The Free Motion Quilting Project: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over - Part 5

Today I finally got back to fusing the water section of My Cup Runneth Over!

I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Honestly, I like getting up before Josh or James because the house is so quiet.

It's at these times I really feel free to concentrate completely on what I'm working on.

Today it really worked out wonderfully because I was able to shoot this video on fusing the water section.

I ramble on a bit in this video (it was 7:30 am, I'm not always thinking straight that early), but I've had so many questions about this part of this quilt, I figured the best thing to do was try and answer them all in one short video.

I mention Robbi Joy Eklow in this video and her book Free Expression: The Art and Confessions of a Contemporary Quilter. I have really enjoyed this book a lot. Robbi's writing style is clear, straight forward, and confidence building.

Maybe I'm also biased to this book because in the very first chapter, Robbi caused me to realize something very important:

There are more quilt designs in my head than I have time to create, therefore, I must start getting these quilts created faster.

And part of getting my goddesses produced faster will be to start fusing them.

I'll be honest: I've been resistant to fusible applique. This might sound silly, but I've dug in my heels for years with all sorts of excuses like:

"It'll make the quilt too stiff."

"It'll gum up my needle."

"It'll look messy and imperfect."

Finally after reading Free Expression and drooling over the photos, most of which you can't even TELL Robbi used fused applique in, I've finally gotten over my hang up.

I officially like fusible applique!

But then again, I still might be speaking too soon. I haven't actually quilted this water section yet, so I really don't know what's going to happen when I start quilting over it.

It won't be too long of a wait though! I finished the fusing this morning and connected the 2 sections together this afternoon.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I think she came together pretty well! The water is actually prettier and more dramatic than I had imagined it. I think the Sewbatik Nuance batiks really made it perfect.

Now I'm off to take a nap. While I may be more productive in the morning when I wake up early, it always catches up with me eventually!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Clean Studio!

Today's been a big cleaning, reorganizing, regrouping day in the studio. Whenever I feel bad and my house or office is a mess, it just makes everything worse.

Cleaning always makes me feel better, even though I rarely ever bother with it. I thought I'd share some pictures with you because I'm just so darn proud of my new organization racks.

free motion quilting | Leah DayHere's where I'm keeping all of the new stencils and gloves. Stencils are kind of hard to organize, unless you want to have a separate drawer for every set.

I decided to hang them on these hook racks and so far it's working great!

Here's the closet where I keep all of the items from our Quilt Shop:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've long since taken the doors down, but today I moved the table up and bought the drawer to hold mailers and shipping stuff.

This is going to be my new cutting table because I'm going to start selling some fabric by the yard! YAY!

Really I don't want to go too crazy with fabric, so I'm starting small with just some specialty stuff like the french fuse interfacing required for the No Sewing Until You Quilt It! method of applique, silk organza for my Reverse Shadow Trapunto technique, and white and black Kona cotton.

Eventually I'll move all this stuff downstairs to Josh's bigger office, but for now it's still fitting, more or less, in my little office.

And here's my desk set up in the corner with my drafting light box behind it.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is really nice because I no longer have any excuse not to design! All I have to do is turn around in my chair and turn on the lightbox.

Of course, my desk is still completely covered with stuff. What can I say! I'm the kid that never learned how to put her toys away.

Today I'm still working hard on the site and adding all the new stencils to the store. It's a little slow going, but I hope to have it all uploaded tomorrow.

Working on this has really helped turn my mood around because I've been waiting on these stencils since October and seeing them come online is really exciting!

The DVD fiasco is still going on, but I'm feeling better about it. You guys have been so supportive and understanding through this, it's really, really helped a lot.

I'm off to get more stencils online! Hopefully I'll be able to get back to My Cup Runneth Over tonight and have a new update on that tomorrow.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, February 26, 2010

Working Through It...

I'm really sorry about not posting anything quilting or even relatively coherent for the last 2 days. I definitely feel a bit out of whack about that and am planning to get back in the swing of things very soon.

Really more than anything else it's this DVD problem that is really, really bothering me.

Like I said yesterday, it was the icing on the cake and pushed all of my already shaky emotions over James's birthday into the realm of "too much".

My cup runneth over indeed.

But I'm working through it.

After 2 days my DVD manufacturer finally got back to me with a snippy, flippant email that basically said that the problem was entirely on my end.

My response to that is "Do you REALLY think I would intentionally launch a DVD that didn't work???"

I know for a fact that the sample worked, the master worked, and all the videos I've tested all work just fine. It's just so extremely frustrating to have that kind of attitude thrown at me in the middle of all of this.

Needless to say, that manufacturer is getting the boot.

I'm already working with another company to produce the DVDs that has much, much better customer service and I can produce the dvds in a 2 disc set, packaged in 1 box like I always wanted.

As with all things, life is a learning experience, and I've learned my lesson to test at least 5 DVDs from every case from now on. It might be time consuming, but it's necessary to make sure a problem like this never happens again.

So I'm taking the rest of the day to redesign the DVD covers and also work on the new update to the quilting store.

The new stencils from Quilting Creations just came in and they look AWESOME. Seeing these stencils and knowing what you guys will be able to make from them really gave me a boost even in the middle of all of this "stuff".

Hopefully I can get all of this done and go quilt soon. I haven't been able to work on the new quilt or quilting designs much in the last few days and that's what I really want to do the most.

Off to work!

Leah Day

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To better days...

Today has been a terrible day.

I've been so angry and frustrated I really felt like throwing my computer, video camera, and sewing machine all in the trash.

Today also happens to be James's birthday. Coincidence of coincidences, today is the day my life changed forever approximately three years ago.

I'll say it straight: giving birth is never easy and post partem depression is a real b*tch.

Even three years later, today is never an easy day. It should be a happy day, but for me, it's not.

It's just another reminder of what I went through, of the sadness and depression I sunk into, and the clawing, scraping, dragging of myself back out of that deep, black hole.

