The Free Motion Quilting Project: 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! This month's Quilty Box came with an awesome collection of gear from Alex Anderson plus ten fat quarters of her beautiful Mirage fabric. I decided to create a very easy Disappearing Nine Patch quilt using these ten fat quarters plus ten fat quarters of solid fabrics I had on hand.

Creating this quilt is so easy and fast! First you create jumbo Nine Patch Quilt Blocks, then Poof! make them disappear to create the quarter block shapes, then arrange and piece the blocks together to create the Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt.

Watch how I pieced my Disappearing Nine Patch blocks in this video:

Click Here to find the free Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Pattern

There are lots of ways you can arrange your Disappearing Nine Patch quilt and I played around with many creative layouts. Click Here to find more pictures and how you can rotate the blocks to create different effects.

The quilt will also look very different if you use one solid color of background fabric. I created this layout in EQ7 to see what it would look like with a white background. If you wanted to create this quilt you'll need around 2 1/2 yards of white fabric instead of the ten solid fat quarters.

I really liked the scrappy, colorful effect of my Disappearing Nine Patch quilt, but now I'm curious to see all the ways this pattern can change to create more cool quilt designs. This is definitely one simple quilt pattern with hundred of possibilities!

What do you think of this Disappearing Nine Patch quilt pattern? Do you like simple scrappy quilts or quilts with more background space? Do you like mostly squares and rectangles in your quilts or prefer triangles and more complex piecing?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Practice Echoing on the Grace Qnique 14+

When you quilt a shape, then quilt around it again with a parallel line that is called Echoing. This is one of the most important techniques to learn in machine quilting because evenly spaced lines are used in so many different designs, and it looks really pretty on any style of quilt.

Echo Quilting Tutorial Sit Down Longarm Quilting

See those rows and rows of evenly spaced lines in the background? That's echo quilting!

In this last video on my Peaceful Goddess quilt blocks, I'm quilting the background with a Super Spiral on the Grace Qnique 14+. This is unique because I usually quilt this design with a walking foot on my home machine.

But with practice you can quilt continuous echoes like this with free motion quilting! I found the open toe foot on the Grace Qnique created a perfect spacing for lines around 3/8 inch apart. That was perfect for the scale of my Peaceful Goddess blocks so I quilted around the appliqued circle, then around and around to fill in the background completely.

See how it works in this new sit down longarm quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find more videos on the Grace Qnique.

I've been getting a lot of questions about the hopping foot on the Grace Qnique and if I find that annoying or not. I actually hardly notice it anymore!

Echo Quilting Tutorial Sit Down Longarm Quilting
The foot base is so wide and the open toe gives me a clear view of the needle so the hopping doesn't bother me as it's outside of the place I look at while quilting.

The difference between a longarm and a home machine is that longarms have the hopping built into the mechanics of the machine. Every time the needle comes up, the foot comes up. Every time the needle goes down, the foot goes down.

This isn't like the darning feet for home machines I alter in this video. You can't bend or break it to stop the hopping action on a longarm. It's a built in feature.

So while it's annoying to see in the videos (yes, I agree), it's not a problem when I'm actually quilting.

Now that I'm finished with this Peaceful Goddess quilt project, what would you like to see next? Share your suggestions for new sit down quilting videos in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 19, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Fanfare - #474

It's Friday which means it's time for a new free motion quilting design. Ta Da Da-Da Da-Da....imagine a trumpet fanfare...

I'm calling this cool quilting design Fanfare! I love designs that fill based on spirals because once you set the starting lines, the rest of the design is super easy to quilt.

See what I mean in this new beginner quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs and challenge yourself to quilt a new design every day of the year!

Now let's learn a bit more about this Fanfare quilting design...

Difficulty Level - Beginner. As you can see in the video, I marked the starting spiral on my quilt with a marking pencil, and then quilted on the marked lines.

Nope, this isn't cheating, it's awesome! There are two skills to master with machine quilting - quilting on a line and quilting without lines. This particular quilting design will help you build both skills and it looks really pretty too. Win, win, win!

The bouncy echoes running down the spiral are pretty easy to quilt. Just slow down and bring your hands closer to the needle so you don't overshoot the spiral line.

Design Family - Foundational. The spiral line begins this design and sets the base. I mentioned in the video that you might be able to fit this into a border, just interconnecting two spirals together. I played with it a bit as a Zentangle design and so far just made a mess. 

Don't worry, the same rule for quilting holds for drawing. In this case I'm going to throw more ink at it!

The trick is keeping the bouncy echoes of the Fanfare design to one side of the spiral. That could be fixed by doubling the starting line and quilting bouncy echoes up both sides a bit like a quilted feather design. That might work better and look more balanced on your quilt.

Where do we quilt it? - I think Fanfare will look best in large blocks or cornerstones. If you begin with a large spiral, then add small bouncy echoes, the quilt will look great and remain soft.

Where do you plan to quilt Fanfare? Do you like spiral based designs? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Podcasting with Modern Sewciety's Stephanie Kendron

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have a terrific interview with Stephanie Kendron, the host of the Modern Sewciety podcast. Click Here to check out her website and podcast right now.

