The Free Motion Quilting Project: May 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 186 - Swirling Feathers

It's a wet, rainy More Fillers Monday here in NC so let's spice things up a bit by taking a new spin on a traditional quilting design!

Of course, you can't get more traditional than free form feathers!

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhoa! Where did the month of May go? I swear this month has flown by, probably because I've been having so much fun quilting Shadow Self.

But this week I'm going to have to take a break to prepare for my lecture in Lincolnton, NC for the Piecemakers Quilt Guild Wednesday morning.

And then the very next day I'll be heading to Charlotte, NC for the North Carolina Quilt Symposium!

I'm getting really excited about this coming weekend and I know this week will just fly by, so I'm taking today to get my ducks in a row, write my lists of things to pack, and hopefully still squeeze in a bit of quilting time too.

So while I run off to check and see if I have enough wonder under for the workshops I'm taking, you chill out and learn how to stitch Swirling Feathers:

Inspiration - I've been thinking about feathers quite a bit lately, mostly how to make them easier to stitch.

I seem to stitch my feathers pretty weird, but it seems to me that everyone has a different method that works best. No matter which way you stitch your feathers, you should be able to turn them into this funky swirling design.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Despite what I said above, feathers are not horribly difficult to stitch. They just require practice in order to look like feathers and not weird looking amoebas on a stick.

Design Family - Stem Centered. These designs are fun because you first layout your stem, then stitch your feathers.

If you wanted a quilt to be free form, but still slightly structured and symmetrical, you could mark the stems out first, then fill the stems however you want.

Directional Texture - All directions. The wonderful thing about feathers is they're attention getting. Smack some feathers on a quilt and it's guaranteed to result in copious amounts of quilter drool.

Suggestions for Use - The one thing I'm kind of sick of seeing is the overly floral, frilly, frumpy quilt weighted down with so many feathers it's practically related to a peacock.

I'm always left wondering where in the heck a quilt like this would hang in a normal house, unless said house was the Biltmore Estate, which is anything but normal.

Why not use feathers on our funky modern quilts? Or baby quilts? This filler can work in any area of your quilt, so feel free to play with it anywhere you see fit!

Back of Swirling Feathers
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, May 28, 2010

Affordable Quilting Table

It's Feature Friday again and I want to share some info with you about the affordable Arrow Sewing and Quilting Table I'll be using quite a lot in the coming weeks as I quilt Shadow Self.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis particular table is special because it's small, adjustable, and much less expensive than most sewing and quilting cabinets.

Because it is small, I use this table in conjunction with other folding tables to expand the surface of my quilting area. It would be impossible to quilt a large quilt on the 40" long x 20" deep table surface, unless the quilt was cut up into blocks.

So when purchasing this table, you need to factor in the costs of folding tables (around $75) to surround the little sewing table.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI use a 5 ft x 3 ft table on the back of the machine and a 4ft x 2 ft table to the left side so the tables form an "L" shape so the quilt is easier to quilt with less drag.

The table itself is adjustable to the height of your sewing machine. There is a chain on the bottom with a bolt that you screw in to lift the machine up, or loosen to lower the machine down.

My Juki TL 98 QE sets a little lower than most machines, so I simply unscrewed the screw holding the chain in place and moved it one space higher on the chain.

This is the only time you might have to use a screwdriver on the table. It ships fully assembled, so all you have to do is stand up the legs and it's ready to go.

One thing that is really, really important and cannot be stressed enough is to MEASURE YOUR MACHINE before buying the table.

The table opening for your machine is 17 1/2" long x 7 3/8" deep. This means your machine must be SMALLER than these measurements in order for it to fit.

Most true domestic sewing machines fit with no problem, but now that manufacturers are making machines bigger and more powerful, they are taking up more space, so the only way to know is to MEASURE YOUR MACHINE!

The reason I really like this table is its price tag and the size. Most sewing machine cabinets and tables are so expensive, it's like buying another machine!

Yes, it's worth it to put some cash into your setup, and I certainly don't have any problem spending a lot of money on a new desk or table for my office, so what's with the hang up about sewing machine cabinets?
My big issue is that most sewing machine cabinets
are terribly designed by people who don't sew or quilt.

They think they know what we need from a table and it ends up being way too deep, or not deep enough with no space to the left for the quilt or sewing project to rest on.

Most cabinets also come sporting ridiculous bells and whistles like thread racks that hang off at awkward angles just waiting for me to bang my knee on it.

Maybe I'm a bit too opinionated, but I value good design and the only way I've been able to create my ideal setup has been to use a small sewing table in conjunction with bigger folding tables.

So that's it for this Feature Friday! If you're interested in learning more about the affordable Arrow Sewing and Quilting Table, click here.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shadow Self - Part 3

Yay! Yay! Yay! Yesterday I finally finished clipping the batting from Shadow Self and it's officially ready to quilt!

But rather than staying up half the night to baste her, I decided to hold my horses and shoot one last video on this quilt explaining the design process step by step.

