The Free Motion Quilting Project: 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Word for the Coming Year, Podcast Episode 40!

We're in that wonderful week between Christmas and New Years and I've been taking the time to reflect on all that has happened in 2017 and what I'm hoping to create in 2018. Listen to the episode or download it to your computer with this player:


Or you can watch the episode and see the little project I'm painting in this video:


Every year I pick a word that acts as a guiding light. It's kind of a like a mantra in a way. Just one single word that helps me remember my goals and focus on what I hope to achieve.

Most of the time this word isn't something I pick. It seems to pick me. When I hear it or run across it, it's like something goes "DING! That's important! Pay attention!"

In 2017, I started the year with two words: Simple and Open. I honestly believe this year would have gone very different if I hadn't had these two intentions constantly running through my mind.

I also gave up drinking completely in January and that single act has helped me feel so much better, more connected and grounded, and more open and connected to the people around me.

Would you like to see where I was at this time last year? Click Here to listen to podcast episode #8 and the intentions I set for 2017. It's really cool to have this podcast, almost like a little time capsule of what was going on through the year!

About halfway through 2017, a new word popped into my heart - Trust.

I was struggling with a lot of anxiety and fear through the summer. I was working really hard on the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting, but I didn't know how everything would work or if all the effort I was putting in would be worth it.

I just had to trust. That word worked on me and helped me see the book through to the finish and now that it's done it feels amazing to have created it.

New Word for 2018

My word for 2018 was being rather elusive. I was wondering if Trust would remain my word for the next year or something new would come along.

And then a few things happened and a new path and decision was put in front of me that was scary and amazing and awesome all at once. I felt wound up and a bit terrified, but at the same time excited beyond belief.

But for everything to work out, I will have to work my pants off. This is a long term project that will need to be planned within an inch of it's life, organized, designed, and launched on a specific date in the future.

So that's when I had to ask - am I up for the challenge?

And that's when I knew what my word was for 2018!

Challenge is the perfect word for me this year because there are many things I want to change and challenge within myself. I want to focus on my goals an work forward with a new level of focus and intention.

I'm tired of being surrounded by stuff, so I'm starting the year with a clean slate and I'm committed to working on only one or two projects at a time.

This fits perfectly with my challenge to be less distracted and disorganized. I want to be present with my family and able to set work aside at the end of the day so I'm not constantly distracted while we spend time together.

I also have the challenge of this new secret project that I've committed to with my whole heart. This will take more than a year to create and will be the biggest thing I've ever done. Crazy. Scary. Awesome. I can't wait!

At the same time, I know this word could come with a double edged sword. This year could also bring unexpected challenges to my family that we will have to overcome.

A few years ago I picked the word Grow, not realizing that with growth can come growing pains. A word of the year can work with you, but it can also work ON you and force you to see and acknowledge things you might not like about yourself. That was certainly the case that year.

But part of accepting a word like Challenge is accepting all that might come along with it, the good, the bad, the awesome, and the ugly. I feel like I've been holding myself back, sitting on the edge of the pool and dipping my toes in to see if the water is warm enough.

Accepting the challenge is to jump in with a running leap and an open heart and trust that even if the water is freezing cold, I can deal with it. I can do this. I'm up for the challenge.

So here's to a new year filled with possibilities! Have you picked a word for the year yet? Or has a specific word caught your attention? Share it in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ending the Year with a Clean Slate

I know it seems odd, but this week between Christmas and New Years is favorite time of the year. It feels like an extra bonus week and I always use this time to finish up old projects so I start the new year with a clean slate.

This year I decided to ramp up my finishing efforts by also adding a massive full craft reorganization to the mix. I pulled out every craft box and bin, every drawer filled with ribbon and floss, every bead box and fat quarter and reorganized the entire lot at once.

I organized my upstairs office / craft room on the floor and decided I'd had enough of a back ache for the rest of the year! When I started cleaning up downstairs, I piled things up on the cutting table so I could stand and sort and that made things much easier.

I ended up having to work in batches - pulling out as many boxes and drawers as would fit on this table, then spreading out the contents to see what was all here and how it could best be organized back in drawers and bins:


This is not a small job! I've been crafting since I was a little girl and have so many different craft interests beyond quilting. I love to spin, knit, crochet, weave and make elaborate costumes. This year I got into leather work and now have a massive stash of leather rivets and tools to organize too.

A few months ago I realized I had lots of bins filled with a disorganized selection of tools, ribbons, and random odds and ends for future costumes I plan to create. It was impossible to find anything quickly and I would often have to pull out three or for bins just to find what I was looking for.

So cleaning everything out was like a massive reset for the entire space. I know exactly what materials I have and where I can find them so it will be easy to pull out the things I need when working on any new projects.

Stop Buying Start Making

Something that started bugging me as I dug through my craft horde was how much of certain things I've purchased. This implies I don't remember what I've bought and rather than go check, or go use what I have on hand, I go shopping instead.

I've written about this before and I've tried to work on it, but it's a habit that has persisted. Rather than go be creative and make something pretty when the urge strikes, I just buy more stuff. That needs to end.

Buying scratches the itch, but doesn't feed my soul. A lot of materials like paints and canvases, I know I haven't used them because I'm afraid of messing them up, or worse, wasting materials.

What's the worst thing about using up some paint, even if the painting is terrible? It gets used so it doesn't go bad and separate! I've had to throw out so many materials and supplies over the last few days that just went bad because they sat in a bin for so long.

What is this space worth?

Dad is always encouraging me to look at the space things take up and think about the impact it has on my business. It's hard to quantify since a lot of this craft stuff is just for fun, not for business or even for video tutorials, but it's still a good thing to think about.

