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, sayingย  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 fewย  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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

2015 in Review and Looking Forward to a Quilty New Year

As the old year ends and the new one is just beginning, it’s always fun to reflect about what was accomplished while looking forward to new goals. Although quilting is my full-time job, it’s just as much my hobby as my business. I thought I would share important milestones from 2015 month by month along with a few peeks into my goals for the upcoming year.

January

I hired Lindsie to update my branding and logos, and create professionally looking graphic design and layout for my patterns. This was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and it ended up being the best decision I made all year! The biggest lesson I learned is that it’s actually cheaper and more efficient to pay someone to do something that would take me ten times longer to do and wouldn’t look half as good. I plan to use her skills much more in 2016.

Christa Quilts banner

February

I attended QuiltCon for the second time and affirmed my love for modern quilting. It was my goal after the original QuiltCon to one day return as a teacher and I’m thrilled to be able to do that in 2016 (and beyond). I also represented the Las Vegas MQG as president, and helped grow our guild from just 5 members to over 40. I can’t wait to see what our new president, Vicki Ruebel of Orchid Owl Quilts has in store for us this year.

OpticalIllusion_quiltcon_me

Illusions at QuiltCon – look for this pattern in the spring issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited.

March

After teaching quilting classes only locally, I traveled to my first national teaching engagement at The John C. Campbell Folkschool. It was such a success that I’ve been invited to teach again next year (July 31-Aug 6), and I can’t wait. I think I have just as much fun teaching as my students do while learning. ๐Ÿ™‚

modernlogs

 

Students working on Modern Logs – one of my favorite designs to teach!

April

My first advertisement as an EQ artist was published in an issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. When it came out, I received more engagement from that ad than I have had in any prior magazine publications. Talk about reach! I’m looking forward to representing EQ more next year, and can’t wait to teach my 3-Day class on Getting Started With EQ7 at EQ University next April.

ElectricQuilt

May

I successfully launched my first set of 4 print patterns.ย  The key was to get them into the hands of the major pattern distributors (Checker, United Notions, Brewer) so that quilt shops can find them. They’ve been well received so far and I can’t wait to do more in 2016.

4collage_patterns

 

June

I taught at my first international quilt show for the National Quilting Association. Sadly, the NQA is no longer in existence but the show confirmed my desire to teach and travel more. It is so fulfilling to get out there, meet new people, and share my love of machine quilting! I look forward to a nice mix of teaching next year – a couple of quilt shows, a few guilds, and some local classes.

mmq_samplesExamples of student work from my Modern Machine Quilting class at NQA

July

I spent the entire month at my sewing machine, wrapping up work on my second book which releases in April. Of course it took longer than a month to create all the quilts for this book! But I look back on this month with fondness as it was the only month of the year where I didn’t travel, didn’t have too many family responsibilities and could just quilt to my heart’s content!

machine_quilting_practiceHere’s a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2016 – more machine quilting!

August

I decided to jump on the free-pattern bandwagon with the release of Puzzle Box. I enjoy listening to business podcasts about how to increase your marketing reach and the number one suggestion was to offer a “freemium” so I did! Current and brand new readers can get this free pattern by subscribing to Friendly Threads, my weekly email newsletter. My email list has grown by leaps and bounds since then, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be making so many new friends!

Puzzle Box PatternPuzzle Box is made from just 2 Jelly Rolls!

September

My debut book, Machine Quilting With Style was published. This was a dream come true for me, 20 years in the making. Writing this book was pure joy from start to finish. I discovered that I enjoy writing about quilting so much, that I’m currently working on book 3! I plan to continue writing quilting books, as long as my publisher is willing to produce them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Quilt_montageMy book includes patterns for 12 quilts, plus how to quilt them!

