Anatomy of an Art Quilt

Not a pattern, but I hope it’s an inspiration! It’s currently on display at Selma Art Gallery.

I make fairly easy quilts for my patterns, but when I create wall hangings for art galleries, I usually bend a few rules and push myself. This one is pictorial with lots of elements, including perspective and a little shading. Called “The Quilts at Poppy Layne Farm,” the story behind it is that I have a small booth in Poppy Layne Vintage store in Wetumpka….so I AM providing the quilts at Poppy Layne. Today I’m sharing the details of this wall hanging.

On the left side, I placed the side of a house, showing a window with a cat (fused) peeking out, lace curtains (doily), plastic “glass” (freezer bag) bias tape (regular and double-folded) window sill, blue shutters (made with little pleats), siding of white “plank” fabric, and roof of gray “roofing tile” fabric. I quilted along the lines of the planks and tiles. I also used an extra layer of fusible fleece to back the house. BELOW

Cat looking out the window over the poppies

ABOVE Under the window are the thread-painted poppies. The bulb parts are a programmed shape on the sewing machine. The stems are simply satin-stitched. However, the leaves, red petals and black interiors are done with free-hand “thread painting.” (Lower the feed dog and just move the fabric back and forth to form the shape you want.) The poppies arise from a brown dirt “bed.”

On the right side is a barn. It’s hard to see, but it has planks quilted in. It was formed over a piece of fusible fleece like the house. The doors open to a black interior. In the future, I plan to add a donkey because Tracy Huffman, the owner of Poppy Layne Vintage, has a donkey! (Alas, I was out of time before this quilt was put on display, but I’ll add her donkey and twin ducks later!) The doors and the frame of the upper hayloft window are “wood plank” fabric. The “hay” is just a piece of mottled gold fabric as is the “wheat” growing in the field.. In front of the barn is a “pebbled” driveway, quilted with little circles that echo the “pebbles.” The grass started as a stripey strippy multi-green print, but I also made big zigzags with a variegated green thread in sort of a hybrid of quilting/thread painting, some stitching overlapping the pebbles and side of the barn. BELOW

The Poppy Layne Farm barn

BELOW The big tree was so much fun to make! I started by ironing paper-backed fusible web (Wonder Under) to the back of a piece of rough bark-looking brown fabric. (Always fuse before cutting out!). I cut out a tree “skeleton” of the large branches. (Use a pin to score the paper to make it easy to pull off.) I satin-stitched around and on the trunk and all the branches, adding a few more small branches.

Next, I cut out a million or so leaves. Actually, I didn’t count (…and they really are pretty big for the size of the tree, but this is fictional!) Since trees are usually lighter on top and shaded below, I incorporated a lot of different greens. To make the leaves, I fused the paper-backed web on small pieces of fabric, removed the backing and then cut little leaf shapes. I gently placed them where I wanted them, overlapping here and there, and when satisfied, I fused them all at once. BELOW

The background, by the way, was already pieced and quilted along horizontal lines and around the clouds. It’s a piece of “cloud” fabric, a piece varying with strips of tan, gray and blue, and another piece with the yellows and greens. (They looked like fields to me, and possibly even the ocean in the distance if you want to think so.) BELOW

Girl on the tree swing

ABOVE Now for the girl on the swing: the swing was easy–just a tube of “wood plank” and some hemp twine (at Walmart I happened across a pkg with 5 different weights of twine!) I threaded the twine through the fabric and made knots. On the tree, I tucked it under some leaves to fuse it in place.

ABOVE The girl took some work. I had to draw a figure (which I’m not used to doing!) and try to get her arms, legs and feet in position. (I wasn’t about to attempt a little face–too hard for the under an inch. Someone else can tackle THAT challenge!) Once I had a little pattern drawn, I cut the basic body out of a pale tan with fused web and added her shoes. I was delighted to find I could tuck the seat right under her knees before fusing. Then I cut simple clothing. The hair was easy because the fabric I used for the field of “wheat” had little curls.

