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…..)

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!



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.

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

Christa Quilts Clearance (and a little bit of store history soap-boxing…)

I’ve been spending the last few weeks organizing and minimalizing, both my sewing space and my online store. I’ve had a blast selling fabrics online for the last 10 years. (Where has the time gone?) But as I’ve been hinting over the last few months, it’s time to change directions.


Teaching FMQ techniques – gotta love it!

I’m not necessarily having an all-out going-out-of-business sale because I am most certainly not going out of business. I’m just shifting my focus, and modern quilting is to blame, but in a good way.:-)

So here’s the thing: I thought I would be content to run my little online shop forever, selling all styles of quilting cottons to whomever would buy. I stocked calicoes and batiks, fun novelty prints, some solids and big name designers, plus a few modern lines.

However, it was a joke around here that “Christa Doesn’t Quilt” because all I did for several years was cut fabric and package orders. Mind you, I was very content doing this. It was a small scale thing and something I could handle in my spare time. But I wasn’t quilting (after taking up the hobby nearly 20 years ago).


Jason helping to set up my new workspace so I can sew to my heart’s content!

Enter the modern movement, which has totally rocked my world! All of a sudden I was pumped up about quilting again and I wasn’t the youngest one in the (quilting) room anymore. All these fresh sewers were making these amazingly bold and simple quilts that I wanted – no, needed – to make!

They were using solids that showed off their beautiful quilting and they were coming up with original designs that appealed to me big time. Not only that, but they were blogging, setting up modern groups left and right, sharing their work, and getting published. I simply had to be a part of it!

MQX email

Reading the email notifying me of my MQX honorable mention for String of Pearls. What a happy day that was!

So, I quickly and somewhat painfully sat down with Jason and we had a big chat about my “quilting future”. I finally came to the conclusion that what I really wanted to do was design and make quilts! Using our accounting backgrounds, we crunched some numbers and decided we could go one of two ways.

(1) We could either find warehouse space and get really big and not work from home anymore and hire managers and become a huge online store. (2) Or, we could clear out all of our store yardage (which is labor intensive to cut, package and ship) and find other ways to supplement our income.

Fabric Reps

Meeting with fabric sales reps at home. Yes, I love orange shirts!

We I chose the latter. I started designing, teaching, and showing my quilts again, and I’ve never been happier. In addition, I took the bold and scary move to start submitting my work for publication. And it’s started working.

All of this backstory is basically to tell you I’m having a huge clearance sale so I can clear out my entire inventory of yardage and fat quarters (plus all patterns, gifts and notions). I’m sure it will take several months to sell out and that’s fine. We aren’t going anywhere, so it’s not like it all needs to be gone this weekend (though that would be nice).

Love to sew!

I love to sew – don’t you?

I thank you in advance for your support, and I really appreciate that I can blog on a more personal level than what I can express in my weekly store email. Blogging for me has been very therapeutic and has enabled me to articulate my quilting vision and share it with others. 🙂

Click here to view my entire clearance section – about 600+ items are on sale (over half the store), anywhere from 20% – 50% off the original prices. It includes FREE US shipping, too!

Thanks for reading and happy shopping!