The Free Motion Quilting Project: July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

36. How to Piece a House Block

We've really booked it this month, flying through all our Disappearing Nine Patch blocks AND our Spinning Square Blocks. Through September we're going to move more slowly piecing and quilting our cute Home Sweet Home block:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day
I really love this block and all the little pieces that come together to make the design! It's going to be loads of fun to piece, and even more fun to free motion quilt with beautiful designs.

Two notes from the pattern: the last three pieces - shapes L and M are both cut a bit long. After piecing the L shapes in place, trim up the edge of your block, then piece shape M and trim up again if you like.

I designed these pieces a bit big so you wouldn't cut the strips exactly to size and find it's not quite long enough to fit. With all the many pieces here it's easy to get off and have the block grow progressively from the inside out. Just remember to stop and square and you'll be on the right track!


It's never too late to join in this fun quilt along and start learning how to piece and quilt all these pretty blocks. All you need to get started is the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
Yes, I pretty much always stitch over my pins when matching tricky seams. So long as you stitch SUPER slowly over the pin, your needle will usually bend around the pin rather than hit it directly. It's a habit I got into back when I sewed 50+ garments a week and I still haven't lost that habit!

So now that you know how to piece a house block, how many houses do you want to make? I'd love to make a set of orange, brown, and red houses for the fall, and maybe some red and green houses for the winter, and red and white houses for Valentine's Day...I think this is one block that could work for any time of the year!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Learning Loads at AQS Charlotte

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've been looking forward to this week ALL summer! This week Josh, James and I have taken off for Charlotte, NC to visit AQS Charlotte show and I think this has been one of our best vacations ever!

 I'm taking classes and it's been loads of fun just focusing on being a student this week. Yes, even teachers need to learn and build new skills and this trip has been all about building new skills in arenas that I'm definitely interested in, but just haven't taken the time to learn.

My first class today was with Barb Vlack on designing with EQ7. Just in case you're not familiar - EQ7 stands for Electric Quilt and it's a program you can use to design quilts, print templates, and calculate yardage.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've had this program for more than a year, but never clicked beyond the starting screen. Does that sound familiar? Most other students in class reported the same issue! Taking a class on using this software was a great investment because it forced me to take a whole day, focus on just the program, and be patient while I learned all the steps.

There's still loads I want to learn - like how to draw custom block sizes and applique shapes and quilting designs - but I got the basics down pat and even started laying out some old quilts that would be nice to have in pattern form.

It might not be much, and it certainly needs a bit of tweaking, but I feel like this is a huge accomplishment! I have to hand it to Barb Vlack for running such a great class.

She kept everyone on track and was infinitely patient with over 20 students and all our various computer skill levels. I wish I had more room in my schedule for more EQ7 classes, but for now I'm satisfied with understanding the basics and learning by trial and error from here.

It turns out Barb is the awesome creator of all the EQ7 challenges in Club EQ. If you really want to test your skills at the program you can design quilts or blocks for the monthly challenges and post them to the website here. It's a great way to build skill and make amazing block and quilt designs!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Josh's Wiggly Spirals in a Spinning Square Block

Josh here, and today we're stitching out some wiggly spirals in our fun spinning square block. Groovy!


And here's the finished block:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

How are you doing with wiggly spirals? Did you stitch this design out freehand, or did you use traced lines?

Remember, this Quilt Along is very different from others you may have done in the past. You can join at any time and stitch the designs and blocks at your own leisure as the pattern and these posts and videos will always be available.

Click here for the download version of the pattern.

Click here for a PRINTED copy of the Building Blocks quilt pattern.

Until next time, let's go quilt.

Josh

Monday, July 28, 2014

35. Quilt Wiggly Spiral in a Spinning Square Block

It's time to finish our last Spinning Square block! This block has been so much fun and we've learned many creative ways to quilt it. Today we're covering the entire block with a big wiggly spiral:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This particular design works a bit differently from most other blocks we've quilted. We're starting in the center and wiggling and spiraling our way outward. This is a fun way to quilt a single block or an entire quilt, though you will have to rotate quite a bit to keep the spiral spinning evenly outward.

Of course starting in the center means you have to deal with two loose threads right in the middle of the block from the beginning. Watch the video to see how I tied and buried the threads with a cheater needle so they wouldn't be in my way while quilting.


It's never too late to join in this fun quilt along and start learning how to piece and quilt all these pretty blocks. All you need to get started is the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
Ultimately this wiggly spiral design should feel very easy to quilt from the center to the outside, so long as you rotate your block often so you feel most comfortable forming those wiggly "U" shapes as you go.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe really nice thing about this design is you can avoid all the seam allowances in this block that can hang up your foot and cause you to form irregular stitches on the quilt.

