this quilt.
Color Weave was made from Abstract Garden precut strips + background.

It’s always hard to get a good pic of quilts hanging in a show, due to lighting and space constraints, but I love how the quilting shows up in this picture. I was pleasantly surprised at the positive comments I overhead about this quilt while walking the show. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a thing for bright, rainbow quilts!

Judge’s Comments for this quilt:
  • Beautiful color gradation.
  • Print choices lend wonderful visual texture.
  • Strong vertical lines are created through fabric placement.
  • Outside quilt corners should be 90 degrees.
  • Variegated thread unifies quilt top and provides visual accents on gray background fabrics.

Overall, I’m very pleased that the judge liked my bold bright colors and my busy fabric prints. The quilting wasn’t the star of the show in any of these quilts – and in fact, 2 of them utilized very simple walking foot quilting. I haven’t been entering as many quilt shows this year because I’ve been so busy designing fabrics and writing quilt patterns. But this was just the boost I needed to make it a priority once again!

My QuiltCon Entries for 2019 and a Plea for Kindness Online

I love this time of year. Not only for the holidays, but also to see what quilts everyone has entered for next year’s QuiltCon show. So far, I’ve been to every show since it began in 2013 and I’ve also had at least one quilt accepted for each show which is always fun to see. I just received word that one of three of my entries got in this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Blooming Wallflowers Accepted

Blooming Wallflowers quilt

Click here to get the PDF pattern for Blooming Wallflowers
Click here to get the print pattern for Blooming Wallflowers
Kits available – while supplies last

It’s really special to me that this quilt was accepted, because I had originally made a slightly different version (shown below) for a magazine (using my first line, Modern Marks). I entered the first version into the show last year and it was rejected then. I know that the jury changes from year to year and the group of quilts to choose from is always different, so that just goes to show that it’s always worth trying again if you think you have a really great design.

In the updated version (seen above), I still used the same dark Navy from Modern Marks, but paired it with coordinates from Abstract Garden.

Earlier Version – Made from Modern Marks

star Shadow by Christa WatsonThis version was a “reject” for QuiltCon 2018

Out of the Box Declined

This quilt was such fun to make and I’ll for sure be entering it into other shows. One thing I’ve learned is that my commercial quilt designs I make for patterns and books tend to be a little more on the more “modern traditionalism” side of things which usually has a ton of entries, so I’m never disappointed when one of them doesn’t make the cut. I’ve actually designed a super-modern version of this quilt with much more negative space that I may try to make and enter for next year, so we’ll see what happens!

Out of the Box by Christa Watson for American Patchwork and Quilting using Fandangle fabric

This quilt was originally made for a magazine to showcase Fandangle Fat Quarters.
I plan to remake it in an upcoming fabric line and re-release the pattern, so stay tuned!

Beaded Lanterns Declined

This one didn’t surprise me at all because all though it’s a dynamic design, it’s still very traditional in the layout and setting. But I still love it since it was easy to pattern and teach. This is the first year that I didn’t have time to make a quilt specifically for the show, but I’m still glad I entered. It’s always fun to be part of the process!!

Beaded Lanterns Finished Quilt

Beaded Lanterns was made to showcase Fandangle precut strips.
Kits available while supplies last.
Get the free pattern here.

A Plea for Kindness

Before you leave comments online saying “I can’t believe so and so’s quilt didn’t get in” or “what were those jurors thinking, they are crazy!” or anything of that nature, please remember to be kind.

I know that emotions tend to run a little high when everyone gets their notices that their quilts weren’t accepted. However, I always remind myself, it’s just simple math. There were 1750 quilts entered this year, and the show usually only had room for 400. So that means that less than 1 in 4 will get in on average. In other words, 75% of the quilts entered will not make it into the show. But that doesn’t make them “rejects.”  I’m sure that if QuiltCon had the room, they’d take as many quilts as they could.

