The Free Motion Quilting Project: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 79 - Drunk Pointy Paisley

This design is also featured in the DVD Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers, as well as the ebook From Daisy to Paisley.

Today's design inspired a funny story:

Pointy paisley is typically a very stand up guy. He's a little more regimented than his brother Paisley and always keeps his hair trimmed and clothes clean.

Or at least he does when he's sober! Yes, our dear friend Pointy Paisley occasionally has one too many drinks and morphs into the wild, rule breaking free spirit Drunk Pointy Paisley!

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis isn't the first Paisley design to have a taste for the wild side. Just wait until you meet the rest of the family!

Inspiration - Have I ever mentioned my love of Art Nouveau? Lately I've been thumbing through my favorite books on this art form and was struck by a design of a ribbon flowing and twisting in the breeze.

When I stitched this as a pivot design, I realized how much it looked like pointy paisley, only looser and wiggly, therefore it must be drunk!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Pivoting, paisley like designs are really not that difficult. Just maintain an even distance as you echo and you'll do just fine.

Design Family - Pivoting. This design will work just about anywhere on your quilt, so feel free to stitch it big for a quick finish, or stitch it small for a tight, awesome looking texture.

Directional Texture - All directions. This design fills your quilt with an overall texture so place it where you want a lot of movement on your quilts.

Suggestions for Use - With the many paisley variations I've already made, I'm starting to wonder if I should make a quilt just featuring the lot of them...

I could even make it with paisley fabric so it'd be paisley's stitched on paisleys!

Back of Drunk Pointy Paisley
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Motion Fillers Volume 1

I'm bursting at the seams to officially announce:

This is the first DVD and Downloadable Workbook from the project. Both feature the first 20 designs with loads of information on how to quilt the designs, where they will look the best on your quilt, and how to quilt them for the best results.

The downloadable workbook features two, handdrawn 4" squares of each design. The first square shows the overall texture of the design and gives you a great idea what the finished design will look like in your quilt.

The second square is partially filled with arrows indicating how the design is created. Instructions are also included just in case the arrows aren't enough.

Because this is a downloadable workbook, you can get started practicing the designs right now! No way for it to arrive in the mail.

Another terrific feature of downloadable workbooks is that you can print as many copies as you like! You'll never feel weird about drawing in your workbook because you can always print another copy of the practice squares.

Now let me share a bit about the DVD. This is a 1 hour long DVD that also features the first 20 designs from the project.

Each video is clear, crisp, and perfect for learning from your TV screen. Watch how the designs are formed and catch all the tips on quilting I share as I quilt them.

Many of the videos are longer and packed with more details, tips and tricks than what's been provided on the blog.

Now if you're interested in the Workbook, click here.

If you want to learn more about the DVD, click here.

And if you want to get them both for an awesome deal, click here!

I'm so very proud of both the DVD and workbook! A year ago, I never, ever would have thought this was possible!

I was originally planning on coming out with the DVD and workbook at the end of the project, but the overwhelming number of requests and emails of encouragement made me see that I needed to start working on it now.

A huge thank you to everyone who has written in, commented, joined the newsletter, told a friend, posted on a fourm, shared the project with a online group, or blogged about it!

I really couldn't have done any of this without your continual support!

Now, before I start crying...


Leah Day

Day 78 - Bleeding Heart

I'm bursting at the seams today for more than one reason, but I'll try my best to hold it in long enough to share today's filler design: Bleeding Heart.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI never would have thought I'd be such a heart freak. I chuck it up to hearts being an easy design to stitch and extremely versatile with what you can do with them.

At least everyone will have loads of heart designs for Valentine's Day! I know I've really dropped the ball with Halloween, but for some reason I can't seem to MAKE myself design certain things in particular.

I know that as soon as Halloween is past, I'll have extreme inspiration for 10 scary designs. It just goes to show that you can't force it! Designs must come on their own.

Inspiration - My mother grew Bleeding Heart flowers in her garden for years. Little did she know that one of my favorite pastimes was meticulously ripping the flowers apart.

So while quilting Heart Paisley the other day, I started wondering what it would look like if I started combining paisley shapes, such as the tear drop and the heart shape.

Once I quilted it, I was reminded of those bleeding heart flowers. Pretty cool indeed!

Design Family - Pivoting. Like paisley, this design is created by pivoting off a single point to create your shapes, then echos of that shape. This means that this design will work in just about any place on your quilt.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. I'd say this is one of the easiest paisley inspired designs I've done so far. The shapes are simple and flow really quickly, which is great if you're in a speed quilting marathon for all your Christmas quilts!

