My Pattern Writing Process and Sneak Peeks of Upcoming Quilt Patterns

In an effort to share more of what I’m working on in real time – and to answer to the question – how do I get it all done?? – I’m excited to let you know what I’ve been working on the last few weeks. I’m currently writing and editing the next round of quilt patterns that will be released along with my next fabric line, and I couldn’t be more excited!!

Pattern Writing in Process

I’ve been posing the question to my friends and social media followers, asking if they’d like me to share real time updates, or wait until everything is polished and ready for purchase. I got a resounding “share now!” as the answer which made me sooo happy! I have a hard time suppressing my excitement for what I’m currently working on and I feel like I can be more genuine when I’m sharing in real time.

I also just got word that my fabric samples should arrive some time in the next week or two so I can actually start sewing the designs you see above. I’m also excited to collaborate with my friend Heather Black on one of them because she has the most amazing design sense!!

Pearl Pendants by Heather Black and Christa Watson

Pearl Pendants pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

So here’s a bit of my pattern writing process for those that are curious. First, I design the patterns in EQ8, using digital swatches of the fabrics I plan to use. Next, I write the instructions while I’m waiting for the fabrics to arrive.

While editing the patterns, I use digital images as placeholders for the pattern covers until the quilts are made and can be photographed. Then it’s very easy to swap out the digital images with the photography, without altering the pattern layout. I send the rough draft of the pattern to my graphic designer to lay out and make everything look pretty, and then a technical editor checks all the math to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Sparkling Stars front Cover

Sparkling Stars pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

Once the fabric arrives, I make the quilts following my own instructions so that I can pattern test and see if there are any steps I missed. While I’m making the quilts, digital images of the covers are sent off to the distributors (companies who sell patterns on a mass-scale to quilt shops) so they can get them in their system in time for shops to pre-order.

Once the quilts are finished, they are photographed and cover images swapped out with the real ones, and I do once last round of editing to make sure everything looks right. Then patterns are sent off to the printer for physical copies, and PDF downloads are uploaded to my Craftsy shop for sale.

Surplus Strips Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson

Surplus Strips pattern coming soon – click here to preorder.

As you can imagine, the timing is critical to make sure everything happens in the right order. My process is probably a bit different than pattern designers who aren’t working with a specific fabric line. But I like the challenge of making all the parts fit together.

You can see sneak peeks of the fabric line in the quilt pattern covers above, but I’ll be happy to tell you more about the fabric when my samples arrive in the next few weeks. Quilt shops will be able to order it later this spring, usually around quilt market in May – and I’ll be there in person showing off these quilts and more “in the cloth.” Then the fabric will arrive in shops around mid summer – sometime in June or July. I can’t wait!!

Newest Quilt Patterns Now in Print

I have fun news to share today. In between unpacking for one trip and getting ready for the next, I managed to get my latest two patterns printed for those of you who like working from a physical copy. To make it easier to buy them directly from me, I also set up a store at where you can pay with a credit card or paypal and I can ship anywhere in the world! I’ve also set a flat US shipping rate for the patterns so you only pay one small fee, no matter how many patterns you order. 🙂

Christa Quilts Patterns

Click here to order a printed pattern of Positive Direction or Stepping Stones.

In both quilt patterns I’ve included 4 sizes along with machine quilting suggestions. After all, I want to help you beyond “Quilt as Desired!”

Positive Direction Quilt Pattern by Christa Quilts

If you are a shop looking to order wholesale, please email me at and I’ll help you access the wholesale section of my site.

Stepping Stones by Christa Watson

Outdoor photography take by my husband Jason in the desert behind our home.

Click here to order any of the 6 print patterns I currently have in stock.
Now it’s time to go work on the next one!

New PDF Pattern Release – Stepping Stones (on Sale)

After the success of my most recent pattern launch for Positive Direction, I’m back again with my second new release of the year. I’d like to introduce you to Stepping Stones, available as an instant PDF download through my Craftsy pattern shop.

