Greetings to my new followers!! Thanks so much for your interest!
Look for sales and coupons for my followers as a thank-you! I’ll also add a page of sewing tips when I have time, so keeping watching.
Thanks for joining me! I’m sew excited to start sharing my tips and selling inexpensive and usually very easy digital quilting and sewing patterns. I hope to keep up a weekly chat. (No way will I annoy you with a blog every day!) I give simple instructions and shortcuts for quilts, wall hangings, throws, runners, also skirts, decorated sweatshirts, platter pads, aprons, totes, appliques, and small gift items, with occasional free patterns, such as the traditional Apple Core quilt. Stay tuned!
“Well begun is half done”–Aristotle–is quoted often by my husband, and I really hope it’s the case! Wish me luck in 2019, everyone. Follow me if you want to see the updates!
how about growing yourself a “Winter Border Garden”? This little lap quilt is quick to bloom because it makes great use of a border print. Just pick some colors from the print, sew up some strips, and voila! A pretty little top, ready to quilt. I just did quick stippling, a bit of echo stitch above the garden and a simple flower in the center. I love the vibrant jewel tones with black, but I’m now thinking about doing one in pastels for the spring. If you want to join me, the pattern is on sale this week through Feb. 28 for $3.50: Click here.
I thought a lot about the colors before I started–of course, that’s really the fun part of quilting. Originally, I had in mind a lot of purples, pinks and mulberries, which I’m sure would have been lovely. However, when I looked at the piece again, the oranges and yellows really jumped out. I decided to switch up my plan. Someone asked me once how to pick colors. It’s personal, but here are some pointers.
First, take a pattern, floral or other, that you plan to use as a key piece. Consider the background because that may be key. If it had been white or cream or blue, I wouldn’t have picked a solid black.
This pattern calls for 6-8 stripe colors. I could have picked one color, such as purple or cranberry and done a variety of different shades. However, since the flowers in the print were multi-colored, I wanted to use multi-colored stripes.
The stripes in the 1st photo may look like solids, but most of them are not. Many are tone-on-tone little prints, but they read as solids. I selected from a pile of potential colors. I don’t know that my color choices are what you would pick–they are really strong here, I admit–but I have some underlying guidelines I follow, which I’ll try to explain.
I could have used green because there’s clearly green in the garden. The truth is that I just didn’t seem to have the right shade of green in my small scraps. I must have tried a half dozen and finally just dropped the idea. I definitely wanted the purple because I had two nice shades to use-yes, those are purples, not blues, but they do lean violet. I eliminated a plum that looked sick beside the yellow and coral.
I wanted yellow, but it couldn’t be too light because the other colors were so vibrant. Think about matching color saturation. I wanted it deep, but not brownish gold and not too orangy. (Probably not a real word, but you get it!) Speaking of that, there’s a bright orange flower that I just ignored because putting bright orange with black smacks of Halloween.
Interestingly, there’s no coral in the print, but that’s what I ended up choosing for the backing, binding, narrow folded inner border,and outer ring of the stripes. It’s a vibrant coral with a lot of orange, but softened with pink so that it actually goes well with orange and pink. I picked a very warm deep pink for the center–I tried a bright candy pink, but it was awful–I definitely needed a warm red-pink rather than a cool blue-pink. Also, the red isn’t a true red, but an orangy red that blends well with the coral, too.
It’s not really about exactly matching. You have to constantly look at the colors together and rehearse them a little to make sure they’ll blend. I even found when I lined up the stripes that I had to switch them. Some just do not like to lie beside each other–they fight! There’s a fine line where you want contrast, but not clash, even in these brilliant jewel tones.
Saturated jewel tones go together, but I could never have added some browns or tans or olives to this combination just as I avoided throwing pastels into the mix or soft muted gray-blues, gray-greens or heathery (I think I made that word up, too) lavenders. It was better to stick with warm and bright tones for the most part. That much black is strong and needs the saturated hues to balance.
