The Free Motion Quilting Project: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back at 2012, Moving Forward to 2013

Every year I take a day at the end of December to look back at the entire year and sum it all up. You can find last years post and links to several others right here.

It's kind of fun to read back through these myself just to see where my brain was, what I was working through. I can read through my own lines and remember exactly what was going on and how I felt at the time, and it's an interesting benchmark I pause to take note of every year.

For 2012, my major goal was to get over fear. My fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. My fear of not being a good enough teacher, or worse, a terrible teacher that could make pretty things, but not pass that knowledge on to her students.

My doubts could fill a lake and I can remember this time last year being on the brink of a mental melt down, totally filled with fear that everyone would hate the changes I was making to this project. I remember crying a LOT this time last year and it's a mark of how far I've come that this is actually funny now!

What was I so worked up about? Basically I had built up the switch from teaching design videos to the quilt along videos as some major, drastic change, on par with shutting this blog down completely. Maybe it was silly, and maybe it's weird to admit it here, but fear was a serious problem for me a year ago. It had the ability to lock me in place and stall my progress completely.

So the first thing I did this year was start stitching it out. Torrent of Fear is a goddess showcasing the debilitating, locked position of fear:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This quilt hangs in my guest bedroom and I look at it often. When I'm feeling scared about a decision I have to make, I take a look at it and ask myself - do I want to wait on this decision and let the fear to THAT to me? Or do I just want to make the decision and get over it?

So often I've waited to make decisions for fear it won't be the "right" one. A full year later, I can confidently say that there are no "wrong" decisions - NONE - the only wrong decision is not being able to MAKE the decision and make up your mind how you want things to go, how you want to live your life, how you want to make that quilt, how you want to quilt it.

These days, I don't stop long enough for the fear to lace it's fingers around my throat. I'm finally out from under that Torrent of Fear.

As for what I had been so terribly afraid of - changing this project - that now seems incredibly silly after a wonderful year of quilting along together each week. I was finally able to share more than just new designs in 4 inch squares. We learned wholecloth quilting, worked together through a modern quilt project from piecing to tagging, and learned 15 new designs along the way. All of these posts will remain well organized right here so you can easily watch the videos over again whenever you need to.

My teaching muscles were further strengthened last summer when I traveled to Denver, CO to shoot my class for Craftsy. I never really added up all the time I'd spent in front of a camera, but it has certainly paid off because filming the class was both easy and fun. You can read about that trip right here.

Teaching for Craftsy has also taught me many lessons on preparing and outlining a project for teaching online. It is honestly the single best class I've ever taught because it was so well organized and planned from start to finish. I'm usually pretty critical of my work, but I can honestly say there's nothing I would change about my Craftsy class.

This experience has really been invaluable and will definitely shape the way I shoot new videos this year. The fact is, every experience is a chance to learn new things and grow!

This year has definitely been a time of learning, growing, and changing, and I hope to continue this focus for the rest of my life.

Of course, every year will have disappointments as well. There are 2 major things that bothered me this year.

The first was my goal to make more goddess quilts. For the second year in a row, I've technically finished 1.5 goddess quilts. Torrent of Fear was #1, and The Duchess Reigns is #2, but still less than half finished.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Last year I set the goal to create 12 new quilts, one per month, for the entire year. That goal lasted a total of 2 months before I realized just how unrealistic it was.

Quilting for the quilt along videos, teaching, and finishing up UFO projects long on the shelf has left very little time to design new goddess quilts, even though these quilts are my most favorite to create.

I have found myself several times looking back this year to 2008 when I worked on the original Duchess quilt. Back then the major thing stopping me from finishing my quilt was my 8 month old toddler needing to be changed or fed. Four years later, I'm struggling to find time to work on Duchess Reigns because I have so many other projects to work on and honestly this huge wholecloth just isn't on the top of the priority list.

As for the other major disappointment for the year, it actually had nothing to do with quilting, but with yoga. At the beginning of 2012, a new yoga studio opened up nearby and I began taking classes regularly for the first time since James was born.

It wasn't long before I began looking for ways to deepen my yoga practice. When retreats popped up in my area, I eagerly attended and found the experiences deeply fulfilling, and I soon began wanting even more.

It's taken me awhile to admit it, but I would like to become a yoga instructor.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Why? Why do I want this? Why do I need this? It's hard to answer these questions other than the word "calling" is really the best description. I feel called to do yoga, to learn more about it, and yes, if it is open to me, to teach it and pass my love for this ancient practice to other students.

Living in a rural area of NC, yoga classes are hard to find, and yoga teacher training is even harder, but crazily enough, right as I was getting obsessive about the idea of becoming a pro-yogi, a local class began forming for a 9 month teacher training intensive.