Stepping Stones quilt pattern by Christa Watson of Christa QuiltsClick here to get Stepping Stones on sale now for just $5.95!

Stepping Stones was originally patterned as “Easy Going” in Quilts and More magazine and available in one size only. Now I have expanded the pattern to include 4 sizes from Crib to Queen. It’s super fast to make and is perfect to use up that favorite fat quarter bundle you’ve been hoarding. Or bust your stash by cutting each block from 2 different fabrics!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern in 4 Sizes

Make Stepping Stones in 4 sizes: Crib, Throw, Twin or Queen!

Stepping Stones fabric requiremenets

Stepping Stones Fabric Requirements – It’s Fat Quarter Friendly!

I used Me + You Hoffman batiks which gives it a bit of a modern vibe. I chose cool colors of teals, blues, and greens with a bit of yellow and tan to create some warm pops of color. I used leftovers to make a whimsical scrappy binding.

Machine Quilting Boxes on Stepping Stones

I also include quilting suggestions so that you can quilt it the same way I did, if you are so inclined. I quilted Stepping Stones using one of my favorite geometric motifs – boxes. This quilting motif looks great on both modern and traditional quilts.

Machine Quilting Plan for Boxes

I love including quilting plans and machine quilting suggestions in my patterns!

Machine Quilting Detail

I used Aurifil 50 wt. 100% cotton thread from my Piece and Quilt Collection to make the quilt from start to finish. I’ve curated a rainbow of color that allows me to piece, quilt and bind any quilt I wish to make!

Stepping Stones Quilt Pattern by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

Jason and I had a great time taking pics out in the desert behind our home. I enjoy making the quits, and he enjoys photographing them so you can really see the details!

The key to making this quilt sparkle is by choosing several very light fabrics for the skinny strips between the blocks. Then, when it comes to choosing colors for this quilt, anything goes!

Stepping Stones by Christa Watson

Stepping Stones is on sale now at the intro price of just $5.95 through the end of the month, on Tuesday February 28th. After that, it will go back up to the regular price of $9.95 so grab it while you can! Then be sure to share your progress with me in my facebook group while you make it.

Click here to view my PDF pattern shop and stock up on your favorites!








New Pattern Release – Nested Pinwheel

One of my goals for the next year is to release a series of new quilt patterns that have I’ve been dying to complete. Over the last couple of years  I’ve written 4 print patterns, 7 PDF patterns, 2 books (with a third coming next fall), and created numerous quilts for magazines and compilation books. Now that the rights are beginning to revert back to me for the one-off publications, I can finally start releasing them on their own. It’s a big task to be sure, but one I’m looking forward to.

Without further ado, here’s the first of hopefully many patterns – Nested Pinwheel!


Nested Pinwheel designed and made by Christa Watson, 27″ x 27″

I originally created this design as part of a larger designer bundle of smaller projects. It finishes at 27″ x 27″, perfect to use as a mini quilt, table topper, wall-hanging, or newborn quilt. In the 2 page pattern, I’ve also included a diagram showing what it would look like if you wanted to create a larger, 4 block 54″ x 54″ size.

I’m experimenting with an idea I saw another blogger do recently. When I first release an individual quilt pattern I’ll offer it as a PDF only, for a super low price. This will allow early adopters to get the best deal, and it will help fund the printing process, if I choose to take it to print later. This will also help me gauge the interest of a particular pattern before I introduce it to the masses via the quilt shop distribution network.


Right now I don’t have a set schedule for when I’ll release patterns, but the more often I do it, the easier the process will become. In every pattern, I’ll include some hints or tips on how I did the machine quilting, such as the photo above. After all, my goal with releasing patterns and teaching machine quilting is to help others finish their quilts quickly, and have fun doing it!

Click here to grab your copy of Nested Pinwheel, just $2.95 through the end of the month!

Share your progress while making this quilt, or anything else from my books and patterns in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see your progress, and offer support and encouragement while you create!