Directional Texture - All directions. The heart shapes flow from any direction and give a nice overall texture to your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - Several years ago I purchased Passion for Patchwork by Lise Bergene, which is an excellent quilting book of fun, folksy designs and loads of hearts.

I could definitely see using Bleeding Heart on any of the quilts in this book, especially the plaid, square quilt on the back of the book.

Back of Bleeding Heart
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 77 - Elodea

This design is also featured in the DVD Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers, as well as the ebook From Daisy to Paisley.

Way back in college when I was stumbling through life as a haphazard biology major, I used to experiment on this freshwater seaweed called Elodea.

In all honesty, I think the quilting design looks better than the real plant, but maybe I'm biased.

free motion quilting | Leah DayOf course, my college days have come back to haunt me! My husband recently set up a new fresh water tank in our bedroom and stocked it full of, you guessed it - Elodea plants!

Inspiration - When I saw the new plants go into the tank, I was reminded of Fern Filler, a design we learned way back on day 8.

I'm thinking there will be a lot more plant inspired designs in the coming weeks as they make terrific texture no matter where you place them!

Design Family - Stem Centered. With this design, you first create the stem, then branch out with long leaves to fill the rest of the space.

Because of how it's created, I feel that this design will work great in any area of your quilt, especially if you're wanting to cover a large amount of surface area very quickly.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The design itself is not terribly hard. The biggest challenge is maintaining an even distance and size to your leaves.

Directional Texture - All directions. The texture seems to fill from all different directions so make sure to place this where you want loads of movement.

Suggestions for Use - I could see this playing a beautiful role around appliqued flowers, almost like a trumpet vine. Come to think of it, Trumpet Vine would make a great filler too! Must go quilt it!

Back of Elodea
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 76 - Boomerang

I was thinking about triangle shapes the other day and wondering if there was a way to make free motion variations of that three pointed shape.

Turns out there is! Exchange the arc shape for a "V" shape and you get Boomerang!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Inspiration - I've been in the mood for sharp angles! While quilting Diamonds in the Rough, I thought back to other curvy shapes and wondered what the effect would be if the curves were exchanged for sharp angles and straight lines.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Don't let this intimidate you! Chances are you've been drawing "V" shapes long enough that it should be no problem at all. 

Design Family - Stacking. With this design, each "v" shape is stacked on the one before it. You can easily change direction by changing where you end each "V"

Because it's so versatile, this design will really work over any area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All Directions. This design has texture that appears to be moving in all directions at once. Use it in areas that are craving some attention!

Suggestions for Use - While it might seem an odd choice, I think this design would look terrific as the background of a landscape quilt. You could also use it to fill in a choppy ocean or expand it to cover the surface of your whole quilt. The sky is the limit!

Back of Boomerang
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 75 - Alien Fingers

Let's try another stippling variation like Little Hands and Fingers, only this time we're going to stitch Alien Fingers!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI personally found Alien Fingers much easier to stitch because Aliens can have any number of fingers! It allowed me to go totally free form with this stitch and I think it looks better for it.

Back to my pondering on the difficulty of stippling...Why do we all insist on learning this design first?

Is it a form of free motion hazing or do we just like to make life difficult?

I don't know the answer, but I really hope that these stippling variations will help. It's nice to be able to think about something other than "meander, meander, don't cross your lines!"

Inspiration - To be truthful, I actually quilted this square before quilting Little Hands and Fingers and the real reason it was invented is because I screwed up making a human looking hand on the first row.

When it came out looking the way I wanted, but definitely not human looking, I just slapped a new name on it!

It just goes to show that sometimes your mistakes turn out too good to call them mistakes. Just keep quilting and see what you get.

It may not be what you expected, but it's better than giving up before you've had a chance to see what the design can do.

Difficulty Level - Super Beginner. This is very free form, but you still have something to think about, so yes, I think even beginners can tackle this design with no trouble!

Design Family - Independent. Yes, we do run in rows from edge to edge with this design, but because it fills so evenly, you really can't tell. This design will work wonderfully in any area of your quilt, big or small.

Directional Texture - No Direction. Alien Fingers is a background design and much like stippling, should be placed in areas of your quilt you want to recede into the background.

Suggestions for Use - After quilting this on black fabric and looking at it for awhile, I really thought it looked like some of the African dyed and painted fabrics I've seen.