So for this Anything Goes Thursday, let's learn how to design a quilt like this. Here's part 1:

To sum up the video in case you can't see it, the design process for this quilt was really simple.

I sat at my kitchen table for several weeks and sketched on tracing velum using some really hi-tech tools including a pencil, eraser, protractor, and ruler. Chances are if you raid your kids or grand-kids pencil box you'll be able to find everything you need!

After the piecing lines were solid, I then played a bit with colored pencils, but quickly got inpatient. For the next quilt I design, I will spend more time working with the color until I've got a very clear idea of what fabrics I'll be using.

Next I started sketching the quilting design on a fresh piece of tracing velum. This was the first time I've ever spent so much time, or went into such detail, with the quilting design before the quilt was put together.

And this work paid off big time! The design is nicely balanced and has a wonderful contrast between the lighter side and darker side.

Here's the second half of the video where you can see the quilt flipped over and the full quilting design exposed on the back:

Click Here if the Video Does Not Appear

I've also had several requests for a video that teaches how to clip the trapunto batting away, and while clipping Shadow Self I turned on the camera and shot this quick video on that too:

So that's it for this Anything Goes Thursday! I'm off to baste Shadow Self and start the quilting process.

With how much space I filled with puffy motifs, the quilting process should move along very quickly, but then again, I really don't know what to expect until the process gets started.

Cross your fingers I don't run into any surprises!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two Quilts at Two Stages

So today is What's Leah Working on Wednesday and already I love this day for the chance to share all the projects I'm working on and the thought process going on with them.

I find, and maybe you do too, that some projects can easily get bogged down. I think it may be the reason why so many quilters have so many UFOs (Unfinished Objects).

It's good to have an infusion of new opinions or just a simple nod that yes, the quilt looks good, or no, that color choice is WAY off!

So today I'm going to share two quilts that are both at two different stages of their creation.

The first is Shadow Self, which I've been chatting about a whole lot this month.

Here's the completed photo of the front with the first set of quilting lines completed:

free motion quilting | Leah DayAnd here is the back with the batting being clipped away to reveal the quilting design:

free motion quilting | Leah DayYes, the clipping is officially taking forever (I think it's a week now since I started, which is a REALLY long time for me).

But this is the first time I've truly achieved my goal of nearly 50% trapuntoed motifs and 50% open area for fillers.

With every quilt before this, I've wanted to have this balance, but missed it because I waited until AFTER the quilt was pieced.

This is a big mistake because once a quilt is pieced, it's very tricky to see through the piecing lines and imagine a quilting design.

It's far easier to plan a quilting design when the quilt is still just black and white lines on a piece of paper.

I have around 2 more days of clipping on this quilt and then I'll sandwich it up with more polyester batting and a black batik backing fabric and get ready to quilt it.

When I have one quilt ready for work on the machine, I really like to have another quilt in the studio being put together. This way if I'm not in the mood to quilt, I have something else to do, either hand work or cutting fabric, that doesn't involve the machine.

My second project is my first Accu Quilt Quilt (say that three times fast!)

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis quilt was entirely made from die cut feathers from the Feather Die and circles from the Flowers Die. It was surprisingly quick to put together because of the die cut shapes.

Each feather has been fused using Seam-a-Seam-2 Lite and the next step is to machine applique each feather down so they don't fray after washing.

I'm not sure what to name this quilt yet. Josh said it looked like a Psychedelic Flower Garden, which sounds like a good name, but I'm leaning more towards Rainbow Flower Garden.

I like this quilt because it's a very traditional format (blocks arranged with sashing and borders), but it still manages to be a little funky.

This will be the first quilt I showcase using the Accu Quilt in videos starting in June. We'll also quilt the quilt together so you can see what role fillers can play in actual blocks, sashing, or borders.

So that's it for this Wednesday! Now that Rainbow Flower Garden is off my big tables now I can pull out even more fabric and start cutting out a few new skirts or shirts to make for NCQS. It's always nice to be able to make something new to wear!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 185 - Starfish

Yay! It's Totally Filler Tuesday and let's learn how to quilt another awesome new design.

I realized recently that of all the shapes I play with a lot: spirals, teardrops, circles, and hearts, I use stars the least.

So let's start experimenting with this fun, angular shape! Here's Starfish:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I suddenly realized yesterday that NEXT WEEK is North Carolina Quilt Symposium! Whoo Hoo!

I've been ready for this retreat since January and I'm getting really excited at the prospect of taking 3 days to attend classes and do nothing but quilt, eat, and sleep.

But this also means I need to get my act together! There's so much to do: getting materials together for the classes I'm taking, packing, and maybe sewing a new skirt to wear while I'm there.

Just in case you missed registration for NCQS, don't worry! You can still attend the Day of Fun, attend the quilt show, vendor mall and 1 hour lecture for just $25.

And speaking of retreats, if you're looking for a fun one to attend next year, consider Myrtle Beach Quilt Party in January 2011. I've heard great things about it every year and this coming year I'll hopefully be teaching classes myself!

