The Free Motion Quilting Project: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

News from the Road

free motion quilting | Leah DayGuess where I'm blogging from?!

Yep, I'm curled up in bed enjoying the freedom of wireless internet in the Sleep In in Albemarle, NC.

We arrived on Friday around 4:30 and started setting up the booth. Whew! What an experience!

It certainly taught me never to walk into a place with expectations in mind because they will just be blown to bits the second I get there.

But it's not like we had any terrible surprises.

Mostly, I'd just tricked myself into thinking that I knew what my booth would look like and was then shocked senseless when it had to be totally rearranged due to a power conduit running through the center of the space.

Not wanting everyone to trip over the giant bump, I reorganized everything, but there were a few minutes where I just stood there and thought "What the &%*# am I going to do now!?"

Once I moved beyond that point, Josh and I got the booth set up, and realized that we had WAY more stuff than we had room for and started hiding the extra stuff under our tables.

There wasn't room for demonstrations at the booth itself, but I did have a time slot between 1:30 - 2 to talk about Reverse Shadow Trapunto in the demo area.

I did forget a few things in the chaos of leaving Shelby. The one most important was my camera, but Dawn from Dawn's Sewing & Embroidery (the most awesome organizer in the world) shot the candid pic of me above and then this shot and emailed it to me.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt's nice to have some record of the booth and I think it came together really nicely. We had Release Your Light hanging on one side of the booth and Winter Wonderland hanging on the opposite.

We mostly had a lot of ooooos and ahhhhhs over the quilts and a lot of amazement over the fact that all of the quilts are quilted on a domestic machine.

I had my Juki set up, even though there wasn't room to quilt on it, and would point to it and say "YES! I made THAT quilt on THAT machine!"

I'm not sure why that is so hard to believe, but hopefully I dispelled the idea that you have to have a longarm for a few people at least.

I did meet some pretty awesome quilt store owners at this expo. Aimee Griffin owns an awesome quilt shop in Charlotte, NC called Overall Quilter.

Her booth was set up right across from mine, so we had fun chatting and sharing business ideas during the slow times of the day.

We talked a lot about the upcoming North Carolina Quilt Symposium, which I've been looking forward to since January. I'm craving a chill retreat where I can be a student again and relax into class like I did back in college.

I also met John Bryant of Featherweight Poppy, an awesome dealer of Singer Featherweight machines and parts.

John had a case of attachments with him and guess what was inside: a free motion foot! I had no idea a featherweight could stitch in free motion!

Ugh! I'm going to have to have one now!

Overall this show was a great learning experience for Josh and I. I learned that if I let go of my need for perfection and allow him to help me, we're both much happier and get loads done together.

Now I'm headed out to pack a few things in the car and head back to Shelby. We've got a lot of new things coming to the blog and the site this month that I'm excited about working on as soon as we get back.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Day 168 - World of Three

Let's get back to free motion designs and what happens when we create a whole world from the number 3!

free motion quilting | Leah DayYeah, yeah, I transposed this number too, just like I did with Texture of Two. It ended up looking more like flying bats anyway, so we'll just have to remember to use it sometime around Halloween.

Today's stacking up to be a much better, less chaotic day. Josh and I packed our bins last night with all the items from the online quilt shop ready to go to Albemarle, NC later today.

After looking at it all piled up in the studio, I said "We could open a quilt store!"

Josh laughed at me and said "Don't you already own a quilt store? Just cause you're online doesn't mean it doesn't count!" Ha! He's definitely right.

I so excited about the Quilting and Needlecraft Expo.

This will be the first time I've been a vendor at a place like this, the first time Josh and come along to help, and the first time I'll be demonstrating Reverse Shadow Trapunto.

I'm getting all my demo stuff together and may take a few hours to quilt as well. I can't forget that I have to get my Vase of Hibiscus finished by June 1st!

So while I run around trying to do everything at once, you sit back and watch me stitch numbers backwards!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is really pretty easy, mostly because we have all drawn the number 3 probably a million times. The more you've drawn a design, or stitched it, the easier it will be to quilt!

Design Family - Pivoting. This design is created like Paisley where you stitch the initial shape, then pivot off the starting point with as many echos as you want.

The best thing about these designs is they're fast and easy to stitch and they work in almost any area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All directions! This design has a nice, bold texture that will really stand out in a quilt. Make sure to place it where you want a lot of thread build up as well.

Suggestions for Use - This really looks like flying bats to me, so I'd advise using it

Back of World of Three
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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Happy and the Sad

I was all set to share a new design today and then something really crazy happened that totally blindsided me and made it impossible to write about quilting.

My mom called with the news she's leaving my Dad,
and oh yeah, by the way, your sister is pregnant.

