A Tisket, a Tasket…

Wait, I said that LAST week with the basket-woven baby blanket, “Baby Basket-Weave Blanket” pattern, which is STILL on sale for just $3.50. However, let’s not forget the Mama Bunny. All the kids get baskets–shouldn’t Mama Bunny get one, too? It’s the perfect Easter decoration for the kitchen or little gift for the hostess of the big meal (do you eat ham? or do you go out and brave the crowds?)

AND if you don’t celebrate Easter or don’t care to have eggs on your walls, just fill it with appliqueed flowers. Back floral print fabric with paper-backed fusible web, fussy-cut out the flowers, iron them down and satin-stitch around them. How easy is that? The basket, made from bias tape, gets sewn right on top (or let the flowers/leaves peek out the edges).

On sale for a month for just $1.50, click here for more info.

“Easter Egg Basket” cc2003 by LJ Christensen

I DO have some new photos, though–same Platter Pad basket, but now filled with flowers instead of eggs!

Easter FLOWER Basket I by LJ Christensen
Easter FLOWER Basket 2 by LJ Christensen

For the two above, I made my OWN bias tape and used florals from a couple different print to match the colors in the small print border.

In case you’re wondering why I don’t have a NEW pattern this week, I have a good excuse. I spent the week editing a central Alabama art news magazine for The Kelly art organization. I’m on the board and editor of the magazine, so I was super busy. The Kelly (if you’re curious)

However, I PROMISE a new pattern next week because it’s already pieced. It’s similar to “Risen,” which I’m also putting on sale for the season, but the background is watercolor piecing. Click here for “Risen.”

“Risen” cc2103 by LJ Christensen

I have the new watercolor version more than half done and the pattern more than half done. In fact, I’ll share it with you here in miniature.

“Leading to Easter” by LJ Christensen

Above is the basic pattern, very simple, but I have some 3D elements in mind that I’ll be adding. So come back next week. I’m aiming for a week from Sunday but not holding my breath.

A Tisket, a Tasket…

You, too, can quilt a basket! Really, you can….well basket-weave a quilt, that is. This darling baby quilt is made from jelly roll strips lined with batting. After they are turned and pressed, you weave them just like those hot pads we used to make in primary school. Then “quilt” along the strip edges, and ta da! It’s read to bind with no backing, pinning, stretching. You’ve constructed back and front at the same time. People will marvel because it’s so novel, yet it’s easy!

So if you have a “little one” who needs an Easter basket but can’t walk yet, here’s the perfect solution, also perfect for a baby gift any time. On sale for just $3.50 for the entire month of March, get this pattern for your stash. Just pay through a credit card, and it’ll wend its way through the ether to you. It’s a great way to use up scraps, too, including scraps of batting.

Click here for more info.

“Baby Basket-Weave Blanket” cc2310
by LJ Christensen

My mother loved baskets. I think her love affair began when we lived in Austria and she learned to carry a basket to market like the Europeans do. Even the stores expected you to have your own. There were always a myriad of baskets to choose from.

Years later, back in the States, she was intrigued enough to take a basket-making class, and as usual, she’d teach me what she learned. Yes, I made a couple egg baskets myself. One time, when I lived in England, I even cut branches from my willow tree and boiled them to get the bugs out. They were stinky from being cooked, but I managed to make a basket. After I tried a few, though, I gave up the practice. I will admit it messed up my nails, and I’m vain about my nails (especially now that I spend $$$ on getting manicures!)

However, making a few baskets was a really interesting experience. My mother and I both bought a lot of baskets over the years, not expensive ones, but just interesting shapes and sizes. I’ve used them for craft table displays quite often. Now I have some special quilt patterns in one of my bigger ones, and this week I filled one with 2800 watercolor quilt squares!

Does anyone remember the beautiful piano watercolor quilt on the front of a book from about 25 yrs ago? I’ve wanted to make it for decades–literally! I’ve been collecting florals and plan to start soon. Remember watercolor quilting? You use florals cut willy-nilly and then piece them by gradations of shade. Coming up for the website, I have an idea developing for a watercolor background with a white cross for Easter. Stay tuned. It should be available soon. Start collecting your spring florals! Spring is close!

