Happy Scrappy Day!

Here are some scrappy quilt ideas, including a quickie–read to the end!

After I finish a big project and am finally cleaning up, I get to curate the scraps. What fun! First are the largest scraps. If I have over a yard, I’m thrilled. I label and fold it and put it in the appropriate bin for that color. Likewise, even an 1/8th or 1/4th or so gets a label and is filed with other “under 1/2” yd. pieces. What do I label?–because I have a business, I record the amount, price, year bought and store where bought, which makes it easy to find on my inventory. Certainly, you don’t have to go that far, but knowing the amount can definitely be helpful. (By the way, I use scrap paper stapled to the selvedge).

Now for the bitties. You are probably one of three types of persons. The “clean-out” type will just throw scraps away and never bat an eyelash over it. The “keepers” will keep larger pieces for paper-piecing, applique, or scrap quilts. Then there are extreme “hoarders” for whom throwing away the tiniest piece feels like pulling out a fingernail. Those little bits I sort by color and put in plastic bags, and the teeny scraps I keep in a box and may never use, except for tiny paper-pieced brooches and necklaces. (That’s probably mostly in my imagination, but fabric is getting expensive, right? At least that’s my excuse.) Lately, though, I’ve been bagging them for a friend with young children. They make good collages.

So what do you reasonable type do with those medium scraps? One fun challenge is to make a “charm quilt,” where every piece is a different fabric. Here is my Apple Core quilt with about 900 different fabrics, based on decades of buying fabric.

Traditional Apple Core

My Apple Core is queen-sized, but you can certainly make any sized quilt you want (or have the scraps to do).

(Contact me for a free Apple Core pattern–it’s a traditional pattern available many places.)

For instance, the simple “pocket lozenge” block I’ve designed lends itself well to a scrap quilt of any size.

Pocket Lozenge Throw cc2311

For this “throw” or lap quilt, I limited the colors to blues and berries and called it “Moody Blues.” One great thing about THIS pattern is that it uses both large and small scraps. <Pocket Lozenge Throw #CC2311 – SewGoCreate>

If you’d like to make a baby quilt, below is a possibility that used a bunch of my pastels: <Bouncing Ball Baby Quilt #CC2304 Fat Quarter Friendly – SewGoCreate>. It’s a bit complex, but fun.

Bouncing Ball baby quilt cc2302

Prefer a smaller project? How about a wall hanging?

Love in a Little Log Cabin

If you like paper-piecing, try this log cabin. The heart could be reds or burgundies or even another color, such as white (different white prints on muslin tone-on-tones) and course, the background color could change to whatever you want. There are some VERY small pieces in this one! <“Love in a Little Log Cabin” #CC2108 Paper-Pieced Wall Hanging – SewGoCreate>

Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud

This kite pattern (also paper-pieced) is a little trickier. You work with a whole row; matching the corners takes some patience, but it can be a welcome challenge. Constructed done with strips of paper-pieced triangles. It, too, is a “charm quilt.” (Notice that I put Elvis in the puffy 3D clouds!) <Kite Charmer: Sleeping on a Cloud #CC2104 – SewGoCreate>.

Still too much work? Well, I have a great solution. READY?

I’ve been making “Meemaw Towels” for my booth in Poppy Layne Vintage, Wetumpka. I get 28″- square plain white “flour sack” towels (available at Walmart or on line). About 4″ up from the bottom I sew on a row of squares (yes, scraps!) I find that eleven 3″-squares work perfectly. I press under the top and bottom and use a buttonhole stitch to applique the row in place. Sometimes the squares are random and sometimes I get a few matching squares to work in–I just blend together some colors that don’t clash. In any case, they are fast to make and popular!

SEW…this has been an edition of “waste not, want not”–love those scraps!

Back at you soon–I have some big news coming up this summer. Stay tuned…..

I’ve Got Your Back

Well, YOU have to have your back. Blog includes tips on quilt backings. Selection of valentine, love, heart quilt patterns for sale by download. Different sizes from 12″ hot pad to lap quilts. GREAT directions with diagram and some photos.

…Well, YOU have to have your back. When quilting, we have to think about how to make up the back. In my grandmother’s day, they used cheap muslin or a sheet. Actually, a sheet can be a good choice; however, if hand-quilting, be sure to examine the thread count and check if your needle is comfortable sliding through. As for muslin, it’s not a cheap as it used to be (what is?), but you can now get it in a double-wide 90″ in a nice quality.

I will admit that I recently used a (gasp!) POLYESTER microfiber bed sheet, and it was the softest, silkiest backing I’ve ever made. I had pre-washed all the fabric, so why not? We now use polyester thread, which, by the way, works MUCH better in a quilting machine. (My favorite is Omni by Superior threads).