Every year I get further away from that first year.

But every year I remember it in vivid clarity.

I wasn't going to post today because I feel like this is too much to share, too personal, to heavy for all of you who read looking for lighthearted inspiration and creativity every day.

But from the encouragement of a friend, I am posting, and I am sharing because as she said, this is the real Leah Day.

So allow me to share with you the quilt I made immediately after James was born:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This quilt is called "Torn Tree" and is the closest approximation I can make to what it feels like to be torn in half by the radical life change of birth.

Three years ago today I went through something I still have trouble putting into words.

So rather than words and writing, I tried to show what I was feeling in thread, fabric, and batting.

All I've learned is this: when life gets too big, too overwhelming, and too mean, the best place you can go is where you always belong.

And for me, that place is always behind my machine, quilting.

To better days,

Leah Day

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beginner DVD Problem

Houston...we have another problem...

I'm really, really angry, sad, and frustrated to announce that there is a problem with the new Free Motion Quilting Basics disc 2.

Apparently there is a transcription error on some of the discs created by the manufacturer and it will stop playing 5 minutes into the disc.

If you have ordered a Free Motion Quilting Basics DVD Set, please check your disc 2 and watch the first video on basting. If it plays through all the way, your disc is fine.

If it stops just as I'm attaching the backing to the table, please contact me immediately for a replacement. You don't need to mail it back, just send me an email with your shipping address and I'll get one out to you ASAP.

I really don't know why this happened, but I figure the best way to deal with it is as openly and honestly as possible.

I did order samples from the manufacturer that worked just fine, so I know this is a problem on their end.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Leah Day

Day 135 - Cityscape

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

Here's another cool geometric design I'm calling Cityscape:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah DayYesterday I spent most of the day fusing blue fabrics together to make the water section of My Cup Runneth Over.

I was feeling very frustrated about how slow this process is going. When I went upstairs to bed last night it was feeling like a big weight on my shoulders. I must get this quilt done....I must get this quilt done...

But then I started asking why?

Why must it be done right now? Why must I rush through it?

The only answer I could come up with is "I want to quilt, not piece."

So for the next few days I'm going to stop fusing, piecing, and putting this top together and instead start designing the quilting designs that will be used on it.

I've learned from doing this to myself enough times that I can force it, force myself to grind through a project just to get to the part I want to work on, or I can stop pushing and just go do what I want!

It's a good lesson to learn, but sometimes hard to remember. As Pepper Cory said in her lecture "It's QUILT not GUILT!"

So I'm ditching the guild and just going to quilt!

Inspiration - I haven't made a landscape quilt in a pretty long time, and I was thinking about the different landscapes we have in NC.

Of course it's always fun to change from the typical, rolling hills / mountains vista for something more geometric and obviously man-made. Nature doesn't usually run in straight lines!

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is a very easy design of overlapping squares and rectangles. The trick is keeping the shapes consistently layered evenly so the design is consistent throughout.

As you can see from my sample, I had a lot of long, skinny buildings toward the top and that area didn't look as good as the lower, more layered area. 

Design Family - Stacking. This design is created by stacking and layering shapes, so really it can be stitched in any area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - 2 directions. Because the rectangles are worked largely in one direction, you end up with a very obvious horizontal / vertical texture. 

Suggestions for Use - I think this would be a fun design to use as a contrast to very curving, fluid shapes.

You could even take a typical rolling hills / mountains landscape quilt and stitch Cityscape in the sky area for a very interesting design element.

Never hesitate to contrast textures! If you look closely at most plants you'll find that all of them mix straight and curvy lines all over the place and they still manage to look beautiful.

Back of Cityscape
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and send in a picture to show it off.

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 134 - Left Turn, Right Turn

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

Remember back to January when I shared a fun little design called Angles and Circles?

Well here's another variation on the same design! This is called Left Turn, Right Turn:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today is turning out to be an awesome day! I'm muscling through my computer work so I can run downstairs and continue fusing the water section of My Cup Runneth Over.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI haven't had any time to work on her this weekend, but I think I can get a big section of this water knocked out in a few hours.

Last night I started designing the filler designs I'll use in this quilt and I'm already dying to quilt it!

Left turn, Right Turn is a design I've had around for awhile, but I think I might use it to fill in the background behind the goddess. I was wanting a flat, background design with very little distracting movement.

Contrary to appearances, this design is pretty easy! Though it looks complicated in the picture, just wait until you learn how to quilt it:

Inspiration - For this design, I really just asked myself the question "What would happen if all I did was take a left turn, then a right turn all the way down my quilting space?"

I was shocked when this random, boxy design emerged. I really didn't know what to expect, but I absolutely love this design.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. If you can draw a square with 4 corners evenly, you can most definitely make this design because it's easier that drawing a square. It's only 1 angle at a time!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. Yes, I know this design looks like one continuous, complicated mess of squares and angles, but really it's stitched in rows from one edge of your quilting space to the other.

This makes this a great design for open, uncomplicated areas, but probably not the best to squish around complicated quilting motifs.

Directional Texture - No Direction. This is a very flat, directionless design. The pattern wants to recede and flatten out the space in the background.

Suggestions for Use - I'm going to place this design in the background of my next goddess art quilt, but you could easily use this design to cover the whole surface of a quilt.

If you're worried about the lines getting wobbly, feel free to mark guidelines to keep your rows of Left Turn, Right Turn even.

Back of Left Turn, Right Turn
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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 133 - Delilah

It's been more than a week with no new filler designs! I don't know about you, but I'm going through withdrawal!

Let's feed our addiction to free motion quilting with a new design based off of the huge dahlia flowers I love in the summer:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've had this design in my head since the start of the project, but for some reason didn't get around to quilting a sample until now.

Sometimes I catch myself losing track of the designs I've done and those still bouncing around in my brain. With more than 100 designs done, it's easy to get confused!

