Christa’s Soapbox – Do I Sleep? The Answer is Yes!

Today I thought it would be fun to answer the often asked question, how do I get so much done? Or put another way – do I sleep? The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, I’m NOT a night owl and if I don’t get at least 7-8 hours per night, it reduces my productivity big time.

quilt photography - Rainbow Taffy Quilt

Getting things done: we recently photographed some of my quilts so I can write more in-depth blog posts later. I think about the shots I want, Jason edits them to make them look pretty!

One thing to keep in mind is that quilting and running a business is mine and my husband’s full time job. Plus we have help. It’s taken me awhile to figure out what I do best in our little mom + pop operation: what I need to do myself, and what I’m willing to give up control over. And it’s different for each type of creative person.

For example, when it comes to quilting, I do all my own “stunts.” I design, piece and quilt all of the quilts I make for books, patterns and classes because that’s the most fun part! But I hire out much of the technical stuff to make it all look good.

Secret Sewing

Behind the scenes: quilting a quilt that will be featured in a magazine next spring.

All of the “big” projects I produce is done in partnership with quilting industry companies such as Benartex (my fabric), Craftsy (my online videos), Martingale (my quilting books), and Aurifil (my thread.) This allows me to design and create while tapping into their professional expertise in layout, editing, photography, video production, and marketing.

The only thing I self-publish is my stand-alone patterns, which is probably why I don’t release more of them on a regular basis, LOL!! I have found that I work really well with deadlines, as long as they are imposed on me by others. It’s much harder for me to set my own internal deadlines!!

More secret sewing

More “secret sewing” – this one debuts in a book collaboration next year – I can’t wait!

A typical work day for me consists of getting up early and getting right to work. I try to do all of my social media (blog, instagram and facebook) first thing, so that I’m not constantly distracted by it throughout the day. (That doesn’t always happen of course, which is why I recently decided to streamline and simplify my social media.) Then I jump into whatever project I need to work on for the day – designing a new pattern, working on a class outline, collaborating with one of my industry partners, and of course, sewing!

I take a break in the late afternoon to get in a daily workout with Jason, and then finish up any additional work in the evening before bed. I stop early enough so that I can get to bed at a decent time, and I usually indulge in an hour of “guilty-pleasure” TV watching each night (so I’m always on the lookout for a great Netflix recommendation!).

Designing HST

I’m a planner! I design all of my quilts in EQ8 with the fabrics I’ll use before I ever take the first stitch. Often it takes longer to design them than to make them!

My kids are older so they don’t need quite as much attention (my oldest lives on his own and is heading off to college soon, the next son graduates high school next spring, and the youngest, a freshman, is pretty independent although she’s still homeschooled). But because we have a flexible schedule, we can be there for them when they need us and still do all the regular parenting stuff. Plus they have all worked for us at one time or another, so that’s been a great family dynamic.

We Love our Kids!

These guys are our pride and joy: Jason, Jenna, and Ryan. We enjoy taking them out to lunch on a regular basis and love that they are adventurous eaters!

One thing that I’ll confess right now is that I DON’T do much cooking or cleaning. The kids help a lot with cooking and we have weekly subscriptions to those healthy meal kit places (like Blue Apron, Freshly, etc.) which prevent us from resorting to fast food – or worse – salt filled frozen meals. About two years ago, we hired a cleaning service that comes in every other week to help us with basic housekeeping (in addition to the kids’ weekly chores). That’s the best investment we’ve ever made because I’d much rather hand bind a quilt than clean a toilet!!

Fabric Design in Progress

Sneak peek of the design process while creating Modern Marks. Look closely and you’ll see several prints that didn’t make the cut! Maybe they’ll resurface in the future…

I’m very organized and I’m also a list-maker and schedule-keeper. I’m one of those people who really gets satisfaction from checking off an item in my to-do list, and I don’t mind rearranging my priorities on a daily basis if I can’t fit everything in. I’ve learned over the past few years to give myself more time than I think I need to complete a project, and I can’t stand being idle. So I’m always either planning, making, or thinking, and at times it can be hard to turn it off.

