Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mosaic Quilt Design

I've had this massive craving for mosaics ever since walking through Minneapolis and enjoying the mosaics that seemed to be around every corner:

I've debated on all the ways to use this inspiration for a quilt and finally found an easy way to plan an mosaic style design:

Yep, construction paper and glue baby! I feel like a kid in kindergarten and I'm having such a blast!

Can't wait to show you what this turns into next!

Let's go design!

Leah Day

Monday, June 29, 2015

Free Motion Quilt Egyptian Fans - #443

I've got a craving for new free motion quilting designs and I've decided to turn Monday's post into a special new design day. Don't worry, we're still going to learn beautiful walking foot designs every Wednesday! Let's check out the new free motion quilting design for today:

This is Egyptian Fans, an elegant quilting design created with simple curves and soft echoes to fill your quilts with beautiful texture. It's a Pivoting Design, but this particular combination of angles and curves has never come easily for me. I have trouble changing from an inner to outer to inner curve easily because my hands want to make all inner curves. Watch the video to see what I mean:

When a design doesn't initially feel natural for you, the best thing to do is draw it. Draw it on EVERYTHING and draw it ALL the time! It might begin to feel repetitive and boring and that is actually the point. You want to get so familiar with those shapes and angles that you can draw (and eventually quilt) that design in your sleep.

At some point you'll be able to stop concentrating so hard on the specific shapes and just be able to kick back into the flow of quilting the design. So give Egyptian Fans a try today and let me know if this design felt natural to you and where you plan to use it in your beautiful quilts!

Looking for more free motion quilting inspiration...maybe in a handy spiral-bound book form? Check out 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, the perfect book for anyone searching for free motion quilting inspiration!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Have Permission to Quit

Do you struggle to quit a project, even when it's making you miserable? Do you wish you could just set it aside, or even better, chuck it in the trash?

You're definitely not alone! Here's a little Light Up Your Life videocast on giving yourself permission to quit:

Must. Keep. Stitiching...

I've previously wasted a lot of my life stitching on projects I hate. It's miserable to work on something you're not really into, and even worse when the project really isn't working, isn't pretty, or is quite painful to work on.

I've learned over the years that it's unrealistic to expect to be absolutely in love with EVERY project I work on, but I do have a new rule - I have to actually LIKE what I'm working on and WANT to finish it. If I don't have that, why bother?

And to carry this theme beyond quilting, if a situation, job, or relationship isn't working - why keep banging your head against a wall?

I believe many people stay in painful, toxic relationships, or grind away at jobs that positively eat their soul simply out a lack of understanding that you really can quit, walk away, and start something new.

Yes, it's challenging to quit and there's a lot of inertia in our lives that keep us trekking the same path every day, day in and day out. To truly quit and begin again, you have to also release the feelings of shame, guilt, and fear that accompany your action.

But Quitting is WASTEFUL!

Yes, quitting is by its very nature wasteful, but does your time and energy count for nothing? You may throw away a few yards of fabric, but you'll be saving yourself the time and effort of finishing a project you don't like.

For some projects, quitting just isn't an option. Chucking a fully pieced and partially quilted queen sized, paper pieced, heirloom quilt in the trash is wasteful. If you can't bring yourself to work on it, put it in time-out for a few months (I did this with Duchess Reigns), or pass it on to someone else who would happily finish it.

However I know from firsthand experience that there are those unique times of catastrophic project failure that no amount of stitching, fabric, or glue will fix the project, and the idea of passing it off to someone else is just impossible. When this happened to me, I simply set the quilt on fire.

Smaller projects like my little braided cord shouldn't be such a big deal. Why was I agonizing over a $3 length of chain? Why couldn't I just take it off the loom, chuck it in the trash, and move on to the beautiful green art yarn I really wanted to braid?

I had to give myself permission to quit with no strings attached. I wasn't going to judge myself or feel guilty for the waste of money, but at the same time, I've learned a valuable lesson - I hate braiding with rough chain!

