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:

https://www.hancocks-paducah.com/

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.

https://www.keepsakequilting.com/

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.

https://www.missouriquiltco.com/

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.

https://www.nancysnotions.com/

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!

Renew, refresh, rebirth!

Happy Easter! As happy as possible under the circumstances….I don’t have a new pattern ready because I’ve been buried under a mountain of face masks. When I clawed my way out, I had to finish up business taxes, and then I’ll go back to more masks. Are there some people out there who are actually bored?

However, today I want to wish you tidings of great joy of the rebirth to come in our country, our lives, our spirits. All will be well eventually, and spring is around the corner. Click here for “Leading to Easter”

“Leading to Easter” with white drape by LJ Christensen

If you’re feeling like doing something springlike, how about this baby blanket called “Baby Butter Mints”? I’m putting it on sale until May. Click here

“Baby Butter Mints” with flannel backing by LJ Christensen

Just keep the faith and clean out your scraps! Here’s another FANTASTIC scrap quilt on sale–I used up so many tiny pieces by doing mine as a charm quilt–all different pieces! Make it plain or add clouds and/or kites–it’s paper-pieced for ease and also on sale this month. Click on “Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud”

Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud

Don’t sleep, though….get to work! (Yes, that’s Elvis–found him.)

I give up!

I hadn’t planned to make masks since the first announcement was that they really didn’t help….however, since the CDC has now proclaimed they DO help, I’m in. I have a new scrap quilt in process, but I set it aside to sew masks instead. See photo.

Masks made by LJ Christensen

I did not create this pattern, but I can share it. LeahDay.com has excellent information and a free .pdf pattern, plus tutorial, for making adult and children-sized masks: https://leahday.com/pages/how-to-make-a-face-mask-free-pattern Please go there and use her instructions as I did.

Make masks for your family and friends. I’ve agreed to make at least 50 for the National Guard and that many more for my art group. These sew up quite quickly, and I just ordered more elastic.

However, you can make ties if you don’t have elastic available. Leah recommends shoelaces, but who has new packets of shoelaces? I sure don’t. I think you could cut bias tape in half and zigzag it or use ribbon (though one article said grosgrain is better as silky ribbon might slip). I found some thick rayon twine in my stash, and I was thinking that in a pinch, thin strips of selvedge might work.

Speaking of “in a pinch,” let me add that the easiest way is to start with a 9″ x 15″ piece as Leah does. If you want to use scraps more effectively, though, split it into 9″ x 8 1/2″ for the front and 9″ x 7 1/2″ for the back. That allows you to use smaller scraps. I put “pretty” fabrics on the front and some softer muslins or blends on the back.

Though I have to make subtle ones for military in uniform, I’m having a ball choosing special fabrics for friends. I’ve found camera fabric, arrow fabric for a friend who does archery, jelly beans for kids, leopard, and of course, florals for many who love flowers. I made the bricks for myself to REALLY hold off the germs!

I challenge you to create your own masks.

“Cuff em”!!

Yes, I’ll admit to it. I love Live PD–maybe it’s because I’m married to a cop. Maybe it’s because I love to see justice done, criminals caught, and people driving drunk taken off the streets.

But this is about sewing, and my latest pattern is for PILLOW CASES with cute cuffs. I got some great shark fabric for a nephew and then decided to find some other interesting novelty fabrics for other family members. So much out there–I have birds, dogs, even cameras. Cartoons, sci fi…you name it. It occurred to me to “share the love” of my fabric with these customized cases. Each uses 1 yd plus 1/4 yard for a cuff with a choice of edges: hills (easiest), pyramids, scallops or waves (hardest to turn). Templates and clear diagrams/instructions are included. No, it’s not a quilt, but hey! They are made of fabric and go WITH a quilt, right? On sale for just $1.50 for two weeks–pay with a credit card on Paypal for the pattern delivered directly to your computer.

For more info, click HERE. (If you embroider, you can easily add names, too.)

“Cuff ’em” (Pillow) Cases cc 2206 by LJ Christensen

I really need to start sewing up my stash instead of adding to it. I recently acquired two other stashes from friends and have had so much fun (thanks, Carol and Emily) just playing with it–measuring, sorting, imagining.