Crazily enough, it's the pregnancy news that's the most shocking. Up until now my sister has sworn never to have children, but I think she started to change her mind after I had James.

I'm excited, but also scared for my sister. I wish there was a way to prepare her for the months and years ahead, but I can't. It is our own road we walk into motherhood, and no one can do it for us.

My parent's splitting up is kind of awkward too. I'm 26 years old and, growing up, I was one of the few kids who didn't have divorced parents.

But also growing up, I witnessed two deeply unhappy people living together in what can only be described as a unstable truce.

What it comes down to is love,
and that's why I'm sharing this with you today.

free motion quilting | Leah DayMy parents stayed together as long as they did out of love for me and my two sisters.

And out of love for them, my parents, I accept their decision to live separately as the only way the two of them will ever really be happy.

Back in January, I made the sketch of the goddess to the right. She is "Bound by Love", and literally bound to the ground she grows in.

I drew this while considering a proposal to travel far and teach in many other states and countries.

My final decision was to turn all of the proposals down because I want to stay home with my husband and son, especially while my son was so little.

Like the goddess in the drawing, love can transform us, but also bind us into one place.

It's always a trade off, but one I ultimately will never regret.

I've been thinking of this goddess quite a bit lately and I think "Bound by Love" needs a companion goddess.

I worked on this design a bit today and am very pleased with it. This is "Blooming Through Love":

free motion quilting | Leah DayBoth of these quilts will be very small wall hangings, and may even be 100% painted rather than trying to applique all the little pieces.

I realize that I really do love to have many different projects going at a time. It seems the less I have to do, the less I get done!

So here is to love,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Way to go Eleanor!

While quilting may be one of the biggest hobbies in America, our books and DVDs rarely get listed on any top ten lists or pop countdowns.

Until now!

Check out this site and see where Eleanor Burn's book "Still Stripping After 25 Years" scored #2 in the Huffington Post's top 11 Funniest Unintentionally Sexual Books of All Time.

Way to go Eleanor!

I think this list really should have also included "Great Sets" by Sharyn Craig.

I can't think of either book without laughing!

Let's go Quilt,

Leah Day

Day 167 - Echo Hook

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

Looking at yesterday's design, I couldn't help seeing the possibilities with the hook shape on the top of the number 2.

So I've created another design using just the hook section! Here is Echo Hook:

free motion quilting | Leah DayToday is another busy day getting ready for the Quilting and Needlecraft Expo in Albemarle, NC. I'm really excited, but also worried I'll forget something important.

I keep having dreams that I run out of something stupid, like receipt paper. I swear I'm about to drive myself crazy packing 4 of everything, but I'd rather have way too much stuff than end up missing something.

I'm really looking forward to it though. It will be the first time I've displayed the Winter Wonderland Quilt and I'm planning on demonstrating Reverse Shadow Trapunto several times during the day.

But enough about my packing obsession! Sit back and enjoy learning how to stitch Echo Hook:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate - Because you have complete control over the direction and size of the hooks, this is a pretty easy filler to learn.

Design Family - Echoing. This design is stitched by first starting with a hook shape, then traveling and echoing that space a specific distance away. These designs usually work in just about any area of your quilt, no matter how tiny or complicated.

Directional Texture - All Directions. As long as you stitch your initial hook in multiple directions, the design will have a nice, multi-directional texture. If you stitch them all going one way, however, that's the texture your stitch will have.

Suggestions for Use - For some reason I think these hooks would look terrific on a flowery applique quilt. I've been craving some applique lately, so that might be the reason why!

Back of Echo Hook
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel 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

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 166 - Texture of Two

Can you believe how close we are to the midpoint of this project??? I'm getting really excited and have been working hard on the new changes that will be happening after Day 183.

I've also had to start thinking more creatively in order to find inspiration for new designs. Here's a recent inspiration using numbers called Texture of Two:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Have you caught my mistake already?

Look at the photo again. The twos are all backwards! Ha!

It's one of those weird side benefits of being slightly dyslexic that I can flip a number or letter and not even realize I'm writing, or in this case stitching, it backwards.

After I finished quilting it, I looked at it again and thought: "Are you sure 2 looks that way?" and it wasn't until I wrote it down on a piece of paper that I realized my mistake.

Oh well. It's good to know that even transposed, the number two looks great on a quilt!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a design that should come very naturally to you because how many times have you drawn the #2 in your life? The better you can draw something, the better you can quilt it, so definitely give it a try!

Design Family - Pivoting. This design is created like Paisley where you stitch the initial shape, then pivot off the starting point with as many echos as you want.

