Christa’s Soap Box – Make it Yourself, Make it Your Own

The more I blog about quilting, the more comfortable I have become in developing a sense of my own personal quilting style, and have been finding my “voice,” if you will. My philosophy can be summed up in this simple phrase, “make it yourself, make it your own.”

But what  does this mean, exactly?

First of all, it’s very inclusive. Rather than applying a set of rules such as “you can’t copy me,” which I would never do, I encourage my blog followers and students to discover what they like about a certain project I design – embrace it, and go for it! Sometimes that means their project will look very similar to mine. Other times, it may be completely different.

modern_logs_purpleA recent student making her version of Modern Logs. I love how she chose to make it her own through her choice of fabrics, layout and eventual quilting design.

By making a quilt your own it means you are in charge of it’s destiny from commencement to completion. You get to decide the colors, the pattern, the style, the fabrics, and the means for how to make it. You can decide how long you would like to take to complete a project. This means you get to work at your own pace, not mine. I’m there to guide and encourage, but not to dictate.

Making it your own is also very liberating. For example, I may choose to press my seams open (because I have the time and prefer a flatter look), whereas you may be in a hurry and need to quickly press your seams to one side or another and move onto the next project. Both methods are exactly right as long those utilizing them are happy about it.

grammieqOne of my quilt along followers with her version of Modern Trees. I love how she embraced the improv aspect of the design and chose scrappy pinks for the background!

Making it yourself can have different meanings, too. For me, I enjoy the entire process of creating a quilt. From prewashing and starching my fabrics to machine quilting my quilts and binding them by hand, I relish every step. That is why I’m so keen to explain every part of the quilt making process in my tutorials and in my teaching. I try to make it seem as un-scary as possible to make a complete quilt. After all this is supposed to be fun! :-)

I totally understand that finishing is not for everybody and I’m cool with that, too. Making it yourself can mean cutting, sewing or just playing with fabric for awhile. Some may enjoy designing and come up with dozens of virtual quilts that never get physically made. But does that lesson the importance of their art? Absolutely not. Remember that many times, the joy is in the journey.

20140715_qal_seasquares_lynnQAL follower Lynn’s adorable version of Sea of Squares. She worked at her own pace and finished this on her own time schedule, over a year after the original QAL began.

I often hear from blog readers who avidly follow my quilt alongs but never make the quilts. They enjoy reading about the process and get lost in their imaginations and the inspirations of others. I do the same thing when I purchase books about quilts I’ll never make. I still enjoy reading them just as much.

So I invite you to continue along with me on this journey of self-discovery. I find that the more quilts I make, the more I love to quilt. And the more I blog about quilting, the more I love to share my processes.

You don’t even have to agree with me and that’s ok, too – you can still be my friend! Just remember to be kind and courteous in any of your responses. It goes a long way. :-)

What’s your favorite part of the quilt-making process?

Posted in Soapbox | 28 Comments

Fabric Friday – Paintbrush Studio Fat Quarters

I’m excited to share a fun find for this week’s Fabric Friday. Please let me introduce you to Paintbrush Studio fabric bundles.

20140716_marbleheadMarblehead by Ro Gregg – 55 tantalizing tone on tone textures.

Designer Ro Gregg has created dozens of colorful collections including her signature tone-on-tonal Marblehead line, along with fun themed novelty groups.

I am a sucker for fun, bright geometrics…

20140716_bright_geomRio 12 piece fat quarter bundle by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush Studio

And classic black and white prints with a pop of red!

20140716_black_whiteBlack Tie Affair by Ro Gregg- 10 fat quarters

Neutrals have been making their way back into the quilting scene, and who can resist a modern floral bundle like this??

20140716_neutralsElemental Lines 12 piece fat quarter bundle.

You know, one of the reasons I love running my precut store is that I know I’ll never be able to make all of the quilts I want to. Playing with  fabric gives me a good excuse to imagine the possibilities, even if there’s no way I will get to them all in one lifetime!

Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 4 Comments

What I’m Working on Wednesday: Writing, Writing, Writing!

I’m working from the beach this week, which I think is the perfect setting for productivity!

Each year we travel with Jason’s family to Hermosa Beach, California for a week of fun in the sun. It was in the summer of 2012 that I discovered modern quilting and read my first modern quilting book on the beach! (See my 2013 beach pick here.)

20140715_beach_bookMy 2014 Beach Reading Pick – Savor Each Stitch by Carolyn Friedlander

Last year at this time I was brainstorming ideas of what I wanted to write about myself, and this year I’m finally working on my own manuscript (which will hopefully be ready by next summer)! I’ve realized that even though  summer is a busy time with family and vacations – it’s the perfect time of year for some intense pattern writing and editing due to our relaxed schedules and long summer days. (And the scenic views help a lot, too!)

20140715_beach_runGetting in our daily run – Jason finds new trails for us to try wherever we are!

I’m also planning some upcoming work for a magazine series which I’m not quite ready to reveal yet, but will make an announcement about soon (once contracts are in order).

Never one to miss a moment to sew, I’ve brought along my Singer Featherweight and have set up a makeshift sewing station in our room. With 10 people in one beach house, space is at premium, but who says you need a large quilting studio to be productive?


A small machine and portable table can fit in nearly any empty corner!

Summer is definitely my favorite time of year for a working vacation!


Posted in Personal Life, Sew and Tell | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Christa’s Soap Box – Community Vs. Content

Today’s soap box was inspired by an earlier post from my friend Lee at Freshly Pieced. She very eloquently wrote a thought provoking essay entitled, “Are Blogs Dead?” referring to the idea that in some circles, Instagram my be supplanting blogs as quilters’ social media of choice.

Fortunately, her conclusion was that no, blogs are note dead – they are just different!

binding_clips1It’s been fun to use my blog to share tips, tricks and tutorials, like how to bind a quilt.

This got me to thinking about social media and why I am so attracted to it. I think it really is about the community and the content. I view my blog as my “Home Base” or my place to “be.” It’s where others can come find me, and see what I’m up to. It won’t change locations or format (unless WordPress does something very drastically different which I highly doubt). My blog is very reliable and I can choose to write as little or a much as I like.

I can be myself here, share the occasional peek into my personal life, and people can choose to read or not at their leisure. It’s also a place where I can store many of my ideas and thoughts as I quilt, along with tons of free content I’m happy to share. (You should see my WIP posts that have not been posted yet – they go on for pages and pages, LOL!!)

Running in Utah

I don’t mind sharing both my personal and professional life on my blog.

However, Lee did bring up a good point which I hadn’t thought of before. Blogs are becoming more of a one way content generator and less of a vehicle for two-way communication. I know from my stats that I get a lot of traffic and people reading my blog, even if they don’t comment as much as they read. Heck I do the same thing – I follow over 100 blogs on a regular basis but I read far more than I comment.

So that’s where other social media like facebook, instagram or flickr come in. I think people, including myself, like the instant gratification that a quick comment or “like” can generate.

For me personally, I just can’t get into facebook, and flickr has become really user unfriendly lately – but I love checking instagram on a daily basis (@christaquilts). It’s quick and easy to pop in for a few minutes to see what beautiful things others are making, and it’s fun to leave a quick message or get instant feedback on what I’m working on. I also think of it as a way to share real-time snaphsots of daily life, which I can then turn into a cohesive “story” later on my blog.

20140710_snippetsI love to share “snippets” of my life on instagram, – or the “in-between” posts.

So I agree with Lee – blogs are definitely not dead, but their use is evolving. Because I’m the type of person that likes to have everything neatly organized in it’s own little box, I love the idea of referencing blogs mainly for content, and using instagram for my daily dose of quilty socialization.

How about you – what are your favorite ways to utilize social media?