Stephanie began her podcast while remodeling her dream house after listening to lots of podcasts. Katie from Katie's Quilting Corner was super helpful and supportive to Stephanie as she was getting started.

Hosting a podcast is a lot more complicated than it looks. Stephanie learned how to do this from the Smart Passive Income podcast and Pat's steps to creating a podcast.

Stephanie set up an RSS feed and records using Skype on her computer. She used to edit each episode herself, but has recently changed to sending her audio to an editor who cleans it up and sends it back to her. Then Stephanie uploads it to itunes, then Libsyn, then Wordpress.

The hardest part of a podcast is knowing where someone is listening and how they found your podcast. It's almost impossible to track exactly where people are listening and how many people.

Stephanie's favorite conversations are when quilters open up and share their lives and personal journey. For her, the story is the key and that's why she created her podcast and continues to ask questions.

Make sure to check out Stephanie's podcast Modern Sewciety right here.

And you can find all of the Hello My Quilting Friends podcast episodes right here.

Podcast Sponsor

This podcast is sponsored by the Machine Quilting Block Party, a quilt along designed for beginning quilters! Each month you'll learn how to piece or applique a new quilt block, then how to machine quilt it with a combination of walking foot quilting, free motion quilting, and ruler foot quilting.

Click Here to check out the patterns and how to get started today!

Now for a few updates I shared before the podcast:

I'm really excited about a new quilting workshop I started filming last week. I'm quilting the Mega Pinwheel Star quilt with three simple designs using my walking foot.

Lately I've been tapping into what makes me feel great and the word effective keeps coming up. Working on this workshop closely with Josh and Dad, I really feel my actions have been focused and effective and that feels great!

I'm also working on my walking foot book! I've set a deadline for July 1st to have the text finished, which will be a tough deadline as I've decided to add more designs.

I debated this a lot, but ultimately decided I need to honor my nature. I'm a design junkie! It's also going to be used next year as our guide for the Machine Quilting Block Party so the more designs we have to quilt, the more we will learn together.

So that's it for this week's podcast! If you would like to be on the show or have someone you'd like to recommend, please click here to contact us today. I'm always eager to make more quilting friends!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Quilting Workshop in Progress!

Last month I shared the free Mega Pinwheel Star quilt pattern using the beautiful Monaluna fabrics included in April's Quilty Box. Rather than fold it up to quilt another day, Dad and Josh challenged me to plan a very simple, quick quilting design and film it for a new quilting workshop.

So that is exactly what I'm working on today! I decided to dive into walking foot quilting and pick three very simple designs to quilt the Mega Pinwheel Star quilt quickly and easily.

I'm delighted with how the videos are turning out so far! It's really exciting to go from a basic idea to halfway through quilting the quilt in just a few days.

The fact is, not all quilts need to be quilted with a complicated, time consuming design. For this quilt, I just wanted it to finish soft and cozy so James and I can enjoy cuddling up with it on the couch. I even backed it with minky so it's super plush!

I'll keep you posted on the progress of this new quilting workshop, which should be available sometime in June.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 14, 2017

How to Quilt Sharp Stippling Over Fusible Applique

Happy Mother's Day! I hope you're having a wonderful day with your family. I'm enjoying a typical Sunday with my guys - making pancakes kicking back for a few hours until we're ready to start the day.

I'm planning to relax and take it easy today, but also fit in time to turn some wood on the lathe in the wood shop and finally clean up my flower mask mess in the laundry room downstairs. Think plastic flower explosion. It's scary messy!

This week I've been continuing my progress on the Peaceful Goddess quilt blocks and shot a quilting tutorial on how I fill the spaces in this quilt with one of my favorite machine quilting designs: Sharp Stippling.

Curious about the machine I'm using? Learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+ in this video.

Sharp Stippling is one of my favorite quilting designs because it's so easy to quilt and creates a beautiful flame-like texture on your quilts. If you're feeling bored with regular Stippling, this design is kind of like it's younger, hotter brother. Spicy!

Quilting over fusible applique might not seem like a big deal, but it can feel different under your hands. I find fused quilts to feel stiffer and flatter than pieced quilts.

Surprisingly enough, this makes fusible quilts easier to machine quilt because the quilt is easier to move over the table. Something about that added stiffness makes the quilt less "sticky" to the machine bed and easier to move with less pressure and effort from your hands.

All this makes quilting over fusible applique easier...or does it?

I find I always need a small practice sandwich to stitch on to adjust to the feeling of quilting over the fusible applique. Because I can move the quilt faster, my stitches tend to become longer and less controlled.

So I always practice a bit to remind myself of how the quilt will feel. If I jump straight on the block, I'm bound to make mistakes I'll have to rip out.

And that's another really don't want to rip stitches out of fusible web.

I made a mistake with my feathers in one Peaceful Goddess face and had to rip out a lot of stitches around her eye. Then I messed up again and had to rip again. See the holes left over from the stitches? It got a bit mangled in that area.

Fusible web stops the fabric from sealing up after it's been stitched. These holes will close slightly after washing, but they will likely never go away completely.