Close-up of the mom hanging a quilt

ABOVE The mom’s hair was also easy, just a piece of strippy stripey fabric, but I tied a real bow of 1/8″ ribbon around it to add a 3D touch. Again, I had to draw up a figure first, then put clothes on her. Her jeans are just a simple piece of chambray fused on over the shirt and shoes. Notice, however, that I took a few minutes to add “jeans style” stitching, including pockets. That detail really helps them look correct. The overalls, though, I made from scratch (like Barbie/Ken clothes!!) I also made the tiny boxers-did you see the little red apples in the plaid?

Of course, the central image of the quilt is the clothes line and quilts. The poles are tubes of “wood” just top-stitched down. The twine is heavier because it’s “closer,” and the line is angled in perspective, as are the quilts. The biggest quilt is a fully pieced and quilted miniature, made of vintage fabrics. The wooden clothespins I found on line at Thread Art. The plastic ones (smaller for the perspective!) were attached to an LED light cord for Christmas cards, I think. BELOW

The clothes line with quilts and clothes

ABOVE The two smaller quilts are PHOTOS! They are both my own designs. In fact, I took the mulberry one to a recent art show and got 3rd place in 3D art! It’s on my website, called “Check Out my Purple Heart” #2309. The smaller one is “Pocket Lozenge Throw” #2311. I used Adobe Photoshop to put the photos in perspective, then printed them on photo fabric. I put a backing on each (like a pillow slip) and did a little quilting too faint to see here. I actually have a poppy design from 1917 I want to resurrect and maybe replace the Purple Heart later.

BELOW Here’s the entire wall hanging. I had used an interlining to quilt with, but it was so ugly with all the weird quilting and zigzag stitching that I covered it with the plain navy for a backing and binding. Then I quilted just a little around the buildings to hold the pieces together. Also, in this shot, you can see the shading I added under the tree by using a dark green thread on top of the variegated used earlier. I toyed with the idea of adding a dog and a tractor as well as the donkey, but those will have to wait for another wall hanging.

“The Quilts at Poppy Layne Farm” by Libby J. Christensen

This took me back to my early childhood. My grandparents lived on a farm with a barn behind the house. Ah, memories! I challenge you to try your hand at a pictorial quilt. It’s a bit like playing with dolls.

PS KEEP TUNED! I’m working on my 100th pattern, called “Bundle of Blossoms”–due out by the end of the month. There’ll be some big celebration specials and a Facebook LIVE….not scheduled yet, but in the works!!

Happy Scrappy Day!

Here are some scrappy quilt ideas, including a quickie–read to the end!

After I finish a big project and am finally cleaning up, I get to curate the scraps. What fun! First are the largest scraps. If I have over a yard, I’m thrilled. I label and fold it and put it in the appropriate bin for that color. Likewise, even an 1/8th or 1/4th or so gets a label and is filed with other “under 1/2” yd. pieces. What do I label?–because I have a business, I record the amount, price, year bought and store where bought, which makes it easy to find on my inventory. Certainly, you don’t have to go that far, but knowing the amount can definitely be helpful. (By the way, I use scrap paper stapled to the selvedge).

Now for the bitties. You are probably one of three types of persons. The “clean-out” type will just throw scraps away and never bat an eyelash over it. The “keepers” will keep larger pieces for paper-piecing, applique, or scrap quilts. Then there are extreme “hoarders” for whom throwing away the tiniest piece feels like pulling out a fingernail. Those little bits I sort by color and put in plastic bags, and the teeny scraps I keep in a box and may never use, except for tiny paper-pieced brooches and necklaces. (That’s probably mostly in my imagination, but fabric is getting expensive, right? At least that’s my excuse.) Lately, though, I’ve been bagging them for a friend with young children. They make good collages.

So what do you reasonable type do with those medium scraps? One fun challenge is to make a “charm quilt,” where every piece is a different fabric. Here is my Apple Core quilt with about 900 different fabrics, based on decades of buying fabric.

Traditional Apple Core

My Apple Core is queen-sized, but you can certainly make any sized quilt you want (or have the scraps to do).

(Contact me for a free Apple Core pattern–it’s a traditional pattern available many places.)

For instance, the simple “pocket lozenge” block I’ve designed lends itself well to a scrap quilt of any size.