This would look great stitched on a tribal quilt with browns, blacks, cream, and red colors.

Play with it and see what you come up with!

Back of Alien Fingersfree motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 74 - Diamonds in the Rough

We've had King of Diamonds, but this can't possibly be everything you can do with this wonderful shape, can it???

Nope, you can do loads more with diamonds than that, as proved with Diamonds in the Rough.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI was shocked by the number of comments to yesterday's Coffee Beans! design. Who would've thought that so many quilters are such java junkies?

Well, now that I think of it, chocolate, coffee, and fabric really do go nicely together.

One of these days I will make my coffee quilt and wrap up in it in front of my fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa on cold nights. Makes me want to start piecing my coffee quilt right now!

Ahem, I guess we should get back to the design at hand first. Let's learn to quilt it:

Inspiration - Last week I took myself out on a date. Just in case you've never done this, a personal date is extremely fun and (I think) very good for you.

I went to my favorite restaurant, a local sushi joint, ordered my favorite rolls, and proceeded to sketch and draw my way into oblivion.

I'm not sure where I went, but when I came back to earth, this design was sketched into my notebook, along with several other paisley variations I will be playing with over the next few weeks.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. We don't call it Diamonds in the Rough for nothing!

Paisley designs are fairly easy to master, just make sure to maintain a consistent diamond shape as you quilt it. The biggest challenge is navigating the weird areas and not leaving gaps (you see the one I left accidentally?)

Design Family - Pivoting. This design is created like Paisley, meaning that you pivot off a single point to echo a shape a few times before traveling on to a new point.

Because of the way it's created, this design will work in just about any area of your quilt, but might be tricky for beginners to stitch in complicated areas.

Directional Texture - All Directions. This design can definitely produce loads of movement for your quilt wherever you place it.

Suggestions for Use - Quilt this design as the background of appliqued blocks or in the border around feathers. It really doesn't matter where you place it - it will always look like a million bucks!

Back of Diamonds in the Roughfree motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 73 - Coffee Beans!

This design is also featured in the DVD Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers, as well as the ebook From Daisy to Paisley.

I'm in need of a little kick today to get me moving. What better design to get us jiving with java than Coffee Beans?

free motion quilting | Leah DayI'm actually not a coffee drinker. Hard to believe, right?

Nope, aside from a short span in college when the only thing keeping me from bombing my finals was a hot pot of coffee and snickers bars, I've really never cared much for the caffeine boost.

For the record, the caffeine and sugar never made up for a lack of enthusiasm about Biology. This blog is what happens to college dropouts who'd rather be quilting!

Inspiration - I recently purchased more fabric for this project and selected a new color that we really haven't seen enough of. Brown!

As soon as I saw the white thread next to the brown fabric I thought Coffee Beans!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The biggest challenge lies in maintaining the oval shape. Once you get the hang of the wiggly line through the center, it really flows quite nicely. 

Design Family - Stacking. This design is like pebbling and will work just about anywhere on your quilt. 

Directional Texture - No Direction. This is a background texture that looks great when placed anywhere on your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - Anyone in need of a Coffee Quilt? Pull dark brown, black, and cream colors from your stash and piece up a simple log cabin.

Quilt Coffee Beans over the black sections, Basic Spiral over the brown sections to represent swirling coffee, and Pebbles in a Stream in the cream sections to act like frothy cream.

Sounds to me like a yummy quilt indeed!

Back of Coffee Beans!free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 72 - Little Hands and Fingers

Today's design is going to be short, sweet, and no-nonsense because as soon as I finish we're all headed to the North Carolina Zoo!

And what better stitch to feature on a zoo day than Little Hands and Fingers:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI recently realized how big my little boy's hands have gotten. It seems like only yesterday he could barely wrap his fingers around my thumb!

Inspiration - Megan, the Bitchy Stitcher, has been stippling and make a very illuminating comment about how difficult it was to meander aimlessly with no design to think about.

I thought about this for awhile and realized she really had a point.

Those of us who've been stippling for years think nothing of the description "meander a wiggly line and don't cross your previous line of stitching."

But for a beginner this is probably being received with a deer-in-the-headlights look of complete incomprehension.

Sooooo, I've decided to come up with some designs that work like stippling, but have more structure, or at least something to think about as you stitch it. In this case, think hands!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. Little Hands is really worked in rows from one edge of your quilting space to the other. Because it's so free form, however, it will probably still work in all areas of your quilt like stippling.