So you don't want to make mistakes as you quilt over fusible applique. Isn't that a recipe for making all sorts of mistakes? It's like trying not to think about donuts after I've just mentioned donuts. Now you really want a donut don't you?

It's best to test and remind yourself what a fused quilt feels to machine quilt before jumping on the real thing. Take some time to make a small practice sandwich and quilt a bit on it and you'll be a very happy quilter.

Speaking of happy quilters, James and Josh gave me an awesome present for Mother's Day - permission to do whatever I want, play with anything I want, or do nothing at all. I'm off to dig out my crafty supplies and have fun making a big mess!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 12, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Undulating Oil, Design #473

Let's learn a new quilting design today! I've been looking back through my quilting design notebooks and found a special variation of the design Trapped Ripples. This new quilting design changes only one thing and creates this beautiful new quilting design called Undulating Oil:

Does this design look intimidating to you? Don't worry! Machine quilting Undulating Oil is pretty easy because we quilt the design in two parts. First you break up your quilting space with wiggly triangle spaces, then you fill the spaces with bouncy echoes.

Learn how to quilt it on your home machine in this new quilting tutorial:

Are you looking for more machine quilting inspiration? Click Here to find 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, a book packed with designs to inspire you as you quilt.

Now let's learn more about quilting Undulating Oil and where it will work best in our quilts:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Because this design is quilted in two parts it's a bit tricky to rate the difficulty level. On the one hand the curvy triangle foundation is easy enough to quilt. 

Just quilt gently curving lines and try to quilt from a corner to the middle of a line or from the middle of a line to a corner. Weirdly enough, this will almost always break a space into triangle shapes. You can bet I was a really happy quilter the day I figured that out!

This design does involve a lot of precision stitching and the ability to hit lines exactly, bounce, and echo evenly. It will be a great skill builder for bouncy echoes as well. So don't be put off if it looks a bit intense. Give it a try on a practice square and see how it goes!

Filler Design Type - Foundational. For this family of designs, you begin with a base, then fill the open spaces with shapes. This foundation is simple curving lines that break the space into triangle shapes. If you'd like to see more designs with this foundation, check out Foundation Puzzle and Crack Maze.

If you'd like to try this with straight lines, Trapped Ripples, Garden Mazeand Modern Weave are also great designs to try.

Suggestions for Use - Quilting designs like Undulating Oil can be quilted anywhere so long as you can break up the space with the foundational curving triangle shapes. If you wanted to quilt this all over a bed quilt, the first step would be to quilt the wiggly foundation working from the center of the quilt to the outer edges.

If you break down the space into large sections then it won't become too dense as you fill in each triangle with bouncy echoes. You can also experiment with where you begin the echoes. If you begin all in the same spot, you'll create these pretty flower designs!

What do you think of Undulating Oil? Do you have questions about quilting it on your home machine? Make sure to post your questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Creating the Flower Girl Costume

I officially have an alter-identity... the Flower Girl! Lol!

This has been such a fun costuming adventure. I'm going to try to link to all the steps of this process, including links to the books I used for inspiration.

Now, the quick backstory on how creation came into being: this winter I constructed a massive flower mask for a local wearable art fashion show. Click Here to read about the construction process.

After the show, I realized I wasn't done with the costume. I wanted to make a companion piece dress that would balance the extreme height and over-the-top flowery impact of the mask. Click Here to read about the beginning ideas for the dress.

I built a hoop skirt, a massive fluffy petticoat, and draped the dress in about six days. This was the fastest costume I've ever created and definitely has the biggest impact.

Here's a quick video for you to see how I get into the dress, which is also an adventure:

Draping the dress was my favorite part because I was able to use new skills I learned from the book Designer Joi's Fashion Sewing Workshop. One thing I might not have made clear in the video - this dress is created from two 70-inch long pieces of batik fabric that were cut straight off the bolt.

I arranged the two pieces over my dress form and overlapped the fabric in the front of the dress to create the crisscross design. At the beginning I used a 1 inch strip of elastic to hold everything in place so it would be easier to drape. I never cut the fabric because then I would have had to turn the edges under and finish them. So this is the full 45 inches of width being draped from one shoulder down the front of the dress form.

This was a tip I learned in the book Techniques for Draping and Design, which often used the selvages of the fabric as the finished edge of the sleeves and side seams. I'm not sure about you, but I had NEVER heard that before...

The most time consuming part of the dress was the hand stitching. I stitched long basting stitches over the shoulder seams, then pulled the stitching tight to gather the fabric so it fit the dress form.

I gathered the front and back of the dress the same way - running parallel lines of big stitches, then pulling on the stitches and knotting it off to fit the waist of the dress form tightly.

To make it possible to take on and off, I installed a short invisible zipper in the back, then sewed the back and side seams on the machine. I left the front of the dress open so my petticoat would show and add a bit of contrast to this otherwise overwhelmingly red costume.

The front edges of the costume are also selvages, leaving all the raw edges only along the hem. I folded the hem up so it also allowed the petticoat to peek out a bit and blind stitched to secure.