I enter a lot of national shows, most of which are much larger than QuiltCon in terms of numbers of quilts on display. However, they don’t get nearly the amount of entries as QuiltCon does and I never hear negative comments about quilts that don’t make it in. I think it’s because QuiltCon and the MQG have such a large internet presence and we all know how easy it is to make an off-handed comment online. My one request would be to keep things as positive as you can, even if you didn’t get in. I know that the folks working behind the scenes put in untold numbers of hours to make a great show and I’m so thankful for the hard work they do!

In fact, if you’d like to treat yourself to a really inspiring “virtual” quilt show online, be sure to check out the hashtag “quiltconreject” on instagram. It’s a visual feast for sure!

Other Quilt Show Venues

And if you are thinking about entering your quilt into a large national show, here’s a few more that I’d highly recommend:

Blooming Wallflowers made with Abstract Garden and Modern Marks

Now it’s time to add a hanging sleeve and label to this quilt so it’s ready to ship!

Quilt Las Vegas 2018 and Lots of Gorgeous Modern Quilts

My local quilt guild, Desert Quilters of Nevada. recently held their 28th annual show of Quilt Las Vegas. I’ve been entering off and on over the years since the early 2000’s and it’s still exciting to participate after all these years.

DQN Quilted banner by Karen Garth

Desert Quilters of Nevada quilted banner made by past president Karen Garth

The competition is always fierce, and the judging is always performed by a certified judge. Even after all these years of entering this show, it’s still thrilling whenever one of my quilts wins a ribbon and I love the feedback provided by the judge.

Below are my entries from the show along with the judge’s comments, plus several more that caught my eye. I’m so happy to see that more and more members are making modern quilts, and especially that more are being accepted into non-modern categories. Enjoy the virtual show!

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson

Diamond in the Rough, made in 2016. 2nd place, Modern category.
Originally patterned in QuiltCon magazine 2017, it hung in QuiltCon last year and also received an honorable mention in the modern category at UQSM quilt show in 2017.

Judge’s comments for Diamond in the Rough

  • Repetition of shape unifies design while variations provide interest.
  • Very graphic presentation.
  • Very good piecing.
  • Quilting designs are well-chosen for their areas.
  • Good machine quilting technique.
  • Slight imbalance in tension noted with red thread. Continue to strive for accurate retracing.
  • Bit of red in binding was a good choice.
  • Binding is good.

Positive Direction Quilt by Christa Watson

Positive Direction, made in 2016. 2nd place, Holiday category.
Originally patterned in one size in Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.
Updated pattern now includes 4 sizes, available as print pattern or PDF download.

Judge’s comments for Positive Direction

  • Good interplay between quilt top design and quilting design.
  • Very good accuracy in piecing.
  • Good machine quilting technique.
  • Strive for more accuracy in retracing bubbles.
  • Binding is well done.

Scrap Happy by Christa Watson

Scrap Happy, made in 2017. 2nd place, Pieced – One Person category
Cover quilt + patterned in American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, October 2017.
I recently gifted this quilt to my son to take with him to college.

Scrap Happy Machine Quilting Detail

Machine Quilting Detail on Scrap Happy

Judge’s comments for Scrap Happy

  • Good definition between figure and ground.
  • Good machine piecing.
  • Colors are well balanced across quilt top.
  • Quilting designs further enhance definition between figure and ground.
  • Continue to strive for consistent stitch length in machine quilting.
  • Pieced binding enhances scrappy feel. Corners should be square.

I always mention to my students when teaching machine quilting not to stress too much about consistent stitch length when making their quilts. Yes, judges notice my “imperfections” in my quilts, but they still like them enough to award them ribbons, and I love making them without stressing about creating perfect stitches!

Other Gorgeous Quilts

Autumn Path quilt by Vicki Ruebel

Autumn Leaf by Vicki Ruebel of Orchid Owl Quilts
1st Place Pieced – One Person category and best machine quilting.

