Fall fell…

…and suddenly it’s Pumpkin Time. Geez, it doesn’t really feel like it in Alabama, but I’m afraid Halloween is just around the corner. What I have on sale for you this week is my super-simple “Halloweensie-Weensie Spider.” Perfect for an intrepid little girl or boy who loves Halloween decorations! What makes it so easy is that the legs and web are made from bias tape. On sale really cheap!

For more information, click here

However, if you prefer not to have creepy crawlies around or you prefer to PIECE your pumpkins, how about this gorgeous seasonal runner? It takes a little more time, but it’s well worth the effort, especially as it’ll last from October through Thanksgiving for decor. (Instructions included for three lengths.)

It’s on sale as well through the end of the month. Click here

Enjoy decorating and stay tuned…coming soon “Jackson-O-Lantern Five”! My orange squares are cut and waiting for me-just gotta find my mojo to get to work.

Time to go somewhere….

…ANYWHERE! You still may not want to go too far afield, so don’t pack a suitcase–just take your new fabulous tote! Truly a winner, this tote is chock full of optional pockets–zippered, patch, bottle and even has a keyholder (or maskholder) hook. The best part is that it’s made from scraps! Just use twenty 2 1/2″ strips or a jelly roll to make all of it–front, interior, handles and even pockets.

Jelly Roll Pieced Tote cc2209 interior
Jelly Roll Pieced Tote interior and cc2207 mask
Zippered pocket of Jelly Roll Tote by LJ Christensen

To encourage a little toting–I’m tempting you with ALL tote patterns on sale this month, not just this one. If you search a bit, you’ll find gym bags made from towels, a potential beach bag, a baby bag, and even child-sized totes. Maybe it’s time to start sewing for Christmas!

I’ve had it with the staycation. Nice for a while, but I’m rarin’ to go. I’ve had two knee replacements this summer, which I’ll blame for my lack of blogging. Really, though, I’ve been obsessed with mask-making and fallen behind on quilts. However, even those are a bit obsessive. The most recent one I’m working on is called “Alabama Bending the Covid Curve”:

Alabama Bending the Covid Curve by LJ Christensen

Yes, indeed, it has real masks plastered all over it (in tone-on-tone whites/muslins) to go with the Alabama crimson and white colors. And yes, it’s wrinkled because it hasn’t been quilted yet. The good news is that I’ve recently upgraded my quilting machine, so as soon as my knees allow, I’ll be tending to that detail!

My new favorite wall hanging is a 3D douzie! For an art show, I decided to build a stiff wall around the coronovirus! I did so, using stiff muslin, stiff interfacing and a layer of fusible fleece, plus a LOT of tiny individual bricks. The virus is stuffed, too! This one was really fun to make (if, admittedly, a bit tedious!)

Building the Wall by LJ Christensen
Building the Wall Closeup by LJ Christensen

So what else is new? I actually am moving my quilt samples to be sold in a booth in Market Shoppes in downtown Wetumpka, Alabama. There’s going to be a BIG fall festival day there on Nov. 7, so if you’re local, you might want to check it out. (I’ll be bringing my Banana Slush Punch and some delicious chocolate brownie/cakes.) I’ve almost closed down on mask-making, but I’ve switched to scrunchies for using up scraps. Also, I’ve been working on crossbody Boutique Bags–I expect to have several patterns soon. I have a new Cotton Pod block for a quilt in process, plus some fall items, such as a “Jackson-o-Lantern Five.” I’ve just been lollygagging a bit about getting the patterns out. They are definitely coming, though! I promise! Keep tuned!

“Schooner or Later”…

The (pattern) design is for a totebag with a 12-inch insert of an appliqueed schooner sailboat.

…we can sail away on a wonderful vacation. In the meantime, we can dream about it. This beautiful appliqueed schooner (in the 1800’s they were heavily used for coastal trade) skims along the waves against a beautiful sky. Simple appliqueed shapes are really enhanced by beautiful fabric, and there are many exquisite water and sky prints available.

“Schooner or Later”cc2208 by LJ Christensen

The design is for a totebag with a 12-inch insert, which could be made again and again with other applique designs, orphan quilt blocks or embroidery. It’s also really convenient because it has a pocket made for a cell phone or sunglasses and another for a water bottle or small umbrella.

“Schooner or Later” pockets

Just as the tote pattern could be re-used, so could the applique. It’s perfectly sized for a quilt (12 1/2″ finished at 12″) or could be placed on a sweatshirt or even into a larger wall hanging! Click here to buy (On sale for just $3.50 now through August 15.)