Posted in Soapbox | Tagged , , | 57 Comments

Fabric Friday – Reduced Prices on Precut Yardage Bundles

Jason and I have been enjoying managing our new precut store, seeking out new products and experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.

If an item doesn’t sell as well as we’d like, we are not above discounting it to clear it out and make room for something new. That’s a win for us as it allows us to put our efforts into finding other exciting precuts – and it’s a win for you because you can get a great deal on some awesome fabric!

yardage_aqua12 yard bundles of chevrons, dots and gingham in a dozen different colorways!

While we loved the idea of selling precut yardage bundles (1 yard cuts of a 6-12 coordinating pieces), we’ve learned that most people would rather pick and choose their yardage; or if they want a full collection, the smaller more economical precut bundles are easier on the wallet.

yardage_lulaLula Magnolia Bundle – Under 9 bucks a yard! – Comes in 3 Colorways!

Therefore we’ve reduced the prices on all of our existing yardage bundles. The regular price for a 7 yard bundle retails at $77. However, ours are now selling for just $62 which is under 9 bucks a yard (which includes free US shipping)!!

yardage_halloweenThere are plenty of Halloween bundles on sale, too!

We have over 60 different yardage bundles, with more on the way from orders placed earlier in the year. However, once these have sold out, we won’t be carrying them anymore.

yardage_rocketThere are plenty of novelty bundles on sale – perfect for that next baby quilt!

Click here to see all our our reduced price yardage bundles and stock your stash with pretty prints!




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How To Make a Modern Quilt – Class Registration is Now Open!

I would love to invite you to register for my week-long class on How to Make a Modern Quilt at the John C. Campbell Folkschool in Brasstown, North Carolina March 8-14, 2015.

Students will spend a full week with me as they learn how to make a complete modern quilt from start to finish using my Modern Logs quilt pattern.

20140702_folkschool_imagePage from the Course Catalog for 2015

Come spend the week with me in a retreat-like setting in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina! Class time will run for 6 hours a day from Monday-Friday with a break for lunch and plenty of time in the mornings and evenings for exploring your surroundings and enjoying extra activities (or additional studio time). Orientation is on Sunday evening when you arrive with a final show and tell on Friday evening before you depart on Saturday morning.

20140706_folkschool_trailI can’t wait to explore all of the beautiful nature trails when I arrive!

Here are the important details:

  • When: March 8-14, 2015
  • Where: John C. Campbell Folkschool in Brasstown, NC
  • Cost: Tuition – $594 for the week, plus room and board (approx. $300-$700 depending on your choice of accommodations).
  • Travel to and from the Folk school is up to you.

20140706_folkschool_craftsThe folkschool craft shop features work made by local and regional artisans.

Here are some helpful links to learn more about the school and how to register:

Click here to read my class description and/or register for my class.

Click here for “what to expect” in a typical week (my class is 6 nights).

Click here for information on Lodging and Meals.

Click here to download the complete Course Catalog.

20140702_folkschool_housingExample of one of the housing locations at the Folk School – Isn’t it perfectly charming??

A supply list will be sent to you upon registration. You can choose to bring your own sewing machine or use of of the classroom machines. Class size is limited, so register early for a guaranteed spot! I can’t wait to see you there!

Posted in Quilt Events, Quilting Classes, Teaching | Tagged | 9 Comments

Christa’s Soapbox – More Thoughts About Teaching

So a few months ago I shared the fun news that I had been nominated as one of 9 finalists for Teacher of the Year presented by the Professional Quilter. It pleases me to no end that the lovely and talented Jacquie Gering was selected – she is amazing and is one of my modern quilting heroes, for sure! The rest of the nominees are some pretty outstanding women as well: Susan Brittingham, Lisa Calle, Amy Gibson, Pam Holland, Bonnie Hunter Liz Kettle, and Vikki Pignatelli.

20140702_toty1It’s so fun to see my name on the cover in company with other fabulous quilt teachers!