Watch Out for Chronic Quitting

There is a double edge sword of giving yourself permission to quit, however. You need to be careful not to quit too quickly or too often or else you may become a chronic quitter.

Chronic quitting is easily recognizable - you simply never finish ANYTHING! As soon as a project gets challenging it goes in a bin and you're off pulling out new materials or shopping for more fabric.

This was the cycle I became trapped in with beadwork back in 2000. Every project I began was subject to intense scrutiny and judgement. Understandably, I ended up hating everything I made and ripping it apart long before it was finished.

I never wasted the beads, but I wasted tons and tons of time, energy, and self esteem. For this reason, I don't see chronic quitting as an issue of being miserable with a specific project, but being miserable with yourself in general.

So watch out for a desire to quit every project you start, but also understand that it's okay to take a break or flat out quit any project that is making you crazy. Life is too short to hate what you make!

 What do you think? Do you have a project in the works that is really "working" for you or feeling more like a struggle? Have you ever chucked a project in the trash? Share your experience in the comments below!

Let's get moving - let's try something new!

Leah Day

Friday, June 26, 2015

Filming in the new Crafty Cottage

It's been a whirlwind the last few weeks, flying to Denver to shoot a new class for Craftsy (details coming soon!) and then flying back and immediately jumping into filming in the new Crafty Cottage.

I've been working all week on a new Video Workshop - a new term I'm using for when I package a lot of videos, instructions, and a pattern together. It's exciting to be able to film without interruption, and to finally be able to see some progress on projects that have been in limbo for months.

This first video workshop will be Quilting a King on Your Home Machine - a video series filled with tips on quilting very large quilts on a small machine. I cover basting a quilt in sections on a small table, quilting five beautiful designs, and then multiple videos about setting up your tables, shifting and dealing with the quilt bulk, and applying the designs to the quilt top.

New Filming Learning Curve

Learning how to film in this new space has also been an adventure! I've been using a lavalier microphone (pictured left) for the first time this week and it's been a challenge to remember to turn the mic on AND hit the record button.

I've ruined two great videos because I forgot one or the other and ended up with no audio. You'd think that would be a lesson I'd only have to learn once, but no, I repeated the exact same mistake a few hours later!

My video this week on Zigzag Path with a Walking Foot featured probably the worst audio in my history of making videos because somehow the recording got deleted and I didn't have time to film the whole video again. I had to use the echo-dominated audio from one of the video cameras which, judging from the negative comments on YouTube, it was pretty terrible.

Yes, it's a free video, and it was a freak combination of events that forced me to publish it, but yeah, it does sound pretty terrible...

More Filming Adventures!

The more I videos I create, the easier it gets and I'm already developing a routine that is working great as I blaze through the videos for the King video workshop.

Right now I have just a few more videos to shoot for the this new project and then it will be ready to go! I can absolutely say this is the BEST film making I've ever done!

So now that I can shoot new videos with ease I really need to know what YOU'RE interested in watching. More quilting design videos? Piecing videos? Other craft videos like knitting, crochet, weaving, or spinning?

I'd love to know what you're looking for so please share your opinion in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Egg Shortage and the Avian Flu

Josh here, and today we have something completely different for you!
Our eggs, ranging from brown, pink, green, blue, and white.

If you live in the U.S., you've likely experienced rising prices on run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs, both white and brown. A virulent strain of avian flu spread through industrial sized chicken farms in the American midwest and west coast earlier this year, with the latest outbreak occurring in Iowa about a week ago.

The good news, at least according to this USDA map linked here, is the epidemic is clearly slowing down. The bad news is tens of millions of factory chickens were put down in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, and many states, including North Carolina, are taking wise precautionary moves and stopping poultry shows and auctions for the rest of the year.

The carton of eggs above were not purchased from a chain grocery store, nor were they bought from a local farmer. They were laid by our very own small flock of hens, of various breeds and funny hybridizations. I started keeping chickens in the spring of 2010. I now have nearly two dozen birds which range on our one acre property, foraging off the land after a breakfast of supplemental feed.

