The Free Motion Quilting Project

Friday, September 21, 2018

Longarm Tension Troubleshooting

One of the biggest learning curves to switching to a longarm machine is tension. I'm not sure if it's because the machines are bigger or the speeds they can reach, but tension seems much more flexible on longarms than home machines. It's just one of those things that you have to get into the habit of checking, and check often.


So today I've shared a post all about troubleshooting tension issues! Click Here to find this tutorial.

In celebration of our 500th free motion quilting design, we've put 90% of all of our products on sale in our online shop.

Click Here to check out our huge sale this week.



* Leaf Peepers Quilt Pattern is excluded

Now, back to tension!

No, I don't think having to check your tension more often is a deal breaker. It's just a new habit to build with this different type of machine. Now that I've been quilting on the Grace Qnique on a frame for almost a year, I don't even think about it.

Whenever I begin quilting for the day, I break thread and pull the machine over to the side and run through a tension test. If the stitches are looking great, I go back to where I was quilting and get started. That way I don't end up quilting a huge chunk of the quilt with terrible looking stitches!

Troubleshooting any issue on your machine does require patience. Please don't start fiddling with things when you're tired or upset.

Also I cannot stress enough - ONLY CHANGE ONE THING AT A TIME!

Make one change, test, make one more change, test again. If you change your needle, rethread the machine, lower the take up rail, and adjust the height of your foot - which one of those things was the culprit?

This is the #1 tip I've learned from teaching in person and online for the last 9 years. I can't count the number of emails I've received along the lines of "I've changed everything and nothing is working! HELP!"

To gain the most insight into your machine, only make one change at a time and you'll quickly be able to identify the issue and get back on track.

I hope this quilting tutorial is helpful! While it's never any fun to struggle with tension issues, it's great to know how to deal with them when they happen.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Crafty Cottage Clean Out

It's been a busy few days this week getting life back on track after Hurricane Florence. No, we didn't get any damage from the storm, thank goodness, but I did clean out the Crafty Cottage completely just in case.


This space hasn't been so empty since the day we stuck the carpet tiles down! LOL!

I didn't realize just how much stuff had ended up in the cottage until we cleaned it all out last Friday. I've gone through everything and reorganized my drawers and cabinets so only the tools and materials needed in the cottage are out there. I'm tired of tripping over lots of stuff that's just not necessary.

Another plus - I finally found a home for my vintage treadle drawers:


You can find a lot of drawers like this on Ebay and if you also get the wooden frame, it's easy to install to the bottom of any table through the screw holes that secured the drawers to the bottom of the treadle cabinet.

The only downside is treadle drawers aren't the best designed. I know that might sound like blasphemy, but most treadle drawers are just too deep. Quilting tools and notions are relatively small and thin and they easily get lost in a 4 inch deep drawer.

That's why I love this drawer set - the top drawer is only 1 inch deep and has an awesome automatic locking mechanism (a wooden bar on the bottom that pops down) to keep it shut. Most likely the purpose was to keep your scissors and sharp tools in the top drawer that would automatically lock when you shut it.

James helped me carry everything back out to the Crafty Cottage after school yesterday. Then Josh helped me carry out the Singer 27 treadle. Just in case you're needing to move one of these, please know that it's easy to take the cabinet off of the irons with just 4 screws. Even taking it out in two pieces, it's still a very heavy, very painful experience (cast iron doesn't bend, it bruises!)

My cabinet is a bit weird because the right side screw hole is nearly completely overlapped by another piece of wood. I have to take off the drawer frame on the right side completely, but that's just 4 extra screws.


Now I just need to reattach the belt and I'll be back in business! Would you like to see some videos on this vintage machine? It's such a delight to play with and I know Quilty Box is coming soon. Maybe I can use that as an excuse to put my treadle through it's paces!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hang and Store Your Quilts the Best Way

 How to hang and store your quilts
Hello my quilting friends!

I have a fantastic podcast for you this week, covering a topic that concerns all of us as quilters: how to safely store your quilt! Say you have heirloom quilts from your grandmother and want to ensure they do not get damaged or discolored in storage.

I also show two different ways to hang your quilt.

Click Here to watch how I store and hang my quilts.

Be sure to also check out our sitewide sale and save 50% on our quilting books! The sale will end Monday, September 24th.

Click Here to check out our huge sale this week.


* Leaf Peepers Quilt Pattern is excluded

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to Quilt Matrix Star, Design # 500

HAPPY DAY 500! I can't believe I have finally shared the 500th design. I decided to pull out one of my oldie goldie favorites, Superstarand change it up a bit to create a new design called Matrix Star. Learn how to quilt this new free motion quilting design in this quilting tutorial:


I’ve updated the Quilting Design Gallery to include all 500 designs. Click here to check it out.

I’ve added links to all of the Free Motion quilting, walking foot quilting and longarm quilting tutorials I've shared over the last nine years. I’ve also added all the videos we’ve shared in our yearly Quilt Alongs too!

I had to do a full count and that’s over 700 quilting tutorials! It’s been a blast creating this resource for quilters and I would love it if you shared it with your friends.


Now let's learn more about Matrix Star:

Design Family – Center Fill. This design starts in the center of your quilt with a wiggly star shape. I took some time to tie off and very my thread tails so they'd be out of my way while I stitched this design.



Click here to find the cheater needle I use to quickly tie off and secure my thread in the middle layer of my quilt. I do this for every single thread break and as you can see in the video, it doesn't take that much time to secure the tails properly, even with gloves on.

Once I got the thread tails out of the way, it was easy to quilt the beautiful star over the small quilt sandwich. From there it’s just a process of echoing to expand the design until it fills the entire quilt square completely.

