Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 152 - Trailing Spirals


This design is also featured in the DVD Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers, as well as the ebook From Daisy to Paisley.

Way back on day and day I ran designs named Flowing Glass and Trailing Tears. I really loved both designs a lot, so much so that I ended up making stencils out of both of them.

But I always felt that these designs could use another variation, and today I've finally created a new version with spirals!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
It's been a long time coming and I've put it off as long as I possibly can. Today I will do my taxes...dum....dum....DUMMMMM!

But I'm really trying to have a good outlook about this. Just like with enjoying quilting for the process of quilting, I'm going to try to enjoy doing my taxes because it's will make the job so much easier than hating it.

And further proof that my new ideology is working: I finished the gift baby quilt last night after my lecture and I wasn't even TRYING to finish it!

I was just quilting, listening to some great music, and having a nice time and then WHOOPS! the quilt was done.

So cross your fingers that my cheerful attitude works for taxes as well!


Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is a really easy design, especially if you're just wanting to try out spiral shapes for the first time. The spirals stay fairly far apart so it's a great learning design without a lot of stress about making everything fit together perfectly. 

Design Family - Edge to Center. This design is stitched first into the center of your quilting space, then once you fill one whole side, you'll go back and fill the second half.

Because of the way it is stitched, this design will work really well in open areas, like your sashing. I'm really trying to convince quilters to use bigger sashing, like 4" or even 6" because it's such a fun place to show off with free motion quilting.

The plus side is you'll also finish your quilt faster and with fewer blocks if you use wider sashing.

Directional Texture - 2 directions. This fill flows from one side of your quilting space to another so it works great as a horizontal or vertical filler.

Suggestions for Use - I think I'm finally going to get all 15 of the Basic Blue quilts I pieced for How to Piece Perfect Quilts basted and ready to quilt.

These quilts are all very simple blue and white quilts perfect for showcasing free motion quilting designs. Best of all, these blue quilts all have 3" sashing or wider so I'll have more than enough room to play with Trailing Spirals in these nice open areas!

Back of Trailing Spirals
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 151 - Hair Filler

I mentioned this design several times while working on the quilt My Cup Runneth Over. This was the final design that resulted from playing with several different variations:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've finally decided to take another look at My Cup Runneth Over. I think I'm going to end up quilting the top completely, then painting the surface to achieve the look I want.

More than anything else, I realized that my biggest mistake in this quilt was not the fused water area, but the background.

A combination of a bad choice of background fabric and a bad choice of filler design combined to make this area very bland.

I also think that if I get to the hair section of this quilt, I may actually start to like it! I did lines of trapunto throughout the hair to give the effect of puffy locks and plan to stitch Hair Filler in between the lines.

With my new resolution to slow down and enjoy the process of quilting, I have a feeling I'll appreciate working on this quilt more now than I did before.

So before I run off to start quilting, let's learn how to stitch Hair Filler together:


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This isn't a difficult design, but it does require a lot of traveling and thread buildup.

One of the great things about this design is it's meant to go in tiny, complicated areas, so even if it's a challenge, there won't be that much of it on your quilt to worry about! 

Design Family - Foundational. I realized that I'd stumbled across a new design type with Spiral of Spirals and didn't realize it until today.

Designs like these are stitched by first creating a foundation, in this case the channels for your hair filler to go into.

Second the filler itself is stitched according to the size and shape of the foundation. It's a really interesting design type because there's a limitless number of foundations you could use: spirals, squares, circles, you name it, it will work!

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This particular design is worked from one edge of your quilting space to another so it's going to have a pretty clear horizontal or vertical texture.

Suggestions for Use - Anybody else stitching hair? No?

Maybe stitch a channel of this design in your sashing or as a mini border around an applique design. The dense stitching will recede and work as a nice border wherever you put it!

Back of Hair Filler
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and send in a picture to show it off.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Enjoying the Process

On Friday in the Strange Leaf design I mentioned coming to a new realization with my quilts that I enjoy the process more than the actual finished result.

I really wanted to talk about this more and the realizations that have come about in the last two days.

See, typically when I get started on a new quilt I rush, rush, rush with each step. It doesn't matter whether it's for show or just a bed quilt. I'm always rushing through each step.

Take for example The Duchess. This quilt is a wonderful example because I rushed through the design, rushed through the marking, rushed through the quilting and of course, made a million mistakes along the way.

And the thing I failed to realize at the time is that the fun part, the part I could focus on and really get into was the process of MAKING the quilt!

