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!!

QuiltCon 2018 – It Was Amazing!

I just finished a whirlwind 3 weeks of fun travel – to QuiltCon in California, Craftsy in Colorado and teaching in Oregon. Now that it’s taken me a week to recover from my adventures I’m finally ready to share my QuiltCon experience with you. It was, in a word, Amazing!!

So far, I’ve been to every QuiltCon since it began in 2013, and I’ve been super lucky to get at least one quilt juried into the show each year. (This year I had two – see below.) I was fortunate to be invited to teach at two of the shows so far (2016 & 2017) and QuiltCon is one show I’ll continue to attend each year because it’s just THAT awesome!!

Christa and Laurie from Modern Quilts Unlimited

Color Weave was one of my quilts juried into QuiltCon for 2018. It’s made from 3 colors of precut strips with simple pieced blocks. The color placement creates a woven illusion.

Here I’m hamming it up with Modern Quilts Unlimited editor, Laurie Baker. It was fun to have my quilt Color Weave hang and get judged in the show. The pattern is from issue 21 of MQU. (You can even click here to download a bonus tutorial on how I did the quilting for this quilt.)

Judges comments for this quilt:

  • Woven illusion is successful
  • Treatment of pattern at top and left give breathing space and add interest
  • Quilting compliments patchwork perfectly

Color Weave Straight Line Quilting Detail

Quilting detail of Color Weave – it was all done with straight lines using my walking foot. I used the piecing structure as a guideline for the quilting and varied the width of the lines using the edge of my foot and randomly changing my needle position.

This year at QuiltCon, it was kind of nice to have a break from teaching so that I could actually see the show, meet up with friends, and spend time networking with many of my quilting industry partners (like Hobbs, BERNINA, & Aurifil) along with the various shops who carry my books, patterns, and fabric).

Quilting Demo with Hobbs BattingI had a great time sharing machine quilting tips and tricks with folks who stopped by the Hobbs batting booth on the first day of the show on Friday. I talked the entire hour I was in their booth, so it was hard to get a picture of me without a funny expression on my face!

Spools Quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I loaned my “Spools” quilt from Piece and Quilt with Precuts to Hobbs for a few weeks so  they could use it to display in their booth at several quilt shows in which they are a vendor, including QuiltCon. Letting companies borrow my quilts for promotion is a win-win for both of us: they get to decorate their booths with colorful quilts, and my quilts get seen by a wider audience.

In Town Quilter's Booth at QuiltCon 2018

Above, clockwise: Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts, mini samples of patterns by Sylvia Schaefer of Flying Parrot Quilts, and a hand pieced, hand quilted block showing how Modern Marks plays well with other fabrics.

In-Town Quilters hosted me for a book signing in their booth on Friday of the show and I was pleased to see such a nice display of quilts and minis using Modern Marks fabric. It still makes me giddy when I see my fabric paired up with other designers’ patterns!!

I also did events for BERNINA and Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine on Saturday, but because I was so busy chatting – I forgot to take pictures. Needless to say, it fills my bucket when I get to chat with other quilters who love modern quilts as much as I do!

HST Remix quilt at QuiltCon 2018

HST Remix was my other quilt that was juried into QuiltCon 2018. It was hanging in the overflow room which had great architecture and beautiful chandeliers.

Judges comments for this quilt:

  • Fabric choices render pattern well
  • Quilting patterns fill spaces well
  • Area of gray in middle is really interesting element but feels slightly disproportionate

I actually appreciate the comments that offer constructive criticism even more than the positive ones, because that’s how I learn more about modern design. I’m still a fledgling student in this area and love learning all I can about what makes a successful modern quilt! In fact, each year I attend QuiltCon, it confirms my love for modern quilts and I’m always thinking about how to push myself to create more modern designs.

Quilting on HST Remix

Quilting on HST Remix – this one is big enough that it now fits on our bed!

I’ve been attending QuiltCon since the beginning, and one thing that struck me this year was the variety of modern styles. I think quilters are really branching out, taking risks with their designs and doing a lot more experimenting. There were a good mix of solids and prints, bright and more muted tones, machine and handwork.