Vicki is a great friend and amazing quilter. We encourage each to other enter lots of quilt shows and I don’t even mind that she usually beats me every time, LOL!!

I love our friendly competition because it always pushes me to be a better quilter. Incidentally, her quilt was also patterned in the same issue of American Patchwork and quilting that has Scrap Happy on the cover. There’s even a bonus article on how she quilted it!

The Big Pickle by Vicki Ruebel

The Big Pickle, also by Vicki Ruebel. 1st Place, Modern

Yep, this one beat mine in the modern category, but isn’t it fabulous? This quilt nabs an award at each show it is entered, and deservedly so!

Corn Flowers by Cory Allender

Corn Flowers by Cory Allender and her Instagram quilting bee.
2nd place, collaboration/group quilt.
Design source: Blossom Heart Quilts Beehive

I love the quilting on this quilt. Cory is an amazing award winning longarm quilter and she’s nailed both the modern and traditional aesthetic.

Diamond Rings by Karen Garth

Diamond Rings by Karen Garth, Honorable Mention Modern Category
Original design and made by Karen

Karen, the past president who made the DQN banner at the top of this post always creates such stunning, dynamic work. I have a thing for black and white and this design really makes my heart sing!

Float by Melissa Bonilla

Float by Melissa Bonilla – Modern Category
inspired by Floating Embers

Every time I attend quilt shows, I wish I could bring my own ribbons! If so, I would have put one on Melissa’s quilt above. I may actually have to do that at a show someday. Hmmm, maybe I can create my own “Christa’s Choice” ribbon!!!

Modern Logs Quilt

Super Star Bingo by Lynda Blair – quilted by Cory Allender – Modern

I walked by this quilt and was stunned by the gorgeous colors and fabric placement. I was thinking “why do I love this quilt?” and on closer inspection realized the maker had used my Modern Logs quilt pattern to make it, LOL!! She even gave me credit in her artist’s statement as the design source.

Super Star Bingo Text

I’m totally happy when people make quilts from my patterns and enter them into shows, and I especially love it when they give credit to the designer. 🙂

Quilt Show Quilts

Bertha (left) by Melissa Curley – Third Place Modern
Theresa’s Crayon Box (right) by Theresa C – Third place, small pieced

I took this picture from the show which illustrates what I love about quilting and the quilting community. From minimalist modern designs to blinged and bedazzled art pieces – there’s truly something for everyone when it comes to quilting!

Ben Modern Quilt by Melissa Curley

Ben by Melissa Curley –  Judge’s Choice – Show Theme Category

Here’s another fabulous piece by Melissa Curley. I’m a fan of everything she makes and her sense of design and color are spot on! I think it’s kinda cool that she gives all of her quilts first names. Read her artist statement below, explaining the fun pop culture reference.

Artists Statement at Quilt Show

I hope you’ve enjoyed the virtual show and remember – entering quilts into shows isn’t really about the competition. It’s about sharing your work with a larger audience and inspiring others to make quilts they’d only dream about!!

I’m Teaching in Las Vegas at the New Quilt Show this October!

I’m excited that the quilting scene in Las Vegas is now big enough to support two quilt shows a year! I’ll be sharing my entry results from Quilt Las Vegas soon (a show I’ve been participating in for over 20 years). But now I’m excited to be involved with the newest show, “Points West” hosted by the Las Vegas Quilters.

Las Vegas Quilt Show

Click here for my lecture and teaching schedule at the show.

Points West Quilt Show will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center October 18-20, 2018. It’s the only time I’ll be teaching in my home town of Las Vegas this year. So I invite you to take one of my workshops, or attend one of my lectures.

Here’s what I’ll be teaching at the show:

Walking Foot Wonders

Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 9am-4pm
Class Length: Full day – Machines provided
Skill Level: All levels

Class Fee: $80
Click here to register for this class.

Walking foot Quilting Workshop

Quilt shown is “Little Man’s Fancy” from my book Machine Quilting with Style

Class Description: 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, large continuous spirals, several straight line variations, and more! You’ll leave class armed with the confidence that yes, you can quilt your own quilts!

