The Free Motion Quilting Project: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

FMQ Project Link Up

It's finally Friday! This week has been one big, giant mess and I'm very happy to see the weekend. What's been on my plate? More like what's now in the bag:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is what it looks like to replace 59 incorrectly printed copies of a quilt pattern. Just in case you didn't hear about it, we received an bad print run of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern on February 11th.The copies were printed incorrectly and shrunk to a smaller size.

However, everyone that ordered the PRINTED Building Blocks Quilt Pattern between Feb 11th - 24th will receive a new copy very soon. They're all shipping out today, just as soon as Josh and I can muscle these out the door!

free motion quilting | Leah DayAnd now that the issue has been corrected, all future copies will be printed correctly!

When I haven't been hiring and firing printers this week, we've been busy stitching lots of Wiggly Pasta in our last 9 patch block.

Next week is the start of March and we'll be piecing and quilting four super simple Rail Fence blocks. I really love this block coming up because it's so easy to piece - no matching seams!

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo that's what I've been busy with this week! What have you created this week?

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!


Grab a button to easily share the Free Motion Quilting Project on your blog!

Free Motion Quilting Project
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thank you Nancy!

http://seamsunlikely.com/
I'm in the middle of reading Nancy Zieman's new book Seams Unlikely, an autobiography of her life and journey from a farm to amazing business owner and TV host of Sewing with Nancy. I have to stop and just yell as loud as I can:

"THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"

Thank you for sharing the entire story of your life, even the dark sides, the hard times, the journey that took you from who you were to where you are now.

Thank you even more for sharing your business journey and the fact that all businesses go through continual shifts, hit road bumps, and must learn to recover from the continual growing pains.

I love reading this book because it's made me realize how the simple things - hard work, a dedicated drive to succeed, and a clear focus on goals - these qualities are enough to create great things. We all have challenges, whether public or private, but they do not what make us who we are - we decide that every day.

I can remember the very first time I watched a Sewing With Nancy show. I was around 12 or 13 and sitting in my Grandma's house and Nancy was demonstrating how to make a foundation pieced pineapple quilt block.

The technique seemed fiddly and complicated with a lot of flipping the paper back and forth. However, I was totally mesmerized by the absolutely perfect points and matching seams that the paper piecing created.

I loved that lesson so much, 8 years later when I attempted to piece my first quilt - a square in a square - I choose to paper piece the blocks like I remembered from that lesson.

I know that I'm definitely not the only one. Nancy's show and her calm, clear instructions have touched millions (if not billions). I just wanted to pause today to recognize a truly amazing woman and thank her for all she's done.

If you're intrigued by Nancy Zieman, definitely check out her autobiography, Seams Unlikely, and learn more about her. I found this read fun and fascinating, especially from the eyes of one business owner to another.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Josh's Wiggly Pasta in a 9 Patch Block

Josh here, and it's pasta time:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This one was not one of my favorites. To be perfectly honest, it was quite frustrating making so many errors and regularly stitching off the line (this is one of the few times Spoonflower cheater panels do not make the job easier, though of course not having to piece the block made it worth it)

Let's see how it went:


The border squiggles came a lot more naturally, and looking back on it, I can see I should have quilted them first and then made my way in. I think this would have eased my transition into the much more challenging loopy lines in the center of the block.

Because these blocks are so small it's okay to quilt from the outside in or inside out, whichever way works better for you. 
free motion quilting | Leah Day

I would also break out some scrap fabric and practice this block at least once before attempting this block. This would have made things more comfortable and I would have known exactly what I was getting into. I did trace the pattern a little bit with a pencil on the quilting guide, but I think actually sitting down with a practice sandwich would have been a better way to prepare.

Good luck on this one!

Josh Day

Monday, February 24, 2014

8. Quilt a 9 Patch with Wiggly Pasta

Last week we learned a new design called Wiggly Pasta, which is basically two sets of Wiggly U shapes overlapping one another. Today we're going to learn how to quilt this funky design into our last 9 patch block:
free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day

NEW! This block design is now available in a quilting stencil from Quilting Creations International. Use the stencil to easily mark the design on plain fabric, your block, or another fun quilt you're working on! Click here to find the 8 inch stencil compatible with the Building Blocks Quilt.