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is really very easy, especially because you can extend the fingers to take up more or less space on your quilt as needed.

Directional Texture - Two Directions. When stitched in rows, this design definitely shows up with a horizontal or vertical texture. However, if you stitched this on the edges of your blocks in just one single row it will give off a flat, directionless texture more like stippling.

Suggestions for Use - Here's my way cool idea: take the hand print of a whole bunch of kids (or one single kid with a long attention span) and applique or paint their hand shapes onto fabric squares.

Put these together with a thin sashing and stitch Little Hands and Fingers all around the edge of the sashing as though the hands are gripping the block.

Sounds cool to me!

Back of Little Hands and Fingersfree motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 71 - Bamboo Forest

This design is also featured in the DVD Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers, as well as the ebook From Daisy to Paisley.

Anyone else read the comments in Hardwood Floors?

Well, a wonderful fellow blogger, Wendy, the self proclaimed Seam Ripper Extraordinaire, suggested I change the design ever so slightly to create Bamboo.

Thus was born Bamboo Forest! Thanks Wendy!!!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've always liked bamboo and my husband has been so tempted to plant it in our yard to help stave off the poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and various other nasty poison things growing in our woods.

The problem is bamboo really spreads unless you find the clumping kind which I can never find and wouldn't trust anyway. I have knitted with bamboo yard and found it delightful.

Who knew that an overgrown grass could make such soft yarn?

Inspiration - I was really only going to do Hardwood Floors and leave the design at that, but then Wendy came along with the comment "that looks like bamboo to me" and of course, I had to give this variation a try!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design, just like real bamboo trees (stalks? reeds?). It runs from one edge of your space to the other so this will work great to cover open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is a terrific design to start with because you don't even need to stitch straight lines! Bamboo can be slightly curvy so it's super easy.

Directional Texture - Two directions. There's definitely a horizontal / vertical look to this design, no doubt about it!

Suggestions for Use - I would put this in a plain, indigo sashing around Japanese fabrics for a super cool Asian inspired quilt.

Speaking of Asia, these pictures were taken at a zoo in Japan. It's called I has a Bucket and I get a laugh every time I look at it.

Back of Bamboo Forestfree motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Day 70 - Chain of Holly Berries

Now that we've all totally mastered Prickly Holly, let's stitch it up another notch with Chain of Holly Berries!

free motion quilting | Leah DayTruthfully, I actually designed this before Prickly holly, but liked the look of the holly leaves so much I figured it could become a design all on it's own.

It just goes to show that you can take any two designs like Prickly Holly and Pebbling, combine them together and come up with a new design!

Inspiration - I really love Pebbling because the texture is out of this world, so I really use any excuse to combine it in a quilting stitch.

I'm always thinking I should try combining Pebbling with McTavishing for Spaghetti and Meatballs, or Pebbling with Paisley for a Funky Flower, or Pebbling with Stippling for Grape Vine.

The possibilities are endless! Seriously, I just thought of these three new designs while sitting here typing. Now I've gotta go quilt them!

...well, maybe I can wait until after I finish this post ...grumble...grumble...

Design Family - Edge to Edge. Even though Pebbling is a stacking design and Prickly Holly is a chaining design, when you combine them together, you really just move from one side of the quilting space to the other.

This means that this design will work great in open areas, like sashing, but probably not so well in complicated areas like around quilting motifs.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. I don't think this is any more difficult than regular Prickly Holly. In fact, it might be easier because the pebbles act like a base and the holly leaves just pivot off of them.

Directional Texture - 2 directions. Because this is worked form one edge to the other, you can easily see a horizontal or vertical texture with this design.

Suggestions for Use - Okay, here's my idea! Take this design and center the holly berries in the center of 2" sashing. It would look just like a garland of berries!

Then have the holly leaves branch out to fill in the rest of the sashing. If you were really going for gold, you could do the holly berries in red thread and the leaves in green.

Okay, maybe that's going a bit far, but definitely play with it in your quilts!

Back of Chain of Holly Berriesfree motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 69 - Prickly Holly

I've been getting a lot of requests for holiday inspired designs, especially Christmas. So let's get started with Prickly Holly!

It's funny how I can come up with several holiday inspired designs like Spider Web, In Stitches, and Poinsettia with no trouble at all, but when I sit down with the intention of creating Christmas designs and nothing comes to mind.

So I started flicking through Christmas magazines from years past and looking for designs and ideas that are particularly suited for free motion designs.

