The Free Motion Quilting Project

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Bucket is Filled to the Brim!

This morning I rolled out of bed, walked into the kitchen and found my sweet sweet boy had made breakfast! James baked blueberry muffins all by himself and made me a cup of tea and wrote a sweet note. Aw! My bucket is so filled!

Have you read the book (Ad) How Full is Your Bucket? We learned about it in kindergarten I think and "bucket filling" and "bucket dipping" quickly became words we used a lot in our family. 

The basic premise is we all have an imaginary bucket of water over our heads and when nice things happen, it fills our bucket up. When bad things happen that make us feel bad, it dips the bucket. So the goal is to fill up your bucket by doing things that make you feel good, and also to fill up everyone else's bucket because that makes us all feel good.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and focusing on self care - filling my own bucket. I've been getting up early every morning to do yoga, something that really fills my bucket, but I sometimes make excuses not to get on the mat. I've also been taking more time to write for myself, journal, plan, and design which is all stuff I love.

I think when I'm doing all of those things, I'm a better person. More loving, more connected, and more receptive to my family and that circles back around with lovely breakfasts like James made me today. The more I take care of myself and fill my own bucket, the more I fill my family's bucket and the more they want to fill mine right back. Round and round it goes!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S Did you notice the quilt on my table??? Yep, I took a leaf out of Laura Coia's book and I'm using quilts as tablecloths now! 

This quilt is going to be a super fun project and mini quilt along next month. Hint - You might want to (Ad) subscribe to Quilty Box so you can join in the fun!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Curved Ruler Foot Quilting on My Hoop Quilt

This week has been all about Hoop Quilts as I shared the podcast with Anne Marie Chany on Wednesday and now today I'm quilting my Hoop Quilt using ruler foot quilting!

I decided to challenge myself and use the curved edges of Dresden Templates #2 and #4 to create this cool design in the center of the quilt:


I love love love this effect, but it was a bit challenging to create. Watch this quilting tutorial to see how I quilted it:


Do you want to make a Hoop Quilt? Find the quilt pattern from Anne Marie Chany!

Click Here to check out the quilt shop at LeahDay.com where you can find books, tools, workshops, and more to help you master machine quilting.

While no, my quilting wasn't perfect, I really enjoyed creating this hoop quilt. I've played around with using the curves on the Dresden Plate templates a bit on a practice sandwich, but you know there's nothing like trying a new technique on a real quilt. It really takes the challenge up another notch!


Something I was thinking about while making this project is my constant push / pull with perfection. For many years I nit picked my quilts to death and ripped out every single bad stitch. I didn't finish a lot of projects and the stuff I did finish, I usually didn't like very much.

Quilting this hoop quilt was the complete opposite - I quilted it from start to finish in 2 hours and it's peppered with mistakes. Sometimes the ruler wasn't in the right place and sometimes I got distracted and quilted something...creative...instead.

But now that it's finished secured in the hoop, I absolutely love it. Don't get me wrong, I still see the mistakes, but somehow leaving them in makes me happy. Is that weird or what?!

How are you feeling about perfection today? Are you striving for perfect stitches or accepting what is naturally coming from your hands and machine?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pickles the Quilt Cat

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this cat? We rescued her this past spring and it took her a few months to settle in and now her personality has come out - LOUDLY!

She is one whiny cat, especially when she's hungry. She's also manic about food to the point of digging through the cabinet, opening containers, and eating directly out of the bag.

The other day I left this stack of quilted squares in the office and guess who curled right up? Tee hee! It was really cute because the stack is about a foot off the ground (couldn't capture that exactly in this photo) so she's propped up like a princess on her cushion.

Anyway I thought that was cute and it made me smile! And this stack of squares? Be looking forward to learning how to quilt these beautiful designs next year! This is a stack quilted for my new book on walking foot quilting and I can't wait to start putting the quilt together. The blocks have black and red minky on the back so it's going to look great and feel super soft too.

What are you working on today? Got a furry friend keeping you company? Now I'm thinking Pickles needs a special spot all her own. What about a tuffet? Hmm...

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Make Hoop Quilts with Anne Marie Chany, Episode #29

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have a terrific interview with Anne Marie Chany from Gen X Quilters. Anne Marie hosts a yearly sampler quilt along, is the author of several quilt books, and has recently created Hoop Quilts - a new way to create and display mini quilts!


Here's the video with live intro so you can see what I'm working on!



Let's learn more about Hoop Quilts! I fell in love with this over the summer as Anne Marie began posting pictures to Instagram. I LOVE this idea because it takes care of a big issue I have with mini quilts - what do you do with them after they're done!?

Seriously, I've made a lot of mini quilts in sizes from 12 to 30 inches and there's only so many table surfaces in my house that need a quilt on top. And hanging them on the wall is such a pain to hand stitch the hanging sleeve in place, then you have to install the stuff to hang it. Can you tell I'm whining? I've seriously blown this out of proportion, but it's a serious quilting problem here people!