October

My curated collection of Kona Solids – the Christa Watson designer palette was released by Robert Kaufman fabrics. Now to be clear, I’m not an official fabric designer for them, but this one-time collaboration occurred by being in the right place at the right time.ย  Curating this colorful palette has whet my appetite to become a real fabric designer, so one of my goals for the year will be to learn as much as I can about fabric design.

Christa Watson Designer Palette

 

My palette comes in rollups, ten squares, fat quarters and charm packs. I love precuts!

November

I began work on a new quilt which won’t be published until 2017. It’s part of a book collaboration that will really knock your socks off! My biggest a-ha moment of the year was realizing that I can reach a larger audience when I collaborate with companies I adore, full of great people to work with.

fabric_piecesThis fabric is Zen Chic’s newest line for Moda Fabrics.

December

I attended the BERNINA ambassador reunion, another long-term goal of mine. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of such a wonderful group and am excited to collaborate more with them next year. Be sure to follow We All Sew, BERNINA’s blog for a brand new quilt along from me, coming next spring!

2015ambassadors

 

Just a few of the BERNINA ambassadors – what a great group!

2016 Goals

My 2016 goals for my business are very straightforward: I plan to continue writing, teaching, designing and quilting. I feel like my work flow is under control and I have enough ideas in various stages of completion to keep me busy all year long.

What are your quilty goals for 2016?

Christa’s Soapbox – 2015 Goals and Some Reflection

For the last two years, I’ve publicly stated my New Year’s Goals on my blog and I’m ready to it again for 2015! I love to call them goals rather than resolutions, and by writing them down, they are more apt to happen. I prefer to get a jump start on the new year by listing them a month early. (I used to be a serious procrastinator, but once I turned 40 that was finally a habit I was able to break!)

2015For anyone who wishes to walk down memory lane, you can take a look at my earlier goals below. I’m proud to say that I’ve actually been able to accomplish most of them!

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2015:

  1. Have a successful book launch later in the year
  2. Continue to work on my health and fitness
  3. Set up a traveling schedule and obtain more teaching opportunities
  4. Plan and propose my next book idea
  5. Increase my circle of quilting friends

I’m pretty excited about these because they will give me the excuse I need to make a boatload of quilts! (Not that I really needed one, right?)

20141111_sewtopia_attendeesMy view from Sewtopia – a modern quilting retreat I attended earlier this year.

Although quilting is my full-time job, I really enjoy traveling to amazing events, meeting new friends, and discovering luscious new fabrics. I’m sure I could stay home behind the scenes and be just as successful running the precut-store part of our business. But I really do need to be around people and share in their quilty excitement.

My kids are growing up and my oldest will graduate and leave home next summer. He’s planning on going on a 2-year mission for our church and then he’ll head off to college when he returns. So next year will be a huge life change for us as we set those plans in motion; we jokingly tell him we are already making plans on what to do with his bedroom when he’s gone! But in the meantime, we are going to have as much fun with him as we can and go on a few family trips before he leaves – I can’t wait!

20141201_familyThis was during our last family trip to Mexico. I love these guys!

I have to say that for the most part, this has been a good year. It’s been super busy of course and it’s had its share of ups and downs. But I can truthfully say after years of hard work (and a few wrinkles and gray hairs), I’m excited for what comes next!

My Word of the Year for 2014 – Quilt!

Have you read about this trend of picking a word for the year? It’s been catching my notice recently, but I was finally inspired to pick a word for myself after reading Pat Sloan’s recent blog post about her words for each year.

Christa Quilts

Christa’s word of the year for 2014 – Quilt! (Duh!)

I thought about many ideas for what my word could be: health, patience, love, balance, organization, timeliness, etc., but finally realized that “Quilt” embodies all of this for me in this new year. “Quilt” really will be at the forefront of my thinking 24/7 as I strive to meet my goals for 2014. I will need to incorporate all of these other words in order to achieve them!

So how about you? What is on your mind for this year? Can you sum it up in a word?