Are you wondering why my block looks slightly different from the printed quilting guide in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern?

For this particular block I marked only the outer border area from my quilting guide. The inside Wiggly Pasta area was free hand quilted without any marking at all.

This year I really want you to experiment with both forms of quilting - marked and unmarked free hand quilting. Both methods are super important to learn and master because almost every quilt you free motion quilt will benefit from a combination of the two.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Just as an example - here's Duchess Reigns, a wholecloth quilt I've been working on for more than a year now. The major motifs in this quilt (goddess, wing shape, woven inner border) were all planned and marked first because they needed to be placed exactly within the quilt.

But not everything needed to be planned to such a degree - the feathers within the wings were free hand quilted so they appear more random and fluid.

Also all the dense filler stitching (everything that is white is thread) was entirely free hand quilted. Mark all the filler designs would be time consuming and tedious, and rather pointless as they're intended just to fill the space randomly.

The same is true for the Wiggly Pasta within our 9 patch block - it doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to FILL the space, so there's no right or wrong, perfect or imperfect way to do this!

Of course, there are many ways to flow through this section of the block, so let me show you how I knocked it out with the least amount of travel stitching:


Wiggly Pasta is an Overlapping Design that is super forgiving of mistakes and can be easily quilted into any area of your quilts. Check out the entire collection of Overlapping Designs right here.

In the video I also discussed how much, or how little quilting you have to put in a quilt. You may have noticed we left the black squares (B fabric) in this block open and free of quilting:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

How much or how little quilting you put in a quilt is entirely up to your design choices and the rating of your batting.


The example I explained in the video was this - if you had a 12 inch block and a batting with a rating of quilting up to 10 inches apart, then you could stitch straight lines 9.5 inches apart and that would be plenty of quilting!

So if you're out to finish a quilt as quickly as possible, pick a batting with a high rating (8 inches or greater) and buzz across it with straight or slightly wiggly lines a little less than that distance apart.

Do understand that it's perfectly fine to leave spots open on your quilts. If you can't think of what you'd like to go in an area, or if you want to keep a spot open so the quilting doesn't conflict with a pretty pieced shape, that's perfectly fine.

The key here is to start looking at your quilts and developing an opinion about what you want to see. They first step to quilting your own quilts is answering the question - How do I want to quilt this? - and it all starts with having basic opinions about what designs you like and don't like.

So far we've experimented with Wiggly U's, Gridlines, Spirals, Circles, and now Wiggly Pasta. You can find videos for all of these blocks right here. Out of all of the 6 blocks we've quilted so far, which one was your favorite?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

If you'd like to get a little more bang for your Building Blocks buck, and finish a UFO project, AND get lots more practice quilting, consider taking your favorite design from the 6 we've learned so far and marking or free hand quilting it over an unfinished quilt in your stash.

Remember it's not rocket science, and yes, it will look gorgeous! If it's your favorite design, that automatically makes it the perfect choice for any of your quilts!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, February 21, 2014

FMQ Project Link Up

It's Friday and time to share our progress on projects and free motion quilting adventures. This week I received a super surprise from Janet-Lee Santeusanio, one of the founders of the MQX shows. I've been nominated teacher of the year!

 http://www.mqxshow.com/MQTeacheroftheYear

You can actually still vote for this nomination right here. I'm really thrilled to have been nominated and recognized by MQX this way!

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah DayOn the quilting front, Josh and I both tackled circles this week in our 9 patch blocks:

Judging from the comments on facebook, we're not the only ones that had issues with this design!

Just remember our mantra for this week - don't obsess about it! Perfection isn't the point of making these blocks so don't obsess about any mistakes or issues you see. It's all part of the learning process!

So what have you been up to this week?

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!



Grab a button to easily share the Free Motion Quilting Project on your blog!

