The Free Motion Quilting Project: September 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

61. Learn how to Quilt Noodle Feather, #406

Ah! After a long weekend away to the Asheville, NC, we're back home, unpacked, and ready to start another fun week learning new designs! Today I'm feeling like digging into a new feather design like this Noodle Feather:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The shameless inspiration was pasta! Josh started making spaghetti every Sunday night and something about all the angel hair noodles on my plate made me start thinking in thread. Feathers are always fun to modify with extra loops, circles, or spirals, so why not noodles?


This design might look a bit intimidating, but it's really a great way to practice echoing. Even if your echoing lines aren't perfect, feathers are pretty forgiving so long as you get the starting shape set up first.

If you're struggling to form the feather shape in the first place, definitely check out feather quilting stencils. They're a great way to practice quilting simple feather shapes by marking the lines first, then quilting on the line. After marking and quilting the plain feather, who says you can't travel stitch back and practice echoing by swirling into each feather shape?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, September 27, 2013

FMQ Friday - Quilting Catch Up

It's finally Friday! Today I'm playing catch up on my Spoonflower version of Express Your Love:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm quilting this panel background with many new designs we will be learning in the coming weeks. October is definitely going to be a month of pretty quilting textures!

The one thing I've learned from this panel is the importance of testing my batting before throwing it into the middle layer of a quilt willy nilly. The batting on this quilt was super puffy and not really suited to be quilted so densely.

I have an idea for fun way to test batting and play with quilting scale at the same time...but this particular project is still under wraps for now!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So that's what I've quilted today. What are you busy with?

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 26, 2013

60. Secure Appliques to a Quilt Background

So we've turned the edges of our large applique pieces and it's time to connect them together and secure them to the quilt background!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now this process is one that you want to take your time on. Just like turning the edges of our large foundation pieces, this is a multi-step process that does take time. So make sure you have a few hours free to work on connecting all the pieces together and securing them to the background before you get started!

Let's learn how this process works in this video:


So the basic steps are:

1. Spread your master pattern right side up over a pressing surface.

2. Line up two pieces at a time, making sure to overlap the turned edges on top of the raw edges so you have a smooth, perfect finish on the right side.

3. Glue the pieces together using Elmer's Glue or Roxanne's Glue Baste it. If you don't have a fine tip on the Elmer's glue, definitely use Roxanne's because it does come with a fine tip and will be easier to control. Too much glue will make this process messy and uncontrollable! Fine tips for the Elmer's glue can be found at Sharon Schamber's website right here.

4. Remove the freezer paper from two pieces you have connected. Rip the tips rather than remove them from the appliques. A little freezer paper left in the tips won't hurt anything!

5. Using water soluble thread, zigzag the two pieces together. This thread is temporary and I used it to secure the pieces together solidly, but with the understanding that this thread will wash out. You could use regular thread here, but you will need to stitch slowly and carefully in order to maintain a good looking stitch.

6. Repeat connecting your hair sections two at a time, then connect these pieces together until you have one large chunk of hair.

7. Position the background of the quilt over the master pattern and use pins to line things up. This doesn't have to be perfect. Some shifting may have occurred in the large appliques.

8. Pin in place, then hand baste to bring the background and hair sections together securely. Also run lines of water soluble thread using a wide basting stitch for extra security.

9. Zigzag the edges of the hair to the background with more water soluble thread. This can easily be picked out later when we insert the face and body sections underneath the hair section.

That's it! As you can see, I used a lot of water soluble thread here. Mostly I did this for stability, and also because it allowed me to stitch the pieces together rather messily, but still get away with it because that thread will wash out later. I will need to go back and machine or hand applique these pieces together with real thread.

But you really can't beat water soluble thread as a basting thread. I love how securely it holds, but I never have to pick out the thread later. It will wash out easily with lukewarm water, so these stitches can stay in the quilt through to the very end with no problems.

Alright! At this point, what is next? We still have a face and body section, and of course the goddess's swirling spaces for words.

You may remember from many posts through the summer, that I used English paper piecing to piece over 150 1/4" hexies together to make her face:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

To make this piece, you basically hand piece enough hexies to cover the section, then turn the edges and secure it to the quilt background exactly like we did our foundation appliques.