When I think of Dahlia flowers, I'm always reminded of the song "Hey there Delilah..." which was so popular last summer.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design can be a bit tricky to keep consistent because the triangle shapes don't always want to squish together consistently.

I also mention in the video how I didn't really like designs with sharp angles when I was first getting started free motion quilting. It took some practice and patience before I finally started to like designs like these. 

Design Family - Center Fill. This design starts in the center of your quilting space and radiates out. This makes for a design that will be easy to stitch in the open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah DayDirectional Texture - Center focused. It's kind of hard to ignore the huge flower shape with this design. Make sure to place it somewhere that you want loads of attention.

Suggestions for Use - Remember my applique circle quilt from way back in the fall? I picked up this quilt pattern from the Guildcrafters Quilt Shop after running a search for circle quilt patterns.

I haven't managed to get back to that quilt, but one day I will and I'll use a different center focused filler design in all 70 circles. I'm sure it will make for a cool quilt if I ever manage to finish it!

Back of Delilah
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, February 20, 2010

Weekend with Pepper Cory

Super thank you to everyone who has commented on the Ultimate Piecing Disaster 2010. I now have more techniques to try and ideas to experiment with than I ever thought possible.

But more than anything else, I just needed a little space from this quilt. Sometimes it's best if you just walk out of the studio and let things lie for a bit so you can come back with a new plan.

The best thing about taking a break was this weekend a very special quilter came to Shelby, NC!

Pepper Cory, super famous quilting lady and show judge, came to my little ole' town and presented a lecture and workshop for my guild.

And since I'm the program chairman for my guild, I got to hang out with Pepper and go shopping on Friday! Awesome!

We really had a great time, chatted a lot about quilting, and Pepper gave me a lot of insight into the why's of the quilting industry (i.e. Why does all the free motion quilting in magazines usually stink?)

Pepper is amazingly down to earth, funny, and extremely giving with both her time and advice. Check out her blog right here.

At the lecture Friday night, several guild members let me know how much they had enjoyed the presentation, which was all about becoming more creative quilter and letting go of many of the "truths" we associate with creativity (i.e. In order to be a successful artist, you must be crazy).

Today I attended a workshop which was on Mastering Quilt Marking. I took the class because, even though I know how to mark quilt tops already, it's so nice to learn and see the techniques from another quilter's perspective.

You never can know "everything" about anything in the quilting world because it's just SO BIG, so it was a great class that really helped many quilters start seeing their quilts in a different way.

I even managed to get a good section of border designed for my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. I'm still not sure when I'll drag this quilt out of the closet, but I'm hoping I'll get to it sometime this summer.

I also picked up a little wholecloth stencil from Pepper on which I intend to try.....drumroll please...


Ha! Yep, I'm wanting to try hand quilting so I can have some projects to work on that can easily travel.

I don't expect it to ever become a major part of my quilting life, but it gets a bit old trying to drag the sewing machine and all accessories anywhere with James and Josh and all our gear.

Also, you can't help but want to try hand quilting after seeing Pepper's amazing hand quilted quilts. They're simply gorgeous.

Overwhelmingly it was a terrific weekend, I had a terrific time, and am now feeling wonderfully inspired and ready to get back to My Cup Runneth Over.

I'm off to go play with a fusing sample to see if I like it!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over - Part 4

Houston....We have a problem....

So this wonderful little quilt who has so far moved along perfectly for more than half of the piecing is now stalled.

The reason?

I'm calling it "The Ultimate Piecing Disaster of 2010!" Ha!

free motion quilting | Leah DayHere's what happened:

I've been using Sharon Schamber's piec-lique technique for this whole quilt and it's worked marvelously well.

But the water section is made up of very tiny and very meticulous pieces. The lines must match both ways and I really think the Piec-lique method would have continued to work if the pieces were just a bit bigger.

free motion quilting | Leah DayAs you can see, the lines were matching up one direction, but definitely not the other!

I worked on this piece all day yesterday and finally gave it up at 10 pm last night. I was just tired, frustrated, and ready to throw the whole quilt in the trash.

Instead I took a hot shower and went to bed. It's best not to do anything rash when experiencing a piecing disaster.

Of course, instead of sleeping I instead laid awake pondering how the heck I'm going to get this water to come out the way I want it to.

I went to yoga and my yoga instructor asked if I could change the design or be more open to the mismatching seams. inner perfectionist, type A personality literally SCREAMS when it sees mismatching seams. It just won't work.

I've said it before many times that the right teacher will step into my path right when I need her. For some reason this has happened like magic through my whole quilting experience.

And just luckily my new book Free Expression by Robbi Joy Eklow just arrived in the mail!

This book teaches fusible applique, a method I've known, but never really tried on a quilt.

After looking at the pages, I realized that this could work! Raw edge, fused applique is just what I need to get these little pieces in place perfectly with no bulky seams or complicated techniques.

Yes, this area will end up firmer and flatter than I had planned, but it's going to have the stuffing quilted out of it anyway so what does it matter?

So with a new direction and method in mind, I'm off to start fusing these little water pieces together.

You never know, I might just start fusing all of my quilts after this!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over - Part 3

Isn't this amazing? My Cup Runneth Over is now more than 50 % pieced!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI couldn't help myself last night. I stayed up until 1:30 am because I was just having so much fun fitting the pieces together.

I ended up piecing this girl in sections:

First I glued and pieced her hair together with her face. Using Sharon Schamber's piec-lique technique I was able to glue, then stitch these curved seams so there will be no annoying applique lines over them.

There are actually 6 separate pieces to the hair, which isn't obvious now, but will be after the quilting. I choose to use the same fabric, but will change the look using dense quilting stitches in a darker, turquoise thread.

Next I connected her body pieces together. These were a little tricky and I started having some issues with the purple batik making an obvious line across her chest area where the arms connect.