Sometimes this horde of materials and unfinished projects gets in the way of getting our work done and that definitely needs to end.

In the spirit of making the space more usable, I cleaned off my embroidery station and moved my stabilizer hangers. These had been a few feet away, which was okay, but not nearly as convenient for hooping embroidery as they are now.


Ad: You can find these racks right here on Amazon.com. I LOVE them for holding the big rolls of embroidery stablizer and it makes it so easy to pull off just the amount you need.

I want to do a lot more with machine embroidery and with this space so nicely cleaned up that will definitely be a possibility.

What have you wanted to do for years?

Another thing I found while cleaning out these three rooms of my house were journals. Journals, journals and more journals! It seemed every room of the house had another stash of journals tucked away in another corner.

I barely skimmed through the pages but what jumped out at me was the lists. The same lists of things I want to teach and share continued in journal after journal, year after year.

This makes me a bit sad. Why have I written essentially the same lists over and over since 2010? It seems I've been wanting to teach a goddess workshop, make patterns of the quilts I've created, and share more creative, artistic techniques, but never taken the steps to make that happen. Sure, I create these projects for myself, but clearly I've been wanting to share them in a different way for a very long time.



It's hard to deny patterns like this. I'm not even sure what's getting in my way exactly, but I want it to change.

So this has been more than just a clean up of physical stuff. I've also been cleaning out my mental stuff too. I've put away all my toys, and all of my works-in-progress except for a few select projects I've decided to focus on.

My goal is to work with more focus and intention and to stop rushing off on tangents. I get curious about a new material or technique and rush off to create a whole project around it, when I should just take a day to experiment and play, then put it away.

I'm done making big messes and feeling constantly disorganized and distracted by all the STUFF around me. Now everything has a place to be put away and I can focus on the things that really matter and the goals I've been wanting to achieve for more than seven years.

So here's to starting the new year on a clean slate!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

I wish you the very best Christmas filled with joy!


We're enjoying a relaxing, peaceful Christmas day. Josh and I have always set aside this day to play with new toys and completely relax. There's a lot of work to come in the next few weeks, but today is just about family, good food, and a bit of quilting time too!

Merry Christmas,

Leah Day

Friday, December 22, 2017

Double Stripe Diamond Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! This month we received a bundle of bright, cheerful fat quarters of Caturday fabric by Felice Regina and I was inspired to create a candy themed quilt called Double Stripe!


Click Here to find this free quilt pattern.

Sponsor - Would you like to join me for a fun quilting project every month? Subscribe to Quilty Box and get a box of quilting gear, tools, and beautiful fabrics every month and follow along as I piece a new project every month! Click Here to check out Quilty Box!

If you don't get the reference to Double Stripe, you need to watch the movie Wreck It Ralph. I LOVE this movie and my favorite part is when the main character enters Sugar Rush for the first time. Watch it! You'll love it!


As for the piecing, this quilt is very easy. Yes, there are diamond shapes and 45 degree angles, but the wonderful thing is you don't have to match anything. Just piece your shapes together into long strips, then piece the strips together into vertical rows, then piece the rows together to make the quilt.

I admit, I got a little nit picky with this quilt and spent a LOT of time arranging and rearranging my pieces until the fabrics were set up just right. I find it's often best to just throw the fabrics on the table or design wall and piece them together exactly the way they first fall.


I do think this quilt could be pieced with just 2 colors in red and white and become the perfect candy cane quilt. I'm already thinking of a way to create a candy cane spiral. That sounds cool! Yes, this is what my brain works on in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping!

I hope you'll give this new quilt pattern a try and see what you think of cutting diamond shapes. They're not as hard as they seem and can create some really neat effects for your quilts.

Click Here to find the free quilt pattern.

Click Here to check out Quilty Box and join me for a fun new project each month!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Quilting Busy Fabrics Collaboration with Christa Watson

We're taking a break from the podcast this week to bring you another quilting collaboration! My awesome quilting friend Christa Watson has become a writing, designing, teaching rock star this year with her third book out this fall and her first line of fabric, Modern Marks launching as well.

So Christa sent me a mini quilt which was a resized version of a quilt from her book Piece and Quilt with Precuts and I got to quilt it! Check out how I handled Christa's beautiful busy fabrics in this new quilting video:


Click Here to find Christa's post on this collaboration!

When it comes to quilting over busy fabrics, you have to accept that your quilting design is going to take second place. Sometimes the fabric is the focal point of a quilt and it should shine the brightest.


So for this quilt, I let the machine quilting designs take a back seat and act as the support cast for the cheerful fabrics. I quilted with nearly matching gray thread over the gray and white background fabrics to help push them down so the bright fabrics could stand out.


I mentioned in the video I was playing with a different type of thread too. My favorite Isacord Polyester thread is my standby because it's thin, strong and rarely breaks, even when I quilt multiple times over the same spot. Unfortunately the thread I was testing didn't hold up as well. It's certainly worth it to test new threads, but ultimately I think it saves time to find what works then stick with it!

Have you heard a rumor that polyester thread is bad for quilts? Hear my take on that quilting myth.



In the end, I'm not sure my quilting made much of an impact on this little quilt. You have to get very close to the quilt to see the designs, or have the light shining across the quilt just right, like at the end of the video. But it was still fun to add a bit of extra texture to the background so the bright fabrics stand out better.

Honestly if I had another quilt with this busy fabric, I would probably just stitch the quilt in the ditch and leave it there. I know that might seem like a cop-out, but sometimes ditching is the best way to finish a quilt simply, so long as there aren't too many ditches involved.



I guess the best rule for quilting over busy fabrics is to not overthink it. Don't obsess about every design being perfect or even picking lots of designs to use. Your quilting designs might not be very visible so aim to secure the layers together nicely so the quilt can be used and enjoyed.

