The Free Motion Quilting Project: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 337 - Shell Fan

Did you think I'd stop posting while on vacation??? Yeah, I'll admit, I considered it, but I really want to get all 365 designs posted by Christmas, and that means posting at least 3 per week from here on out! Today let's see how feathers come together nicely to create Shell Fan:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is one of those designs that would really be better illustrated being stitched into a long, narrow section, like sashing. It's kind of hard to visualize how this really works in a 4 inch square, so here's an image from the new book From Feathers to Flames to illustrate how it works:

free motion quilting | Leah DaySimilar to Water Plants and Cobwebs in the Corners, Shell Fan will fit into the narrow spaces of your quilts really well and create a nice texture in all those spaces normally left empty.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Feathers have the reputation of being super tough to quilt, but that's really only because they require practice to perfect! Try stitching this in the sashing of your next quilt and by the end, feathers will be no problem at all.

Design Family - Edge to Center. In the video I stretched my middle feather nearly from edge to edge, but really it's entirely up to you. Just try to space out the center feathers along one side of your quilting space, leaving room for the shells on the opposite side.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. When stitched in a line, any design is going to have a horizontal or vertical texture on your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - Feathers have a soft, curvy effect on any quilt so I'd advise using this on a quilt with lots of sharp angles and straight lines. Soft curves in the sashing should break up all those graphic shapes and make everything feel a bit smoother.

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

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 336 - Square Spiral Flow

We're in the midst of packing and organizing everything for the trip, but I can't leave without posting a new design for this weekend!

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis Square Spiral Flow is a variation of Whirlpools, but now instead of circles, you're stitching squares with square shaped spirals inside!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. While this texture can look kind of intense, it's actually really easy to stitch! Just focus on setting the foundation with a wiggly line and big squares (leave them empty if it's easier) and then all you have to do is echo to fill the remaining space.

Design Family - Foundational. This family of designs is loads of fun! What's nice is being able to stitch the foundation into the space, then when you go back to fill, you don't have much to think about - just simple echo quilting!

Directional Texture - All Directions. The combination of squares and flowing lines is going to create a contrasting texture on the surface of your quilt. It should be really interesting both on big and small scales.

Suggestions for Use - I really like the idea of using this combination of flowing lines and big chunky squares over a bed quilt. How will that work exactly? No idea! You'll have to try it and see for yourself!

Back of Square Spiral Flow
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts
and send in a picture to show it off!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Quick Trip South

Life is certainly unpredictable! A few weeks ago, Josh and I had decided to make a trip to my home town of Asheboro for Halloween so we could go trick or treating with James around my old neighborhood.

But then we got a call about Josh's grandmother, who has been through a ringer of health problems this year, and we were reminded that she hasn't seen James since he was 18 months old which is when this photo was taken:

We got to talking about it and Josh and I both figured if we'd been planning to travel already, why not just travel a bit further and head south to Pensacola, Florida for a few days?

So that's what we're going to do! Life is certainly unpredictable, but when it comes time to make a decision, the best thing to do is make the choice quickly and without hesitation.

In the meantime, Josh and I have decided to shut down the quilt shop while we're gone simply because it's very difficult to keep track of orders coming in while we're on the road and have finicky internet connections.

When we get back, the quilt shop will open right back up again with several items on sale for winter, as well as our Affordable Quilting Tables back in stock!

Now I know I'll be without a sewing machine for at least 4 days, so I better get into the studio and get a few handwork projects created so I'll have something to do while we're on the road!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quilting on the Janome HD 1000

Last week I shared a guest post over at Sew Bittersweet Designs that walked you through quilting this small 1 yard quilt with a super simple version of stippling:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Now let's learn a bit about the sewing machine this quilt was quilted on!

If you remember back a few months ago, I started reviewing sewing machines that cost under $500. Things got a bit crazy this summer trying to publish my latest book, but now I'm back at the reviews with a final video about the Janome HD 1000:

Here's a run down of the Janome HD 1000:

free motion quilting | Leah DayGreat companion to the Janome Horizon - Both machines take the same bobbins, which is quite convenient if you suddenly want to switch machines in the middle of a project.