Work in Progress – Feathered Chevrons Quilt Top

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to share a work in progress quilt. I’ve been mostly working on behind the scenes projects for upcoming magazine and book projects. However, I’m excited to let you know that I’ve been working on a new quilt called Feathered Chevrons.

feathered chevrons

Feathered Chevrons Quilt top – 64″ x 80″ shown on my design wall

This is an updated version of my Charming Chevrons quilt which was my first modern quilt and published pattern. I’ve included the layout (shown as an EQ7 illustration) for Feathered Chevrons in the Charming Chevrons Pattern because I knew I would eventually get around to making it!


I used 4 charm packs of my Christa Watson Palette of Kona Solids for Robert Kaufman, along with 4 charm packs of Kona Coal for this version. You could easily make it from a layer cake (ten square) pack of each fabric as well.


To make the triangle trimming process go more quickly, I used the quilt in a day triangle square up ruler. It allows you to trim up the triangles while they are still folded, and then press.


I enjoyed mindless chain piecing while sewing the blocks together, listening to audio books and quilting podcasts as I sewed. I try to assembly line the process as much as possible when working on my quilts: I trim all the blocks, do all the pressing and then all the sewing again. The hardest part is not getting distracted by other projects!!


I used my design wall to help measure out the amount of batting I would need. I’m actually going to quilt this with a double layer of batting: 100% Cotton on the bottom layer to provide stability and drape, then Wool for the top layer (shown above) to add loft and really allow the machine quilting to pop.

In the next post, I’ll share my machine quilting process. I’m going to apply the principles of domestic machine quilting that I teach in both of my books. I use the same processes no matter how big the quilt is, or what the final design will be. 🙂


Click her to purchase a print pattern of Charming Chevrons.
Click here to purchase a PDF pattern of Charming Chevrons pattern.

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!


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!


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.


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!


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.


Here’s the final, jazzed up version:


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.


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


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 Quilts – Woven Ribbons

Woven Ribbons and is quickly and easily made from just two Kona Solids Skinny Strips. I used the 2014 Kona Colors and Black, but it would look fantastic in your favorite solids or prints.

woven ribbons


Woven Ribbons by Christa Watson, 45″ x 63″

I created Woven Ribbons to go along with my profile feature in Issue 9 of Make Modern Magazine. I wanted to create a modern design with a very minimalist, graphic feel that was easy to make from precuts.


I quilted wavy lines (seaweed) with switchbacks. These are two free-motion designs from my book Machine Quilting With Style. It’s fun to combine designs together in other quilts!

Although I love to quilt the heck out of my quilts, I prefer to choose designs that are simple to execute, don’t need marking, and do NOT require perfection to look great!

wavy lines quilting

Tip for quilting with bright colorful fabrics – use a variegated thread!

I quilt all of my quilts with Aurifil cotton thread and chose 50 weight black #2962 and 50 weight Marrekesh #3817 for this quilt. These colors allowed the design to shine, without overpowering the quilt. I used a cotton/poly batting in black since it’s such a dark quilt.

woven ribbons

I love how the black background causes the other colors to pop!

Woven Ribbons Stats

  • Made by Christa Watson; designed in EQ7
  • Finished size 45″ x 64″; completed November 2015
  • Pieced and quilted on my BERNINA 770
  • Materials: Kona Skinny Strips – 2014 Colors and Black; Hobbs 80/20 black batting
  • Aurifil Thread: 50 weight #3817 Marrekesh and #4241 Very Dark Grey
  • Quilting design – Seaweed (wavy lines) and Switchbacks (back and forth curves)
  • Received 3rd place ribbon in Modern, Small category at DQN 2016 Quilt Show.

3rd place modern

You can find Woven Ribbons, along with 14 other fabulous projects in the current issue of Make Modern Magazine. It’s a digital download which means you can save it on your computer forever!


This is my second pattern with Make Modern, and I’m sure it won’t be my last!

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



Thanks for your continued support!

Click here for more information about my patterns and books.

