The Free Motion Quilting Project

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Why did this quilt take four years to finish?

Hello my quilting friends! Today I am stitching the faced binding onto my Dream Goddess quilt after four years in progress. I still have a lots of hand stitching to go, but it feels great to be nearing the end of this multiyear project.


I shot the podcast for this week while preparing the fabric for the facing. It was an adventure trying to talk through my thoughts about this quilt and cut and press fabric at the same time, but I think it worked out well.

It was nice to take the time to really think through all the different reasons why this quilt stagnated and sat bundled in a chair, the closet, or on a table for so many months on end.

Click Here to find Episode 70 of the Hello My Quilting Friends Podcast.

I'm looking forward to hand stitching the facing fabric down in the evening when James and I watch a Doctor Who episode. I hope it doesn't take me another four years to finish up this bit of stitching actually get this quilt on the wall!

What is your longest-running unfinished project? Do you know what is holding it back and stopping you from finishing it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

How to Machine Quilt Popcorn, Design #492

I promised more quilting designs and I'm ready to deliver! I have an awesome new design for you today called Popcorn. This funky echoing design looks pretty complex, but I promise it's easy to quilt if you memorize all the rules of the design.

Learn how to free motion quilt Popcorn in this new quilting tutorial:


Quick links to tools and supplies used in this quilting tutorial:

Eversewn Sparrow 20 Sewing Machine - I'm really enjoying this little machine! It really has a wonderful stitch quality and the most basic features I need in a machine. I do miss having a knee lifter and a little bird told me there's a new Eversewn machine coming out with this feature... it might be enough for me to switch!

Low Shank Darning Foot - In order to free motion quilt, you need a foot that's designed to hover over your quilt. Make sure to watch the tutorial here to learn how to break your foot so it works better for machine quilting.

Isacord Polyester Thread - This is my favorite thread for machine quilting. Yep, it's embroidery thread. Yep, it's polyester! It's also super strong, very thin, and virtually lint free. As far as I'm concerned, that's win, win, win!

I have a new way for you to enjoy quilting designs and be inspired as you stitch! Check out the 365 Quilting Designs Perpetual Calendar. Every day you can see a new quilting design and challenge yourself to quilt a small square every day. I promise of you make this a habit, you will see amazing improvement in your skills in a short space of time.

How to machine quilt popcorn on a home machine

Now let's learn more about this new Popcorn quilting design.

Design Family - Echoing. Popcorn is quilted by first stitching a flower shape on the end of a wiggly line. To expand the design cover more space on your quilt simply travel stitch and echo around the design. Echoing designs cover your quilts in large clusters. Simply travel stitch and branch out with a new wiggly line and flower shape to continue the design.

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This design does have a lots of different steps: stitch it wiggly line, stitch a flower, echo back to your starting line, and travel and echo quilt around the shape several times. Even though it has lots of steps, popcorn is an easy design to memorize and quilt anywhere on your quilts.

Popcorn is a great skill builder for echo quilting and the best part is even if you stitching isn't perfect, you can get away with the lines being closer together or further apart. The complexity of this quilting design hides many mistakes, so if echoing is a skill you been needing to build definitely give Popcorn a try.

Suggestions for Use - I think Popcorn will work great in any area of your quilt, except tight, tiny areas around motifs where the design doesn't have space to expand. Every cluster of Popcorn can take up a lot of space so it will work best when you have a nice open area to quilt it in.

It will also look great on a larger scale! I experimented by drawing popcorn around a rectangle to see how the design would look in the border of a quilt. I think this would look great stitched on a large scale with Straight Lines or Pinstripes filling in the rest of the border.

how to free motion quilt Popcorn

Do you have any questions about quilting Popcorn? Please ask in the comments below!

I love it when you share my quilting videos and photos online with your friends. Please feel free to pin this post to Pinterest, share on Facebook, and Instagram. That really helps me out a lot!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, August 13, 2018

Leaf Peepers Week #1

Are you ready to go Leaf Peeping with me? The Leaf Peepers Quilt Along begins today and both Sheri and I have shared quilting tutorials to help you get started on the right foot!

Click Here to find Sheri's tutorial on cutting and organizing your fabrics.

Click Here to find my post with 5 piecing tips for beginners.


What do you need to join the Leaf Peepers Quilt Along? You just need to pick up the quilt pattern available here!

It might not look like it from a distance, but there are a LOT of little pieces in the Leaf Peepers Quilt. Make sure to watch Sheri's video to find lots of tips on keeping your colors straight and all the pieces organized.