You still may run into spots like this where your foot just feels stuck. Remember to stop stitching, bring your hands closer to the needle, carefully stitch slowly out of that area to a place where your foot moves more freely.

So after paper piecing and free motion quilting all of these Spinning Squares, do you want to tackle more paper piecing? How have you liked this set of blocks?

Don't forget to swing back by tomorrow for Josh's take on this cool design!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ultimate Free-Motion Quilting

Yay, it's finally here! My friend and fellow quilting teacher Patsy Thompson has a new class on Craftsy called Ultimate Free-Motion Quilting!

http://www.craftsy.com/ext/LeahDay_4270_CP

Ultimate Free-Motion Quilting is an amazing class filled with beautiful free motion quilting designs and new techniques for you to try. If you've been feeling bored with single color free motion designs, it might be time to try Patsy's amazing hyperquilted designs - quilting designs created with multiple colors of thread to create a totally unique effect:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

In this class you will also learn two ways to add trapunto to your quilts. This is the process of making certain areas of your quilt puffy, then flattening the background area with dense stitching.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I know this type of quilting can look intimidating, but it's really not difficult to understand thanks to Patsy's calm, clear instructions. She demonstrates techniques on a stitched sample first, then draws it on paper, then quilts it for you, so you understand every step in the design process.

If you've been looking to stitch your quilts up a notch, definitely sign up for Patsy's Ultimate Free-Motion Quilting class today! Click here to save 25% on this class.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, July 25, 2014

Josh's Circles in a Spinning Square

Josh here for a try at circles in a Spinning Square. Just in case you missed it, Leah posted her video about this block yesterday right here. Now for my block...I think this has been my least favorite design yet:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

These circles were tough and I was quilting on the Spoonflower cheater cloth. It's mostly the circle shapes, which get very tiny in places and can be tricky to stitch on the lines. See what I mean in this video:


One thing that's definitely improved after this video - I got rid of that $^*% knee lifter! That thing has been in my way since the beginning and I finally realized I could pull it out and get it out of my way. That would have been good to know back in January...but Leah didn't tell me I could take it out until this video.

Now if you'd like to join in this quilt along and learn how to free motion quilt from a beginner level like me, you can pick up some Spoonflower Cheater Cloth like I'm using right here.

If you'd rather learn how to piece these blocks, you'll need a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern, available right here.

Let's go quilt,

Josh

Thursday, July 24, 2014

34. Quilt Circles in a Spinning Square Block

It's quilting time! Earlier this week we learned how to cover a Spinning Square with Stippling and from what I've seen in the Facebook group, everyone found this relatively easy and quick to quilt.

So today let's stitch it up a notch as we learn to quilt circles within this block too:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I honestly will understand if you have a deep desire to punch me after quilting this block. I had a bit of that impulse myself!

Circles are tricky, and all the seam allowances from paper piecing this block don't make it easier. Notice how many spirals I stitched into the circles...those are hiding a whole slew of mistakes: stitching out of the circle shape, stitching off the ditch, stitching into the circle.

Yep, I made about every mistake in the book and hid most of the bad circles by filling them with spirals. See how it all worked in this video:


Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
free motion quilting | Leah DaySo circles can be a real beast, particularly in blocks like this. Just take your time, stitch slowly and don't obsess about your mistakes. Just fill your wonky circles with spirals or use a sharpie marker to color your thread when you jump out of the ditch. It's far easier to cover it up than rip it out!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Josh's Stippling on a Spinning Square Block

It's all over stippling time on our fun spinning square, so let's get right to it.


And here's the finish:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

And the back:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Looking at the back, I can't even see the bird beak I made that I was so unhappy with. This just goes to show how important it is to put a block aside and give it some time--you'll likely not even notice what you once thought was a glaring mistake!

In the video we also talked about your sewing chair. Are you comfortable when you're sewing on your machine? Lowering the stool helped me drastically. I was much more comfortable with this block dropping the angle. This was a very easy block so I didn't need to have a higher vantage point so slightly dropping the height helped me sail through the block.

This was a great block and a great design for a beginner.

It's also a perfect time to join us in our Quilt Along. Leah designed our beginner-level Building Block Quilt Along to be picked up at any time as you'll get all 42 blocks at once and can work at your own pace and leisure. No having to download something once a month, or set up a monthly recurring payment--for one small sum you get the entire package. As the pattern will always be available and due to our fun and buzzing Facebook group, you can interact with hundreds of active quilt along members and get help, tips, and show off your work.

Finally, we recently had more than a hundred newby Quilt Along members sign up, so if you're just starting out you won't be alone!

Until next time, let's go quilt.

