Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Josh's Stippling on a Spinning Square Block

It's all over stippling time on our fun spinning square, so let's get right to it.

And here's the finish:

And the back:

Looking at the back, I can't even see the bird beak I made that I was so unhappy with. This just goes to show how important it is to put a block aside and give it some time--you'll likely not even notice what you once thought was a glaring mistake!

In the video we also talked about your sewing chair. Are you comfortable when you're sewing on your machine? Lowering the stool helped me drastically. I was much more comfortable with this block dropping the angle. This was a very easy block so I didn't need to have a higher vantage point so slightly dropping the height helped me sail through the block.

This was a great block and a great design for a beginner.

It's also a perfect time to join us in our Quilt Along. Leah designed our beginner-level Building Block Quilt Along to be picked up at any time as you'll get all 42 blocks at once and can work at your own pace and leisure. No having to download something once a month, or set up a monthly recurring payment--for one small sum you get the entire package. As the pattern will always be available and due to our fun and buzzing facebook group, you can interact with hundreds of active quilt along members and get help, tips, and show off your work.

Finally, we recently had more than a hundred newby Quilt Along members sign up, so if you're just starting out you won't be alone!

Until next time, let's go quilt.


Monday, July 21, 2014

33. Quilt Stippling in a Spinning Square

Ready to tackle another Spinning Square block? Today we're free motion quilting this block with an All-Over version of Stippling. Basically just wiggle over the block randomly and try to avoid those pesky areas of seam allowance.

The nice thing about this design is if you don't want to quilt over your T-shirt fabric in the center, you don't have to! Just wiggle around it rather than over it and your block will still look great and be secured.
The Spinning Square Block is definitely popular in the Building Blocks Facebook group where members have been showing off awesome blocks with all sorts of t-shirt fabric, decorative prints, and even embroidery designs in the center. Click here to join in the fun of the Building Blocks Facebook group!

Now for the video:

Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
If you really liked the way we quilted Stippling in this block, you might want to check out the collection of Independent Designs. These designs all work like Stippling, but they look very different, so you can find a cool design for any style or theme of quilt.

All over quilting really is a great way to finish a quilt quickly by adding texture to the surface and securing the layers together, but not throwing loads of time into the design. There will always be those quilts that just need to get together and get done and Stippling, or any of the Independent Designs is a great way to finish them. 
So that's it for today! Swing back by tomorrow to see how Josh quilted this design too!

Let's go quilting,

Leah Day

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Craftsy Creative Escape Sale

Craftsy's running another great sale this weekend! Click Here to find what classes are on sale now.
Personally I've been enjoying several cooking classes this summer including Mexican Street Food: Tacos and Salsas, which has basically transformed the way Josh makes salsa every week. This food is SO good, I swear I could eat it every night of the week!

Another fun class I've been enjoying this week is In the Hoop Gifts - a class all about embroidering gifts like a small purse and key cover all within the hoop of your embroidery machine. It boggles my mind that you can do this and have no extra stitching required!

Finally one of my classic favorites is Diamond Quilt Designs. If you've ever wanted to make a quilt with diamonds, this is definitely the class for you!

Find all of these classes, plus hundreds more right here on Craftsy!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, July 18, 2014

Josh's Straight Lines a Spinning Square Block

Josh here. Happy Friday! Today I'm quilting straight lines in our newest block, a spinning square.

Straight lines are easy mode for me. However, what was interesting about this block was the rays coming together in the corners. I skipped the lines in the middle of the triangles, but I still had a thread buildup issue.

Here's the finish:

I think this is a really pretty design for the block.

How did your block finish out? Did you do anything creative with the design?

Let's go quilt!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

32. Quilt Lines in a Spinning Square

On Monday we learned how to piece a Spinning Square block, now it's time to quilt it with simple straight lines:
The nice thing about this block is you can flow easily around each spinning square with minimal travel stitching. Watch the video to see exactly the path I chose to knock out this block quickly:

Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
The only bad thing about paper piecing is those pesky seam allowances! Hopefully my tips in the videos on holding the block more securely and slowing down will help you stitch through these areas easily. 

Just remember, a few big stitches or a few small stitches will not ruin  your block. I made some mistakes in my block, but I didn't rip them out. This is supposed to be a learning quilt after all, and learning something new...we'll it ain't always pretty!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Affordable Sewing Table

For many years we carried these awesome little affordable sewing tables - small, sturdy, but able to hold even the biggest machines, and now they're back and available here on our site!