Whew! That might sound like a lot, but this dress came together very quickly. I began draping on Friday night, then mustered up the courage to start sewing on Saturday morning and had the entire dress together by the afternoon. Finishing the hem was the longest part of the process simply because it was such a LONG seam.

The dress definitely makes a statement all on its own, but when combined with the mask it's truly over the top. Perfect, exactly what I was going for!

So why did I do this? Why do I want to dress up with a big flower mask on my head and a giant hoop skirt?

Simple - it makes me happy. 

I enjoy playing dress-up. I also enjoy the challenge of creating a costume like this using techniques I've just learned. Working fast and dirty forces me to stop nitpicking every little detail.

Instead of focusing on perfection, I was focusing on just trying to get it together in time for the festival I could attend that weekend. I made the deadline and was able to go to the festival that Sunday in full costume.

Which brings me to the second reason why I do this - it's a challenge and it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Driving to the festival I felt a bit scared and all the what if's started swirling in my head. What if people yelled at me? What if someone pushed me down? Could I even stand back up again without help? What if I tripped and fell and made a fool of myself?

These fears are natural when you step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. I began listing my fears out loud to Josh and James: I am afraid to do this. I'm afraid people won't like me. I'm afraid I will get hurt. I'm afraid I'll get in trouble.

Isn't this silly? I'm a thirty-three year old woman who wants to wear a giant flower costume and I'm afraid of getting in trouble?

Saying it out loud didn't make me less afraid, but it forced me to acknowledge how much my brain hates doing anything different. Overcoming this anxiety - feeling the fear and doing it anyway - that is why I do this.

I also created this costume because I wanted to make parents and kids happy. A few years ago, Josh and James and I attended our first comic convention and we had so much fun posing with our favorite superhero characters.

I went to this local festival with one goal - to pose with little kids and make a cool photo for their parents. Since I can't talk in the mask, I came up with simple hand gestures to indicate taking a photo so parents would know it was okay. I clapped my hands and waved at everyone in a cheerful way.

It was interesting to see people's reactions to this costume. When caught off guard, many people were startled and a little afraid of me. Some kids stared so hard at the mask, obviously wanting me to smile to make it clear I was friendly.

One memorable set of boys were so sweet and timid. They crept up to me so slowly because they were so scared. I knew if I made a sudden move they would both burst into tears and run away so I held really still and just reached out my hands to hold theirs.

James was exactly the same way when he was little so I was really careful to keep my distance when a kid seemed frightened. We once had a fun Easter egg hunt ruined because the Easter bunny thought it was a good idea to approach the child who was screaming in fear. Thanks a bunch, bunny!

I found I got the best reaction when I stayed in one place so everyone could see me from a bit of a distance and decide how close or how far away they wanted to be. When I was walking around, people would often miss me until I was right up next to them, and I imagine that was pretty frightening.

Other people were so excited to see a girl in a giant flower costume that they ran right up and hugged me. FYI- it's almost impossible to be hugged properly in a hoop skirt!

It was so much fun to be surrounded by happy, excited people, and to hopefully have helped create a cool photo for parents to enjoy. A few people asked where I bought the costume and I indicated through hand gestures that I sewed it myself. That might be an inspiration to new makers in my area.

As for all of those fears in the car on the way to the festival - I did nearly trip three times when the petticoat slipped under the hoop skirt and I stepped on it. I learned to pull up the dress slightly when I walked. Who cares if someone sees my tennis shoes underneath?!

No one attacked me or yelled at me, other than trying to get my attention for a photo from a far distance. And I didn't get in trouble. In fact, the event organizers encouraged us to stay longer and the police loved the costume.

See how silly all those fears were? But how would I have known what would happen until I pushed myself to go and have this experience?

I believe in pushing myself to try new things. This costume pushed me to build in new ways with new materials. The dress forced me to work fast and not worry about finishing every seam just right. The experience of wearing it out in public taught me how to overcome my fears of getting in trouble or hurt in a space I couldn't control.

Now that I've had this experience, I can't wait to become the Flower Girl more often, to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and to make people happy too.

Let's go costume!

Leah Day

Monday, May 8, 2017

Machine Quilting Pansy Patch Quilt Block

Ready to quilt the Pansy Patch quilt block? We're quilting this block with a beautiful combination of designs: simple spirals in the flowers, Sharp Stippling in the background, and big feathers in the vase.

Did you have trouble piecing your Pansy Patch quilt block? Click Here to find the piecing tutorial to review how it was pieced.

Many quilters have shared photos and stories from piecing this block on the Block Party Facebook Group. It was more challenging than our previous blocks and does require you to piece with an accurate 1/4-inch seam allowance. The key is to enjoy the learning process and accept your block however it finishes. Please resist the urge to rip out stitches as ripping is not quilting - it will not make you any better at this craft!

Now let's check out the video and learn how to quilt this beautiful flower block together:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block 5.

One thing for sure - this block has a lot of ditches! Make sure to watch the video to see how I stitched in the ditch with my walking foot to secure the layers together before switching to free motion quilting.