Class will also include a discussion on basting, favorite tools and supplies that make the job easier, plus tips for putting it all together on a real quilt.  Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples.

Free Motion Favorites

Friday, October 19, 2018, 9am-4pm
Class Length: Full day – Machines provided
Skill Level: All levels

Class Fee: $80
Click here to register for this class.

Free-motion quilting

Quilt shown is “Quatrefoil Applique” from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

Class Description: Embrace perfectly imperfect quilting! That means little to no marking, and a whole lot of gorgeous texture. Ease into free-motion quilting with asymmetrical wavy lines, then move onto loops, traditional and modern stippling, plus curvy fillers like wishbones and cursive l’s that can expand to fit any space. Finish it off with several swirl variations, and you’ve got a toolbox of motifs to try on your next quilt!

Class will also include a discussion of basic free-motion quilting tips and tools, plus figuring out how to combine motifs together in the same quilt. Students should be comfortable with their sewing machines, and will practice on their own pre-basted fabric and batting samples.

Lecture & Trunk Show

Lecture: How Do I Quilt It?

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 1pm

Lecture Fee: $25
60 minute presentation Includes slide show, Q&A and book signing.

Click here to register for this lecture

The secret to successful quilting is in the planning and preparation. I’ll guide you through the steps I take to make each quilting experience fun and stress free Once you see my methods, you’ll feel empowered to quilt your own quilts! Learn how I baste my quilts, make a quilting plan, choose thread colors, divide and conquer each task, and apply rich texture with little to no marking of the quilt.

I love to share my quilts along with tips and tricks for better machine quilting!

Modern Quilting Trunk Show

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 6pm

Lecture Fee: $25
60 minute presentation Includes physical quilts, Q&A and book signing.

Click here to register for this trunk show.

I enjoy making complete quilts from start to finish, and am excited to show you the latest quilts from my books and patterns. This is your opportunity to get up close and personal with my quilts as I share my creative journey along with explanations of what makes them “modern”. Exact quilts shown will vary.

Points West Quilt Calendar

Quilt Las Vegas will also feature a full slate of regional and national instructors including Frieda Anderson, Mel Beach, Carmen Geddes, Nancy Mahoney and more!!

Click here to see the full list of instructors and the classes they’ll be offering.

There will also be a quilt competition, vendor mall, plus plenty of other fun events, and award winning quilter Marilyn Badger will be the judge and featured artist at the show. If you are near the Las Vegas area, or want to make a vacation out of it, I invite you to join me at the show. This event is brand new to Las Vegas and I can’t wait for it to get here!

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.

Christa’s Soapbox – On Quilt Show Acceptance and Rejection

It’s that time of year again, where you can find an inspiring virtual quilt show on Instagram. Just search the hashtags #quiltconreject and #quiltcon2018 to see many of the quilts that were entered into next year’s show (happening in Pasadena, CA Feb 22-25, 2018).

HST Remix by Christa Watson

I’m pleased that HST Remix shown above was accepted into QuiltCon 2018. I’ll be blogging more about this quilt and the other one that made it in, so stay tuned!

QuiltCon has been happening since 2013 and as social media has grown, so has the sharing which is nothing short of inspiring. In the early days of QuiltCon, feelings were a little more raw when many who had entered a show for the very first time ever, felt that their quilts not getting in was somehow a rejection of themselves, rather than a simple fact of math. About 1400 quilts are usually entered each year and there’s room to display only about 350 of them. So that means quilt entrants only have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting in. Or in other words, 75% of the quilts that are submitted won’t make it in.

HST Remix Detail

Detail of HST Remix. For each quilt show entry you usually provide two images – an overall view of the entire quilt plus a closeup so they can see the machine quilting.

What I’ve noticed this year is a much more upbeat attitude: sure quilters are still disappointed when their beautiful work doesn’t make the cut. But when they look at the sheer volume and amazing workmanship of others that also were “rejected”, they seem to take it in stride.