But here's where my disappointment comes in - the class didn't have enough students by only 1 person. The teacher training ultimately didn't happen.

This has been a lesson in acceptance and patience. It wasn't the right time for this training to happen, but ONE DAY it will happen.

So looking at these two disappointments, I've taken the month of December to reflect and consider how I want to address this in 2013. Continue designing random quilts for the Quilt Along or make a stab at designing a goddess to teach with? Continue to hide my love for yoga and the light this brings to my life, or start sharing it fearlessly?

And while I'm at it, what about looking within my own home and how I can show love to my son and husband more openly?

Ultimately I've decided that this will be my focus this year! We will start this year working on this quilt, Express Your Love, which is all about speaking, showing, sharing your love with yourself, your family, your world.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Along the way of creating this quilt, I'm going to share certain yoga titbits I've picked up over the years, stretches and breathing exercises I use right at my sewing machine to open my heart and relax while quilting.

Already this quilt is changing how I speak to my family. Already I can see my focus changing from starting that new project to just curling up on the couch to play a video game. Already I can feel my face soften and the tension in my shoulders relax. Why have I been carrying around all this stress and fear for so long? It's time to put that down for good.

Of course all this chilling out has resulted in an total lack of videos being made in December. Between James being sick, me being sick, and the winter break, I never found time to make videos for January. We will literally be getting started tomorrow with nothing ready. Whatever I film in the morning will be going up in the afternoon!

Last year this would have filled me with a blind terror. Today, I'm okay with this because I understand one, very important thing: So long as you share freely, openly, and honestly from your heart, the world will accept, love, and thank you for whatever you have to offer.

That might sound hokey and a little "out there" but I have tested this idea many times this year and never found it to fail me.

And now it is time for me to thank YOU for being here, for reading and enjoying and sharing and participating in this blog project. It is an amazing experience to be able to share with you every single week and I am so very thankful that you are here.

Now - the nitty gritty of Express Your Love, the pattern, and other details will be posted TOMORROW so make sure to swing by and download so you can get started!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, December 30, 2012

UFO Sunday - Clean up and Get Organized!

It's the last UFO Sunday link up for 2012! How many UFOs have you managed to bust through this year?

I feel great about the many projects I've picked up and finally finished and the free, lighter feeling this has brought to my sewing room.

So today I'm taking my UFO busting attitude upstairs to the kitchen where a very serious unfinished project is in need of finishing:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Cabinet organization!

Josh and I have been meaning to do this for many months and were about driven crazy by the state of our pantry this holiday. Cooking big meals when you can't find half your ingredients is a recipe for disaster!

So the two of us (with a bit of help from James) pulled out everything and put it on the floor of the dining room. It helps to SEE all of it in one place, and YIKES! we sure do have way too much stuff to go back in that cabinet!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Part of this project will be cleaning out and moving canned goods to the basement or bagging them up to go to James's school for a food drive. The second part will be going to Lowes and finding a better system to store and organize all this stuff in that cabinet. I'm thinking it's time to pull out the drill and hammer and make some modifications!

So that's what we're busy with today. What are you working on? Let's link up with the latest UFOs you've worked through this week!

See ya next year!

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Quilt Along Recap

Yay! It's the last Quilt Along link up of the year!

We've had a wonderful year linking up and sharing free motion quilting triumphs and tribulations, working through projects big and small, and sorting out everything from a puckering quilt top to a ugly stitches.

I consider the Free Motion Quilt Along to be a wonderful success because not only have you guys learned a whole lot, I've learned loads about teaching on video and sharing more effectively here online.

In case you'd like to see a "before" and "after" for me, all you have to look at is this video from last year:

Now compare that video to this one:

So we've all learned a lot and grown this year as quilters! Now let's link up and see some "before" and "after" shots from everyone that has quilted along this year:

Now you might be wondering what is to come in 2013. Rest assured, you will still find a wonderful place to link up and share your quilting progress here each week.

But a few things will change:

- Free Motion Quilt Along will now be linking up on Fridays to become Free Motion Quilting Friday (FMQF).

- We're no longer going to stick to a lesson format. On Fridays, I'd like you to link up with ANYTHING you have free motion quilted in the past week. I'm hoping many more quilters will jump into sharing, even longarmers because we would all enjoy seeing a lot more quilting in real quilts!

- The last point rolls nicely into this one - we will be having many more videos! I want to branch out with a lot more techniques and fun new designs and these will be posted a lot more often during the week.

I'm wanting to free myself from the stress of being a perfect teacher (impossible goal anyway), and instead move into the role of mad quilting scientist - I want to experiment with weird materials, paints, dye, multiple fibers, and of course, loads of new designs.

