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 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

Kudos to the government

workers and leaders for trying their best, from local to state to national level, to attack this daggone plague and keep us safe. Yes, we all gripe and we all think we know better than the government, and yes, we never agree with everything, but I have to give them an A for effort. How do you defeat an invisible enemy about which you know so little? Thank you so much for trying!

“County Courthouse Platter Pad ” cc2016 by LJ Christensen

This is my little tribute above, a “County Courthouse” appliqueed platter pad, 12″ of cushy comfort, guaranteed not to have a virus. Who wants a courthouse hot pad? How about someone who works in local or state government? CLICK HERE for more info. One reason I designed it is that I eventually want to make an “Our Town” quilt using my “Little Red Schoolhouse” CLICK HERE for school pattern:

“Little Red Schoolhouse” cc 2005 by LJ Christensen

and here’s my “Charming Chapel” CLICK HERE for church:

“Charming Chapel” cc2002 by LJ Christensen

The designs are all simple to applique; eventually I’ll have houses and maybe a gas station and grocery store. This is an on-going project. In honor of my idea, I’ve put all of them on sale for just $1.50 each through May 24. Instead of going out to school or church, have fun building YOUR town at home!

Have you gotten gas recently?

If so, you’ll know that the extremely low gas prices invite fill-ups, especially if you have “monster machines.” Wait, no monster trucks? Well, maybe you need a few in your life. You do if you have a little big man on the way!

Monster Truck embroidery on “Stacked Baby Blocks” quilt by LJ Christensen

This “Stacked Baby Blocks” quilt is perfect to showcase embroideries of ANY kind, whether they be racecars or angels or little duckies. Alternatively, it can showcase 6″ pieced quilt blocks or just printed panels–your choice. It’s made with a simple stitch’n’fold method so that it’s ready to bind when you finish piecing, withOUT quilting. Or you may quilt if you prefer. The block above is actually gently stippled–it just doesn’t show here. But the Warm’n’Natural quilt batting doesn’t require a lot of stitching, so it’s fine. I chose cotton flannel (sometimes called flannelette) for the cute backing.

I decided to put all my baby quilt patterns on sale for just $3.50 each for the next 3 weeks. Get ahead of the curve! Click for “Stacked Baby Blocks”:

cc 1012 “Stacked Baby Blocks” –heavy metal edition by LJ Christensen

Just had a GREAT THOUGHT–how about putting PHOTOS of family members in the blocks so that baby can learn not just Mommy and Daddy, but grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins….even during “social distancing”!!! Now there’s an idea! You can order the photo print fabric, but be careful–some are not washable! Read the details.

Other baby quilt patterns on sale for $3.50: “Baby Basket Weave Blanket” made from jelly roll strips and lined with batting before weaving.

“Baby Basket Weave Blanket” by LJ Christensen

“Bouncing Baby Ball” , which can be flat solid balls or pieced and stuffed 3D balls (great scrap quilt).

“Bouncing Baby Ball Quilt” by LJ Christensen

“Goodnight Moon…and Stars” with 3D star points and a dark blue, turquoise or black background:

“Goodnight Moon and Stars” by LJ Christensen

and for those who prefer pastels, “Baby Butter Mints”:

“Baby Butter Mints” by LJ Christensen

I hope some of these inspire you because making baby quilts is really fun!

Don’t worry; be…

SCRAP-HAPPY! That’s a special feeling quilters get when they finally plow into that stash of scraps with a wonderful new way to use them up. It includes thriftiness, virtue, cleanliness, plus creativity. Yep, a good feeling!

I figure right now that if you aren’t making face masks, you’re longing to do a project, but missing the fabric shopping. While I know most quilters have UFO’s (if you don’t know what that means, you may not be a full-fledged quilter yet...UnFinished Objects!), they also have scraps. It just happens! And these days when the price of fabric can easily be upward of $10 a yd, we know every every inch counts.

That’s why I created this pattern–it uses nice big pieces to start with, then uses up a lot of little pieces on the corners. My “pocket lozenge” block is really an elongated “snowball,” a bit like an oval lozenge, with folded corners to make little 3D pockets. On sale for $3.50 for the next couple of weeks, click here.

Closeup of “Pocket Lozenge Throw” cc2311 by LJ Christensen

I know that some sewers absolutely refuse to buy fabric on line because it’s hard to check the color or drape. I get it. However, there are some fabrics that we know by company reputation, groups of fabrics that are color coordinated, and some fabrics on sale low enough that we don’t care–just want the yardage. (OK, that’s me…a coupon-clipper and sale-searcher). I’ve been buying fabric on line quite a bit this year, so I’ll share my favorites:

Hancock’s of Paducah has a huge variety of fabrics and always has close-outs/sales for $3.99, $4.99, $5.99, and $6.99, but you have to watch because they sell out of the best stuff.

Keepsake Quilting has most of the big-name designer fabrics and specializes in some wonderful 108″-wide prints for backings. You can save a little by joining, and they have sales as well.

Missouri Star Quilt Company is a delight in its really cute communication. It also has a DAILY deal and weekly sales, with a focus on pre-cuts like 10″ pieces or jelly rolls. Most of the fabric is pricy, but they do carry lots of quilters’ jewelry, T-shirts and other paraphernalia of interest.

I haven’t seen much fabric I like at Nancy’s Notions, and the shipping is high, but they do have some great tools and occasionally good buys on embroidery designs. I watch for free shipping days and then stock up!

Maybe these will help you weather the stay-at-home blues. Getting a fabric package in the mail certainly brightens MY day!