I’ve certainly known my fair of disappointment and rejection. I’ve entered quilts into QuiltCon every year from the beginning and each year my non-acceptences or “rejects” have far outnumbered those that were juried in.

(FYI – a “juried” show means you send in a digital image of your quilt during the application process and a group of people who are completely different from the judges look at all the quilts and decide which will best represent the show. It’s usually based on individual scoring of each quilt, and the jurors don’t know who makes each quilt. Those quilts with the highest jury scores are accepted until all spots have been filled.)

Colorweave quilt

Colorweave is the second quilt that was accepted into QuiltCon. It’s simple yet graphic.

I have managed to have at least one quilt in each QuiltCon (see them here: 2013, 2015, 2015, 2015, 2016, 2017, but some of it was pure luck: for the first QuiltCon back in 2013, no one really knew about it until the entry deadline had passed, so the odds of getting in back then were MUCH higher. Then in two of the previous shows, the only reason I got in was because of “automatic” triggers: I had a quilt in the 2017 issue of QuiltCon magazine which was a guaranteed entry, and in 2016 one of my quilts was in the MQG showcase which was also an automatic entry for that year.

Coloweave - walking foot quilting

Detail of the quilting on Color Weave – random crosshatch lines quilted with a walking foot

And you know what? I’ve never won a ribbon at QuiltCon before. I certainly don’t enter to win – the joy for me is in the sharing. But it is kind of ironic, that I’ve been able to get a ribbon at many of the national quilts show I’ve entered, but none at QuiltCon. There’s no bitterness at all there, just a simple acknowledgement that QuiltCon is unlike any other show out there, which is one of the things I love about the show. Heck, some of the quilts that have won ribbons at other national shows never even made it into QuiltCon, which just goes to show that just because a quilt didn’t get in, doesn’t make it less amazing or not worthy.

QuiltCon reject 1

“Rejection #1” – S.W.A.K (Sealed with a Kiss)

If you are one of those feeling a little bruised because your quilt didn’t make it into QuiltCon (or another show for that matter), might I offer this bit of encouragement: you are doing your best work right now and it will only get better!

If you are new to the quilt show circuit then I recommend you start with a local or regional show first. Usually they aren’t “juried” shows which means they’ll accept quilts on a first-come first basis until the slots fill up. This is a great way to see how it all works – filling out an application, getting your quilt to and from the venue, what it feels like to read judges’ comments, etc.

QuiltCon reject 2

“Rejection #2” – Spools. Both this quilt and SWAK above are from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts which just goes to show a quilt can still be publication worthy and not get into a show.

Then, once you’ve got your “big-quilter” britches on, go for the national shows. They all have a different aesthetic, different jurors, and different judges. Quilt show entering and judging is EXTREMELY subjective, so as long as you know that going in, you’ll be okay.

Machine Quilting Backing Detail

The back of Reject #3 which I can’t reveal yet because it’s slated to be published in a magazine next year. Even though it wasn’t juried into QuiltCon, it will be displayed in the publisher’s booth.

Here’s just a small list of shows that I enter regularly with links to their websites. I only enter shows with modern categories, so that limits things a bit, but know that there are a whole slew of shows out there and if you google “quilt show entry” you’ll find a wealth of information. If there’s a show you particularly like that’s not listed below – please leave details in the comments for others to see.

National Quilt Shows I Usually Enter:

Now, let’s go make some more fabulous quilts, whether they are included in a quilt show or not!!

What it’s Like to Judge a Quilt Show – My Experience at Vermont Quilt Festival

Now that I’m back and rested from my week at Vermont Quilt Festival, I thought I would tell you a little bit more about my experience judging the show with three other fabulous award winning quilters: Kathie Beltz, Kimberly Einmo, and David Taylor.

Judges at Vermont Quilt Festival

Kathie, Kimberly, Me and David – and no we didn’t match on purpose!!