The HD 1000 is also lighter and smaller and would make a great workshop machine to take with you to classes.

Tools for Free Motion - Yes, you will need to invest in a few tools in order to get the HD 1000 working well for quilting. Since I use Isacord Polyester thread that is wound on spools, I needed a spool stand in order to hold the thread properly.

This machine does get a little finicky about the way thread is wound and if it's not wound properly, it simply won't work. The motor will buzz, but the needle won't move, so make sure to follow the guides properly!

You'll also need a low shank free motion quilting foot for free motion quilting. In order to make this foot work the best on this machine, you'll need to modify it by breaking open the base and bending back the top section so make sure to watch this video on how that works.

Slow Down - If you're used to using a higher powered machine like a semi-industrial Juki TL series or the Janome Horizon, you'll need to adjust to the slower speeds of the HD 1000. When cranked full tilt, the machine will vibrate and make a pretty loud noise, so it's best not to run it at full blast.

Consciously slow down the movement of your hands to balance with the speed of the machine. It might take some practice to get used to, but it's definitely possible to produce beautiful stitches with this machine.

No Automatic Needle Down - This is a mechanical machine which means you don't have some of the fancy features we've gotten used to on computerized machines. An automatic needle down simply drops the needle into the down position (down inside your quilt) so the quilt doesn't shift when you're repositioning it.

Yes, an auto feature like this is very helpful for free motion quilting, but it's certainly not a deal breaker. To compensate, you simply need to get into the habit of stopping and putting a hand on your quilt so it doesn't shift, moving the other hand to the wheel to move the needle into the down position.

I found the foot pedal on the HD 1000 to be very responsive so an alternative is to tap the pedal lightly to bring the needle down into the quilt. Again, controlling this is just down to practice and patience until it becomes a habit!

Throat space - I didn't mention this in the video, so just in case you're wondering the throat space on this machine is around 6 3/4 inches. It's not huge, but it's certainly big enough to quilt full to queen sized quilts.

Now that I've finished this review - I need your opinion!

I'm planning to share many more sewing machine reviews next year, as well as showing you how to quilt large scale designs. So I'd like to know what you thought of this new video!

Did you find my stopping to take out pins annoying?

Were you able to see what I was doing and gain a general idea of how to quilt your quilt?

Was the video long and detailed enough?

Did you find the review of the machine helpful?

Did I leave out any important information you needed to know about the machine?

How likely are you to try this large scale stippling design after watching this video?

The fact is - quilting a real quilt on video is EXTREMELY difficult. Trying to get a good angle to show you both the stitching detail, but also show you how the quilt is moving is hard to balance. Just let me know what you think and how this can be improved for the new videos coming in 2012!

And Yes! I do plan to get these sewing machine reviews better linked up! I'm working on several new pages to link up the reviews better and they should be up by the end of the week.

Let's go quilt!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whoo Hoo For MQX West!

free motion quilting | Leah DayYay! I just got my quilted jacket back from MQX West with a pretty blue ribbon. She won 1st place Every Day Wear which is perfect because I do indeed wear this jacket every day in the fall and spring.

I'm thrilled that she ribboned, but even happier to have my jacket back safe and sound. Who knows, maybe next year I'll enter a few goddess quilts into an MQX show instead!

Super thank you to Barbara who let me know about this ribbon and Cari who sent me a photo!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Day 335 - Spike Paisley

One of the most popular designs from the project is Swirling Petals. Let’s go back to that design and see if we can make it a bit easier to stitch, but still with the same pretty look:

free motion quilting | Leah DaySpike Paisley will be easier to stitch because the spikes are echoed with a simple tear drop shape. Tear drops have a rounded curve that are easier to travel stitch along and branch off of with new shapes.

If you ever find yourself struggling with Swirling Petals, Loopy Paisley, or Moon Paisley, try swinging around the design one more time with a tear drop shaped echo on the outer ring. This will make the shapes fit together more easily which makes travel stitching and branching out with new elements much easier.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is actually extremely easy to stitch! Start with 3-4 spike shapes, then pivot and stitch around them all with a simple tear drop shape. Pivot and echo as many times as you like to build up the design, then branch off in a new direction with a new set of spikes.