The best thing about these designs is they're fast and easy to stitch and they work in almost any area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All directions. I think the #2 has a very fun texture. The combination of the curving hook and point create a lot of interesting movement.

Suggestions for Use - Let me think of ALL of the places we could use this design: you can stitch it over your whole quilt really big for a fast finish.

Or you can stitch it really small around quilting motifs and stencils for a dense fill. It could easily go in your borders and sashing, or in the background of your blocks.

To quote "Green Eggs and Ham": You could stitch this here or there, you could quilt this ANYWHERE!

Back of Texture of Two
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, April 23, 2010

Day 165 - Bubble Path

Today is a wet, rainy day here in NC, which means all James wants to do is go outside and play. One of his favorite things to do is blow bubbles, and one of my favorite things to do is stare at the bubbles and try to find new textures to stitch with them!

Here's a new one that came to mind after stitching Beaded Curtain. This is Bubble Path:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I'm feeling terrifically wonderful today because last night I completely finished the Winter Wonderland Quilt Pattern! Yay!

Now I'm passing it to Josh for proofreading and will hopefully get it in the quilt shop by the first week of May.

With that pattern off my chest, I can now turn my attention to quilting a new Vase of Hibiscus wholecloth quilt for the Myrtle Beach Quilt Party and getting all my supplies ready for the Quilting and Needlecraft Expo in Albemarle, NC.

It's only a week away and I'm getting really excited!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. I really only put this design at Intermediate for those people that are obsessive compulsive like me and want all your circles to be exactly the right size and shape and stack up perfectly.

Driving for perfection is a continual battle and can turn any design into a lesson in frustration. So the moral of the story is chill out and work with your mistakes as they happen!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched from one edge of your quilting design to another, so it will be a terrific filler to use in the open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt, like sashing.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. Most edge to edge designs have a nice horizontal or vertical texture because they're usually worked in rows.

Suggestions for Use - Are you working on a quilted jacket or sweater? What do you think about using bubble path in a single row right along the edge?

This little edge design will add a nice bit of extra texture and interest and definitely help your quilted garment stand out from the rest!

Back of Bubble Path
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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 164 - Beaded Curtain

Some designs are just so much fun to play with, there's really no end to the possible variations!
Here's a nice combo of circular shapes ending with a paisley tear drop which end up looking a whole lot like a beaded curtain:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today was a yoga day so I'm feeling wonderfully stretched out, peaceful, and a bit sore all at the same time.

It was the first time I was able to get into Tripod, a headstand position where you balance on the top of your head and your hands and rest your knees on your elbows.

It's not an easy pose, but feels wonderfully powerful once you're in it properly.

Inspiration - I used to be a big beadworker, beadist, beader - whatever they're called! - and made a beaded curtain with giant bamboo beads. I honestly have to admit that I like the quilted version better!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This isn't a super hard design, but it does take some practice to keep the circular shapes all stacked on top of one another evenly.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched from one edge of your quilting design to another, so it will be a terrific filler to use in the open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt, like sashing.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This design has a definite horizontal or vertical texture. It's up to you if you wanted to stitch the design with all the tear drops going one direction or in every other direction as I quilted my sample.

Back of Beaded Curtain
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, April 21, 2010

Day 163 - Crazy Paisley

It seems I can't go very long without creating a new paisley design!

We've all seen what happens when Pointy Paisley has a few too many drinks and becomes Drunk Pointy Paisley. Now let's see what happens when Paisley goes Crazy!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Woohoo! I finally got most of my photos shot and finished for the Winter Wonderland Quilt Pattern. I have wool felt on order and my fingers crossed that I will be able to finish this pattern and put a kit together in time for the Quilting & Needlecraft Expo next week.

free motion quilting | Leah DayEven if I don't manage to get it together by then, it will still feel great to get this project off my desk and life back to normal. normal as it ever is! I have another deadline to meet on June 1st and need to have this Vase of Hibiscus quilt finished in time to photograph it and send the info to the Myrtle Beach Quilt Party!

I'm really hoping I get picked as a teacher at this fun retreat at Myrtle Beach, SC in January 2011.

If you're looking for an awesome place to spend a 4 day quilting weekend in the middle of the winter, consider giving this quilt party a try!

Inspiration - I'm not sure what I was thinking exactly when I designed this stitch. More often than not I'll get a flash of inspiration like "Let's do pointy paisley with loops!" and off I go.

I don't even stop to question the ideas anymore or sketch them down. Sometimes it's just easier to let go and see what happens.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a really fun, fast design to stitch! Occasionally I'd forget what direction I was going in with the loops and mess up a bit, but I found the design to be very forgiving.

You really can hide a load of mistakes with this one, so don't be afraid to try it out.