Josh

Monday, July 21, 2014

33. Quilt Stippling in a Spinning Square

Ready to tackle another Spinning Square block? Today we're free motion quilting this block with an All-Over version of Stippling. Basically just wiggle over the block randomly and try to avoid those pesky areas of seam allowance.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The nice thing about this design is if you don't want to quilt over your T-shirt fabric in the center, you don't have to! Just wiggle around it rather than over it and your block will still look great and be secured.
 
The Spinning Square Block is definitely popular in the Building Blocks Facebook group where members have been showing off awesome blocks with all sorts of t-shirt fabric, decorative prints, and even embroidery designs in the center. Click here to join in the fun of the Building Blocks Facebook group!

Now for the video:


Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
free motion quilting | Leah DayIf you really liked the way we quilted Stippling in this block, you might want to check out the collection of Independent Designs. These designs all work like Stippling, but they look very different, so you can find a cool design for any style or theme of quilt.

All over quilting really is a great way to finish a quilt quickly by adding texture to the surface and securing the layers together, but not throwing loads of time into the design. There will always be those quilts that just need to get together and get done and Stippling, or any of the Independent Designs is a great way to finish them.

So that's it for today! Swing back by tomorrow to see how Josh quilted this design too!

Let's go quilting,

Leah Day

Friday, July 18, 2014

Josh's Straight Lines a Spinning Square Block

Josh here. Happy Friday! Today I'm quilting straight lines in our newest block, a spinning square.


Straight lines are easy mode for me. However, what was interesting about this block was the rays coming together in the corners. I skipped the lines in the middle of the triangles, but I still had a thread buildup issue.

Here's the finish:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I think this is a really pretty design for the block.

How did your block finish out? Did you do anything creative with the design?

Let's go quilt!

Josh

Thursday, July 17, 2014

32. Quilt Lines in a Spinning Square

On Monday we learned how to piece a Spinning Square block, now it's time to quilt it with simple straight lines:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The nice thing about this block is you can flow easily around each spinning square with minimal travel stitching. Watch the video to see exactly the path I chose to knock out this block quickly:


Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
The only bad thing about paper piecing is those pesky seam allowances! Hopefully my tips in the videos on holding the block more securely and slowing down will help you stitch through these areas easily. 

Just remember, a few big stitches or a few small stitches will not ruin  your block. I made some mistakes in my block, but I didn't rip them out. This is supposed to be a learning quilt after all, and learning something new...we'll it ain't always pretty!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Affordable Sewing Table

For many years we carried these awesome little affordable sewing tables - small, sturdy, but able to hold even the biggest machines, and now they're back and available here on our site!

http://www.leahday.com/shop/product/affordable-sewing-table/

I actually bought my first table back in 2009, and just recently realized that means I've been using the same table for over five years! The sturdy construction and large cut-out space have allowed me to use any machine in this table, no matter how big or small.

See a bit more about the table in this new video:


free motion quilting | Leah Day
Of all the tools I've invested in over the years, this sewing table really is one of my best purchases. I saw a huge change in my sewing and quilting ability immediately because the machine was flush with the table top and suddenly I didn't have to fight the bulk and weight of the quilt pushing up and over the machine bed.

Learn more about this sewing table right here at LeahDay.com

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is your sewing space toxic?

Josh here, but no Building Block Quilt Along post from me today. Instead, I want to talk about something that's often overlooked in fiber art hobbies and may contribute to potential health problems in the long term.

The issue is dust, which is the final result of the invisible particulate fiber matter that becomes airborne whenever fabric is cut and every time a needle strikes the fiber material on your machine.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is the louvered door leading into our utility room where our furnace/air conditioner is located. It's slatted to encourage airflow for one of our whole house air system's intake (the other intake is located upstairs near our thermostat).

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Here's a better angle. That's a solid layer of dust and grime caked on the door from years of heavy sewing machine use and fabric cutting. Note how the slats are far dustier than the frame of the door. This is due to the furnace intake drawing air in, thus making the door a sort of preliminary filter.

Leah's dad recently began working with us. Like me, he's sensitive to dust, pollen, and airborne particulates. He drew our attention to the long term problem of dust and how by the simple act of quilt making we create more of it every day.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is one of our two air filters I installed a few years ago because I worried about Leah breathing all the junk in the air that comes from heavy machine use. We bought two overkill, HEPA-certified units, thinking they would easily be able to keep the air moving and filter out the majority of the dust. This one is mounted on the wall above Leah's cutting table, the other one we left mobile but it usually stays in Leah's sewing room.

It turns out these two units are not sufficient for proper air quality.