So for the last 2 days when I've walked into my sewing room, I've walked in with a focus not to finish, finish, finish something, but to simply enjoy the process.

Amazingly enough, when I've stopped my relentless obsession with finishing, I've actually managed to finish quite a lot!

The difference is that this time I was stitching on these projects because I felt like piecing, binding, or basting, and not because I HAD to.

Yesterday I sat down and finally put the binding on this Christmas quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah DayPieced up this quilt for James and got it basted this morning with his help:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I used the scraps of his quilt to piece this baby quilt for a friend:

free motion quilting | Leah DayAnd finally finished the last stitches of hand binding on this printed wholecloth while watching a movie:

free motion quilting | Leah DayEven as I was clipping the last threads from these projects, I realized that in 2 days I've accomplished more in my sewing room than I have in a month.

And best of all - I enjoyed and appreciated every single minute of it!

The more I read about happiness and contentment, the more I've come to realize that it's truly a state of mind. I am happy when I choose to be, especially when I don't allow all the stress of life to weigh me down.

I've also realized my happiness is also extremely tied to my productivity level. I love to create, whether it's a new design, a new quilt, or a new pattern.

But it's not the end result I'm really after, but simply the process of applying stitches to fabric.

So I'm off to quilt these two kid quilts and a few new designs. It's a wet, rainy day here in NC and it's just the perfect kind of day to spend behind my sewing machine free motion quilting!

Let's Go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 150 - Strange Leaf

Wow! 150 designs! I about can't believe it myself, but we're still not quite halfway through this project.

Let's enjoy this beautiful with a weird combo design. This is a combo of Trailing Leaves and Lollipop Chain that goes together to form Strange Leaf.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Lately I've been reading (actually listening - it's an audiobook) to a great book called The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.

I've been listening to this book as I've cleaned my studio and pieced a simple strip quilt for James. It's a very interesting read, even if the narrator's voice sounds a bit like Ben Stein.

What I'm finding interesting about this book is the idea that pleasure and happiness are not tied to the end result of a project, but during the creation of the project itself.

I find this to be so true with my quilting. By the time I finish a huge quilt, I hang it on the wall and feel really good about it for maybe an hour, but then the question always emerges "What next?"

I expect to feel elated, euphoric, and exceptionally happy for days, but instead I feel disappointed because the journey is over.

So from now on I'm making a conscious effort not to grind through projects just to get it done, but to instead take my time with each step of the process because chances are I'll get more happiness from the daily work piecing or quilting it than I will from the end result.

Here's to kicking back and enjoying the process more than the end result!

Now let's learn how to stitch Strange Leaf:


Inspiration - I thought of this design while flipping through my book of designs. Trailing Leaves and Lollipop chain were right next to one another and it seemed a cool mix of two interesting designs!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is really a very simple design, but it can be tricky to stack the rows of leaf shapes on top of one another. Just take your time lining everything up and it will all go together perfectly.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is worked from one edge of your quilting space to the other so it will work great in areas like your sashing or used as a big all-over design over your whole quilt.

Directional Texture - 2 directions. Really cool things start to happen when you stack this design in rows. It starts looking less like leaves and more like a cluster of plant cells under a microscope.

Suggestions for Use - This design reminds me a lot of the shapes Cathy Miller used in her quilt Through a Lens.

Maybe try using this design as a background filler for a very different, unique texture in a place you may not typically expect it!

Back of Strange Leaf
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.
Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 149 - Easter Eggs!

Easter is just around the corner so I decided we needed a festive, fun free motion design to go along with it.

So here is Easter Eggs!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I've done a bit of everything: packed orders, filled out quilt show forms, gardening, and more cleaning and organizing in the studio. As soon as I can break away from the computer I'll be off to piece two super simple blue and green kid quilts.

I'm planning to quilt these with either Trailing Tears or Flowing Glass stencils for a quick finish with loads of fun texture.

And speaking of fun texture, check out how to quilt Easter Eggs:


Inspiration - Pebbling and other circular designs really are my favorite. They're easy to stitch and there's more variation possibilities than there are different Beatles albums.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a very simple design, but the one challenge most beginners do have is thread build up as you stitch more circles so close to one another.

Definitely try using a thinner, stronger polyester thread so you can travel over your stitching lines multiple times without thread breaks.

Design Family - Stacking. This design is created by stacking circular shapes on top of one another. This means this design should work around most quilting motifs and complicated areas with no problem at all.

free motion quilting | Leah DayDirectional Texture - No Direction. This design has a very flat, directionless texture, much like stippling. It's still very attention getting though, so try using it instead of pebbling on your next quilt!

