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!

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. has excellent information and a free .pdf pattern, plus tutorial, for making adult and children-sized masks: 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!