I love this tote! I made a point to interface the lining, which takes the brunt of the load so that it can be made from quilt fabric instead of the canvas used here. Interfacing supports the pockets, and I used extra heavy, stiff interfacing for the bottom. The added edgestitching and piping really “sharpen up” the look. The 18″ handles slip easily over the wrist, leaving hands free. I like to have totes of different colors, and this one is a great “wearable art” project because I designed it to easily showcase any sort of needlework.

One of my hints, included in the detailed directions, is to use a bladed edgestitch foot. The edgestitch foot is one of about 5-6 feet I keep out and use frequently. It looks like a hemming foot, but it’s flat underneath. I use it to edgestitch and square up not only the outside edges of this tote, but the pockets, too, and even the piping. Run the blade along the right edge of the fabric and move the needle to the left a notch or two. It really helps keep the little seam absolutely straight. I use it to line up against piping and move the needle over just a bit. (It w0rks fine on most piping that’s not too thick–for thicker, use a special piping foot with a channel, or try a zipper foot) I use it afterwards on the outside along the seam edge to hold the lining down.

Similarly, I use it to edgestitch my quilt bindings. I sew them on the back, pull them around to the front and edgestitch with the blade to the left along the binding edge with the seam just inside the binding on the right. Very quick and very neat!

In other projects, I even use it for elastic plackets. I sew the elastic ends together, place the ring of elastic inside the top edge of pants/skirt, and pull the fabric up and over the elastic for the placket. Then I run the blade against the elastic, with the needle to the left so it doesn’t catch. I stretch the elastic as I go, occasionally stopping with needle down to pull more elastic around. This is not hard if you’re careful, and it’s a lot quicker than having to thread elastic through later. My Bernina sewing machine makes a wide enough stitch that I can even use a little zigzag and not worry about catching the elastic. On little cotton shorts (like I used to make for my son many years ago), you don’t even need a zigzag (though I do like it on my on knit pants.)

OK, I admitted it. I wear elastic-waisted polyester pants–so lowering to be consider a Walmartian, but at least I don’t let my middle show…..and by the way, I’ve heard the youngsters are now approving yoga pants. Hmmph! They are polyester stretch with elastic waists, too–I just have better sense than to wear them skin tight! HA!

Blooming in July

Even if you’re not a gardener, you can grow a beautiful garden and even WEAR it! I designed a really fun skirt that can be made to fit ANYBODY because it is turned sideways. Sideways? Yes, start with the length you need to get comfortably around your hips. The fold becomes the elastic casing or has buttonholes to string a thin rope through. Then you add fabric to the bottom to make the perfect hem length. If you use a blue top and green bottom, you suddenly have created a meadow, perfect for flowers! The flowers used in the pattern are pieces that have been quickly serged, but suit yourself.

On sale for the rest of July… Click here:

Serge’n’sew Meadow Skirt cc1009

OK, you don’t wear skirts. I get it, but I’m in Alabama, and I can tell you that a cotton skirt and sandals are a LOT cooler than jeans and tennis shoes!

Maybe you’re in a cooler state and need a light wrap on some summer evenings. As much as I still can’t believe it, it SNOWED in August when I first moved to Montana. That was a shocker for a Southern woman, let me tell you. Anyway, try a garden on a sweatshirt. Just turn ANY size sweatshirt into a jacket and add some glads. Note the flower pot pockets! Click here.

Glad Jacket cc2202

I like wearable art, but if you prefer to stick to walls, I have you covered… with this delightful wall hanging that always gets oohs and ahhs when I show it: click here.

Glad Not Nana’s Yoyos cc2100

If you’re not sure about the handwork of making yoyos, it’s explained with clear diagrams. You can use this big Platter (Hot Pad) as a starter project. It’s also a great project for a beginning quilter because it shows how to do a binding like a miniature quilt. Click here.

“Happy to GLADiolus” cc 2012

If you prefer a different flower, try a folded rose called “Origami Rose.” Click here.

Origami Rose cc1002

I even have a folded sunflower, which can be a wall hanging or a Platter Pad. Click here.

Sunflower Power cc 1003

These beautiful flowers are not hard at all, and they are all on sale through July 31, so go cultivate your garden!

Didja lie?

Did July creep up on us? Yes, it did!!! (OK, apology for the pun I borrowed from a Judge Mathis commercial…but it fit so well!) I can’t believe it’s July tomorrow. In my bones, I feel like it’s still April. I’m still in a Twilight Zone, making face masks as hard and fast as I can, and I have to admit to no new patterns at the moment.