I’m fairly happy with my choices, but honestly, I think it’d be fun to try it again with a white or cream background and different print for a totally different effect, something more delicate. I’m also thinking that center would make a cute pillow top, and it’d be fun to put a pretty border all around a big quilt. Or I could do all the stripes in florals–an interesting challenge. Always another idea, another project…..until later! Libby
It’s in the air. Due to politics? Nope, not on your life! It’s because February, the month of Valentines, has arrived. What a relief to have a little love and maybe a little romance. How “lovely” is it to sit and sew in the winter and use up a bunch of scraps? To me, it feels like cleaning cobwebs…if I ever cleaned, that is. I’d so much rather play with fabric than dust.
The Log Cabin block has been around forever, but I’ve found it’s ten times easier to paper-piece when it’s small, like these cute little 3″ blocks. It keeps the lines of your seams honest! “Love in a Little Log Cabin” has templates to print as well as the usual full directions and tons of colored diagrams to follow. On sale for $3.50 until Valentine’s Day, CLICK HERE for more information.
Aren’t these colors just yummy? I actually hand-quilted mine and won 2nd Place in the Alabama National Fair.
When I say I hand-quilted, I should have written HAND. It was a red letter day–well, probably more like a month–and it’s just a 24″-square! Whew! I know people enjoy it, but I thought I’d never get finished.
I’m really not the person to give tips on hand-quilting, but I’ll attempt a few.
Use a tiny quilting needle. They have sizes 10-12 for quilting so thin that they pass through the layers easily. Just be aware that they are hard to thread, so have a threader handy.
Use a thimble. Do as I say, not as I do. I just never got the hang of it. But be advised that you may tear up your fingers with pricking if you don’t. I have long nails, which makes it hard, but that’s no excuse because these days, there are special leather thimbles open at the top for the nail. Try some different styles. There’s one style that has elastic over the knuckle to keep the thimble from falling off. I’ve also seen little stick-on pads to protect the fingers.
I’ve heard that you shouldn’t thread more than 18″ at a time because when it’s too long, thread gets tangled. Do as I say, not as I do. “They” also say you can run your thread through beeswax to….lubricate? keep it from tangling? strengthen it? I’m not sure I ever knew exactly why, but some quilters swear by it, so I suppose I should mention it.
You can get different size hoops for lap projects. Check them out.
Ideally, load 8-12 stitches per inch on your needle. Right. Well, do as I….you get it. I did try, but it takes practice. It’s better to be even in the stitches than tiny; of course, tiny AND even is the goal. I have heard of some “big stitch quilting,” which is sounding pretty good to me. I believe it’s done on informal projects with thick thread…like you’re a pioneer woman who only has string to work with?
Bend some rules–now that’s really me talking. Just for fun, I quilted some of this heart with metallic embroidery thread. It doesn’t slip in and out of the fabric too well, but it adds a pretty sparkle. I also added a few glass beads here and there to add more sparkle. They are very tiny, but they’re there!
7. Final word–don’t kill yourself…the quilting originally HAD to be done because the cotton batting fell apart. However, newer battings don’t have to have so much quilting–do as much as you like. Me? I’ll head back to the quilting machine for the most part and just tackle hand-quilting once in a great while.
non-existent this year. Of course, there’s always February, but since it was nearly 70 degrees today (Jan. 26), I’m not holding my breath. So I did what I invariably do each year–made my OWN snow!