Yes, it's super cute and definitely goes with the pieced theme of the quilt. But good lord this was INSANE!

I'm almost tempted not to use this pieced face because...well...even having done all that work, I'm tempted to piece more tiny hexies for her body and arm, which would be RIDICULOUS!

Still, sometimes a specific quilt design requires insanity. I'm going to set this pieced version aside for a bit and focus on creating new free motion quilting designs. I need to step away and consider my options before jumping into more crazy handwork projects right this second.

If you want to jump into the hexie piecing insanity pit, you're welcome to take the awesome Craftsy class Pieced Hexies and catch the bug. It's an excellent class and definitely addictive shape to piece like crazy!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Halloween Decorator in Chief

It's Wednesday and I have to share this picture of my messy dining room table:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

James has declared himself the Decorator-in-Chief and wants to decorate the whole house for Halloween. I've always enjoyed decorating myself, but usually never bother because it makes a mess and I'll just have to take the decorations down later anyway.

My little boy is certainly changing my attitude! We're having fun making a mess together and I'm letting him do the arranging and placing, which lead to our very interesting mantle arrangement:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

We're getting a new mantle clock this week so we've left space for that, but all the rest was pure James. Most especially the banana in the jack-o-lantern cup!

While I've been mostly supervising glitter containment, I have also enjoyed drawing with markers over fall themed shapes cut from accu quilt go dies. While coloring with James I started slipping in free motion filler designs and rather liked the effect:

free motion quilting | Leah Day 

This is a bit like zentangles, and a bit like free motion quilting at the same time. Super fun and a great way to practice new designs!

So I'm off to make more of a mess and figure out where we're going to put all our decorated cut outs. I'm thinking we'll make a poster and glue it all together with pictures of James in his different costumes over the years. Super cute!

Let's go quilt,

Leah

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

59. Turn Applique Edges for Foundation Piecing + Applique

It's time to turn! Our ragged foundation appliques are ready to have their edges turned to create smooth, beautifully scrappy locks of hair:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is a two step process that we're going to learn. First we're going to learn how to turn the edges, then Thursday we will learn how to connect the pieces together and secure them to the background of the quilt.

So let's get started by watching the video to see how this works! Kick back because this video is twice as long as usual and very detailed:


When I shot the video, I was still a bit unclear about which edges I was turning through the blue, purple, and red hair sections. Here's a handy diagram to clarify that point:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Basically I decided to turn all sides of the purple section, overlapping both the blue and red sections for the easiest way to conceal all the raw seam allowances. The blue section was the thickest of them all, so there was no way I was going to get a sharp point out of that piece!

Here's the steps again just to review:

1. Prepare 4 large pieces of freezer paper by pressing with a hot dry iron to your pressing board. The purpose of this step is to shrink the freezer paper, and get it flat and ready to connect with the other pieces to create a solid, stable template.

2. Connect the freezer paper pieces together. Simply layer the pieces and press with a hot iron to fuse them together. You'll always want to layer wax side down and they bond together nicely into a thick template. No, this technique will NOT work with a single piece of freezer paper. It's too flimsy!

3. Mark the design on the freezer paper by flipping the master pattern over, and placing the freezer paper on top with paper side up and marking the design. Mark guidelines for connecting the pieces back together at the end. Also it might be a good idea to label each piece with the color you used for piecing it.

4. Cut out all the hair templates with scissors.

5. Working with one piece at a time, press the freezer paper template to the wrong side of the foundation with a hot, dry iron. Trim the seam allowance you are turning to 1 inch and clip where necessary in curves.

6. Using spray starch and a paintbrush, paint starch along 4 inches of the seam allowance, then turn the edge and press with a hot, dry iron. Work in 4 inch segments at a time and work slowly and carefully. This isn't a race and the more time you take, the better your turned edge will look.

7. Now the very last step with each piece will be to layer them together and take a look at the points where everything comes together. On some points, you may have to turn up the edge slightly and I was very careful to show this two times in the video.