If you look on the right arm you'll see what I mean. Maybe I'm just being picky, but after playing with that area for a little while I just decided to fix it during the quilting process.

I already know she will be quilted with contrasting lime green thread so variations in the fabric color aren't going to matter much.

While I normally don't believe the saying "It will quilt out" in this situation, it will because there is going to be so much thread on the surface of her body, the purple fabric really won't show that much when she's done.

Finally the cup section was the last to work on and I ended up redesigning it. The pieces were just too small and they weren't coming together well at all.

Also the cup area is pretty weird with how the water is going to swirl up and into it, so I could get away with minimizing the piecing in this area.

I did manage to actually seam the cup to the body section, so both the hair and body sections could then be glued in one solid piece to the yellow background.

The edges of her hair, face, and body will now need to be appliqued to the background.

As you've probably picked up from my blog posts before, I'm not the biggest fan of machine applique. I just don't like the very noticeable zigzag running along the edges of my pieces.

Call me weird, but even in invisible thread, the look just drives me crazy!

So I'm going to try something new. I'm going to try straight stitching these edges down about 3/32 away from the edge. This is a space that's a little bigger than a 16th and a little smaller than 1/8".

I think a straight stitch will give me more of the look that I want and less of the bulky zig zag. Or if that doesn't work I'll hand applique these sections down.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI still have a day or two to figure out what I will do because I still need to piece the blue water together.

These pieces will gradually shift from light colors to dark colors. Using Sharon's piec-lique technique again, I think this will actually go together very quickly once I get all the itsy bitsy pieces finished.

I'm off to go play with glue, starch, and fabric!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over - Part 2

Gosh! My cup really is running over today! Super thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered copies of Free Motion Quilting Basics.

It really makes me feel great that all this hard work is really paying of and is appreciated.

Today I've gotten back to work on the quilt My Cup Runneth Over because she's now clamoring to be made and won't let me sleep.

I seriously laid in bed last night arguing with myself on how it's going to be pieced. Ugh, of all the things to worry over!

So I woke up this morning ready to get this girl together, or at least get it closer to together.

But there are always those days in any project where you just need to take your time to gather materials, prepare fabric, and set up your space for the quilt.

Most of the day I've ironed, ironed, and IRONED fabric. I always starch one side, then flip it over and iron the opposite side so the starch really bonds to the fabric.

I want the fabric to be really stiff and firm so that while I'm piecing the 300 little pieces of blue fabric together they don't shift out of shape and turn into little fabric blobs.

And how do I know it's 300 pieces?

Because in order to do this technique I needed to number each little piece, draw an arrow on it to indicate the grainline, and a color code letter (l for light, m for medium, and d for dark fabrics) so that I know what order these little pieces go in, positioning, and color choice once I've cut them all apart.

I'm using Sharon Schamber's Piec-lique technique, so I'm not going to share the specifics of how this is done exactly because Sharon does such a great job of that herself. I learned this from her new video on making the Quilt Fairy.

While watching the video I was very skeptical and kept asking "Do I really HAVE to do all that?"

But after pondering that very question all night long, I've decided to just take her advice and follow every direction exactly. I can change things up with the next quilt I try, but for now I'm just going to play by the rules.

And part of the rules is numbering and labeling every little piece until I'm sure Martians could put this quilt together. Ha!

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut the master pattern and templates are finally done, the fabric is ready and all that's left is to set up and start putting the pieces together.

The final thing I had to prepare was a larger pressing surface. This quilt is 36" wide and the widest pressing surface (ironing board) I had was 24".

Because this quilt is going to be so meticulously pieced, I didn't want to run into any problems so I spent the evening building a new ironing board.

I learned this technique also from Sharon Schamber and it's really not difficult. A large staple gun, hammer, heat and bond, plywood, cotton batting and canvas is all you need to make a really solid pressing surface for piecing and applique.

So that's really all of part 2 - taking the whole day to get the pattern done, prepare my workspace (I've finally moved back downstairs and out of the living room, much to Josh's relief), and get all the fabric ready to go.

Now hopefully I'll sleep really well tonight so I can get this whole quilt together tomorrow! Ha!

That's probably wishful thinking, but I'm just so excited about working on this quilt.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Today is turning out to be an absolutely awesome YAY DAY!

What is a Yay Day exactly? It's a day that everything goes right, perfect, and comes together in a spectacular way.

First off, a very important package arrived in the mail today: my sample copy of Free Motion Basics Disc 1 and Disc 2!

Seeing the box from my manufacturer, I immediately ripped it open to find the most awesome looking, perfect dvds I've made so far. Really, I can't be more delighted at how they turned out!

Throughout this project, I've really wanted this set to be very plain, black and white with bold type.

I also knew that I wanted Disc 1 to look different from Disc 2 or I would run the risk of picking up 2 boxes of the same dvd and messing up orders all over the place.

I immediately ran downstairs to see how they play on the DVD player as this is the what really matters. Yes, things are supposed to work right if the master disc works, but it's always good to check the whole disc.

Two hours later, I'm walking on clouds! Really, this is an awesome DVD and the whole thing has come out perfect. It's been a tough project with lots of ups and downs, but seeing the end result look this good is just so worth it.

Here's another clip from the DVD that explains my method for quilting a BIG quilt on a domestic sewing machine:

Anyone up for the Squish, Squish, Flatten method of quilting??? Ha! I had a lot of fun filming this section and I think it really shows.

James made 2 cameo appearances at the ends of both discs. For the first, he was in a great mood and for the second he was definitely a grumpy bun.

I've already ordered 100 copies of both discs, but they won't be here until Friday and probably too late to ship over the weekend.

But I know ya'll are just as excited as I am, so I'm going to start a pre-launch sale starting tomorrow. All the DVDs will ship out first thing Monday morning and hopefully get to you by the end of next week!

