Thursday, October 23, 2014

53. Quilt Easy Wiggles in a Slash Star

We're down to our second to last block! This time we're filling our Slash Stars with easy wiggly lines in the background and straight lines over the star:

If you've quilted all 41 blocks so far, this block should be no problem! I've included lots of tips for marking in this video because no matter how you pieced the slash star, it probably won't fit the quilting guide perfectly.

Josh decided to go totally free hand with his block, filling it with wiggly lines running in the opposite direction from what was printed on his Spoonflower Fabric. He also changed up the lines in the center by only quilting the innermost line.

I like that his blocks became more and more wild as the quilt progressed. It was sometimes hard to sit next to him while he quilted this way (the rule abiding quilter in me wanted to insist he follow the lines exactly), but ultimately I have to admit his block looks pretty cool!

Make sure to watch Josh's video too!

Wow! With one single block left to quilt, our Building Blocks Project is nearly complete! Saturday we will finish up the last block and Monday I'll share all the details for putting the blocks together Quilt-as-you-go style so by this time next week you're project could be complete!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Am I Really Afraid?

Fear is my four letter "f" word. I struggle with it, try to wrap my brain around it, have even made quilts about it.
I recently found this quote in the book I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain.
Both make the mind restless.
I like this quote because many times I have feared things that have never happened to be before (like a car accident), but it is the fear of the potential pain that scares the pants off me.

Just recently I had an interesting opportunity to overcome my fears. I received two emails, nearly back to back, filled with harsh words criticizing my videos and how I teach online.

If you had asked me a week before how I would have reacted to two attacking emails like this, I would likely have looked alarmed and felt totally gutted and afraid at the prospect.

But here's the interesting thing - when the messages came in and I read them, I barely reacted. I shrugged my shoulders with acceptance that I'm not perfect and I can't make everyone happy.

So in the abstract I felt very afraid of being sent mean messages, but in reality, it doesn't really phase me.

 I've been testing this theory a lot lately. When I fear criticism, I write myself a completely over-the-top letter filled with harsh words. I read it and usually find it's pretty funny!

Don't get me wrong, it still hurts to be cut down particularly when it's a personal attack on how I look or talk, but I'm no longer curled in a quivering ball over it. I'd rather meet this kind of thing when it happens, but stop living in fear of negativity in the abstract.

So what are you afraid of? Is there any way to face the fear and challenge yourself to deal with the emotions that boil up from it?

The ultimate point - don't let your fears hold you back.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inspiration from Nature

Josh here. In case you've been away, Leah and I are now combining our Building Block progress together in the same post to better contrast the pieced fabric and my cheater Spoonflower cloth, as well as my interpretations and unique stitching of each design.

Here is our most recent block in our final Slash Star series, Pebbles & Spiral. you haven't joined us for our Building Blocks Quilt Along, it's never too late! The project and pattern will always be available--you receive the entire pattern immediately upon purchase, no monthly installments, so you can quilt at your own pace and leisure.

If you already have the pattern but need to catch up on our videos, click here to see all of the accompanying posts for the project here.

Now onto today's topic... finding inspiration from nature for free motion quilting designs.

Today I'm going to be more specific when it comes to "nature--" I recently set up a 12 gallon saltwater aquarium, so we'll be talking about captive nature in an artificial environment. In a controlled venue, with glass walls and clear water, you can often appreciate the finer details of fish, rocks, sand, corals, and the water movement effect on the sandbed as the artificial sunlight hits the substrate.

No, the dark ripples on the sand above are not algae as the tank is only four days old but the visual effect of the blueish light as the water movement breaks the surface. The lighting is very, very blue, a little too much for my taste, but it does offer a very unique look, almost of a strong moonlight.

So what does this beautiful tank have to do with quilting? My reef tanks have actually been inspiration for many designs for Leah over the years. The designs above are Brain Coral and Ocean Currents which were both inspired by my past reef tanks.

See the pink holey rock at the far bottom left?
That's the central rock in my new tank, currently lifeless
for the most part but over time will color out again. The
beautiful green coral at bottom center is an open brain
coral, which inspired Leah's Brain Coral filler.
Right now the new tank is "cycling," which means I'm letting the beneficial bacteria and microorgamisms take hold of the live rock and sandbed. I have kept a reef tank before--the rocks you see above were actually in a freshwater African cichlid tank for several years.

Assuming one can be extra patient, this is extremely helpful in starting out as you get absolutely zero "hitch hikers" (bad algaes, cyanobacteria, undesirable invertebrates) and you can load the tank with only the good stuff; I purchased a bottle of live cultured microorganisms which, over time, will populate the tank with everything you need for a successful marine system.

In a few weeks, once the obligatory diatom brown algae starts to show up on the glass, I'll add some snails. In a couple more weeks, I'll introduce a fish. Then finally, the coral life will come in.

A green mandarin dragonette, a very challenging yet rewarding
species. His coloration and patterns are a quilt waiting to happen!
What are some things from nature that inspire you to quilt?

Until next week!