My best advice with turning points is don't get too nit picky. Don't clip down your seam allowance too tiny too soon. You can always clip more later, but the more you fiddle with the points, the more they tend to misbehave.

Now if you're interested in learning more about Sharon Schamber and her Piecelique technique which uses the same turning method, but as a base for piecing, not applique, definitely click here to check out Sharon's excellent website. I highly recommend her videos on curved edge binding as well!

So have fun turning your edges! We'll be connecting all the pieces together and securing them to the background of the quilt on Thursday.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Other Foundation Piecing Posts: 
Prepare Your Foundation 
Red Diagonal Section  
How to Create a Scrappy Mix of Colors 
Orange Triangle Section
Yellow Log Cabin Section  
Green Mosaic Section 
Blue Double Scrappy Section 
Purple Braid Section

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Interesting Form of Therapy

With a title like that, how shall I begin? Well, let me just throw myself out on the screen:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yep, that's ME! Today I sucked up my pride and pulled on a turtleneck and had my husband duct tape me from neck to hips to create a new dress form. The therapy came in several forms:

- Patience therapy - I cannot rush this, I must stand still, and I cannot micromanage this process.

- Trust therapy - I must trust Josh to do a good job taping and cutting it off without slicing me in half too!

- Self love and acceptance therapy - This is my body right now. Deal with it, accept it, love it Leah!

You might be looking at my dress form thinking "what's the big deal?" but the fact is we all can feel sensitive about our weight. No matter if you are generally big or small, it's not easy seeing the real deal in all it's glory.

But it is what it is. That is me and for once, I'm not going to spiral into a whirl of defeated gloom about my pooch or wide shoulders, I'm just going to accept this form, my form, for what it is. It's me!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Now I probably wouldn't have gone to all this trouble a month ago. I was perfectly happy with my adjusted Lucy the way she was. I had taken my measurements and adjusted her to where I thought we were a pretty close match.

Yeah right...

When you sew a garment to fit your dressmaker dummy, chances are it's going to fit your dummy really well. Your body? Not so much.

I have really enjoyed sewing shirts lately and like having something custom to wear, particularly in videos. The thing is these shirts could fit much BETTER. They could feel more comfortable to wear. They could look better on me, no matter what my body looks like underneath.

It just so happened that I recently signed up for the Craftsy class Curvy Crochet because I wanted to learn tips about increasing and decreasing in crochet. Included in the class is a hilarious step-by-step breakdown of how to make a duct tape dress form.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I decided I must have one, but I don't really have a friend close enough to...well...basically feel me up for an afternoon! lol. I showed the lesson to Josh and between fits of laughter (the instructor, Marly Bird, really has a great sense of humor), he agreed to tape me up.

I'm really, really happy to have this finished duct tape form because it's actually true to me, and for once I could easily see why fitting was such an issue. I have wide shoulders, a sway back, and long torso, and all of these things present unique fitting challenges.

Getting over the fact that my body is imperfect is actually easy when I consider how much easier it will be to fit and make garments that look great.

So now I'm off to put the finishing touches on this new Lucy, and maybe cut out a new shirt while I'm at it. Cross your fingers that this one fits perfectly!

Let's go quilt,

Leah

Friday, September 20, 2013

FMQ Friday - Turning and Designing

It's Friday and I haven't quilted much this week because I've been spending loads of time planning and designing....nope, I can't tell you about this yet!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This project is a lot of fun and I'm having fun taking my time and being creative. I also decided it was high time I learned how to use my wood lathe, so last night I attended a pen turning class and made a beautiful pen!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I swear pen turning is such a cheater hobby. In less than 1 hour, I turned this pen, sanded and finished it. What in the quilt world can we do in 1 hour and get such instant gratification?!

Still, when I'm in need of a craft fix that quilting can't satisfy this is what I'm going to do. The small turning market is huge with kits of all sorts - pens, seam rippers, styluses, and key rings the perfect size for holding needles or a small sewing kit.

So while I haven't been quilting, I have definitely been creating! What have you been up to this week?

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect.