Design Family - Pivoting. These pivoting designs are all the same: easy to stitch, fast to fill large areas, and wonderful for variations!

Directional Texture - All directions. This design did end up being flatter and less attention-getting than most paisley designs. I'd say this would work great as an alternative to stippling if you were in search of on.

Suggestions for Use - This design can work for background recessed areas, around complicated quilting motifs, and even stitched big over your whole quilt. There's really no rules with Crazy Paisley!

Back of Crazy Paisley
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 162 - Flame Vine

Vine designs are always fun and I've been playing with some of my favorite flame shapes to see what kind of variations we can come up with.

This design is very similar to Fern Filler from way back at the beginning of this project, but instead of the long flowing fern leaves, I instead opted for short, wiggly flames to create Flame Vine:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm going to spend some time investigating new software for my website. I'm planning on making some changes to the blog and my website soon and my old software just isn't going to cut it.

What changes am I planning to make exactly? Well, I'm actually not sure at the moment. I'm bouncing a couple of ideas around in my head, and I'd really like you to be involved with the decision as well!

Check out the poll I'm running in the
upper right hand corner and vote for what you
would most like to see and experience!

Inspiration - I've always been a fan of flame designs. In fact, the very first variation design I ever made was Flame Stitch for the quilt Release Your Light.

With this design, I was going for a shorter, more controlled version of Fern Filler with a little more interesting, super wiggly flame shapes.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This isn't that tough, you just need to first establish your vine, then wiggle off of it with your flame shapes.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is worked from one edge of your quilting space to another, but you could easily make it a free form design by first filling a section of your quilt with the vine, then filling it with flames afterward.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This design has a definite horizontal or vertical texture, but again, this could change depending on how wobbly and wiggly your initial vine is.

Suggestions for Use - I love this type of design because they're so versatile. You could easily use this in your sashing, but you could also expand it to fill a whole 6" border too.

I'm going to play with this design some more and see how many different variations I can come up with just using flame shapes!

Back of Flame Vine
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, April 19, 2010

Day 161 - Loopy Hearts

I've been back to thinking about heart designs this week and came up with this design. I definitely love spirals best, but hearts are a close second!

I've also been playing with loops, which are very fun, easy to stitch, and produce beautiful texture.

free motion quilting | Leah DayToday I'm in full scale production mode! I'm finally finishing up several projects that have been long overdue.

First, I uploaded my new gallery and photos of three new quilts that I made anywhere from 3-6 months ago. You can check out all the new photos and details right here.

I've also made a list of all my deadlines for different quilts and projects for the next several months. It's really nice to be able to see everything clearly on one list.

Finally, I finished my Winter Wonderland Quilt Pattern. This has been in the works since January and is now available from my quilt shop at the above link.

So while you watch how to stitch Loopy Hearts, I'm off to mark and quilt more blocks!

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is a really easy design! Just keep the loopy heart shape in your mind and don't start daydreaming about loopy stars and you'll be fine.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched from one edge of your quilting space to the other. This means it will work great in open, uncomplicated areas.

Directional Texture - All directions. While most edge to edge designs have a horizontal or vertical texture, I really think loopy hearts has enough movement to be counted as an all direction design.

Suggestions for Use - What do you think about using Loopy Hearts in the sashing of your next quilt? Imagine the heart shapes expanded to fill the space perfectly. I think it will make an easy and beautiful way to finish and area that's usually left blank.

Back of Loopy Hearts
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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quilting & Needlecraft Expo

I just wanted to give you all an update on where I'll be heading in May. If you live in NC, or are traveling this way, swing on by and say "Hi!" I love meeting quilters in person!

Right now the only thing I have scheduled is the Quilting and Needlecraft Expo on May 1st. This is going to be held in Albemarle, NC at the Stanley County Fair Grounds.

What's exciting about this event is it will be the first Josh comes with me to help out. While he runs the booth, I'll be demonstrating filler designs in person and answering questions.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIf you do swing by, our booth shouldn't be hard to miss!

I'm planning on using Release Your Light as the backdrop, just like I do in lectures, so just look for the bright orange and yellow quilt and head in that direction.

I'm really looking forward to this and hope to see many of you there!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 160 - Spiral Petals

Ah! Spring is most definitely here and flowers are already bursting into bloom!

I decided to celebrate by trying to combine two of my most favorite things: paisley designs and spirals. Squish them together and out comes Spiral Petals!

free motion quilting | Leah DayToday I finally got back to yoga after nearly a month of missing class for various reasons. I really got my butt kicked on the mat, but nowI feel great!

Over the last month I've been busy, busy, busy, but haven't actually managed to get anything DONE! I've decided that being busy and feeling behind on everything really isn't fun.