And I was pleased to see a lot more interesting free-motion quilting. Don’t get me wrong – I love geometric straight line quilting as much as anyone. But I’m glad to see that more quilters are embracing “modern free-motion” (perhaps after attending my classes and lectures for the last 2 years and realizing it’s ok to quilt swirls and feathers on their modern quilts?? LOL!!). I was also impressed with the quality of the workmanship.

QuiltCon Hashtag

To view most of the quilts that were at QuiltCon, be sure to check out the hashtag #QuiltCon on Instragram – or click here. Those little squares in the collage above mean that there were multiple images shared in the same post – tons of amazing eye candy!

To be sure, QuiltCon places more of an emphasis on design and originality than workmanship and I think that’s totally fine. I attend and teach at a lot of shows and while they are all unique, most other shows emphasize workmanship over original design. Again – nothing wrong with that either, it’s just a different point of view.

When QuiltCon first opened, I was worried that many quilters would be intimidated to enter because they had less quilting experience or couldn’t afford to pay for expensive professional long arm services to bling up their quilts.

But I was comforted by the fact that at that first show, and each show since, more and more quilters are actually doing all of their own work, from start to finish. It has been fun to see many of these newer quilters gain confidence and experience in their work, and just five years later you can see that their efforts have paid off.

QultCon 2018 hashtag

Search #QuiltCon2018 on Instagram for even more fabulous inspiration!

One last thing to share: I served on the judging committee for QuiltCon – a volunteer position I’ve helped with over the last few years. No, I had nothing to do with this year’s judging or jurying. I just helped rewrite some of the policies so they’d be easy to understand for all who enter. One big change we made for 2018 was limiting the number of acceptances for any one person to 5 quilts and I think that was a great decision because created a more dynamic show that seemed fair to everyone.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience this year I and I truly hope you get a chance to attend in the future, if you haven’t already. QuiltCon will be in Nashville, Tennessee in 2019 and then back in Austin, Texas in 2020, where it all began. You can bet I’ll be there again for sure!!

Click here to view all of the winners from QuiltCon 2018.

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Meet Me at QuiltCon 2018: My Schedule of Events

I’m super excited for QuiltCon 2018 which takes place next week, February 22-25 in Pasadena California. Although I taught there the last 2 years, this year I’m excited to take it a little bit easier by being a student and attendee, and I can’t wait. However, I’ll still be super busy with a full lineup! If you plan to attend, I’d love to see you at one of my events listed below:

Christa’s QuiltCon Schedule

Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs

On Thurs. Feb 22, from 12:15-1:15 I’ll be in the Hobbs Batting Booth #122 for a meet ‘n greet. I’ll have some small samples on display and will be happy to answer your questions about batting, machine quilting, and anything else! Rumor has it, there might even be a giveaway!!
Later that day, I’ll be helping out as a general volunteer from 4-6 PM. I’m sure I’ll be wandering the show, pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is truly one of the best ways to get the most out of any show!
Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs
On Fri. Feb 23, from 12:30-1:30 I’ll be having a book signing with InTown Quilters at booth #624. They’ll have copies of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for sale and some Modern Marks precuts. If you know you’ll be at the show and want to reserve a copy of the book ahead of time, be sure and contact them right away before they sell out.
star Shadow by Christa Watson
Star Shadow, designed and made by Christa Watson, featuring Modern Marks
On Saturday, Feb 24 from 10-11:30 I’ll be hanging out tin the Modern Quilts Unlimited Booth #105. They will have my quilt Star Shadow on display, and you can get the pattern in their latest magazine issue! For those of you enjoying Quiltcon from home, click here to purchase the latest issue #22.
Christa at QuiltCon with BERNINA
Later that day, starting on Saturday at 1:15 PM, I’ll be performing a live machine quilting demo on stage, followed by a Meet ‘n Greet & book signing in the BERNINA booth #502. I’m pretty sure BERNINA will have a machine or two in their booth that you can try out and see why it’s my favorite sewing machine!
The MQG book
Finally, I’ll end my day on Saturday from 5:30-7:30 hanging out at The MQG Book Signing Party, to celebrate the launch of the new book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. I was thrilled to have 2 of my quilts featured in the book, which you can read about here.
QuiltCon 2018
I have to say, QuiltCon is my absolute favorite event – it features over 300 modern quilts and tons of great vendors. So far I’ve gone to every single show (since the first one in 2013). QuiltCon changed the course of my quilting career for the better and I’ve been pleased to have at least one of my quilts included in the show each time. For those not able to attend be sure to follow #quiltcon on social media, and check out a fun event that will be happing at the same time: #quiltconfromhome.