Suggestions for Use - Pebbling designs can be fairly time consuming, so you might want to limit this design to small areas of your quilt unless you plan to upscale it to a bigger scale.

I'd try using this with your favorite quilt stencil motif. Imagine this set of stars surrounded with Easter Egg circles:

The circles will make the stars stand out and contrast nicely with all the sharp angles and straight lines of the star motifs.

Back of Easter Eggs
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and send in a picture to show it off.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop. 

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 148 - Paisley Division

This may sound weird, but in order to think of new designs I'm constantly asking myself questions that usually start with "What would paisley do if..."

Here's a design that answers the question "How does paisley expand in the wild?" The answer? Paisley Division!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm busy cleaning and organizing my downstairs quilting studio.

For several different reasons these 2 rooms have been horribly neglected for the past 6 months and every surface is literally covered with quilting junk, fabric, tools, notions, books, and other miscellaneous stuff (hey! I just found another sock!)

Once I get these rooms clean and with everything back in the correct place I'm going to piece up a super quick baby quilt for a friend.

We're having a shower for her next month and I was already planning on piecing a quick quilt for James, so I might as well use the left over scraps for her new baby boy!


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Paisley designs are not hard, but this one can be a bit tricky to wiggle into the center so that all the paisley shapes are dividing from the center area.

If you notice, I tried this first with a tiny little circle in the center, but didn't like the look of that. It was too much like Paisley Flower.

I really like it when all the lines meet in the center of 4 paisley shapes like they're ripping themselves apart.

Design Family - Center Fill. This design is of course created just like paisley, but because you stitch each motif in a cluster it's a little trickier to squish into complicated areas.

You might even want to stitch this as a center fill design from the center of your quilting space to the outside.

Directional Texture - All directions. This is a really nice, all over design that will add a really cheerful, springtime texture to your quilts!

Suggestions for Use - I think I might use this design in the background of a quilt to fill in the whole area just with the dividing paisleys.

As the petals get bigger and bigger, you could even fill them up with circles or cursive "f" shapes for a totally different design!

Back of Paisley Division
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Singing Quilter

Have I mentioned before that I'm the program chairwoman for my local quilt guild?

Really this is one of the most awesome positions to have in a guild because every month you get to meet and hang out with an awesome professional quilter!

Last month, if you don't mind a little recap, I hung out with Pepper Cory. I'm still planning on trying hand quilting with her mini wholecloth stencil. I just need to find the right fabric first...

This month The Singing Quilter, Cathy Miller came to Shelby and presented us with a wonderful concert of songs and quilts.

Not only is Cathy an extremely talented quilter, she's also got a hilarious sense of humor and a real down-to-earth personality.

She uses that sense of humor to create really terrific songs like "12 Step Plan for Quilters" "100 Ways to Hide Your Stash" and "You Can Quilt That Out".

Check out all of Cathy's CDs and get a 20 second preview right here.

Cathy's currently on tour from British Columbia, Canada through most of the US and is documenting her travels on her blog right here.

Ahem! Sorry, I'm incorrect! Kassius, her kangaroo commissioned quilt is actually documenting the trip on the blog. I met Kass and he's a really cool guy done in a very neat reverse machine applique technique that I simply MUST try.

So why did I originally ask Cathy to come to Shelby?

Well, I'll admit that I had a really lucky break. John, her husband, emailed me in 2009 when I was putting the programs together for this year. We just happened to have the month free and it was an easy fit!

But I knew it was going to be an awesome program when I got on her website and saw this quilt:


I've published this here with Cathy's permission because I just really wanted to share it with all of you. Isn't it awesome???

This is called "Through a Lens" and the center circle is a depiction of what the background, swirling texture would look like through a microscope. Definitely check out more of Cathy's quilts right here (click on "Quilting").

I asked Cathy and got to see this quilt at the very end of the program and it's even more beautiful in person.

Overwhelmingly tonight was a great program, everyone had a terrific time, and I think we all left feeling very inspired to go home and get to quilting.

Definitely check with the quilt guilds in your state and see if The Singing Quilter, Cathy Miller, is coming to your town anytime soon. It's definitely a program worth driving a ways to see!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Day 147 - Overlapping Petals

I hope ya'll aren't tired of all the variation designs I've been working through lately!

Here's an easy variation of Diane Gaudynski's Bananas design featured in her book: Quilt Savvy: Gaudynski's Machine Quilting Guidebook.