The way the process works is that each year, students can nominate their favorite teachers in the quilting industry on the Professional Quilter’s wesbite. (Thanks to whoever it was out there that took the time to write about me – it’s much appreciated!)

In turn, the teachers answer a series of questions about their teaching style, what influences them and why they love to do what they do. As Bonnie Hunter mentioned on her blog recently, she said it was sort of akin to writing a term paper. She was right on the money about that, LOL!! But since I love to write or talk about quilting whenever I’m given the chance, I was eager to respond.

teacher of the year image

Each of us was given a small summary in the magazine, so I thought it would be fun to share just a few of my answers with you….

How do you encourage creativity in your students?

I encourage creativity by allowing students to make their own choices when it comes to choosing fabrics and try to offer a variety of techniques in the same class. I love it when students come up with a different way of doing things other than how I have chosen to teach it. After all, we all have something to share and can always learn from each other.

What accomplishments of your students make you proudest?

I am most proud of my students when they finish their own quilts. My favorite class to teach is a start-to-finish quilting class where the students learn every step of the quilt-making process from cutting to binding. Nothing beats the look of joy on a student’s face when he or she proudly proclaims, “I made it myself!”

How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?

I encourage my students to seek out independent study beyond class. I love to suggest books and magazines they can read, guilds and organizations they can join, and blogs and websites they can follow to keep up the inspiration outside of class. I also encourage them to make friends with each other during my classes. Over the years it has given me a sense of satisfaction to see students who met in my classes go on to be lifelong friends, encouraging each other and learning more about quilting together.

What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the field of quilting?

I feel that my greatest contribution to quilting is fostering and encouraging a “can-do” attitude. I’ve seen so many students achieve growth personally, and with their quilting, when they finally believe that they can do anything they put their minds to!

Why do you teach?

I teach because it gives me a sense of personal fulfillment when another person becomes as passionate about quilting as I am. I want my students to feel the same joy I feel when creating a functional work of art with their own hands. I love it when their faces light up with that spark of excitement when considering the endless creative possibilities!

20140702_toty2There were about a dozen more Q&A’s which would be a little too lengthy to share here, but I hope you enjoyed reading just a few of the highlights. :-) As I begin my newest adventures in quilting by traveling to teach starting next year, hopefully I’ll be able to meet many of you in person!

Click here to see my current teaching schedule and feel free to email me if you are interested in scheduling me to come teach or lecture for your group or event!

Posted in Soapbox, Teaching | Tagged | 6 Comments

Fabric Friday is Pretty Potent!

Even though I’m out of town this week, I can still take time out to tell you about some fantastic new fabric finds! (I love our precut store – I can still be “in business” while I’m on vacation!)

20140630_pretty_potentPretty Potent is Anna Maria Horner’s latest line from Free Spirit Fabric. Seriously, I love everything she does! Her color sense and imagery knock my socks off, every time! I have both the 30-piece fat quarter bundle (some are duplicated) as well as the full-range design roll. (Unfortunately we aren’t carrying the charm packs – they are too small and too pricey for our tastes!)

20140630_quill_persimmonQuill by Valori Wells – Persimmon Colorway

Next up is Quill by Valori Wells. She recently switched fabric houses, designing for Robert Kaufman which I’m pretty excited about. Their warehouse is closer to us which means we can restock these guys in a hurry when they sell out!

Quill comes in three beautiful colorways shown above and below. Hands down, my favorite is Persimmon – I just love that orange and purple combo!

20140630_quill_cabanaQuill by Valori Wells – Cabana Colorway

Each precut bundle includes 6 or 7 fat quarters, plus a full 2/3 yard panel. Just think of all the luscious things you can make!

20140630_quill_vermeilQuill by Valori Wells – Vermeil Colorway

Oh yeah, and just in case you were wondering, Valori’s Blueprint Basics line of precuts are all back in stock, too – FQ bundles, charm packs, layer cakes, and half rolls.