In fact, I think it's high time I set a new design goal to work towards here on the Free Motion Quilting Project. How about 1000?  It might take 5 years, it might take 10, but one day we will reach 1000 designs!

So understand that I don't expect you to follow along perfectly with me in 2013. I want you to try out designs and techniques as YOU see fit, as it works with your life and the quilts you're working through.

During this process, I'm going to be working on Express Your Love, a beautiful goddess quilt that is hopefully going to combine my love for teaching, self improvement, and experimental quilting all at the same time.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is going to be a wonderful year of learning, sharing, and exploring the wonderful world of quilting! I can't wait to get started!

But we still have a few more days of this year to go, and this is always my favorite time to work through a big project. I'm off to finish outlining Duchess Reigns and I'll see you again on UFO Sunday!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very happy Merry Christmas!

James and I filmed this funny puppet show yesterday with Uncle C. and James really wanted to share it with everyone. It's not exactly a Christmas story, but we had tons of fun filming it together. Enjoy!

Remember, your friends will always forgive you if you say you're sorry and you remember not to bite them again! LOL!

Let's go have fun!

Leah, Josh, and James Day

Monday, December 24, 2012

Duchess Reigns Part 7 - Marking, Clipping, and Basting

Happy Christmas Eve! While I haven't been blogging about it much, Duchess Reigns has actually gotten underway and it's high time I catch you up on the details. One of my goals for 2013 is blogging more currently - i.e sharing with you exactly what I'm working on as I'm really working on it.

Back in November I stalled for a bit to stitch out samples of the quilt, to test a technique I plan to use later in the process, and to make sure everything will look good in the end.

All the months of planning and designing and fiddling with this quilt have paid off because it's now moving very smoothly. Here's a photo recap of what has happened since we last checked in:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The quilt design was taped together and the top marked using 8 Fine Line Pens. Yes, I ran through a full 2 pens per quarter, which might seem like a lot, but there is a lot to mark in this quilt top!

After marking, which took around 5 days of steady effort, I basted this top with Quilter's Dream Deluxe Polyester batting. I'm using the deluxe thickness because I want the trapunto to be quite puffy and stand out nicely against the background.

At this point, the quilt is just a quilt top basted with one layer of batting and it went on the machine to be quilted with water soluble thread. Here's a video I shot right at this time to explain a bit about the process it was in at the time:

After quilting through the outlines of all the motifs, the quilt was ready to come back off the machine and head upstairs to be clipped. This is absolutely posItively my favorite part of trapunto. I LOVE to clip!

But during this time I had several projects all coming to a close all at once and my guilt button got a serious trigger - how can I sit and enjoy clipping when I have all that work waiting for me on the computer?

Finally I did the sensible thing - I made a list of my project in order of priority and knocked out the most important quickly and efficiently. Ah! Now I can enjoy this quilt again!

I did shoot another quick video of the clipping you can check out right here:

In essence, I'm carefully clipping away the background to leave batting (held in place with water soluble thread) only in the places that I want puffy. I'm choosing to have all the feathers puffy, outlines to the lion heads, border lines, etc. so all these places need the batting to be left in tact.

Yes, clipping like this is very time consuming and tedious. You have to be very careful not to clip through the quilt top, which is VERY easy to do, especially if you get into a hurry.

So I was careful and patient and only snipped the quilt a tiny bit in 2 places, which will luckily be covered in filler quilting so they shouldn't hurt the integrity of the quilt. As I've said before - show quilting isn't perfect and mistakes are definitely made in the process, so the key is knowing how to hide them!

After the quilt was entirely clipped, I shot this pic of it hanging on my big design wall:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This stage is super exciting because the quilt is finally ready to go! I prepared my backing and another batting - this time Quilter's Dream Polyester batting in the SELECT thickness. I've found that the request can be a bit too thin and the deluxe is too thick, but the select is just right for the main layer of a wholecloth quilt.

While basting, I encountered some issues with the quilt top, most notably that it didn't want to lay flat, even after a lot of smoothing and squishing with my hands, which has always worked in the past. So I pulled out some masking tape and clamps and stretched the top just the same way I stretch the backing while basting.

I shot another video to explain a bit about this basting process:

So the top was stretched nicely and most of the puddles and pleaty areas were sorted out, but I could tell this quilt is going to have some issues with baggy, puddle fabric in places around the feathers.

Is there something I should change to prevent this problem? It's hard to say. Personally I accept that with a 70 inch wholecloth with dense and intense puffy areas, there's just going to be some tricky spaces in the quilting. I kind of go into a quilt like this understanding there will be tricky areas and just with a willingness to accept and work on them.