Inspiration - We actually have several real starfish in Josh's fish tanks, and as I was walking by the other day I looked in and thought "that could make a good free motion design" and off I went to stitch it.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a finicky little design when stitched small, but I think it will work much easier and prettier when stitched on a bigger scale.

Design Family - Echoing. This is a design that's created by first stitching the shape: a star, then traveling a short distance away and surrounding the whole shape with 1 line of echo stitching.

In this design I surrounded the stars with only 1 wiggly, curving line, but you could easily change this design by stitching multiple wiggly echoes.

Directional Texture - All directions. The stars really produce a very interesting texture with their sharp angles and straight lines next to their wiggly echoes.

Suggestions for Use - This strikes me as a perfect design for a kid quilt! It's fun shapes and produces an interesting texture great for boys or girls.

Chances are you've drawn star shapes like these before, so this should stitch up pretty fast once you get the hang of it.

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 184 - Pebbled Paisley

Let's hear it for our first More Fillers Monday! Today I want to try another take at combining Pebbling and Paisley to see what can happen.

I've already tried this once before with Paisley Flower, but these designs work so well together, I'm sure there are many more new variation possibilities.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt's a gorgeous day in NC, but I'll be spending my time inside working on Shadow Self. Yesterday I managed to get almost half of the clipping completed, but it's still far from being finished.

The exciting thing about this stage is as soon as it's finished clipping, it will be time to quilt! While the quilting on this quilt is sure to take awhile, it's still very exciting to be getting it to this stage.

I really want to have this quilt at least partially quilted in time for my next lecture with the Piecemakers Quilt Guild in Lincolnton, NC.

Since Winter Wonderland and Release Your Light will both be in the North Carolina Quilt Symposium show, the pressure is on to have something good for the quilters to oooo and ahhh over.

Inspiration - I've been playing with a lot of circular designs lately with Beaded Curtain and Bubble Path, so it just seemed natural to try a Paisley variation with it.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This design is more time consuming and more advanced than most paisley designs. Just take your time and watch your thread play. If you find your thread shredding a lot, try switching to a thinner, stronger thread.

Design Family - Pivoting. This design is first started with a line of pebbles, but then you travel all the way back to the beginning and pivot off that starting point to echo.

Because of the way it's stitched, this will be a very good design for just about any area of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All directions. The circular shapes create a lot of thread build up, which draws your eye to the design. Make sure to put it where you want loads of attention!

Suggestions for Use - This design has loads of nice movement, is very attention getting, but at the same time it's also quite formal.

I'd place this design in a more formal show quilt. Mix and match with big free form feathers and you've got yourself a winning combination!

Back of Pebbled Paisley
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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Random Nonsense

Yeah, I know I swore I wouldn't post on the weekend from now on, but what can I say? I'm addicted to blogging!

I figure I can post an occasional Random Nonsense Day where I post something random on the blog that might, or might not, have anything to do with quilting.

So here's some recent photos I've shot around the house or around town this month:

Let's start with a view out my office window:

chickens | Leah DayYes, those are chickens! Josh and James have been raising them from chicks and they're now almost full grown.

They're surprisingly cute running across the yard and occasionally coming for a visit to peck at the windows and doors.

Now let's check in with the Shadow Self quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've managed to clip around 1/4 of the quilt this week so you can see the motifs slowly starting to emerge.

Yes, I will do a post and video on this next week so if you don't really understand what I'm doing, don't worry, I'll explain soon.

The clipping is going excruciatingly slowly because the flames are so complicated. Why, oh why, do I always make things so difficult???

Truthfully, I'm enjoying every second of clipping, even though it's moving slower than usual.

Already I've managed to watch a few favorite movies like Enchanted, Pride & Prejudice, Moulin Rouge, and episodes from Dr. Who Season 3 which are all excellent to listen to while clipping the batting away.

And here's a last random photo shot in town recently:

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt was just a random truck on a random street chock full of old sewing machines. It made me kind of sad, like I was looking at a sewing machine graveyard.

Hopefully someone will fix them and put them back to good use!

So that's it for this random nonsense day. I'm off to watch more Dr. Who and clip more batting. Make sure to swing by tomorrow for More Fillers Monday!

Let's go Quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilter's Pounce

Today is our first Feature Friday, so today I'm going to share a short video on Quilter's Pounce Quilt Marking Chalk.

Quilter's Pounce is a very simple invention: a cloth pad within a plastic case that you fill with chalk.

The chalk adheres lightly to the quilt top when you wipe it over a quilting stencil, allowing you to easily mark large, complex stencils in very little time.

Unfortunately most quilters instinctively use the Pounce pad incorrectly. Check out this video to learn how to use the pounce without making a giant mess of your quilt:

Just in case you can't watch the video, here are some basic instructions on using the Quilter's Pounce Pad:

1. Remove the stopper and fill the pounce pad with chalk.

2. Put the pounce pad into the plastic case bottom and bang it once on your table. This charges the pad with chalk and gets it ready for marking.