Pocket Lozenge Throw cc2311

For this “throw” or lap quilt, I limited the colors to blues and berries and called it “Moody Blues.” One great thing about THIS pattern is that it uses both large and small scraps. <Pocket Lozenge Throw #CC2311 – SewGoCreate>

If you’d like to make a baby quilt, below is a possibility that used a bunch of my pastels: <Bouncing Ball Baby Quilt #CC2304 Fat Quarter Friendly – SewGoCreate>. It’s a bit complex, but fun.

Bouncing Ball baby quilt cc2302

Prefer a smaller project? How about a wall hanging?

Love in a Little Log Cabin

If you like paper-piecing, try this log cabin. The heart could be reds or burgundies or even another color, such as white (different white prints on muslin tone-on-tones) and course, the background color could change to whatever you want. There are some VERY small pieces in this one! <“Love in a Little Log Cabin” #CC2108 Paper-Pieced Wall Hanging – SewGoCreate>

Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud

This kite pattern (also paper-pieced) is a little trickier. You work with a whole row; matching the corners takes some patience, but it can be a welcome challenge. Constructed done with strips of paper-pieced triangles. It, too, is a “charm quilt.” (Notice that I put Elvis in the puffy 3D clouds!) <Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud #CC2104 – SewGoCreate>.

Still too much work? Well, I have a great solution. READY?

I’ve been making “Meemaw Towels” for my booth in Poppy Layne Vintage, Wetumpka. I get 28″- square plain white “flour sack” towels (available at Walmart or on line). About 4″ up from the bottom I sew on a row of squares (yes, scraps!) I find that eleven 3″-squares work perfectly. I press under the top and bottom and use a buttonhole stitch to applique the row in place. Sometimes the squares are random and sometimes I get a few matching squares to work in–I just blend together some colors that don’t clash. In any case, they are fast to make and popular!

SEW…this has been an edition of “waste not, want not”–love those scraps!

Back at you soon–I have some big news coming up this summer. Stay tuned…..

Review and renew your tools

and get ready for a new season. Is it really June already?

If you sew, you probably know you should take your sewing machine in for maintenance every year. Sorry, but it’s like a breast exam–a necessary inconvenience. This is especially important for computerized machines because the build-up of dust can damage their innerds.

To get the lint out, I like a fluffy, real-hair make-up brush, like the ones used for blush. It picks up the dust and lint so much better than a nylon one and is WONDERFUL for the serger! Sometimes you also need a little harder brush to get the details. The harder and longer you sew, the more often you need to clean. Don’t forget to oil per instructions. Grease those joints!

Keep it cleaned and oiled, but take it to a shop to do the INSIDE; think of it as a tune-up. (Hmm, I wonder if they’d clean and oil ME? I think my joints could use it!) Since it often takes a few days at the shop, it’s a good time to review your sewing space. You could clean up!

A recent tip I read said to “clean as you go”–yeah, likely story. Who has time to do that? I actually like to clear up my space before a new project, but I won’t show any photos because my idea of “cleaning” wouldn’t pass muster with Good Housekeeping. I do like to sort fabric and scraps, though, so I do that when I’m without my buddy for a few days.

What made me really excited was a tip on cleaning my iron. I try to be careful–I really do! But I get in a hurry and often get a build-up of gunk on the sole plate–fusible goo and spray starch. I use “iron-off” cream on a heated iron, with pieces of old towel to make a good thick pad for wiping. This time, though, I had a big build-up that refused to move, so I tried a “Magic Eraser”–that was the cool tip, used on a cool iron. WOW! It truly works wonders.

But I still had one stubborn spot and was thinking I might need sand paper. I have every imaginable sewing gadget/notion, but no sand paper. I suddenly realized I had some old emery boards. It worked!!! I got rid of the spot and some of the stubborn stains on the side as well, then “buffed” it with the Magic Eraser. Voila! Clean iron. YEA!