Of course, holly leaves are some of the first to jump out at me and I think this design will make the perfect filler for any red, white, or green quilt.

Inspiration - Holly leaves are obviously the inspiration, but I wonder - why in the world are holly leaves and berries considered a Christmas decoration?

Turns out there's a really good book called The Boggart that I read way back in 5th grade (is it disturbing that I can remember that far back or what?) that mentions holly berries and leaves being used for Halloween, not Christmas, to ward off an evil female spirit.

Pretty cool, huh! It's an excellent book if you're looking for something light and simple to read as the weather turns cooler. 

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The design itself is not hard, but maintaining the shape can be tricky, especially in weird areas. 

Design Family - Stacking. The holly leaves chain together to fill the space so they really can be used in any area of your quilt. They are time consuming, so make sure to place them where you won't be finishing a quilt for 2009 in 2010! 

Directional Texture - All directions. The holly leaves seem to come from all directions so you can really use this anywhere that you want an eye catching texture on your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - I like the idea of a red and white 9 patch quilt that is stitched with green contrasting thread over the white sashing. Why do I like the idea of it?

Because I have had the quilt top pieced for 2 years, yes! 2 YEARS without quilting it.

It's officially on my quilt hit list. Candy cane's days are numbered...

Back of Prickly Holly
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Hide Your Quilting Threads

Learn how to hide your threads within the layers of your quilt top:

Okay, let's cover commonly asked questions first:

Where can I find the cheater needles and Pin Place?

Click here to find them in my online quilt shop!
(Scroll down for a great deal on both)

Why do I want to hide the threads in my quilt?

Whenever you stop and start quilting on your quilt, you end up with 2 threads (bobbin thread and top thread).

The OLD way of anchoring these threads is by stitching several times in the same place and then clipping them off.

Not only does this look nasty (like a big knot of thread on the top and back of your quilt) it also produces a noticeable bump that is very easy to feel, especially if you're a quilting judge.

No, not everyone reading this blog is quilting for show, but even if your quilt is only ever going to be loved and slobbered on by your family, friends, or pets, it still pays to hide your threads.

The old way of anchoring, let's call it the Thread Nest Anchor, can often work itself out over time, especially if you're using a slick thread like polyester or rayon.

When you take the time to tie a knot and pull the threads inside your quilt, particularly if you pull the threads into an area that you're about to quilt into, that sucker is never coming out!

If you're going to take the time to quilt your quilts yourself, take a bit of extra time to pull those threads inside and secure them so they never, ever come out.

It might take some getting used to, particularly if you've been using the nasty Thread Nest Anchor all your life, but if you keep the cheater needle and pin place close by, you will get into the habit of hiding your threads in no time.

Now let's go quilt (AND hide our threads)!

Leah Day

Day 68 - Interlocking T

I'm cheating a bit by releasing this design a bit early, but I want to get a jump on it so I can also share the new video I've created on hiding threads inside your quilt.

So today's design is Interlocking T!

free motion quilting | Leah DayRecognize this from somewhere? It looks a lot like In Stitches, but works more like Tree Roots so it can go anywhere on your quilt.

Inspiration - I've been taking a long, hard look at the alphabet lately. Which letters lend themselves really well to quilting and which do not?

Well, it turns out that almost any letter will work stitched in free motion! Lot's of quilters are already using loopy "L" and "E" shapes in the sashing of their quilts and of course we can't forget Henna Foofy which uses cursive "F" shapes.

So when you're mindlessly doodling, try running through the alphabet and see what you come up with. You never know, you may find your favorite design is stitching your own name!

Design Family - Independent. This design is like Tree Roots, Wandering Clover, and Circuit Board. They're independently created so they will work in just as many places as Stippling, which means here, there, and everywhere!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Though some may disagree , I believe this stitch is easier to learn than stippling because how many times have we drawn "T" letters in our life? About half a million times!

Directional Texture - No Direction. This design gives a very flat, background look that works great when paired with complicated or busy quilting designs.

Suggestions for Use - I'd stitch this in places that you want to look flat and backgroundish (new word - Ha!) Try it around free motion feathers for a cool contrast between the curvy smooth shapes and the sharp angles and straight lines of the T's.

Back of Interlocking T
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Day 67 - Sea Anemone

We've been doing a lot of edge to edge and chaining designs lately so let's shake things up a bit with a new center fill design like Sea Anemone!