This is the wonderful thing about quilting! You can make quilts with busy fabrics where the bright colors and prints are the focus, and you can make quilts with plain fabric and allow the quilting design to shine. There are so many ways to create a quilt and so many different fabrics to choose.

I hope you'll challenge yourself in the coming year to try lots of different fabrics and quilting styles and once you find what works, stick with it and make lots of beautiful quilts!

Make sure to check out Christa's post on her side of this collaboration and see more of her pretty fabrics.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Teach Crafting Online with Melanie Ham, Episode #39

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm chatting with Melanie Ham, a super successful quilting teacher on YouTube. Listen to the episode or download it below:


Or you can watch the podcast using this player:


Click Here to check out Melanie's YouTube Channel. I love her videos which are so nicely edited and clearly demonstrated.

Also check out Melanie's Premium Course Website Melanie Makers. This is where Melanie shares more in-depth courses, projects, and quilt alongs. Remember she shared a coupon code in the podcast - make sure to enter Leah in the checkout to save 25% on your course!

I really enjoyed talking with Melanie because she and I do the same thing! We both make videos and teach a craft online and work daily to balance our busy schedules along with taking care of our kids, running our businesses, and managing our households. Of course, all of the messy bits get edited out of our videos (along with the unfinished bits too!) but it can be a struggle to get everything done on time.


Melanie mentioned struggling to be consistent in posting her videos and ultimately decided sharing videos on a set weekly day wasn't for her. She shares videos as they're ready, which seems to be working great on her channel!

Many of Melanie's crochet videos have gone viral which means they got a much larger number of views in a shorter amount of time than other videos. Making a viral video is like winning the lottery - you never know if what you're making will be a hit.


I admit, I honestly didn't expect Melanie to respond when I asked her to be on the podcast. It's easy to look at numbers and let comparisonitis set in and start feeling less than someone else just based on subscribers and video views. But Melanie immediately responded and wanted to join in the fun!

The most important thing is to keep putting yourself out there and don't let fear stand in your way. I'm so happy to have a new quilting friend to root for on YouTube!

Now for the updates for this week...
I have a new machine embroidery collection ready for you! Marvelous Modern Designs is an awesome new collection of 25 designs that will stitch out into a 100 mm (3.9 inch) square.

Click Here to find this new embroidery collection.

We're already working on a few fun projects to showcase these designs and I've been experimenting with some new quilt-as-you-go techniques to connect the blocks together faster as well.

Click Here to find a simple table runner project. Change out the embroidery designs to create a showcase of modern textures for your table!

Yesterday I shared a collaboration with Margaret Leuwen and a tutorial on quilting hearts and echoes. Click Here to find the tutorial.


I love how this block turned out! I'll be sharing another video for Margaret's quilt along in a few months on how to audition quilting designs. It was so sweet to be included in Margaret's project!

This week I've also been working on my Express Your Love embroidery project which is nearly finished! I noticed some distortion on this project after finishing the blue background. It was pulling around the edges and not laying flat with nice straight sides.


So I mounted it onto a piece of Bosal foam and I've been hand stitching it in place and sorting out the worst of the distortion. I also plan to add black borders and maybe quilt it too so who am I kidding?! This thing is never going to be finished!

I am really pleased with how it's going and how much I've accomplished on this project in just 30-40 minutes a day since September. You can do a lot in a short space of time, so long as you take that time every day.

I've also been working on my novel and I have a writing friend, K,  that's helping me stay motivated! I wanted to play around with making stuffed animals for the characters in my book so I stitched my first bunny doll:


She's a bit cheeky isn't she? Honestly the pointy cheeks have grown on me! I found tips online for making dolls and one suggestion was to make the shape and design desired out of clay first, then model the fabric pattern off the clay so I'm going to try that next.

Last Friday I shared a post with tips for picking your fabrics for the 2018 Machine Quilting Party. I'm really excited about these new projects we're starting in January!


I've been focusing on getting videos finished, all my ducks in a row and nice organized pages so you can find everything you need easily to get started. I also went back and organized all of our past quilt along videos on one linked up page. If you're ever in the mood to travel back in time and see what my videos were like in 2012, check it out right here.

Remember, to join the party all you need is a copy of my book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day! 

We're running low on print copies of the book, so you can also find it right here on Amazon.com.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Quilting Hearts and Echoes with Margaret Leuwen

I feel so blessed to have made so many wonderful quilting friends over the last year! Margaret Leuwen is such a kindred spirit and we really hit it off while chatting for her episode for the Hello My Quilting Friends Podcast. Click Here to find her podcast episode.

At the end of the show, I asked Margaret if she would like to collaborate with me and send me a beautiful diamond quilt block. Watch how I quilted it with simple hearts and echoes in this new quilting video:


Now Margaret has taken this block and run with it! She expanded the design and added rows of borders around it to create a gorgeous medallion quilt. This is called Sarah's Star Quilt and Margaret will be hosting this as a quilt along in 2018.

Learn more about this beautiful quilt in Margaret's video:


In a few months I'll share another video on on auditioning quilting designs for Sarah's Star Quilt! If you're interested in joining Margaret's quilt along it's going to run from January to September. Click Here to learn more about her quilt along.


Quilting Echoes and Hearts

I hope you enjoyed this video and learning how to add a unique heart shape to your blocks and fill the space with echoes. I really think the freeform echoing border design is what transformed the quilting design from simple to stunning:

Quilting Echoes and Hearts

This was basically a foundational design like River Path. The more echoes you add, the more interesting the design becomes. This type of design would also look great in two colors of thread. Set the foundation and stitch all the lines to the inside with one color of thread, then change thread colors to quilt the other half of the border.