3. Here's where most quilters mess up with this tool! For some reason we want to bang the pad over the stencil, but this will only result in a cloud of chalk dust and a very messy quilt!

Instead gently wipe the Pounce Pad over the surface of the quilting stencil. You're wiping the chalk into all the groves of the stencil so the chalk only adheres to the areas that need to be marked.

4. After you've wiped the pounce pad over the whole stencil, pick up the stencil and move it to the next area of your quilt.

You'll need to recharge your pounce pad occasionally by putting it back into the case and banging it on your table.

Personally I use pounce when I'm needing to mark a stencil design quickly and perfectly.

Smaller stencils usually don't take very much time to mark using a water soluble pen, but larger stencils can take a very long time to mark and it's very easy to miss an area and have to go back later and remark.

Quilter's Pounce allows you to mark the whole stencil in a few seconds with no guesswork about which area you've marked and which is left to do.

So that's it for Feature Friday! I hope the video and info has helped you find a new way to mark quilts with chalk.

Let's Go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Midpoint Day!

Here's a videocast I shot last night celebrating the midpoint of the project and explaining the changes that will be happening over the coming months:

To celebrate the midpoint of the project, I hope you'll check out my Quilt Shop!

I've also added to the shop:
  • Isacord Thread - 5 New Colors of the best thread for free motion quilting!
Check out all of the cool books, dvds, tools, supplies, and more at the Quilt Shop right now.

Now let me share some exciting news about the project and business. I've been hinting for awhile that we're going to be changing a few things about the project starting in June.

The first is some news about my husband, Josh, and his growing role with our quilting business.

We've had advanced notice that in January 2011 Josh will lose his job, but the good news is, we have six months to adjust and prepare for this change.

For the rest of 2010, we will be working hard to build our online quilting business into the sole support for our family.

Josh will start taking over much of the customer service work: checking email, packing orders, and also editing videos.

While this is a pretty scary transition, I feel confident that we will work together as an excellent team.

With Josh taking over much of the computer work, I'll be able to spend more time quilting and shooting videos.

Which brings us to the second thing that will be changing about the project: MORE VIDEOS!

No, I'm not taking any videos down or changing the format of the 365 designs, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being slightly bored by stitching 4" squares every day.

So I'm going to start going back through the designs and stitching my favorites on a larger scale, in blocks, sashing, or borders just like they would be quilted in a real quilt!

Someone once commented that the project is like being handed a big bag of the most excellent golf clubs, but no direction on how to actually use them! I plan to fix this with new videos showing the designs in a variety of places, in many different scales.

I'm also going to start having a more scheduled format to the blog. Here's the schedule I hope to start in June:

More Fillers Monday! - The next filler design from the 365 Days project

Totally Filler Tuesday - The next filler design from the 365 Days project

What's Leah Working On Wednesday? - Info about the current quilt project in progress.

Anything Goes Thursday - More filler designs or a new video on a topic you'll find interesting.

Feature Friday - Info about a specific tool or material I'm currently using in the studio.

Starting this week, I'm no longer going to post on Saturday or Sunday. I'll instead use these days to shoot videos, work on quilts, or spend time with my family.

While it will be less filler designs per week, there will be loads more information on how to actually USE the filler designs, which really is the point, right?!

I'm super excited about these changes and really looking forward to the direction of this project in the coming months.

More than anything else, this project is about sharing the love of quilting and expanding our abilities, one stitch at a time.

Thank you so much for being here, for reading these posts, and spreading the word to your friends and family!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Project Recap

Can you believe we're halfway through with this project? I know I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it!

Let's take a minute this morning to recap back from the very beginning...

This project officially started on August 14th, 2009 when I launched the blog and shared the very first design: Shadow Waves.

Very few quilters were around for the first days of the project, but that started to change very quickly when I began adding videos on Day 14 with Circuit Board.

Suddenly I began getting comments and emails from quilters from all over the world asking me how I was able to quilt like this, what tools I used, and where could you buy a DVD???

I was honestly shocked. I began this project not knowing how it was ever going to turn into a business, but after hearing from so many excited, supportive quilters, I launched the quilt shop and began working on the DVDs and workbooks to teach the designs.

For the first 3 months, a new design was shared every single day, but by November I was exhausted.

Blogging daily really isn't that hard, but blogging daily, packing orders, AND editing a DVD really is too much for one person to handle!

So I scaled back and stopped sharing a new design every day and began sharing more about myself, my quilts, and the projects I work on outside of the blog.

One quilt was Winter Wonderland, a snowflake quilt made to test a new technique I was playing with called Reverse Shadow Trapunto.

After seeing the quilt, so many quilters wrote in asking for a pattern and more information about the technique, that I had to make a pattern!

As you can tell from reading this, this blog might have started as a place for me to share designs, but it's slowly turned into a place where I come to ask for advice and direction from all of you.

To say it lightly, that is one huge, unexpected, but absolutely wonderful benefit of this project!