check out My Other posts from Prior QuiltCons:

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!!

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

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

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

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

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

Machine Quilting Plan

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

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

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

Diamond in the Rough quilting detail

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

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

Quilting Detail on Diamond in the Rough

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

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

Managing the quilt bulk while machine quilting

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

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

QuiltCon 2017 Cover

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

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

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

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

Diamond in the Rough by Christa Watson, at QuiltCon 2017

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

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My Trip to QuiltCon 2017

QuiltCon 2017 which took place in Savannah, GA, was such a flurry of activity and excitement! I taught 5 classes, gave 1 lecture and had 2 book signings, not to mention multiple meet ups and business brunches. It was a fantastic experience, although quite exhausting. The only thing I regret was not having more time to see the show. I could have spent days staring at all of the amazing quilts and reading all of the artists’ statements. One thing is for sure, I returned home on fire, ready to make some more modern quilts! Here are just a few of the highlights for me…

Meeting up with Craftsy Acquisitions Editor at QuiltCon

Linda and I took a picture in front of my Diamond in the Rough Quilt at QuiltCon.
I’ll share more detailed pics about this quilt in a future blog post.

One of the fabulous people I ran into was Linda Permann, the acquisitions editor for my Craftsy class. We discussed how well my current class is going and talked about future collaborations as well. I’ll be sure and keep you posted as that unfolds! Oh yeah, and she totally made her top. Isn’t it cute???

Machine Quilting Practice, student work from a class by Christa Watson

Student work from “Free-Motion Alternatives to Straight Line Quilting”

I taught three machine quilting classes and was so thrilled watching my students unlock the power of domestic machine quilting. Each time one of them would tell me how much fun they were having, I made sure to let them know it’s just as much fun for me, too!

Student work from Christa Watson machine quilting class at QuiltCon

Student work from “Free-Motion Improv” class

In each class, I shared inspiration images and a mini trunk show so they could see how I apply the motifs I quilt onto actual quilts. Then we practiced drawing out each design so the students could get a feel for how to quilt each shape. The most fun part of any class is when a student takes one of the designs and really makes it their own. I also love it when I hear comments like “I think I can DO this!!” Yes – you definitely can!!! 🙂

View from the stage at QuiltCon

View from the stage before my lecture. I love how everyone chats and makes  friends!!

I gave a lecture about tips and tricks for quilting on your home sewing machine. My #1 tip is to make a quilting plan and find your path so that you know what you are going to do before you get there. It was really fun to speak to an audience full of enthusiastic quilters and I even brought a few of my quilts so they could come up afterwards and see them “in the cloth.”

Student Work in EQ7 Class

Caroline from Sew Can She attended my EQ class and wrote up a really nice blog post about it.

I also taught 2 Electric Quilt classes plus had a book signing in their booth. The best moment of class for me was when a student said “Now I don’t need to actually sew quilts any more. I can just make them virtually in EQ!!
The Gals of EQThese gals that work for EQ are so amazing! From left to right it’s Jenny, Sara, Christine and Ann. They helped me out in the booth during my book signing as well as during my class. If you ever need technical support for the software, they are happy to give it! (That’s my Square in a square quilt from Machine Quilting with Style that was hanging in their booth.)