I don't want to grind out my life trying to rush through projects, but I also don't want to feel constantly squashed by the weight of all the many things I should, could, or need to be working on.

So instead, I'm just setting myself a list of 1 to 3 things to do each day. They can be as small as posting on this project, or as big as finishing the Winter Wonderland quilt pattern.

This way I'll still feel the sense of accomplishment and "moving forward" without the stress of trying to do EVERYTHING all in one day. We'll see if it works!

Inspiration - I love spirals! And I love paisley / pivoting designs! This design combines the two in a neat way with tear drops for a very simple design.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is really very easy if you keep the initial spiral shape in your mind as you quilt. The tear drop is simply an echo of the spiral, so if you do that well, the whole design will turn out perfect.

Design Family - Pivoting. Paisley designs are called "paisley" or "pivot" not because they look like paisleys (they don't), but because of the way they are formed.

This is probably the easiest design to create variations with because all you have to do is change your starting shape and you change the whole design!

Directional Texture - All directions. Paisley designs also have a gorgeous, all over texture because they flow and form from all directions.

Suggestions for Use - This design can go anywhere on your quilt: around complex designs and motifs or stitched big covering loads of surface area.

I'd start by trying this design over some big blocks. I keep meaning to quilt my Batik Beauty quilt. It's already basted up and ready to go, so maybe I'll pull it out and stitch Spiral Petals over a few of the blocks.

Back of Spiral Petals
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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The King Sized Fiasco

I'll admit to many personal weaknesses (pretty fabric, bright colors, shiny thread - all typical quilter obsessions), but one of the worst that gets me into WAY too much trouble is my love for furniture.

And it's not any old furniture, it's gorgeous antiques and second hand finds. Finding a good deal on an awesome piece just makes me happy, happy, happy.

Recently I stopped into my favorite consignment store in Shelby, Ditto Consignment, and happened to glance at a bed frame just as I was walking out of the store.

The beautiful turned posts caught my eye and I couldn't stop thinking about it. The store owner said it was a Queen sized bed, which is what I've been wanting for awhile.

So I slept on it, went back the next day and checked out the price tag. Definite bargain! Sold!

Coming home, I convinced Josh it was a great buy, that we definitely needed a new bed, and that it was absolutely something I couldn't live without.

So this morning we're suitably excited as the bed is delivered. We collapse our old bed and move the new frame in the room.

Already we're seeing a few problems. Our master bedroom is fairly small and we have to move virtually all of our furniture out to fit the new bed frame in. But I don't start thinking anything is weird...yet...

Off we pop to drop James off a preschool and commence mattress shopping. Immediately we find a great, soft, comfortable mattress, order one in Queen size and schedule to have it delivered as soon as possible.

Less than an hour later, two guys show up and bring in the box springs. That's when we get the very unwelcome news:

This absolutely awesome bargain bed that I definitely can't live without is not, in fact, a queen.

It is a KING! Dum....Dum...Dummmmmm!

So what is the point of sharing this entire weird story with all of you?

Well, so far I've made a whole lot of baby quilts, a handful of full sized quilts, and one queen.

I have never, ever even considered tackling the monster that is a King Sized Quilt.

But repeatedly I've said that this IS POSSIBLE even on a domestic sewing machine. I truly believe this, even though I've never actually done it.

It looks like I'll finally have to test that King sized statement in real life!

Wish me luck! This experience has definitely taught me to carry a tape measure and never buy on impulse.

But really, this surprise could have been much worse and much more expensive, and it's been loads of fun dealing with all the resultant complications.

So I'm off to start planning my very first King sized quilt.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

P.S - To everyone wondering about the mattress switch out, we were lucky enough to have picked an awesome furniture store with terrific customer service.

They very quickly swapped out the Queen for a King and in less than an hour had the correct mattresses back and all I had to do was pay the balance.

The store was Cummings Furniture, and we will definitely be buying from them again!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Testing Shadows

Lately I've hinted at a new technique I've been playing and I'm finally ready to share it with all of you.

I've been playing and testing shadows, or more specifically, how to add shadows to my quilts.

The inspiration for this is the book Casting Shadows by Colleen Wise.

This book was recommended to me by Cathy Miller, the Singing Quilter, and she was right, it's an absolutely excellent book!

Not only have I been playing with shadows, I've also been looking at them, and looking for them much more in my daily life.

If you find yourself bored, standing in line somewhere, look around!

Check out the way people cast shadows, the way objects stand out from one another, and why our 3 dimensional world looks 3 dimensional. Chances are shadows are involved!

It's actually kinda fun to look at the way shadows work and the way graphic artists have tried to mimic them on billboards and advertisements. Shadows in an advertisement can make words appear to pop out at you, rather than sitting flat on a page.