This time I actually got a lap quilt made. I really want to dig into more quilts, but life has been hectic for me, even after Christmas. This one was really fun. I got to use some sparkly accent fabric. As usual with my patterns, it’s mainly straightforward squares and rectangles with a few folded triangles for a little texture. It’s even jelly-roll friendly. “Snow Crystal” was designed as a 43″ square lap quilt, but it’d also be a wonderful winter baby quilt! The pattern is on sale for just $3.50 through the end of the month. Move quickly to get it before it melts! Click here
The reason I’ve been so tied up since Christmas is that Christensen Creations is sponsoring and loaning about 40 pieces to a special “Home and Hearth” art exhibition. The Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery in Wetumpka, Alabama, has over 100 stunning pieces of needlework on display: quilts (antique and new), clothing (adult and children), embroidery, hand-sewing, needlepoint, knitting, crocheting, crewelwork, even some hem-stitching and weaving. It’s an amazing exhibit that will be up through April 28. Here are a few of the items I loaned them:
To see this exhibit, you can enter any weekday through the Chamber of Commerce door. We expect to have a guide there on Thursday and Friday afternoons and possibly Saturdays. To bring a small group, you can also call the Curator, Carol Hickman, at 391-5090, and she will arrange for someone to meet you, even on the weekend. However, we also have an 11-page guidebook with photos that gives details on every item. If you are local, you really should make the effort to see this wonderful needle-friendly exhibit. Needlework is often overlooked as a form of art, but not this time!
PS The castle is coming soon as a pattern…I’m not promising next week, but hopefully, I’ll get to it sometime in February.
seasonal snow is here! Or maybe not so much. It was 60 degrees this past weekend where I am; it’s doubtful we’ll get snow any time soon. So as usual, I have to make my own. I remember as a girl, I was fascinated by the snow machines they had in Gatlinburg, TN, to “make” a ski slope in case it hadn’t snowed enough. I always wondered, “How do you make snow?”
Well, now I know! I make it with white bias tape or appliques. Easy enough, and it doesn’t make your hands cold. I’ve put all my snow designs on sale this month. First you need “Snowfall.” All required are two sizes of bias tape and some great “sky” fabric to really make this wall hanging pop:
Made in a similar way is this huge “hot” pad:
Maybe you’d enjoy decorating a skirt? I know, I know, no one seems to be wearing skirts these days (but this denim one is cute with boots and includes instructions for ANY size and length–use elastic if you don’t want a tie). However, these darling appliques (full-size templates) could also go on a sweatshirt. Get them while they’re half-price!
Speaking of sweatshirts, this is a cutie and honestly, can be made in any size:
Don’t worry–it doesn’t have to look like Santa! Same pattern below:
Again, you can modify a sweatshirt of ANY size, but teens especially love the leopard (and I do, too…which reminds me that I need to look for a black sweatshirt for myself.) Fleece is on sale right now, so it’s a great time to make this. In fact, you could start your Christmas sewing for the family….if like me, you’ve vowed to start earlier this year.
Happy New Year, or at least moderately more happy than last year, right?
which we really need this coming year. While it’s too late to get this quilt done for Christmas, it doesn’t matter! Just leave off the holly, and it’s a year-round throw. If red is too harsh for your room, try it in cranberry or pine green. Actually, it’s beautiful in royal blue, but it could be any color. You could also change the tune–it has “Joy to the World,” but you could make it purple and and do Prince’s “Purple Rain” or in gold for “Fur Elise” or even pastel with “Rock-a-Bye, Baby”-hey, it’s YOUR quilt and your choice. On sale for $3.50 until the end of the year. CLICK HERE
What makes it amazingly more simple than it looks is the use of faux-piecing for the keys and my friend, black BIAS TAPE, for the black keys and note stems. Also use a braid for the lines of the music. I always look for shortcuts, and this quilt is full of them, yet still very impressive. Yes, some time-consuming applique, but on the other hand, very little piecing.
If you are more interested in the holly, you can get the pattern for just $1 through the end of the year. It looks hard, but the trick is in using water-soluble stabilizer and old-fashioned yoyos. CLICK HERE
Basically, you use fusible web to glue two leaf fabrics together, back to back. Zigzag around them in a leaf pattern, cut it out, THEN sandwich it between two layers of the water-soluble stabilizer and do a wider satin stitch that covers the first. Pull off excess stabilizer and soak off the remainder. If you leave a little, though, it stiffens the leaf. The yoyos are just stuffed with a little polyfill and pulled tight. Hello, holly!