I think one of the secrets to how I get so much done is that I make big goals, but then break huge tasks down into daily steps so that I can work on a monumental project a little bit each day. My personal philosophy is that I never think that anything is impossible – most things just take time, patience and perseverance to get them done.

book and pattern editing

Book and pattern editing can be a tedious, lengthy process!

So in an nutshell, that’s how I get things done. Often times, things that I want to do end up morphing into something else, and many ideas that I have don’t come to fruition. The key is to be flexible and roll with it rather than giving up and quitting. Any time I get in a rut or feel like I have creative block (which can happen) the most useful thing to do is look back at what I’ve accomplished, and give myself pep talks when needed.

I hope if there’s something out there you really want to accomplish, you’ll set a goal for yourself and make it happen!

Binding on an airplane

I do a LOT of hand binding while flying across the country for teaching events. I snuggle up to a window seat, cuddle up with my quilt, and turn on headphones to shut out the world. Yes you CAN take needles and small scissors on an airplane with no problems!!

And now, it’s time for me to move on to the next item on my agenda for today – sewing!! (Just think, one of those fun things I’ll be sharing months in the future is being worked on a little bit today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…..)

My Relaxing Week at the Beach

I usually try to keep my blog all quilting related, but I’m sharing an update from last week’s beach vacation because I think it’s sort-of work related. I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed workaholic, but I’ve realized I do my best work when I’m relaxed and well-rested. Besides, some of my best ideas occur when I’m doing other things.

View from the Beach

Pretty much my view all week. I can sit and listen to ocean waves for hours!!

My annual family beach vacation was especially relaxing because it’s the first summer in three years that I haven’t been working on a book, LOL!! But even still, I did manage to firm up a few new fall projects, design some new quilt patterns, and finalize plans for my book blog hop coming up in August. Thank goodness for mobile internet!!

So while I wasn’t on the computer or my phone, I had a great time taking bike rides with my family along The Strand….

Family Beach Bike Ride

We took a bike ride nearly every day. It was great fun AND great exercise!

Watching some beach volleyball…..

Beach Volleyball Tournament

Can you believe the bleachers were temporary just for the tournament? It was fun to watch!

And we even took a side trip over to Universal Studios one day. (Frozen Butterbeer from Hogsmeade is definitely our favorite treat!!)

Universal Studios Hollywood

My kids are much happier about being in pics when I take them from behind, LOL!!

There was of course plenty of beach-side relaxing, too. It was nice to unplug for a bit each day, so I made sure to bring along my “low tech” designing supplies: a graph paper notebook and some colored pencils.

Old School Beach Side Sketching

I’m not sure yet what this sketch will ultimately become, but it was fun to play!

Jason and I even managed to squeeze in a little “on-location” photography for some of my quilts, so be on the lookout for some beach-side beauty shots later on.

Photo shoot of quilts on the beach

Doesn’t everyone bring quilts on vacation to the beach??

All in all, it was just what I needed to relax, recharge and get ready for what I know will be a very busy end of summer and fall. One thing I didn’t bring with me was a sewing machine, so I’ve been taking advantage of lots of sewing time this week until it’s time to head out for my next work trip!

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Latest Finish to Share – My Hometown from I Love House Blocks

I’m back with another fun finish to share, my contribution to the “Blockbuster Series” of quilt books – I Love House Blocks.

I Love House Blocks

My quilt is shown on the cover and I made it from a fun bundle of Pat Sloan’s fabric from Moda.

I made the house centers log cabin style and added a quick and easy paper pieced rooftop. I love adding lots of negative space (background) to my quilts so I can show off some fun quilting. Because I was on a deadline I quilted this one with simple swirls and wavy lines in a light gray Aurifil thread from my neutrals collection.

My Hometown by Christa Watson

My Hometown – such a fun quick and easy quilt to make!

The book includes a total of 14 fun house themed quilts which you can view here.

Giveaways GalorE!