Shadows can also turn our 2 dimensional,|
flat quilts into optical illusions that appear 3 dimensional.

I've been playing with adding shadows to my wholecloth quilts and goddesses so they appear more dynamic and dramatic.

See, there's a problem with wholecloths which you can immediately pick up with this photo:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is a picture of The Duchess, one of my first white, wholecloth quilts. You can't see much of the detail or elaborate Georgian motifs, can you?

Some quilters will try to get around this by quilting with beige or brown thread so it stands out slightly against the white fabric.

Even with darker thread, wholecloth quilts require special lighting that casts shadows off the surface in order to pick up the amazing designs. Even with special lighting, the picture still needs to be very big to pick up the details.

So my theory is that if I add shadows to the wholecloth motifs, they will stand out much more noticeably, photograph better, and compete better in shows.

The trouble I've been having is figuring out exactly how to cast the shadows, what materials and techniques to use on wholecloth quilts.

Using the information from Casting Shadows book, I've created 2 Dresden plate blocks:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThese are 14" wholecloth quilts created from my Dresden plate stencil.

After working on them, I've stood back and asked myself "Which looks like a real shadow? Which is more realistic?"

Both were created differently. This first one was painted BEFORE it was quilted with Shiva Paintstiks following the directions in the book.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI was a little troubled with this technique because I ended up stitching white thread over the shadow area. If you get really close to it, it looks weird with the white stitching on top.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I could easily fix this problem by simply changing thread color through the shadow section, or I could add more paint on top after the quilting was finished.

This second one was painted AFTER it was quilted with colored pencils. It still needs to be sealed with textile medium in order to be color safe.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI like this technique a bit better because it covered the thread completely. You also have more control over the colored pencils that you have over paintstiks.

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut colored pencils aren't as good at subtle shading. I'm afraid this shadow looks more like a stripe of color around the block, not a real shadow.

You can also run into the problem I ran into with Release Your Light. Painting, even small shadow areas, can be very time consuming and is not a fun thing to start after finishing all the quilting on a quilt.

Keeping all of this in mind, which Dresden plate looks more like it's hovering over the surface of the quilt? I'd really love your opinion, so let me know in the comments below!

I think this technique needs a bit more playing with. I might even increase the visibility of the motifs with black pigma pens or black thread.

I'm off to ponder shadows some more!

Leah Day

Note Added April 14th: Thanks to everyone who commented and shared tips, opinions, and suggestions on where to go next with this technique.

To answer the question about shadows, yes, typically shadows are cast to one side or the other, but the effect I was going for was to have the Dresdens appear to hover over a background with a light source behind.

For most wholecloths, the motifs are so complex that casting a shadow to the side could be pretty tricky to keep realistic.

I think I'm going to play more with the paintstiks and a larger sized wholecloth. I might even go with gray instead of black as many suggested.

Thanks a bunch for all of your input! I love trying new things, but sometimes it's really hard to make an objective decision when both blocks look so much alike.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bad Bobbin?

free motion quilting | Leah DayI'm taking a break today to share about something that is really driving me crazy:

Bad Bobbins

Yes, there is such a thing! Have you ever been stitching along just fine, run out of thread, changed out your bobbin and suddenly found your tension going crazy?

Chances are you have found a bad bobbin in you collection.

Your tension should not change wildly whenever you change bobbins because if your top and bobbin thread stays the same, the stitch should remain consistent.

And who would even consider that a bobbin could be bad? I have never had this experience until quilting on the Juki and it's the only machine it's ever happened on.

So what do I mean by "bad"?

Well, with how much a bad bobbin effects tension, I assume that these bobbins weren't manufactured properly and may be slightly lopsided, making the bobbin spin unevenly in the case.

A good way to test is to load your bobbin into your machine and tug on it. The thread should glide freely and smoothly with no resistance. If it glitches up on you, try quilting a little on a sample square. If your tension is wildly out of whack, it's time to look for another bobbin.

I experienced this little annoyance today and unfortunately didn't realize it until I'd already stitched a very large part of this Dresden block.

See how part of the paisley designs are wanting to pull up and pucker? That's all due to this bad little bobbin.

On a regular quilt, I would have needed to rip all of this out because the stitches were so badly out of tension on the back.

So what do you do when you've identified a bad bobbin?

My first reaction was to throw that nasty little tension mangler in the trash, but then I reconsidered it and pulled him back out again.

It's not the bobbin's fault that he's gimpy and there are many uses other than putting it into your machine.

You can use bad bobbins to wind small amounts of thread for hand quilting, applique, or binding projects rather than take an entire spool of thread.