I’m wishing you a fairly Merry Christmas and hopefully, a grand NEW YEAR! I’m eager to stop making masks and start making new quilts. I have lots of designs in the works….so keep tuned!
Let it snow, let it snow! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but snow? Not likely to happen in 60-degree Alabama. So I’ve put my snow patterns on sale. I make them with white bias tape–how’s that for a quickies? What a cute platter pad pattern for friends and relatives-even Jewish friends! Or January birthdays! Just $2.50 for either pattern.
Alternatively, if you have a machine with some special stitches, you can make snow very easily. Draw an X and a big + through it to make 8 “spokes.” Then line up a variety of stitches–anything from filled-in ovals to asterisks. If you have memory–memorize the line of stitches. Then stitch each spoke from the center out. VOILA! Snowflake created and it won’t even melt.
it’s time to switch gears! Yes, indeed, with frostbite nipping at our toes this past weekend, even those of us in Alabama got the message that winter has arrived, and it’s almost Christmas. While it may be too late to get a full Christmas quilt done, you CAN easily finish this quick runner. Made like the “Maple Sugar” I published a couple weeks ago, it’s just 1/2 yard of fabric with pieced ends added, which lengthens it quite a bit. I used simple squares and half-square triangles to form simple holly and old-fashioned yoyos for 3D berries. Not difficult! Add an autumn print backing to make it reversible!
“Holly Berries Table Runner” by LJ Christensen This sample was shortened–this easily can be 65″-75″.
I’m beginning to feel the pressure to get my Christmas gifts finished–time is flying, and I’m STILL making masks. For goodness sakes, I never dreamed we’d still be wearing masks this season! I definitely need Plan A, B, and C in case I run out of time, and I need every shortcut I can find.
One shortcut I use when making masks is THE “Shortcut” by June Tailor. It’s a plastic template about 14-15″ square with 12″ cuts in it every half inch. You can line it up and cut both sides of a block, then rotate it and cut the other two sides.
For strips, I prefer a 24″ ruler, but when I have to cut them into squares, I stack up several strips, line up the Shortcut and slice, slice slice. That truly saves time. I usually cut 4-6 layers and then stack them in dozens, a convenient multiple of four (or six). If I’m using the squares right away, I just leave them in stacks, but if I have to leave, I use a long, sharp flower pin to hold each dozen.
When making half-square triangles, I mark all of the diagonals at one time, either with a heat-erasable Frixion pen, or if that won’t show against a dark fabric, I fold them diagonally and press for a seam line. I chain-stitch them, trim and press to get them all ready. Then it’s anchors away! and time to simply piece.
this year, you can quickly make up this runner for a beautiful table. Made up of just a few squares and half-square triangles, the ends add length to a 1/2 yd. of beautiful fall print, up to 65″-68″, depending on fabric width. You can easily shorten it or lengthen it to perfectly fit your own table or buffet. On sale for $3.50 until the end of November–click here for more information
Notice how well it coordinates with “Autumn Maple Platter Pad cc 2201” —more infor
The lovely large hot pad is still on sale as well. While the pad design is “on point,” and the table runner is not, if made in the same fabrics, they are very complementary.
If you don’t have the time or the fabric, go to the Market Shoppes in downtown Wetumpka, Alabama, and you’ll find them both for sale! First come, first served!
I feel like I’ve been juggling 4627 things at once, from masks and wine gift bags to photo to jewelry made from yoyos to full quilts, with way too many UFOs (quilter are all too familiar with UnFinished Objects!) However, I find it exhilarating to be planning Christmas presents and objects to sell this time of year. One design begets another, and I simply don’t have time for any bad tidings.
So I’m thankful that my new knees have healed and that I have my new studio and plenty to do to keep busy and happy. But time is an issue, so here are just a few tips.
Like Nancy Zieman pointed out in her well-known 10, 20, 30 Minutes to Sew series and book, you have to get organized. That’s one reason my patterns are all organized with a good old-fashioned outline structure–ABC, 123. It’s simple to do all your cutting, making half-square triangles or other mini-blocks all together at one time. You assemble tools just once, focus, and get to work.