Just one…

one lone “Snowflake”! Supposedly, there were a few snow flurries in Alabama this month, but frankly, this was the ONLY one I could find this week. Gray, rainy, yes–snow, no! But after making the “Snowfall” wall hanging recently, it occurred to me that it’d make a super platter pad as well. It’s actually a different design than the several flakes on the wall hanging, but again made so simply, using white bias tape.

If you’re interested, it’s just on sale through February for $1.50 because by March, we’ll be concentrating on Easter and flowers and other “spring things.” Click here for more information or to buy. All you do is pay through Paypal (you can use a credit card), and the pattern is sent to your computer when the payment clears.

“Snowflake Platter Pad” cc 2019
by LJ Christensen

Put this in the back of your mind for a great Christmas gift, too–wonderful for a teacher gift! If you’re really ahead of the curve, you could make them now and have a nice pile for friends and relatives in December. That would be great, wouldn’t it?

Truly, it would be a good idea to make our gifts early. I have several ideas on the website that would work well. Here’s another great sort of generic gift. Click for info.

“Santa Belt Belly Platter Pad” cc2008

Though not everybody would use an “iComforter,” it is a cute stocking stuffer made of scraps. Click for info.

“iComforter” cc2200

Because this is more time-consuming, make this one for a special lady in her own special colors or designs, very customized. Click here.

“‘Pick a Pocket’book” cc1026

Children can be special, too, so make them their own bags. Click here.

“Play Ball Petite Tote” cc2204

For the football enthusiast in your life, how about a great lap quilt? Click here.

“Team on a Lap Quilt” cc2306

Obviously, you COULD make any number of quilts for people. To do that, you probably do indeed need to start now.

Here’s another fairly quick design, though, that’s especially nice for a quilting/sewing friend or family member, though I have to say I have a few (emphasize—FEW) friends who claim they enjoy ironing, so it could be good for them as well. Click here.

“Ironing Board Saddlebags” cc1020

While you may or may not have a lull this time of year and time to get ahead, you can at least think about it and make some plans. You can get the pattern, fabric, notions all together and put them in a bag or bin so that you’re set when you DO have time…if you EVER have time, that is! I had mine in various bags, but switched to clear plastic bins in all sizes (from Walmart). I love it! I’ve actually taped paper labels on them and found it a wonderful way to get organized. They even stack!

Happy planning and have a “Merry little Christmas now.”

Not just a valentine…

but it COULD be, so I’m posting ON Valentine’s Day with my new “Check Out My Purple Heart” throw design. It’s a generous 54″ square, big enough for ANYone’s lap. I also made a real effort to tone down the purple. Using pale yellow cream and some maroon helped temper the “pinkiness” and make it suitable for a man. I was thinking of our brave recipients of the “purple heart” and wanted this to be something for anyone, male or female. The heart design blends subtly into the checkerboard medallion, surrounded with “X” and “O” blocks. What a work of love!

On sale for $3.50 until the end of February, click here for more info.

“Check Out My Purple Heart” cc2309
by LJ Christensen

I’ve had some great Valentine Days, but this may be the best ever! Today my builder came and finished the LAST touches to my Christensen Creations Sewgocreate Studio, which I have to say is better than chocolate! (…and as I’m a chocoholic, that’s REALLY saying something!)

I still have a huge amount to do in order to get all the fabric sorted properly and loaded onto the shelves, not to mention all the wall hangings that need to go up….but I now have all the details of The Construction done, done, done….and to quote Judge Marilyn Milian, “Stick a fork in me. I’m done!”

Desk finally finished!
One quilting hanging area
Some quilts hanging
Christensen Creations Sewgocreate Studio finished!!!

This is a dream come true! Now back to work! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Football widow?

Or just tired of watching running backs and would rather “run back” to your sewing corner to play? If so, this is a treat. Just raid that stash of scraps, looking for coordinating colors that could be wrapping paper. Find some ribbons to match. Make this quick “Glitzy Gift Boxes” runner in one of the two lengths. It’d be darling to give a friend as a “gift of birthday gifts,” or use it for a golden anniversary, or use up some Christmas scraps. With its cheery 3D bows, it’ll make a cute table!

On sale for just $1.50 through February–click here to buy.

Glitzy Gift Closeup by LJ Christensen

Speaking of gifts…probably the very best gift I ever received was delivering my very own St. Nicholas on Dec. 20, just before Christmas. However, the best one my husband and I ever GAVE was to my mother-n-law for her 65th birthday. She was visiting us in Italy. Our landlord gave her a bouquet of flowers, and I had made her a new wardrobe–multiple pieces. But the last gift was really, really big. She opened the box, found another inside, and then another, and another, until she finally got down to the piece of paper that she couldn’t quite comprehend.