My birds are all healthy and thriving. However, I have not introduced any new animals to the flock and have been very careful to not visit other back yard flocks or be around other poultry. I prefer to keep things in the family...

That's me, our son James, and our two sweetest and broodiest hens, Sweet Pea the silkie chicken (held by James) and Umcka the blue wyandotte. These two girls are our best mothers, with Umcka having hatched and raised the majority of our past and current generation of hens and three docile roosters.

Sweet Pea is currently broody at the moment, sitting on a clutch of her very own (and 100% silkie!) eggs.

If you're been affected by the rising costs of eggs, or are concerned about the quality of the eggs and chicken meat from industrial chicken farms, perhaps now is the time to check out your local farmer's market or reach out to a trusted friend who keeps chickens. 

Free range and ranged eggs are infinitely better than factory eggs. The yolks are actually orange, and the fullness in flavor is hard to describe. To put it simply, once you try a true free range egg, standard grocery store eggs will always pale in comparison.

Until next time, let's go... make an omelette!


Monday, June 22, 2015

More Zigzag Path with a Walking Foot

I'm giving Zigzag Path another try, this time in my latest T-shirt Quilt Block! Find the article and video right here.

Up until February this year, I hadn't touched my walking foot in more than 8 years. I figured free motion quilting could do everything walking foot quilting could, so why bother switching to that big, clunky foot?

Having machine quilted with a walking foot a lot more over the last few months, I can definitely say my attitude has changed. I do find this style of quilting much, much easier for managing stitching in the ditch and straight line quilting.

Yes, it can be challenging to walking foot quilt in tight spaces, or when you need to rotate the block a lot. I believe this is all part of project design - don't tackle huge projects with really fiddly, direction changing designs. Instead bite off a smaller project like our T-Shirt Quilt project and experiment with lots of textures and designs on a smaller quilt block.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Amazing Time at Hero Con!

Yesterday I shared how easy it is to confuse the strong emotions fear and excitement. This weekend I had a great opportunity to practice feeling and expressing excitement during Hero Con!

princess zelda costume | zelda twilight princess
I'm Princess Zelda from the video game Zelda: Twilight Princess. The game is mostly about the hero, Link, that slices and dices bad guys through multiple levels in order to save Princess Zelda from the resident bad guy Gannon.

There were actually a lot more Link characters in costume than Zelda! Here I'm posing with a cute little girl who made her costume herself:

princess zelda costume | zelda twilight princess
This is what I love the most - seeing kids jump into sewing just to make a cool costume. Costuming really opens up lots of creative doors - sewing, 3-D sculpture, painting, shading, decorative leather work, embroidery - you name it, I saw it this weekend!

Dressing up as a video game character might seem like an odd thing for a 31 year old woman to do, but I honestly had SO MUCH FUN! It was a creative adventure to build the costume, and even more fun to dress up, put on my funky ears, and pose for people to snap photos on the convention floor.

princess zelda costume | zelda twilight princess
I also loved snapping pictures with other cosplayers dressed up as my favorite characters. This guy was playing Oliver Queen from Arrow, a very entertaining show you can find on Netflix!

Back in high school, I know I couldn't have done this. My self esteem was once so low, I would never have allowed myself to pick a pretty character like Zelda to dress up as. I either wouldn't have dressed up, or I would have completely hidden in a massive metal suit.

Attending some lectures and panels with other cosplayers, I began to see just how affirming and confidence-building cosplay can be. Yes, you're going to find some Cosplay Police, just as we have Quilting Police, but for the most part these are adults interested in having dressing up and having a great time.

Cononel Sanders Costume
Cosplay is fun for all ages!

I feel encouraged not just to improve my Zelda costume, but to venture into the more popular Marvel super hero arena. Storm was my favorite X-Men character as a child, so she will be my goal for next year!

Let's go Cosplay!

Leah Day
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