I’m Now on Pinterest!

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been slowly adding more social media channels to my network. Some I’ve enjoyed immensely, others not so much. I started off with my blog way back in 2010, tried Flickr for awhile before everyone abandoned it for Instagram. I got serious about my email newsletter in 2013, then joined the Instagram bandwagon in 2014. I added Facebook in 2015 and then did a short-lived stint on Periscope in 2016. Now in 2017 my goal is to tackle Pinterest.

Christa Quilts on Pinterest

Since I’m new to the game, I don’t have a ton of followers yet, but If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, click here. I’d love to have you!

Although I enjoy social media, each time I add something new, it’s a huge learning curve for me. But, since LEARN is my word for 2017, I’m embracing the process! if you are a regular Pinterest user, please leave me a comment letting me know how you use it, or any tips you’d like to share.

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My Word for 2017 – Learn

My 2016 word of the year was ‘Relax.’ I’m not really sure how well I accomplished it, since I’m a self-professed workaholic. But, because my work and my hobby is one and the same, I could kind of fudge it since quilting really is a relaxing thing for me to do! For 2017 I have a lot of big goals on the horizon I want to accomplish. And they all revolve around one big word:

Learn!

I need to learn how to design on the computer using adobe illustrator. There are some big projects I want to tackle next year that will require this skill. I’ve enrolled in a couple of online courses (Intro to Surface Pattern Design by Bonnie Christine on Skillshare and one from Alma Loveland on Atly.) Plus I just found out my library supports a free Lynda.com subscription so I’ll definitely put that to good use!

learning_illustrator

The first thing I learned to draw in Illustrator was these raindrops, which was pretty fun. I have a LONG way to go, but I’m tackling it one day at a time. Follow me on instagram @christaquilts to watch my progress unfold as I practice for about 15-30 min. each day.

I also want to learn how to better manage my time. (I’ve already starting putting one thing into practice regarding time management, saying  more “no” and less “yes!”) I’ve also begun using Toodledo – a computer and phone app that is basically a glorified to do list. I’m getting in the habit of writing everything down I need to do and breaking it into smaller steps. It’s sort of the same process that David Allen advocates in his best selling book Getting Things Done.

dslr-handbook

Jason wants to learn how to shoot and edit YouTube videos so we can start offering short video tutorials to help enhance my books, patterns and classes. He’s added a few  technical books to his library, including the one he’s studying right now, The DSLR Filmmaker’s Handbook.

Learning a new skill requires practice and patience and lots of extra time. It will require us to be efficient so we can squeeze our study time into our otherwise busy schedules. (It reminds me of when we were young newlyweds in college, but that’s another story for another day!) Rest assured, if and when our independent studies turn into something tangible, you’ll be the first to know! 🙂

If you have a word for the year, or a big goal you’d like to accomplish, please leave me a comment. I’d love to know what it is. Here’s to a fantastic 2017!

2017

Book Publishing Q & A

Recently at Fall Quilt Market, I participated in a presentation with Leah Day and Stephanie Palmer about getting our work published. Several of you who could not attend were interesting in getting access to the information we shared. Guess what? Leah recorded our presentation and turned it into a podcast over on her website at LeahDay.com.

schoolhouse_all

Stephanie, Leah and Christa having too much fun at Quilt Market Schoolhouse

To listen, just click the play button at the top of her page. She’s also included a written transcript if you want to follow along. The sound quality isn’t super great because of the room we were in, and I talk VERY fast. But it’s full of great info if you are interested in learning more.

And the best part is, Leah is planning on podcasting on a regular basis. I can’t wait to listen to the next one!

podcast-button

Click here to listen to Hello My Quilting Friends, Leah’s New Podcast.

 

My Aurifil Thread Collections are Now Available

One of the biggest reasons for going to quilt market this year was to launch my Piece and Quilt Thread Collection for Aurifil. This has been a dream of mine a couple of yeas in the making and it feels so great to finally share them with the world!
christa-and-alex

Christa and Aurifil CBDO Alex Veronelli at Fall Quilt Market 2016

I first began using Aurifil 50 weight cotton back in 2013 after trying out numerous brands, thread weights, and fiber contents. After making dozens of quilts for publication and for family and friends, I can definitely say these threads are prefect for everything I do: piecing, machine quilting, machine applique, and binding.

My favorite thing about sticking with the 50 weight cotton for everything, is that I always have the right color on hand. Plus, any leftover bobbins from machine quilting can get used up when I piece my next scrappy quilt!