I made a bad choice of quilting the background design Sharp Stippling with white thread. It ended up blending in quite a bit with the background color so it wasn't as visible as I would like. Click Here to watch an extra quilting tutorial so you can see how to quilt Sharp Stippling in another project.

Also remember that you can always mark the design using the quilting diagram from the quilt pattern. This will save you time having to guess how to quilt the design and speed up the quilting process.

What did you think of piecing and quilting this Pansy Patch quilt block? Was it just a bit too much? Or would you like more blocks like this? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Stitching in the Ditch Over Appliques on the Grace Qnique 14+

Happy Sunday! Today I'm quilting a Peaceful Goddess quilt block which was created using fusible applique. The first step to quilting applique is to outline it or stitch it in the ditch. Learn how to stitch in the ditch over an appliqued block on the Grace Qnique 14+ longarm:

Click Here to learn more about the Grace Qnique.

The most important skill to build for stitching in the ditch is hand control. Being able to follow the line exactly and not hop away from the applique edge will take a lot of practice.

When I first began quilting I didn't have this control so I mostly stitched in the ditch and outline quilted using my walking foot. Please understand that there's nothing wrong with using your walking foot for this task. Here's a video tutorial on stitching in the ditch with a walking foot in case you'd like to see it.

So why would you want to stitch in the ditch using free motion quilting?

The main reason is it allows you to keep quilting. After quilting the outline around all the applique shapes, I immediately began quilting different designs in the goddess face, hair, and background.

I didn't have to stop, break thread, change feet, and hide thread tails. So quilting the outline or stitching in the ditch with free motion quilting is just a bit faster because you don't have to stop and change feet in order to quilt more designs.

Tips for Good Stitch Control

The key to stitching in the ditch with free motion quilting is to build skill with your hands so the quilt moves slowly and steadily over the surface of the machine. In this case, slower is better because you have less chance of stitching away from the applique edge and creating a messy outline.

Wearing quilting gloves is also my favorite way of increasing my control over how the quilt moves on the machine. By getting an extra grip on the quilt surface, I'm able to control the block better so I can move it precisely with less chance of mistakes.

Ultimately this is a skill built by repetition. The more you stitch in the ditch or outline quilt applique or any other seam or design, the better you will get!

What do you think about stitching in the ditch? Do you use this to secure your applique quilts? Do you like the way this looks on the front and back of your quilts? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 5, 2017

Learn How to Quilt Cyclops - #472

Time for a new quilting design! How about something kinda creepy - like a big bowl of eyeballs? I've played around with this before with the quilting design called Eyeballs, but now I want to try it again by quilting a football / eye shape within a circle. Here's how it turned out:

I'm calling this Cyclops for the one-eyed monster in the Odyssey, though with all these eyeballs together, shouldn't it be Multi-Clops? Or do I have my latin root words all wrong? Ha! I honestly have as much fun naming these designs as I do quilting them. 

Let's learn how to machine quilt it together:

Click Here to find the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs where you can find hundreds of machine quilting designs to try.

So how does Cyclops work in comparison to other machine quilting designs? Let's learn more more about it:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This design can be a bit tricky to form because you're stacking circular shapes together, but ultimately the shapes are easy to quilt with a little practice. You do want to form nice round circles in order to make the football / eye shape fit nicely inside.

Watch the quilting tutorial above carefully to find tips on quilting the circles and how I visualize the shapes without having to mark them on the quilt top.

Other than quilting the circles, this is a simple design formed by stitching the circle, then the football shape, then another circle in the middle.

Design Family - Stacking. If you're just getting started with machine quilting, you might want to try Pebbling first. It's far simpler and will give you good practice with stacking circles together.

Once you're able to quilt Pebbling, try expanding the design by quilting small shapes within it. Cracked Eggs and Striped Beads are two good designs to play with next. 

It's important to remember that not all designs are going to feel natural or easy for you to quilt. Some designs still feel like pulling teeth for me and that's normal. The more you practice, the more designs you try, the easier this will become.

Suggestions for Quilting - Machine quilting circular shapes together does tend to be time consuming. As in, "Let's spend the next hour quilting 10 inches of space!" time consuming. In short - not much fun.

If you don't want to be here all day, or all week, or all year, make sure to quilt your starting circles nice and big. The largest circle I can manage is around 3 inches around. When quilted on that scale with 3 inch wide starting circles, Cyclops could work as a bed quilting design.

No matter which way you stitch it, this design is definitely going to stand out out of the crowd! 

What do you think of the new Cyclops quilting design? Where do you plan to use it on your quilts? Do you wish I would stop using eyeballs as inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Make a Monochromatic Quilt with Andi Stanfield

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I have a terrific interview with Andi Stanfield from True Blue Quilts about making monochromatic quilts.

Monochromatic means single color and if you've never made a quilt like this before you really need to give it a try! Andi co-authored the book Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety with her mom Mary McElvain.

In the podcast we discuss why it's fun to work with one color or one color family and how this can help rebalance your stash. If you take a look at all the fabrics you have right now and notice a trend of lots of one color, making a quilt with just that color family can reduce the dominance of one color over all the others.