Guess what else is making my Yay Day wonderful???

I got the fabric from and it is AMAZING!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've bought a lot of fabric over the last 5 years and seen even more batiks of all colors, but NOTHING like this! The graduations in color are just plain perfect.

I know I'll definitely have to make some landscape quilts with the green and maybe a few fiery quilts with the reddish/orange.

So I'm off to go prewash all of this fabric and start preparing the pattern of My Cup Runneth Over for piecing. YAY!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meet Silver and Tough

I would like you to introduce you to my two new best friends in the whole wide world:

These guys are going to be my closest companions to whom I will share all of my secrets.

I will not even consider writing a sentence, filming a clip, or even shooting a picture without first consulting with these two amazing, multitasking, computer heroes.

Yes, Silver and Tough are backup external hard drives. While it may seem weird to need to NAME my computer equipment, I beg to differ.

We name pets because they provide us love, affection, drool, and pet hair.

I get so much more from my backup drive: loyalty, punctuality, personal dedication, and a continual desire to work hard for my affection.

I think that's more than enough reason to name my hard drives!

Obviously I've turned over a new leaf when it comes to backing up my information. In case you're just tuning in, here's a little recap of what happened last month:

I got a cold for the 2nd week in a row and rather than turn off my computer like a good little girl, I instead drug it to bed with me like a rather weird comfort blanket.

The idea was that, while prone, I could still edit all the videos for the dvd I was working on.

But in order to edit the videos, I needed my backup harddrive to come with me because I'd rather naively trusted it with ALL of my video files, family photos, and several rough draft articles.

So I set up my computer on my trusty laptop table and set the hard drive on the table to my right and connected the two with a USB cord.

Of course it was only a matter of time before nature called and I needed to get back out of bed.

This is when the fatal mistake happened.

Instead of setting the computer to the right where everything would be fine, I instead set it to the left, jerking the USB cord, which in turn jerked the hard drive off the table where it then promptly smashed first into the wooden side of the bed, and then crashed to the floor.

As soon as I heard the crash I thought "That sounded expensive." And it was.

This drive just happened to contain ALL of my videos from day 1 - day 125, plus the other 30 videos I'd shot on random stuff that I hadn't edited yet.

All the videos I'd previously edited, the whole volume 4 and 5 dvds which were already edited for DVD.

And of course, all of the family photos and videos we'd taken for the last 2 years. This last is what really hurts the most. There's no price you can put on a picture of your 2 year old doing something sweet and endearing.

Why were these videos and photos ONLY on this one drive? Great question!

Unfortunately, I really don't have a decent answer for that completely stupid mistake. Part of the reason was because my laptop was running out of space quick, so I dumped my whole documents folder into the drive to open up space.

Also it was laziness. It's just plain easy to save things in one place and not bother copying them to another folder on another drive. *sigh* I've learned my lesson.

I attempted to get the information back from 2 computer wizards, but both returned saying that the drive was too badly broken to retrieve the information.

They did suggest sending the drive to bigger, more amazingly talented computer wizards, but the price was going to run between $1200-$1400. Ouch!

I was teetering on the fence, trying hard to decide whether to just recycle the drive and be done with it or go with these ultra computer wizards and see what they could do.

But then I got a phone call from one of the computer people and his exact words were "Highly unlikely that you will be able to get ANY information back, and what you do get back will likely be corrupted."

Ah! Well, that made the decision easy. What's the good of spending a small fortune to retrieve information that won't even work?

So that original backup drive has been recycled and I've decided to move on.

And who should I find on sale today? Silver! This slim, beautiful drive is a Seagate Free Agent Desk drive with a whooping 1 TETRABYTE of information.

But I've learned my lesson from backing up in only one place. Never, ever again.

This is why I need Tough. This is a Hitachi Simple Tough 500 mb hard drive that is both water resistant and shock resistant.

If I knock this guy off the table, he'll just bounce! This little drive is covered with a thick sheet of rubber and, though lightweight, feels very sturdy and heavy duty.

This will be the drive that I store my working files on (copies of course on Silver). I need a drive I can carry with me that's not as sensitive as my former, smashed drive, who can take a little abuse, but still remain fully functional.

So why have I bothered to share all of this long, rambling story about hard drives on a blog about QUILTING?

Because I learned a very important lesson and I don't want you to have to learn it too!

Even if you don't work on your computer, losing pictures, documents, or even just music files can be devastating.

Don't make the mistake I did! It's a very hard lesson to learn, but once you lose it all once, you'll never want to lose everything again.

Also for extra security, I'm considering buying a third drive to back up with once a month and store out of the house in a safe deposit box at the bank.

I know this may seem like a little overkill, but I really think it's a good idea. What if my house burned down or was broken into? What if everything was taken or destroyed?

I'd rather be safe than sorry and even 3 drives and a safe deposit box is cheaper than what it would cost to try to retrieve all the information I lost from the original drive.

So with this lesson learned, Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you're having a very happy, heartfelt day! Please take a break today and do something fun just for yourself and your sweetie!

To celebrate this special heart shaped day, let's look back at all of the designs we've had so far that use heart symbols as filler designs.

Hearts, like tear drops, are some of the easiest shapes to quilt. They flow wonderfully well and cover your quilt with a recognizable, loving texture.

So let's look back at all the hearts from the start of the project:

Heart Paisley - Who knew paisley could have so many variations? Instead of starting with a tear drop, this time start with a heart for a totally different texture and look!

free motion quilting | Leah DayQueen of Hearts - This design was based off of the hearts on playing cards. This stacking design is a little more complicated, but definitely looks beautiful anywhere on your quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah DayBleeding Heart - Hearts can even be found in nature, as you will find with this design based off of the Bleeding Heart flowers my mother always grew in the summer.

free motion quilting | Leah DayHeart Vine - Did you know heart shapes can make for fantastic looking leaves? Check out this design and see how these long, flowing hearts become leaves on a twisting, curling heart vine.

free motion quilting | Leah DayDefinitely enjoy using these filler designs on your next Valentine's day themed quilt!