The Piece and Quilt Collection comes in both Colors and Neutrals and I really took my time choosing them. I wanted to make sure I offered enough variety that you could literally piece and quilt any quilt with just these two collections:
piece-and-quilt-colors-box
piece-and-quilt-colors-thread

Piece and Quilt Colors Include:

2425 Bright Pink
2250 Red
4020 Fuchsia
2520 Violet
2130 Medium Butter
1133 Bright Orange
2920 Light Brass
2884 Green Yellow
2886 Light Avocado
1148 Light Jade
2725 Light Wedgewood
2783 Medium Delft Blue

piece-and-quilt-neutrals-box

piece-and-quilt-neutrals-thread

Piece and Quilt Neutrals Include:

2311 Muslin
5021 Bamboo
1246 Dark Grey
5007 Light Grey Blue
2326 Sand
2372 Dark Antique Gold (Brown)
2315 Pale Flesh
2405 Oyster
2024 White
2615 Aluminium
2605 Grey
4241 Very Dark Grey

Color selection tips:

  1. When you don’t have an exact match, go a shade or two lighter with your thread. A lighter thread on a darker fabric will blend in better than a darker thread on a lighter fabric.
  2. Use very dark grey instead of black on black fabrics so you can see the texture of the thread rather than having it disappear.
  3. Use the darker neutrals when piecing dark or very highly saturated fabrics.
  4. Try out the lighter neutrals like oyster and bamboo (in addition to white and muslin) when piecing lighter to medium colored fabrics.

both-collections

Ask for my Piece and Quilt Collection at your favorite quilt shop, or get them directly from me at ThePrecutStore.com. I look forward to seeing what you make with them!

Modern Sewciety Podcast Interview and Podcast List

Be sure to catch my interview with Stephanie from the Modern Sewciety Podcast episode 92. Stephanie and I have gotten to be great friends ever since I began listening to her podcast (and proclaimed myself her #1 fan!) This is actually the 3rd time I’ve been on her show (click here for the 1st interview on episode 37 and click here for the second on episode 77).

I think it was our most fun chat yet. Of course we talked about the new book and business type stuff, but we also had a fun discussion about Quilt Market and QuiltCon, too. And you know – mom stuff and not always being in the season of life where we can do what we want!!

modernsewciety

Stephanie threw in a fun little segment at the end, asking about some of my favorite podcasts since she knows I’m an avid podcast listener. I only mentioned about 5-6 of them in the interview so I thought I’d share links to all of the podcasts I’m currently listening to.

Quilting, Sewing and Creative Podcasts

In no particular order, these are the creative podcasts I’m currently listening to. Click each link to be taken to the podcast home page or host’s blog. These are all currently running with consistently released episodes.

Business Podcasts

Some podcasts overlap as they talk both about creativity and business, but I really like these ones below for business tips and advice. Click the links to learn more.

Additional Podcast Lists

My podcast list changes depending on my mood and whether or not a podcast is still current or not. For more recommendations, click this link for last summer’s podcast list.

Also check out Nonnie’s Quilting Dreams extensive podcast list for more fun listening!

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This is me on any given day in my studio: sewing and listening to podcasts!

If you know of any other fun podcasts I’ve missed, please let me and my readers know about them in the comments below!

My Spring 2016 Quilt Market Schedule

I’m so excited to attend Quilt Market in Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend. This is the twice-yearly trade show for the quilting industry. Even though it’s not open to the public, you can still feel like you are part of the action by following along via social media.

Quilt Market 2016

I will be attending to help promote my new book, The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting with co-author Angela Walters. Our publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place has scheduled 3 fun events for us. If you happen to go, please come by and say hi!

On Thursday, Angela and I will present a schoolhouse session for our new book at 4:40 PM in room 255A. We will be going on just before the Moda All-stars book debut so I’m kinda hoping we’ll capture some of the audience who wants to come in early for a great seat! 😉

Quilt Marke 2016

On Friday, May 20th at 11 AM in Martingale’s booth 422, Angela and I will be doing a fun Q&A session. We will answer your most pressing machine quilting sessions and may even show you how we sketch out our designs on paper ahead of time.

Machine Quilting

 

 

Finally, on Saturday, May 21 we’ll cap off the weekend with two live machine quilting events. At 10 AM we’ll be at the Handi Quilter booth and at 1 PM we’ll be at the BERNINA booth, showing how we actually machine quilt in person! We will also have a booksigning at each event, for the first 50 people in line – so be sure to arrive early!!

The rest of the time, I’ll be hanging out with Jason, purchasing new products for The Precut Store. It’s always exciting to see what’s new!

The Precut Store

If you can’t attend, be sure to follow me on Instagram at @christaquilts and @theprecutstore!