Here's a beautiful example of Andi's monochromatic quilt Green Frost:

Andi also shares her experience of co-writing a book with her mom and that collaboration process. I certainly learn more with each book I write and loved hearing her self publishing story.

The sponsor for the show this week is the Machine Quilting Block Party and our newest block the Pansy Patch. Check out the block pattern right here and support the show for just $4.99. Each pattern comes with instructions for how to piece the block, plus a full size printable diagram for quilting the block as well.

In my personal update for this episode I talked a lot about my work towards minimizing my craft supplies so I can focus on the things that are most important to me. This was the shot of my upstairs office over the weekend:

Pretty insane! I have accepted that I have a lot of bad crafting habits like buying materials on vacation, then never using them.

To stop doing this in the future I plan to pull out one project I really want to work on before the vacation and work on it during the trip. I also reduced my supplies down to just the projects I really want to make and shot pictures of each project so I don't forget what I have on hand.

The book The More of Less by Joshua Becker has been very helpful with cleaning out this room and not feeling too guilty for all the money I've wasted over the years on supplies I probably won't use.

Instead of feeling guilty, I'm trying to feel good that I have so much more space, energy, and time to enjoy the projects I really want to create.

Speaking of projects I really want to create, the Peaceful Goddess Quilt is in progress on my machine right now and I can't wait to release this new fusible applique pattern in a few months!

Creating these goddess quilts has been a big part of my quilting journey and one of my most important goals is to create patterns so you can make them too. By reducing all the chaos and excessive stuff around me, I can finally take on this challenge and create the patterns I've wanted to make for years. Be looking for these new patterns coming soon!

Don't forget to check out Andi's website True Blue Quilts and learn more about making monochromatic quilts. It's a great way to use up your stash and explore your favorite fabric colors.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 1, 2017

How to Piece a Pansy Patch Quilt Block

Happy May Day! Today is the first day of the month and the first Monday so you get a new block and the piecing video on the same day!

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #5.

We're back to piecing this month with this fun little block that combines three pansy style flowers. My #1 tip with this block is to be careful in your cutting. Cut each fabric into the required shapes and label everything so you don't get confused.

After cutting everything out accurately, create your half square triangles next. Here's an extra tip video to help you out.

Once you have your half square triangles created you can build the units of the Pansy Patch block very easily. See what I mean in this new video:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #5.

Uggh! I don't know what happens to my brain when I'm shooting intros and exits. Did you hear when I said we're piecing a Triple Tulip block? Unfortunately I didn't catch that until it was too late, but don't worry - this is definitely the video for the Pansy Patch block!

Important tip - If you arrange all the pieces of your block on a table near your machine, you can return the units continually to the layout and make sure it's going together properly.

I find a good setup is to have my machine set down in a flatbed table with extra tables surrounding it to expand the surface. I keep a homemade hard pressing board set up to the left of my table so I can quickly press the seams open on each unit as I piece.

I arrange the pieces of the quilt block on the pressing board, continually adding new units as they are pieced together. This way I stay on track and don't get confused, even if it takes several days to get the Pansy Patch quilt block pieced together.

Do you have any questions about piecing this block? Feel free to ask in the comments below!

Once you get the block together, it will be time to quilt! I can't wait to teach you how to quilt this block with spirals, Sharp Stippling, and the big flowing feathers in the vase. Be looking for the quilting video coming out next Monday!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quilting Intense Feathers on the Grace Qnique 14+

It's time to quilt some feathers! This week I pulled out the Dream Goddess quilt and I'm machine quilting the intense feathers in the sky section of the quilt. What are intense feathers? Check out this video to find out!

As you can see, this involves a lot of travel stitching and speed control. I've waited to get back to Dream Goddess for a few months just to be sure I could use the Grace Qnique 14+ and not stitch wildly out of control on this special quilt.

The great news is the stitches look terrific on the front and back of the quilt and I couldn't be more pleased with how this is turning out! Yes, this is intense and there is a lot of thread filling in the quilt. I wouldn't do this for just any project, but only special quilts like this one.

Click Here to learn more about Dream Goddess.

Now I hate to stitch and run, but I have a costume to finish up and a festival to attend! Wish me luck!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Costuming Adventure!

Remember how I got my flower mask back from the Arts Council last week? I haven't had a chance to put her away because...well, where do you put something like this!?

So I've been seeing this mask hanging up every day in the living room and I began thinking about how fun it would be to wear it for a fun event. And my town just happens to have a very big Merry Go Round Festival coming up this weekend!

Do you see where I'm going with this?

So I began thinking about making a dress to match the mask. Something big and funky that would set off the mask, but also stand out by itself too. I was just letting ideas percolate and my copy of Designer Joi's Fashion Sewing Workshop arrived and inside was information I've been wanting to learn for 14 years: fabric draping.

Yes, 14 years! I first heard of fabric draping in garment design on the very first season of Project Runway which I watched in our tiny apartment before James was born, before I was a quilter, before Youtube even existed!