I have another idea that helps with the ironing/pressing. Make saddlebags for your ironing board! It simply loops over the end of the board and has really convenient pockets. (Mine will now start holding a Magic Eraser and emery board! )

#CC1020 Ironing Board Saddlebags

The photo shows that side holds markers, a pattern and a deep pocket is big enough for a small spray bottle. I leave my ironing board out all the time, but IF you want to put it away, you can loop the saddlebags over a hanger and put them in a closet!

Pattern available at

The other side pockets

The other side has an elastic band to hold scissors, a folded non-stick sheet (which I should always use to prevent goo…but which often gets “lost”), and there’s even room for a small pressing ham.

It might be a good idea to baste on a non-stick sheet right in the middle. Hmmm?

Maybe it’s time to get your tools tuned up and organize your space.

PS–If you’re going on vacation, that’s a great time to take your machine in–you won’t miss it so much!

May Day Play Day

So much going on in May…I’m worn out. On days between major projects and major obligations, one way I like to wind down is to play with my scraps. Yes, PLAY. I sort them, fold them, repack them in ever-larger containers, and treasure them like I did when I was little. My mother taught me the pleasure of “making something out of nothing” because she grew up with a lot of nothing.

I, however, have a LOT of scraps. I cannot throw them away. Can NOT. So I’m always interested in ways to use them. I’ve found a new way, making long strips into scrap bowls. I watched a youtube video by Superior Threads marketing manager Amy Domke, which inspired me (thanks, Amy–love your thread, too!!) Here’s the link:

Rope bowls are a fun easy project with professional results! – YouTube

I had no “rope,” but someone had given me 100 yds or so of a soft braided nylon that I had no conceivable use for…so I tried it. I tried wrapping, but the frayed edges bothered me. So I developed a process of cutting long strips and pressing 1/4″ in on one long side. Then I tuck the raw edge under the pressed edge as I cover the rope. For that soft braid, I did a 2-step process, covering by sewing down the middle for the yardage, then coiling and zigzagging together.

Libby’s “Whatnot” Bowls for sale at Poppy Layne Vintage in Wetumpka, Alabama

What fun! This was actually something new for me, and I was delighted to find a way to use those long skinny scraps, not even wide enough for 2 1/2″ squares.

I organized my scraps by color, but you could use multi colors and/or leave the frayed edge. You can also wrap the fabric around and around the rope as you sew.

Aren’t they cute? Use for keys, change, jewelry, candy, desk supplies, seashells, even dog biscuits! Give them filled with something interesting for a great gift. YOU go create them YOUR way for YOUR purpose–that’s the point.

To begin, a small bowl takes at least 5 yds of macrame or other roping, so figure 10-20 for larger bowls. The ending isn’t lovely. If you can see on the cream/beige “dog bowl,” I made a little tab with the face of a dog (from the top printed fabric) to cover the edge.

What about thread? Use whatever you have, whatever you want to use up. Notice the green bowl has some gold thread. Metallics break easily, so I put the gold Sliver thread in the bobbin; then I inverted the bowl. In my case, I’m using up some ancient thread and finishing up spools– using up a different kind of scrap.

Making something beautiful out of nothing! Join me and send pics of what you make!

Graduations are nigh

…and for quilters, that often means having to tackle a T-shirt quilt.

We all know that these days, T-shirts rule; most teens have a drawerful. (Except MY son, well past graduation, who hangs HIS in categories on hangerseasier than folding.) But back to quilting. Most quilters have been or will be asked to make “The T-shirt Quilt.” It’s almost a rite of passage, yet there’s no real pattern for it. So how do you approach it other than by screaming and hair-pulling?

Here’s one I made this month for a baseball enthusiast. She’s played almost all her life, so I had many sizes and several teams of baseball JERSEYS! Interesting.

Baseball Jersey Quilt by LJ Christensen

So where do you start?

1. Cut off the sleeves, neckline, back seams and backs with no printing (I did leave the one jersey intact at the request of the customer and the V-line neck of the little pink one.) This starts to get the pieces ready and gives you an overview of colors and amount of fabric you have to work with.

2. Estimate the amount of fabric for accent and backing and get an idea for a theme. Mine was obviously baseball, but it might be team colors, sports, or something more unusual like my son’s science T’s or dragon T’s. If nothing else, determine some favorite colors. With the theme in mind, buy novelty or colored fabric. (No, I can’t tell you how much, but don’t forget the backing and binding!)