I pre-wash fabrics in color batches. In fact, I even sew in color batches. This may sound silly, but I look for several things I can sew with one color thread instead of re-threading. For instance, if I’m making masks (yes, I’m STILL making masks!), I sew several red Christmas ones, then maybe switch to some with back backgrounds or green. Even though re-threading takes barely a few seconds, for me it’s psychological, a feeling of checking something off.
I look for ways to streamline. For instance, I have two wastebaskets, one for left hand and one for right. That may be overdoing it. However, I recently found a wonderful weighted bag that hangs off the side of the table for threads/scraps. (Hobby Lobby). It can be moved from cutting table to sewing table as needed. I have a magnet on a long pole to pick up pins, “Wonder clips” and even seam rippers. (EXTRA HINT–never buy a seam ripper the color of your floor–my brown one seems to disappear too easily!) AND my 4’10” mother taught me the wonder of long tongs. (May be available in medical disability supply stores?) She called them “devil-catchers,” and I inherited several pairs. I never caught a devil, but Wow–they pick up rolling thread and other paraphernalia that always seems to roll under tables or fabric pieces that fall off.
I keep a little bag of my most frequently used little tools and sewing machine presser feet right beside my machine. Fancier ones are put away in proper containers, but there are some I use all the time. I have a couple magnetic pin “cushions,” which I’d never do without, and I’m back to using a pin cushion on my wrist. The pins kept getting knocked off a magnetic one, so it IS a cushion, and it IS convenient.
My NUMBER ONE time-saver convenience is my ironing board. It’s set up waist-high to the right of my machine. I have a swivel office chair, so I swivel to press and swivel 180 degrees to an old breakfast table, where I can trim and stack. My husband calls my chair and surroundings my “nest.” Yeah, that’s about right, but when thread is on a rotating holder and all your tools are an arm’s length, you can keep your eye on the prize, eliminate distractions and really get things done! (unless, like me, you are sitting at your computer blathering)
Have a peaceful Thanksgiving and get ready to shift gears to Christmas.
This simple little quilt is a pieced hot pad with instructions for 8″, 10″ and a super 12″ by varying the borders. The basic design is a simply beautiful maple leaf–“simple” being an operative word here. “Autumn Maple” is made of just squares and a few half-square triangles, but when made up in rich fall colors, it’s lovely.
Click here to see more and/or buy the pattern, which is on sale for $2 until the end of the month. A great companion pattern is “When Autumn Leaves Start to Fall” Click here. Similar, but different, they can live together in harmony, and my original samples of both are currently for sale in the Market Shoppes, downtown Wetumpka, Alabama, where I have a vendor’s space now.
Also available as a pattern is this fabulous matching runner, “Running to Fall.” Like the hot pads, you can make it in different sizes. I loved using a bunch of my stash pieces. The piecing goes together very fast.
As I was sewing the Autumn Maple, I was marking the half-square triangles and thinking about all the ways we have to mark. Do you remember tracing paper? I recall using it primarily for clothing, especially when marking darts. It’s still available; in fact, I think I’ve seen it in wash-away, nicer than the 60’s version.
We’re all very spoiled with the wash-away blue markers now….and then along came the purple markers, which disappear with the humidity of the air as well as with water. Don’t iron the marks, though, because it can set in. My biggest problem with the purple is that sometimes I can’t get to everything I’ve marked in one sitting and end up having to re-mark. Both blue and purple tend to be rather thick, but they’ve come out with smaller-point pens now.
Actually, the truth is that some marking I do with a pin instead of a pen. For instance, if it’s hard to see the difference in front and back of a fabric, that’s a good reminder. Ditto if you’re trying to keep track of the grain or of the lay of velveteen. In that case, I often put a pin in the TOP of each pattern piece or quilt piece. If you’re quilting and have lots of blocks or lines of piecing, I found that you can WRITE on the flat flower pins. I’ve used a thin permanent marker to number my pins and stick them into piles of different sizes or mark my rows in numerical order. They do make some numbered ones now, but they’re pricy and you can easily make your own.