The chapter on draping was stellar and last weekend I draped my first v-neck tank top shirt, created a pattern, and stitched it up in one day and created the best fitting shirt I've ever owned:

I'm so so so pleased with the results! I draped this directly onto Lucy, my dress form, which I modified a few years ago to fit me exactly. Thankfully I'm still the same size so I was able to pin directly into the duct tape to create the design.

Of course, creating the best fitting top in my life was a huge confidence booster. So much so that I decided to take on something a bit bigger...

I made a hoop skirt! I found a very simple tutorial to follow and created this from inexpensive irrigation tubing and leftover ribbon I had around the house.

But you can't just make a hoop skirt. You also have to make a petticoat. So that's in progress today and since I'm under a huge time crunch to have this ready to wear by Saturday (as in tomorrow!) Dad is getting to know the Bernina Ruffler foot while I'm stitching the tulle on the fabric as fast as I can.

I still need to cut and gather the dress itself so cross your fingers we're able to pull this off in time!

Let's go quilt (or sew a crazy huge costume!)

Leah Day

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mega Pinwheel Star Free Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! This month's box arrived and it was filled with great quilting supplies and beautiful fabrics designed by Jennifer Moore.

Each month I challenge myself to use the fabrics in my Quilty Box to make a new quilt and write the pattern to share with you - all just in a few days! Click Here to learn about Quilty Box so you can join in the fun too.

This month I had an additional challenge: A quilter named Cathy wrote in asking if we could make the Twin Rainbow Star quilt pattern a bit bigger using fat quarters. I decided to see if it would work and that's how I created this Mega Pinwheel Star Quilt:

Click Here to find the Mega Pinwheel Star free quilt pattern.

I love making a quilt out of one single block! It's so fast because you just have to cut one set of shapes. The impact of single block quilts is also very dramatic because you just have the single shape and focal point to the quilt.

Do take your time piecing the massive half square triangles! The key to piecing these big shapes is to pin and stitch carefully so the fabrics don't shift.

What do you think of single block quilts? Do you like making mega half square triangles? What's the biggest block you've ever made? Share your experience in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 23, 2017

How to Quilt with Minky Fabric

This week I've been playing with Minky fabric on the back of several quilt sandwiches and I love the effect. Learn how to quilt with Minky fabric and machine quilt Paisley in this new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video:

Quilting with Minky Fabric BackingThoughts on Quilting with Minky Fabric

I really enjoyed quilting with Minky fabric. Honestly it was a lot easier than I expected. I've been intimidated by Minky for years, but once I got it basted up it really wasn't hard to quilt over.

The hardest part was cutting the Minky fabric which made a huge mess! At the store, the clerk cut it and ended up with red fluff all over her shirt, the table, and the floor. I felt bad because I had no idea Minky was such a messy fabric to cut.

I shoved it deep in a plastic bag and warned Dad that it was going to be a big mess so we were both prepared. We ended up cutting it with masking tape and that significantly reduced the mess.

Quilting with Minky Fabric Backing

We taped off the area we wanted cut out, then cut through the middle of the tape, then removed the tape and it took all the cut ends of the Minky with it. I did have to lint roll the tables and my shirt a few times, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the mess it made in the store.

To stabilize or not to stabilize

I do think stabilizing with some sort of lightweight stabilizer like French Fuse is a good idea. Minky is a stretchy fabric and the French Fuse stabilized the fabric and stopped it from stretching out of shape as I basted all my blocks.

When I quilted with fleece, a lot of quilters commented that they didn't stabilize at all. That's fine too! Keep in mind that I tend to quilt densely and whenever I've used weird fabrics in a quilt, I've always regretted not stabilizing.

I also do like using a batting with Minky fabric. I found on the sample I stitched without a batting, the Minky fluff tended to pull up through the fabric and show on the top. I also liked the drape and feel of the quilt best when fleece was the batting in the middle.

Best Quilting Designs for Minky Fabric

The other thing to consider when quilting with Minky is your quilting design and how that will effect the fluffiness of this fabric. I tested three designs on my practice quilt sandwiches: Stippling, Echoing lines, and Paisley.

Quilting with Minky Fabric Backing

On the front, the designs all look great, but on the back...honestly Paisley is my least favorite. That design has a lot of travel stitching which built up over the Minky fabric and showed up through the fluffy pile.

After looking at all of my samples I didn't really like this thread effect on the back of the quilt. I would stick with open designs that don't involve any travel stitching like Stippling, Matrix, and Ocean Currents.

What do you think about quilting with Minky fabric? Have you ever backed a quilt with Minky? Please share your experience in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Art Openings Aren't My Thing

A few months ago I shared a new flower mask I was creating for a local wearable art fashion show. The fashion show happened a few weeks ago and yesterday I picked up my mask from the art council.

Now that the event is over, I've been mulling over my experience and what I learned along the way. Here's a few of the lessons I picked up:

1. What you're afraid of will likely not happen.

While building the flower mask I was initially worried that someone would be rude and criticize it for being made from plastic flowers and hot glued together.

Turns out that fear was pretty silly. No one was rude about my mask or the plastic flowers. It was a pretty popular creation and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It even made the front page of the local paper the next day!