3. Plan out a design on graph paper. The absolute easiest might be rows of different widths to allow for different amounts of printing. Calculate the rows to match the size quilt you want to make. Another method is to make every square the same and put sashing around it (not that easy because printing comes in all sizes). You could, however, start with the largest to determine size and add filler to the smaller pieces. Or put several smaller pieces together in one block.

4. Consider the theme or special elements for centerpiece. I designed a baseball diamond into the background and appliqueed a jersey on the top. You could add a grouping of special T’s or color grouping instead.

Jersey added on top of diamond

5. Get plenty of fusible interfacing. It helps stabilize the stretchy knit. Also, I found it was easier to measure the size on the stabilizer, fuse it and cut around the edge than to cut the knit first. (While jerseys don’t stretch much, a couple of the T’s were really stretchy and definitely needed it!)

6. Pay attention to color. Look at the first photo and notice how I balanced the blacks and dark grays, and I made a point to distribute the pinks throughout. Look again and you’ll see I ALSO distributed the 12’s and 6’s. I also had ONE striped T, which I used for filler, sometime horizontally and sometimes vertically.

Pink and stripe used for filler.

7. Keep your wits about you when you deal with 6 or 9, 1 and 0–it’s way too easy to get them upside down (speaking from experience!) Ditto on writing.

8. For fun, add some appliquees. I added a baseball bat and ball (which I puffed up with several layers of batting). The ball was on one of the fabrics–easy to cut out! The T in the center was “holey”, so I first backed it with fusible fleece. I used the fleece on the bat and ball as well–not really necessary, but it helps them stand out a bit. I also added baseball grosgrain ribbon around the diamond.

Appliqueed bat and ball

9. Finished and ready to quilt? I’m fortunate enough to have a long-arm, so it didn’t take long. I quilted AROUND the appliques and around the areas of shirts I’d left with buttons down the middle because they get too bulky–also some collar areas.

Avoid quilting buttons!

10. Don’t forget the back! Add a label with name, graduation date, quilter, or other info with embroidery. I even kept out the back of the little pink shirt because it had the grad’s last name! Just do something cute.

Back of quilt label

P.S. No, I did not use plain white cotton on the back. It’s a woven polyester sheet (from Big Lots!) Not only does it blend with the baseball print binding, but the silky poly goes well with the silky jerseys!

Polyester sheet backing

I hope these tips help…so go create your own and send me a pic!!

I DID it!

I FINALLY got the “Playing with Marbles: OOPS! One Escaped” wall hanging pattern finished and published. Not only is this cute for girls, boys, young or old (as you change the colors…), but it’s a wonderful LEARNING experience.

Playing with Marbles OOPS” by LJ Christensen

You’ll find 1) more than 20 colored graphs and diagrams to keep you organized, 2) how to make half-square triangles, 3) details for how to better deal with sewing points, 4) how to bind and make loops, and 5) even how to make an optional mitered border. That was hard to explain, so I added lots of photos this time–over 20!

Buy here.

AND of course, I included 6) how to stuff yoyos to make marbles. Are you confused yet or are you with me?

Let’s PLAY!

Take a small circle. Mine was 2 1/2″ (to coordinate with the 2 1/2″ jelly roll strips). Try drawing around a can or glass with a Frixion pen or other marker. Layer up several pieces to cut several circles at once.

Fold over the raw edge of a cirle to the back about 1/8-3/16″ and make running stitching around the edge. (“Running” just means in and out, nothing fancy.) See PHOTO.

Running stitches, pulled to gather

If you were to pull this circle taut, you’d have a yoyo like Grandma used to make. But keep it a little loose so that you can easily push in a little bit of polyfill. (No, I can’t tell you how much. A pinch? A 1.5 cubic cm? I’d go with the pinch–don’t worry because it’s easy to add or remove.)

Stuff, pull taut and knot. Sew on with a little “ladder stitch.”