However, in honor of the season, I’ve decided to put all my USA/flag patterns on sale HALF-PRICE until July 5. That’s just one week, so grab them fast. Even if you’re not celebrating THIS year, you may want to get a jump on next. Here is the selection:

Click here for Flag ’em Down for Dinner
multi-size runner and/or placemats

Click here for US Cooks Apron and 3 hot pads
Click for JUST the Patriotic Platter Pad

My Country ’tis of Thee 3D folded log cabin flag

Annoyed because however you may like the design, you’re stuck at home with no red, white or blue star fabric? I understand your pain. The next two patterns honestly look great in many different colors and patterns, so you can use your stash! The star pillow below doesn’t even take that much and can be made a COVER for a pre-existing pillow!

Stars and Strips Forever 1007

This last one is EXTREMELY VERSATILE and can be made of any colors, including lots of big and small scraps–a nice way to clean out your sewing room!

Salute the Colors (but you can use ANY colors!) in ANY size

I’m not sure the word “happy” is operative this year, but I wish you a healthy holiday with hope for the future.

“April showers bring…

May flowers”—-ooops! How did it get to be June so quickly? My bad. I’ve been ghosing my blog, but I have a great excuse. I just had a knee replacement, and though I’ve still been making face masks on request, I just haven’t been up to quilting too much.

So instead, I bring you yoyos, which are a time-worn handwork project. Our grandmothers made some lovely quilt tops. I haven’t made anything so ambitious, but I did figure out a way to turn them into beautiful gladiolas! I have three different precious patterns I’ve put on sale through the end of June:

Glad Jacket cc2202 CLICK HERE

The jacket above is simply a sweatshirt, cut, bound, with added pockets and potted plants. Do all three plants or just one–always YOUR choice! On sale through June.

Happy to Gladiolus cc CLICK HERE

Above is a single glad on a big platter pad, or it could be quilt block or just a single applique (only $1.50 on sale!)

Glad: NOT Nana’s Yoyos, a 3D wall hanging CLICK HERE

or…above, you can make a whole garden! (Just $3.50 through June–with a full-page color lay-out to follow, as well as directions.)

Yoyos are not hard, but they ARE hand work. Basically, you make a circle about twice as big in diameter as the finished product. How? Use a glass or cup or beer mug or round coaster and draw around it and cut! Ta da!

Next, thread a needle. I tend to pull my thread through to double and knot it, but the polyester-core thread these days doesn’t break like Grandma’s thread used to do.

Now sew a running stitch (in and out and in and out and….) around the edge about 1/8″ from the edge. When you get back to the beginning, gently pull the thread taut, tucking the raw edges inside and knot.

A classic yoyo will have a little hole on top because the tightly gathered fabric needs a little room to breathe. On mine for the glads, I continue with more stitching to close and add a bead, just for fun.

Other considerations for yoyos…some people may recommend folding over 1/8″ as you do the running stitch. Sure, if you want. That would slow you down but discourage raveling and shredding. (Not needed if you add a bead or perhaps a button!….but good if you’re going to tackle a whole throw.) It depends on the fabric and usage. Tightly woven, good-quality quilt fabrics may not be a problem whereas loosely woven “craft” fabric will need more attention. A throw you plan to wash…be more careful. A wall hanging–not a problem.

OK, that’s it, except did you pick up the “button” suggestion? How cute to add a little one-yoyo flower with a vintage button center and maybe a couple leaves! I suppose you could add yoyos as wheels on a racecar applique, too. I’ve used them to make snowballs, and if you add a tad of polyfill, you can make them into 3D balls. Sew go create!

Meanwhile, I’ll nurse my knee and try to come up with something new for next week!

Never forget…

that freedom isn’t free. I offer this pattern on sale as a tribute to those who gave their lives. It’s a small and easy wall hanging even though it looks complex; the pieces are simply folded and layered. It’d be an awesome gift for Father’s Day for a vet. Click here for more info:

“My Country ’tis of Thee” cc1001
by LJ Christensen

I get a little sad when people say “Happy Memorial Day” as if it’s a holiday. It’s not. It’s a day dedicated to the remembrance of our soldiers and airmen who didn’t get the opportunity to come home. May the Lord bless them and keep them. This heart-breaking memorial statue in front of the old train station in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, says it all.

“No One Left Behind”
by LJ Christensen

Nascar is back!

I was glad to see that, and though I’m usually on the “Fast Track” myself, in this case I was the last to finish. My new quilt got done on Sunday, and today (Monday), I just finished up the pattern. I’ve been racing all weekend.

This cute new twin-sized bed quilt is sure to please a Nascar enthusiast or car lover of any age. Even my husband got a little excited to see the 3D cars developing and “helped” me place them on the quilt. Clearly the black/white checks add to the Nascar theme. They’re fast, too, because they are 4 1/2″, which sew up in a jiffy. I found black/white checked fabric for the binding, too, so I made it 1″ wide to accommodate the checks, but it doesn’t have to be that wide. Also, I included instructions to applique the cars for anyone who doesn’t want to turn them and all the tires. Your choice, as always.