Design Family - Pivoting. This family of designs work in clusters to fill your quilt. Once you memorize how this cluster is created, you will be able to quilt it anywhere on your quilt and on any scale.

Directional Texture - All Directions. Angle your spikes in one direction, then the other to create a really neat effect on the surface of your quilt. Also experiment with echoing the spikes 1 time, then see how the texture changes when you echo the group 5 times.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have a little boy in your life that likes dinosaurs? For some reason I keep thinking about using Spike Paisley around a dinosaur block. Something about the spikes and tear drops just make me think of Tyrannosaurs Rex!

Back of Spike Paisley
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler design in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it!

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 334 - Channels & Paths

Awhile ago we learned an interesting design called Channel Weave that got me thinking and doodling. Here’s just one of the design variations I came up with:

free motion quilting | Leah DayPlaying with all our Edge to Edge Designs and figuring out all their potential has been on my To-Do list for far too long. I just need to sit down and start experimenting with these designs to see what they can do!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a really simple design created by first stitching the wiggly lines, then travel stitching back into the space between and filling it with gently curving arch shapes.

It’s really not a difficult design and it’s great practice for stitching controlled curves within a small space.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This family of designs are literally made to fit into long open spaces. They really work best in the sashing or borders of a quilt because these narrow spaces are so easy to stitch down, filling up with this pretty texture.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. You can’t miss the horizontal or vertical texture of this design! Even a 2 directional texture can be exciting on a quilt if you know what to do with it.

Suggestions for Use - Of course I’m going to tell you to slap Channels and Paths right into the borders of your next quilt! It will create a nice, subtle texture that will allow your quilt blocks to stand out, but at the same time not be deadly boring to the extend that the borders look like they were a design afterthought.

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

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, October 21, 2011

Start Quilting NOW!

Are you still on the fence about free motion quilting? Have you been waiting for divine intervention to take over and suddenly make sense of the mystery? Do you only dream of pretty stitches and finished quilts?

Wake up! It's time to stop waiting and start quilting!

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: The best way to learn is to stitch 1 design. I've put together a great beginner tutorial over at Sew Bittersweet Designs stitching a giant, super simple version of stippling over this little quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah DayIf you want to start free motion quilting - stop waiting! Go read this post at Sew Bittersweet Designs, then go cover a 1 yard quilt with this giant, super simple stippling.

Let's go quilt,


p.s - Yes, I will be sharing a video on this next week as well as another review of the Janome HD 1000, the machine it was quilted on!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 333 - Stone Portals

Let’s blast back into the past to Day 200 when I created a texture called Microscopic World. What would happen if that design suddenly went all square and boxy?

free motion quilting | Leah DayIs it me, or is time speeding up? It seems like I’ve blinked and suddenly we’re on day 333! We’re almost through with the original goal of 365 designs. Even though it’s taken more than double the time I was expecting, it has been a very fun, very challenging project.

Make sure to share the project with a friend today and so everyone will know about all the fun designs they can find here!

Difficulty Level - Advanced. Stone Portals is stitched in two parts: first the stone “wall” is stitched with various sizes of squares stacked together like Cubing, then you go inside and fill the inside space with Circuit Board.

Design Family - Foundational. This family of designs is really interesting. They're very different from other free motion quilting designs, but the basic rule is easy to understand and memorize: start with a foundation then fill from there.

In this situation the foundation is the lines of squares which you can take throughout your quilting space, or stitch in simple clusters at a time.

Directional Texture - No Direction. Graphic designs with straight lines and sharp angles tend to have a very flat, directionless texture. This doesn’t mean they’re ugly, they’re just different and will look very interesting on the surface of your quilt.

Suggestions for Use - Ever considered making a science fiction inspired quilt? Stone Portals, Wobbly Cosmos, Flowing Glass, and Edge of Reality would all make excellent designs to combine together to make a futuristic quilt.

