When 90’s become 80’s…

it’s PUMPKIN TIME! A cute round pieced pumpkin on a square block, made as a quilt block or huge hot pad for platters or big bowls. Great directions and color diagrams make it easy!

That’s my latest pattern, “Pumpkin Time,” a cute round pumpkin on a square block–easy square block piecing, but four half-square triangles and some color shading make it seem round. Make it as a quilt block on point or as an 8″, 10″ or 12″ huge “platter pad.” They are decorative enough to hang on a loop on the wall, but they double as huge hot pads for platters or big bowls–how perfect for Thanksgiving or any gathering!

Order “Pumpkin Time” for just $2.50 for the next 10 days! Hurry! Click here.

“Pumpkin Time” cc 2024 by LJ Christensen

This one is hanging in the Market Shoppes in downtown Wetumpka, for sale, but it’s first come, first serve, because I’m out of several of the scrap fabrics I used!

Libby’s booth at Market Shoppe, Wetumpka

I haven’t published many patterns in the last few weeks because I’ve been working on some custom quilts. You might enjoy seeing a couple of them. The one below was to go in Market Shoppes, but Shellie Whitfield saw it and bought it before I could put it out. She’s not only the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, but she and her husband own the Big Fish House seen in Tim Burton’s Big Fish movie (filmed in my town, Wetumpka). I used Tim Burton’s “swirlie” patterns on swirly batik and made her house as well as I could:

“Big Fish House” lap quilt by LJ Christensen

Here’s my photo of the actual house, complete with the daffodils she put out as a reference to fields of daffodils in the movie.

Big Fish House, Wetumpka by LJ Christensen

OK, so I didn’t get every detail–the roof isn’t blue, for instance–but their door IS bright yellow, painted by the HGTV team of Erin and Ben Napier when they remodeled the kitchen and entry stairs.

In this close-up, you can see that I used bias tape for the porch and pillars and a button for the door handle.

Big Fish House lap quilt close-up by LJ Christensen

Below is another version I made with smaller squares for a wall hanging that’s for sale in The Kelly art gallery in Wetumpka. It has more of a “Burtonesque” feel with a nightmarish or Halloween theme, black/white squares, and ghosts in the windows.

“Haunted Fish House”

Are you inspired? Would you like to do a house of your own? Go ahead. It takes a little time, but isn’t impossible.

  1. Get graph paper and design the size of your basic squares. I like to start with 1 square = 1″, then I use two across and down for a 2″ finish (2 1/2″ cut). Sometimes small quilts will have to have 1″ finish blocks. Once you get your ratio, it’s not hard. Obviously, you can make rectangles very easily, too. If you have to tape together two pieces of graph paper, it’s OK!
  2. Before you get too far along, decide the size of your quilt. I might do 16″ down x 20 across for a wall hanging, or 42″ across x 54″ for a lap. Sketch basic shapes lightly with a pencil. When you have your shape, keep it simple, but add doors, windows, etc., to make it look right. Angles, when necessary, such as in a roof, can be made with half-square triangles.
  3. Once you get the shapes, use colored pencil or crayons to color them in.
  4. Figuring fabric amounts gets challenging. Look for pieces the same width that could be cut out of one strip. If they add up to over 42″, figure in another strip. Keep adding the inches of each strip needed. Then overestimate. It’s OK to have scraps, but not OK to run out!!
  5. As you design, also think about which pieces could join to make a block so that the quilt can be sewn in sections. I sometimes go back and make a dark black line around those.
  6. The really fun part is shopping for fabric. Look for texture as well as color. There are many choices of brick, wood, tile, and stone prints today. I even found a great background fabric with the clouds over a moon! All I had to do is cut it to place in the right location. Not everything has to be exact; it can just be a hint, like the herringbone tone-on-tone I used for roofing that reminded me of roof tiling.
  7. Just have fun! This shouldn’t be a grind; it should be a challenge, right? If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. Instead, buy MY patterns! HA!

Butterflies on the brain…

They’ve been on my brain. I got a lot of compliments on the last 3D butterfly pattern , 3D Butterflies Fly Free:

3D Butterflies Fly Free

However, you may not like to machine-applique or may not have time to fiddle with all the pieces involved right now. I understand. I had some requests for a more traditional quilt pattern, so I got to work and came up with “Butterfly Silhouettes Platter Pad.

Butterfly Silhouettes cc2023 by LJ Christensen

This is a two-fer–two blocks, a full-view silhouette and a sideview silhouette are together in the pattern on sale for $3.50 this week. It’s not only extremely quick and easy, but it’s extremely versatile. You get instructions for the basic 8″ block, but I include measurements for adding borders to make a 10″ or 12″ block or hot pad. It’d be simple to use this block for a entire big quilt of butterflies–how pretty! You could choose almost any color and any background.