This was my first time judging a large national show, although I’ve judged locally and online (checkout the Pantone Greenery 2017 winners here). I’ve also volunteered in the judging room of my local quilt guild’s show for many years, and I’m currently serving on the QuiltCon judging and jurying task force which is in the process of finalizing entry rules for next year’s show.

Each quilt show is unique with different rules, number of judges and methods, but they all have one thing in common: they are there to showcase a wide variety of quilts. Judges are instructed to give positive praise as well as helpful encouragement, and judges follow the rules given to them by the show.

Best Hand Quilting VQF

Best Hand Quilting – Cauterskill Rising by Janet Atkins of Athens, NY

VQF Judging

VQF is a non-juried show, which means that entries are selected by mailed in entry postmark, on a first-come first served basis until the number of quilts the show can accept has been met. (By contrast, a juried show means that you submit photos of your quilt and a small pool of jurors selects those that will be accepted for entry and judging.) For all quilt shows, judging is blind, which means that the judges have no idea who’s quilt they are judging. They may or may not have access to the name of the quilt, and the artists’ statement, but that’s it.

Best Machine Quilting VQF

Best Stationary Machine Quilting – Sapphires on Snow by Norma Ippolito of Chester, VT

For VQF, they hired 4 judges and each quilt (except for a couple of special categories) was judged by 3 of the four judges. So one person’s quilt was evaluated by judge A,B,C and another person’s quilt could have been examined by judge B, C, D etc. The entrants were not informed of which judges looked at their quilts, but each quilt received a total of 3 written judging sheets.

Example Judging Sheet for VQF

Example Judging Sheet for VQF

In this show, each quilt was given a numerical score with a total possible score of 100 points. Those that scored within a certain number were then giving a corresponding ribbon: 85-89 points – yellow (third place); 90-93 points – red (second place); 94-97 points – blue (first place); 98-100 points – purple (exceptional merit). What is unique about this show is that quilts were judged on their own merits rather than against other quilt. So this means that some categories could have multiple ribbons of the same color, while it’s possible that other categories may not receive any blues or purples, etc.

Best Mixed Techniques, VQF

Best Outside of USA – Flower Pots by Frances Firn Ceriko of Quebec, Canada

Each judge took a look at each quilt independently of the other judges, and 2 scribes were assigned to each judge to record their scores and comments. The entrant’s final score was based on the average of all 3 scores for the final point total. On the rare occasion that the three scores varied by more than 10 points from high to low, we judges got together – called a “conference” – to discuss why the variation occurred and then decided whether or not to adjust our scores. With hundreds of quilts to score and 4 judges with different voices, it was amazing how few times that happened!

Best Modern Quilt at VQF

Best Modern Quilt – It’s Universal by Anya Byam of Burlington, VT

Once we concluded judging each category, then it was time to move onto the special awards and “best of.” Some of the categories such as best applique, best use of theme, etc. were chosen based on their numerical score. Others such as best home machine quilting, best hand quilting, best piecing, etc. were chosen at our discretion. We were also able to choose 6-7 special additional awards and name those ourselves, such as  “best bling, best graphic quilt” etc. And of course each of us got to choose our own “judges’ choice” which was super fun – and hard to narrow down!

Best Vermont Quilt VQF

Best Vermont Quilt – Whiteout by Mara Novak, Norma Ippolito, Dona McKenzie, Carolyn Niesuchouski, and Lynn Way of Chester, VT

Throughout the judging, we each took notes on which quilts to consider for the special awards. Other than judges’ choice, we conferred with the other judges to make our final decision. It was quite surprising how many quilts overlapped on each of our lists.

Christa Watson judges choice at VQF

Christa’s Judges Choice – Going on a Trip II by G. Wong of Wellesley, MA

Then the best part was at the awards ceremony when each winners’ name was revealed. It felt like Christmas morning, eagerly anticipating the excitement of the recipients as their names were called. Many of them were actually there at the show and there’s nothing like seeing an excited quilter run up on stage to claim his/her award!