Back of Stone Portals
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts
and send in a picture to show it off!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emergence - Part 4 - Fighting Boredom

Let's get back to Emergence and see how she's looking on the tables today:

I'll be honest - I really haven't been working on her much for the last few weeks. October is always a busy month and so far I've let that be my excuse for curling her up in a ball behind my machine.

But that's not the real reason why I'm avoiding this quilt. The real reason is - I'M BORED OUT OF MY MIND!

There! I said it! Cat's out of the bag.

Here's the deal: I've been quilting in one basic way for more than 2 years now. I pick a filler, I have a space to fill it in, and I stitch that one single design into the entire space on a tiny 1/8 inch scale.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt takes forever to stitch this densely. I try to break up the fill spaces with pretty trapunto motifs and make them small so I can change fillers often, but for the most part, I'm spending hours and hours and hours stitching the same design over and over again.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. All the monotony is giving me time to think about how I want to change my quilting style. I want to feel more free to experiment with filler designs, different threads, even different needles. What would it look like to stipple with a twin or triple needle?

Even more essential is the questions about the fillers themselves: which fillers can blend into one another seamlessly? What if one stands out like a sore thumb? What happens then and how do you deal with the unpredictability of all this texture?!

The more I think about it all, the more I realize that I'm in a rut.

I've been stitching the same way for 3 years, and while I have created loads of designs to play with, I really haven't experimented much with HOW to apply them to a quilt.

I haven't had time! I've been too busy coming up with hundreds of fillers, I haven't had time to play and experiment with them in blocks or quilts.

To a large degree, the original goal of 365 designs has kind of tied my hands to one and only purpose to this blog - new designs. I have definitely wanted to do more, to show the designs in different ways, and to experiment with them, but meeting that original expectation has always been more important.

free motion quilting | Leah DayYes, this looks beautiful, but no, it's really not all that much fun to do.

So maybe that's the lesson this quilt is teaching me. The monotony of stitching these designs is finally cluing me into what has to come next.

I've got to throw off this mantle of boredom and stop taking the easy, deeply rutted road of what I know, and start experimenting and trying new things. It won't always be easy and it won't always look great, but it will probably be a lot more interesting than stitching the same thing over and over again!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 332 - Pea Gravel Path

We’ve finally made it to the last of the Quilting Arts designs! This was the last design originally published in the In Stitches eMag back in June 2010, and out of the 9 published, I think this one is my favorite:

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt’s hard to say where Pea Gravel Path will work best in your quilts because it’s so oddly quilted. I think the best advice is to place this in an area that’s open and uncomplicated so you have more than enough space to fill in with the simple spirals and the circles.

This is one of those designs that I really need to go back and experiment with to really see what it can do and where it will work best. I’ll admit - even I don’t know exactly where all the designs will work best and experimenting with them is something I really hope to have time for in 2012.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This design is not impossible, but is can be tricky. You first want to start by filling your quilting space with the curvy spiral lines, densely enough that you can then stitch back into each area and fill it with the large, oval circular shapes. Play with drawing this a bit, or even marking the initial spiral designs to make sure you don’t get stuck in an area of your quilt with no way to get out!

Design Family - Foundational. This design family always starts with a single line that then forms the base of the rest of the design. In this situation the base is the curving spiral paths, so focus your attention on forming that part first, then filling in the in-between area with pea gravel.

Directional Texture - All Directions. This definitely makes for an interesting texture! Make sure to place this design where you want lots of focus and attention because all the travel stitching and thread play is certainly going to attract your eye.

Suggestions for Use - The texture of this design really can’t be beat, so I think the best place to use it would be on a plain, solid fabric. Stitch it up over 16” of fabric, then finish the edges and fold it up to create a handy clutch style bag!

Back of Pea Gravel Path
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts
and send in a picture to show it off!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 331 - Light Bulb Leaf

Remember Hosta Leaves from last week? That design was created using wiggly leaf shapes and tear drops to create a flowing leaf like design. Now let’s combine those two shapes together again, only this time in reverse to see what happens!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
As you can see, when you stitch a wiggly leaf as a long and skinny shape, it starts looking like a flame shape and when combined with the globe-like tear drop, it kind of looks like a light bulb!