Let's go quilt,

Leah

Thursday, September 19, 2013

58. Learn how to quilt Undertow, Design #405

It's quilting time! Today I'm feeling like creating a new Foundational design, this time mixing two very different shapes - spirals and zigzags - to make one super funky Undertow design!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The combination of the two different shapes is really interesting. I'm a bit behind in applying all these new designs to Express Your Love, but I'm hoping to get to it this weekend. The cooler weather we've been having is definitely making me want to quilt like crazy.


So just get started with your zigzag foundation and occasionally swirl into a soft spiral. Once you set the foundation, all you have to do is echo it to fill in the rest of the space completely.

Now I've just finally bit the bullet and picked up a cell phone and how I'm struggling to get the stupid thing activated! Grrr...wish me luck!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Color Play and Ruler Rant

It's Wednesday and I'm still playing with pretty colors!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Hmm...I don't think I have enough red here. I must have more RED! Lol.

This week I also received a rather timely question about rotary cutting rulers. Since I'm busy cutting up a storm it was easy to shoot some pics and share the goods with everyone! Here's the question:

"Hi Leah, You said something on one of your videos about using the same kind of rulers. What is the brand that you use? I'm just starting out with quilting and would like to be on the right track with my measurements."

This is a great question, especially for someone just starting out. The quilting world has really blown up in the last 3 years especially with more tools, rulers, gizmos, and gadgets than ever before. What is really necessary to get started?

The short answer is not much. You will need a cutting mat, rotary cutter, and some rulers. This quilter's question was specifically about rulers so let's focus on that specifically.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The key to rulers is finding something that works for YOU. And yes, you should pick just one brand of rulers and stick with it exclusively.

Why?

All rulers are marked differently. In fact, some companies have even patented the way they mark their rulers (ridiculous!) so some rulers are marked more clearly than others. And because rulers are marked so specifically, switching from one brand to another might be a recipe for cutting disaster.

For example, if you get a 12.5" ruler, how is the extra 1/2 inch marked out? It's really easy to flip your ruler around while cutting and accidentally cut 1/2 inch bigger or smaller without meaning to. If you switch from one brand to another, are they marked the same or different?

The marks on a ruler itself can also be thick or thin and this changes with every manufacturer. When you line up your ruler on your fabric, you need to INCLUDE the line you are measuring to. Yes, measuring to include or exclude just the marking line can make a difference in how accurate your cut is.

But some rulers have super wide lines that are meant for the fabric to line up through the middle of the line. These I find flat out confusing and refuse to use them. Still, some quilters swear by them.

The trick again is to have ONE method of measuring, one type of line to line up with, so you have the greatest chance of cutting properly and the least chance of accidently cutting a piece or strip too small.

Personally I got started with Optima brand rulers back in 2005 and I still have my original set - 12.5" square, 6" x 24" rectangle, and 6" x 12.5" rectangle. Unfortunately Optima rulers are no longer being made even though they were some of the most clear and easy to use rulers of all the different brands.

Yes, this really is what I started quilting with - just 3 rulers - and these served me for more than 4 years before I needed different shapes. I really don't think you need much more than a 12.5" square and a long rectangular ruler to cut 99% of the things you'll want to cut in your first years quilting.

So when is it time to buy different rulers?

I've invested in a handful of special rulers that do really specific things. These rulers have been investments for particular quilts or projects and they're definitely fun to have around, but...I haven't used them much after the project they were intended for.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So understand that special rulers definitely help for really special projects, but after it's all over, you might not ever use it again. It's really easy to amass a lot of junk as a quilter, so take it from a serious junkie - resist the temptation to cover your wall with rulers as long as you can!

Now that is the minimalists approach to ruler buying - get two shapes of the same brand and cut away!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

57. Foundation Piece a Scrappy Braid Pattern

It's time to finish up our very last foundation pieced pattern! This pattern really is one of my favorites because it created such a beautiful effect in the purple hair section:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This pattern is also extremely easy, which is a relief after the last blue section we worked on! It comes together quickly no matter if you use very wide or very narrow strips.

Let's learn how to piece it in this video:



So we've finished all the different hair pieces for Express Your Love! On Thursday this week we will learn a new quilting design, so next week can be all about turning the edges of these foundations and attaching them to our log cabin background!