So now it's May 20th, approximately 10 months and 5 days, and 302 posts since the start and we're only half way through!

While this project is taking longer than I originally expected, I still love the challenge it brings to my life and the constant source of creativity it brings to my quilts.

Of course with the midpoint, I've decided to make some changes to this project that will hopefully make it even bigger, better, and easier for quilters to use the filler designs shared so far.

So now that we've taken a trip down memory road, let's learn all about the changes happening to the project coming up in the next few months!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Day 183 - Striped Beads

Whoo Hoo! We're officially on Day 183 and at the midpoint of this blog!

Of course whenever special days like this roll around I always get so worried about having a super special, totally awesome design to share.

But eventually I realized that that's really silly, so here's an ordinary, not super special pebbling design, that will nevertheless stitch up to make a pretty awesome texture!

free motion quilting | Leah DayCan you believe we're at the midpoint?! Only 182 designs left to stitch!

Make sure to stick around after reading this post and hear all about the changes coming up for this project as well as our awesome Quilt Shop!

Inspiration - Pebbling designs are some of my favorites and so far we've had many variations with Double Pebble, Cracked Eggs, Escargot, Easter Eggs, Spiral Pebble, and now Striped Beads.

All of these designs have the core circular shape in common which is time consuming to stitch, but the texture is totally worth it!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design is challenging only because of the huge amount of thread build up that can happen as you stitch the circles together.

I struggled with breaking thread constantly on pebbling designs until I changed the thread I was using. Try changing to a thinner, stronger thread if you find yours breaking too often and driving you crazy. 

Design Family - Stacking. Pebbling designs are created by stacking the circular shapes together in an irregular fashion. Because of the way it's stitched, this design can fit in even the tightest, most complicated areas of your quilt.

Directional Texture - No directions. This is another flat, organic fill design that would look great over the background of a large area. Just make sure it's not too large or you'll be quilting it forever!

Suggestions for Use - A little goes a long way with this design, so I'd use it in some small areas, like the centers of appliqued flowers, or within a very narrow vine section. It can be very time consuming, but you can't get this gorgeous thread texture any other way!

Back of Striped Beads
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, May 19, 2010

Day 182 - Angle Spiral

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

You know the easiest way to make a variation out of a design? Stitch it in sharp angles!

Here's a version of Basic Spiral stitched in sharp angles and straight lines:

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhoo Hoo! I'm almost finished quilting the first layer of batting to Shadow Self. This is the layer of extra batting that will be clipped away to make special areas of the quilt super puffy.

Once the quilting is complete I'll then get to spend probably the next week or two doing my absolute favorite thing in the whole world: clipping the batting away.

I love this step so much I've considered offering to clip quilts for show quilters. It's tedious and meticulous, but for some reason I absolutely love every second.

Everyone has a favorite step in the quilting process. What is yours? Do you love to cut out the fabric pieces, or put them back together? Do you love the marking process or hand stitching applique? Share your favorite thing in the comments below!

The wonderful thing about this hobby is having so many different steps, options, techniques, and methods to choose from!

Inspiration - With only a glance at this project, you would probably be able to easily deduce that I love spirals and paisley designs. In my constant quest to find another spiral design to stitch, somehow I've overlooked stitching spirals in sharp angles.

Sitting at the kitchen table the other day I couldn't believe I'd missed this easy variation, but then again, with 182 designs, it's easy to forget which designs I've shared and which I've just doodled on paper!

Difficulty Level - Beginner. I honestly think Angle Spiral is easier to stitch than Basic Spiral because the sharp angles and straight lines are easier to keep consistent.

Design Family - Independent. This design is created by stacking the spiral shapes together so they fit together in a seamless fashion. Because of the way it's stitched, this design will definitely work in all areas of your quilt.

Directional Texture - All directions. Due to the sharp angles, this design as a little flatter texture than Basic Spiral, but it's still a very nice, attention-getting design.

Suggestions for Use - This design will work great in just about any area of a quilt, but I'm planning to use it on a small scale within the dark shadow side of Shadow Self.

The sharp angles and straight lines will contrast nicely with the smooth, flowing curves of the opposite side.

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

Leah Day

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 181 - H2O

One of the most common questions I get asked from quilters is "Where did you go to college and what degree do you have?"

I have to smile when I hear this because I know exactly what the quilter is thinking - I must have a degree in art and loads of class time in order to quilt or design like this.

But that's simply not true. I'm a college dropout and the 2 years I did attend the University of North Carolina at Asheville, I was majoring in Biology. Talk about a bad fit!

Fortunately the 2 years weren't a complete waste as I've found all sorts of design inspiration from my bio and chemistry days. Here's one such design called H2O:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is really as easy as stitching straight lines and circles. If you find yourself struggling with stitching circles this will be a great design to practice with!

Design Family - Independent. This design is formed by stitching a circle and branching off from it to build the design. Because of the way it is stitched, it will likely work in just about any area of your quilt with no trouble.