Free Motion Quilting Project
<div class="Free Motion Quilting Project" style="width: 150px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q6F-r2YosSY/UuTzebRpLhI/AAAAAAAAJII/JvAHayVWdhI/s1600/fmq+button.jpg" alt="Free Motion Quilting Project" width="150" height="150" /> </a> </div>


Thursday, February 20, 2014

#427. Free Motion Quilt Wiggly Pasta

A few weeks ago Josh shared his recipe for Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, a meal we make every Sunday night because it's SO good! It turns out spaghetti noodles are more than just yummy food, they can also inspire cool designs like this Wiggly Pasta:

I love designs like this that seem to prove that quilting doesn't have to be complicated in order to get the job done. In fact, I'd say most Overlapping Designs are just as easy and forgiving and a great choice for beginning quilters to get started with.


This design is actually being posted right in time because next week we're going to put this design into a 9 patch block from the Building Blocks Quilt Along!
Definitely give this this design a try this week and see for yourself how easy free motion quilting can be!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Josh's Circles in a 9 Patch Block

Josh here, and today we're going to be quilting a whole lot of circles.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I actually felt pretty good about this block. The circles were mostly uniform, save for the half circles along the edges, but they turned out to be easier than the full circles. I have to say this block ultimately was pretty fun.


Just in case you'd like to make your free motion quilting life easier click here to find the cheater cloth fabric I'm using for my blocks which will save time piecing and marking all the blocks.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I ended up with a thread break as I stitched a circle in the corner. What happened was I was moving the block too slowly and running the machine too fast. In the future I'll adjust the speed of the machine to run a little slower, or speed up the movement of my hands, so hopefully this won't happen again.

I also seem to have forgotten to quilt along a few lines in this design. Lot of circles and curves in this block and in an attempt to minimize travel stitching a few just got away from me.

So I didn't complete all the circles. Turns out Leah really liked it. She said it's nice that not all of them are stitched just right and thought the imperfection gave the block a nice beginner touch.

Until next week, let's go quilt,

Josh

Monday, February 17, 2014

7. Quilt Circles in a 9 Patch Block

It's time to quilt circles! Circles are a fun shape to master in free motion, and they certainly add a unique, eye-catching texture to your quilts. Check out all the circles filling our 9 patch block and see how they've transformed the simple design:
free motion quilting | Leah Day

Just in case you're looking for the quilting guide to mark your block, you can find it in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern right here.

However, marking these circles accurately can be a challenge. We have a lot of seam allowances all pressed open on the back side of the block which can create more shadows and make marking more difficult.

So instead of using my light box, I marked using my Fons & Porter marking pencil and a drafting circle template like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

You can find templates like this in any office supply store - just look in the drafting section. I love collecting these templates and using them to mark from the surface of the quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
NEW! You can also mark this block using the new stencil created by Quilting Creations International. Use the stencil to easily mark the design on plain fabric, your block, or another fun quilt you're working on! Click here to find the 8 inch stencil compatible with the Building Blocks Quilt.

However, it is possible to free-hand quilt these circles too - that's quilting without marking the actual shape. In this situation I marked simple lines on the block to create a visual guide for the space the circle should fit. It's a little less fiddly than marking the actual circle shape, though you may end up with some less-than-perfect circles.

But I also have a fix for that too! Watch the video to see what I mean:


I think my new mantra for this quilt along is Don't Obsess About It. It's easy to get obsessive about every little mistake and every little missed stitch or wobbly line.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Many of my circles were more oval than circular. My big circle was a bit more wobbly than I would have liked. But was the way I was quilting that day and I'm not going to obsess about these tiny details.

And trust me, if you think you're hard on yourself, just try quilting this on video and talking at the same time, then having 5000 people watch the video and potentially criticize your work! I've had to learn the hard way that obsessing about the little things is a waste of my time.

Instead I look for ways to hide the worst mistakes, like filling them with the small open spirals. Adding this little detail will transform a totally wobbly circle into a beautiful spiral, and make it even more uniquely yours.

Yes, UNIQUE - not perfect, not exactly matching the quilting guide, but a unique, one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-recreated version made by the awesomely talented, terrific quilter - YOU!

If you get too hard on yourself about this stuff, it's easy to miss the point of making the quilt: to have fun, to learn something new, to pass down a piece of yourself to your kids or grand-kids.

Because quilts last! I have quilts in my closet made by great-grandmothers I never met. They are not in any way perfect - large chunky stitches, lumpy places in the batting, messy bound edges - but they mean more to me BECAUSE they are imperfect.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It shows that a real person made these quilts, not a machine, not a computer, but a real person that was somehow related to me, and I still own a piece of her, something she touched and created and hopefully had fun making.