This variation uses a wobbly wiggly shape that reminds me of flower petals, hence the name: Overlapping Petals.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today Josh and I had a wonderful date while James was in preschool. We drove to Gastonia, NC and went to one of the best places in the whole world: Mary Jo's Cloth Store.

This is not just any fabric store. Seriously, the 100% cotton quilting section takes up almost half the store and they carry more batiks than any other store I've ever seen.

The problem with Mary Jo's is not NOT finding the fabric you're looking for, it's finding 15 different possibilities and trying to choose just one!

When quilt friends come to visit I warn them to bring multiple fabric swatches and a very clear idea of what they're looking for. It's VERY easy to get overwhelmed with so much choice and selection.

But I'm not complaining! I picked up a nice variety of batiks in colors I've rarely used: light greens and pastel blues for my next quilt Shadow Self.

I've decided that I need to make this quilt first, then I will go back and restart My Cup Runneth Over. Or maybe I'll work on both of them at the same time! There's no rule that says I can't.

So while I head off to start the prewashing process for all this new fabric, check out how to quilt Overlapping petals:


Inspiration - I really like playing with the wiggly "m" shape that I first used in Butterfly Wings and I find myself making any excuse to invent new designs that use it.

While I really like Boomerang, I think I like this variation the best so far.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design can be a bit challenging to keep the shapes pivoting and moving consistently around without getting big and unwieldy.

Design Family - Stacking. This design is created by stacking the "m" shapes on top of one another and pivoting around in a swirling, inconsistent manner.

Because it's so free form, you can really fit this right up against complicated quilting motifs with no problem at all.

Directional Texture - All Directions. This is a perfect design for creating loads of beautiful texture and movement to your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have a flowery applique quilt to work on? Try using Overlapping Petals to fill in the background areas around your applique shapes. It will fit in the areas beautifully and really make your flowers POP!

Back of Overlapping Petals
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and send in a picture to show it off.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, March 22, 2010

Light Up Your Sewing Space

Josh and I have finally fully finished the move downstairs and now that everything is in place things are running much more smoothly and quickly.

I shot this video in the middle of the moving process, so don't hold it against me for looking tired and rather beaten up!


Just in case you're on dial up and can't view the video, here's some basic tips on improving the lighting in your sewing or quilting area:

Go to your hardware store and look for plug in florescent lights. You'll want to look in the under cabinet lighting section as this is where they're usually located.

You want to look specifically for "plug-in" lights, not direct wire. Direct wire is actual real wiring with wire nuts which can be intimidating, not to mention dangerous unless you know what you're doing.

You also want to look on the box and make sure the lights are "full spectrum" or "daylight" bulbs. These bulbs will not have the typical greenish glow of regular florescent bulbs, give you headaches, or make your fabric turn weird colors.

Plug in lights are very easy to install, but just in case the one you get is significantly different from mine, make sure you check the actual instructions in your box before installing it.

Usually all you have to do is take out the bulb and screw in 2 screws to secure the light to the wall or ceiling. You can then plug it in using extension cords to your nearest socket.

In my sewing/piecing room my plug in lights are very convenient because one of the sockets is controlled by the switch. So really it works just like walking into a regular room: flip a switch and the light comes on.

I really, REALLY recommend trying out these fluorescent plug in lights in your sewing or quilting space because it not only helps to see, it can also be much more inspiring.

There's something about walking into a well lit room that just gets those creative juices flowing!

I'm off to start reorganizing my downstairs kitchen studio. It's been a couple weeks since I've been in there and it's starting to look scary it's so horribly disorganized!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 146 - Slanted Paisley

Today I looked back at Ying Yang and really felt this design needed a slight variation. I played around with curving the design up and thought it looked like a Slanted Paisley:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've been playing hooky! Saturday I was off to South Carolina to teach my very first workshop to Nimble Thimbles. They're such an awesome guild, I really wish I lived closer so I could join!

Today I've been busy creating new free motion designs, shooting some videos, and trying to put everything back in order. I've also started a new quilt design for a quilt I'm calling Shadow Self which I share a bit later when it's further along.

So before I run off to start another new project, let's learn how to quilt Slanted Paisley:


Inspiration - I've been looking at several sign and symbol books and both Ying Yangs and the 69 symbol have always popped out at me begging for more attention.