There are several factors that come into play in our particular situation:

    free motion quilting | Leah Day
  1. We work in a full basement with very low ceilings and some odd rooms. There are only two return vents for our air system, each located on the ceiling. There is also original 1970s carpet on the majority of the floor, and the rest is original vinyl slapped onto a concrete slab. Our basement is full of dead space with inadequate air current.
  2. There is a lot of surface area--nooks and crannies, dozens and dozens of shelves, and on these surfaces are hundreds of small items (shown at right), all creating more space for dust to accumulate.
  3. Leah uses her machines daily and we cut a lot of fabric, not just for our projects but also for our French fuse interfacing and Quilt Kits which we offer in our shop. I recently started quilting myself too. When I made my first line of stitching on the sewing machine, the first thing I noticed was the tiny, smoke-like plume of dust that kicked up into the air when the needle hit the fabric. This matter doesn't vaporize into nothing--it flies into the air in all directions, and some of it goes into your lungs.
  4. Leah and I do not vacuum nor clean as much as we need to. While a proper air circulation and filtration system needs to be permanently installed, we also need to start a weekly and monthly maintenance protocol to tackle the dust that gathers on surfaces.
We've worked out a plan of action to tackle this serious and chronic issue and get things under control.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Leah has gone through her fabric stash and is seriously downsizing. Today we're dividing, measuring, and bagging yardage and scraps and will ebay the fabric later, most likely in the fall--so if you're interested in nabbing a great deal on our fabric, be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow Leah on Facebook to get the announcement when the fabric goes live on eBay.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

We're going to demolish the old 1970s kitchen cabinetry pictured above and install an air circulation system, rigged up with box fans and house floss filters. This is the cutting and design room which is adjacent to our furnace and AC unit, so all the air in the basement passes through here.

We're also going to put up drop screens to minimize the fiber dust from seeping into the other rooms in the basement, as well as increase air current throughout.

Finally, and most importantly, we're going to blow out the entire basement with the exhaust from a heavy duty shop vac, drawing the dust out with an industrial size garage fan blowing outside. Then we will implement a strict maintenance protocol with weekly heavy vacuuming and a monthly deep clean.

You may not see the dust, but I assure you it's there, and you're breathing it. Unfortunately, dust is always going to be a side effect of working with fiber arts. Some people are more sensitive to airborne particles than others; Leah is practically immune, but I've taken to wearing a respirator when cutting fabric as I always go into a sneezing fit. However, even if the dust doesn't seem to bother you at all, remember it is getting into your lungs.

Do you have a system for your sewing area? Have you ever thought about it?  We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue, so please share in the comments section!

Until next week, let's go... clean!

Josh

Monday, July 14, 2014

31. Paper Piece a Spinning Square Block

It's time to tackle block #8, our Spinning Square block and we're mixing our piecing up by learning paper piecing!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

For this block you also have the option to use a special fabric in the center - a small piece of T-shirt fabric, a decorative embroidery, or a special print. The choice is entirely yours, but do make sure if you're using t-shirt fabric that you stabilize it with interfacing like French Fuse so it doesn't turn into a stretchy mess when we try to quilt it!

Now kick back and enjoy learning how to paper piece this cool block!


Would you like to learn how to piece and free motion quilt this Disappearing Nine Patch Block? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
Whew! Paper piecing definitely has a lot more steps and can be pretty complicated. Personally I like paper piecing in small doses, which makes this project perfect! Piece up 4 pretty blocks and get ready to quilt them all by the end of July!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Inspiring Fashion of the Past

Last Sunday Josh and James took off for a movie and I took off to Charlotte to the Mint Museum of Art to see their Fashionable Silhouettes collection. What an amazing trip it turned out to be!


These dresses just make me want to pull out my patterns and Lucy, my duct-tape dress form, and design something amazing!


This was my favorite gown of the collection. It featured French lace on the wrong side of the train, which means only if the bride accidentally flipped her train up would you see it. Such extravagance!


After wandering through the dresses and shooting pictures (these are apart of the museums permanent collection, so pictures are allowed) for more than an hour, I felt so inspired to come right home and start working on a new big, magnificent, SOMETHING - a quilt, a gown, a costume - I don't even know what.

Ultimately it reminded me the simple lesson from The Artist's Way - every artist must go on a creativity date to absorb new ideas, new art, new images, then go home refreshed and filled with inspiration. That's certainly how it worked for me!

Let's go make something amazing!

Leah Day

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Josh's Stippling & Echoes in a Disappearing 9 Patch Block

Josh here, and it looks like I missed posting yesterday, so today I'll be stitching out stippling and some echo designs in one of our fun disappearing 9 patch block.


This was some of the best stippling I've done to date. Here is the finished block:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

And the back:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This was it for our disappearing 9 patch blocks. How did you feel about this block and the designs?

Let's go quilt!

Josh
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