It might be a question I should send to Cindy Needham. I recently took Cindy's Craftsy class Design It, Quilt It and found her basting method to be much more complex than mine, which might explain some of the issues I'm having.

The basic rule I sometimes fail to remember is that a bed quilt is not a show quilt and a show quilt is not a bed quilt. I get into the mode of basting with one method always and the fact is, it just isn't going to work for every single quilt I make.

So what is next for this quilt? Outlining! Last night I managed to get the center medallion finished up. Because the front is so covered in markings and pins, I flipped it over to the back so you can see the design clearly:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Why is this just outlined and not filled? You'll just have to wait and see!

Let's go quilt,


Sunday, December 23, 2012

UFO Sunday - The Habit of Finishing Projects

It's UFO Sunday and I don't know about you, but I'm finally feeling like I've turned the corner on this whole unfinished project habit.

Back in August when I started this initiative, I had loads of projects that were all in various incomplete and chaotic states. I didn't even have an accurate count on all the projects needing to be finished. All I knew is that all my projects were very overwhelming and their combined weight was killing my love for quilting.

Where had all these UFOs come from? Well, we all know it feels great to start something new, but requires a bit more sticking power to stay with a project through the long haul. I'd gotten very good at starting new projects, but needed to work on seeing the quilts through to the very end, binding and all.

So it seems the first lesson for UFO busting is simple - stop creating new UFOs. Resist the urge to create new projects!

The second lesson is a bit trickier - build a habit for finishing what you start.

This requires a bit more effort than you might think. Big, complicated projects are hard to return to, particularly if you can't remember where you stopped, or how to get started again.

I've found the best possible helping hand is journaling - write about your project, how you feel about it, and what needs to happen next in order to move on with the project.

This has been a great help for me with the 365 quilt, which was stalled for several months because of one simple problem - I had no idea how I was going to handle the borders.

Four months later I STILL have no idea how I'm going to handle the borders, but at least the quilt is in one piece.  There's a bit more hand binding left to go and I'm hoping I'll figure out that border situation by the time it's done.  Journaling helped me to keep moving with this project and not let it totally stall out on minor details.

In a way building the habit finishing projects is a bit like building a muscle in your body. You have to start small with minor victories, then as you gain more momentum, really start flexing your muscles with harder projects. I can say for sure that sticking with a challenging project from beginning to end with no breaks for UFO distraction is a great feeling.

Ultimately I feel this UFO Sunday initiative has been a great success and I plan to continue these days in 2013. If you have a stack of UFOs in your closet that are begging to be finished, make the resolution to tackle these projects next year and free yourself from the overwhelming weight and stress of so much left undone.
Let's go Quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quilt Along #45 - Share the Love with Heart Confetti!

It's Quilt Along time and this is the last design we're learning for the year! Can you believe we've quilted together through 45 weeks of this year? It's amazing to see just how far everyone linking up has come from the beginning of the year!

For today, we're going to learn a fantastic heart design called Heart Confetti.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is kind of a blend of Pivoting and Overlapping designs because it contains elements of both and the great news is this design can easily work anywhere and everywhere on your quilts. I'd say the best possible choice would be to use this as an all-over design and quilt it over a big bed quilt using Quadrant Quilting.

For the Batik Beauty quilt, I choose to use it in the sashing, then expanded into one green block. You can see what I mean if you watch this handy video:

In the video, I began with a review of the tools and materials I use every day to free motion quilt on my home sewing machine. Here's the list: Supreme Slider, Machingers Gloves, Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washer, and Isacord Thread.

You can always stock up on these tools and supplies over at the Quilt Shop. All orders to the shop help support this project and allow me to continue making videos week after week, year after year!

Don't forget! We will be linking up next week (Dec 26th) with a review of the entire year, so if you'd like to share a "before / after" of your free motion quilting, or show off your awesome new skills, please plan on linking up next week!

Getting back to free motion quilting, you might be wondering how Batik Beauty finished up.  Here's a shot of the finished quilt: (You can click on this photo to zoom in for a better look)

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Chaos is probably the best word to describe it, but I absolutely love how this quilt turned out! It has been a UFO since James was in diapers and now it's finally quilted, bound, and I've enjoyed snuggling with it on the couch this fall.

Why was this quilt a UFO for so long? First reason is I knew the black background would be a great place to quilt and teach within a real quilt, but I just couldn't free myself from the idea that I had to teach one design over the whole thing. How much is enough to show how a design will look?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Around August or September - whenever I started UFO Sunday, I finally found the nerve to get over my crap about it. The black background fabric has been a wonderful high contrast to the white thread and it's shown up terrifically in over 15 quilt along videos.