Giveaway #1: If you’d like to win a ecopy this book from me, please leave a comment  letting me know if you’ve ever made a house themed quilt before. In my 20+ years of quilting, this was a first one for me!!! Everyone is eligble to enter and I’ll choose a random winner at the end of the day on Monday June, 26th.

Giveaway #2. Head over to Stitch This! the Martingale/That Patchwork Place blog for another chance to win! I love keeping copies of all books I own on my computer – then I have access to them anytime!

 

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My Log Cabin Quilt from Machine Quilting with Style is Now up for Bid

Just a quick reminder that my quilt Ripples, from Machine Quilting with Style is now available to bid on. 100% off the money raised will go to help out my friend Stacy Perry who’s currently battling Stage 4 colon cancer. Bidding will run through Saturday night and is open to all. The quilt will be shipped free to a US winner (along with a signed copy of the book) and Int’l winners will just pay actual shipping costs.

Ripples Quilt

Ripples is a modern log cabin made from improv blocks. It measures 66″ x 88″

Click here to go to the StracyStrong Facebook page to place your bid.

Scroll down to find the quilt listing and enter your bid in the comments. The winner will then pay via PayPal. While you are there, be sure take a look at all of the other amazing items up for bid.

If you live near the Las Vegas area, there will also be a benefit this Saturday night, featuring the music of local performer Ben Hale. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door and all proceeds will benefit Stacy and her family. To purchase tickets (or make a donation if you are unable to attend), go to PayPal, click on family and friends option and use the email address: stacystrongfoundation@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and prayers for the Perry family. Stacy has been fighting back strong and with rigorous chemo and several surgeries, her cancer tumors have been shrinking. We continue to pray for miracles in her life. 🙂

Click her to follow her journey at StacyStrong.

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Charity Fundraiser – Bid on My Quilt and Help a Friend in Need

Friends, I always try to stay positive around here, but now I’m asking for your help for a dear friend of mine. About 9 months ago, my friend Stacy Perry was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She’s a young mom of 4 who lives here in Las Vegas and she’s an amazing mom, wife, crafter and all around great gal. In fact I found an old blog post where she shared 2 quilts she had made several years ago.

Stacy is strong and she’s been aggressively fighting her cancer since first receiving the diagnosis. She’s doing everything she can with the help of friends, family and fellow church members. By the grace of God, she’s already seen miracles during this fight as her tumors have been shrinking. Her whole life right now is battling cancer, traveling out of state to specialists, and enduring multiple rounds of chemo. She’s chronicling her fight over on her facebook page at Stacy Strong.

Here’s where you can get involved. Several of Stacy’s friends are holding a fundraiser to help defray the enormous expenses she and her family are having to endure as she fights her battle. They’ve rounded up a whole bunch of items that will be auctioned off over on her facebook page starting Tuesday, April 25 and running through Saturday April 29th.

It includes some pretty amazing items like vacation rentals, jewelry, airline tickets and beautiful hand-made items. There will be a live silent auction that takes place for locals on Saturday night, along with an online auction that runs all week.

Machine Quilting With Style

For the auction I’ve donated a signed copy of my book Machine Quilting with Style, along with my quilt “Ripples” from the book (together as one large prize). I chose this quilt because Aqua is Stacy’s favorite color. 🙂 I want someone special to have this quilt, and I hope you’ll consider bidding on it to help her out.

Ripples Quilt

Here’s how it works:

Like her facebook page: Stacy Strong Cancer Be Gone so you can see the items up for bid. Sneak peeks of some have already been posted and the rest will be shared on Tuesday.

Starting on Tuesday, the online bidding begins. It’s very simple: you just place your bid in the comments of each item, and all winners will pay through paypal. Items will be shipped if needed and bidding is open to all. The bidding runs through Saturday night and complete details are included in the posts on her facebook page.

The important thing is that you have to like her page so that you can see the items up for bid. In fact, I recommend changing your default preferences this week to see all posts from her page.

If bidding is not your thing, they’ve also set up a go fund me page where you can donate any amount with a credit card.

 

Stacy Strong

This is Stacy’s true nature: love and kindess for all, no matter what circumstances are thrown at her. She’s strong and with your help I know she will kick cancer’s butt!!

