It’s F season!

Of course, if you’re from Alabama you know that means FOOTBALL, not fall. It can still be 80-90 degrees in the fall, so we get vibes not from the trees, but from the stadiums!

Christensen Creations will not take sides, so I designed special lap quilts/wall hangings for both University of Alabama and for Auburn. If you’re from Alabama, there’s 99% chance you root for one or the other! These cute quilts are very quick to make and sized just big enough to be a cozy little stadium lap quilt or small enough to hang on the wall (or over the back of couch) or even at the end of a bed in a dorm room! You can decide how you want to use yours!

Alabama Elephant Flag cc2321

Click here to buy: U of AL Elephant Flag Lap Quilt or Hanging #CC2321

Auburn Tiger Flag cc2320

Click here to buy: Auburn Tiger Flag Lap Quilt or Hanging #CC2320

If you don’t feel like quilting, you can find both of these for sale this week at Market Shoppes in downtown Wetumpka, but I encourage you to make your own. I used Kona cotton. (The red is really a little more crimson than it looks in the photo.) The Kona white is nice and thick. Kona is readily available in most fabric stores, even Hobby Lobby, so it’s easy to find. It doesn’t seem to fade much, but I ALWAY S pre-wash several times just to make sure the intense colors don’t bleed later.

I used a gentle curve of quilting down each stripe and fancier free-motion quilting inside animals. The tiger didn’t show up well, but here’s the elephant. I used a whirl to indicate the eye, some big loops on the ear and some zigzags on the trunk to suggest wrinkles. People complain that “Quilt as desired” is not helpful, so I’m trying to include some ideas along with my patterns.

Alabama Elephant Closeup by LJ Christensen

The pattern is easy to cut because it’s primarily based on strips, mainly 2 1/2″ and 1 1/2″ strips. I love rotary cutting and strip-piecing–so much quicker than scissors and more accurate as well.

However, one issue I encountered was trying to keep track of the pieces that were so close in size: 5″, 4″, 3 1/2″, 5 1/2″, etc. Because I cut and sewed all in one evening, I just lined mine up from largest to smallest on a side table. That wasn’t too bad for the elephant because there were fewer pieces. The tiger with all the similar strips was more confusing.

One thing you can do is mark each piece. We used to mark on the back when sewing garments. Today there are water-dissolvable markers, but I like the heat-erasable even better. Wow! Those new Frixion pens erase with the touch of an iron! You don’t have to order them from a special quilt shop either; they’re are Office Depot! I’ve bought all colors, but I still prefer the black or blue.

A quicker fix is to stack same-size pieces together and just make a little paper note with the size. If it’ll be a while before I sew, I’ll pin a stack together. I love flower head pins because they’re long and very sharp. You can even get some that have numbers on them, which are great to use for inch sizes. You can also sort by colors–I’ve used rainbow order to indicate sizes. A quick tip, though, is that you can WRITE on the flowers! Just use a fine Sharpie. You can indicate sizes or rows or types of blocks. I don’t like to mark permanently, though, so my “go-to” is to have scrap paper tucked under my cutting board. I pull off a piece and write down my number or whatever to pin to a stack or a piece, then throw it away later.

I’m sure there are fancier ways of organizing block and pieces, perhaps in clear plastic bags or something like that, but for a quick quilt like these little gems, you only have to get organized for a couple hours. When worse comes to worst, it’s really not a major issue to have to find a ruler and simply remeasure!

Whether you’re a football fan or a football widow or just looking for a cute gift idea, consider one of these patterns. They’re on sale for just $3.50 for this one week~so hurry! If you have a “divided” family, you may even need both.

“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….

Loving Quirky Curves!

Being all too generously curved myself, I can’t say I ALWAYS love curves, but they are definitely lovable in this quirky, curvy memory throw (or large 45″x55″ wall quilt). I originally made”Curve Appeal” for a Curves exercise group, but the pattern is appropriate for many types of groups or memories. Imagine Grandma getting photos of grand-kids, or a daughter graduating with scraps of her favorite clothes and picture of her wearing them, a retirement gift or best friend gift (sneak her vacation pics off Facebook).

Did I mention scraps? Yes, indeed, this one is scrap-happy to use all those wonderful colors and strips (1 1/2″x 6″pieces) you’ve been saving. Get a wild and crazy piece for the border, match the colors in the three background sections and you’re ready to go, so go create!

Click here for more info–on sale for $3.50 until end of November. Use “guildxmas” to get $3.00 off. (I like to give my “followers” specials!)