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting – Cornered

Click here to get your autographed copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.
Click here to see all of the quilts from the book, as they are added each week!
All photography courtesy of Brent Kane and Martingale.

Take a look at Cornered – a simple yet striking design that can be used as a table topper, baby quilt, or wall decor. Although Angela and I chose to use solids for our versions, it would look equally beautiful in your favorite prints!

Corned quilt by Christa Watson

Christa’s Version – Pretty in Pink.

I often like to color code my quilts, where each fabric showcases a different quilting design.

Free Motion Quilting Detail

Free-motion quilting detail showing one of my favorite combinations – Swirls and Pearls.

Cornered by Angela Walters

In Angela’s version, she shows you several different ways to quilt the same block!

For the record, Angela Walters quilts on a Handi-Quilter Long arm and I quilt on a domestic sit-down machine, a BERNINA 770 QE. But no matter which machine you choose, our goal is to help get you comfortable with the machine quilting process!

Christa Watson Books

Click here to purchase my machine quilting books and let me be your cheerleader as I guide you to machine quilting success! After all, that’s my favorite part of making a quilt!!

Shopowner Friends – Sign up for my Wholesale Newsletter

I know many of you out there who follow me are successful shop owners and industry professionals. As my business has grown, it’s time to create a wholesale newsletter just for you!

WholesaleIG

 

This monthly email is geared toward anyone in the quilting industry who is interested in carrying my designer patterns and products. I share tips and tricks on how to best promote my products, where you can find them, and provide support for teachers interested in building their classes around my patterns and books.

From time to time, I may offer special bonuses and freebies to you – my industry friends. It’s my way of saying thanks for supporting me, and I’ll work just as hard to support you!

Click here to sign up for Christa Quilts News.

Pattern Writing Series – Hiring a Graphic Designer

I am enjoying being part of Cheryl Brickey’s Pattern Writing Blog Series over at Meadow Mist Designs. Today I wanted to include an extra post as part of the series, on the subject of hiring a graphic designer to help create patterns. In a nutshell, this is the one step that allowed me to make pattern design a reality rather than just a “someday” dream. I previously blogged about hiring Lindsie to do my branding redesign and now I consider her a very valuable member of my team!

patternwriting

To decide whether you want to enlist in the help of a graphic designer, ask yourself these two questions: How good are your graphic design skills? What is your time worth?

If you are comfortable with graphic design, and enjoy that aspect of pattern design, you may want to go ahead and do it yourself. Likewise, if you want to invest in the time it takes to learn or if you plan to do graphic design for others, it may be worth it to learn.

However, if you are like me and your time is limited, it may be more cost effective to hire that part out.  My graphic designer Lindsie can get done in an hour what I would struggle with for about 4-5 hours, and I can definitely say that her one hour rate is cheaper than my 5 hour rate! (Contact her if you are interested and she can work up a reasonable quote for you.)

DBLlogo2016In fact, here’s a rule of thumb for any aspect of your business – hire out what you don’t like or what someone else can do more efficiently, and save the work that only YOU can do, or that you WANT to do.

Here’s how it works: I send over a rough sketch of what I want, called a “transcript” and Lindsie sends back proofs. We may do several rounds of proofs until everything is just right, then I sign off on it and she sends me the finals, formatted per my printer’s specifications.

Since I’ve now been published in books and magazines as well as self-publishing my own patterns, I’ve learned the pattern process is basically the same: you create 3 separate “piles” – (1) a pile of words, (2) a pile of pictures, and (3) a pile of rough illustrations. Then the graphic designer magically pulls them all together into a beautiful finish!

book-editing

Proofing the first set of “piles” for my book Machine Quilting With Style

When I am working with a magazine or book publisher, they edit and publish the work in addition to the graphic design and layout. However, when I am producing my own patterns, I act as editor and publisher. The simplest way to show the graphic design and layout that Lindsie does for me is to show you a few examples of before and after pics.

Here’s the “before” of the very first pattern I designed, Charming Chevrons. With my non-existent graphic design skills, I simply copied and pasted the picture of the quilt onto a blank white piece of paper for the cover. It’s utilitarian but not very exciting, the fonts are boring, and there’s no branding to speak of.

original_cover

Here’s the cover that Lindsie designed for me which includes both versions of the quilt I’ve made. Notice the logo, fonts and colors all look great and work with the quilts. It’s much more dynamic and exciting to look at. When we finalized this first pattern, I literally had tears in my eyes!