So personally, Batik Beauty has been a wonderful learning experience on how to overcome my need for perfection and just use what I have, teach what I can, and allow it to be what it is without obsessing about it.

It is from this experience that I'm freeing myself to teach Express Your Love next year and finally pursuing my goal to combine my passion for trying new techniques, creating new designs, creating a beautiful quilt, and teaching and sharing it all online all at the same time.

It's easy to lock yourself in a box and place a hundred rules on a project. It's even easier to convince yourself that there is only "one way" to do something.

I think I love Batik Beauty so much more now simply because that quilt is now a testament to working outside of the box. Want to try a design? Stitch it a bit! Are you bored? Switch designs and try something new!

Why does everything have to make so much SENSE all the time? Allow yourself the freedom to pursue any idea, any design, any direction, any scale, and have FUN.

And to answer the last question you might be wondering - What will it look like if....?

The only way to answer that question is to try it! Stitch it out and see for yourself! Give yourself permission to experiment, and like any mad scientist - to have fun trying new things and exploring this amazing world of fabric, thread, texture, and design!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, December 17, 2012

Express Your Love

I've been sitting on this quilt design for several weeks wanting it to be a surprise for the new year, but honestly after the horrible events in Connecticut, I've decided that I need to share this RIGHT NOW.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is what I want to work on with you all next year. It is a goddess quilt, and yes, it's designed to be a wall hanging. I want to share the process of creating this project, learning how to quilt and fill it with multiple designs, both new and old, on a small scale.

The name for this quilt is Express Your Love, and the inspiration comes from my life and experiences. Basically this fall I began looking at the way I interacted with Josh and James - my family, the two people I can honestly say I love more than anyone in the whole world.

I asked myself a simple question - do I express this love to them?

And in a small way, I had to answer no. No, I was not expressing my love in a meaningful way. It is one thing to say "I love you." Sometimes that is enough and it gets the job done.

But sometimes words fall incredibly short. Growing up my mother would often call out "I love you! Have a good day!" as I was getting on the bus. This was always wonderfully ironic because everything she had expressed - her actions and words - had been nothing but dissatisfaction, anger, and resentment up to the point I walked out of the house.

To say it plainly - expressing love comes from more than just words, but how I act and react to my family every day.

And to say it even more plainly - I need to work on this.

I need to learn how to put work aside and listen to my husband with both my ears and eyes. I need to stop talking at my son, and get down on his level to see his perspective.

Love is so much more than kisses and hugs - it is respect and openness to another person. In a way, truly loving someone else is a selfless act because it requires putting yourself aside to pay attention and focus on them.

So I decided at the beginning of December to make it my goal to learn new ways to express love and I designed this quilt with this goal in mind.

The goddess is a simple, powerful figure holding the Earth within her hands. This symbolizes our world either literally or figuratively as our family can be our world. From her mouth, she is expressing her love, and for this quilt I chose to quilt within these spaces with powerful words that have transformed my life.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Simply put - this quilt is exactly what I need right now. There are layers of meaning here. Layers of ideas and stories and lessons I need to share.

So I know I want to go one step further - I want to teach with it. I want to share this experience with anyone who wants to join me.

This is introducing a new element I've never before attempted, and yes, this is slightly terrifying.

But I know that through this fear comes excitement and energy that I have felt lacking in recent months. I'm looking for something to share that MEANS something beyond just teaching you how to free motion quilt.

So I know I'm taking a risk with this. I know most quilters aren't looking for wall hangings, most of you don't want to fill on a small scale, and you might never have considered making a goddess quilt.

But I also know I need to do this and if I help even one single person by sharing this quilt, it will be worth it.

My goddess quilts have always had the power to transform my life. Sitting and stitching for hours on end, you cannot help but allow your mind to wander to the purpose of the quilt, the intention behind it, and what it will mean to you once finished.

After the events this weekend, I find it even more important to follow this nudge, to share what is moving me to be a better wife and mother, a better friend and woman. I'm going to express this love, to share and be open, and I hope you will join me for this journey.

More details on this project will be posted soon!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taking UFO out of Crochet

It's UFO Sunday and today I've picked up a wonderful little project for Tunisian Crochet:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've been learning Tunisian Crochet from this class on Craftsy with Jennifer Hansen. In truth, this wasn't a UFO - or at least the first washcloth wasn't. I started the project and worked steadily through while following along with the classes.

But then I still had a pretty big ball of yarn left over in the end, just enough for a second washcloth. Hmmm....

I could just leave that ball of yarn alone, but after three days of sitting on my desk I decided that leaving it was as good as creating a new UFO, and I can't have that!