My husband doesn't keep anemones in his reef tanks but all you have to do to see these cool sea plants (or animals) is to watch Finding Nemo.

James is out of school today with a sore throat so we will most definitely be spending some time curled up on the couch watching animated fishies swim home while I hand stitch the binding on Vase of Hibiscus.

Inspiration - Sea anemones were probably the last thing on my mind when I was creating this design.

I was flipping through my notebook of designs and saw Poinsettia. This design is just begging for variations so I decided to try out the most standard first variation: make the lines more wiggly!

Design Family - Center Fill. This design is worked from the middle out, which means that this design will work great placed in the center of blocks or the centers of quilting designs.

It's probably not going to work as well placed in complicated areas where you have to do a lot of wiggling and traveling in order to get the space filled.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. But please don't be intimidated! The real difficulty with this design lies in maintaining your swirl shapes even in weird areas.

Just draw it a few times and then give it a go even if you're a beginner. What's the worst that can happen? You mess up a 6" square of fabric? So what!?

Directional Texture - Center Focused. I'm reminded of the circular quilt kit that I purchased 2 months ago from Guildcrafters Quilt Shop in Berkley, MI.

I think I finished 7 blocks using a variety of applique methods, but still couldn't find one that I liked.

But my last post in which I complained extensively about my hatred for applique has brought forth a new method to my attention!

Krista from Poppyprint has published a tutorial walking us through a very cool, very easy looking applique method that I'm going to have to try today.

You definitely wouldn't know that this is her first tutorial because the pictures and explanations ROCK! I must learn what camera she uses...

Once I get this quilt of 70 blocks finished, I'm going to quilt each circle with a different center filler design. Quite apart from looking awesome, it will inspire me to invent 70 more designs!

Suggestions for Use - I'd definitely place Sea Anemone on circular coasters or holiday ornaments. It's cheerful and, while advanced, it's not impossible, especially if your circle is small.

Back of Sea AnemoneFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Recent Projects

Today I was extremely late in publishing my filler design and though I am the all powerful, reigning overlord of this blog, I still like to stick with some semblance of a daily schedule.

So why was I so very late???

Drumroll please...

I was uploading the DVD Free Motion Fillers - Volume 1 to my manufacturer!

Yes, the first volume is done and will be officially launching very soon with the downloadable workbook (exact details still delightfully ambiguous - I AM overlord after all!)

While uploading a DVD might sound really glamorous and high tech, really all it did was tie up my computer for 17 HOURS. Argh!

If you know anyone personally that lives and breathes on the internet, you will know how extremely painful and excruciating it can be to live even a few hours without access to the constant flowing stream of the internet.

So while I couldn't check email, blog, or shop for new fabric, I decided to head back into my sewing cavern and actually make things out of the fabrics I had on hand. Novel idea!

Here's what I came up with:

Wholecloth Quilt Vase of Hibiscus -

Believe it or not, this was actually my very first wholecloth quilt design.

I started it back when I knew nothing about trapunto, was still stippling everything to death, and didn't believe in prewashing fabric.

Needless to say, my first attempt at this wallhanging didn't go well!

So I've taken the original design and spruced it up a bit. I will be coming out with a complete pattern of this design one day, but for now let's just enjoy the pretty picture.

I'm sure you're wondering how this can possibly be a wholecloth when it's obviously using different fabrics.

This is the wonder of something called Shadow Trapunto.

Layers of colored felt and fabric were placed under organza and stitched with water soluble thread. The excess fabric was cut away, leaving it only in those areas it was meant to be.

The whole thing was then sandwiched and quilted so densely this quilt really does resemble cardboard. I didn't even have to use a walking foot to bind it!

I was playing with the new filler designs and used Brain Coral, Echo Shell, and Mussel Shell and then got lazy and finished with Pebbling and McTavishing to fill in the background areas.

I learned a lot with this piece, most notably how much (and how little) silk organza can take. The slightest mis-snip can cause holes in the organza that will always show in the finished piece, no matter how dense you quilt it.

While this might seem really annoying and ridiculous to bother with, I'm looking at it in a different light.

You see, for all my patience with free motion quilting, I really, really, REALLY hate to applique. It's not that I can't do it, I can, but I get so picky and micromanaging with it that it takes forever.

So lately I've been working on a new method of using multiple fabrics layered together, but without the tedium of turning under edges or lining things up.

I'd prefer to spend less time cutting, glueing, and stitching the fabrics together and a lot more time quilting them!