Pam and Lynn from The Stitch TV Show

While getting ready for my book signing in the EQ7 booth,  I ran into some friends of mine, Pam and Lynn from TheStitchTVShow.com. They ended up helping me set things up and they hung around for a bit, so I always had someone to talk to, LOL!! Lynn is the one that is the same height as me so we decided to put Pam in the middle and create a “Pamwhich.” 🙂

Angela Walters, Christa Watson, Tula Pink at QuiltCon 2017

Tula and I both agree that Angela is the best co-author ever!

Probably the funniest moment of the show came when Angela and I were signing copies of our book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Tula Pink heard that we were there so she ended up crashing the party and it turned into the 3 of us signing both our books we wrote with Angela.

While Angela and I were writing our book, she was also working on the book with Tula. I joked around with everyone that I totally didn’t mind that she “quilts around” LOL!!! 🙂

Stephanie and Stephanie, the Quilting Podcasters

Two quilting podcasters, both named Stephanie

I personally think that QuiltCon is the most interactive quilt show out there. Not only could you hear squeals of delight as internet friends met each other for the first time, but you could take part in the show even if you weren’t there. QuiltCon set up a podcast booth right on the show floor where they invited 4 well-known podcasters to record interviews during the show. I was fortunate enough to be invited to chat for a few minutes with Stephanie from Sit and Sew Radio.

Sit and Sew Radio Podcast

Click here to listen to Sit and Sew Radio – the first QuiltCon edition.

You can also check out thousands of pics on instragram with the hashtags #quiltcon and #quiltcon2017. Plus the MQG has posted images of all the winners.

Machine Quilting Detail from Best of Show at QuiltCon 2017

Machine Quilting detail of Bling, the best of Show winner by Kat Jones.

QuiltCon 2018 will be Pasadena, California with keynote speaker Carolyn Friedlander, then in 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. So far, I’ve attended every show, and I plan to keep going to it every year because I personally think it’s the best party around!

QuiltCon 2018

For further reading, check out my experiences from:
QuiltCon 2016
QuiltCon 2015
QuiltCon 2013

Come See Me at QuiltCon 2017 – Updated Schedule

I’m pleased to announce that I have added another book signing/meet ‘n greet to my QuiltCon schedule. On Saturday, February 25th from 12:30-1:30 Angela Walters and I will be signing copies of our co-authored book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with Intown Quilters in booth #348.

Meet Angela Walters and Christa Watson at QuiltCon

I’ll also be doing a book signing on Friday, February 24th from 12-1 PM in the Electric Quilt Company booth #337. Four of my quilts from Machine Quilting with Style will be on display for you to see “in the cloth.”

Christa Watson at QuiltCon in 2017

Both of my books will be available for purchase at both events. I hope you can make it!

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Christa’s Soap Box – Why I Enter Quilt Shows and a Few More Thoughts

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a series of “soap box” articles. These aren’t meant to be controversial, but rather a chance for me to gather my thoughts on certain topics and share them with you. It’s great to have a conversation about quilting that goes a little deeper than the usual quilt tutorial or eye candy inspiration. I’ve been so crazy busy over last year that I’ve barely had time to think big thoughts, let alone share them with you, LOL!!

Participation Ribbon

My first national quilt entry was QuiltCon 2013. At the time they gave hand made ribbons to ALL entrants. It’s the only QuiltCon ribbon I’ve ever received and I love it to death!!

Quilt show season is upon us so I thought I’d write a little about why I like to enter my work into shows. I do it for three basic reasons:

  1. To give myself a deadline to shoot for. I’ve realized that if I don’t give myself a deadline to do something, then it just doesn’t happen!!
  2. To share my work with a wider audience. Because quilting is my job (and IMHO the best one in the world!), it behooves me to come up with creative ways to get my name out there.
  3. Because it’s fun to see my quilt hanging in a big show and sometimes, on a lucky day, I just may snag a ribbon.Fractured Puzzle RibbonSome shows give monetary awards while others don’t. It depends on the show.