From the Shelby Star newspaper
2. Other things you never considered will bug you.

Even though my fears didn't come true, that doesn't mean the event was perfect. For one thing, I've never seen anyone else wear my masks or costumes before and that...was weird. Weird like someone else wearing your underwear weird. No matter how hard you try to feel cool with it, that just doesn't seem right.

So that was an odd experience and eventually I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that not having control over how my masks were worn or shown was okay. It was out of my control.

Next time I will solve this problem by offering to be a model of my own stuff. I think if I was part of the fashion show I would have enjoyed the event more.

3. Art openings aren't my thing.

I give things three tries before declaring I officially love or hate it. Now I can safely say I art openings aren't my thing.

For one thing, I stopped drinking in January. Only after quitting did I realize what a crutch it was for situations like this. Feeling uncomfortable and awkward? Just go grab a glass of wine...or three.

Now situations like this literally make my skin crawl. The pressure to drink to fit in coupled with the very awkward conversations wasn't a good combination. I ended up leaving after a short time and felt much better drinking tea at home and planning my next mask project.

Ultimately I learned that I love creating masks, but I don't love talking about it to random strangers. That's okay. I don't think art openings are for everyone.

Figure out how to make it fit

Just because I don't like the opening event doesn't mean I shouldn't participate at all. I plan to continue making masks and costumes and art and keep entering them in shows because it's fun and I enjoy the challenge of making things other than quilts.

As with all things, the ultimate lesson is to figure out how to make it work for you. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all and we all have to find the path that fits just right.

That might be different from what others consider normal. That's okay. If I've learned anything in the last few years it's to just be myself and stop questioning my nature. 

So often I'll discount an experience like this as "I wasn't feeling well." or "That was different, this time will be great!" when the reality is every single art opening I've ever attended, even when my art wasn't present, has been an awkward, uncomfortable experience.

The next time I enter a piece of art, the day I drop it off will be the day I release it to be enjoyed by my town. Then I'll go home and start working on something new.

That's the best fit for me. Now, what would be the best fit for you?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Podcast: Quilting Superwoman Jackie Kunkel

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I'm getting to know Jackie Kunkel, an amazing quilter who runs an online business at Canton Village Quilt Works

Jackie also writes books and patterns, teaches online classes, and is a certified Judy Neimeyer teacher. She is truly a quilting Superwoman and I hope you enjoy learning more about Jackie!

Now for a few links from Jackie's interview:

Click Here to find Jackie's website Canton Village Quilt Works. 

Jackie began longarm quilting in 2000 because it allowed her to work from home and fit her hours around her kid's schedule.

She has changed her business over the years - creating a website, selling products online, and writing magazine articles. Jackie believes in remaining flexible so her business can grow and change as the quilting industry changes.

Jackie is also discussed how she became a certified Judy Neimeyer teacher. She was a huge fan of Judy's quilts and found being certified to be helpful in teaching classes.

Jackie is also a big fan of batik fabrics and has a signature collection with Kathy Engel for Island Batik fabrics. She is working on a designer collection for Fall 2018.

We discussed lead times which can be really challenging with many fabric companies. Many companies will deliver the fabric to create quilts for Quilt Market only 1 month before market. Island Batik is one of the best companies to work for because they deliver the fabric much earlier than average.

Jackie keeps everything balanced by writing everything on a calendar and making sure she has big blocks of time open for designing and creating. She can't create while traveling and teaching, so she stays really organized with clear goals while she's home.

Jackie's doesn't say no to teaching opportunities, she tries to find a compromise or another time further in the future if a particular time is too busy.

Being in business since 2000, Jackie has seen the quilting industry change quite a lot in the last 17 years. The fabrics and quilting have both dramatically changed. When she began, hand quilting was the only form of quilting considered "real quilting" and that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

Jackie believes if you want to stay in business, you need to constantly rethink yourself and evolve. If you can't do that, you're not going to survive. Things are constantly changing and you have to remain flexible and excited about changing.

I loved learning from Jackie's experience and I hope you did too!

The sponsor for this week's show is the Waterfall Bargello Workshop where you'll learn how to piece this complex looking Bargello quilt using easy strip piecing techniques.

You'll also learn how to quilt this wall hanging with a combination of walking foot quilting and free motion quilting designs.

Last week I received this beautiful photo from Maggie with her Waterfall Bargello quilt in rainbow colors. This was so cheerful - absolutely the perfect quilt for spring!

Click Here to find the Waterfall Bargello Workshop.

And a few updates from my neck of the woods:

I've moved the podcast to Wednesday again to see if this will help free up my weekends so I can enjoy more time with Josh and James. I found posting on Saturday was resulting in a lot of time online because once I get sucked into the computer, I get kind of stuck.

So be looking for new podcast episodes every other Wednesday! Click Here to find all the podcast episodes shared so far.

The podcast is also on YouTube. Josh has been turning the audio clips into video clips with the podcast artwork. So if you prefer to find us on Youtube, you can always subscribe to our channel and get notified anytime a new video goes live.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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