So the second washcloth is in production and I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying tunisian crochet. It kind of a weird hybrid between knitting and crochet, both crafts I love, but for some reason this seems much faster.

I plan to do more crochet and knitting this year, but always with one clear goal - no new UFOs. I've known how to crochet and knit since I was around 12 years old, but I hardly ever finished anything. In 2013 I really want to turn over a new leaf with these crafts and begin making beautiful, lightweight garments like this butterfly wrap.

I figure if I can stick with a quilt through more than a year of tedious hand stitching, I should be able to crochet a sweater in a few weeks!

So that's what I'm working on this Sunday. What UFOs are you tackling? Any UFO resolutions for next year?

It's hard to believe we only have 2 more weeks until the end of this year. Between now and then I'm going to take a good look at my remaining UFOs and ask a serious question - Do I really REALLY want to finish this?

I'm going to honestly answer that question and if I really don't want to finish a project, I plan to send it to one of our awesome take-anything unfinished charities. Life is simply too short to spend it working on a project that isn't working, if you get what I mean!
Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Radio!

Yay! I'm going to be on Pat Sloan's Quilting Radio show on Monday!

Guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio, Hosted by Pat Sloan. Click here to learn more.

Pat Sloan is a super awesome quilter and designer and host of a fun, informative radio show. Next week we'll be chatting it up about free motion quilting and I might lay out a few hints about what is to come here on the project in 2013!

Don't miss the coming program airing on Monday at 4 pm EST!

Just in case you missed it, I've actually been on Pat's program before WAY back in September 2010. If you'd like to listen to that show, click here to find the list of Pat's previous programs (my show is #28).

Pat's radio shows are just like chatting it up over a cup of coffee. She's fun, easy to talk to, and clearly knows her stuff about quilting and running a successful business. I'm definitely looking forward to hanging out with Pat again on Monday!

Let's go quilt,


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quilt Along #44 - What a Starry Mess!

It's Quilt Along time! While I know this is a super busy time of the year, it is still possible to find those peaceful moments to hop on your machine and spend some time free motion quilting.

And to make it even easier, this month we're focusing on the easiest design type - Overlapping Designs - which require about as much thought and detail as a child's scribble drawing.

Last week we learned Cat Hairball Filler so this week let's focus on Starry Mess and see what happens when you overlap a simple star shape:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Make sure to watch this video to get tips on quilting this design on your next quilt:

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Overlapping.

So that is Starry Mess! Just remember that if you want the star shapes to be more clear and defined, just quilt them bigger with a bit more space between each one. You could easily expand each star shape to over 3 inches and cover a quilt super quickly with this design.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a more dense texture, understand that when you bring the stars together and overlap them intensely, most of the "star" shape is going to be lost in the shuffle of all those lines of quilting.

Just keep those two details in mind and play with this design in a few different scales before trying it out on a real quilt. The best way to know how a design is going to look is to stitch a sample of it on the same fabric your quilt is made out of, with the same thread you're planning to use on the real quilt.

And just a heads up - next week will be our LAST new design, and the following week (Dec 26th) let's plan to link up on all that we've learned this year. Maybe look back through your posts and take a minute to see how far you've come. Everyone linking up has made enormous progress and I'm so very proud of every single one of you!

So that's the plan for the rest of the month! Enjoy this time of family and fellowship, but also remember to slow down and find that quiet time for yourself on your machine. There is nothing more relaxing than creating something beautiful with your hands and tapping into that peaceful place in your mind.

Let's go quilt,


Sunday, December 9, 2012

UFO Sunday - Go with the Flow

It's UFO Sunday and I'm happy to report that I got my homework done early! The 365 quilt is now in 1 big piece:
This is actually 361 squares (19 x 19) because it turns out that 365 isn't a square number. Those last 4 pesky designs will go in the 4 corners of the quilt once I attach the borders. Still no clue how I'm going to do that...

But I have to say the marathon session last Sunday did definitely work. This quilt would NOT be in one piece had I not sat my butt down and forced myself to finish that last panel.

Still, there's something to be said for going with the flow of life as well. This is the second weekend in a row James has gotten sick, and this time it's the full blow flu.

It was a good reminder to me to just chill out on several projects. What does a finished quilt really matter when my kid is so terribly sick?

So this week I'm going with the flow. I'm not going to push my way through loads of projects. I'm not going to pick up anything new. I will use the time I am given wisely and maybe will be able to get through my work, and I may not. It's high time I slow down and be still for a bit.

How about you? What projects are you trying to blaze through this week, or have you also begun to slow down with the season?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sew South Retreat...and a few more big plans...