I really think this worked pretty well in free motion and plan to try using it as a stencil design in the future.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. I found this design pretty easy, but it's important to keep the shape in your head that you're stitching. It was easy to form really lopsided shapes if I wasn't thinking about the Ying Yang while I quilted it.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is quilted from one edge to another which makes it a great design for the open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All directions. Typically edge to edge designs will have a horizontal or vertical texture, but this design is so slanted and wiggly, I really feel like it has more of an all-over texture instead.

Suggestions for Use - I think this would make for a terrific sashing design! Expand it to fill your sashing area for a really interesting, easy to stitch design.

Back of Slanted Paisley
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, March 19, 2010

On the Road...

I realized the other day that I really haven't posted much on all the new places I'll be visiting in the coming months.

I'm going to start updating ya'll with my upcoming lectures and workshops, quilt shows, and vending spots so just in case you're around NC or SC, you can stop in and say "hello!"

Here's the latest list of upcoming events:

March 29th - Picturing America: Quilting with Leah Day - Cleveland County Memorial Library, Shelby NC at 6:30 pm. In this 1 hour lecture I'll show a variety of quilts and discuss the history of quilt-making.

April 8th - Lecture and Workshop with the Piedmont Quilter's Guild - Greensboro, NC. The workshop is in the afternoon from 1-4 on Fantastic Filler Stitches and the lecture starts at 7 pm and will be on the 3rd Dimension of Design (Quilting!)

May 1st - 2010 Quilting and Needlecraft Expo - Albemarle, NC - One stop shopping at the Stanley County Fair Grounds from 9 am to 6 pm. I'll be doing free motion quilting demonstrations and have the whole shop of stencils, dvds, ebooks, tools, and notions as well!
June 2nd - Lecture with the Piecemakers Quilt Guild - Lincolnton, NC - 11 am - This will be a trunk show featuring many quilts evolving from when I started quilting in 2005 to the present.

June 3rd - 6th - North Carolina Quilt Symposium! - I'm attending as a student this year and am planning to enter 2 quilts in the show. Guess which ones?!

July 19th - Lecture with the York County Quilter's Guild - York, SC - 7 pm - This is a lecture about the 3rd Dimension of Design - Quilting and the role it has played in many of my quilts.

I think that's enough for now! Right now I'm only traveling within NC and SC, and limiting myself to 1 engagement per month. I don't want to get too busy I don't have time to quilt!

Of course, if you're interested in having me come to your guild for a lecture and workshop, please just contact me and we can set it up.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 145 - Knit Stitch

Once upon a time I used to knit constantly. I hardly ever actually finished any of my knitted projects, but I certainly did love to click needles in class and occasionally create a pair of socks or hat for friends and family.

For a long time I've tried to figure out a way to capture the look of knitting in a free motion quilting design. Here's my first try which I'm calling Knit Stitch:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I just finished a new update to my Quilt Shop, so if you haven't been there in a while, I hope you'll take a few moments and check out some of the useful quilting tools and resources I have for sale.


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a fairly easy design, but I found that it looks a lot better if you keep the rows of "v" shapes close together.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This is a design that works from one edge of your quilting space to the other, so this is a design that will work really well in open areas, like your sashing.

Directional texture - 2 directions. If you space the rows out, you can definitely see a noticeable horizontal or vertical texture.

Suggestions for Use - You know what would be a cool project to make with this design? A small lap quilt, about the size of an alfgan. Stitch it with Knit Stitch and it will be like a knitted, quilted blanket all rolled into one!

Back of Knit Stitch

Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.
Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 144 - Spiral of Spirals

Going through all the designs the last couple of days, I realized how many spiral designs I've done so far. There's been quite a lot!

But here's one I know I haven't done yet that is really the mother of all spiral designs. I'm calling it Spiral of Spirals!

free motion quilting | Leah DayAh! I'm finally sitting downstairs in the bigger office with fresh lighting (yes, they're full spectrum florescent lights for everyone that was worrying!)

It feels great to have everything (mostly) in place and to now have Josh start getting more on board with my business. It's been a hectic week, but now I feel like I have some time to chill and prepare for my workshop in South Carolina.

When I get back I think I'm going to start working on a pattern for Winter Wonderland. I really want to start teaching my reverse shadow trapunto technique and creating this pattern sounds like something fun to work on this spring. (Update: Click here for the Winter Wonderland pattern, which is now available!)

Speaking of something fun, let's learn Spiral of Spirals!


Inspiration - Starting on Day 5 of this project with Basic Spiral, I've been fascinated with spiral designs. I'm always trying to capture a really complex spiral that's created in a very simple way.