Putting the two designs: Light Bulb Leaf and Hosta Leaves side by side, can you see how the two are made with the exact same elements, just reversed?

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow let’s learn how to stitch this new version in free motion:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design really isn't that difficult. Just focus on first stitching a simple flame shape, then pivot and curve around with a basic tear drop shape. The nice thing is the tear drop shapes stack easily together so this design should fit nicely in any area of your quilt.

Design Family - Pivoting. This family of designs all work by starting with an initial shape, then pivoting and echoing, either with the same shape or a new shape, to create an interesting design.

Directional Texture - All Directions. You can’t beat the flowing, free form texture this design creates on the surface of your quilt. If you like the curvy tear drop shape, consider adding extra echoes around the shape to make it stand out better on your quilts.

Suggestions for Use - Both Light Bulb Leaf and Hosta Leaves are going to be super fast designs you can quilt in a hurry. Another bonus is they’re not particularly feminine, so if you have some guy quilts to finish in time for the holidays, both would be excellent choices!

Back of Light Bulb Leaf
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler design in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it!

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 330 - Superstar

It’s a bird! No! It’s a plane! NO! It’s a Superstar!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI can’t resist my “super” designs! So far we’ve learned Super Daisy, and Super Spiral so now let’s add a Superstar to the mix as well.

You won’t be believe just how easy this Superstar is to quilt - just start with a basic star shape and go from there. Watch the video below to see what I mean:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. While it might look confusing, once you try to stitch this design, you’ll quickly see how easy it is. Just start with a basic star shape, then continue to expand the lines, building up rows and rows of echoing until you have a Superstar.

Design Family - Center Fill. This design starts in the center of your block and radiates out from there. If you’d like it to look like a large star on your quilt, start in the center and build it up until it’s the size you like, then stop quilting. If you’d rather the star fill an entire block, keep quilting echoes until the entire space is filled.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. This design is going to read flatter and more directionless than most center focused designs because of how the overlapping lines of the star end up looking a lot like a grid.

Suggestions for Use - The holidays are coming up in just a few months and that has put me into a simple gift making mode. One super simply gift that would also be a great way to practice free motion quilting would be a set of placemats. Stitch Superstar into the center of each placemat, then choose another design to quilt around the star so it stands out nicely on the surface.

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

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

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, October 14, 2011

Small Quilt Hanging Clips

Recently I looked at my walls in my kitchen, bathroom, kid's room, and studio and thought - I need more quilts on the walls.

Keep in mind these are not huge walls - they're small spaces that will hold very small quilts (max around 15 inches wide).

But small quilts are very...well...small and lightweight. It seems like such a ridiculous amount of effort to install a curtain rod system and stitch a sleeve to these quilts when the space is so small and the quilt weights almost nothing.

So I started searching, and searching, and searching...and eventually found this!

This is wall clip created by Command 3M. Unfortunately it's not a very common item so I couldn't find it in any local stores and had to order it from

So I ordered several packs and they came yesterday and, to my absolute delight, they work perfectly to hold lightweight quilts on the wall securely!

Unfortunately they are quite ugly. As Josh said: "Nothing looks cheaper than that white plastic." so I pulled out my acrylic paint and painted a set black, which looked much better.

Then I remembered my Jacquard metallic paints and painted Pewter over the dried black acrylic to create a clip that almost looks metal!

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe best thing about these is the fact that they put no holes in the wall. They stick nicely with the adhesive strip, which can last for years if my other hooks in the house are any judge.

On the wall these look great and hang my small Words Have Weight quilt perfectly:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI think these clips would be perfect for quilt guilds holding shows in spaces where you can't hang quilts on the wall (can't drive nails) etc. It's absolutely perfect for hanging quilts in all those little nooks and crannies of your house that can't support a full hanging system. I know I'll use these in my studio as well to quickly clip up a quilt or fabric to look at it from far away.

Unfortunately it's very hard to find these clips on Command's website (it was buried in the hooks section) and the lack of stores carrying them makes me think the company really isn't supporting this particular product.