By putting the quilt in a hoop, Anne Marie has fixed all the issues of displaying and hanging mini quilts. No more hanging sleeve, no more side tables covered with dusty quilts. Pop that beauty into a quilt frame and stick it on the wall. Ta Da!


Anne Marie has created a beautiful quilt pattern for you to make your own mini hoop quilt with sixteen half square triangles you can mix and match. She also has templates you can cut out and piece the curved seam to create this pretty circle too. Click Here to find the quilt pattern.

Hoop Quilts are also a great way to use up small scraps of fabric and play with embellishment. I love the idea of gluing on buttons and stitching decorative threads on the surface. Anne Marie was originally inspired to create Hoop Quilts after spending a lot of time hand embroidering while recovering from surgery so this seems a terrific way to try new techniques on a small, manageable project.


I've had my own Hoop Quilting adventure which I'm planning to share this Friday so be looking forward to learning how I machine quilted my mini quilt.

We also discussed Anne Marie's Block of the Month programs which she's run for five years now. This year she's sharing the Chocolatier Block of the Month which is not only gorgeous, it's also scrumptious!




Show Sponsor

The sponsor for the show this week is my website and the new Happy Fish Quilt Pattern we just released today! This cute quilt will show off your pretty fabrics and create a bright, cheerful addition to any kid's room.

Just like all of my quilt patterns, I go beyond just teaching you how to piece a pretty quilt top. I also include ideas for machine quilting so you're not stuck with an unfinished quilt top. For Happy Fish, I added extra texture to the quilt with air bubbles and embellished each puffy circle with hand embroidery. Learn how to do this and make this cute quilt with me!


Now for a few updates from around the house...

I'm officially working on a new online workshop featuring the Love the Light Wholecloth quilt. I had the quilt half marked and decided it was time to mark the rest while talking through the intro. This is a walking foot wholecloth - two things you probably don't think of going together!


I love how this quilt turned out and I've learned so much every time I've created it. Now I'm going to make it one more time, this time filming each step of the process so you can see how it works too. And yes, this quilt is entirely created with walking foot style quilting. It's a bit slower, but creates such a beautiful finished effect!

Another thing we're working on is the new Rainbow Log Cabin quilt for our the Machine Quilting Block Party starting in January. We're going to piece this beautiful, bright quilt together, AND machine quilt it too!


Dad has been working on the new version of this quilt that we're piecing with beautiful Island Batik fabrics. I can't wait to get started making the videos next week!

I hope you didn't mind my tale of spider slaughter in the podcast. That little bugger had it coming! If you make me scream in terror you're not long for this world (or at least you owe me a very big cookie). Oh and here's the Bug-A-Salt gun on Amazon (yep, that's an affiliate link). Josh LOVES blasting flies with it!


Just in case you missed Friday's post, here's the Itsy Bitsy Spider design post. Yes, I like spiders stitched in thread. Not a fan when they're real and huge and wiggling right in front of my face.

And last but not least, the design video Cotton Candy that YouTube decided was Inappropriate Content. Can you give it a watch so they will review it and hopefully remove this incorrect flag?


Thank you for watching and super thank you for listening! If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes as that also helps increase the podcast reach so more people can find it. We had eleven wonderful reviews left so far and I was so touched to read everyone's kind words about the podcast.

I really love creating this show and am seriously thinking about increasing to every week. That's a lot of work, but honestly this is turning into my favorite video of the week so why not?! Let me know what you think of that idea and please continue to watch, listen, and share the podcast with your friends.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

New Double Basket Weave Quilt Pattern

I have a new quilt pattern for you today! This week I received a box of fabric provided by JOANN fabrics and challenged myself to create a new quilt top in just a few days. Click Here to find this new quilting tutorial and learn how to make this quilt!



Does this quilt look familiar? It should because this is a doubled version of the Basket Weave Quilt I shared last year:


This doubled version is actually a bit easier because it uses only two print fabrics. The Basket Weave Quilt has been confusing to some beginning quilters when it comes time to arrange the blocks to create the woven effect.

I also like that the Double Basket Weave has nice wide vertical lines so you can show off your favorite fabrics in a big space. This is the perfect place to finally use the fabrics that have been too pretty to cut!

Enjoy this new free quilt pattern and please share it with your friends!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Three Easy Longarm Quilting Designs

What are the three easiest designs to learn how to free motion quilt? I'm sure if you asked three different quilting teachers you'll get three different answers! Here's my take on the easiest machine quilting designs to start with:


Click here to find my review of the Grace Qnique 14+. Remember if you're interested in this machine to call the company and mention Leah Day said Hello my quilting friends to get a discount on your order.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Last week I started quilting on this Building Blocks cheater cloth quilt. It includes all the skill-building quilt blocks we quilted together in 2014 printed with the quilting designs included! Click here to find this cheater cloth fabric.

For best results, pick the Kona Cotton Ultra Fabric. If you want all 42 blocks for the Building Blocks Quilt, you'll need to purchase 3 yards. If you only want to make a baby quilt 1 yard should be plenty.