Trust me, once we actually start piecing, the labels for each unit come in really handy so I highly recommend following Sheri's tips.

I also shared a video on preparing your fabric which can also come in really handy. If you want your seams to match and to feel in control over the fabric, I strongly advise following these steps to prewash, starch and press your fabrics.

So you have one more week to prepare your fabric, cut out the pieces, get them organized, and practice some piecing!

Next week we begin piecing Block #1 and I can't wait to teach you how to piece half square triangles.

Find all of the posts for the Leaf Peepers Quilt Along shared so far:


Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Getting Back Into Show Quilting

I should have known. I shared an entire podcast on show quilting and guess what? I want to make a new show quilt! LOL!

It's funny how things like this go. I've been happily plugging away at my goddess quilts for years. Typically when I finish one of these multi-year long projects I have absolutely no desire to send them off to show.

So why not design a quilt specifically for show?

That's what I've been thinking about. The problem is back when I did this, I always made catastrophic mistakes that basically ruined the quilt, ruined my chances, and left me feeling very frustrated.

In fact, this just happened again this weekend! I finally finished the quilting on Dream Goddess and got her ready for her first intense soak. This is NOT what you want to see in the bathtub with your finished quilt:



That isn't a photo filter. That's bleeding dye! Dream Goddess was constructed from hand dyed fabric that I could have sworn had been rinsed and washed within an inch of it's life.

Obviously not.

The good news is the dye seems to just me leaking out, not migrating (staining the surrounding fabric). Thankfully there isn't a lot of light places in this quilt, but I really wouldn't want the bright yellow sunshine turning brown with purple dye.

So this kind of thing just happens to me. It's part of the reason why I explained in that quilt show podcast that quilting for ribbons is time consuming, frustrating, and there's no guarantee you'll get what you want.

But then I started to wonder... what if the issue is just practice?

I believe firmly in practice. The more we do, the better we get.

I've made and shown only a handful of quilts. Of course I made mistakes! What if the trick is just making more. Clearly I still have a lot to learn and this is an opportunity to explore and share pretty designs and styles with the world.

So I'm adding that to my Sketchy Saturday goals. I'm also going to design a new series of show quilts. I want these quilts to have meaning and symbolism, just like my goddess quilts, but not to be so personal that I find it impossible to share them.

With practice, and probably a lot more mistakes made, I think I'll get the hang of this show quilting thing.

And who knows, one day I might do a podcast and say it's easy! LOL!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sketchy Saturday - Sunshines and Diamond Cards

I've decided to start a new weekly picture post called Sketchy Saturday! In reviewing my goals for the second half of the year I realized I need to set aside more time to draw and design new quilts.


My need to draw more became painfully obvious while working on the illustrations for Mally the Maker. I'd looked forward to working on the drawings for months and months. Why did I wait? I could have been drawing and designing alongside the writing process.

I think the main reason I waited was because I didn't know the size of the illustrations I'd need. Do I need a lot of 4 inch images or 2 inch or 6 inch? I couldn't settle on a size to work on and that's honestly a big thing for my brain. I need a system, then to design, draw, or quilt within that system. Until I had a size to work with from the layout, I really couldn't work on the drawings.

But really Leah... drawing? Uggh!

I know drawing doesn't rank high on priorities for a lot of quilters, but I honestly think it's a terrific skill to build and definitely worth your time. There's a saying in the machine quilting world - if you can draw it, you can quilt it. I absolutely agree!

So each Saturday my challenge is to draw something new. Sketch a new quilt, draw some squiggles on a napkin, something with pen, pencil, and paper involved.

This week I tackled the 5 of diamonds from my deck of cards:



I bought a deck of cards two weeks ago thinking it would be super pretty and filled with fantastic illustrations. Turns out it just had four illustrations from the cover repeated on the royal suits. Very disappointing!

But instead of returning the deck, I decided to use it as another system. I wanted to experiment with how quilting designs work together on a quilt. What better way to test than on a small bit of paper with some random shapes on top?


I didn't finish this card today, but it will be the first thing I do after my exercise tomorrow morning. I plan to draw spider webs in the background and do a bit more shading around the feathers to fill in the gaps.

It's fun to play with what designs will work around feathers. I'd say it's one of the easiest motifs to work with because the smooth curves stand out and are easy to draw / quilt around.

So that's my sketches for this Saturday! I love having the goal to draw and play and now I have to do a bit of something every week!