Now, I have to say, entering a show isn’t for the faint of heart. Most large shows are juried, which means that if there are more entries than spots in the show, a small panel of jurors will look through all of the entries and select what they feel will be the best representation for a show. Getting into a juried show can be thrilling; getting rejected can feel like a punch to the gut, especially if you made a quilt specifically for that show.

Facets Quilt

Facets got a ribbon at AQS Paducah, but was a “quiltconreject” for 2017, along with 4 other entries. That’s ok because I know it’s a very subjective process – you win some, you lose some!!

Plus, it’s expensive to enter shows. The average price of entering a quilt in a large show can range anywhere from $10 to $25 per quilt, or more, and there’s no refund if you quilt doesn’t get accepted. Then you have to pay for the shipping, depending on the show it can either be one way, or both!! I look at these costs as business expenses (again, because it’s part of my job), but they can definitely add up!

quiltcon-rejects

For the record, here are the other 4 quilts I entered that didn’t make it into QuiltCon: Candy Pop, Feathered Chevrons, Lightning, Square in a Square. I had my 5 second pity party and then I moved on. Each of them has already been in another show, or will be shown in one soon.

With many of us sharing our work online and in social media, getting likes and positive comments all the time, it can feel a bit jarring when the quilt show circuit isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. But in the end, whether a quilt gets into a show or not, or whether it wins recognition or not, I think it’s still tons of fun to try.

Many people enter larger shows forgetting that there are a ton of local opportunities, too. I entered my local guild’s show for many years (and still do), until I finally got up the guts to enter my first national show (QuiltCon in 2013). I knew the competition would be fierce even the first time around, so I did a lot of research into what makes a “show quality” quilt and did my best to adhere to those standards (a clean and appropriately quilted quilt with square corners, flat edges and evenly applied binding). Luckily, one of them got in back then, and each year I’ve submitted, I’ve gotten both rejections and acceptances.

diamonds_quilting

The back of my QuiltCon 2017 accepted entry. It’s all I can show for now since it’s for publication. It’s quilted as heavily as those that were rejected, so it’s all just a big crap-shoot anyhoo!! 🙂

I also enter lots of other shows on a regular basis, too, so I know the drill. However, with each entry, it’s still nerve-wracking, knowing I could be kissing my hard earned money goodbye. Quilting is definitely an emotional outlet and there’s always raw feelings –  elation when one gets accepted and dejection when one doesn’t. But I can say the more shows I enter, the easier it gets. They are all run with similar rules and deadlines so once you know the system, it’s easier to get into a routine.  Plus, the rejections get easier to handle, too. And here’s the biggest tip I’ve learned with quilt shows – enter ALL of them! What gets rejected from one show has many times gotten a ribbon at another show. So you never really know until you try.

fractured-puzzle_resizeMy entry into the MQG challenge that didn’t make in into QuiltCon 2016 but went on to win an award at MQX later in the year. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – until you are tired of trying and then it’s totally fine to move onto something else!!

So if you are thinking about entering a show, or nursing your wounds from not getting into one that you really liked, just remember your work is amazing because you did it. I bet you had a great time, making it, too. And if quilt show entering is not your thing, that’s totally okay! It definitely takes a thick skin to get over feeling rejected and it’s hard not to take it personally. But here’s one thing I can guarantee: if you share your quilts with me and my facebook friends, we would absolutely love to see them and will give you a virtual high-five!!

Related Reading

Here’s a roundup of posts I’ve written on similar topics – there’s a lot of info here:

List of shows to enter with modern categories:

**Disclaimer*** I welcome your considerate and thoughtful comments on this post. This article came about as my response to all of the chatter about QuiltCon on instagram over the last few days, both positive and negative. If you want to see an amazing virtual quilt show, check out the hashtags #quiltcon2017 and #quiltconreject. There’s some amazing work that just blows me away!!

QuiltCon Article from NQA

I love being a cheerleader for modern quilting. When I stumbled upon the style in 2012 and attended the first QuiltCon in 2013, it really changed the course of my quilting career in so many positive ways. I was able to meet people making art that really resonated with me and I was able to find my voice within the larger quilting community.