I really like to do this because I always use a magnetic pincushion and the metal bobbin case will stick to it and not get lost in the couch while I'm stitching.

You do need to know and be able to easily tell your bad bobbins from the good. Trust me, after this frustrating experience yesterday, this gimpy guy is never seeing inside of my machine again!

I labeled it as "bad" in big letters with a permanent magic marker on both sides.

I also went through and tested 3 other bobbins and found one to produce exceptionally smooth, beautiful stitches, so I labeled it with a "G" for good.

It's always good to know which bobbins produce your best stitches so when you're quilting with something finicky, like metallic thread, you can use a bobbin that won't make you tear your hair out.

So here's to weeding out all the gimpy, bad bobbins from your stash!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Day 159 - Split Petal Flower

We've had a lot of flower designs from Graphic Flower to Delilah, but I thought this one looked different enough to count as another design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Yesterday I finished and bound a baby quilt just in time for the shower and finished James's quilt. I can finally take off my "bad mother" badge because I've finally made my kid a quilt! Ha!

So now with those projects out of my studio, I can turn my attention to getting some new quilt tops together.

After the lecture in Greensboro, I realized that I really wanted to have more quilts to show. It's been really tough trying to balance this project with a big quilt at the same time, so instead of trying to finish a whole quilt, I'll be satisfied just to get something together as a top.

There are 3 quilts really on my mind with pretty cool names: Emergence, Shadow Self, and Lost in the Woods. I'm really in the mood to piece and applique right now, which is good because that's what they will all require

I'm also trying to keep these guys smaller, around 48 - 60 inches. I'm starting to realize the reality of packing and showing big quilts and it's just easier to keep them under a more reasonable size.

So while I run off to clean up my studio and start playing with fabric, you hang out and check out how to stitch Split Petal Flower:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a pretty easy design. Just keep the initial leaf / petal shape in your mind and you'll do just fine.

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. This design will center your attention right on it. I've been using these designs in the center of Dresden plates and flower appliques for a very interesting effect!

Suggestions for Use - We're definitely collecting a lot of center fill designs lately. One of these days I'll piece up a very simple charm quilt with 4" squares and stitch each square with a different center filled design.

It may require a lot of thread breaks, but the effect will definitely be worth it!

Back of Split Petal 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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shoppe

While I was in Greensboro, NC, I taught my Fantastic Filler Stitches workshop for the first time. I really enjoyed teaching fillers in person and seeing how everyone reacted to different designs.

The workshop was held at Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shoppe, an awesome little shop right off I-85 in Greensboro.

As I taught the class, I kept seeing things I wanted to go check out, like the impressive Janome sewing machines, Accu Quilt, and awesome display of fabrics.

Finally, I just decided I'd have to stop in before leaving town. I ended up with a nice selection of this thicker, Amy Butler fabric I'm planning to make dresses and skirts out of, a green batik, and a green print that I said was so ugly it was pretty!

Ye Olde Forest is owned by Joanne and Kelly Jones and they've really put together an wide variety of tools, notions, fabric, machines, and books in a small space. They're also APQS dealers and longarm quilters.

Of course, what really makes any store for me is the service. I don't need a lot of hand holding in a store, just friendly service with no pressure and no one breathing down my neck.

I still sometimes get store clerks following me around thinking I'm some weird teenager out to steal fabric. Ugh!

But this store had just the kind of service I like. They're there when you need them to cut fabric or answer a question, but leave you alone to browse and enjoy the space too. Just my style.

You also don't have to sell your soul (or have checkbook in hand) in order to try out a machine. Kelly was more than happy to let me play on a Janome machine and try out an Accu Quilt.

I've been really wanting to try one of those bad boys out and it was a real treat to be able to play with one in person.

Best of all, Kelly gave me a heads up about a new Janome that will be coming out in May. It sounds very, very close to my dream machine: 11" throat plate, knee lifter, automatic needle down, AND a whole load of embroidery stitches.

I usually don't go for machines with too much computerized stuff in them. I've been burned a few times in the past, but at the same time, 11 inches may just be worth it.

The Janome I played with in the store was the 6600, and it felt really solid. Even with a whole load of embroidery stitches, it still did some really nice free motion and had a very visible foot already installed.

Of course, I know I can still easily quilt a king sized quilt on my Juki and its 8.5" throat (and will I ever really MAKE a king???), so there's really no need to upgrade, but...

It looks like I'll be driving back to Greensboro in May to check it out. I'm sure by then I'll have talked myself into it. Arrgh!

On the brighter side, Kelly does cover a year of servicing on the machines he sells. I've been buying machines for awhile, and I've never found a quilt store that offers that kind of deal, so I just called him to double check that I had it right.