Quilting Echoes and Hearts

The wonderful thing about quilting echoes like this your quilting doesn't have to be perfect. Sometimes my lines veered farther apart and sometimes they came closer together, but when they all came together, nothing stood out as a mistake.

Quilting Echoes and Hearts

So one takeaway is to just keep echoing! The more echoes you stitch, the better it gets!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, December 8, 2017

Pick Your Fabrics for the Machine Quilting Party

It's that time of the year again - time to buy fabric! The new Machine Quilting Party will begin on January 1st and we're going to start the year with a bang making two quilts: Rainbow Log Cabin and Marvelous Mosaic. Check out these two quilts and find tips on picking your fabrics in this new video:


Click Here to find the schedule and materials list for the quilts we're making together.

Remember, to follow along with this Machine Quilting Party, all you need is a copy of the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. 

Yes, we have a ebook version of this book too!

I've been getting a lot of questions about extra fees and charges, but just like all of my quilt alongs in the past, all you need to do is purchase the book of patterns and the videos will be shared for free.

Selecting fabrics for the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt

The Rainbow Log Cabin is the oldest quilt in the book. I designed it in 2008 and struggled to decide on the quilting design. This quilt remained simply stitched in the ditch between the quilt blocks until last year when we finally decided to quilt it for this book.


When selecting the fabrics for this quilt, I went to a local fabric store and picked the brightest, most cheerful prints I could find. To create the widest variety, I selected multiple fat quarters for each fabric color.

What is a fat quarter? Fat quarters are 1/4 yard cuts of fabric, but instead of 9 x 42 inches, the usual way fabric is cut across the selvages, it's cut differently. Quilt shops will cut a 1/2 yard of fabric first, then slice it in half to create an 18 x 21 inch rectangle. It's also a quarter yard of fabric, but cut "fat" so there's more usable fabric for quilting.

So if you're looking for a great way to use up lots of fat quarters and you like this mosaic effect of lots of different fabric prints and blenders, this will be a great choice for you!

If you're looking for a faster and simpler way to buy fabric, consider buying yardage in the seven colors needed for this quilt. This is the option I took for making my new Rainbow Log Cabin quilt for 2018. I tend to get obsessive about the same fabrics being next to one another. Rather than spend a day arguing with the fabric arrangement, I just went with seven colors of beautiful Island Batik blenders:


I also used a giant piece of 108" wide backing fabric for the back so I wouldn't have to piece the backing together. Call me lazy! I just didn't feel like messing with it on this project.

Picking Colors for Marvelous Mosaic

The fabrics in the Marvelous Mosaic Quilt can also be a scrappy mix of fat quarters or cut from yardage. For the quilt version in the book, I used cheerful fat quarters for the front and several yards of Kona Cotton Ocean for the back. This creates an awesome two-sided quilt effect!


But you could mix it up even more and use fat quarters for the front and back, you could use one color for both sides, really it's entirely up to you.

I decided to change things up for the Marvelous Mosaic Quilt I'm making in 2018. I'm using solid fat quarters for the right side of the quilt, but minky squares in red and black for the back to create a dynamic checkerboard effect.

Minky is a very different fabric to work with and I shared some tips on quilting with it here.

Before cutting the minky fabric, I stabilized it with French Fuse, then cut it into squares. It feels very different to quilt with this fabric on the back of the quilt. It likes to really STICK to the sewing machine and table so I increase my stitch length from 1.5 mm (my usual walking foot quilting stitch length) to 2.5 mm.

So please only take a minky backing fabric on if you're wanting a bit of a challenge. I handed Dad two squares to quilt when I was in a hurry this summer and...well...we had to cut more fabric later that day!

I love it because it's so soft and cuddly, but I can't deny just how much it can change the feel of quilting even a medium sized square on your home machine.

So I hope you'll pull from your fabric stash for these quilts. All of the quilts for 2018 are fat quarter friendly so you'll be able to use up dozens of fat quarters with these quilts!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Is Polyester Thread Evil? Podcast Episode #38

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm taking on a new Great Quilting Debate: is polyester thread evil? Is it bad for your quilts or is it the most awesome thread in the world? Listen to the episode and hear my side of this debate with a bit of quilting history sprinkled in for fun:


Or you can watch the episode and see me spinning black wool on my mini spinner here:


Click Here to find all the episodes of this podcast!

So the Great Polyester Thread Debate can be summed up pretty simply: I think this is a myth, a rumor, and just like using starch, a potential great product being demonized for no reason.

Pretty strong words? I'm just getting started!

Sure, there may be a basis for polyester thread having a bad reputation in the 1970's when there wasn't a lot of great quilting materials on the market. The American bicentennial created a resurgence of interest in traditional hand crafts and many people were jumping in, but manufacturers and stores just weren't prepared for the demand.

So could there have been a situation where the cotton fabric of a quilt was shredded by strong, brittle polyester threads? Sure. I'm not denying this situation could have happened. I wasn't alive back then so I can't (and wouldn't want to) defend the polyester threads of the past.

Which brings me to my second point - that was over 40 years ago! 

Manufacturing has changed, new products have been invented and the polyester threads we have to work with today are just plain awesome. My favorite polyester thread is Isacord which is available in over 300 colors, comes in 1000 meter spools for around $6 and is strong, thin, and stitches beautifully.

But it really doesn't matter what thread I like or what works best for me. The most important thing is to try it yourself.


When I stumbled across Isacord thread, I was in the middle of quilting Release Your Light, an 80-inch densely quilted art quilt that was driving me crazy because the thicker cotton threads I was using kept breaking.