Now let's learn more about these three easy quilting designs: The design I always teach first in any quilting class is Wiggly U Shapes. It's a super simple design that most people naturally draw and doodle without even thinking about it. Even if you don't draw or doodle, you'll probably still find this an easy shape to create because the movement is so similar to writing the letter U or N in cursive.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Quilting this design is a good first step and usually the first thing I stitch when testing out a new machine or a new table setup. It'll get you started moving the quilt under your needle and quilting curves. Come to think of it, I'm tired of calling this essential quilting design such a clunky name. Hence forth, Wiggly U's will now be Noodles!

Noodles is more than just a simple line of curves, it's a terrific first step to quilting Stippling. When I was first starting to free motion quilt, I quilted rows and rows of Noodles until I was bored to tears.

Then one day I was quilting in a particularly tricky space and finally realized I could branch out and make the design more interesting by adding bends and deeper curves. Sometimes it takes that level of repetition, to the point that you're beating your head against the wall, to see and understand how design works and how you can manipulate it to achieve the look you're after.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Stippling itself can be a bit challenging because the rule for this design is a bit tricky. Stitch a curving line without crossing over it. But if you think in terms of Noodles and learn how to quilt the design in rows, it's much easier to master.

The last easy design to try is really two designs in one. Cursive letters are extremely easy to machine quilt because the shapes are formed in one continuous line. Rows of cursive letters like the E and L are the easiest because it's a continuous line and repetitive movement. Plus, rows of cursive L shapes are pretty and quickly add a lacy effect in quilt sashing or borders.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Even better, quilting cursive words directly on your quilt is a wonderful way to give it personality and a special message to future generations. I created this mini quilt as a fun experiment with a new quilting ruler and these three designs.

I marked the cursive words on the quilt so they would be evenly spaced and so I wouldn't forget essential words or letters. Yes, I could easily forget or space the words badly so marking the designs is the best way to go about it!

I mark fabrics like this with the Ceramic Marking Pencil which I've used for years because it shows up bright with a thin line that's easy to follow, but erases completely after I've quilted over the marks.

three easy longarm quilting designs

We all have to get started machine quilting somewhere, and I think these three designs are a great place to start. However, they're not the ONLY place to start so please don't get frustrated if you hate quilting Noodles, Stippling, or Cursive Letters.

three easy longarm quilting designs
Machine quilting is a skill building process and I believe the most important aspect is your enthusiasm to master a design. If these three seem too basic to you, check out our Quilting Design Gallery and pick a design that looks fun to you.

It doesn't matter where you begin with quilting. It just matters that you quilt daily and never give up!

What do you think of these three skill building designs? Remember, these are not just for longarm quilting, but can also be quilted on a home sewing machine too. Here are some older tutorials featuring each of these blocks and Josh, my wonderful husband giving them a try:

Josh Quilting Noodles in a Pinwheel Block

How to Quilt Stippling in a Spinning Square Block.

Josh's cursive words in a Rail Fence Block.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, September 15, 2017

Machine Quilting Itsy Bitsy Spider, Design #486

Have you been searching for the perfect design for a spooky quilt? I have a great Halloween themed free motion quilting design for you today called Itsy Bitsy Spider!

machine quilting spiders | free motion quilting

Looking back through the quilting design gallery we have a few spider themed designs to check out. You could quilt a Spiderweb or Cobwebs in the Corners and use Itsy Bitsy Spider to fill around these bigger designs.

Do spiders creep you out too much to machine quilt? I realized you could also think of these as little sunshines instead while I was quilting this design for the video. Watch the tutorial to see how this design is free motion quilted:


Would you like to celebrate the coming autumn season and spice up your free motion quilting?
magical punpkin mug rug

Check out my tutorial on quilting this magical pumpkin mug rug! I think I need to make another version of this super sized coaster but with spider themed designs instead. Click Here to find the tutorial.

machine quilting spiders | free motion quilting
Now let's learn more about Itsy Bitsy Spider:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This machine quilting design will be easy to quilt because it's based on Stippling. So long as you've mastered this wiggly design, adding the little spider bodies and wiggly legs will be simple and fun.

As you will see in the quilting tutorial you can use Stippling to quilt around each spider shape and fill your quilting space consistently.

Design Family - Independent. This family of designs are quilted independently of everything around them. So long as you can wiggle into the area, you can stitch this design on your quilts. You may want to change how densely you fill the spider bodies when you quilt Itsy Bitsy Spider on a bigger scale. Instead of thread painting, just fill that center circle with a spiral instead.

Some similar designs include Wandering Clover, Frog Eggs, and Heart Scramble. The cool thing is you can use this design to add the extra spider elements to your quilts.

So where do we quilt it? You can machine quilt Itsy Bitsy Spider in just about any area of your quilt. You can quilt this design into blocks and add wiggly spiders over your pretty patchwork, you can also machine quilt the spiders easily into the sashing or borders of your quilts as well.

machine quilting spiders | free motion quilting

I love the idea of mixing spiders and spiderwebs in a spooky Halloween-themed quilt. I'm going to play with this more and make a new mug rug, but this time with a creepy twist!

So what do you think of this design? Do you like the ideas of spiders on your quilt orders that creep you out? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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