But I’m really overloaded. I do occasionally share some with quilters’ groups or with Good Will (usually the non-quilting knits, etc.), but I really like to hoard it. So how to make sense of it all?

  1. I am now winding all lengths of 3 yds. or more onto cardboard bolts (gratis from JoAnn’s). I also have a pile near them of pieces I’ve reduced to “backings”–even small ones for wall hangings. Sometimes they are too thin or too loosely woven for quilting, but I know they each might have a use. Small pieces can be linings for totebags, for instance.
  2. My standard pieces are 1/2-2 1/2 yds. I’ve separated them into general colors in medium-sized bins. But then I had to add bins for multi-colored, novelty prints, picture prints, and tote canvas.
  3. Along the way, as I sorted, I pulled out specific projects. I finally bit the bullet and bought a large variety of small and large bins for different sizes of projects. I actually taped a label on each so that I have managed to round ’em up and rope ’em off, so to speak, which really is great when I want to start a new project. I’ve even put notions in some of them (such as blue buttons for fish bubbles!) I’m still working on it, but I think I have about 25-30 projects organized now.
  4. Smaller bits–I LOVE every piece of fabric down to the nitty gritty. So I have a LOT of scraps. I finally settled on organizing 1/8 – just under 1/2, again by main color. They’re smaller, though, so I didn’t need as many bins as I did whole color ranges–green to blue, yellow to red, etc.–but I did put them in color order, folded and marching upright like sardines. I’ve already found it’s wonderful to be able to look over what I have and easily find just the right tones of a particular color for an accent, especially as I do appliques and wall hangings that take just small amounts.
  5. Did I say nitty gritty? Yep, the small scraps live together in a bin until I get around to stuffing them by color into ziplock plastic bags. And then there are the microscopic pieces I still can’t stand to lose….I’m finally allow myself to get rid of 2″ pieces unless they are tone on tone or teeny prints that might be used in a quilted brooch (and those teeny bits stay in a special treasure box.) It finally dawned on me that the larger prints just won’t work for tiny projects, so I reluctantly get rid of them! I lately, though, have been clipping off small squares, rectangles and triangles to save for possible children’s mosaics….as we’re considering some art classes this summer.
  6. That doesn’t leave much except thread and fuzz. My sweet husband bought me a new battery-operated Shark (2 batteries!!) to deal with that part. I try really hard not to save the fuzz for stuffing!

However, my piles and piles of fabric and scraps are leading me to think about scrap quilts. Last week’s “Leading to Easter” watercolor quilt was made of basically old fabric I’d been accumulating…so maybe I need to do some more scrap-happy quilts to share with those of you who AREN’T going to the fabric stores these days! We’ll see. I’ll give it some thought.

Easter is coming!

and with it, a hope for rebirth, renewal and hope. I decided it was time to experiment with watercolor piecing that I’ve only wanted to do for about….umm….two decades now, maybe 25 years! I have managed to accumulate a whole bin of florals, but I see these days, it’s easy to simply buy a jelly roll. (For example, Missouri Star Quilt Company has some simply gorgeous selections I’ve treated myself to.) Because jelly rolls are getting so popular, I designed the whole wall hanging with 2 1/2″ strips (except for the purple and white drapes). Buy a jelly roll or just cut your own strips. Check your scraps! My draped cross was inspired by a cross outside a local Episcopal church that was kind enough to let my art organization use its building for numerous meetings after we were ousted by a tornado.

Anyway, it’s finally made its way into a pattern, on sale for just $3.50 between now and Easter. It’s simple piecing with stunning results:

“Leading to Easter” cc2017 by LJ Christensen

I really hope some of you will make it and donate to your churches, but it’s beautiful to grace the walls at home, too, and such an inspiration to make.

Click here more info and to buy

All these floral fabrics remind me of how the dogwood flower is supposedly reminiscent of the cross, including the bloody tinges on the edges. I can certainly see how that legend would develop. The dogwood by my house aren’t blooming yet, but they aren’t far from doing so, such a harbinger of spring! I never can quite get enough photos of them.

“The Dogwood Cross” by LJ Christensen
“A Dogwood Branch” by LJ Christensen
“Shining in the Darkness” by LJ Christensen

Right now the world can use a little light in the darkness and hope for the future. Let’s create some hope in the sewing room!

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.”