Directional Texture - No Direction. This design provides a nice texture, but it's not really moving in any particular direction. Place H2O in the background of a quilt and you'll find that area will recede and flatten out nicely.

Suggestions for Use - Try stitching this on a quilt for a manly man and he will likely thank you for not covering his quilt with flowers!

Back of H2O
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 180 - Slate Tile

Here's a huge thank you! to everyone that commented yesterday about the Shadow Self quilt. I'll post more about the quilt and which border I decided to use in the next part of that quilt story.

But right now I'm needing a few new quilting designs for this quilt. The whole black section is going to be stitched with straight lines and sharp angles to contrast with the smooth, flowing lines on the lighter side.

Josh suggested this design after looking at the irregular tile shapes on our kitchen floor and backsplash:

Yesterday I got the borders on Shadow Self and started the marking process for the first step of quilting.

It's moving so fast now part of me wants to take a break and let it sit for awhile, and part of me wants to run with it!

I know things will slow down quite a bit with the marking, trapunto, and quilting process. More than 50" of the surface area of the quilt is going to be filled with trapunto (puffy) motifs to cut down on the huge amount I have to fill with dense fillers.

I've always wanted to have a quilt this nicely balanced between trapunto and fillers, but never taken the time during the design process to make it happen. It makes me very eager to see the finished product, or at least hurry on to the quilting process!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Don't let the easy square shapes fool you. This design is not supposed to look perfect, like cross hatch grid.

It's supposed to look organic and irregular, and that can be very tricky to do when so much of quilting seems to be driven by perfection.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. The tiles are worked in rows from one edge of your quilting space to another. This makes for a design that will work great in the open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

Directional Texture - No direction. Even with the irregularity in size and shape, these squares still mostly come together in a grid pattern which always wants to recede and fade into the background.
Suggestions for Use - This is a wonderful design to use for contrasts. Place this in the center of a curving flower for a neat mix of straight lines against more fluid shapes.

Back of Slate Tile
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, May 16, 2010

Shadow Self - Part 2

It's pretty amazing how fast this quilt came together using Sharon Schamber's Piec-lique technique. Here is the completed quilt top after only 2 more days of work:

free motion quilting | Leah DayUnfortunately the colors are not showing up quite as nice in this photo as they are in real life, but you can get an idea for how the green and blue work with the darker side.

The colors are actually a departure from my usual bright orange, yellow, and flaming red.

When I first thought of this quilt I wanted it to look more subtle with greens, blues, and maybe purple, but to still read lighter than the dark black and gray side.

Now, before I run off to start marking the quilting design, I have a question:

Do you think this quilt needs a border?

My original design did not have a border, but looking at it on the wall, I'm starting to think it needs one.

Thanks to the wonders of a simple computer paint program, I've played with auditioning two borders on the quilt.

Here's a black border, probably measuring around 8" wide:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Or here is a purple border:

free motion quilting | Leah DayHonestly I'm leaning towards the black, which would not be the matte black you see here, but a mottled black batik.

What's really neat is if I did the black border, I could extend the quilting design out into the black, and since it will be stitched in light green and light blue thread, it will contrast nicely.

Hmmm....I'm going to think about this for a few days and come back to it when I'm sure.

If you have a definite opinion on which one looks best: no border, black border, or purple border, definitely share your opinion in the comments section below!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Day 179 - Crazy Tree

We had Tear Drop Tree a few days ago and I had instant requests for variations! Here's a fun alternative design using Drunk Pointy Paisley:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today I'm doing a bit of everything: shooting more designs, cleaning my studio, and hopefully getting around to playing with my new AccuQuilt and appliqueing a few blocks.

I finished piecing Shadow Self together in two days - record time! I wasn't really trying to breeze through it, but everything just suddenly clicked and I was able to piece huge sections together very quickly.

Now the main studio room looks like a train blew through it, so I've got to put in some time cleaning and reorganizing.

Hopefully that won't take too long because I'm really wanting to experiment with machine applique, something I very, very rarely do and really need to get better at.

So while I run around trying to put everything back in it's rightful place, you relax and learn how to quilt Crazy Tree:

Inspiration - Tear Drop Tree was a really easy design to stitch and is even easier to create variations with. All you have to do is switch out the tear drop with any other shape to create the leaves.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a fairly easy design, but some of my drunk pointy paisley leaves got a bit out of hand. You'll want to keep them a little smaller to make the design look not so wild and crazy - unless that's the look you're going for!

Design Family - Independent. While it may look very different, this design is actually stitched in a manner similar to Stippling. You're continually branching out and "growing" the design in a very independent way all around your quilting space.

This means that this design can really work in just about an area of your quilts because you have so much control over the sizes and shapes of the branches and leaves you're working with

Directional Texture - All Directions. This design has a nice all-over texture, but if you wanted it to appear more like a growing tree, you could start from one end and keep all your leaves and branches moving in one single direction.