Monday, October 20, 2014

52. Quilt a Slash Star with Pebbles and Spiral

Are you still with me? We're down to the last three blocks to quilt and many quilters have already finished their Building Blocks Quilts. Make sure to click here and share a photo or blog post about your experience!

Today we're free motion quilting our second Slash Star with pebbles and a big spiral to create this cool effect:

As with all the Slash Stars, the quilting guides don't really fit exactly with this imperfect quilt block so make sure to watch my video to see how I fit the designs so nicely within the star:

Josh decided to mostly stick with the design for this block, but made it a bit easier for himself by quilting Underwater Rocks instead of Pebbling. This is a great variation because Underwater Rocks doesn't require careful, perfect travel stitching so it's faster and easier to stitch.

You can really see the difference between these two designs below. Personally I love Underwater Rocks these days because it's so carefree and easy to quilt and doesn't require as much focus and concentration as Pebbling.

So which way will you choose to quilt your Slash Star? Make sure to share it with us on the Building Blocks Facebook Group!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dyeing Experiments!

I've got a craving for color that only dyeing fabric can satisfy! Here's a few of my "before" shots. I'll definitely update this post tomorrow after these have been rinsed out:

UPDATE - Now it's time to see the "after" shots:

When dyeing fabric, I always find myself slightly disappointed when the dyes are washed out and the fabric is dried. This came out pretty good, but my red and purple piece really faded which let me know I didn't have enough soda ash mixed in my pre-soak before dyeing.

I added a bit more soda ash and a cup of salt and all my later pieces finished brighter:

For some reason this green fabric is really calling to me. I think I'll die one more green fabric and quilt these as a 3 part series. I've already got the perfect Halloween themed name: Poison Study.

I've also been dyeing samples for Dream Goddess:
By hanging up the fabric on the wall I can get a better idea if it's actually going to work and be the right color. It think the green is good, but I need to keep working on the hair colors. I want to transition the colors from bright, fire red near her face to deep purple and then black. 

I've never made a quilt out of completely hand dyed fabrics, unless you count Duchess Reigns, which was a dyed wholecloth. I don't count that quilt because I only used one color...and I haven't finished it yet. I'm mostly just trying to forget it exists! 

For Dream Goddess, I'm using the entire rainbow and planning to applique the pieces together using No Sewing Until You Quilt It to create the top quickly. All around, it's a fun challenge and I love the different fabrics I'm creating!

Let's go dye!


Friday, October 17, 2014

#437 - Free Motion Quilt Unloaded Boxes

It's new free motion design time! What happens when you combine Lightning Bolt with Cubing? These two quilting designs are very masculine with lots of straight lines and sharp angles. Put them together and you will have a free motion quilting design worthy of any Sci-fi themed quilt.

I've decided to call this free motion quilting design Unloaded Boxes because of the empty cube shapes that stand out against the rows of echo quilting.

Does this look super intense and complicated? It's actually pretty simple when you break the design down in the most basic steps: stitch a zigzag, stitch a box, echo quilt repeatedly around it. See what I mean by watching the free video below:

Yep, this design was featured in the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Volume 1. In this cool class you can learn how to quilt all of the designs on a larger scale in a throw sized quilt.
This beautiful version of the quilt was created by my Craftsy student Smiles_alot. She had this to say about the class:
Thoroughly enjoyed this class. This was an eye-hand & mental challenge. It was very helpful to watch the videos of the individual designs & how to stitch them. It surprised me that some designs I felt I wouldn't like before I stitched them became my favorites. I learned a lot with this class. Thanks Leah Day!
Would you like to learn how to quilt 50 designs on a larger scale? Click Here to get 50% off Free Motion Fillers Volume 1.

So now that you know how to free motion quilt Unloaded Boxes, where will you use this design? On a small scale or a large scale?

Personally this is making me think of all things science fiction - space ships, time machines, and aliens. Hmm...sounds like a good enough excuse to turn on some Dr. Who!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 16, 2014

51. Free Motion Quilt Super Star in a Slash Star

Earlier this week we learned how to piece an improvisational slash star block and today it's time to quilt it! The official pattern design calls for a Super Star, but again Josh has decided to break the rules completely and fill his with Super Spiral. Which do you like best?

 Let's watch Josh's video first to see how he quilted this Super Spiral:

So why did Josh completely change the rules again? With the Spoonflower fabric, he was able to see the lines marked on the fabric and felt that a spiral stitched on top would look better. He was super proud of this block after quilting it and I have to admit it looks pretty cool in the finished quilt.

Of course, you might be partial to the Super Star design instead, so here's my video on how to mark and quilt it, even if the design worksheet doesn't quite fit with your star block.

I'm sure you're wondering when we will learn how to connect all the blocks together Quilt-As-You-Go style to make the finished quilt.

We'll be learning how to connect the blocks in 2 weeks so you'll definitely have your Building Blocks quilt finished in time for the holidays!

And don't worry, we're definitely planning to quilt along again next year with this beautiful Dancing Butterfly Quilt. Keep your ears peeled for news of the launch of this new pattern coming in December!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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