Whoo Hoo! I'm doing a happy dance for joy because I'm heading to Sew South Modern Quilt Retreat in March!

 This retreat is being organized by the wonderful Jennifer of Ellison Lane Quilts, a blog that is a continual source of pretty color therapy for me on the days when everything looks gray. Bright, beautiful, clean modern quilting is her theme and she does it VERY well!

I found out about this retreat from my fellow Craftsy quilting teacher Amy Gibson from her blog Stitchery Ditchery Dock. Scrolling through her side bar, I saw the words "Charlotte, NC" and "retreat" and knew I had to go!

And to add to my cup running over, when I signed up for the retreat, Jennifer from Ellison Lane asked very sweetly if I'd like to guest lecture for 1 hour at the event. Of course! I'd love to bring a few quilts and share about them. It will actually give me a good incentive to get my two big quilts in progress done by March 2013 - a nice deadline to get them rolling faster.

Now for the bad news - As this is the very first year of Sew South, Jennifer from Ellison Lane is keeping things small - just 50 participants, and yes, it's already full. If you're dying to go, just contact Jennifer and see if you can be put on the wait list.

As for more retreats / workshops in the future - I admit that I'm going to stretch my travel legs a bit in 2013 and plan to attend both AQS Paducah and Spring Quilt Market for the first time.

I've also decided to teach a workshop at Sew Much Fun in Gastonia, NC in March 2013. I do love to connect with students in person and feel this is such an important element to learning how to be a better teacher, both in person and online.

However, I'm still sticking close to home and do not plan to start traveling and teaching full time. I still feel the best place for me to teach is here online, where everyone can benefit from my videos, no matter where you live in the world.

When James is a bit older we might rent an RV in the summer and start driving through this beautiful country, hitting guilds and shows along the way. There's a great big world out there, and I'd love the chance to see it, show it to my son, and share and teach quilting all at the same time.

So lot's of big plans in the works! Make sure to check out Sew South and contact Jennifer if you'd like to be put on the wait list for that wonderful modern retreat.

Also if you're really hankering for a workshop in person, and willing to come to NC to take it, just contact Sew Much Fun to sign up for that workshop today.

Now speaking of teaching, I've got a handful of new videos to shoot so I have something fun to teach you all come January!  Better get off the computer and get busy!

Let's go quilt,


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quilt Along #43 - Cough Up Cat Hairball Filler

Yeah, I know I'm pushing the line of gross with the title of this Quilt Along, but I couldn't resist :-)

It's December and it's that time of year that everything goes a bit crazy and quilting can often be put at the end of a very long list of things that must be done by the holidays.

But this year I'm encouraging you to continue quilting and this month have prepared 3 of the absolute easiest designs to make this possible - Overlapping Designs.

What makes this family so easy? much have you doodled something that looks like this?

This is Cat Hairball Filler and it's literally just a series of overlapping loops that cover your quilt with scribble. In fact, Cindy Needham calls a version of this design Scribble, though she stitches it on a much smaller scale, more along the lines of this:

Still, both scales are worthy designs to learn because you never know when you'll want to let your cat throw up on a quilt...hmmm....not sure I'm exactly selling this design properly!

The truth is, this design is very fast, very easy, and will cover your quilt very quickly with a very unique texture. The hardest part of this design is actually SLOWING DOWN enough to keep your stitches under control.

Let's watch the video so you can see what I mean:
So ultimately Cat Hairball is very easy, but your stitches will easily become very long if you don't press your foot on that pedal or concentrate hard on slowing down your hands.

But isn't it nice to meet a design family that is like this? So easy it's nearly hard?  Just remember this is quick, simple, and best of all, it requires no thought. Just stitch it!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Chill

It seems this week my brain has realized that it's finally December and it's time to CHILL. I'm not sure why this happens every year, but it's definitely a pattern in my life. I work hard and steadily every single month of the year, but when I hit two months in particular - December and May - it doesn't matter how hard I try, I just can't keep the pace steady. I have to rest.

From what I know of yoga and just life in general, this is a good thing. I think we all naturally get crazy busy with family and friends and want to eat good food during this month because we collectively need a break from the day to day pattern of life.

December shakes us up, gives us super special days to be excited about, gives us traditions to participate in, or ignore at our choosing. I bet if you did a statistical comparison of December against all the other months of the year, it would probably be the least productive simply because work is not the most important goal or focus for the month.

So what is important? I've been asking myself this in my morning journal and throughout the day as I try to force myself through work that usually feels easy and effortless, but right now feels like trudging through molasses.

What is important? Is getting that project done really the most important thing right this second? Is grinding out another quilt really going to fix and finish the year in a successful way?