So please remember that perfection isn't the point of this exercise. Try to find the fun in this learning experience instead of judgement and criticism. Quilt with joy!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, February 14, 2014

Free Motion Project Link Up

It's time to link up! It's been a crazy snow week for us with James out of school, but I've still found time to quilt in between fun trips outside to build a snow family:


Today the sun is shining brightly so all this beautiful snow will soon melt away. So far we haven't had to delay any orders due to power outage, and the roads are now cleared, so everything is shipping out as normal.

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah DayOn the quilting front, we tackled quilting our 9 patch blocks with straight lines. I stitched every single line on my block, including the ditches.

Josh ignored his ditches and still ended up with a beautiful design.

I've also seen some amazing variations of this design on the Facebook Group Page, so make sure to join in and check out all the beautiful colors and creativity going on there as well!

 Also posted this week was a fun spring-themed design called Daisy Chain:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It's probably going to be awhile before I see flowers like these in my garden, so it was lots of fun to stitch it instead. I'd like to try this again, but with multiple colors of thread. Wouldn't this look cute in pink, red, and yellow?

So that's what I've been up to this week! What have you been working on?

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!



Grab a button to easily share the Free Motion Quilting Project on your blog!

Free Motion Quilting Project
<div class="Free Motion Quilting Project" style="width: 150px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q6F-r2YosSY/UuTzebRpLhI/AAAAAAAAJII/JvAHayVWdhI/s1600/fmq+button.jpg" alt="Free Motion Quilting Project" width="150" height="150" /> </a> </div>

Thursday, February 13, 2014

426. Free Motion Quilt Daisy Chain

Brrr! It's super cold and STILL snowing outside! We've still got power (YAY!) so I'm able to share a new design that has a definite spring-time theme:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This Daisy Chain design came to mind after stitching Amazing Daisies a few months ago. I was wondering what would happen if I simplified the design with fewer echoes, but added in a touch of thread painting to really make the center of each flower pop.

Watch this video to see for yourself how it works:


This is technically an Edge to Edge design so it's going to work best in sashing or quilt borders. Try to find long, narrow spaces to quilt this design so you can easily flow through the length of your quilt stitching one daisy at a time.

It definitely does help to mark the daisy centers along your starting line. I wouldn't get too obsessive about this as it could look cool to have some daisies closer together and some further apart. I love the way the petals lock together too so make sure you leave plenty of space around each flower to expand the last row of echoes.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Josh's Straight Lines in a 9 Patch Block

Josh here to share my experience on quilting straight lines in our 9 patch block.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I really liked this design and had a lot of fun quilting it. It's perfect for beginners as you're only dealing with straight lines, and the little diagonal, tight lines in the corners are enough to keep you on your toes but not overwhelming.



Just in case you're looking for the same cheater cloth printed fabric, click here to find it at Spoonflower.com

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Leah hopped into the video to explain a fabric pleat that formed along the edge of the block. This is the first time I didn't really see or feel this happen, but she noticed the fabric shifting over as I stitched one of the small straight lines along the edge.

From what she said, pleats can happen, but they aren't a big deal if they form along the edge of the block as we're going to cover this area up with binding later anyway.

I also learned this is one of the reasons Leah love starch so much. Apparently it makes the fabric stiff so it's less likely to shift and move as you quilt it. Fair warning: using a lot of starch leaves an overwhelming clinical odor that smells like a cross between a hospital and an industrial laundromat.

Anyway, this block is pretty easy and I wish I'd actually started the project with this as my first block. I easily got into the flow of stitching and the progression felt very logical and user-friendly, so to speak.

Let's go quilt,

Josh

Monday, February 10, 2014

6. Quilt a 9 Patch Block with Straight Lines

It's quilting time! Today we're getting a bit of review in by quilting straight lines in one of our 9 patch blocks:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Last month we quilted Gridlines in a 4 patch block and many quilters commented that this was the easiest quilting design for them so far. So if you found gridlines easy, this quilting design should be a walk in the park!