Now stuff it! (I enjoyed saying that!) You won’t be able to close the hole/gap. It’s the nature of yoyos. Again, don’t worry because that open area gets pushed against fabric when you sew it on. “Ladder stitch” just is a little bite from the fabric, down to a little bite from the marble, up to the fabric again. See the up and down on the right marble in the photo? Obviously, you pull it enough that it doesn’t show, but not enough to gather up. Knot off.

By the way, when you knot, you can use a quilter’s trick and “bury” the thread end. Pull the needle up through the stuffed yoyo and press down on the stuffing, pulling the thread a teeny bit more. Clip it off; the stuffing wlll puff back up with the thread end buried inside. Don’t you love it!?


Besides collecting them, that is? One of my favorite things is to make berries. The holly decoration below is just a $2 pattern.

“Holly Jolly 3D Applique”

3D Holly Jolly Applique Embellishment #CC2205 – SewGoCreate

I’ve also made snowballs with them.

“With Fleece as White as Snow–or Not” cc1011

This is on the back of a sweatshirt, but it’s easy to use the applique elsewhere.

With Fleece as White as Snow–or NOT #CC1011 – SewGoCreate

On the FRONT of the sweatshirt, I used them as buttons–maybe toggles would be a better term? Same pattern. Just use narrow elastic for closure. The instructions are flexible. You can use ANY size sweatshirt, child or adult.

front of sweatshirt above

Let me know if you think of any more uses. I’m imagining grapes and maybe the center of a flower or a clown nose. Maybe bird’s eggs in a nest?

Please add comments if you have some ideas, and I could sure use some kind words of review for ad copy….just a hint. Better yet, why don’t you buy a pattern and try it? Then review it! Send me pics. I’d love to see what you’re making.

Sew….go create marbles and yoyos and other fun stuff!

Does LIFE get in your way?

Maybe not, but sometimes it does in mine.

(BTW, sorry if you’re receiving this a 2nd time, but the English instructor in me couldn’t stand the subject/verb agreement error; I simply HAD to update. As it republishes, emails might be re-sent, but I can’t control that.)

I have to apologize. A “few” weeks ago, I promised to finish and publish a pattern for a wall hanging called “Playing with Marbles: Oops, One Escaped!” It had just received a ribbon in an art show, and I was very excited to share the pattern. It includes 3D stuffed marbles.

“Playing with Marbles: Oops, One Escaped” by LJ Christensen

Yeah, right….excited and eager until LIFE GOT IN THE WAY!

It wasn’t bad; it was just an overwhelmingly busy time for me…you know, the times when you feel you’re juggling 12 balls (or perhaps marbles), they’re all in the air, and you’re not sure you can catch ANY….?

At least that’s my excuse.

What happened was even more exciting to me, though. A new vintage/artisan shop opened up in Wetumpka and was looking for vendors. I dived right in and now have a presence in Poppy Layne Vintage on Commerce Street as well as Market Shoppes on Market Street.

In an effort to deconflict, I’m concentrating on Wetumpka tourist items/photo gifts at Market Street and “soft creations,” quilts and patterns at Poppy Layne.

I put my photos on everything from photo cards to totes, umbrellas., puzzles and even Rubik’s cubes!

A variety of Libby’s “Funbrellas,” now primarily at Poppy Layne with ones of the bridge at Market Shoppes.

Below is one of my photos–currently at both Market Shoppes and The Kelly Art Gallery (on Commerce St. right across from Poppy Layne). I have large photos on canvas, but small copies of this one are also on custom-designed cards.

“Watching over Wetumpka” by LJ Christensen

Naturally, I was super-busy, trying to plan and set up a display in the new shop, manage a new inventory and make all new tags… while also entering another art contest. I’m so proud to have gotten an Honorable Mention at Society of Arts and Crafts’ Member Show in Montgomery on another new photo below:

“Mist on the Coosa” by LJ Christensen

Wait a minute–this is SUPPOSED TO BE a quilting blog, right? OK, I’m off topic, but my Christensen Creations label includes my photography, so I do have to tend to it now and then.

In the meantime, the marbles pattern was all ready to publish except for two photos,which I still haven’t taken–see, photography IS involved! However, just to make things crazy, TAXES were due.