Sounds like a contradiction, right? Well, I think this is a pretty good start with this spiraling spiral design!

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This is a pretty complex design, but as long as you keep the shapes in your head, it shouldn't be too difficult.

The best way to get a handle on a design like this is lay a really solid foundation with your intial giant spiral. Once you get the foundation laid, all you have to do is fill it up with spirals.

Design Family - Foundational. This is a pretty weird design because it starts on the edge, works into the center and then back out again.

I would say this is a design that should definitely be placed on it's own in an open block. I can't imagine trying to squish this design into a tight or complicated space.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. The mother of all spirals certainly is an attention getter! Place it somewhere you want to add a lot of attention and drama to your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - I really think this would make a great addition to an applique quilt. Just think how much your flowers would pop with Spiral of Spirals stitched in the centers!

Back of Spiral of Spirals
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 143 - Square Shell

If you will remember way, WAY back in August, I shared Echo Shell on Day 6 of this project.

Many of you weren't around that early on, and if you're just joining me, hooray! I'm so glad you're here!

So in honor of it being officially 7 months since the start of this project, let's make a variation of Echo Shell with squares instead of circles:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today has been another super cleaning and building day! I built 4 bookcases yesterday and put my desk together today.

After all this is done, I'm installing new lighting in the office and one of my sewing rooms. I really think this is such an important thing that I'm planning on recording a short video on it and will share it later this week.

I have always thought better lighting = more creativity.

Something about clear sunshine streaming in the windows really gets me excited, but the basement doesn't have a lot of natural light so I make up for it with florescent lights.

Before I run off to drill, hammer, or glue something in place, let's learn how to quilt Square Shell:


Inspiration - I've been thinking a lot lately about the designs I created when I first got started on this project. Looking back at Echo Shell, I realized this would be a really easy design to create multiple variations from.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This design isn't super difficult, but you do want to watch your travel stitching and make sure you stay right on the line.

If you have trouble keeping your squares looking like squares, mark them! There's no rule in the book that says you can't.

Design Family - Echoing. This design is formed by starting with an initial shape and then echoing that shape repeatedly. Other similar designs include Brain Coral and Pug Eyes.

Directional Texture - All Directions. This design does have a very horizontal and vertical texture (it IS square!), but it's such an attention getting design, I really feel like it has more of an all over texture.

Suggestions for Use - Definitely show off with a row of Square Shell along the border or in the sashing of your quilt. I really think this is a very sophisticated design that looks a lot more complicated than it is, so play it up and show off your stitching!

Back of Square Shell
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 142 - Complex Path

What do you get when you combine Henna Foofy and Bubble Wand into one design?

You get a really Complex Path!

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt's official! I'm moving my office back downstairs to take over our larger office. Even though I just rearranged my upstairs office, I just feel the need to be downstairs with Josh and James from now on.

It's been a day of building shelves, moving, reorganizing, and purging loads of useless stuff. I really love to move things around. There's something so satisfying from cleaning and organizing and finding that perfect place for everything!

So while I run off to put my desk together, you hang out and learn how to quilt Complex Path:


Inspiration - Thinking back to watching Avatar, I really loved those swinging tentacle trees that were all over the place in that movie.

I decided to try my own version using a combination of 2 designs we've already learned: Henna Foofy and Bubble Wand.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This really isn't that hard, but it's a building design, and each section will build layers of thread and require a lot of traveling.

Wait! Before you shut your brain down, hear me out! As long as you're using a thin, strong thread, like Isacord, and good tension on your machine, any skill level could stitch this.

Just be patient and take your time and you'll do just fine!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. Overall this design is stitched first from edge to edge, then filled again. You could easily use this design in an open, uncomplicated area of your quilt that needed a little complexity.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This is a good design to create either horizontal or vertical texture with. Imagine the swinging tentacle trees of Avatar. Wouldn't that look cool in a quilt?

Suggestions for Use - I regret not using this design as the background of My Cup Runneth Over, but may still decide to take a seam ripper to the background section and fix that problem.

I think this would make for a really cool background design. You could mark the paths or make them up as you go and use this texture to fill anything from a kid's quilt to an art quilt.

Back of Complex Path
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 141 - Swirling Water

Well, I haven't yet destroyed the original My Cup Runneth Over, but I am thinking hard about the next version.

One thing I do know that I will do the same is the filler I used over the water section called Swirling Water:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis was a particularly tricky design to come up with as I wanted something very swirly, but no gaps or open spaces like Basic Spiral.