I actually bought my first table back in 2009, and just recently realized that means I've been using the same table for over 5 years! The sturdy construction and large cut-out space have allowed me to use any machine in this table, no matter how big or small.

See a bit more about the table in this new video:

Of all the tools I've invested in over the years, this sewing table really is one of my best purchases. I saw a huge change in my sewing and quilting ability immediately because the machine was flush with the table top and suddenly I didn't have to fight the bulk and weight of the quilt pushing up and over the machine bed.

Learn more about this sewing table right here at LeahDay.com

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is your sewing space toxic?

Josh here, but no Building Block Quilt Along post from me today. Instead, I want to talk about something that's often overlooked in fiber art hobbies and may contribute to potential health problems in the long term.

The issue is dust, which is the final result of the invisible particulate fiber matter that becomes airborne whenever fabric is cut and every time a needle strikes the fiber material on your machine.

This is the louvered door leading into our utility room where our furnace/air conditioner is located. It's slatted to encourage airflow for one of our whole house air system's intake (the other intake is located upstairs near our thermostat).

Here's a better angle. That's a solid layer of dust and grime caked on the door from years of heavy sewing machine use and fabric cutting. Note how the slats are far dustier than the frame of the door. This is due to the furnace intake drawing air in, thus making the door a sort of preliminary filter.

Leah's dad recently began working with us. Like me, he's sensitive to dust, pollen, and airborne particulates. He drew our attention to the long term problem of dust and how by the simple act of quilt making we create more of it every day.

This is one of our two air filters I installed a few years ago because I worried about Leah breathing all the junk in the air that comes from heavy machine use. We bought two overkill, HEPA-certified units, thinking they would easily be able to keep the air moving and filter out the majority of the dust. This one is mounted on the wall above Leah's cutting table, the other one we left mobile but it usually stays in Leah's sewing room.

It turns out these two units are not sufficient for proper air quality.

There are several factors that come into play in our particular situation:

  1. We work in a full basement with very low ceilings and some odd rooms. There are only two return vents for our air system, each located on the ceiling. There is also original 1970s carpet on the majority of the floor, and the rest is original vinyl slapped onto a concrete slab. Our basement is full of dead space with inadequate air current.
  2. There is a lot of surface area--nooks and crannies, dozens and dozens of shelves, and on these surfaces are hundreds of small items (shown at right), all creating more space for dust to accumulate.
  3. Leah uses her machines daily and we cut a lot of fabric, not just for our projects but also for our french fuse interfacing and Quilt Kits which we offer in our shop. I recently started quilting myself too. When I made my first line of stitching on the sewing machine, the first thing I noticed was the tiny, smoke-like plume of dust that kicked up into the air when the needle hit the fabric. This matter doesn't vaporize into nothing--it flies into the air in all directions, and some of it goes into your lungs.
  4. Leah and I do not vacuum nor clean as much as we need to. While a proper air circulation and filtration system needs to be permanently installed, we also need to start a weekly and monthly maintenance protocol to tackle the dust that gathers on surfaces.
We've worked out a plan of action to tackle this serious and chronic issue and get things under control.

Leah has gone through her fabric stash and is seriously downsizing. Today we're dividing, measuring, and bagging yardage and scraps and will ebay the fabric later, most likely in the fall--so if you're interested in nabbing a great deal on our fabric, be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow Leah on facebook to get the announcement when the fabric goes live on ebay.

We're going to demolish the old 1970s kitchen cabinetry pictured above and install an air circulation system, rigged up with box fans and house floss filters. This is the cutting and design room which is adjacent to our furnace and AC unit, so all the air in the basement passes through here.

We're also going to put up drop screens to minimize the fiber dust from seeping into the other rooms in the basement, as well as increase air current throughout.

Finally, and most importantly, we're going to blow out the entire basement with the exhaust from a heavy duty shop vac, drawing the dust out with an industrial size garage fan blowing outside. Then we will implement a strict maintenance protocol with weekly heavy vacuuming and a monthly deep clean.

You may not see the dust, but I assure you it's there, and you're breathing it. Unfortunately, dust is always going to be a side effect of working with fiber arts. Some people are more sensitive to airborne particles than others; Leah is practically immune, but I've taken to wearing a respirator when cutting fabric as I always go into a sneezing fit. However, even if the dust doesn't seem to bother you at all, remember it is getting into your lungs.

Do you have a system for your sewing area? Have you ever thought about it?  We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue, so please share in the comments section!

Until next week, let's go... clean!

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