So here's a note for 3M just in case this random blog post ever reaches their product or marketing department:
Dear 3M,

Just to let you know, you are marketing this awesome clip product all wrong! This clip is essential to quilters and crafters, but should be packaged in sets of 2 (not 1) and it should come in all colors of the rainbow, or at least in the metal finishes you offer the hooks in.

If you make this change, put a photo of a quilt hanging from the clips on the package, and if you sell it through quilting / crafting distributors, you will have a solid product that all quilters want!
Wouldn't it be nice if this company actually listened? Oh well, I'm off to paint the rest of my clips and get a few more little quilts hanging on the wall.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 329 - Hearts & Spirals

We might be heading into the holiday season (yep, it’s that time of the year again), but right after Christmas comes Valentine’s Day and this will be the perfect design to stitch in a heart day inspired quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Way back when I first started this project so many people would tell me either a) I was crazy or b) it was impossible. There couldn’t possibly be 365 different filler designs for quilting?!

But if you stop to think about all the different symbols and shapes we have at our disposal, and the infinite way these symbols and shapes can be combined to create designs, then you really have an unlimited potential for new designs.

In this situation, spirals and hearts come together in a simple independent design that will fill your quilts easily and quickly in free motion. Let’s learn how to quilt it so you can see what I mean:


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The spirals themselves are not difficult once you get the hang of them. Just focus on forming the shape, then travel stitching to get back out and start the next heart.

Filler Design Type - Independent. This design is formed with a leading line, much like stippling, so it will work in any area of your quilt, but especially well in the very tight, complex areas, such as around trapunto motifs.

Here’s an example of a very similar design, Cucumber Vine, stitched around a Snowflake Motif:

free motion quilting | Leah DayDirectional Texture - No Direction. Even though the spirals swirl around in all directions, this design doesn’t have any obvious directional movement. It’s an excellent texture for big scale quilting where the hearts and spirals can really stand out and show off.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have a quilt you’re needing to finish by Christmas this year? Consider quilting this design over the surface, but make sure to stitch the hearts around 4 inches wide, and make the spiral really big too. If you leave enough space between all the lines of quilting, your quilt will not only be finished quickly, it will also be super soft and cuddly as well.

Back of Hearts & Spirals
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler design in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it!
Click Here to support the project and keep these designs online forever for free!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dyeing Fabric and a Quick Finish

It's been a busy few months, but I'm happy to say I have found time for quilting and dyeing fabric!

First off - the quilt! This is Night Scape:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is a 24" x 36" wall hanging created for the Studio E Fabric challenge. It was a challenge to create a wall hanging entirely out of the fabrics they sent me from two different tone-on-tone lines.

While I really liked the fabric, figuring out what to do with it was a challenge! I finally settled on using the blue, purple, black, and green fabrics together to make a dark landscape that I could then quilt over with a variety of filler designs.

Since I figured the company wanted people to actually be able to SEE the fabric in these quilts, I quilted the sky with Flowing Lines, which leaves nice gaps between curvy lines of quilting:

free motion quilting | Leah DayWorking on this piece, I'm really starting to see that I need to stop making quilts for awhile and instead focus on experimenting with fillers. While I think it looks excellent, I'm getting a bit bored with my current application (i.e: fill every open space with one design).

It's easy to get into a rut with any hobby or craft because once you get good at doing something one way, why change?

The challenge really is to keep changing, keep trying new things, and keep an open mind to everything you see.

Case in point is dyeing fabric!

I'll be perfectly honest: until around 4 months ago, I had absolutely no desire to dye my own fabric. Living so close to Mary Jo's Cloth Store (literally packed with every color of solid or batik you could ever dream of) means I don't have to struggle to find the right color or style of fabric.

But then I attended a lecture with Patsy Thompson and...well...just go look at her quilts! Gorgeous, rich, luscious color! I didn't know fabric could look that way, but once I saw it, I knew I would have to try dyeing fabric.

