The Free Motion Quilting Project

Monday, May 29, 2017

Quilting Heart Paisley on a Sit Down Longarm Sewing Machine

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you have had a wonderful last weekend of May. I always feel like this month is as busy and crazy as December, and now *sigh* it's time to relax into the slower pace of the summer.

But even though it's summer, that doesn't mean we're going to stop quilting! I have several fun quilting projects planned this summer and my first goal is to finish up the Dream Goddess quilt so I can enjoy seeing her hang on my wall this fall.

So today let's learn how to quilt a small scale Heart Paisley design into the background of the Dream Goddess quilt:



Click Here to find all the videos I've shared so far on the Grace Qnique sit down longarm machine.

Quilting this small scale Heart Paisley design was really easy in this area of the Dream Goddess quilt. This is one of my favorite quilting designs because you can quilt it any size and the heart shapes easily nest next to one another so it has a very nice texture as well.


A question I answered in this video was about the hopping of the quilting foot. The Grace Qnique 14+ is a longarm machine which is designed so the foot hops along with the timing of the needle. This is meant to help the machine feed evenly over the fabric when the machine is set up on a rail system.

The thing that creates the hopping is internal, meaning you can't alter or change the way the foot hops, even if you change the foot.

This is very different from home (domestic) sewing machines where the hopping is often created by a badly designed foot. Click Here to watch a video to see how I stop a foot from hopping.

So this is just one of those things that differs between a longarm machine and a home sewing machine. You can't stop the foot from hopping on a longarm machine, even when it's set up as a sit down machine.

The good news is it doesn't stop me from quilting beautiful designs on this machine. If it was a probably, trust me you would be able to tell because I wouldn't be able to travel stitch as nicely or echo quilt as evenly.

Do you have more questions about quilting on a sit down longarm machine? Be sure to ask in the comments below and I'll shoot a video just to answer your question!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 26, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Clouds, Design #475

You know the most searched keyword for quilting designs on my website? Clouds! Who would have thought so many quilters are searching for this simple shape? I decided to give it a try and came up with this new design:


This is my first run at free motion quilting Clouds and I think it turned out pretty good! I realized immediately while quilting it that there are several ways you can alter the design which will change the way the Clouds look on your quilt. Let's check out the quilting tutorial and then I'll show you the variations of this design:



Would you like to support this project and free videos that come out every week? Click Here to find my book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs!

I was aiming for the stereotypical fluffy cartoon cloud shape while quilting this design and I'm really pleased on how it turned out. It's very simple and fast to quilt too which is always a bonus. Let's learn more about it:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. Clouds turned out to be a very easy design! If you can quilt a slightly curving line and manage a bit of travel stitching, you can definitely quilt Clouds.

The hardest part is dealing with the different angles of the clouds as you quilt from right to left and then from left to right. I found it felt more natural to quilt from left to right and my clouds tended to look weird when quilted from right to left, but that might just be me being picky.

Design Family - Stacking. The cloud shapes stack on top of one another to form the design. You can change the look by making the clouds taller and fluffier. You can also change it by having the clouds dip down into the row before less often.

If you wanted a sky of ominous low hanging clouds you could quilt a thinner line of small arches running almost parallel with the top edge of your quilt. I'll have to think on variations with echoes to create storm clouds! Lol!

I decided to quilt Clouds again and try three different versions of the design to see how it would look if I changed the travel stitching within the Cloud shapes.

This first version has no travel stitching. You stitch 3-4 bouncy arch shapes chained together without doing any travel stitching. This makes the clouds look less cloud-like and a bit more like popcorn:


Here I added back the travel stitching, but kept it very short - only 1/8 inch of travel quilting back along the arches before branching out with the next:


Personally I liked this look best and with the minimal traveling, it also felt the easiest to machine quilt. But I had to try one more change this time with 1/4 inch of traveling and much bigger arch shapes:


Which version of Clouds do you like best? Do you see how the change in travel stitching makes all the difference with this design? I'm sure there are even more ways to change it up so if you have any ideas to test let me know in the comments below!