Looking at this list, I can't believe I've only used hearts in 4 designs. This is such a versatile symbol that I know there must be many more textures to create.

So what am I up to today on this snowy Valentine's Day?

I'm off downstairs to start preparing fabric for My Cup Runneth Over. Yesterday I went fabric shopping at Mary Jo's, one of the biggest fabric retailers on the East Coast.

For awhile I wandered the stacks trying to figure out what color her body should be, her hair, and the background.

I've already purchased the blue fabric from, but because it's not here yet, I was having trouble visualizing what the other colors should be.

Eventually I just started pulling the colors and batiks I liked and decided that if I end up with fabrics I don't use on this quilt, I'll use it all on the next one!

So today I'll be washing, drying, starching, and ironing fabric while I prepare the pattern.

Last night I stayed up until 1 am working on the design and getting the lines just right. I'm really happy with it now and ready to jump right in and get started!

I still haven't decided exactly how everything is going to go together, but I'm going to play with a few different techniques today to see what works best.

I think I might mix some of the elements of Ann Holmes's No Sewing Until You Quilt It! method of applique with Sharon Schamber's Piec-lique. I love both techniques and I think mixing the two will work really well for this quilt.

But it will depend on what happens when I start playing with it today! It's always good to try out a design or technique on scraps before launching into the full quilt.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over - Part 1

The wonders of winter weather have struck again! We got 5 more inches of fluffy, white snow, perfect for making snowmen of all shapes and sizes.

Leah Day | snowJames got outside with Josh, but quickly decided "No snowman, no!" because we couldn't find his mittens and his poor little hands were freezing off.

But they managed to get this little infant sized snowman built together and I rangeled a smile and picture of it since I'm trying to make up for all the hundreds of pictures we've lost with the hard drive. *Sigh*

Since the bad weather was predicted yesterday, my workshop in SC was canceled. This was kind of a blessing in disguise because now I can have even more samples, examples, and cool stuff for the rescheduled class in March!

It has also given me a great weekend to start "My Cup Runneth Over".

In case you're just tuning in, this is my latest Goddess quilt. The design came to me during the summer while I was neck deep in Release Your Light and the idea has stuck pretty firmly ever since.

I want to share the process of creating this quilt from start to finish. I've never tried actually documenting a quilt's progress through blogging simply because I'm always in such a hurry to finish.

But I really want to take my time with this quilt, and I think I will HAVE to take my time because she's going to be pretty complicated.

So here's the design process so far:

free motion quilting | Leah Day1. Create the sketch - I'm doing something totally new with this design and starting with a fully formed sketch first.

Usually I'll sketch an idea, then draw the bigger design on graph paper. This can get pretty time consuming and annoying since it's so much paper to be constantly shifting around.

So instead I tried creating the perfect sketch first. I drew, erased, drew, and erased until I got very close to the finished quilt I was looking for.

I knew I needed to work on the water lines a bit more, but it's tough to do on a small scale. Next time I'll continue to draw the sketch until every aspect is perfect because this has ended up costing me time already to fix the lines.

2. Scan and resize - Going from a little sketch to a full design pattern is actually very simple. I just scanned the sketch into my computer and opened it in Paint.

Yes, it's a mark of how little design stuff I do on the computer that I don't yet have any of the big design software. I know it would have made this job a bit easier, but I'm still on the fence due to both the cost of the programs and time it will take to learn how to use them.

I resized the sketch 400% roughly and printed out the whole thing on regular paper. The size is somewhere now around 3 ft x 4 ft.

free motion quilting | Leah Day3. Clean up - Because of Paint's limitations, as the design re-sized, so did the marking lines. When the design printed, the lines ended up really thick, definitely not what I could use for firm piecing or applique.

So I used large sheets of graph paper laid over the original to create another copy with thinner lines and began the process of fixing the curvy lines I didn't like in the water.

This proved to be more time consuming and difficult than I thought because once you start fiddling with something, sometimes it just gets worse and worse.

I crossed out a lot of lines, resized some spaces, and then made a second, hand drawn graph paper copy.
free motion quilting | Leah DayEven with this one, I'm not fully and completely satisfied. Maybe I should have been tracing with pencil rather than permanent marker, another lesson learned.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the goddess herself and her hair. I'm not sure that I'll really use her hair lines as I just plan to do some very random free motion in that area.

But the water is continuing to not be right. What is it I am really wanting?

Well, I want the pieces to go from small right around the center, fanning out into larger pieces towards the edges.

I don't want the pieces in the center to be so tiny they're a pain to piece, but I also don't want all the pieces to be the same size and not appear to flow the right way.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this. Maybe I should just go with it.

But I know I'll probably draw 1 or 2 more large scale graphs until she's just right. Even though these lines are not going to be glaringly obvious (it's just going to be piecing lines for graduated blue fabrics), I still want them to look a certain way.

Even though this seems really complicated and time consuming, it's really been very quick in comparison to designing Release Your Light and The Duchess.

I learned with both of those quilts that the more time spent in the design process, the better the whole project will go. When I rush and ignore my gut feeling, I end up wanting to change things later and that is a HUGE time waster.

I think this has been easier because of starting with the small sketch and working from there. I think this will be my preferred method of design from here on, especially because it was so easy to resize the design and get her to the exact size I wanted.

One thing I just realized is how helpful looking at smaller photos of the quilt is. Looking at the photos I've just added to the post, I'm wondering what I'm complaining about!

The water looks fine from a smaller perspective so maybe it's just me being obsessive compulsive.

Now I'm off to go shop for fabric for this quilt. Despite the snow, the roads are clear and I'm ready to start seeing this girl in color!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, February 12, 2010

A few decisions...