It was a ticket to join us in a Mediterranean Orient Express cruise from Venice, through the Corinth Canal, to Athens, Istanbul, the Turkish ruins of Ephesus (yes, of Paul’s letters to the Ephesians) and stopping by several Mediterranean islands, including Knossos Palace ruins on Crete, Santorini and Rhodes, among others. Needless to say, she was blown away. We were, too, by the magnificent cruise, one of our best journeys ever!

Here are photos I incorporated into a memory quilt for her.

Mediterranean Memories by LJ Christensen
Boarded in Venice by LJ Christensen
Mother-in-law in bottom left pic and pics of Greece
Board and pics of Turkey (Turkish Ottoman throne on bottom right)

What wonderful memories! I am so ready to travel again if I can ever get my knees replaced and working!

“Baby, it’s cold outside!”

Come in and make a steaming hot cup of coffee! Even if you don’t drink coffee, you’ll like THIS one. It’s a new super-simple applique design for a Platter Pad or quilt block in 3 sizes. I guarantee you know someone who’ll love it! Three rows of four blocks would make a nice wall hanging–make each cup in a different fabric for fun. Very quick!!

On sale for 3 weeks for just $1.50! Click here!

“Coffee Cup” by LJ Christensen

I do not have photos of coffee. Just don’t. I sometimes drink a cup (preferably with whipped cream and chocolate), but I don’t photograph it; I’m too busy guzzling it! (MacDonald mocha frappe–just saying!)

I’ve been thinking about pin cushions. Yeah, I know, weird thing to think about and has absolutely NOTHING to do with coffee or platter pads. However, I bought a new wrist pin cushion last week and found I really like it. The old ones had plastic cuffs that cut into my skin and bothered me. Then I got a new one with Velcro on the wrist, which was better, but the magnet wasn’t that strong, and I found a little bump would send pins flying…always landing on the floor for my usually bare feet to pick up. OUCH.

This new one, though, has an actual cushion, deep enough to hold the pins in better, and I’m enjoying the convenience of having them right where I need them.

In general, I prefer the big heavy-duty magnetic ones to have beside my machine. In fact, I have two so that I can keep one on my cutting table as well. LOVE them. If pins ever fall, I just grab them back with the magnet. I DO use an old tomato cushion, too, though NOT for my normal pins. I mark needle sizes on it and file the gently used machine needles there. It also holds safety pins, hat pins, and various sizes of hand-sewing needles so that they don’t “mess up” my main pins. It’s so much easier to grab one when you don’t have to sort through needles and safety pins!

Then there are the “cute” pin cushions–pumpkins, birds, and miscellaneous clever designs. Those I just collect for fun. I even found one that comes in a lipstick tube–great for keeping a few in my purse!

Snow in Alabama

It doesn’t snow often here in the Deep South, and some years we just have to make do with our imaginations. But not today–today I have a cute and quick wall hanging with snowflakes made using my friend, Mr. Bias Tape! Just follow the clear designs and graph to make and place them. A gluestick will hold them in place until you edgestitch. It’s a fun way to play in the snow (and not as cold as making snow angels!) On sale until mid-February for just $2.00! Click here for more infor

Snowfall cc2106 by LJ Christensen

Just to prove we DO sometimes get some of those beautiful icy flakes, I have some photos I made two years ago right from my house. The first one I took from my front porch.

“Snow Down the Lane” by LJ Christensen

Here’s the back yard.

Libby’s Back Yard with Snow by LJ Christensen

The last few are some of the plants/trees with snow.

Snow on the Hydrangea by LJ Christensen
“Snowbuds” by LJ Christensen
“Alabama Snow” by LJ Christensen

This year I may just have to make my own–well, I DID so! Now you can, too.

“Strawberry Fields Forever”? Remember?

If not, listen to this lovely rendition of an old Beatles classic:

This was an inspiration for the quilt title, “Mulberry Fields Forever”!

However, my easy bargello-style “slice and dice” quilted throw is created in muted shades of mulberry, cranberry and grape instead of strawberry. If you can quilt at all and are meticulous about straight seams and strips, you can make this. Honestly, it is simply made of just strips and slices, re-seamed. It’s also really versatile. Not only can it be done in any color range, it’s friendly for jelly roll strips or full-width scraps, AND with minimal change, can be made as a 40″x 40″ lap quilt. Is it time to quilt again?