CharmingChevronsCover

Graphic designers usually charge by the hour and it took about 10 hours for her to create the first pattern because we had to establish a template and a cohesive look. However, now that we know what we are doing, my current patterns only take her about 4-5 hours to knock out. It would probably be even quicker, except that I like to see more in-process drafts, and I tend to make a lot of changes as we go. It’s how I roll. 🙂

Here’s my draft of the back cover of Puzzle Box (my free quilt pattern). Notice that it’s very bare bones, with a few notes about formatting. I’ll send over drafts of the images I want to include as a separate file, and we use dropbox to share the files back and forth.

puzzlebox_transcript

Here’s the final, jazzed up version:

PuzzleBoxBackCover

Doesn’t this look so much nicer than what I did?? Worth. Every. Penny!

Here are a couple of pages from my Modern Logs pattern. For the piles of “rough” illustrations, I will either send over a jpeg I drew in EQ7, a chicken-scratch drawing on paper, or a photograph.  Lindsie works her magic, explodes diagrams when needed and generally pretties them up so what I envision in my head comes out perfect on paper! Again, notice the cohesive fonts and colors – all part of my branding!

page 2 proof

In addition to creating graphic design and layout for my patterns, Lindsie also helps me whenever I need a logo or any illustration. She recently created the image for my Facets Quilt Along from these instructions: use the photo of my quilt and put the words Facets Quilt Along on it. I liked the first image below, but told her it wasn’t quite right – I wanted to see more of the quilt.

FacetsQAL1

Below is the final image I am using, and it only took her 15 minutes to create both!

FacetsQALbig

I’m just barely scratching the surface with this topic, but I hope it’s enough to at least get your feet wet and to assure you that it is well worth the effort to hire the services of a professional, especially if that’s the only thing standing in your way.

Currently I have self-published 4 printed quilt patterns and 6 PDF’s. I have plans to do more, but I have a couple of book projects I need to finalize and get out of the way first!

Christa’s Soapbox – Please don’t steal my artwork

You all know I am NOT one who ruffles feathers, but I simply must speak out. I have the cutest artwork that a friend of mine made for my business and I use for my logos. Simply put, people are stealing it and that’s not cool. My only real recourse is to use my social media reach to try and put a stop to it.

Christa at magic sewing machine

Artwork #1

Here’s the backstory – years ago I commissioned a friend to make this first piece of artwork for me and I paid her for it. At the time I did NOT own the EXCLUSIVE rights to this image – only the original drawing and an agreement that I would use it for my website, etc. That meant that she could sell prints of this image to other people. She sold a few, no problem.

Once I began to gain a larger following, I noticed that though my friend had sold a very limited number of print copies of this first image, it began popping up in other people’s websites, newsletters, instagram avatars, and even as a large sign a physical store. NONE of these people, I repeat NONE of the people who were using the image had purchased it from my friend (I checked into it.) They were simply “borrowing it” because they found it “somewhere on the internet.”

Christa Quilts

Artwork #2

Due to people using this first image without permission, I decided I needed a new image. So I commissioned my friend to create a slightly different version that better fit my brand (a quilt under the sewing machine instead of just fabric).  This time I was upfront about wanting to buy exclusive rights to the image so she wouldn’t sell it to anyone else. It was a friendly deal, I paid her for the rights and all was good. Because she knew I was using the second image as my branding, she actually agreed on her own to stop selling the original image, just because she’s my friend and she’s nice that way. Like I said, she had only sold a few anyway.

So I know you all are thinking – why didn’t I watermark it? First and foremost because that would have distracted from the images. Yes, I can probably go back and add something to the images now, but that won’t solve the problem of the original ones that are floating around there now. Also, when I’ve shared the original artwork on my site, it has the artist’s initials on it. People are simply cropping that out. As a matter of fact, I’m working on some more branding now and my graphic designer is incorporating my name right into the artwork to try and prevent this in the future.

 

working

Some current rebranding in process – see the @christaquilts my graphic designer added?

Yes, I could hire a lawyer to send out cease and desist orders, but really that’s very time consuming AND expensive. Not to mention the fact, that most of the time people are notified of the infringement, they do take it down and always cite ignorance.

So it all boils down to you. Many of you have been so fabulous to let me know when you see someone else out there using my images. In fact, in all cases of copyright infringement, it has ALWAYS been a follower who sees them. I’m blissfully ignorant of it ever occurring. Thank you so much for being my eyes and ears out there!

This may continue to be an uphill battle, and l’m not quite as concerned with the original image that’s being “borrowed” as much as I am with the newer logos. But, please continue to inform me if you see someone out there using any of them. With a little social media pressure, we can hopefully keep the stealing borrowing to a minimum.

I will now return to my peppy, happy, non-feather-ruffling self 🙂 Thanks for reading!