This process has taken a long time to get through, but hasn't it been fun? I've definitely enjoyed pushing my boundaries with this piecing design and creating an entirely unique goddess with fun new techniques.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Let's go quilt,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Mark Your Quilt Kit

It's Sunday and today I'm updating the Quilt Shop with a new kit - the Mark Your Quilt Kit!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This kit comes with a Fine Line Water Soluble Pen which makes a fine, blue mark that's easy to see on lighter fabrics. Also included is a Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencil which is a mechanical pencil that marks a fine white line on medium to dark fabrics.

So between the two pens in this set, you should be able to mark light, medium, and dark colored fabrics!

For tips on using these tools, let's watch a video about fabric marking:



So when it comes to fabric marking, the #1 rule is to get your fabric completely ready to go before marking. Prewash, starch, and press your fabric completely to get it totally ready to go, and after marking, particularly with the blue pen, make sure not to expose the quilt or fabric to heat (hot car, hot sunny window, etc).

Erasing the marks are super simple and the reason I love these pens. A lot of marking pencils are really difficult to remove, and a lot of pens don't stay in place long enough to get your quilting done.

The Fine Line Pen washes off with water. Fill up your bathtub with lukewarm water and let your quilt soak for 30 minutes. This will remove the chemical completely and ensure the marks never come back. After soaking, you can block your quilt if it's a wall hanging, or spin it in the washer and dryer if it's a bed quilt.

For the Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencil you can easily brush off the marks after quilting or erase them with the included eraser on the end of the pencil. Make sure to erase or brush off the most visible marks, then launder your quilt the way you plan to treat it from then on.

So why do we need to mark our quilts?

Many designs do not require marking at all. All of the designs from this project were specifically designed not to require marking. Instead they're intended to be memorized, then applied free hand over the surface of your quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
But there are times we want a specific design, a specific flower or feather design to exactly line up in THAT place and the only way to get it there is to mark it!

Another thing that's super helpful about marking designs is it's a great way to learn. I've been watching my son trace letters in kindergarten and after a line of tracing, he can always produce the letter himself with more precision. Free motion quilting designs work the same way!

So if you are struggling to free hand quilt a design, like stippling, it might be a good idea to mark the design on your fabric and try quilting on the marked line instead. You'll be able to see where you're going, how to get from the beginning to the end, and still gain loads of practice moving the quilt and controlling your speed while free motion quilting.

The point is precision. We mark a quilt when we want an exact design in a precise place. When precision isn't an issue, we don't need to mark, but it's always a nice option to have around.

So that's it for today! Make sure to check out the Mark Your Quilt Kit if you're in need of a new set of marking pens that will mark easily, and be removed easily too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, September 13, 2013

FMQ Friday - Learning How to Quilt

It's Friday and time to cheer for whatever we've quilted this week! I've taken a break from Duchess Reigns and I've been helping Josh learn how to quilt. Here's his very first try:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It's so interesting watching Josh quilt and talking to him about the experience. In some ways he said this was easier than he thought, but in other ways it's quite difficult. Josh has never even touched a sewing machine before, unless you count carrying it for me into workshops, so he doesn't have the familiarity many quilters have going into it from garment sewing or piecing on a machine.

Even still, I did want to point out that even though these stitches aren't perfect, it can absolutely go on a real quilt! No, the stitches aren't consistent, and the design is pretty wiggly, but who cares? The purpose of the quilting stitches, at their most basic, is to hold the 3 layers of the quilt together securely.

I'm not seeing any massive stitches here, any long "toe catchers" that would be awkward to get caught in if this was the front or back of a bed quilt. So if you're just starting out and your stitches are looking something like this, keep quilting! This is only the beginning and it will definitely get better the more you do it.

Now what have you been up to this week? Quilting up a storm I hope!