“Mulberry Fields Forever” (by LJ Christensen)….on the couch, well, maybe not forever…but on there for now

The sample is for sale for $149. Made with my favorite Warm-n-Natural cotton batting, it will soften with every wash. I challenge you to make your own, though. The pattern is on sale for $3.50 until the end of January.

Click here to see more or buy pattern.

As I was piecing this last Sunday, I was having trouble with my thread breaking, repeatedly. Now that happens occasionally, but by the time it happened 8-10 times, I’d had ENOUGH ALREADY!!! I sighed and immediately suspected the thread was old and brittle, which DOES happen, especially to cotton thread. So with regret (because I had a full big spool I hated to part with), I switched to a different thread.

Hello–what’s this? More breakage? AARGH! Irritated now, I thought about it and realized that it could be the NEEDLE. I changed it, and voila, no more problem at all for the entire quilt. The culprit was a burr INSIDE the eye of the needle. Most sewers don’t think about that, but it can happen; sometimes in manufacturing, there’s just a goof. So, besides tension problems or brittle thread, don’t forget to check the needle, especially if you notice the thread SHREDDING!

As I’m mentioning needles, let me add that quilters generally can be happy with just size 80 universal. It’s my “go-to” for piecing. A 90 is OK, too. A 70 may be needed for very fine or tightly woven fabric. For actual machine quilting, a quilting needle (same sizes) isn’t mandatory, but it may be preferable because it’s sharper with no ball point.

The ballpoint and jersey needles are made for knits so that they slide through without breaking thread and causing a run (yes, like pantyhose–remember those?) You can get size 100 or 110 for heavy denim or canvas, not often used by quilters. There are double and triple needles as well as wing needles and leather needles, but those are really specialized and not used too often. I do like a double needle for sports hem in knits because it actually has a zigzag action underneath that gives a little stretch. They come in different widths. I’ve also used the narrow-width double needle to make pintucks or pintucks over a tiny cording, but again, that’s really specialized.

What most quilters need, though, is plenty of size 80 universal and quilting. (Plenty because you are supposed to change your needle after every project–do as I say, not as I do.) I have to add that if you have a combination machine with embroidery, more and more common these days, you really need a good supply of embroidery needles, again generally 80, but if you’re doing a really tightly filled embroidery design, you might use 70 while thick embroidery thread could require the 90, which is bigger. In embroidery needles, the EYE is also bigger, a little longer, to provide “play” because the embroidery threads don’t have the “give” that normal cotton or cotton blend/poly core sewing thread has. The Metallica needle has a longer eye yet because metallic thread is really brittle–sew SLOWLY with much, much lower tension. The flat ribbon-style thread is the hardest to deal with, but all those hints belongs in a thread article…some day.

Before I sign off, I want to give an update. The Sewgocreate Studio is almost finished–not loaded up and organized by any means, but the construction is FINALLY–at long last– nearly done. Still waiting for drawers and doors on a desk and cabinet, plus a few other tiny tweaks……but I get to report that THIS PATTERN–“Mulberry Fields Forever” was quilted by Molly (my quilting machine) last night in the studio. Good light, padded floor. YEA!

Libby quilting “Mulberry Fields Forever” in front of “Log Cabin in the Pines” in new studio
Waiting for drawers and doors…..! Sewgocreate Studio
Organization in progress!

Next project….knee doctor tomorrow to figure out knee replacement plans. UGH! To be continued….

Put away holiday decor and china…

but get out the Wedgwood! It’s time to stop decorating and start sewing! We all know the winter months are the best for quilting, so here’s a nice little throw to consider. I based the design on the classic blue china with white bas relief by Wedgwood, using folded half-square triangles to give the suggestion of texture. They are optional, though, if you don’t care for 3D. Just twelve simple 12″ squares make a 44″x 56″ throw and you’re done, but in the pattern, I give the number of squares needed for bigger quilts as well as full instructions for half-square triangles and binding. The pattern is on sale for $3.50 until the end of January. Click here if you want to see more.

“Wedgwood Plates” cc2307 by LJ Christensen

This sample quilt is for sale for $199 if you’d like to buy it–I’ll include shipping for my followers. It’s cheaper to buy the pattern, though, and make your own!