Are you wanting to jump into the fun of this quilt along? Click here to pick up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern to get started! It's definitely not to late to join in!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
NEW! This block design is now available in a quilting stencil from Quilting Creations International. Use the stencil to easily mark the design on plain fabric, your block, or another fun quilt you're working on! Click here to find the 8 inch stencil compatible with the Building Blocks Quilt.

When it comes to this particular block, the hardest part for me was figuring out a path that would knock out the lines with the least amount of travel stitching. Some of the blocks we stitch this year will be challenging in this way, and the best thing to do is knock out a few lines at a time, stop and take a look at where you want to go next.

This block can also be quilted in two different ways - you can either stitch the 9 patch block area in the ditch, or you can ignore those ditch lines completely. I choose to stitch those lines, but Josh ignored them. You can see the difference on the backs of our finished blocks:
free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day

Remember, there's no right or wrong way to quilt this block, or any of the blocks we're working on this year!

If you want to change up the design, or ignore some lines of quilting, that is just fine! Feel free to be as creative as you like with this project.

My one extra piece of advice in the video is important - give yourself plenty of time to quilt this. I was feeling pulled in all directions the day I filmed and my quilting suffered because of it.

This block should only take 20 minutes at the most to quilt, but if you feel rushed, it's not going to be a fun time.

So try to find a peaceful time of the day where you don't have a mile long to-do list hanging over your head and enjoy the process. Make sure to swing by again tomorrow so you can check out Josh's block too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, February 7, 2014

FMQ Project Link Up

free motion quilting | Leah Day
What a crazy busy week! We've learned how to piece a fun 9 patch block and make delicious spaghetti! Josh and I also closed on our new land in Gastonia, NC, so our future is definitely headed somewhere new (though not for a few more years at least!)

I've been really enjoying seeing all the blocks posted to these link ups and to the Building Blocks Facebook Group. It's so much fun to see all the color combinations and variations people are coming up with!

free motion quilting | Leah DayMany quilters have changed up this block a bit by switching out the colors on the 9 patch. This is a wonderful way to make your blocks a bit more creative and fun!

Also posted this week was a fun design called Hobbit Holes, and super thank you to everyone that commented to share great fantasy novels. It will be loads of fun to check out all these new books this spring and summer.

So that's what I've been busy with this week! What have you been working on?

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!


Grab a button to easily share the Free Motion Quilting Project on your blog!


Free Motion Quilting Project
<div class="Free Motion Quilting Project" style="width: 150px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q6F-r2YosSY/UuTzebRpLhI/AAAAAAAAJII/JvAHayVWdhI/s1600/fmq+button.jpg" alt="Free Motion Quilting Project" width="150" height="150" /> </a> </div>


Thursday, February 6, 2014

#425 - Free Motion Quilt Hobbit Holes

It's design time! Last week we learned Broken Eggs which was definitely on the complex side. This week let's try something a bit simpler like this Hobbit Holes design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I remember reading The Hobbit for the first time in 5th grade and it was really my first experience with fantasy fiction. I still love reading books about dragons, giant eagles, and wizards, so if you have any favorites, make sure to share them in the comments below!



This is an echoing design, but it's a bit of a cheat like Echo Shortcut. The way it's stitched will make it very fast to fill large areas in your quilt. Now I just need to make a few designs inspired by dragon fire and unicorn horns and we'll have the makings for an awesome fantasy quilt!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Embroidery fun!

It's Wednesday and time to share what I'm really working on today! This week has been super busy filming and editing new videos for the quilt along, but I have found some time to stitch out some embroidery designs too:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm making a little mini wall hanging with designs from the Expressions of Textures Embroidery CD to test out some new threads I was sent, and to get more experience stitching out the embroidery designs and connecting them together.


free motion quilting | Leah Day

I was sent several colors of Robinson-Anton super strength rayon thread and I instantly wanted to stitch out some funky designs over some hand dyed fabrics. This thread is super thin and strong like Isacord, and I like the subtle sheen.

Also on the embroidery front, I'm finally making progress on my flower table runner from the Craftsy class Elegant Embroidered Quilts:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I redesigned my table runner to be much longer, so of course I'm having to piece a lot more half square triangles! I have a new audiobook to listen to, so this will be a super fun project to zoom through this afternoon.

So that's what I'm sewing today!