I do know that I'm done buying machines online. After dealing with the Juki, I know that I will be a tried and true, buy-it-in-a-store kinda girl from now on.

So if you're driving through North Carolina, and you're on I-85, make sure to take a pit stop off on Exit 124 and check out Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shoppe.

I'm off to go prewash all this new fabric! I'm wanting some new, spring dresses for North Carolina Quilt Symposium, and I know if I don't start them now, they won't be done in time.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 158 - Crocus Cluster

From all the comments about Crocus Trail, I figured I needed to do a variation of this design.

I call this Crocus Cluster, but maybe I should rename it to Garlic Cluster!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm finally back home in Shelby, NC after a really fun lecture and workshop with the Piedmont Quilter's Guild in Greensboro, NC.

I got really sleepy on the ride home so I stopped off in my hometown of Asheboro, NC for one extra day before driving back home.

I realized something while I was at my parent's home. I actually grew up sleeping under many beautiful quilts, but I never really took the time to look at them very well. It's easy to take things like quilts for granted, even for a quilter!

I stretched out a beautiful, raw edge butterfly applique quilt that one of my Great Grandmothers must have made. It's such a shame I don't know exactly who made it.

I've decided that the next time I'm in Asheboro, I'm going to pull out all the old quilts, including a lone star and several appliqued quilts, and photograph them all. If I can, I'll talk to my surviving relatives and try to figure out exactly who made them and when.

I know I have gotten out of the habit of tagging bed quilts, but it is really important. Even a bed quilt deserves a special area for your signature, who the quilt was made for, and the date it was completed.

I'll try to do a video soon on my method for creating tags. It's easy and fun, which means there is absolutely no excuse not to do it!

So now I'll hop off my soapbox so we can get back to Crocus Cluster:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design isn't super difficult, but just like Crocus Trail, it's a bit tricky to keep the crocus shape in mind. Just take it easy and if crocuses don't come naturally, just start thinking about garlic instead!

Design Family - Center Fill. This design is created by stitching from the center of your quilting area to the outside, so you'll need to place this design in a nice, open area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. This design is similar to yesterday's design, Giant Snail, in that the whole design focuses your attention right into the center of the block.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have an applique quilt that's looking a bit bare? Try adding a few Crocus Clusters around your appliques for a very interesting effect!

Back of Crocus Cluster
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, April 9, 2010

Day 157 - Giant Snail

Remember Fossil Snail from way back in September? I still think it's one of the best designs!

So I decided it was time to make a variation of it, so we now have Giant Snail!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm hitting the road back to Shelby after a terrific workshop and lecture with the Piedmont Quilter's Guild.

I'm pretty worn out, so I think I'll stop back by Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shoppe on my way out of town. The workshop was held there yesterday and I just didn't have a chance to look around and shop myself.

So while I pack the car back up and double check the hotel room for any lost socks, sit back and watch how to stitch Giant Snail:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This isn't a super tough design, but it does require a steady hand and some fine tuned control over your quilt.

Design Family - Foundational. This design is stitched like Spiral of Spirals and Hair Filler in the sense that you first create the space, or foundation for your filler to go in, then you fill it completely.

This is still a design type I'm playing with and I think it's very versatile, but may need to be marked to keep it under control and looking great.

Directional Texture - Center focused. You can't quite miss the Giant Snail shape that's smack in front of you like a bulls-eye! Make sure to place this where you want a lot of eye catching texture and attention.

Suggestions for Use - Hmm....I'll admit I'm feeling pretty brain dead today! You know where you use this design? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

Back of Giant Snail
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel 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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 156 - Crocus Trail

When I designed this flower design, my crocuses had just bloomed. Now, with the 80 degree weather we've been having they're all gone, but we can still enjoy these delicate flowers in a quilt!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm packing, packing, packing. It's amazing how far everything spreads out when I'm home, but today I'm getting it all together and then driving to Greensboro, NC.

It's actually fun to be going back to Greensboro. I used to work in a wonderful bead shop, Indigo Bead Studio back in high school and will hopefully have the time to swing by again.

It's such an inspiring store I'll definitely share some pics if I get by!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This isn't super difficult, but I had trouble keeping the odd crocus shape in my mind. I kept wanting to either make it a heart or some weird amoeba shape!

Design Family - Stacking. This design is formed like Basic Spiral in that shapes are created and stacked together to form the design.

It's pretty free form, but because the crocuses are so big, it can be a bit tricky to squish into all the odd areas of a quilt.

Directional Texture - All directions. Keep the crocuses flowing in all different directions and the texture will seem to be coming from all angles as well.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have an applique quilt needing a little something special in the sashing? Try Crocus Trail for a nice, delicate finish!

Back of Crocus Trail
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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