It's a little bit more advanced, but not terribly so. The biggest trouble I have is thinking ahead and knowing where to go in advance. It's almost like playing chess in a way - you always want to be 2-3 moves ahead.


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design is complex, but it flows very nicely. I got into a great rhythm with this design very quickly.

It's just a shame that dense stitching doesn't look as good (in my opinion) on fused fabric. Maybe it will look better when I get it wet and block it?

Design Family - Branching.

Filler Design Type - Branching. This design is formed by first forming a swirl motif, then branching off to create the next swirl. I found that this makes the design very versatile and able to fit into just about any area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All Directions. I really want to play with this design a lot and see what will happen if I extend the wiggly line areas before the swirl. I think this design could have easy variations to look like a swirling snowstorm or a windy background.

Suggestions for Use - Honestly, I'm planning to use this design anywhere and everywhere I can! I think it will look great stitched big on bed quilts and stitched densely on wall quilts. The sky is the limit!

Back of Swirling Water
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and send in a picture to show it off.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quilt Doom

The sounds of Quilt Doom are playing through my house.

It is the sound of a large fire being stoked high in my fireplace so I can burn My Cup Runneth Over into a smoldering pile of ash and never see this wretched quilt again.

Maybe I should just cut the whole quilt up in pieces and rescue the fabric for another more fortunate project.

Or maybe she's just going to get thrown out in the garbage.

I'm sure you're wondering WHY oh WHY do I want to destroy this quilt?

free motion quilting | Leah DayWell, here's the story:

When I sat down to design this quilt, I started working the way I typically work, designing the goddess's shape, her hair, and of course the water.

I got the outlines of everything in place, but then I stopped, as I have always stopped at this point, got super excited about fabric and creating and didn't finish the quilting design.

Dum....dumm....DUMMMMM.......

I've done this 3 times now with Balance, Life and Fire, and Release Your Light. You might assume I would have learned my lesson by now.

So what did I leave out that was so important???

I left out the quilting design, or more specifically, skipped the process where I look at the different areas of the quilt and create original motifs to fill the area and add dimension to the quilt.

So instead of looking at the goddess's body and deciding to add maybe a vine shape through this area to add more interest, I ran right back to my default: fill it with fillers! (which is synonymous with quilt-the-piss-out-of-it).

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut this is one quilt that isn't taking my typical 7,000 yards of thread very well.

Welcome to Mistake #2!

A month ago I made another royal bad choice when I decided to create the Most-Complicated-Water-Area-Ever.

Even KNOWING that I was going to cover this area gobs of thread, I still insisted on using 300 little pieces of different colored blue fabric.

I could have just used gradient fabric and saved myself a whole hell of a lot of time!!!

Of course, I couldn't piece this area, so I fused it.

Having never fused before, I didn't realize how long I needed to hold the iron on it to get everything properly fused.

So after basting and quilting the center section, I started to notice some of the water pieces pulling up. Uggh! Uggh! Uggh!

I ironed them back down again, but quilting this section really is a nightmare. I don't like the feeling of the fusible at all. It's too stiff to get a good rhythm going.

free motion quilting | Leah DayAlso, all the little pieces have little raw edges which poke out and are driving every obsessive compulsive cell in my body completely crazy. It's not perfect! The stitching looks dirty!

Which leads us to Tragedy #3:

Bad choice of backing fabric. At the last minute, and after one too many glasses of wine, I decided use this light teal instead of the navy blue batik I'd already prepared for the job.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI really can't believe I made this mistake. I KNEW better!

Light threads on dark fabric look a million times better than dark threads on light fabric. Why do you think all of my videos feature white thread on dark purple, blue, or green fabric?

When you use a light fabric as the background with dark thread, the light fabric shows through like little spotlights on all the mistakes.

And of course, since this light teal is on the back of the quilt, every single mistake is now illuminated in loving detail.

Don't believe me? Check out her wobbly chin:

free motion quilting | Leah DayAre you left in any wonder why I want to destroy this quilt so badly???

My personal opinion is 3 strikes = you're out.

It'd be one thing if this quilt was as big as Release Your Light and if I'd put more time into it's creation. After a quilt reaches 65" there's just no choice, I have to finish it.

But this quilt is only 31 x 45 inches and I've learned loads from getting it this far. Rather than bang my head against the wall any longer, I'm calling it quits.

Yes, this happens to the best of us, and you're not alone if you have quilts in your closet you KNOW you will never finished.

The only difference is I'm not willing to fold this up and put it in the closet so it can haunt me another day with pleas to "finish me...finish me...."