From the looks of how well the picture turned out, I believe I'll be working with silk organza quite a lot in the coming years.

Okay, enough about that wholecloth, let's move on to my Halloween Costume!

Clown Overalls - This Halloween I've actually managed to get things together to the extent that my son and I will both have costumes.

James is going to be Charlie Brown, which is the easiest costume in the world if you're 2, still fairly bald, and particularly chubby in the middle!

While I farmed out James's costume to an Ebay fairy, I decided to sew my clown costume myself. I didn't want to be a real clown with a big floppy outfit. I'd prefer to be a more acrobatic clown with a pair of nice fitting overalls.

This was a really terrific pattern by Cindy Talor Oats that I picked up back when I was pregnant with James and I just now got around to cutting it out!

I must admit that the pattern is one of the absolute best garmet patterns I have ever dealt with. It's obviously written by a quilter because she used a lot of 1/4" seams and very good instructions.

Unfortunately, my husband took one look at the finished overalls and claimed they were officially "The Ugliest Thing I've Ever Made." Ha! Well, at least he's honest.

I think I would have preferred the overalls to be in this pink Michael Miller fabric, but for a clown costume I'll be wearing only a few times, I think I'll survive it not being made from the prettiest fabric in the world.

Gum Drop Cushion - Now this Amy Butler pattern has been in my studio for at least 6 months and I've been dying to try it out.

Finally I cracked it open today and was delighted to find that not only is it easy to cut, it's just as easy to stitch up and I think I made this pillow in 3 hours or less.

I've been needing something to put my feet on when I'm on the computer for long hours because my legs keep falling to sleep.

My gum drop cushion is the perfect fit and height inside my desk.

If you try this, make sure you have at least 10 bags of 20 oz of fiberfill, or the equavalent of 3 large trash bags full of fluff. I was surprised how much it took to get the nice stiff cushion I was going for.

Whew! That was a lot of little projects in one busy weekend, but I had loads of fun with all three of them.

The thing I love the most about this blog project is that I've held myself back from starting another BIG quilt.

While big quilts are a wonderful learning experience and terrific to show, they're also huge greedy gobblers of time and energy.

Big quilts often also come with a heavy learning curve. I can never be happy just by making a wholecloth and leaving it alone. Instead I have to spend 3 more months stitching 50 million beads to it or painting the whole surface.

While the end result is always worth every minute it takes to create them, it's also nice to work on small projects that can be finished in a day or two.

Now let's go Quilt (or sleep)!

Leah Day

Day 66 - Dresden Daisies

Let's take another traditional block and turn it into a quilting filler design! Today's inspiration is a Dresden plate block and when stitched free motion it becomes Dresden Daisies:

Do you have any idea what day today is? It's day 66 which means that we officially only have 299 days to go!

I don't know about you, but 299 sounds a lot more comforting (and less intimidating) than 300.

I've previously avoided knowing how many days I had left because whenever I thought about it too much my hands would start to sweat and my heart palpitate.

With how well the first 65 days have gone, I now have no worry at all about the next 300!

I firmly believe that it takes 50 days to really learn anything well. It definitely took me at least that long to learn that stitching on busy, bright fabric is a bad idea if you want your stitches to show up on camera.

So you can expect the next 299 days to be much more visible as I've just sliced and diced a nice batch of solid black, red, green, blue and purple from my stash, and maroon from a friend (thanks Dee!)

I seem to be the only quilter in existence that's looking for solid fabrics, but I stumbled across Michael Miller's Krystal collection tonight and may have to break my fabric piggy bank so I can dive in with both feet.

This is a beautiful collection of fabrics that almost appear hand dyed. I guess we would describe it as "mottled?"

Regardless, I think it will work perfectly on camera, which is currently my only requirement of fabric. I plan to treat myself to 5 yards of this red wine color to make another kimono jacket.

When in doubt, always wear red.

Okay, enough exposition, let's get back to Dresden Daisies:

Inspiration - Yes, this is inspired by a traditional Dresden plate block, of which I am very familiar. The raffle quilt I quilted last spring sported 20 Dresden plate blocks surrounding appliqued flower baskets.

While I've not been much of a fan of the block before I quilted Baskets in Bloom, I learned to like them better while quilting them.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design will work great in open areas like sashing, but not very easily in tight, complicated areas.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design is fairly easy to master because the daisy shapes build upon themselves very naturally. This is also a design that we often doodle, so chances are you can already draw the shape quite easily.

Directional Texture - Two directions. This design has a definite horizontal or vertical direction.