Hello, IRS, it’s just really not convenient at the moment because I’m busy, but alas, the government doesn’t listen to me or run on MY schedule. All my samples and 100s of small items for sale have to be tracked for fabric, notions, thread, tags, etc. Funsies. (Not.)

So once taxes were tallied and sent, back to the pattern drawing board, which Word decided to “save and update” for me. Note to self: Do NOT let Word update files! It managed to destroy my lay-out, causing me to make literally 100s of small changes to get it back in order. My “update” became a “downdate”–you can add that to the dictionary.

Ready to publish at that point? Nope. Why? Because I’ve signed up for a booth in the Charis Crafters’ big spring craft show next Saturday (April 30, 9am-3pm, Wetumpka Civic Ctr, bring a canned food item for entry). I’m looking forward to it, but it means I’ve spent another multitude of hours retagging and planning for smaller “$25 and under” pieces, including my PATTERNS. However, my patterns are laid out for page-by-page download, like a college paper or other document. I haven’t PRINTED patterns in years, but when I do, I prefer to fold them to make a cover with photo and description and a back that has a list of the supplies. It slips in a plastic sleeve, you see.

In other words, can you say RE-lay-out? Awkward in that one pattern I had to do, but even more awkward in the 100 patterns I’ve published, mostly on line. So I guarantee they won’t all make it to the booth, but I will have a basketful–how full it is will no doubt be inversely proportional to my lack of sleep this week.

So, there I’ve laid out some good excuses, well, some excuses for getting behind. It’s not that I’ve been lollygagging. I just changed some priorities. That sounds good. I’ll use that explanation to save face.

I have to also admit that I’ve taken some time out to search on line for jewelry supplies. I’ve been working on a way to get my photos onto reversible pendants with a tiny quilt on the opposite side. My first attempts were so clunky that they became paper weights! I’m serious! What a transformation. But at least I’m back to quilting! And maybe, just maybe, I can locate my camera and finish up that pattern…..sometime soon…ish.

Talladega Nights? or Daytona Days?

“Fast Track” is a single bed quilt pattern, complete with a track and 3D race cars, surrounded with black and white checks. Download it to your computer. Great directions!

If you or your family are fans, you will love this single bed quilt pattern. In honor of Daytona, I’ve put it on sale for about a week until the end of February.

“Fast Track” Twin Bed Quilt #CC2312 – SewGoCreate

“Fast Track” is actually FAST because it sews up fast. The squares are big, and the race track bigger yet. (HINT–those cute squares on the binding are simply check fabric.) I found it at Hobby Lobby, but you can “check” the internet or just use a solid color.

Faux-pieced binding
Close-up of the “track”

Yes, you COULD velcro on the cars, but I figured they might get lost, leaving a scratchy piece of velcro. I made them 3D by just adding a layer of batting, slitting open on the back to turn them. The windshields are fused on, then satin-stitched on right through the quilt to hold them on, along with the buttons sewn through to hold the tires down. Clever 3D look, but they don’t move except by imagination. You could embroider or use a permanent market to add a special number….just an idea for fans!

Close-up of a car

Almost all boys, big as well as small, would love this quilt. Good for a dorm room, or extra quilt for a couch sleeper, maybe? Quick! Make someone happy! Get the pattern for just $3.00 this week.

Fast Track cc2312 by LJ Christensen

So, what do you think of it? Leave a reply!

I’ve Got Your Back

Well, YOU have to have your back. Blog includes tips on quilt backings. Selection of valentine, love, heart quilt patterns for sale by download. Different sizes from 12″ hot pad to lap quilts. GREAT directions with diagram and some photos.

…Well, YOU have to have your back. When quilting, we have to think about how to make up the back. In my grandmother’s day, they used cheap muslin or a sheet. Actually, a sheet can be a good choice; however, if hand-quilting, be sure to examine the thread count and check if your needle is comfortable sliding through. As for muslin, it’s not a cheap as it used to be (what is?), but you can now get it in a double-wide 90″ in a nice quality.