Maybe I will finish it. Maybe I'll quilt the rest of it and use it as a teaching tool to show everyone what NOT to do.

Or maybe it will go in the fireplace tonight...(just kidding, I'd never actually burn it in the house).

And while this quilt was a disaster, there is no law that states I can't try it again with different fabric, a revised design, and better game plan!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quilting Stencils!

This week I'm finally kicking off the grand opening my the new Stencil Store! Come check it out right here.

Right now I'm carrying 18 stencils I designed in the fall, as well as a few stencils from other designers from Quilting Creations International.

The best thing is that 7 of the stencils were created with filler designs from this project!

Here's Day 1 - Shadow Waves:

Day 2 - Etch n' Sketch (renamed Placid Water):

Day 3 - Gentle Flames:

Day 4 - Swirling Flames:

Day 6 - Echo Shell:

Day 15 - Flowing Glass:

Day 30 - Trailing Tears:

Each of these filler designs are created on a 1/2" scale so that will leave 1/2 inch between your stitching lines.

If you're worried about using the filler designs from this project and making your bed quilt too stiff, these stencils will really make it easy to mark and quilt your whole quilt with a cool, continuous line design.

Out of the other 11 designs, here are a few of my favorites:

6" Double Wedding Ring - I'm definitely going to get my double wedding ring quilt made this year, but rather than piece it, I'm going to quilt the pattern as a wholecloth using this stencil!

Here's another variation on the same theme. Rather than piece and applique your Dresden Plate blocks together, why not quilt them instead?

Finally, here are 2 stencils from quilt's I made in the fall:

Vase of Hibiscus










Scrollwork Hearts - This was use in a red, wholecloth quilt I made as a donation to the American Heart Association Ball.

Unfortunately wholecloth quilts don't usually show up well in photos, but you can see the full sized quilt here.


To celebrate finally getting all of these stencils online, I'm running a sale on all marking tools at the quilt shop.

Definitely head over and stock up on pens, pencils, markers, and tracing tools for marking your quilt tops! Click Here to check it out now.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Day 140 - Goldilocks

So far I've created 2 hair designs. Kelp Forest was too big. Cornstalks was too small.

With Goldilocks it's just right!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I'm still not sure if this is the design I'll use in My Cup Runneth Over, but at least that quilt is finally basted up and ready to quilt!


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Actually, this is a fairly easy combination! Start with long, flowing, slightly wiggly lines and then leave occasional gaps that you can go back and fill with Stippling.

This works very similar to Pebbles in a Stream, a early design from this project.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is worked from one edge of your quilting space to the other, so it will easily fill open, uncomplicated areas.

If you have a design that you need to "hop" across, you might want to try marking a few registration lines so the wavy lines stay consistent with this design.

Directional Texture - 2 directions. This design has an obvious horizontal or vertical texture, but that doesn't mean it can't make a great background design!

Suggestions for Use - I could easily see using this design in the background of an art quilt, or the sashing of a bed quilt. It's really very versatile, so give yourself permission to play with it anywhere you want to!

Back of Goldilocks
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 139 - Cornstalks

I'm still on a role playing with these hair designs! Yesterday we learned Kelp Forest, which ended up looking more like seaweed than hair.

Here's another one that comes closer to the desired look, but still ended up looking more like a corn stalk than the look I was going for:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I've been super busy trying to move all my files from one computer to another. I've finally bitten the bullet and upgraded my system with new video editing and design software.

I've really put this off for a long time because I didn't want to take the time to learn new programs. Finally I just had to throw in the towel and admit that what I was using just wasn't cutting it anymore.

While it may take a few days to get used to everything, I'm really excited about some changes I'll be able to make to the site and the you tube videos very soon.

Enough about computer geek stuff, let's learn how to quilt Corn Stalks!


Inspiration - This is another hair design I created for My Cup Runneth Over. I'm still fiddling with the design a bit and haven't found the "one" quite yet.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a very easy design with minimal traveling. If you can stitch a curvy, wiggly line, you can quilt this design!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched from one edge of your quilting space to another, so it will work really well in an open, uncomplicated area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. No matter where you put this, Corn Stalks will have a very obvious horizontal or vertical texture.

Suggestions for Use - I can see using this design stitched vertically on a quilt of fall colors: rusty red, pumpkin orange, and bright fall yellow.

Funny, those are the completely opposite colors that I'm seeing out my window right now because we're almost into Spring!

Back of Cornstalks
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.
Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day
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