These days, however, there are 100’s of more interesting choices for backings than a solid-color sheet. You can buy 108″-wide fabric now. Although a local shop may not carry many colors, you can go to Keepsake Quilting on line for a huge variety. They sell it by the yard or in 3-yd packages and are currently putting a few on sale every “Wide-Back Wednesday”–some fabulous prints.

You may have to piece the back, though. Buy twice the length you need, of course, but I suggest using one whole width and then distributing the next by cutting it in half lengthwise and sewing half on each side. No particular reason except I think it looks better than a seam down the middle.

Have you ever had to lengthen a back piece? I certainly HAVE. Sometimes I’m just out of fabric (or I miscut!!! ARGHH) What to do??? No naughty words–just PIECE it. Look how darling this last “Hearts for the Sweet” turned out.

Hearts for the Sweet cc2323

I only had 1 yd of fabric for a 42″ quilt, so I started with a 6 1/2″ strip of the red I’d used on the front. That was the first mistake…I forgot to count in the seam allowance of the one-yard piece. OOPS! 2nd mistake–I shouldn’t have cut the strip until I’d pre-washed the fabric. OOPS again! It shrank. I was a good inch short, yet a backing really should be a little longer and wider. Oh no!!

OK, …back to the drawing board. I had cut a lot of strips of the rainbow print for the ruffle and just happened to have one left–thank goodness! Not only was it 3″ wide, perfect width, but it’s so cute that it looks planned.

I later came back with more red for the embroidered label, which I whipped in the middle, overlapping a bit, just to be artistic. The back of this quilt is almost as darling as the front. Remember that unlike bed or wall quilts, the back on a lap quilt won’t be hidden. The morals to the story are to “Make it Attractive and Remarkable, maybe even Gushworthy” and “Two Wrongs Can Indeed be Righted.”

Hearts for the Sweet cc2323

This new valentine quilt just published this week is simple. It includes directions and lots of photos this time as well as diagrams for inserting a ruffle or a regular binding. After all, we do love our little boys, too–this could be quite masculine in primary colors with vehicles or spiders or something….ick, maybe not spiders with hearts, but you get the idea. The ruffle has lace on the edge, making it extra special, but it’s really fast to make with a binding instead– without having to tediously gather the ruffle. Another idea is to buy wide ruffled lace instead of a ruffle.

If you have plenty of time in the next week, you could attempt this “Check Out My Purple Heart,” but it’d also be great for Father’s Day with its sophisticated spin on mulberry with yellow to tone down the “pink.” It’s also a large 54″ square, a great size for a man (or woman–hey, try it in pinks ,roses or lilac!)

Check Out my Purple Heart cc2309

The wall hanging below will take considerably MORE time and may not be ready until Christmas or someone’s birthday, but it was so much fun to make from scraps. Those are little paper-pieced log cabin blocks, which are easier when sewing small blocks. However, the pattern could easily be enlarged by simply enlarging the blocks and could be sewn traditionally if you prefer. (I’d like to make it queen-sized for my bed, with a rosy burgundy heart.)

Love in a Little Log Cabin cc2108

On the other hand, you may be pressed for time. I get it! You can still create a marvelous little valentine for your sweetheart, friends or family in just a few hours. This 12″ Platter Pad is both useful and decorative. You can even replace the top-sewn lace with double-folded bias tape if lace is inappropriate–super-quick finish–you don’t have to satin-stitch the edge!

Simply Sweet Heart cc2016

I really hope you’ll take time to sew a special valentine. So precious–so few calories! I’ve omitted the links for fear of going onto SPAM lists, but you can go to my website: https://sewgocreate.com and easily search “Hearts” or “Love.” Some of these are on sale until Feb. 14….spreading MY love to you. Libby

Can you feel the love?

It’s in the air. Due to politics? Nope, not on your life! It’s because February, the month of Valentines, has arrived. What a relief to have a little love and maybe a little romance. How “lovely” is it to sit and sew in the winter and use up a bunch of scraps? To me, it feels like cleaning cobwebs…if I ever cleaned, that is. I’d so much rather play with fabric than dust.

The Log Cabin block has been around forever, but I’ve found it’s ten times easier to paper-piece when it’s small, like these cute little 3″ blocks. It keeps the lines of your seams honest! “Love in a Little Log Cabin” has templates to print as well as the usual full directions and tons of colored diagrams to follow. On sale for $3.50 until Valentine’s Day, CLICK HERE for more information.

Aren’t these colors just yummy? I actually hand-quilted mine and won 2nd Place in the Alabama National Fair.