I remember buying almost every type of thread my local quilt shop carried in orange and yellow. Isacord just happened to be one of the spools I grabbed that day. I didn't ask for permission, I didn't ask anyone's opinion. I was desperate for a thread that could quilt more than 2 inches without breaking so I could stop tearing my hair out in frustration. Isacord worked and that was enough for me.

So I don't believe in listening to the rumor mill or what Betty Sue at quilt guild says about using polyester thread being evil. Had I listened to that kind of thing, I might have been convinced what I was doing was wrong, even though it worked.

Ultimately all we have in any craft is personal experience and personal opinion, and the only way you can build this is by making quilts with lots of different materials and deciding what YOU like best.

This summer I learned photography on a DSLR camera so I could take the pictures for the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting. I found this very intimidating and kept searching online for the correct F-stop, shutter speed, and ISO to shoot pictures on a home sewing machine. I wanted to know the RIGHT way to do it. I didn't want to make any mistakes or do something wrong.


Needless to say, I never found a blog post or video with that exact information. I had to figure it out myself, play with settings, play with the single kit lens I had, shoot a lot of photos and develop my own opinion about what looked good. To a different photographer, they might have picked entirely different settings and achieved a very different look.

Developing your own opinion and being willing to experiment is hard and risky. It takes a lot of patience to make an entire quilt and ultimately decide you don't really like the effect of that batting, or you wish you'd stitched in a different color of thread. That's frustrating, but so long as you keep some record of your progress, you'll never have to do that again. Your opinion is strengthened and you can move forward with at least one material, one thread, one color, one fabric type scratched off your list.

And eventually you'll find the happy place where you know exactly what works for you.

For me, that's solid fabric or solid reading batiks, Isacord thread, and a strong contrast between my fabric and thread color. It's also using polyester or wool batting, prewashing and starching my fabric too. That's what works for me.

Now the question is - what works for you?

Go out and try lots of things to answer this question and try to ignore the rumor mill. Most rumors are based on some story someone heard years ago from someone else. There's no actual, hands-on experience in rumors, and just like ghost stories, they're probably not true.

Now a few quick updates from around the house:

Make sure to check out my video on piecing a total crazy quilt, which includes a Y-Seam piecing tutorial. Yep, I'll probably write a post on this at some point, but for now this is just on YouTube.

I'm also gearing up for our 2018 Machine Quilting Party! Are you ready to piece and quilt three quilts with me next year? Make sure to check out the materials list and schedule right here.

That's it for this week! Make sure to check back on Friday for a video on picking your fabrics for the two quilts we'll be starting the first week of January!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, November 30, 2017

New QAYG Experiments

QAYG is short for quilt-as-you-go, the quilting term we use for connecting quilted blocks together. I've been playing around with machine embroidery this week and decided it was also time to experiment with some new quilt-as-you-go methods.


I'm giving myself permission to play and not worry about turning these into real finished projects. I've played around with these quilt-as-you-go techniques before, but never really gave them a chance.

Either I'm very practical or super lazy because once I found my favorite quilt-as-you-go method, I pretty much stuck with that ever since. But I've gotten a lot of requests lately for more techniques, specifically for connecting blocks together without binding.

I'm also trying to come up with methods that require less...precision. That's kinda tricky since cutting and piecing accurately is a cornerstone of quilting, but stitching a quilted project together makes that a lot more challenging.

Quilting shrinks the quilt, sometimes in inconsistent ways that make trimming down the edges a real chore. Dad and I were comparing methods yesterday and no matter what we did, the results were always a bit squishy. Mostly because the quilt squares were squishy! LOL!

So I'm hoping to figure out some new QAYG methods to share with you soon along with a new embroidery collection with the designs in the pictures above. A faster connection method will definitely come in handy if we want to make something in time for Christmas!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Highs and Lows of Business Transformation with Stephanie Soebbing, Episode #37

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm chatting with Stephanie Soebbing once again about the amazing transformation her business has undergone in the past eight months. Listen to this new episode right here:


You can also watch the episode and watch me whipping up Zuchini Ravioli in the introduction here:


Click Here to find Quilt Addicts Anonymous, Stephanie's website. Stephanie recently expanded to create a full scale quilt shop which is open five days a week and carries a wide range of beautiful fabrics.

Stephanie was a bit tired during this interview because she just got back from fall quilt market. She drove to Texas, set up a booth, then drove back home and had to immediately get back to work in her quilt shop. Talk about exhausting!

She also had a lot to share about her business transformation, the hardest part being a terrible mistake her accountant made with filing papers for her business and incorporation. I completely agree with Stephanie - paying for the excellent help of a bookkeeper and tax accountant is worth the money. As soon as you can afford to take those tasks off your back, do it!

Stephanie loves using data to help her make decisions in her business. Her earlier podcast episode was about using Google Analytics to track your income.

She and her husband signed a 2 1/2 year lease on the building she's renting for her quilt shop. In 2018, she will be able to calculate the profit of her online business, wholesale sector, and brick and mortar quilt shop and decide if keeping the physical store is worth it.

Opening the storefront requires much longer hours, plus several employees. Stephanie mentioned in the podcast her worry that her shop is just a pretty warehouse - meaning it's mostly a holding space for fabrics and merchandise that are selling more online.

No matter which way you slice it, running a quilt shop is a lot of work so make sure to support your local quilt shops during the holiday season!

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

You have just two more days to preorder a copy of Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. This book comes with seven fun quilt patterns you can piece and machine quilt with the thirty walking foot designs shared in the book.

Three of the quilts from the book will be our projects for the 2018 Machine Quilting Party! Click Here to check out the schedule and materials lists.

This book was an awesome experience to write  and I challenged myself to learn photography for this project so we could include dozens of in-progress photos so you can see the real quilts on the machine. I'm so pleased it's finished and ready for you to learn more about this wonderful form of machine quilting.