20140630_blueprintsValori Wells Blueprint Basics

Happy Piecing!

Posted in Fabric | Tagged | 3 Comments

Postcard from Pagosa Springs…Wish You Were Here!

This week, the whole family is in scenic Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a family reunion. Jason’s step-dad grew up here so we’ve been able to check out his youthful stomping grounds as well as enjoy some fun R&R.

20140630_colorado_1The first day out, we went tubing down the San Juan river which was such a blast! The water was pretty cold, but the journey ended near some hot springs, so we were able to get out of our tubes and warm up in some relaxing (though sulfurous) hot water. :-)

20140630_colorado_2_sewing_machineThe next day, we cruised around town, checking out the sites and sampling the local cuisine. We discovered a fun little local museum that just happened to have some fabulous antique quilts on display! I fell in love with this antique sewing machine setup with some gorgeous pineapple blocks folded up. If it hadn’t been blocked off, I think I would have wanted to go over there and touch it!

20140630_colorado_3_antiqueWild Goose Chase Quilt, Circa 1840-1850.

I also discovered that I have a fondness for bold geometric quilts, whether they are brand new, or over 100 years old. :-)

Speaking of quilting, I’ve even managed to sneak in a little sewing in the mornings and evenings, in between activities. We are staying in a nice homey timeshare rental (courtesy of the in-laws), with plenty of space for a makeshift studio. Since I’m sewing on a deadline, it’s nice that I can can still be productive during downtime.


My studio on the go – quilters gotta quilt!

There are lots of fun things scheduled for the rest of the week: swimming, parades, fireworks, and even a rodeo – the 65th anniversary of the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo! I’m looking forward to it!

20140630_colorado_5Original Red Ryder comic strip on display at the local museum. Very cool.

What fun things have you got planned this summer?

Posted in Personal Life | Tagged | 16 Comments

The Early Days… My First Quilt!

Today I have to blame Kristy Daum from St. Louis Folk Victorian for inspiring me to write this. She wrote a post awhile back showing her first quilt from back in 1994. Well, here’s mine in all it’s flannel and polyester glory:

My First Quilt

My First Quilt – It was love at first stitch!

I also started quilting in ’94 and finished my first full-size quilt in ’95 at the ripe young age of 22 (feel free to do the math now). I was so glad to be sewing that I didn’t even care how the end result turned out – it was just a thrill to create. I remember making each 9 patch block, one at a time and I felt so proud of myself each time a new one came off the machine.

deer blockTrends cycle every 20 years right? Deer fabrics have been hot again this year, LOL!!

I used a bunch of flannels I got for cheap at the discount store and knew nothing about seam allowances. I wanted 4″ squares so I cut a bunch of 4″ squares, not realizing they’d shrink up after sewing, LOL!

tied blocks

I was able to “hide” the seam intersections by tying at the corners. I don’t know what possessed me to think that sports fabric & flowers went together??

I hadn’t tried machine quilting yet so I just tied it together with yarn using a flannel sheet for the backing. From the get-go I was determined to finish my quilts myself! I had no clue how to bind so I just folded over the back to the front and sewed it down with WHITE thread and felt a grand sense of accomplishment.

quilt labelI put the label on the back at the TOP of the quilt, even! My title was very original, too – “Jason’s Quilt.” It’s worn and faded over time, but every stitch was made with love.

I gave this first (ghastly) quilt to my husband, and he’s been a great supporter of my hobby ever since. We still use the quilt to this day and it’s held up pretty well. :-)

When did you make your first quilt? I’d love to hear all about it!

Quilt Stats:

  • Size: 62″ x 82″
  • Block Design: 10 1/2″ nine-patches set 6 x 8
  • Materials: cotton flannel, polyester flannel, polyester batting, flannel sheet for the back
  • Finishing touches: tied with yarn, machine binding
Posted in Christa's Quilts, Personal Life, Sew and Tell | Tagged | 32 Comments