Let's go quilt (or sketch),

Leah Day

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fun with the Slice Ruler

Welcome to our first Frame Quilting Friday! I'm really excited to have this weekly challenge to get on the longarm and quilt something fun with you. Learning how to quilt on a longarm frame is a challenge, just like learning all types of machine quilting.


The hardest thing for me has been overcoming my perfectionist tendencies. Picky Leah tends to come out when my quilting looks messy and especially when I stitch out of the "lines." I don't remember being that obsessed with coloring in the lines as a kid, but it really bugs me when I can't control my stitching now!


Hence why I'm using rulers.

I love, love, love quilting with rulers on my longarm! I honestly can't quilt as well without them. I'm working on the fine muscle control and machine movement, and yes, I do find this improves the more I quilt every day, but it's still not good enough for Picky Leah.

Using the ruler helps me stay in control and keep my lines straight, travel stitch clean, and quilt within the space I'm supposed to be quilting. I designed the Slice Ruler to be my go-to for straight lines and echo ditching. I like the small 3 x 7 inch size which fits perfectly in my small frame.

Today I decided to experiment with the different shapes I could create using the narrow end and point of this wedge shaped ruler. Click Here to find the full tutorial.



I really like the effect of the peaks in the sashing of this quilt! I can't wait to play with more ideas and fun quilting designs using this ruler.

I've created a special page to link up all the Frame Quilting Friday videos AND all of my older Sit Down Sunday videos too! Click Here to find all the video I've shared on the Grace Qnique longarm so far.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Very Big Book Day

Thank you so much for all your kind comments and emails yesterday! I was worried about how quilters would react when I archived my quilting groups on Facebook.

But it turns out I shouldn't have been worried at all. It seems the majority of people agree with our decision and feel that this platform has gotten out of control with divisive, angry, hurtful people. I feel immensely relieved and so very thankful for your support.

Starting next week I'm going to share new design videos on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today I'd set aside all week to finishing up work on my fiction novel, Mally the Maker and the Queen in the Quilt.

Yes - finishing up! The writing ran from last October to March, then I've been editing the text for the past few months and two weeks ago I began the layout process.

This is my first experience arranging a book and doing all the graphic design with the proper, industry / publishing standard programs and I've gotta say, it makes a HUGE difference! I never wanted to spend the cash for the Adobe programs before, but now I can 100% say they are well worth it.

So why all day? I've found that when working on a book layout and editing it's best to do ALL the work at once. It's hard to know where I stopped if I don't complete an entire section at once.

Yesterday we had dental appointments, the day before that I took James zip-lining, so Thursday had been set aside all week as the dedicated focus day for Mally the Maker.

I'm so glad I gave myself the time and space to focus because it's now done! I wasn't expecting to get the cover art done in addition to the book interior, but after a quick download of the cover template, I realized I could do it all in one day.

I uploaded the files to Ingram Spark and now it's in review. Give it two days and I'll be able to order sample copies and see what the book looks like all bound up!

I did experience a few glitches along the way and this is why I always leave myself plenty of time and make sure I have a whopping helping of patience for this process. I kept producing the cover art and it kept coming up with an error saying there was spot color used on the spine instead of CMYK.

This is where I usually start tearing out my hair in frustration. I'm a QUILTER. What the heck does Spot Color even mean and why is it such a big deal? Can't I just check the bypass button and get on with it?

But I know better than that. If the system says their is a glitch, there's a glitch and it must be fixed.

After twelve attempts to remove the color from the font I realized the issue wasn't even there. It was in the guiding rectangles I'd set up to make sure the cover was properly proportional in the template. Delete. Delete. Delete. Export.

DING! The title is now in premedia! Whoo hoo!

Yes, this is tough. There are times I feel really, really intimidated by the idea of doing everything myself. I know if I'd gotten up this morning thinking it was cover art day, I might have tried wiggling out of it. I'll do anything other than that!

But it's was worth it. This process went 1000 times smoother than any other book I've ever written, largely because this is a fiction novel and not a how-to quilting book with 300+ images, but it was also easier because I was using the right software for once!

I know next book will be even easier and the next even easier still. That's the process and that's how this works.

Now that this project is nearly done, what's next? I came upstairs after the files were accepted and looked around. Dream Goddess is draped over my sewing machine with only one little section left to be quilted. My free form crochet sweater is also nearly complete with only one medallion left on one sleeve.

So I guess it's finishing time! Let's see what else I can get done this week!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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