“Curve Appeal” by LJ Christensen (middle bottom)

I love color! Each piece of fabric is valuable to me, like a shiny coin. I always loved all the crayons in the box and memorized all the colors. Do you remember sea green and the now-retired “flesh” (not p.c. enough today)? There are differences between hot pink, fuchsia, magenta and mauve. My slightly color-blind husband doesn’t understand. There are cool reds and hot reds, and 30 yrs. ago, my best friend told me she only wore “tomato red”–I got it! I like red-orange myself. For the blue-eyed gals out there, there are certainly Mediterranean blues and denim blues and bluegreens and greenish blues as well as sky blue and Wedgewood blues.

That reminds me–I’m currently working on a “Wedgewood Plates” pattern! I’m also doing a “Mulberry Fields Forever” (sorry, Beatles, this one is mine though I’m shamelessly borrowing the title). As you might guess, it’s in shades of mulberry with hints of grape.

So what can I give you about COLOR for a tip? Well, I’m personally buying medium-sized, rather flat, plastic bins, which I’m using to sort fabrics: reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, violets (yes, I always go by the roygbiv rainbow spectrum–in my closet, too, and in my thread colors). I also have white/cream, black/gray, multi-color prints, landscape prints and Kona solids. You probably don’t have the 1000’s of fabrics I do, but you could still separate into warm colors and cool colors, and/or prints, solids, neutral, etc.

I made an executive decision to only put 1/2 yd. to 2+ yd. pieces in the bins and wrap 3 yds. or more around empty bolt cardboards I get from the fabric store. I’m having special 2-ft-deep shelves custom-built in the new Sewgocreate Studio (due to go in next week after painting–I can’t wait!) to hold those bolts and bins comfortably.

I also save small scraps, under 1/2 yd in special bins, all nicely lined up in color order. I’ve already found this is a marvelous method for easily finding what I need. Because I’m a hoarder at heart and in practice, I even save little bitty scraps. Those are in one big bin under the sewing table (where they happily collect as I cut). When I have time to “file” them, they go into little plastic bags, by color, of course.

When the bags get too full, it’s time to tackle a scrappy quilt like this one. I love to use down to the last inch. It makes me so happy for those precious little orphans to find a home!

It’s THAT season!

In Alabama, there are TWO seasons–baseball and football. As we are right on the verge of football season, I designed a great portable lap quilt to carry to the stadium (or to the easy chair). It comes in a petite (36″) made of 8 simple pinwheel blocks or a roomy medium/large (48″) for maximum cover, yet it’s CURVED so it won’t drag. It’s a easy solution and easy to make with lots of diagrams to guide you along.

What a great gift for the fans, especially since it’s made in TWO COLORS, perfect for ANY team colors. I, of course, had to do an Auburn one and one for University of Alabama, just to be PC. Mine are being donated to the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce for the Draw Down auction this week. Since I’m celebrating the over 50 patterns posted, I put it on sale with the others for 50% off until the end of September (just $2.5o). CLICK HERE to see more.

“Team on a Lap Quilt” cc2306
by LJ Christensen

NO FOOTBALL or pinwheel pics in my stash of photos, so I’ll pass along a couple tips instead. As I was cleaning up these two lap quilts, I was thinking about what I needed (final clean-up, not finishing the sewing):

  1. Tiny scissors for clipping the stray threads. (I have several pairs of embroidery scissors that work well, but my favorites are still my Ginghers.)
  2. Fine-tipped tweezers (I got great Martelli ones from Nancy’s Notions.com, and Tula Pink seems to have some similar ones that are colorful like her creations.) Use tweezers to pull the loose threads, especially ones stuck in a seam.
  3. Scotch tape. I keep it near my sewing because it’s great for picking up fluffs and tiny threads. I prefer the HEAVY dispenser because I can pull tape off with one hand. I imagine a sticky lint picker-upper would also be good, and masking tape or packing tape would work.
  4. Magnifying glass? No, I’m not there yet, though it might be a good idea. It’s not too practical to hold, though–not enough hands unless you have a mounted one. If you do, GO for it!
  5. GREAT lamp. I don’t think I could sew without my big gooseneck Ottlite, especially at night (and I do regularly sew at night). It’s hard enough to see those stray threads, but forget it without good light.
  6. Washer/dryer? I don’t wash my wall hangings, and I don’t wash every quilt, but I DID do these lap quilts. I used Warm’n’Natural cotton batting, which crinkles up a little and gets softer every time it’s washed. So THIS time it was part of my “cleaning up” process.
  7. Then there’s the room/sewing space to clean up–UGH. Different story and I’m definitely not one to advise on THAT!!

Of course, you’ve got to finish sewing before cleaning up the quilt. So I’m off to NEXT project. Will it be the lavender castle? Maybe the hydrangea blocks? Possibly even “Wedgewood Plates”? Today, though, instead of finishing one, I started working on an idea for “Whirlygigs on a Slide.” So much easier to dream up than to finish up!