Here it is shown in a recent art show. It’s not the right colors for my house, but I think it looks gorgeous in the art scenario! I’m doing my best to introduce quilting/fabric art to the regional art shows.

The Kelly Artists Market, December 2019

My photo on canvas on the right of the picture is for sale, too, for $99.

“‘One Is the Loneliest Number'” by LJ Christensen

Eventually, I plan to have more quilts and maybe photos for sale on my website. I just have to have build up enough I’m willing to lose. I get really attached to my designs, and I’m not going to sell them cheaply because fabric is expensive these days and even the simplest designs take a big commitment in time. But aren’t they worth it? I have some family quilts I’ll always treasure, and I love the interplay of colors, prints, textures and designs. I’m looking forward to seeing where the spirit will move me THIS week. Not that I have NO IDEA–I just have so many to choose from. Which way to turn?

Joy to the World

and a Happy New Year! I’m celebrating with song. This quilted throw is primarily a music quilt, but the pattern includes the 3D Jolly Holly I showed in the Christmas blog. It’s a lovely touch, but optional. (Try the 45″x60″ quilt in royal blue, for instance, without the holly!!) While the music in the applique is the actual opening of “Joy to the World,” it wouldn’t be difficult to insert any favorite tune–what a wonderful gift for someone.

Don’t hesitate, though, at the level of difficulty. While there is some work on the appliques, the piano keys are a cinch! Really, the ivory ones are faux-pieced from the back with tiny rows of stitching, not piecing, and the black ones are BIAS TAPE. (My friend, Mr. Bias Tape, comes through again!) Also, the lines of the music are made of tubular bias or narrow braid–very easy. Lots of step-by-step instructions with diagrams show you how. I dare you to try–it’s on sale for just $3.50 until Jan. 15. Click here!

“Joy to the World” cc1015 by LJ Christensen

So what is awaiting YOU in the new year? Don’t we always have projects—and more projects? Well, once my new Sewing Studio is somewhat organized, one of my latest plans is to make a Kaffe Fassett quilt. His designs are simple, and his fabric prints are really big, bold and bright. I’m drawn to them, but I confess I waited until a bunch went on sale (hello, Hancock’s of Paducah–thank you!!) I have my own design, but I’m planning to use all Kaffe prints, which’ll be a first for me. This will look very different in big prints:

Sneak Peek at “Which Way to a Kaffe Medallion” in progress by LJ Christensen

I usually start my designs on Inkscape, which is a free vectoring program with a grid. That’s what this is. I export it as a .png, then save it as a .jpg. In the program, I can change colors and sizes, using basic square/rectangle forms. It’s NOT a quilt program, but it works for me. Sometimes I start on graph paper, but I quickly move to the computer because it copies and pastes!

I have lots more designs to do and hope to keep with a new pattern every week…or at least make it to 100 before the end of the year. OK, I said it–you’ll have to hold me to it.

I also want to enter the Alabama National Fair again this year in October–I skipped last year because there was just too much turmoil with the Studio. Entering the fair gives me the competitive motivation to really push for excellence and for breadth as you only can enter one item per category. I made 65 ribbons 2 years ago. Can I do more? That means knitting and crocheting and embroidery and more. I can’t pledge to win, but I can pledge to try! (and while doing so, I get my Christmas presents all made early!)

One thing I love to do this time of year is get out old quilting magazines and books and just flip through, seeing what speaks to me. It’s funny how you see something new every time you flip through. Another thing I like to do is sort my scraps. Sometimes, just seeing and touching them give me ideas (or make me feel guilty and want to use them up in a scrappy quilt). Here’s a good scrappy quilt: Click here for more info.

Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud

The “Kite Charmer” is a paper-pieced wall hanging that I made of all different fabrics. It’s a little challenging to get all the points right. However, I have a regular pieced scrap quilt started out of this “pocket lozenge” block, an elongated “snowball,” which is easy and very different from the patriotic look. It can be made ANY size. Click here!

“Salute the Colors” close-up by LJ Christensen

What else is coming in 2020…? Well, for me, it means knee replacement surgery, which I’m not looking forward to. It’ll very likely slow me down. However, it won’t stop me. I’m thinking some cross-stitch or maybe even some hand quilting may be looming in my future. My son tells me, “When you can’t quilt, get out your laptop and design...” Good advice.