Thank you all for commenting yesterday and sharing your opinions. It really helps to be able to get such immediate feedback from everyone.

I decided that, while I was okay with the gray color, I was not okay with the words in the title not showing up.

So yesterday I started fiddling with another way to do the DVDs and already uploaded the first disc again with a much, much better cover.

Sometimes I just need a push to jump out of my comfort zone and try something new. As crazy as it sounds, I'm sometimes resistant to learning new programs if it seems really complicated or time consuming.

But after working on it for a few hours I saw a massive improvement. The new cover is not only better looking, but I was able to put a description of the dvd on the front, the contents of the disc on the back, and another list of contents on the insert.

I'm going to have the new samples rushed so this DVD should still launch next weekend. YAY!

Looking at it now, this DVD looks very professional and I'm very glad I took the time to fix it.

I know most of you don't care what it looks like or if it even came in a case, but I'd rather not be the creator of the ugliest-quilting-dvd-ever!

I've also made the decision to take a week off from new designs this week.

Instead I'll be posting more about the new quilt I'm working on, some inspirational Valentine's Day designs, and a few more clips from the beginner dvd.

After finishing this beginner dvd, I find myself sitting around thinking "Okay, what next?" and I really think the next thing I focus on should be making a new quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah DayMarch should be a relaxed month and if I start now, I should be able to finish "My Cup Runneth Over" by April.

A quilter named Dmicass commented yesterday about a fabric called "Nuance" by sewbatik.

I checked it out and, yep, it's PERFECT for this quilt. The colors are exactly what I'm looking for and I'm really getting excited about the project just looking at them.

Also I've heard back from 2 different data recovery companies and the outlook isn't good for my smashed hard drive.

Losing all the original footage from designs 41 - 125 might seem like the biggest disaster in the world, but really it's allowing me to look at all the designs in a new way.

I'm not sure yet if I'll create more DVDs from the project. I know I will create more eventually, but really right now I just want to burrow into my sewing studio and hibernate for the rest of the winter!

I'm off to yoga and then will be packing, packing, packing for the rest of the day for the workshop tomorrow. Can't wait!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Your opinion please...

I know I haven't mentioned the Beginner DVD this week, mostly because I've been so busy preparing for the lecture and workshop in South Carolina.

There also hasn't been a lot to say because I've been waiting for the sample copies of the DVD to arrive.

I've learned from experience that whenever things get to the manufacturing process, you really have to order a sample to see how the video works and if it looks good. Even if it takes an extra week, it's worth it.

So I just got my sample copy of Free Motion Quilting Basics Disc 1 and Disc 2. The content is wonderful, the sound and video came out terrific.

Here's a clip on Speed Control from Disc 1:

But there is a slight problem with the cover.

I was expecting the cover to come out white with black thread. Instead it's ended up being this gray color with black thread.

My immediate reaction was to redo the whole thing - take another 2 days to upload the whole project again with new covers, then wait another week to get more samples and second week to launch.

But the DVDs play great. The sound is the best of all of my dvds, the video is clear, and I know the information is really going to help everyone with free motion quilting.

So I need your opinion...should I release it now as is and maybe change the covers later or wait and fiddle with it until it looks perfect?

Let me know what you think! Everyone is giving me a different opinion, but I really want to hear from you!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Keeping a Quilt Diary

I decided to take a break from designs today and ask a very important question:

Have you ever tried keeping a Quilt Diary?

A quilt diary is simply a place where you record information about your quilts and all the materials you used in it.

Good information to record would be:
  • Batting brand and type (cotton, polyester, etc)
  • Thread brand and type
  • Needles used in your machine
  • Any special fabrics (ex: batiks from a special store)
  • Any special treatments you used (ex: starching with new brand of starch)
You might also want to keep records of any new techniques you used, how you felt about them (did it make you want to tear your hair out???), and new ideas for improving your skill for the next quilt.

I used to keep a quilt diary when I first started quilting and I still have the records from my very first quilts and some sketches for quilt ideas from 4 years ago.

Unfortunately I got out of the habit when my first diary filled up, so I stopped recording information about each quilt.

Part of this was the silly notion I had before my son was born that "I'll remember everything forever." Ha! I don't know about you, but it only takes one month before the details of a quilt are totally wiped from my memory!

This is now turning problematic because I really would like to know if I used a cotton or poly batting or what thread in what quilt so I can judge if they're good choices based on the wear of the quilt.

So I'm starting over and recording what I can remember from the materials used in my most recent quilts. It's never too late to start and just keep a record from where you remember clearly what you were using at the time.

Keeping this diary might also help you maintain better tension.

If you sit down to your machine and try a new thread and everything goes haywire, all you have to do is consult your quilt diary for a needle/thread mix that worked well, re-thread your machine and check to see if it is your machine needing servicing or it's just a bad needle/thread combo.

So definitely try this as you start finishing quilts this spring. I have 2 ready for binding and will definitely be writing down the materials used today.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 132 - Swirling Petals's an awesome design combination:

Take the spiky shapes of Spiky Vine and combine them with the free-form petal shapes of Butterfly Wings to create a totally new, flowing design called Swirling Petals!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Last night's lecture was awesome! I had a terrific time meeting loads of wonderful quilters and sharing tons of free motion info.

If you're lucky enough to live around Greenville, SC, you really aught to give Nimble Thimbles a try. This is one high energy, enthusiastic group! I just wish I lived closer and I might just join...

I did film the lecture, but I haven't checked the video yet. If it turned out with fairly decent audio, I'll see about posting some segments for you to enjoy.

Now I'm busy gearing up for the workshop on Saturday. I'm not exactly sure what all I'll be able to cover in 6 hours, so I'm planning on bringing EVERYTHING just in case. It might take 2 days to pack, but I'm definitely going prepared!

When I'm not writing up the class plan or packing, I'm going to copy my new sketch of "My Cup Runneth Over" onto clean paper. The original paper is too covered in pencil smudges to scan properly.