There’s a full-size color grid for each as well. It’d be quite easy to resize for even bigger blocks–by using 2″ squares or even 2 1/2″ squares instead of the 1 1/2″ ones used in the pattern’s 1″ grid. That would certainly speed you up for a queen or king quilt! They’d make a lovely big quilt (hmm, good idea, I just may do that sometime!)

I think you’ll love these as 12″ “Platter Pads, “too, because they have two layers of cotton batting and are great under a hot platter or big bowl. I always design them “on point” so that they can hang as well. They are perfect for you to give as gifts! They are also good for beginners because they are quick and have full step-by-step instructions for the piecing, binding and loop. You’ll find them a wonderful size to machine-quilt. You can do a simple criss-cross, stipple, or get a little quirky and try out something like spirals.

Fullview Butterfly Silhouette by LJ Christensen

I know the spirals aren’t perfect, but I don’t care because they’re cute and really show off the wings in a way the sharp squares and rectangles don’t. What better way to practice than on a quick project, easily made from stash scraps? Get this–each butterfly and its background takes less than 1/8 yd., and 3/8 is enough for the wide border sashing and backing.

If you prefer to applique, I have another simple butterfly platter pad called “Lovely Butterfly“–it’s also quick, just a different technique. You might even enjoy trying them both and see which you prefer.

Lovely Butterfly cc2001

One of the best things about sewing butterflies is that you can show off some of your prettiest prints and really match or enhance a room, such as a kitchen or dining room. (The print in the photo above has shiny gold.)

I have lots of Platter Pad patterns for you to choose from: music, cat, hot dog dog!, mountain scene, coffee cup, teapot, chapel, schoolhouse, flowers, maple leaf, cross, pie, just to name a few. As we begin to start making our Christmas lists (or should be!), these are wonderful gifts for friends, families, teachers, preachers, etc. , because everyone eats and can actually USE a hot pad. They can be customized by content, color, and even wording by using embroidery, but they’re quick to make. Everyone WANTS a quilt–you can give them a REAL quilt, just a miniature one. Click and browse!

There’s still time!

…but July 4th is almost here. If you don’t have time to make a new quilt or runner or set of placemats, don’t worry. I have a very special “Kitchen Stitchin’ Collection” for you. These SIX patterns are little and quick and a fantastic way to use up scraps.

CLICK HERE to buy on sale for $5 for just one week. It’s a good bargain for all the instructions, two full-size templates and 25 diagrams. If you can sew, you can make these! Which ones sound fun to you?

Oven mitts made with leftover cotton batting and a quilt binding?

Simple napkins to just cut and hem? (Jo Ann cotton-surprisingly perma-press, thank goodness! I press when sewing, but I hate ironing.)

How about those hanging towels our mothers/grandmothers had? (Sew cute) I use Velcro instead of bothering with a button…but you can do what you please.

Had to have a Flag Pad to show my patriotism. (Sew simple!)

After making the “Running with the Stars” runner, I thought the star would be great for a hot pad, so I resized it. (Echo quilted and stippled everywhere else–also bound, just like a tiny quilt)

After I quilted 1/2 yd of fabric/lining with a double layer of cotton batting, I cut out two oven mitts and still had enough for an 8″ hot pad and a beverage cozy. (How cute is that? It holds a can or a cola, but I didn’t have a beer can to try–someone else can update me on that!)

Here’s a close-up. I added an elastic casing on the bottom to hold it tucked in, and I figured the layers of cotton would be a good insulator, so why not? AND I had enough binding to finish the top.

I know very well that we rarely think of MAKING kitchen items. However, with all the fabulous designs and novelty prints, I think it’s really fun….and I think I’m about ready to start working on Christmas presents.

Let’s see….Leah would love leopard in the kitchen, my son goes for black, gray or maybe royal blue while my sister-in-law loves florals. I’ve seen special barbecue prints, and my friend would adore one with cats. A great inexpensive gift for a teacher–a flag hot pad would be nice for man or woman.

The list goes on. Some hanging towels might be nice in the mud room-even my brother would appreciate dark towels and a car print. A cookbook with custom hot pads and oven mitt would be a great wedding gift. And beverage cozies for the patio would help keep drinks cool. Most people use paper napkins, but honestly, fabric ones can be washed and reused so often that I think they save money in the long run and feel luxurious–as long as I don’t have to iron them, that is!

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.

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!

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.”