On sale for $3.50 until the end of May–grab it before the price goes up! Click here for more photos and info.

“Fast Track” cc2312 by LJ Christensen

I personally always prefer the 3D touches, but I know quilters who love to hand-applique or machine-applique. There are different methods to attach elements.

The most traditional is the needle-turned hand applique. A precise, fine-tuned seamstress can wield a needle to delicately coax the edge of a piece to turn under and stitch it with a nearly hidden stitch–MUCH to be admired, but slow.

I’ve heard of a method of using freezer paper as a template, pressing the fabric seam allowance around it. The freezer paper has a finish that is ever-so-slightly sticky, helping the allowance to stay in place and giving substance to the piece you’re working with. To remove the paper, you cut into the back of the main fabric and pull it from the appliqueed area.

Commonly today, a paper-backed fusible web like Wonder Under is used as a great tool. Iron it onto the back of the fabric. Leaving the paper in place, cut out the designs. For a wall hanging or things not to be heavily used or laundered, you can simply pull off the paper (use a pin to score it!) and iron the applique in place. There are even some heavy-duty fusibles now. However, it’s been my experience that they don’t get along well with dryers or harsh washing and may begin to peel. So I ALWAYS augment mine with satin-stitch.

Satin-stitch is just a really close-together zigzag. Lengthen the stitch and make sure it stitches a little past the edge of the piece to sufficiently cover the edge and any wayward strands. It takes a little effort to go around curves and sew without jiggling, but it’s a lot faster than hand applique.

“Fast Track” race car by LJ Christensen

Then there are my 3D embellishments. The cars here, for instance, are made with two complete pieces and a layer of cotton batting for some thickness. I turn them inside out though a slit cut in the back (which will be covered up), then whip the slit closed. To attach, I simply sewed around the windows right through the quilt and right through the middle of the separate tires (which are later covered with buttons). I suppose you could use Velcro to attach the cars to allow for more “play,” but they just might drive off and disappear. (My son would have parked them in a Lego garage…just saying.) However, suit yourself.

Your choice of application/applique is your own. Sew go create!

Nascar, anyone?

I’ve created the perfect face mask for Nascar lovers:

“Five Easy Pieces” Face Masks–CHECKS cc2207 by LJ Christensen

While I was designing, I also created a simple “Team Colors” one:

Sorry, Alabama fans, but these colors were handy. Pick your own!

For Jelly Roll aficionadas (yes, that’s the female version!), I came up with the simplest way to use leftover Jelly Roll strips.

See? Leftovers from my Baby Basket Weave Blanket!
Yes, that’s a lavender castle in the background ready to be quilted and ready to have a pattern written up…soon.

Especially for traditional quilters, I added an “Extended Nine-Patch,” which was really fun to plan out, using all kinds of scraps:

“Five Easy Pieces” Face Masks–Extended Nine-Patch cc2207 by LJ Christensen

For those like me who LOVE batiks and bright colors, there’s an “Elongated Log Cabin”:

Elongated Log Cabin–top in a traditional 2-color diagonal, bottom in just scraps by LJ Christensen

All of the designs had to be widened or elongated to accommodate the pleats, but I’ve done all the heavy lifting with the measurements and made them easy. If you want a plain mask, I recommend going to www.lauraday.com for free instructions. But if you are tired of the same old, same old, for just $3.50 (on sale for six weeks), you can get my five patterns! Click here to order.

Some face mask Q and A:

Will masks save us from Covid 19? Maybe, but viriuses are itty bitty teeny tiny ultramicroscopic and can still slip in around the edges or through the weave.

Are they helpful? Sure, if nothing else, they help remind us not to touch our faces, and they help defend us from coughers and wheezers and sneezers.

Why are they pleated? Two reasons–1) Pleating provides multiple layers right at our nose and mouth for more protection and 2) it allows them to flex over the bumps on our face, namely nose and chin!

Do they need a wire? Not necessarily, but I add a hidden twist tie, which is just the right size to curve over the nose for a tighter seal. Soft, pliable plastic-coated picture frame wire works well, too.

What is the added “filter”? It’s just one more layer, this time made of NON-woven fabric. I use thin cotton batting in mine (a natural fiber like cotton is apparently better at “catching” the little beasties). However, a piece of interfacing would also be OK. Some people have even recommended paper towels. I prefer a washable mask and filter, though.

OK, I’m wearing mine, and I can assure you that it’s a lot more fun to wear cute ones! Get yours made!

Libby in leopard (the hydrangea quilt behind me needs to be quilted…soon!)
Libby modeling an Elongated Log Cabin cc2207