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect. Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 12, 2013

56. Learn How to Quilt Crack Maze, #404

It's time to quilt! I've been playing around with simple shapes again and ways to break up space quickly and easily. This Crack Maze design is the perfect fit to break up large space with wiggly lines of irregular cracks:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This design actually starts in the same foundational way as Foundation Puzzle, and you can see the two designs look similar in a 4 inch square:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The major difference here is Foundation Puzzle involves stitching a spiral within the triangle shapes and a lot of careful travel stitching to move around the design. Crack Maze is a lot faster and hopefully easier for you to stitch if you're just starting out.

Let's learn how to quilt it!



Here's the specs on Crack Maze:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This isn't a super difficult design and if you want, you can totally minimize the travel stitching for an easier experience.

Design Family - Foundational. Start with the simple wiggly line foundation, and if you like that effect and feel it's dense enough, you can stop there! If you're looking for a more dense effect, just travel in each area and fill with more wiggly lines.

That's it for this design! Where are you going to use it? Make sure to jump on your machine and give it a try today so you can link up with us tomorrow on Free Motion Friday!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Secret Project in Design

It's Wednesday and time to check in with what is really going on in my sewing room! Today I'm pulling fabrics and making a mess as I plan out a new project:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Don't you just LOVE jumbo rick rack?! So cheerful!
What is this? Sorry, but I can't tell! This is a new secret project I'll be working on for the next few months. Luckily I can shoot and share photos and keep you up to date with the progress, but I can't tell you what it's for until later!

What you see in the photo is actually not going to be a quilt at all. It's a maquette to test fabric colors. I learned this technique from the Craftsy class Designing Modern Quilts with Weeks Ringle. 

Basically you pull fabrics you think will go together, piece them up, hang them on the wall and step back and take a look. I've always pulled fabrics and hung them together on the design wall, but I've never taken the time to cut and piece them together and I have to say it makes a big difference!

What I like about this process is I can also audition thread colors and filler designs and double check that everything looks good together. While I certainly don't consider myself a modern quilter, I really enjoyed learning about Weeks' approach to design and seeing so many of her fabulous quilts.

Upstairs I'm proud of my cleaning and labeling progress over the weekend. The guest bedroom actually has a floor! And I can find what I need easily!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The one downside is I've finally organized all my fiber (wool, cotton, raw roving) and spun yarn and Houston, we have a problem! I have a ridiculously HUGE stash!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I really had no idea I was being this productive with spinning. I spin when I want to, either by hand or on my espinner, and I dye wool whenever I feel like it too. Turns out, this kind of free wheeling creative process is a great way to create tons and tons of yarn in a very short amount of time.

This isn't a bad thing, unless you're not making use of the yarn, which I haven't been. Still, it kills the joy of spinning for me to actually force myself to make a plan and only dye and spin what I need for a specific project. I haven't figured out a solution yet, and so far this stash is manageable - at least the bins weren't stacked to the ceiling!

So that is what I'm up to today! Piecing and quilting and probably finding some time for more spinning. I'm really feeling like playing with bright, cheerful colors and shapes so you're likely to see a lot of funky stuff in the next few months!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

55. Double Foundation Piecing

It's time to jump back to our pieced version of Express Your Love and learn a new way to foundation piece! Today we're working in the blue hair section and I decided to do something a little different and super scrappy:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm calling this Double Foundation Piecing because you're literally foundation piecing once to make small blocks, then putting the blocks together into strips and foundation piecing the strips to cover the larger hair shaped foundation.

Does this sound confusing? It's actually super easy and a great way to use up all those itsy bitsy scraps that you don't want to throw away. Let's watch the video to see how it works:


So first foundation piece the small blocks, then trim them down, then connect them together to form strips, THEN piece the strips onto the prepared foundation for the hair section on the quilt.

One warning - this produced a VERY thick fabric. We've got multiple layers going on with this particular piece from first the little squares, then all the seam allowances from connecting everything together.

Yes, this may cause issues in the quilting, but that's okay! Part of experimenting and trying new things is to figure out #1 if the idea works and #2 what the limitations of the technique will be.

I know with this particular section dense free motion quilting is just not going to be possible. I might be able to quilt some soft lines in this section, but I absolutely won't be able to fill it the way I've filled the other versions of Express Your Love.