Back in 2014-2015 I wrote a regular column about machine quilting for the National Quilting Association, which sadly, went defunct at the end of last year. During my time writing for them, I was also able to co-author an article about QuiltCon with Jacquie Gering for NQA’s magazine, The Quilting Quarterly.  Because I’ve grown my readership quite a bit since that time, I wanted to republish this article so that any of you who missed it the first time around get a chance to read it. This is especially important for those of you who may not have yet attended QuiltCon, or might be going for the first time in 2017. It will give you a better idea of what to expect when you go. I’m re-sharing it here with Jacquie’s permission as well as the former editor of NQA magazine. Enjoy!

QuiltCon Article page 1

QuiltCon Article page 2

QuiltCon Article page 3

QuiltCon Article page 4

QuiltCon Registration Opens June 25, 2016 for MQG Members, July 8 for General Public

Have you picked out your classes for QuiltCon 2017? It’s going to be the modern quilting party of the year!! Registration opens this Saturday (June 25th) at 7 AM PST for Modern Quilt Guild Members, and July 8 for the general public. Be sure to register as soon as you can because classes sell out fast!

Click here for the complete catalog and descriptions of all lectures and classes.

As a reminder, here are the classes I’ll be teaching:

(220) Getting Started with EQ7 – Thursday 2/23 9-5

introtoEQ7

In this comprehensive workshop, students will learn the basics of Electric Quilt Software – version 7 for Windows or Mac. Topics include: learning to use the block library, setting blocks into quilt layouts, adding borders, importing fabric swatches, designing simple quilts, calculating yardage and more. This is a hands-on computer class, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(826) Machine quilting Spirals and Swirls – Thursday 2/23 6-9 PM

center_spiral

Learn how to quilt modern, geometric spirals and swirls using both walking foot and free-motion motifs. Students will learn how to quilt stunning designs such as large continuous spirals, geometric spirals, and several swirl variations. Spirals can be quilted in different areas of your quilts, or used as an allover design. Combine motifs for even more possibilities! Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(LE08) Quilting on Your Home Sewing Machine: Tips and Tricks – Friday 2/24 10:30-11:15 AM (lecture)

trunk_show

There are quite a few differences between quilting on a long arm and quilting on a sit-down home sewing machine. Although many of the same motifs can be quilted on either machine, the techniques on how to approach the quilting are different. In this lecture, I will share her best tricks on how to approach quilting on a sit-down machine. Plus, I’ll answer your questions and share tips on how to become a better quilter.

(232) Designing Modern Quilts in EQ7 – Saturday 2/25 6-9 PM

Designing-Modern-Quilts-in-EQ7-Image

Take your modern designs to the next level by learning how to draw and change them in EQ7. Topics will include drawing improv blocks, manipulating borders, incorporating negative space, going off the grid, changing sizes, and designing custom set quilts. We will work at a quick pace, so students should be comfortable with the basics of EQ7 prior to class. This is a hands-on computer workshop, and students must be comfortable using their own laptops, with their version of the software installed and validated prior to class.

(817) Free Motion Alternatives to STraight Line Quilting – Sunday 2/26 9-12

fmq_straight_line_alternatives

Go beyond the straight line and use your free-motion quilting skills to their fullest. In this workshop, students will learn how to turn basic shapes into linear free-motion quilting designs. Quilt them as allover designs across the surface of your quilt, or use them sporadically to create custom quilting motifs. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

(833) Improv Machine Quilting – Sunday 2/26 2-5

improv_machine_quilting_image

Liberate yourself from traditional quilting symmetry by combining your favorite machine quilting motifs in a seemingly random way. Add amazing texture to the negative spaces in your quilts and create your own unique combinations. The class will cover basic free-motion filler designs such as pebbles, swirls, leaves, paisleys, triangles, and more. Learn how to improvisationally combine them for stunning results. Students should be comfortable with basic machine quilting techniques.

Who’s going to QuiltCon?

Let me know if you plan to attend – I would love to see you there!