I hope you’ll be able to help her by bidding, donating, or even just sending along a cheerful message of encouragement. Stacy truly is one of the strongest people I know and throughout her fight she’s kept up her good cheer and has stayed positive through it all.

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Merry Christmas from The Watsons

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas! We’ve had a busy 2016, full of life’s ups and downs. But overall, it’s been fantastic, thanks to the support of so many of you! Pictured here are me and my husband Jason, our 3 wonderful children, my supportive mom and awesome aunt, all of whom support our crazy quilting endeavors, day in and day out!

christmas-2016

Picture was taken at The Magical Forest, a fundraiser for Opportunity Village of Las Vegas.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

From all of us to all of you I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get to enjoy time with your loved ones this weekend!

apple-pie

Apple Pie from my daughter’s church camp fundraiser. Thank goodness we bought plenty so we could test them out ahead of time!!

And even if you are from a country outside the US, I think it’s still totally fine to enjoy some pie for breakfast!

yummy-pie

Our plan for the day is to enjoy our annual morning 5k family run, eat some yummy pie and then hang out with the family and play games. I’m preparing several quilts to bind so I can enjoy the holiday – quilty style!

scrappy_binding

I love a scrappy binding!

We participate in a friends and family run each year on Thanksgiving morning. Then we don’t feel so guilty about eating pie for breakfast! If you have a fun holiday tradition, please leave me a comment below – I’d love to know what it is.

Thanksgiving Day Race

Turkey Trot from Thanksgiving Past – that’s my oldest son wearing a turkey hat!!

Quilt As Desired Article 4: Handwork Makes a Comeback

Today I’m continuing to share the 5 part series of articles that I originally wrote for the National Quilting association as part of my Quilt as Desired column. This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of the Quilting Quarterly.

Click here to read the other machine quilting articles I’ve written. Happy reading!

qqsum15_p14

 

My Word of the Year for 2016 – Relax!

2016 will be the third year in a row that I’ve chosen a word of the year for myself. I first read about this idea from my friend (and adopted mentor) Pat Sloan’s website. She in turn, learned the idea from Ali Edward’s yearly “one little word” workshop.

My word for 2016 is going to be RELAX. I know it sounds counter-intuitive now that I’ve built up a successful yet busy quilting career for myself. But, that is precisely the point. I’ve been working like CRAZY the last few years to set things in motion that are starting to pay off.  So although I’m sure I’ll be working lots of hours in 2016, I think those hours are going to be more meaningful and productive, which will allow my downtime to be more enjoyable.

sedona_kids

We recently took the kids on a fun vacation to Sedona, Arizona and decided we need to make time for more family trips like this in 2016. It was beautiful and relaxing!

In order to relax (and not work all the time), I’ve started to say no some things, and yes to other things. No to being gone teaching more than once a month. No to guilt that says I should write every day. No to excess social media that sucks precious work and family time. No to opportunities that are really good but that don’t align with my business.

2015_beach

I missed the family beach trip this year due to work commitments, but not next year!!

I know my family will appreciate this word because often times, they want to hang out with me when I’d rather be quilting. I look forward to RELAXing more this year so I can continue to find joy in the things I love to do!

Click here to read about my 2015 and 2014 Words of the Year.

What sums up your word for next near?

Happy Thanksgiving and a Blogiversary Sale!

Happy Turkey Day everyone! I started my blog on Thanksgiving Day in 2010 and I have so much to be thankful for over the past 5 years. You can check out that first blog post here.

Christa Quilts Family Thanksgiving Race 2010

 

My first blog picture, from 2010. We’ve all gotten a bit older since then (and hopefully wiser.)

In celebration of this blog-i-versary and to ring in the official holiday shopping season, I’m offering free US shipping on signed copies of my book (with reduced int’l shipping) and 25% or more off of all PDF patterns. This sale will last through Monday, November 30th.

Machine Quilting With Style

4collage_patterns

 

Thanks for your continued support!

Click here for more information about my patterns and books.