Christa’s Soap Box – A Little Blog Planning for the New Year

Are you a planner? I am. I do well with schedules, check boxes and to-do lists. It’s not that I’m totally obsessed about being organized, it’s just that I often feel overwhelmed with ideas to pursue and tasks to be accomplished. Making a list (and checking it more than twice) helps me keep things under control and prevents me from going into mental meltdown, LOL!!

I like to keep things loose and flexible, but having a framework of what to write about each day helps me prevent “blogger’s block.” (Is there such a thing? You know – like writer’s block?)

About Christa

About me – a word collage that Jason made for my birthday a few years ago.

So I’ve decided on a general weekly schedule of what to expect for the coming year:

Mondays – I usually like to get up on my quilty soap box and share my thoughts about blogging or quilting or how I’m feeling about the world in general. These are fun posts to write because they usually generate some lively discussions.

Tuesdays – I like to share tools, tips, and book or online class reviews with you. This accomplishes two tasks – it gives me something to write about and it gives me a good excuse to plow through all the books and classes I’ve been wanting to read or take. Occasionally I’ll also share other exciting things I see that are happening in blogland.

Christa Quilting

Working on my 2013 Pile O’Fabric Skillbuilder BOM

Wednesdays – This is my day to share longer tutorials or blog series. In 2013 I set aside this day for posting my quilt alongs and highlighting some QAL followers’ finishes. For the coming year I plan to do a series of blog posts exploring such topics as the business of quilting and my creative journey. (And maybe, just maybe, I’ll host another quilt along much later in the year if all of my other projects and goals get under control.)

Christa's Quilt AlonggiveawaysChrista Quilts


Thursdays – Right now I’ve reserved Thursdays for my year of weekly giveaways. This will end sometime before the end of 2014 so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Fridays – Friday is fun day. I like to share sew and tells, works-in-process, as well as trip reports and quilt show updates. I’ll occasionally feature what some of my friends are doing, too. I plan on launching Fabric Friday every other week where I’ll blog about many of the fun fabrics and precuts I carry in my store and ideas of what to make with them.

The Weekend – I usually take Saturdays and Sundays off from blogging so I can spend more time with the family and sneak in a little extra down time. However, I may occasionally post on Saturdays if there are so many exciting things happening that I just can’t help spilling over into the weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

Family Hike

The family that hikes together stays together!

Of course none of this is set in stone, and I may periodically skip a day or two or rearrange the week’s schedule to accommodate other commitments. When I first started blogging, my hubby Jason thought it would be a great way for me to organize my thoughts and get them out of my brain and into print. (Translation – he thought I wouldn’t need to talk so much at home, LOL!)

But a funny thing has happened, blogging has actually generated more discussions, more thoughts, and more ideas for me to explore. I know it may seem a little crazy that I utilize this platform nearly every day, but my blog has really turned into my personal quilting journal. As I’ve said before, It’s very therapeutic for me to write.

Christa Quilts

Christa Quilts – and you can, too!

I want to end this post by thanking all of you who read my blog. Though I don’t get a chance to answer every single comment, I try to respond as often as I can, and I really appreciate the support, encouragement and friendship that you all have given me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Christa’s Soap Box – Looking Ahead to 2014

I set a precedent last year when I listed my 2013 New Year’s goals a month early at the end of the year rather than on January 1st. I kind of go my own way sometimes and realized I’m more likely to achieve my goals if I get a head start, LOL!

Lighting

An unofficial goal – learning more about lighting and photography.

My 2013 quilting goals were pretty bold and ambitious and I knew I was taking a risk by stating them so publicly. However, I’m happy to say that I was able to accomplish most of them and feel like a lot of the hard work paid off.

And those that fell by the wayside? Well I learned a bunch, even from my failures. Some of the most memorable achievements of the year were getting accepted into Quiltcon, winning viewer’s choice in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, getting my first quilt published in a magazine, and winning an award at a major quilt show.