I emailed Patsy and she hooked me up with a list of links to check out:
  • Patsy's dyeing tutorial - This is excellent because Patsy explains exactly how she gets those gorgeous colors all blended together. It's also a simple, no-nonsense approach that doesn't require a lot of tedious steps or a million chemicals.
  • The Lazy Dyer - This site rocks! Tons of information provided with excellent photos and I loved the experiments at the end where she showcases how color changes a bit depending on the fabric you use (who knew?!)
  • All About Hand Dyeing - Patsy just sent me the link to this site yesterday and I'm already addicted to reading every page. There's a lot more specific information. I especially enjoy her very clear photos with exact steps to recreate exactly that color or look. This is super important if you dye 2 yards, but then find you need 2 more of the same color!
So armed with information from Patsy Thompson and the Lazy Dyer, I've jumped into dyeing fabric with both feet! Here's a few of my very first pieces:

free motion quilting | Leah DayDeep Orange and Deep Yellow

free motion quilting | Leah DayRoyal Blue and Grape

In think with dyeing fabric it's important to have a main goal with what you want to make. Randomly dye just to get random colors is nice, but I doubt I would end up using any of it. Instead I've set myself the following goals:

1. Dye fabric that is dark enough to quilt over on video - I need DARK fabrics. Seriously dark. Navy blue, black, midnight purple, maroon - deep, rich colors.

2. Achieve predictable graduations - I want to know how to make fabrics blend and bleed together so they go from medium shades to dark shades.

3. Duplicate results - If I dye something once and follow the same steps, the same colors should result. If I get that perfect dark red color I love, I want to know I can find it again using the same formula and set of steps.

So bearing these goals in mind, here's a few of my experiments:

First I tried making fabric that blended green, blue, and purple together. I also wanted to see the effect when the fabric was wrinkled intentionally like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day- Before -
free motion quilting | Leah Day- After -

So you can see the wrinkles create lines of lighter colors. Interesting...

Now for something really weird! Not all the fabric I dye needs to be used for quilting. I'm also getting back into making clothes, and would love to use fabrics I've hand dyed.

Most of what I've read says to use only fabric that is Prepared for Dyeing that is usually marked PFD.

But what if you had a ton of white fabric that wasn't PFD? What if you had white fabric that wasn't just plain white fabric? What would happen when you dyed something like this:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is Vice Versa by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures. It's super interesting already, but when you add Deep Orange, Deep Yellow, and Fire Red to it you get this:

I literally squealed with glee when I pulled this out of the dryer - it's PERFECT! All the colors swirl together so nicely and I think it will make the perfect fabric for a nice skirt for this winter.

Here's a few more experiments with printed fabric:

This is Flor D' Luna by Gail Foundation and May Wood Studios. A lot more of the white showed with this print, so I dyed it with a combination of deep yellow and deep orange to get this:

Quite fiery! That might make a nice top to brighten up the rainy winter days to come!

Finally here's the last black on white print:
This is Michael Miller's Dandy Damask, which actually comes in a lot of different colors, but probably not quite like this:
The blue and purple dyed on this print actually looks a lot darker and richer in person. This will definitely be turned into a skirt or lounge pants very soon.

So that's it for today! I'm going to get Night Scape packed up and sent off to Studio E, and then get back into the studio to work on Emergence. I've been feeling so bored with quilting fillers over her that I think SOMETHING has to change. Might be weird, but it'll probably end up being a lot more interesting.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 328 - Triangle Universe

Let's keep moving through these Quilting Arts designs with Triangle Universe! Triangles, triangles, and more triangles come together to create a really neat design:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is one of those designs where I would mark the starting triangle first because it will be much easier to line everything up and keep the initial triangle baseline straight and even. Once this foundation is set, it’s a simple matter to travel along this guideline and branch out with new triangles evenly spaced into the center.

Have you spread the word about the free motion quilting project lately? Please share it with your friends! Feel free to share your favorite designs and even embed the videos onto your own blog or website. We love it when you do that!

Difficulty Level - Advanced. Don’t be intimidated by this formal looking design. It’s really not that difficult, especially if you take my advice above and mark your initial starting line.