Click Here to preorder the print edition which will begin shipping out on December 1st.

Click Here to preorder the ebook edition which will email out on December 1st.

During the introduction I was making Zucchini Ravioli, one of my favorite dinners when we have leftover spaghetti sauce to use up. Here's the recipe:

-------------------------

Zucchini Ravioli

Ingredients
2 Large zucchini
2 c. Ricotta cheese
1/2 c. Finely grated parmesan cheese
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. Fresh mint or basil leaves, finely sliced into ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c. Spaghetti sauce
1 c. shredded mozzarella

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the zucchini. Next cut ribbons: position the peeler at the top of one side of the zucchini and pull down to create a long, thin ribbon of zucchini. Repeat peeling layers of zucchini until you reach the seeds.

Rotate the zucchini and slice it into ribbons along the other side. Aim to cut steadily and slowly so you end up with a long slice of zucchini. Repeat with all sides of each zucchini so you have a nice stack of zucchini ribbons.

Mix up the ricotta cheese, parmesan, egg, mint or basil, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Arrange two zucchini ribbons vertically together on a plate. Arrange two zucchini ribbons horizontally center on top. Place a scoop (around 2 tablespoons) of the cheese mixture in the middle of the zucchini. Fold the top and bottom zucchini strips to cover the cheese, then the side strips to fully encase the cheese.

Set the ravioli in a buttered dish. Top with the spaghetti sauce and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the whole dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and lightly brown on the edges.

---------------------------------
I would have taken a nice picture of it, but it's really not a very glamorous dish. By the time I thought about it, we'd already dug in and made a mess of the pretty ravioli. Oh well!

Let me know if you liked seeing me cooking or you found it too loud for the audio. So far I've found spinning and hand stitching to be the quietest things for me to do while filming the introduction, but it's fun to mix it up.

Now a few links to things I mentioned in the intro:

Click Here to find my longarm quilting video when I moved the Grace Qnique to a quilting frame. I'm really excited about quilting on this machine on a frame and sharing the learning process. We're still working on getting the cameras set up so we get good shots of both the designs and my arms moving.

Yes, I will continue to make videos quilting on a home machine!

Click Here to find the curved seam piecing tutorial for this month's Quilty Box. You'll learn how to piece the Soft Edges Quilt really quickly and easily and learn a super fast way to piece curves with glue basting.

I got a great email from Colleen from Canada and here's the picture she sent me:

Yep, lots of Leah Days in the world and I'm happy to see we have a wide range of skills! LOL!

I love hearing from you so please share a picture of what you're working on as you listen to the Hello My Quilting Friends podcast on Instagram and tag me @LeahDayQuilting so I get to see it!

Whew! That's it for this week! I'll be back with another quilting debate next week - polyester or cotton thread?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cylindrical Piecing? Adventures in Quilting Upholstery

Yesterday I shared a tutorial on curved seam piecing and it must have gone to my head! For some reason I thought it would be a snap to piece a quilted slipcover for this cylindrical foam footstool:


Um...no. This is like curved seam piecing on crack. Plus it needs a zipper so I can occasionally (never) take the cover off the wash it (ha ha, yeah right!) or just to change out covers for different seasons (that's more like it).

At least my first try ended up being too big rather than too small:


Too big is better because I can slip this back off and take a rotary cutter to it and try again without having the cut it out all over again.

So that's what's on my table and machine today! How about you? Made any awesome mistakes today? Epic disasters? That's all part of the fun!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 27, 2017

Curved Seam Piecing Tutorial - Soft Edges Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! I have a new quilting tutorial for you today with tips on piecing curved seams. Do curved seams give you heart palpitations? They're really not that hard so long as you use a well-designed template to cut the curve and glue to stick that sucker in place and show em' who's boss!

Learn how to piece perfect soft curves in this new Soft Edges Quilt Tutorial:


Click Here to find the free quilt pattern for the Soft Edges Quilt.

Curved Seam Piecing Tutorial
Do you like my squooshing and mooshing technique? Seriously high tech! LOL!

I can definitely see many ways to mix up this technique and use to curve the corners of rectangles, play with placement and spacing and make a lot of different quilt designs. My goal this month was to give you a very simple pattern with a handful of curved seams so it wouldn't be too overwhelming. I think the Soft Edges Quilt fit the bill!

Ad - Latifa Saafir has also created an 8 inch and 12 inch version of the Clammy template which will create an even larger, softer curve through those corners. The bigger the circle shape you cut, the easier it will be to fit and piece the seam because your fabric will have more space to ease together.

Make sure to check out Latifa's website here to learn more about her modern fabrics and cool templates!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Moving the Grace Qnique to a Frame!

It's finally time to share a new video on the Grace Qnique 14+! Early this month I moved my sit down longarm machine to it's new home on the Grace Continuum Frame. I shot timelapse videos throughout the build so you could see how this changed my basement sewing room:


Click Here to learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+. Currently Grace Company is offering a terrific sale on these machines, but make sure to call the company and mention Leah Day said Hello My Quilting Friends in order to get bonus accessories with your order!

Initial Feelings about Longarm Quilting on a Frame

I couldn't be happier with this machine set up on the Continuum Frame. It's so easy and fast to move the machine and far less effort on my shoulders to move the machine rather than a quilt.

I originally set up the frame low, but after watching Jamie Wallen's video on Longarm Machine Height, we adjusted the legs to the highest setting. I can clearly see what I'm quilting and all around the needle and my shoulders and back are staying straight instead of hunched forward.

As I said in the video, I feel a bit silly for not making this change sooner. It's not that quilting on a home machine is so much harder. I've been quilting on a home machine for years and I still love it and think it's a great way to quilt your quilts. I wouldn't have created so many designs or spent so many years teaching this method of quilting if I didn't think it was awesome.