Charming Chevrons

Charming Chevrons at QuiltCon

String of Pearls at MQX

String of Pearls at MQX


So what’s on the agenda for 2014? In three words: Simplify and Focus. I only have two goals for the next year and here they are:

1. Write a book. (Notice that I didn’t say “publish” – that will be later.)

I’ve just submitted a book proposal to a publisher and now I’m waiting to hear back on whether or not it will be accepted. I know most people are usually hush-hush about this kind of thing, but since blogging for me is as important as sewing (or maybe breathing), I’m putting it out there (without revealing any of the juicy details). Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen? They can say no, and then I’m really no better or worse off than I was before – other than having a ton of new ideas! So I might as well try. ๐Ÿ™‚

Family Time

What we do to stay sane in between projects and deadlines.

The one effect this will have on my blog is that I will probably take a break from my Quilt Alongs while I work on other projects. However, I’ll leave the finished ones up and since I’m used to blogging nearly every day, there will be no lack of content around here!

2. Get back in shape. (Again.)

Beach Running

Gotta run!

I know, I know – this is everyone’s goal, right? Well, after blogging recently about mine and Jason’s trail-running, I’ve decided this is the perfect time to kick it into gear. I just feel so much better when my clothes fit. Plus, I have much more energy to sew when I don’t wake up with a “food-hangover” from the night before! I look to my previous weight-loss journey as inspiration this time around.

So how about you? What’s on your goal list for the upcoming year?

Christa’s Soap Box – A Drop in the Bucket

Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting anywhere fast; the daily routines just seem like a drop in the bucket of what I’m trying to accomplish. However, I know that in time, those drops will add up and my bucket will be not only be full, it will overflow. (Hopefully this will occur sometime before I actually kick the bucket!!)

Trail Run

Me, Jason and his sister at the start of a very wet and rainy trail race!

Jason and I ran a trail race this past Saturday and it was literally raining buckets! We’ve decided that we want to run a half-marathon trail race next spring, so training begins now.

I took up running many years ago as a way to get fit after having children. I’ve run two marathons and several half-marathons over the last few years, but it was during a period of time where I wasn’t sewing very much.

Once I rekindled my desire to quilt (all the time), running fell by the wayside (and I gained a few pounds…) Now I’m learning to find balance with both hobbies I love – quilting and running.

Trail Terrain

Peaceful view from the trail. I was trying to catch the next person up ahead in front of me. (I did!)

Even though I yearn to run at the speeds and distances I used to, I know it will take time to once again build up my endurance. Each daily run is another drop in the bucket towards my goal.

I think this is very similar to my goals for quilting, both personally and professionally. Sometimes it seems like it will take forever to design and make all the quilts I desire, and even longer to get them in front of the people who I most want to see them. However, each stitch I take and each quilt I make is another drop in this bucket, too.

Trail Finish

Jason at the finish – you got to ring a bell at the end! How cool!

Most of all I’m learning patience. I’m the sort of person that wants it all done now, but I’m slowly coming to the realization that substantial goals are worth waiting for and worth striving for: day by day, step by step, and drop by drop.

Christa’s Soapbox – Blogging Goal Accomplished

I am a very goal-oriented person and I work well with to-do lists, schedules and check boxes. At the end of last year, I made a list of Quilting Goals and I get a certain sense of satisfaction when I can cross something off my list and move onto the next item.

Follow on Bloglovin

Today, I get to put a “done” next to my goal of improving my blog. Jason and I have worked really hard over the last few weeks to update and organize the blog so it’s easier to read and more fun to follow!