Design Family - Foundational. Foundational designs always start with a baseline running throughout your quilting space. You can also set the scale of the design when you’re stitching this line so if you’d like your quilt to be soft and cuddly, just make sure you have at least 2 inches of space between the starting lines, then the second set of lines will not make your quilt too dense.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. This design creates a nice spiraling texture on your quilts that could contrast nicely with curvy lines or accent a straight piecing design.

Suggestions for Use - For some reason this is making me think of Indian batik designs. There’s no rule that says you have to use these designs for just quilting so maybe consider playing with fabric dying and batik. Mark this design on your fabric with wax, then dye over it to create beautiful textures and colors.

Back of Triangle Universe
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts
and send in a picture to show it off!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 327 - Topographic Map

After a long, beautiful birthday weekend, it's time to get back in the studio and get some work done! Here's a design you might recognize from the new book From Feathers to Flames as it heads the chapter on Foundational quilting designs:

free motion quilting | Leah DayTopographic Map was actually one of the very first Foundational Designs I ever created and it has set the stage for many beautiful textures. The inspiration was the texture on topographic maps that show the different elevations of land when viewed from an airplane.

Every time I tried to stitch a version of the design, I kept getting stuck in the design. Finally when I set an initial foundational line, I knew I'd stumbled on an excellent new way to form filler designs. Let's learn exactly how it works!

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This design is SUPER simple! Start with a wiggly line, and occasionally curve it back to create a single curvy bubble of space. Try not to cross this foundation as you quilt it throughout your quilting space.

Once you get this baseline set, all you have to do is echo! Travel stitch and echo this design multiple times until the entire space is filled.

Design Family - Foundational. If I was stranded on a deserted island and, due to a bump on my head, could only remember one group of designs to play with, I really hope it would be this one! These are the most innovative, inspiring designs in my opinion, and I know I’ve only just scratched the surface of what they can do!

Directional Texture -
All Directions. The texture you get with this design is entirely dependent on your starting line. If you’d prefer the bubbles of open space to not show up as much, stitch them smaller. If you’d prefer them to show off a lot, stitch them much bigger!

Suggestions for Use
- If you need a filler design to fill a quilt quickly and easily, this is the design for you! Start with the wiggly foundation, then echo leaving at least 1” between the lines of quilting. It’s sure to fill very quickly and without much fuss.

Back of Topographic Map
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 326 - Hosta Leaves

Thank you all so much for your supportive comments to my "No!" post! It's amazing how helpful writing it all out can turn things around. For many months I've felt bad for saying "No" to many business opportunities, worried that if I turn too many people down, they will all stop liking me!

But now I'm able to see that saying "No" to these things is essential. I want to be at home and teach online. Period. Running around the country (or world) will only take me away from where I want to be and what I want to be doing.

So speaking of teaching, let's get back on track with a new design! Looking at our recent Pivoting designs, I can see things have gotten pretty complex. Let’s simplify things a bit with this simple combination of leaves and tear drop shapes that make a pretty Hosta Leaf:

free motion quilting | Leah DayAgain, if this design looks familiar, it's probably because it was originally published in the Quilting Arts In Stitches Online Magazine more than a year ago. With more than 300 designs, it can hard to keep track of them all, but I'm quite sure we haven't repeated any so far.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is a very simple combination of shapes that come together to make a beautiful design. Focus first on creating the tear drop shape and then echoing with the hosta leaf shape. If you find yourself struggling to stitch the leaf shape properly, try drawing the design several times to get the hang of it first.

Design Family - Pivoting. The mother of all pivoting designs is Paisley, a fun design stitched with simple tear drop shapes. Get the hang of Paisley first, then try your hand at this design. Chances are if you can quilt Paisley, Hosta Leaves will be very easy for you to stitch.

Directional Texture - All Directions. Experiment with making your starting tear drop shape very short and squat, and also very long and wiggly to see how this will change the overall texture of the design.

Suggestions for Use - There are so many flower and leaf themed quilts these days that would look beautiful when stitched with this design. Hosta Leaves can easily fit in any area of your quilt, so don’t hesitate to try it around appliques, in your sashing, or even the borders of your next quilt.

Back of Hosta Leaves
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts
and send in a picture to show it off!

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Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

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