Where do we quilt Clouds? - As you can see this design is easy to machine quilt big with large fluffy shapes. I think it would make a great bed quilting design!

That's good because I don't think this works as well on a small scale. Even when I tried shrinking down the cloud shapes, it tends to go fluffy a good bit of open space between the shapes.

I do think there's a lot of possibilities for combining Clouds with straight lines and curves and that might work better on a smaller scale. One thing is for sure, I've definitely got my head in the clouds now! Lol. Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Find Me on the Modern Sewciety Podcast!

Last week I shared an interview with Stephanie Kendron, the host of the Modern Sewciety podcast. Click Here to listen to this episode of Hello My Quilting Friends.

This week it's Stephanie's turn to interview me! Click Here to check out this Modern Sewciety episode #121.

I love podcasting because it's allowed me to connect with other quilters and make new friends. It's also something fun to listen to while I quilt! I hope you enjoy my interview with Stephanie and learn something new about me!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ruler Work Quilting on Sheri's Road Work Quilt

Time for a new quilting collaboration! My friend Sheri from Whole Circle Studio has sent me a super cool mini quilt called Road Work.

Isn't this neat? It's such an iconic design based on the lines painted on a road. I love how Sheri took something we see every day (a cross walk on a road) and turned it into a cool quilt!

Sheri has created a quilt pattern for Road Work so you can create a mini, throw, twin, and queen sized quilt with this simple, yet striking design. Click Here to check out the pattern.

So the big question is...how do we quilt it?

I'll be honest, out of all the collaborations I've done this year, this one was the most challenging! I think it's because I love the piecing design of Road Work so much and I don't want to distract from the road theme of the quilt.

I debated using lots of different designs. I considered collage style quilting and all over style quilting, and ultimately I kept coming back to straight lines running down the length of the road.


But jeez...just straight lines? Really Leah? You can do better than that!

Ahem. Excuse me. My inner critic is feeling a bit opinionated over my design choices. Straight lines are awesome, but there was so much open space on this quilt it felt like a waste not to do something interesting in the upper part of the quilt.

I just so happened to be working on a new batch of designs last week and finally found the inspiration I've been looking for. I call it Split Personality - beautiful combination of straight lines and curves!


So how did this work on Sheri's Road Work Quilt? Watch the video to see for yourself!



I used my ruler foot and Dresden Plate templates to quilt the straight lines in this quilt, then set the ruler aside when I was quilting the curves. You could also quilt this design with your walking foot and with regular free motion quilting too.


Spacing the lines this perfectly was a challenge and sometimes I found myself switching the ruler to both sides of the foot to make sure it was centered perfectly as I quilted the straight lines.

It really is a testament to Sheri's awesome piecing skills because this design worked out exactly right!


It's funny, but as I was quilting this I realized the straight lines flowing into curves were a good symbol for this quilt. In life we have moments of straight lines - easy, effortless days where everything seems to click and flow.

And sometimes life throws a curve in the mix and you've just got to keep driving and work through it.



Working through it is exactly what I did with this quilt. I had a lot of fears crop up with this quilt - fear of messing it up, fear of being judged for a simple quilting design, fear of letting myself and Sheri down.

Here's something interesting I heard on an HBR Ideacast recently: A whole person is not all good things. Creative people tend to have fear and anxiety about their work.

For years I figured with enough effort I could squash my fear and stop running through angsty periods where I judge everything I do as second class. Now I realize that one comes with the other. I cannot use the creative side of my brain without also experiencing the fearful side of my brain too.

It also helps to have a deadline. You can't run and hide forever! Deadlines work really well for me because I'm forced to pull on my big girl panties and get the work done.

I hope you've enjoyed hearing this story and understand you're not alone if you fear messing up your quilts. Just flow with it!

Don't forget to check out Sheri's website and her new Road Work pattern.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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
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