No. No, this doesn't seem like a good way to do things. This does not feel fun or easy or even healthy.

When you need a break, take a break! I'm reminding myself of this as I type it. I had to remind myself this spring as I felt a deep sadness over my grandmother's death that sadness is normal and I must allow myself to feel it.

Honor yourself and your feelings.

I guess that has been my mantra for the year and I have tried my best to listen to it. At times I've found my actions totally working in opposition to my feelings - adding more projects and work to my plate at exactly the time that I just can't handle the load.

Honoring how I feel at any given time has never been easy for me. I prefer to ignore my needs, I prefer to not remember that I'm a human who gets tired and I often find this lack of empathy is what causes me great pain, both physically and emotionally during these times of the year when I need a break, I need to rest, or I need to feel something hard that requires softness to accept.

There is always a fear that by giving in to a feeling, by honoring it, you will succumb to it, get lost in it and never return to the place you once were. Why slow down when you will only have to work harder to speed back up again later?

But what I've found is the opposite is actually true. Listening to that little voice that is asking for a break, that is asking for peace and less chaos, is an act of deep respect. By taking the rest, you are giving yourself a gift that your body and mind will return with a revitalized spirit and renewed energy when your break is complete.

So this week, after trying to white knuckle my way through several projects, I'm giving up.  I clearly need to rest and just STOP.

Today I'm going shopping for gifts and this weekend James and I will bake cookies, pack presents in boxes, rest on the couch, watch some movies

Let's go chill,


Monday, December 3, 2012

What is your favorite design?

This might seem like an odd question - What is your favorite design? - but surprisingly enough, it led me to an interesting connection.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've been busy designing and planning for 2013 and on Saturday I decided to make a list of my favorite designs.You might assume that my list would be very long, but it actually wasn't. All told, my list of favorites is around 25 designs.

But then I started looking at the list further and began to see a connection - every single design on the list was one I'd used significantly in a quilt.

So are these really my favorites, or just the designs I've gotten to know a bit?

If you think about it, a design you've used and quilted for 4 hours or 4 days is bound to stick in your head a bit. For your next quilt you might use it again because it will easily come to mind. "Ah! I know what to put here. I'll use Paisley!"

The more you use it, the more comfortable it seems until it's the design you use for every single quilt. It is your favorite after all, and favorite designs get used the most often.

But go back to WHY it is your favorite - it's your favorite because you used it in one quilt and got lots of practice with it!

As always, practice is the ultimate key. The more you stitch a design, whether it's on a quilt, a practice sandwich, a pot holder, or placemat, the more you stitch it, the more connections you will make with that design.

If you're feeling frustrated by free motion quilting right now, return to one design you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel comfortable with anything right now, pick one single design and start quilting it on everything.

So today take a look back at all the designs we've learned so far this year and see which ones stand out as easy and fun, and which still feel difficult or tedious. How much time did you spend working with them? How much space did you cover?

If you're looking to build skill in any area, with any design, the solution is simple - go quilt it!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

UFO Sunday - Marathon Finish

It's officially December. I'm not sure if I was fooling myself this year, thinking that somehow the holidays would be different, that this UFO program would somehow motivate me to finish many projects and open up the time and space to make gifts for everyone in my family.

Instead, it seems I've opened up the time and energy to simply finish the biggest and most involved projects of my life. That sounds a bit extreme....but honestly, I can pretty safely say that I will NEVER again quilt 365 separate squares and then bind them together again BY HAND.

Yes, I'm smiling. Yes, I'm happy. I'm happy because today I'm hosting a one-woman-all-day-butt-on-couch-hand-binding-marathon. By the end of this day, this project will have reached the next stage.

Why is this so important? Because I NEED to get through this stage. If it lasts even one day longer, this project is in trouble of becoming a lifelong UFO!

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, sit down and bust through a project. Just get it over with already! Just sit down, shut up, and do it!

It's really not so much difficulty with this as mind-numbingly boring and tedious. I mean, hand binding is really not knock-your-socks off exciting. The hardest part is just sitting with it through row after row of tiny stitches.

But that's what you have to do to finish a project like this. Stick with it! Keep going, keep stitching, keep moving, because if you stop, it's never gonna get done.

Now let's link up and see what UFOs you're busing through today!

Simple rules for UFO Sunday link up:

1. Post about a UFO you've been working on this week. A UFO is any project that you started and shelved at some point in the process. Projects from any craft (not just quilting) are welcome!

2. Make sure to share a link back to this UFO Sunday post or grab a button below to share.

3. Comment on at least 2 other linked up blogs. Help your fellow quilters work through a tricky part of their UFO by sharing your opinion and advice!

Let's go quilt!


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