Difficulty Level – Super Beginner. I think this is one of the easiest designs I’ve shared in awhile. If you can stitch a simple line based star, and make it wiggly, then Matrix Star will be right up your alley.



Even if you're just learning how to do echoing, this design is perfect to experiment with. All the overlapping lines means even if you're echo quilting isn't perfect, it will still look great on your quilt.



Suggestions for Use – I think Matrix Star will work great on any style of quilt, especially using All-Over Style quilting. This style of quilting ignores the piecing design completely and allows you to quickly cover the quilt surface with texture. I use this style of quilting to cover the Jelly Town Baby Quilt with a huge Super Spiral design. Matrix Star will work the same way and cover the quilt quickly with beautiful wiggly lines.

So now you have 500 designs to play with, which one are you going to stitch next? Click here to check out the quilting design gallery and browse through the collection of designs and video tutorials I've shared over the last nine years.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, September 17, 2018

Let's Quilt Leaf Peepers! Echo Ditching and Block 1

Hello my Leaf Peeping Friends! It's been a very wet, rainy weekend, but the sun has finally come out. I'm hoping the weather will cool off and we can become real leaf peepers as the leaves begin changing colors.


Last week we finished up piecing the last leaf quilt block which means this week we get to dive into my favorite part of the process: quilting!

Click Here to find my tutorial on Echo Ditching with ruler foot quilting.

Click Here to find Sheri's tutorial on Quilting Block #1.

Yes, Sheri and I are both quilting this quilt differently with two very different styles of quilting! I hope you'll check out both tutorials to understand why we're making these choices and pull a bit of info from both of us as you tackle your quilt.

Now I'm off to clean up the mess that is my kitchen studio. I have the entire contents of the Crafty Cottage spread over the tables and it's time I sort through it all before putting it back.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Messy Sketchy Saturday

Yes, it's a messy sort of Saturday. A combination of Hurricane Florence and cleaning out the Crafty Cottage yesterday means the newly redesigned studio is a total wreck!


I honestly haven't had much time to sketch this week. I did try a variation of Ms. Bunny's dress, but with doubled seam allowances in places to allow for French or flat felled seams, but that resulted in a definite craft fail.

I personally find doll clothing to be so tiny that the extra bulk of French seams just made everything stiff and bulky. Flat felled didn't work at all on the deeper curving seams and I had to throw one entire test dress away because it was just too much to rip out and re-stitch.

So that feels a bit like a step forward and a step back. It's not much fun to make a dress alteration and then realize the earlier pattern pieces were better.


But then again, I learned something! That's definitely progress and I won't have to try those seams again, at least not with this dress. I'm going to finish the seams with a combination of zigzag and top stitching. That combination results in a beautiful flat seam that takes up very little space inside the garment and will hold up to heavy wear from little hands.

No, the hurricane hasn't been an issue for us... yet. Lots of rain and high winds are in the fore cast so I'm keeping an eye on it. I did bring the Singer 27 treadle inside so if we lose power, I can still sew! The only downside is it's currently in three very heavy pieces, spread across the living room floor and adding to the general mess. Uggh!

Oh well, sometimes life goes according to plan and sometimes things get messy. Just have to roll with it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thank you IKEA! Studio Remake

Two weeks ago James went down to the basement to grab something and said "Hey, there's a lot of water on the floor down there."

Basement + Water + Floor = BAD! Especially bad because we have three fish tanks in the basement. One of them is 180 gallons.


Turns out it was one of the smaller fish tanks (not the 180 gallon, whew!) It cracked and leaked around 5 gallons of water on the floor overnight. Instantly we went into cleanup mode, and unfortunately most of the water had leaked into my kitchen studio.

But bad things can some times have a silver lining. The water ruined a very ugly, dirty green rug, but other than that, it didn't do much damage. The horrible brown tile the rug was covering would probably survive a nuclear blast.

I had to collapse my big cutting table for several days while the floors dried and until I found a replacement for the carpet.

Which is where IKEA comes in. The big cutting table I have set up in my basement kitchen has been a cobbled together mess for several years. For awhile it was plywood. Then I added two plastic folding tables. Then I tacked on a homemade lightbox.

Slowly this table surface changed to fit our needs and it's gradually shrunk because there's usually 3 people trying to walk around it at any given time. This area is a pass through for the entire basement so it needs be easy to walk around.

Dad and I have both been complaining about the plastic folding tables for awhile. They certainly do work for awhile, but long term the tops begin to bow and they flex when putting a lot of pressure on the surface when rotary cutting.

So I decided it was time for an IKEA improvement! I already had a spare table top from another sewing machine setup and a handful of adjustable height legs. I took some more measurements, ran some searches and found the perfect combination. Here's the awesome results:


This is three LINNMON tables on OLOV adjustable height legs. I've adjusted the tables to be higher than they were before so the top is coming in around 35 inches, which is perfect for cutting and pressing while standing.

Underneath I have ANTONIUS frames and bins. Unfortunately they've discontinued the plastic bins and only offer this with wire frames now. I may go back for more frames, but I already have two under the longarm and another 4 in the laundry room.

Sometimes I think limiting the amount of storage I allow myself is good. If I have space to stash stuff, I just end up buying more stuff!

The new rug I found on Amazon and placed some white peel and stick tile against the wall to cover the bare concrete where the indestructible brown tile had never been laid.

I'm tempted to lay more white tile because the entire room feels so much brighter and happier now. But I'm resisting the urge because one day I do plan to wage war on that brown tile floor and I don't really want to make it more difficult by laying more tile on top of it.

All around, I think this remake has been a success! If you live near an IKEA definitely check it out for organizers, bins, and accessories. Even if it's a couple hours drive, it's worth it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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