I will admit that I recently used a (gasp!) POLYESTER microfiber bed sheet, and it was the softest, silkiest backing I’ve ever made. I had pre-washed all the fabric, so why not? We now use polyester thread, which, by the way, works MUCH better in a quilting machine. (My favorite is Omni by Superior threads).

These days, however, there are 100’s of more interesting choices for backings than a solid-color sheet. You can buy 108″-wide fabric now. Although a local shop may not carry many colors, you can go to Keepsake Quilting on line for a huge variety. They sell it by the yard or in 3-yd packages and are currently putting a few on sale every “Wide-Back Wednesday”–some fabulous prints.

You may have to piece the back, though. Buy twice the length you need, of course, but I suggest using one whole width and then distributing the next by cutting it in half lengthwise and sewing half on each side. No particular reason except I think it looks better than a seam down the middle.

Have you ever had to lengthen a back piece? I certainly HAVE. Sometimes I’m just out of fabric (or I miscut!!! ARGHH) What to do??? No naughty words–just PIECE it. Look how darling this last “Hearts for the Sweet” turned out.

Hearts for the Sweet cc2323

I only had 1 yd of fabric for a 42″ quilt, so I started with a 6 1/2″ strip of the red I’d used on the front. That was the first mistake…I forgot to count in the seam allowance of the one-yard piece. OOPS! 2nd mistake–I shouldn’t have cut the strip until I’d pre-washed the fabric. OOPS again! It shrank. I was a good inch short, yet a backing really should be a little longer and wider. Oh no!!

OK, …back to the drawing board. I had cut a lot of strips of the rainbow print for the ruffle and just happened to have one left–thank goodness! Not only was it 3″ wide, perfect width, but it’s so cute that it looks planned.

I later came back with more red for the embroidered label, which I whipped in the middle, overlapping a bit, just to be artistic. The back of this quilt is almost as darling as the front. Remember that unlike bed or wall quilts, the back on a lap quilt won’t be hidden. The morals to the story are to “Make it Attractive and Remarkable, maybe even Gushworthy” and “Two Wrongs Can Indeed be Righted.”

Hearts for the Sweet cc2323

This new valentine quilt just published this week is simple. It includes directions and lots of photos this time as well as diagrams for inserting a ruffle or a regular binding. After all, we do love our little boys, too–this could be quite masculine in primary colors with vehicles or spiders or something….ick, maybe not spiders with hearts, but you get the idea. The ruffle has lace on the edge, making it extra special, but it’s really fast to make with a binding instead– without having to tediously gather the ruffle. Another idea is to buy wide ruffled lace instead of a ruffle.

If you have plenty of time in the next week, you could attempt this “Check Out My Purple Heart,” but it’d also be great for Father’s Day with its sophisticated spin on mulberry with yellow to tone down the “pink.” It’s also a large 54″ square, a great size for a man (or woman–hey, try it in pinks ,roses or lilac!)

Check Out my Purple Heart cc2309

The wall hanging below will take considerably MORE time and may not be ready until Christmas or someone’s birthday, but it was so much fun to make from scraps. Those are little paper-pieced log cabin blocks, which are easier when sewing small blocks. However, the pattern could easily be enlarged by simply enlarging the blocks and could be sewn traditionally if you prefer. (I’d like to make it queen-sized for my bed, with a rosy burgundy heart.)

Love in a Little Log Cabin cc2108

On the other hand, you may be pressed for time. I get it! You can still create a marvelous little valentine for your sweetheart, friends or family in just a few hours. This 12″ Platter Pad is both useful and decorative. You can even replace the top-sewn lace with double-folded bias tape if lace is inappropriate–super-quick finish–you don’t have to satin-stitch the edge!

Simply Sweet Heart cc2016

I really hope you’ll take time to sew a special valentine. So precious–so few calories! I’ve omitted the links for fear of going onto SPAM lists, but you can go to my website: and easily search “Hearts” or “Love.” Some of these are on sale until Feb. 14….spreading MY love to you. Libby

Quick Preview Video of new pattern

A darling little valentine “Hearts for the Sweet” is about to be published. Watch for next blog, probably on Monday, Jan 31. This Facebook video shows the general plan. Click for a 2-min. preview.