Love in Little Log Cabin cc2108 by LJ Christensen

When I say I hand-quilted, I should have written HAND. It was a red letter day–well, probably more like a month–and it’s just a 24″-square! Whew! I know people enjoy it, but I thought I’d never get finished.

I’m really not the person to give tips on hand-quilting, but I’ll attempt a few.

  1. Use a tiny quilting needle. They have sizes 10-12 for quilting so thin that they pass through the layers easily. Just be aware that they are hard to thread, so have a threader handy.
  2. Use a thimble. Do as I say, not as I do. I just never got the hang of it. But be advised that you may tear up your fingers with pricking if you don’t. I have long nails, which makes it hard, but that’s no excuse because these days, there are special leather thimbles open at the top for the nail. Try some different styles. There’s one style that has elastic over the knuckle to keep the thimble from falling off. I’ve also seen little stick-on pads to protect the fingers.
  3. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t thread more than 18″ at a time because when it’s too long, thread gets tangled. Do as I say, not as I do. “They” also say you can run your thread through beeswax to….lubricate? keep it from tangling? strengthen it? I’m not sure I ever knew exactly why, but some quilters swear by it, so I suppose I should mention it.
  4. You can get different size hoops for lap projects. Check them out.
  5. Ideally, load 8-12 stitches per inch on your needle. Right. Well, do as I….you get it. I did try, but it takes practice. It’s better to be even in the stitches than tiny; of course, tiny AND even is the goal. I have heard of some “big stitch quilting,” which is sounding pretty good to me. I believe it’s done on informal projects with thick thread…like you’re a pioneer woman who only has string to work with?
  6. Bend some rules–now that’s really me talking. Just for fun, I quilted some of this heart with metallic embroidery thread. It doesn’t slip in and out of the fabric too well, but it adds a pretty sparkle. I also added a few glass beads here and there to add more sparkle. They are very tiny, but they’re there!
The white spots are sparkles. Beads on the tiny hearts. By LJ Christensen

7. Final word–don’t kill yourself…the quilting originally HAD to be done because the cotton batting fell apart. However, newer battings don’t have to have so much quilting–do as much as you like. Me? I’ll head back to the quilting machine for the most part and just tackle hand-quilting once in a great while.

Playing with Lincoln Logs–

I did. Did you? How I loved to build and rebuild. Plastic blocks are more versatile, I know, but something about that real wood spoke to me. I relived the experience this week building a “Log Cabin in the Pines.” I have to admit that it grew and grew. I originally designed it as throw, but then I decided to go for a twin bed quilt. However, when I started cutting, I accidentally followed the notes for the double bed size, and ended up making an X-long 108″ double!

I went back and tweaked the pattern so that it’s easy to choose twin, long double, extra-long double or even queen size by changing the borders….and what fun it was to go through my stash and put together lots of different woods and pine greens, meadow, weeds, and even “pebbles” for the path. There is so much variety in fabric colors and patterns these days.

Click here for more info.

Log Cabin in the Pines: Quilt in Multiple Sizes by LJ Christensen

So if this one appeals to you, just click and get it–on sale for only $3.50 this month. Keep watching the blog–I’m building a castle next and have some great Christmas ideas like my “Joy to the World” quilt with music and over-the-door quilt and Santa outfit from a sweatshirt. Oh wait, first comes Thanksgiving, and I have a funny Turkey Platter Pad–hmm, which to feature next?

Speaking of building, the Christensen Creations Sewgocreate Studio is (slowly) coming along. The ceiling is done now and hopefully, painting will start this week. If they don’t get to it soon, I may get crayons out and start coloring the walls, but what I REALLY want is shelves and more shelves. Notice that I already have a great cutting table in there (it actually has 2 more leaves). It’s a genuine “find” from the Abdullah House Thrift Shop–very big and very sturdy! I love recycling! Some family had wonderful dinners around this table.

Christensen Creations Sewgocreate Studio cutting table!

Back to log cabins, though, I’d like to point out another log cabin quilt of a very different kind–I love 3D embellishment, so I made a flag with 3D log cabin blocks. It’s not hard. You simply cut normal log cabin pieces, but make them twice as wide and fold them. The trick is to trim the seam layers underneath because they get bulky. I really didn’t want to quilt over the layers, so instead I tacked it (like tying) with the little asterisk motif. We don’t use our fancy stitches enough! Click here to see the flag:

Closeup of “My County ’tis of Thee” by LJ Christensen

Since I’m on the subject of log cabins, I’ll sign off with a photo from Wetumpka, near the river and the library. A true historical log cabin in the flesh! Go see it if you’re in town, but “Watch Your Step!”

“Watch Your Step” by LJ Christensen (Wetumpka, Alabama)