Overall, it was a fabulous experience, and I’d definitely do it again! Here’s a couple of general tips if you are considering entering your work at a local or national show:

Quilt Show Tips

  • Read the rules completely and do your best to put your quilt in the appropriate category.
  • Pay attention to details such as stray threads and fabric markings.
  • Stitch the corners of your binding closed (both sides), and take extra care to ensure the quilt hangs flat and straight.
  • Make sure the density of quilting is even across the entire quilt.

But above all, have fun with it and realize that although judges to their best to judge a quilt without bias, it’s human nature to be drawn to a quilt that is more in line with their style. So enter a variety of shows, knowing you will receive a variety of different opinions!

Best Scrap Quilt at VQF

Best Scrap Quilt – On the Fly by Timna Tarr of S. Hadley, MA

Quilt Show Venues

The number one question I get asked is how do I find out about which shows to enter? Start with your local friends, quilt shops and guilds and start asking around. There’s no one all-encompassing listing of shows to enter, but you can start by creating a list of shows you hear about and then get on their mailing lists so you’ll get notified when it’s time to enter. Then pay attention on social media to which shows other people are entering. You can google “quilt show competition entry” for lots of great info, too.

Here’s just a small list of shows I enter regularly, or like to encourage others to enter (in no particular order):

Feel free to add additional shows that you know of in the comments for all to see. If you have any questions about entering shows, feel free to ask them in the comments and I”ll be glad to answer them to the best of my abilities!

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Teaching Update – Summer and Fall 2017

I get a lot of comments and questions from so many of you wonderful readers, asking when I’ll be in your neck of the woods. So I thought I’d share a quick teaching update, letting you know where I’m headed in the next few months. If you are in the area, I’d love to see you in one of my classes or lectures!

Here’s Where I’ll Be:

June 7-10 Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival
I’m teaching 4 machine quilting classes – and while those are already sold out, I will be participating in “meet the teacher” on Wednesday evening at 5:30. I’ll also be giving a trunk show on Thursday at 12:15 PM which is free to all attendees.

June 20-25 Vermont Quilt Festival
I’m teaching 2 machine quilting classes, (Thursday or Friday) 2 piecing classes (Saturday or Sunday) and giving a lecture and trunk show on Friday afternoon. As of today, there is still plenty of room in all of them. Click here for class info.

July 28-29 Quilt Nebraska
I’m teaching machine quilting on Friday and piecing on Saturday. Hosted by the Nebraska State quilt guild, this is a retreat-style convention with different package options and a great lineup of teachers to choose from. Click here for the registration booklet – the cutoff is June 22 and non-guild members are welcome for an additional fee.

August 17-19 Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild of Texas and Houston MQG
I’m presenting a machine quilting workshop and lecture to each group for their members. You can check with each guild to join, or to see if they allow visitors.

Christa Watson Teaches

September 15-16 Sew Yeah Quilting in Las Vegas
I’ll be teaching machine quilting and giving a trunk show from my new book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts which publishes in August. Save the date as class signups will open later this summer!

September 22-23 Glendale Quilt Show in Pasadena, CA
This fun event boasts Luke Haynes as the featured artist which should be a real treat! Retreat packages are available as well as registration for individual workshops. I’ll be teaching a full day of machine quilting on Friday and two half day piecing workshops on Saturday.
Click here for show flyer with all the details.

September 27-30 MQX Quilt Show in Springfield, IL
I’m super excited about this one! I got my first national ribbon at this show back in 2013 and I’ve bee dying to attend the show ever since! Classes are filling up fast, but there are still a few spots left in my 4 different machine quilting workshops. Click here for details.

Click here for my complete teaching schedule. I have workshops scheduled nationwide through 2019 and I update it on a regular basis. Thanks to all past and future students – you are the reason I love what I do!

Christa Teaches

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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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