But longarm quilting on a frame scratches an itch for speed I didn't know I had until this machine was set up in my basement. I can quilt faster, with big open designs that get the job done quickly. This isn't glamorous show-style quilting, but it is adding texture, simple designs, and getting the project finished so it can be used and enjoyed.

I knew longarm quilting would be faster because I've rented time on a longarm at a local quilt shop. But there's a difference between showing up once every few months to use a machine and actually having it in your basement. I can slip into the room first thing in the morning, click on the machine and quilt half a quilt in half an hour. I can jump back on the machine after watching a show with James and Josh in the evening.

Lately I've been eyeing the stack of Quilty Box quilt tops and wondering just how many I could quilt in a day, or a week. Because now it's no longer a question of when that quilt will be done, it's a question of what do I want to finish next?

The Frame Quilting Experience

Longarm quilting on the frame does feel very different from quilting on my home machines or the Grace Qnique when it was a sit down / table mounted machine.

I spent a few days after we set up the frame trying to put my finger on the difference in feel and flow from these two styles of quilting. What I ultimately realized is quilting on a frame just feels lighter and faster. I'm standing up, moving my body and arms with the machine, and with very little effort I'm stitching a 5 inch path of Zippling from edge to edge across a quilt.


That same 5-inch section would have taken a lot more time on a home machine because of all the shifting, scrunching, bunching, and smooshing required to fit the quilt through the arm of the machine.

It's also faster because I can run the machine as fast as I can think of the design. I've been critical of stitch regulators for years because on a home machine, they tend to be clunky and can limit the speed you can stitch.

With the machine on the frame, I'm regularly running the machine at full speed and the stitch regulator keeps the needle bouncing up and down to produce perfectly spaced stitches. It's easier for the stitch regulator to work because it's just the machine moving over the quilt.

There are little encoders attached near the wheels of the carriage which keep track of how fast you're moving and adjust immediately when you change speed. I found I liked the Cruise setting best and usually set my stitch length to 16 stitches per inch, which looks almost identical to the quilting stitches I make without a regulator on my home machine.


As for the best designs to get started with, I'll have more videos on that coming very soon. I have found my understanding of quilting filler designs and how to use them has translated perfectly over to longarm quilting on the frame. 

If you know how to quilt a design by heart on your home machine, you'll also know how to quilt it on the longarm. That doesn't mean it will look perfect, but you will still understand how it's stitched!

But What About Your Home Machines?

Of course this is the point where lots of quilters are going to start pointing fingers. But you've said for YEARS home machine quilting is just as good? Weren't you the girl that wrote 7 Reasons Why I Don't Want or Need a Longarm?

Yes, and Yes.

Most of the reasons I listed in that post were about money and at the time I didn't feel like the juice was worth the squeeze.

I also wrote that post more than 6 years ago and the machines and prices have changed a lot. The cost of larger, higher end sewing machines have also increased rapidly. Yes, you can get a home machine with a 11 inch harp space and all the bells and whistles, but it will cost more than the Grace Qnique!

So prices have changed to the point that a small longarm machine on a small frame no longer requires you to go into business. It's still a chunk of change to shell out all at once, but so are the larger home sewing machines.

It's time to think about what you want out of your machine and what you plan to do with it most so you get the most bang for your buck.

And NO, I'm not switching full time to quilting on a longarm! I will still be making videos, quilting workshops, and books on quilting on my home machines!

Next year we're going to quilt along with walking foot quilting, a quilting style you can only do on a home machine. Click Here to check out the schedule and materials lists for the three quilts we'll be making together.

I do want to share videos on quilting on the longarm and I've been thinking a lot about how to incorporate them into our weekly schedule. What I'm considering right now is to combine our weekly new design video so we quilt half of the design on a home machine, then switch to the longarm and see how it works there.

It will be cool to see how the designs are quilted on two different machines, plus helpful to see which style of quilting is easier for particular designs. I know already that travel stitching and hitting exact points will be much harder on the longarm than it is on my home machine.

So that's what I'm thinking about right now. Please let me know what you think of this new video series idea and any other suggestions for new videos quilting on the longarm frame. I hope you're as excited about this new quilting adventure as I am!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy and Grateful Thanksgiving Days


Ah! I find something so relaxing about the day after Thanksgiving. It's like I've been holding my breath through the week and I can finally let it out, kick back, and relax. We did our big feast meal on Sunday so the past few days have been really chill. I've been filming a lot of videos in the Crafty Cottage, getting ready for our big Machine Quilting Party to start in January:


See that big Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt behind me? I quilted it in 3 days. Seriously. 3 days. On that little Bernina 1230 with my Bernina walking foot too! If you're worried about quilting a big quilt all in one piece just remember it's absolutely possible and even if it feels challenging, picking a simple design you can quilt quickly means you won't be suffering for very long.

Click Here to check out the materials list for this new quilt along starting January 1st.

James is out of school and bouncing around the living room. He made us blueberry muffins on Wednesday to celebrate being out of school. My rule is if you bake it, you can eat as much of it as you want, which has turned my kid into quite a skilled baker!

If you're wondering about this month's Quilty Box, YES! I have something fun coming for Monday. I decided to keep it very, very simple and fast so you can make a quick lap quilt before Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, yesterday we picked up our first Christmas tree. James is SO excited about decorating it he was trying to string the lights himself. Last year we got two trees and Josh decorated one and James decorated a smaller one for himself. This year we may just end up with three trees because Dude, where's my tree?

We each have very different design styles too so I think a different tree for each of us would be a fun challenge. I might even make some ornaments too!