I don’t do much hand-quilting, so I’m not too familiar with pouncing, but it seems to be a way to use powder sifting through little holes of a pattern template, faster than trying to draw on a design and more even.
My real contribution to the discussion, though, is something called tailor’s chalk. It looks like white chalk and is great for woolens (like tailoring men’s suits!) and cottons, but get this! It’s not chalk at all, but kind of a wax-based compressed white substance that MELTS AWAY when pressed. Don’t ask me how or why because I’m baffled! But the cool thing is that you can use it for those blacks and navies and dark colors like burgundy or pine green. I’d be very careful with polyester or silk and be sure to test it because it’s possible the oiliness could react badly. I’ve not had any issue with cotton, though. The problem is where to find it. I never see it in sewing stores, but I ordered a whole box of it from a notions supply company, so I’m sure it can be tracked down.
One more special marker has thrilled the quilting world. If you haven’t yet gotten a “Frixion” pen, you must do so! It’s an erasable pen readily available in office supply stores. The name is based on the fact that the friction of the eraser erases the ink easily. Get this, though! Friction produces heat, and what makes it disappear is heat. Yep, like an iron! You can make a thin line that looks like a ballpoint pin, and simply erase it by pressing later! It comes in about 5-6 colors, but certainly the plain black is good for 90% of our colors. Then find some tailor’s chalk for the other 10%. That’s my advice this week!
Boo Day is almost here! I don’t carve pumpkins, but I’ve been making jack-o-lanterns out of fabric. I pulled out all my oranges and designed an entire family of Dad, Mom and 3 kiddos (or maybe 2 kids and a dog?) They got to be more and more fun with different eyes, mouths, even eyebrows and gold teeth. (They don’t show up well in the photo, but I assure you I found some gold metallic fabric!) Then I added a spider!! Too cute–made from a button, with a silver web.
I have to admit that if you want to make this one for THIS year, you have to start NOW–lots and lots of squares to cut and sew–350+. However, all the many grids/graphs I include make it really easy to pull out just one or two pumpkins for this season and work on the lap quilt later. Yes, lap quilt or wall hanging–it’s 36″x 43″, a big hanging or cozy lap quilt. This will make a happy family, and it’s on sale for just $3.50 until the end of the month.
In the spirit of Halloween, I’ll also put on sale “My Little Monster.” This is actually a wonderful starter quilt because it’s easy with big pieces, and whether Jr. sews it or just helps pick out the details and colors, it’s a great interactive quilting experience.
Both of these quilts have little quirky 3D details, which I love to add. You can leave them out, but I think they add a little dimension. Both of them are kid-friendly, too. The little monster is a 4’x5′ wonderful size for a snuggle quilt, not quite big enough for a bed, but big enough for a nap! It was fun to use up some wild colors, too–the ones we adore at the shop, and then reality hits that they don’t go with our furnishings….ha!
A few words of wisdom to pass along….I used Sulky’s “Sliver” silver thread for the web. It’s hard to use. Definitely use a special metallic thread needle. (I use mine and then put it back away in its case because they are a little more expensive than normal needles–in a pinch, use an embroidery needle.) You absolutely MUST loosen your tension, I said LOOSEN!!! Otherwise, it will snap and break every few inches. If it still doesn’t work in your machine, try the other types of metallic threads, which are a little more stable. But sew slowly. I used black in the bobbin (because it was there); however, you might try light gray or even white with silver. I wouldn’t bother to wind a bobbin of the metallic.
I have to add the it does WORK in the bobbin, though. That’s how I quilted an entire vest one time–from the back side, it never broke. The judges were impressed and gave me a 1st prize….so that’s another trick. Quilt from the back using a metallic thread in the bobbin–how cool is that?
Now order a pattern and get to work–Boo day is just around the corner. Next week it’ll be time to talk turkey!
Now up to 80 patterns--take a few minutes to browse! Dismiss