Suggestions for Use - Crazy Tree strikes me as a terrific design to use for a quick baby quilt, especially for a boy. It's a bit more masculine and has a nice texture any kid would love.

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 178 - Sleeping Seeds

Let's experiment with more Paisley type designs! Here's a neat variation with a slightly different center that creates an entirely different texture:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Today I'm finishing up the piecing on Shadow Self. It has come together surprisingly fast in the last 24 hours, which is good because I'll need the tables to prepare 2 quilts for show.

On Saturday I'll be driving to Charlotte, NC to drop off Release Your Light and Winter Wonderland for the North Carolina Quilt Symposium Show in June.

While it's now too late to enter the show, you can still attend NCQS if you're in need of a relaxing quilt retreat the first weekend in June.

Inspiration - This was a funny little design because I was working through several new variations of Paisley and suddenly wondered what would happen if I started first with a wiggly lollipop.

The end result is pretty cool, but I had an impossible time thinking of a name for this design. Any new name suggestions would be greatly appreciate as I don't think "Sleeping Seeds" does this design justice!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This isn't a super difficult design, but there is a little traveling involved, so just take it easy and the design is sure to come together quickly.

Design Family - Pivoting. I swear there are more pivoting / paisley variations than any other design. Quite simply: they are my favorite. They're fast to stitch and easy to design, what more could we want from a quilting design?!

Directional Texture - All directions. This design has a nice multi-directional texture that will make it perfect for all quilts, large or small.

Suggestions for Use - As with all paisley type designs, this could go anywhere! I think it will look especially well in an art quilt, maybe a landscape? Try it out and see where it looks best on your quilts!

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

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shadow Self - Part 1

I've been working on this quilt quite a bit lately and I'm finally ready to share the first part of this quilt story.

The first part, however, requires a good bit of explanation. Shadow Self is as close to a self portrait as I've ever made.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIn fact, this quilt represents more of my life: more of what I have been through and what I want to overcome, than any other quilt.

To say it plainly:

I have battled almost my entire life with a horrible,
soul crippling negative voice within my mind,
constantly shadowing my thoughts and darkening my heart.

This is an inner voice that has told me, as long as I can remember, that I am so stupid, so weak, and so worthless that I don't deserve to live.

In fact, up until the age of 23, I honestly didn't expect to live until 25, not because I suffered from some life threatening illness, but because fate would invariably intervene and wipe out its huge mistake in bringing me into the world in the first place.

Yeah, yeah, I know it's pathetic. ;-)

Looking back I can say that this was an immature viewpoint that I largely lost after having my son, but even now I breathe a sigh of relief with every birthday that passes because it's yet another year I truly didn't expect to have.

Back in February, I really started thinking about this inner negative voice (INV for short). Even though I now see it for what it is, it's still sometimes hard to discern my real thoughts from the inner negativity and self hate.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this issue needed to be resolved with a quilt.

This is not the first time I've used a quilt design to help me overcome a personal issue.

Release Your Light actually started its life being called Light in Me and was literally that: a representation of the amazing explosion of creative potential I had within, just waiting to burst out and share with everyone in the world.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI changed the name of the quilt after completing it because I wanted it to be not just about me, but for everyone. We all have this power, this potential energy explosion inside of us just waiting to get out.

It was while creating Release Your Light that I came up with the idea for this blog, which of course is why you're reading these words today. So making the quilt worked!

Shadow Self is also starting the same way: I meditated for days about this oppressive weight I live with over my mind and heart and the vision for this quilt came to me.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe center circle is a yin yang symbol, representing the balance of both dark and light within all life. It rests over a goddess figure, severing her heart and mind with shadow.

While I have hated my INV, I also know that it has shaped and formed me into the person I am. I would not be the same person without it.

But that doesn't mean I have to continue living under such a painful, self destructive influence.

Just like with creating Release Your Light, I feel the need to see this quilt, to live with it on my dining room wall every day.

I know that if I see it first thing when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I see at night, maybe I will take heed to let my lighter side dominate and shine through the darkness and negativity.

This tactic has certainly worked with Release Your Light. Every time I have reconsidered this project or thought of turning in a different direction, this quilt has invariably caught my eye and reminded me to share, share, share myself.

It's not always easy, but the daily reminder helps.

As I work on Shadow Self, I have already started to chip away at the control my INV has had over my mind.

It is a daily choice:

Let the negativity make me feel worthless,
or fight to see and truly believe in my own self worth.

It is a quilt I have taken a lot of time on already. The design itself is very simple, but was sketched and re-sketched at the kitchen table while feeding James breakfast or dinner.

I had to take breaks on this quilt, as it hasn't always been easy to see the huge black shadow that rests over my heart and mind so clearly displayed in black and white lines.

But that let me know I was on the right track.

This quilt is dark and it's hard for me to look at because it is so true. Not all life is bright colors and butterflies.

A good chunk is dark and flat and full of anger.

It's one thing to read in a self-help book "Love yourself", it's quite another thing to learn how to do it after 23 years of doing the opposite.