Please understand that this is OKAY! Some quilts need a lot of quilting to look good, but some quilts like this one really need the emphasis to stay on the piecing and applique lines. It's all about design and playing around to see what works and what doesn't.

So I'm off to keep playing and experimenting! I hope you will give this one a try today too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Other Foundation Piecing Posts: Prepare Your Foundation 
Red Diagonal Section  
How to Create a Scrappy Mix of Colors 
Orange Triangle Section
Yellow Log Cabin Section  
Green Mosaic Section 
Blue Double Scrappy Section 
Purple Braid Section

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Save with the Queen Supreme Kit

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Last month after launching the new website at LeahDay.com I promised we'd be running more fun sales and deals. This week we're making good on our promise with the Queen Supreme Kit!

This kit comes with the three tools I use every day when free motion quilting. I truly can't quilt as well without these tools because they are so essential for making the quilt easier to move, giving me a solid grip on the surface, and making thread feed smoothly and evenly from the bobbin.

Normally the Queen Supreme Kit costs $75, which will save you $10 on the following tools:
  • Queen Supreme Slider
  • Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washers
  • Machingers Quilting Gloves
Just in case you're not familiar with this kit, here's a new video to explain what it is and answer the most common questions we get from quilters:



Of course, if you have any other questions about this kit, make sure to contact us for help.

This Free Motion Quilting Project is entirely supported by the sales from our Quilt Shop at LeahDay.com, and it's truly a family run business. My husband Josh packs all the orders from our basement office while I'm quilting, and we both manage inventory and help with any customer issues. Whenever you buy from us, you are directly benefiting this blog project and ensuring great videos for years to come!

We appreciate your support!

Leah Day

Friday, September 6, 2013

FMQ Friday - Clean It Up!

It's Friday and I know I should be quilting, but instead I'm launching a full scale attack on the clutter in my house. My guest bedroom is the worst:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I shouldn't even call this room the guest bedroom anymore because there's no room for anyone to stay here!

My #1 goal is to Find a Place for EVERYTHING. I get bogged down with clutter because it doesn't have a place to go, and then feel stressed because I can't find what I need. I've pulled out my trusty label maker and a box of trash bags and I'm going to get busy with my War on Clutter today!

I've also decided that Duchess Reigns needs some time on the wall. I'm tired of pushing pushing pushing through this quilt and I think a break of just sitting and looking at her would do me some good.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So what are you up to? Just finishing a project or quilting through the meat of it? Whatever you're quilting make sure to link it up!

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect.


Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In the Studio with Duchess Reigns

It's Wednesday and today has been all about Duchess Reigns. I've been plodding through the second corner and finally busted through one massive section today:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This style of filled, thread painted feathers is more time consuming and labor intensive than the first style of feathers. It's also a very different finished effect:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So with 2 corners filled, only 2 more to go! I'm happy to be making solid progress now, and this quilt is definitely generating a lot of questions and curiosity both here and on Facebook.

Last week I shot a quick video just to answer several of the questions that have come up recently and to demonstrate more thread painting. I also ended up sharing a lot about my suspended quilting system, so all around it's a handy video if you're planning on quilting anything big anytime soon:


Are you ready to buy some handles and clamps and get your quilts suspended? Just be careful drilling into your ceiling!

What I said about mistakes is also very true. Just today I quilted out a major section with multiple pleats. A year ago, this would have made me feel like crap and I would likely have gotten bogged down with the project and frustrated with my ability.

This year I'm accepting the issues as they come. This is my first dyed wholecloth quilt! Obviously there was going to be some learning curve involved!

Is it perfect? Heck no. It is what it is. She's pretty. She's massively huge. She's enormously complicated. There really isn't much room for perfection in all that too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

54. Learn How to Quilt Glazed Donuts, Design #403

Did anyone say Glazed Donuts?! This design is making my mouth water!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is a fun combination of Echo Shell and Stippling, two great skill building designs. When you put them both together, the result is an excellent texture that will work in all areas of your quilts.

Let's learn how to quilt it together:



If you look closely at the picture above, notice how my scale changed from the first three Glazed Donuts. I actually stitched the first three, then ran out of bobbin thread, needed a snack, and ultimately walked away from this little square for several days.