Here are just a few things we’ve accomplished:

  • Renamed the blog url to ChristaQuiltsBlog.com. It’s still located on WordPress and the old links will still work. But it makes it easier for Google and others to find me!
  • Set up the domain ChristasQuiltAlong.com. It points to my blog with a page set up exclusively for my quilt alongs. Now you can find them all in one place!
  • Cleaned up the sidebar so it shows organized, pertinent information and links.
  • Have now attracted over 1000 blog followers –ย  can we make it 2000?
  • Added links at the top to more easily find my tutorials, quilt alongs, and flickr group with more to come!
  • Reorganized my blog categories to make them easier to find and read.
  • Added a button for other bloggers to spread the word about my quilt along:
<div align="center"><a href="http://christasquiltalong.com" title="Christa's Quilt Along" target="_blank"><img src="https://christaquilts.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/christas-quilt-along-175-2.png" alt="Christa's Quilt Along" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Wow! It felt really good to check that off my list. ๐Ÿ™‚

Christa’s Show and Tell – Sewing Every Day

One of the quilting goals I set for myself was to sew every day. To make this goal actually happen, I had to make sure it was realistic. In order to do that, I set a minimum time limit of just 10 minutes a day of sewing. I also broadened my definition of “sewing” to include designing quilts, reading quilt magazines and watching online quilting classes.

So far so good. Here is what I have been able to accomplish “sew” far this month:

I’ve signed up forย  several Craftsy quilting classes. I just finished watching Elizabeth Hartman’s free “Creative Quilt Backs Class” and am currently viewing Cindy Needham’s “Design It, Quilt It” class. They are both excellent!

Creative Quilt BacksDesign It Quilt It


I pulled these lovely fabrics to participate in the Skillbuilder Block of the Month over at PileOFabrics.com. I decided to go with all Kona Solids for this quilt. I haven’t decided on my background fabric yet. I’ll probably choose a shade of Grey.

Skillbuilder Fabrics

I used the color wheel when choosing colors and went with an “accented analagous” color scheme. That means I chose red, orange and yellow which are next to each other on the color wheel, then threw in a bit of complementary teal just for fun. I can’t wait to get started!

Today, I paper-pieced this sewing themed block as part of Quiet Play’s And Sew On year-long block-of-the-month series. January’s block is called “Measure Twice” and is available as a free download this month.

Measure Twice

Measure Twice, Cut Once!

I also made this block designed by Amy Friend of During Quiet Time. I love the sewing theme so I may have to incorporate it into the same quilt!

Sewing Machine Block

Next, I designed this quilt in EQ7 which will be the basis for my next quilt-along as soon as the current one finishes. I found out how to download Moda’s fabric swatches directly into the design program so I can design quilts using the actual fabrics from the quilt. Very cool!

Hugs and Kisses

Hugs and Kisses

When I don’t feel up to sewing, or when I’m traveling, and bringing along sewing supplies is impractical,ย  I have a stack of quilting magazines that I am thoroughly enjoying reading.

My favorite magazines are Machine Quilting Unlimited, along with their brand new sister publication Modern Quilts Unlimited. I’ve also been a long-time subscriber of Quilter’s Newsletter, the best source of news for what’s hot and happening in the quilting world.

Machine Quilting UnlimtedModern Quilts UnlimitedQuilter's Newsletter


I think that’s a great start for January! How about you? How are you coming along with your quilting goals?

QuiltCon Here I Come! Charming Chevrons Juried-In

I just got the best news ever! I just found out that my Charming Chevrons quilt was accepted into QuiltCon, the modern quilting conference taking place in Austin, Texas in February.

I am practically speechless and beside myself with joy! I am already registered to attend the conference, and in fact just booked my plane ticket today.ย  This is like icing on the cake! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is the front of Charming Chevrons (you can click to enlarge):

Charming Chevrons Front

And here is the back (which I think is just as much fun as the front):

Charming Chevrons Back

One of the quilting goals I made for the new year was to get a quilt accepted into a major show. Well, now I can cross that one off the list. (Or maybe I should say I’ll add to it?)

I will update the goal to read, “Win a ribbon at a major quilt show.” I’m sure this new goal will take much more than a year to accomplish, but I believe anything is possible with enough patience and perseverance!