So that is the reason why this quilt is being made. It is a visual representation of my Shadow Self, my darkness, which will probably always shadow some part of my light.

But by seeing it every day on my dining room wall as the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night, it will be very hard to forget that every day I have a choice of how far that shadow reaches.

There's always a choice.

So to sum up the design steps I took so far on this quilt:

First it was sketched using tracing velum which is nearly transparent and allows you to design without the use of a lightbox.

This allowed me to work at the dining room table, in the best light and in the room that this quilt will eventually be displayed in.

Using basic symmetry, a protractor, and ruler, the whole quilt was sketched out.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThen I finalized the design and sketched a copy onto plain white paper using a lightbox.

At this point, I began to design the quilting design. After the catastrophe that was my last goddess quilt My Cup Runneth Over, I learned my lesson: the quilting design HAD to be designed first, before any piecing took place.

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo using more tracing velum and a protractor, I created 2 ray designs and planned the inner quilting designs for the head, heart, body, and background of the quilt.

I wanted the shadow section to have minimal movement and very straight, rigid lines because that's what it's like: living within a box.

The light side, by contrast, is full of movement: fire rays and interlocking lines run from the center heart so long as the shadow does not block them.

After the quilting design was complete, it was also transferred onto white paper at the exact same scale as the original design so they could both be resized equally.

I resized using Adobe Illustrator, but it's come to my attention that there are several free resizing programs on the internet that can help you blow up and print out designs.

Next the quilt was pieced using Sharon Schamber's Piece-lique technique. I wanted the pieces to fit together as perfectly as possible to create a smooth, even quilt top.

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo that's where I'm at now with half of the light side mostly pieced together. It's a slow process and I'm taking my time. Sometimes I walk into the room and walk back out again.

It's not always easy to work on, particularly now that the design is starting to really take shape.

But each step is progressing as it should and so far, no giant road blocks have jumped into my path, which I largely thank to good planning.

So now I'm off to start working on the dark side, which I've so far avoided. It's time to overcome that hurdle and I'll definitely post more pictures when it's further along.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 177 - Angle Turns

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

Way back in February, Left Turn, Right Turn became an instant hit on the blog, even turning into a digital pattern thanks to the work of Marjorie Busby, my awesome design digitizer.

Now let's try another variation of that fun design with Angle Turns:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Inspiration - Back when I designed Left Turn, Right Turn, I though right (90 degree) angles was the only angle I could use with that design.

After thinking about it, I realized that the design could easily use sharper angles, almost like the top of a triangle.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a fairly simplistic design that requires very little traveling. Just keep your angles consistent and you're sure to stitch a very interesting design!

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is worked from one edge of your quilt to the other, so make sure to use it in the more open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

Directional texture - No directions. While this design is worked in a horizontal or vertical way along your quilt, when the rows line up together, the texture really fits together in almost a grid pattern with no directional movement.

Suggestions for Use - Angle Turns is quite a geometric design and should contrast beautifully with flowing shapes like flowers or circles. I'd try using this design in the background of a simple applique quilt.

Back of Angle Turns
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

Day 176 - Spiral Matrix

I guess I should call this week Variation Week because all I seem to be stitching is variations of older designs!

Here's another variation of Matrix that involves filling the squares of the wiggly grid with spirals:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Last night I stayed up late listening to a wonderful book called "The Blood of Flowers" by Anita Amirrezvani while piecing together the lighter half of Shadow Self.

This was a wonderful book about an Iranian woman in the seventeenth century that defies convention to become an amazing carpet maker.

While I know nothing about carpet making, I definitely identified with the main character and her passion to learn design and colorwork.

After listening to the book, I now want to explore Arabic and Oriental carpets and designs for possible patterns that can transfer into quilting. There is an amazing world of design possibilities outside of the traditional quilting world!

And speaking of nontraditional, let's now learn how to stitch Spiral Matrix:

Inspiration - Working on Shadow Self, I'm starting to see the very important role that grids can play in a quilt. A grid design (think of a wire fence) gives your eyes a place to rest, especially in a complex quilt.

It also serves as a flat area with virtually no movement. Grids are the ultimate background quilting design! If you want an area to be flat and you want it to recede: stitch a cross hatch grid over it!

But even curvy grids like Matrix, or half curvy grids like Matrix Rays, have the same flat, receding texture. Spiral Matrix adds just a bit more texture to the mix, but it will still make a great filler for the background or dead space of a quilt.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This design requires a lot of traveling and precision stitching so definitely try it once you have a pretty good handle on the speed control of your machine.

Design Family - Edge to Edge.This design is worked from edge to edge, then once your grid is set, you will use this foundation to fill every other square with a spiral. It's a bit time consuming, but the end result is definitely worth it!

Directional Texture - No direction. Yes, this is a very attention getting design, but it's still fairly flat and directionless.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have a small baby quilt to work on this spring? Try using this Spiral Matrix design on a very large scale for a fun, challenging project!

Back of Spiral Matrix
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

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