The last few days I've been thinking a lot about the new year and my goals for 2018. This year has been filled with wonderful surprises, and a few challenges, but over all I'm so pleased and grateful for everything that has happened.

My words at the beginning of the year were Simple and Open which served me very well through the first half of the year. I know we were able to accomplish so much this past year because I was focusing on keeping things simple. I also know being open to new things and allowing my business and work to flow helped me master many new skills this year.

For the second half of the year I was guided by the word Trust and it really felt like pulling out my heart and handing it to someone else and trusting that everything would be okay. That's not an easy thing for me to do so this word is continuing to cycle through my head multiple times a day. I've already gotten a hint of my word for next year, but I'll share more on that closer to the end of the year.

Of course, just like most shops, we're also running a Thanksgiving sale!


You can save 50% on all of our quilting workshops, books, patterns, and embroidery designs and many other tools and supplies are on sale this week too. Click Here to check out the sale.

Our Affordable Sewing Table is also on sale, and we're not often allowed to discount it so make sure to check it out here.

Finally I have new longarm quilting videos coming your way on Sunday!

Grace Company is running an amazing discount on the Grace Qnique 14+ and quilting frames right now. If you live in the US and are interested in these machines, make sure to call the company and tell them Leah Day says Hello My Quilting Friends to get a nice discount and bonus accessories with your order!

Click Here to check out the deals from Grace Company.

Whew! There is so much going on and I'm so excited about everything to come!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Great Quilting Debate: Prewashing Fabric, Episode #36

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm taking on another Great Quilting Debate: whether to prewash fabric before making your quilt or not. Listen to the episode or download it to your computer here:



Or watch the episode and check out my super messy laundry room here:


Yes, I do think prewashing fabric is a super important step in the quiltmaking process! Here's the reasons why I wash everything unless it's too tiny and will fall apart in the washer:
  • Stops fabrics from bleeding into one another. Washing removes the excess dyes so all the fabrics remain the color they're supposed to be.
  • Eliminates the question of how to care for the finished quilt. You never have to worry about washing it and messing it up.
  • Gets all the fabric feeling and acting the same way. If all the fabrics have been washed and starched 2 times, they will all have roughly the same amount of stretch and give and be easier to piece together more accurately.
  • Erases the hard crease in the middle of fabric which is rarely square with the grainline of the fabric.
  • Makes fabric easier to square and cut accurately.
Now for the video I promised about preparing fabric:


Once you prewash the fabric, you're going to have to restore order to the soft, wrinkly fabric by applying starch and pressing. Yes, there's also a Great Quilting Debate about starch and whether it's good or bad for your quilts. Click Here to listen to that podcast episode too.

So prewashing usually goes hand in hand with starch and pressing, but not always. Some quilters wash, but don't starch. Some quilters starch, but don't wash. As you can see, there are lots of ways you can work with fabric and definitely not a one-size-fits-all option here!

There are times when you can't prewash fabric. Precut fabrics smaller than a fat-eighth are impossible to wash without turning into a wadded mess of broken threads. You can starch precuts to stiffen them, but washing is just not a possibility.

When working with fabrics like this, think hard about your fabric combinations. If you have a precut pack of bright batiks in the most common bleeding colors (red, blue, purple) that would be a bad idea to mix that with white fabric where a bleed will be most noticeable. Match potential bleeding precuts with darker fabrics like black so even if the colors migrate, your quilt will still look great.

I've never found an issue from mixing prewashed fabric with non-prewashed fabric. I always wash the background fabric for my Quilty Box projects and the precuts are rarely washed, but the quilts still turn out great.

Ultimately the decision to wash or not wash is down to time. If you only have a few hours to quilt each week, prewashing, starching, and pressing your fabrics will likely feel like a ridiculous time-consuming extra step.

But if you have a bit more time or you just want to go the extra mile on a special quilt, give prewashing a try. The relief of knowing you can wash your finished quilt without worry about bleeding dyes is absolutely worth it in my opinion!

Now for a few updates about what's going on around the house...

This weekend we traveled to Charleston to visit family and made a big Thanksgiving meal for everyone. I love to cook and I especially love the challenge of feast meals and getting everything done on time.

It was a huge relief to be able to place our huge book order right before we left. The final proof finally came in and the books look amazing! Trust me, if you place an order for 1000 of anything, you want it to be perfect!

Click Here preorder Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

Don't forget our Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday sale will begin on Thursday!

My basement laundry room doubles as a space for leatherwork, dyeing fabric, painting fabric, and building costumes. The downside of having so many crafts in one place is there really isn't enough space for them all and I tend to leave my toys out even after I'm finished playing with them so it was time to seriously clean things up today. Yes, this was just a bit of the mess all around me!


I noticed I have lot of bag hardware from ByAnnie.com and lots of leather projects I've left unfinished. I plan to work on that this week with James while he's out of school for Thanksgiving. I need to get this space organized so I can actually walk in here and get some work done rather than spend all my time cleaning it back up again.

I think part of the problem is not having an idea of what I want to do with all the leather scraps I have laying around. I'm going to do some searching online for fun project ideas and come up with some new things to create.


I'm happy to report I've finally finished my machine embroidered landscape! This cute design will be ready in December and compatible with all the major embroidery machine brands. I just need to write the instructions and create the final files for you to download and it will be done.

It feels great to be finishing up this project and I have many more machine embroidery collections in the works. I know next year we're planning to do lots of videos on walking foot quilting, but I think sharing more videos on machine embroidery will also be a good idea to.

And YES! I will have an update about the quilting frame and moving the Grace Qnique 14+ soon! It's been a crazy busy and stressful month and I'm hoping I'll be able to share more on that transition soon.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
Related Posts with Thumbnails