Leah

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Leah's teaching how to piece a 9 patch block, so I'm off the hook for quilting this week. Instead I wanted to share one of our favorite family recipes with you today. We make this every Sunday night without fail. I've made this so many times I feel it's almost to the point of perfection.

It's a classic, American, comfort food.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (Americanized Bolognese)

free motion quilting | Leah Day


1-2 pounds Italian pork sausage (local sausage is always the best so check out your farmer's market)
1 tsp dried caraway seeds
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, San Marzano certified (this is the most expensive can of tomatoes on the market, but trust me, they're worth it. They are the key ingredient to this dish and the flavor of authentic San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, are unmistakable. I use Cento brand. Always look for the import stamp on the can to ensure you're getting the real thing because you'll be paying top dollar and there are a number of substandard American brands that sell rip-off San Marzano tomatoes.)
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh basil, 8-10 large leaves, roughly torn
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, diced (fresh, garden herbs are a must)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbs fine red wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Pasta of your choice (for real Italian Bolognese sauce, you'd use a wide, thick, large noodle, like tagliatelle, or fettucini. Since what I make is an Americanized dish, I use angel hair, as this is a personal favorite. Either fresh or dried pasta will work.)

Optional ingredients:
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 Tbs carrot puree, or finely minced (this adds a natural sweetness)
1/3 cup porcini mushrooms, diced
1 to 1/2 pound ground round beef (take away half of the sausage and replace with beef)
1/2 cup homemade beef, lamb, or chicken stock
free motion quilting | Leah Day
To begin put your stovetop burner on medium heat.  Add meat, season with dried caraway seeds,  and brown all the way. (Note: This dish is best made in a cast iron pot.)
Drain off as much of the grease as possible and push the meat to one side of the pan. Add olive oil, let come to temperature, then drop in your garlic. You'll want it to nicely sizzle. Sautee in the olive oil for no more than two minutes as you don't want the garlic getting brown. Then incorporate oil and garlic into the meat. If using onion, carrots, and/or mushrooms, add these now too.

Deglaze with red wine and let cook down for two or three minutes.

Open can of San Marzano tomatoes and pour in. Crush whole peeled tomatoes with a fork or your hand. Reserve the can and put next to the pot.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Quickly add fresh basil and parsley, a squirt of fine red wine vinegar, and your stock or broth if using. Stir well.

Drop temperature to medium-low. Using a wide spoon, skim the acid and bubbles from the surface of the sauce. Remove the scum to the reserved tomato can. Depending on your meat and vegetable ordinance, you could have as much as 1/2 cup of grease which absolutely needs to be skimmed off.

Cook sauce for half an hour to an hour. The longer you cook, the better the sauce. Add water or stock when the sauce begins to look too dry.

Cook pasta al dente. Drain in a colander and toss with olive oil and 1/4 cup of the sauce.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Until next week, let's go cook!

Josh

Monday, February 3, 2014

5. How to Piece a Nine Patch Block

It's the first Monday in February which means it's time to piece our next block! This month we're going to learn how to piece and quilt 3 of these Nine Patch Blocks:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Are you looking for the piecing instructions and quilting guides? Click here to find them in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern!

For this block, we're also going to learn two extra piecing techniques: strip piecing and chain piecing. These techniques can definitely save you time cutting and piecing fabric, but care must be taken not to stretch the long strips as you piece them together.

Watch the video to see what I mean:


Just in case you missed it, click here to check out my piecing tips post for more info about how I prepare fabric and what tools and supplies I use for piecing. 

This was a pretty LONG video today, but I really wanted to nail in the point about strip piecing and the gentleness you need to bring to this technique.

I also demonstrated left and right handed cutting, and hopefully you noticed just how long it took to cut 9 pieces from our pieced strips. Yes, strip piecing can certainly save time, but if you try to fly through it like a speed demon, chances are the seam lines won't match up.

However, is it the end of the world if your pieces don't match perfectly? No! You're still going to make a beautiful quilt, and the quilting designs this month will likely hide any imperfection in the piecing anyway.

So this week aim to piece 3 of these blocks so you'll be ready to go for the rest of the month. Just in case you have questions - feel free to post them here or on the Building Blocks Facebook Group Page and get the help you need!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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