When I came back to it, for some reason I was stitching tighter and denser that day and didn't realize it until after the square was filled. This is a great example of how your quilting can change from day to day.

A great way to gauge how you're quilting on any day, or to try to match your scale back to what you were stitching previously is to quilt a small square and compare it to your previous quilting. If you see that things are looking too dense, focus on swinging your lines out and increasing space where needed. If you see things looking too open, remind yourself of the scale you are going for and work to bring those lines closer together.

It's good to understand and use scale when quilting any quilt, but don't get obsessive about it. I'm certainly not going to restitch this square just because my stitching is a bit wider in one corner than the rest of the piece.

Please remember that small issues like this are only ever visible to ourselves! Chuck up these inconsistencies to learning and creating. We're humans, not machines, so fluctuating scale is yet another sign a real person quilted your quilt with love and passion!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Weekend of Fun Projects

It's Sunday and this weekend I decided to take a break from the usual and dig into several materials I've wanted to play with for awhile. It started on Saturday morning when I plopped down in my rocking chair and spun art yarn for the first time all summer:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Two spools of gorgeous blue became one spool (around 34 yards) of super chunky art yarn:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It's so funny how people react to art yarn. I showed off my creation to both Josh and my Father-in-law and both were kind of like "Hmm...What is that? What in the world are you going to do with it?"

I'm planning to make a lot more of this and then knit it up into this Super Bulky Winter Vest. It's really neat to be able to make the yarn and then knit it up into a garment. Later this fall I plan to shoot a video on spinning art yarn to use as embellishments for a quilt so this was good practice and I learned a lot about spinning weird stuff on my espinner.

Getting on the spinning wheel reminded me of the lathe I've had out in the barn for more than a year. Last week my dad came to visit and helped me set up the dust collector so I finally felt confident that everything was set up and ready to go.

I realized in the intervening week that the main reason I wasn't trying out this new craft wasn't for lack of tools or correct setup, but a lack of confidence. I was afraid of messing something up or getting hurt.

After recognizing the fears holding me back, I sent myself out to the barn and declared it an open practice session. I ended up turning this piece of cherry:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm not really sure what it is...I might turn it into a crochet hook or spindle. In any case, it could also be a handy vampire stake. Ha!

While I was out in the barn, I noticed the two packs of stepping stone mix I picked up way back in May. That's a project I definitely wanted done before the end of the summer so James and I rolled up our sleeves and got dirty making two stepping stones.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This one had set up quite a bit before we got to it, but we managed to get a solid impression of James's hand and foot. His 6 year old self will be immortalized forever! Then we followed up with the cats:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

My old cat Shy Guy probably won't be around for much longer so I'm really happy we made this. He wasn't super happy with me, but an extra scoop of food sorted out his bad attitude.

Back inside this morning, I tackled several videos and quilted a good bit on Duchess Reigns. Then it was time to play! James was wanting an adventure too so I pulled out bottles of a new product I ran across this week called deColourant.

Basically from the bottle and website, this is a non-toxic paint that when heat set removes the color of the fabric and replaces it with the color of the paint. I was a bit skeptical about using it with James, after all the only decolorant I knew of before was bleach, and that's certainly not something we play with.

To my delight, deColourant turns out to be some pretty cool stuff! It looks and feels just like paint, and it smells slightly citrusy. James and I got started with some simple shapes cut out with the Accu Quilt Go in freezer paper and ironed onto black layer cake squares:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I set up James to paint the negative space inside the bats while I filled up the outer space. After painting, we left the blocks to dry:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Then we sort of got carried away! I kept cutting more freezer paper to make temporary stencils and James would paint for a bit, then wash hands, run off to play, then come back wanting to paint some more.

We ended up with 9 blocks:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm looking forward to pressing these after dinner to see how the deColourant works! I'm hoping this will be a nice start to a fall / Halloween themed quilt!

Whew! It's been quite a weekend! I'm looking forward to seeing how all these projects pan out, but right now I'm just so happy to be able to play with so many cool things in one weekend.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day
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