Suggestions for Use - I would most certainly put this in the sashing of a baby blanket or around the edge of a quilt near the binding.

It's a very simple finish, but can definitely add a little extra detail to a quilt where ever it's placed.

Back of Dresden Daisies
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 65 - Flock of Geese

Lately I've been looking at traditional quilt blocks and wondering if they can work as filler designs. Here's the first block I've tried:

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhile Flock of Geese came out looking nothing like a real flying geese block, it was not for lack of trying!

My first attempt looked much more like the block, but the triangles ended up all different shapes and sizes (where did I put that original photo?)

I just wasn't satisfied with this first attempt. First off, it required loads of traveling around each triangle and the end result really didn't look that good.

I think these types of triangles will work better when marked on a quilt top, so maybe this is a good inspiration for a stencil design. Watson, I think you're on to something!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design will work great in big areas where you have enough space to lay your grid, but definitely not in small, complicated areas.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Once you quilt the grid lines, filling in the geese shapes is actually pretty easy.

Directional Texture - No Direction. This is a flat design that works well to flatten your quilt and create background areas.

Suggestions for Use - Of course I can't resist telling you to go quilt Flock of Geese over your flying geese!

Another good place for this design would be over the lighter patches of a nine patch block. Nice open areas when you have plenty of room to lay your grid and quilt freely!

Back of Flock of Geese
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 64 - Ace of Spades

Now let's finish up our royal set of poker designs with Ace of Spades:

free motion quilting | Leah DayTo recap, we've learned a heartful Valentine's day stitch with Queen of Hearts.

We've gotten a great design for St. Patrick's Day with Jack of Clubs.

And we've discovered a terrific stitch for any day of the year with King of Diamonds (after all, diamonds are FOREVER)!

Now let's finish it off by learning to stitch these spades:

Inspiration - I'm NOT going to talk about my card inspiration again cause I know you're all so sick of hearing about it.

Instead, let's go check out this AWESOME site on Zentangles. Seriously, go now!

This site is devoted to small, hand drawn images that look a lot like free motion quilting. I love the idea behind this art form: "Anything is Possible, One Stroke at a Time."

I think the same is definitely true for quilting. Instead of focusing on quilting the whole quilt, just focus on making one line of stitching, one motif, one spade shape at a time.

When we focus on the whole quilt, it just gets bigger and bigger and of course we get overwhelmed! Instead look at the small spaces and treat them like a Zentangle - fill the space one stitch at a time.

I know you'll love this site, and a special thank you to a reader named Kathy who shared the site with me.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The spade shapes are not a shape we draw very often, so sketch it a few times to get a handle on it first. 

Design Family - Stacking. This design is going to work great in small, tight areas, but probably a bit tricky over a big area unless you mark it. 

Directional Texture - All Directions. The spades look really cool when they seem to be coming (or growing) from all different directions.

Suggestions for Use - Today's the last day I can share my bad little drawing of the poker quilt before it must be retired from overuse.

One of these days (when James is in college probably), I'm going to take a Queen of Hearts Card and quilt her up into a queen sized quilt.

That way I can be queen while I'm sleeping under a queen sized queen quilt. Ha! (That was terrible, I know, but I just couldn't resist).

Back of Ace of Spadesfree motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 63 - King of Diamonds

Let's keep moving along through the royal set with King of Diamonds:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis design is pretty similar to Cubing and Triangle Mosaic. All three are alike in being pretty time consuming to stitch, but the texture you get is worth it!

Inspiration - Yep, that good ole' pack of playing cards is still shuffling itself out with this design. Don't worry, we only have one more tomorrow with Ace of Spades.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Maintaining a consistent diamond shape can be tricky, but just take it slow and stay consistent and you'll do just fine!

Design Family - Stacking. Try to chain the diamond shapes together so that it leaves a bit of the background showing through. This isn't like cubing where every square inch of the piece must be covered with squares.

Directional Texture - No Direction. This design is definitely a background design and will work great in small, detailed areas.

Suggestions for Use - Any takers on my poker inspired quilt? Yeah, I know the graph is pretty bad. Maybe I should try my hand at the new fangled Electric Quilt?

I've been hearing some pretty good things about this program, but I haven't taken the plunge to download the trial yet. Part of this is lack of time and part is because I'm running out of space on my computer very fast!

Feel free to leave comments about Electric Quilt if you use it and what you think of it!

Back of King of Diamondsfree motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

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