Four of My Quilt Patterns Are Now Available in Print

Thanks to those of you who have been with me for awhile, following along with my journey into pattern creation. It has literally taken me 10 years to finally make the plunge into pattern design. I began with 4 of what I thought would be my most popular designs, and started in January to take the necessary steps to get them into print.


I’ve also researched the best ways to get them to you all and here’s what I have come up with:

I chose these outlets to start as that’s what I feel I can manage right now. So far, so good. I’m already getting good traction and I’m sure I’ll add more distribution networks as I grow. I’ve received a nice re-order from Moda/United Notions, which means that local quilt shops are starting to carry them, which is super exciting! Of course, I don’t know which shops, so if you see them “out there in the wild” please let me know. Please feel free to recommend them to your favorite quilt shop, too!

Now, the next step is to start on the next batch of patterns. As always, stay tuned!

Christa’s Soap Box – I’m Jumping Off the Deep End With My Patterns

After literally 10 years of going back and forth on whether I wanted to design and write individual quilt patterns, I’ve finally come to a decision – I’m going to do it! For real! 🙂 I’m jumping on the bandwagon, diving in head first, or whichever metaphor is appropriate for what I’m doing, LOL!

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ll know that the best way for me to accomplish a given task is to blog about it. So guess what? I’ve decided to take you along with me on this journey as I go from concept to completion.

CQ-PatternsThese cover shots are ok – but there’s no branding!

The background leading up to this decision:

I’ve seriously wanted to do patterns forever but never thought I had the skills to successfully sell my own patterns. I can do all the math and come up with the designs, but the idea of creating a professional looking layout was a huge roadblock for me. It hasn’t stopped me from releasing a limited number of self-designed PDF patterns, but I wasn’t ready to get serious about pattern design until now.

At first I thought I’d learn how to do everything myself, take some online courses, and read a few books on how to create a professionally looking layout. But you know what – I tried that and found that it’s just not fun for me. In the end, I’ve decided to hire a graphic designer (hi Lindsie!) to do that part for me, so I could concentrate on what I love best: designing, writing, and making quilts.

It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized this is the same reason people hire others to do their machine quilting. Those graphic designers are probably rolling their eyes at me thinking, “but it’s so easy” – the same way I’m out there trying to encourage others, “but machine quilting is so fun!” I will machine quilt in my sleep if I have to, as long as I can avoid having to illustrate and layout my own patterns, LOL!!

patternMy one and only print pattern can use a little help with graphics – don’t you think?

The First Steps

Like I said, I’m going the professional graphic designer route, but you certainly don’t have to! I’m also working with my friend Tina from Mod Geometry to do a little pattern testing on the side. I’ll first update and re-release all of my current PDF patterns, and finish a few that are in various stages of completion. Then I will release the print versions with sales channels to be determined later.

I’m also working with Lindsie to update the look and feel of my logo and blog. Nothing will change functionally, but we’ll work together to create some cohesive branding, which I’m really excited about.

Quilty ChevronsNow that I have the rights back to Colorful Chevrons, I can re-release it myself.

Future Goals

I guess the big pie-in-the-sky dream for any pattern designer is to have a booth at quilt market and get picked up by national distributors. While I’ll certainly consider that for the future, it won’t be the measure of my success in the short term.

For now, I’ll be happy to have professional looking patterns which I can sell to my fabulous readers, use to teach from myself, and offer to other instructors for them to teach from. I get a lot of requests to use my designs as the basis for other teachers’ classes, so If I can help them out with a ready-made pattern at an affordable price, then it’s a win-win for all of us!

Mini_patternGetting published in magazines was a great way to get my feet wet with pattern writing!

A Little Bonus

For a limited time, you can purchase any of my current PDF patterns for just 4.95! When all is said and done, I’ll offer them for the normal going rate once they are all jazzed up. So stock up now while you can!

CQ-PatternsHopefully my collection of patterns will grow over time.

 If you’ve purchased any of my patterns in the past, I’d love to hear your feedback on how I can improve them in the future. Just shoot me an email or leave your comments below.

And if you are thinking of getting into pattern design – don’t wait 10 years like I did!