I've never tried resizing a design using the computer before. I've decided to do it this way because the sketch is pretty much exactly what I want and it seems pointless to start all over again with a big piece of graph paper.

This way I can resize it several different times to find the size that feels right. I just really hope she doesn't end up 80" wide. My natural canvas seems to be wall sized. Maybe I was a muralist in a past life...

Anyway, I've kept you in suspense long enough! Let's learn how to stitch Swirling Petals:

Inspiration - I've been really wanting some simple, flowing designs. I like the mix of the spikes and petals and I think this design will look awesome on a large scale over very busy fabric.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design looks a lot harder than it actually is. If you find yourself struggling with it, take a break and practice Spiky Vine and Butterfly Wings.

Once you master those 2 stitches, Swirling Petals should be no problem at all since it's just a combination of the two!

Design Family - Pivoting. This design is based on the same structure as Paisley, so it can go in just about all areas of your quilt top, even around complicated motifs.

Directional Texture - All directions. As I mention in the video, I really like the swirling nature of this design. Keep the spikes flowing in both directions for petals that appear to twist in all different directions.

Suggestions for Use - I'm planning on using this design in my Grandmother's flower garden quilt (if I ever get around to finishing it). I think the extra movement and flow will contrast nicely with the very angular, geometric nature of the flower garden blocks.

Back of Swirling Petals
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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 131 - Beaded Lace

Remember the pretty cool design Lacy Lattice and Honeycomb variation from a few days ago?

I decided we needed one more variation with even more texture and so here is Beaded Lace:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm pulling quilts together and packing boxes for my lecture. I'm pretty excited, a little nervous, but overall just really ready to go talk and share about quilting!

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhen I wasn't packing yesterday, I finally got a firmer design sketched of "My Cup Runneth Over".

After walking through the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and looking at the fountains and choppy water, I decided that I wanted the flowing water in the bottom of the quilt to be patchwork.

I've never done anything like this and it was extremely fun to design. Mostly I sketched this freehand, but to get the second set of lines I played with using different sheets of paper laid over the original so I wouldn't have to erase as much.

I use a light box when I'm designing in order to get certain parts symmetrical, like her head and shoulders. I've recently rearranged my office so my lightbox is right behind my office chair and I have no excuse now not to turn around, turn it on and start drawing.

As for the patchwork water, no clue how I'm going to do that yet. It looks to me like paper piecing might come in handy, so I'm going to start playing around with some different ideas.

I really want the water to be a gradual progression from light to dark blue fabrics of many different shades so the water looks like a real mosaic of color.

Okay, enough dreaming over this new quilt, let's learn how to stitch Beaded Lace!

Inspiration - After looking at Lacy Lattice, I knew there was one more variation I could do.

Unlike Honeycomb, I think you could stitch this variation in both the top and bottom of the tear drop shapes for an even cooler design. Try it and see what it looks like!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is definitely one of those designs that looks harder than it actually is. Just keep everything consistent sizes and shapes and you'll be just fine.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched from one edge of your quilting space to another. This means that this design will work really well in most open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

Directional Texture - 2 directions. This design has a very obvious horizontal or vertical texture that can add a nice movement to your quilt without being too overwhelming.

Suggestions for Use - I'm thinking this Beaded Lace design would work great as a little touch of texture right along the edge of a quilt or jacket.

Come to think of it, I never did make myself a second quilted jacket! Hmmm...What color would I want....

Back of Beaded Lace
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

Monday, February 8, 2010

Should I go to Market?

This little piggie went to market...

this little piggie stayed home...

So I have a question for you today - Should I go to Quilt Market this spring?

Really, I honestly don't know anything about this. I've been an official business only 6 months now, so I can't go as a vendor / exhibitor, but I could go as a buyer / class taker.

What's your opinion? Have you gone to market?

Josh is leaning towards waiting. I did end up sending in my NC Quilt Symposium form so I'm definitely going to be attending that the first weekend in June. YAY!

Spring Market starts the 19th of May, so they're pretty close together. I don't want to get into a situation where I'm running off all the time, but I would love to experience the enormousness of this quilting industry sometime soon.

Of course, I could always attend the Fall Market in Houston, so it's not like this is a one-shot deal.

I just really want some personal business advice if you have any to share. Thank you!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Day 130 - Graphic Flower

After seeing the beautiful orchids at the gardens yesterday, I'm hankering for a free motion flower design.

Here's a cool one based off of graphic novels with loads of thread build up and dense stitching:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm spending most of the day getting things together for my lecture tomorrow night. I'll be speaking in Greenville, SC to a group called Nimble Thimbles - I love their name!

The cool thing about this lecture is it's not just a trunk show of everything I've made, it's a lecture specifically on free motion quilting called 3 Dimensions of Design.

So this afternoon I'm going to make big posters of some of the filler designs: stippling, pebbling, paisley, and McTavishing to show the 4 basic fillers on a large and small scale.

Since I'm still in the process of mentally writing the lecture I might write the whole thing down as a blog post tomorrow. It's a nice way to prepare and make sure I'm not going overwhelm anyone with way too much information.

But before I run off to start pulling quilts together, let's learn how to stitch Graphic Flower:

Inspiration - I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels, but I do love comic books. I wanted to try to recreate the thick, graphic look of the artwork by building up several layers of thread with this design.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The hard thing about this design will be the thread build up. If your machine or thread can't handle it, they will let you know!

Design Family - Center Fill. This design is started in the center of your quilting space, then stitched outward. This means this design will work great in open, uncomplicated areas like blocks.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. You really can't help but see the big, giant flower shape staring at you straight from the center of this design! Make sure to place this somewhere it can really show off.

Suggestions for Use - I would use this design on a small project that could use some extra stiffness, like a journal cover or set of coasters.

Back of Graphic Flower
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

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