The Free Motion Quilting Project: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

9. Pump Up Your Quilt's Intensity with Boomerangs

Let's talk intensity! In Tuesday's post on Micro-Zippling, I stumbled across that word and it perfect describes how I play with thread - on scales of intensity.

So if you remember back, Zippling falls into the Not Intense category. It had no travel stitching, no extra thread play, so the color of the fabric shines through quite a bit. This is a great design to utilize when you want a flat, matte background and the focus to remain on the fabric, not the design.

Today we're going to learn the opposite end of the intensity scale - Super Intense! with Boomerangs:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Boomerangs is a super cool stacking design that bounces around your quilting space with speedy, jagged lines. Because of the way the design is stitched, you can do tons of travel stitching and really build up your thread excessively.

And this creates an entirely different effect for your quilts!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

On the left, Zippling is on top and Boomerangs is on the bottom and on the right this arrangement was reversed. It's hard to believe it, but the exact same color of Isacord Brick was used for both spaces!

Now let's learn how to quilt this and see a close up of the stitches side by side:

So how do you know what a design will do in the Intensity spectrum? How can you best gauge what designs and thread and fabric will look best on your quilts?

Test it! You have to stitch up small tests of the thread, on the fabric, stitched in the design, in the scale you plan to use, pin it to a wall, step back and take a look at it.

Yes, even a bed quilt should be tested this way! If you're wanting a very pretty, special finish to your quilt, you definitely should take the time to stitch out a sample, pin it to the wall, step back and look at it.

Why step back? Because even on a bed, you're going to admire the quilt from about 10 feet away. And the effect of thread play like this is very different when viewed right up close and from far away.

So I hope this has helped open a whole new world of free motion quilting for you! It's more than just thread color and more than just designs, but their combined intensity on the surface of your quilt that really makes a huge difference.

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

8. Learn to Quilt Micro-Zippling

Whoo hoo! It's quilting time and I'm happy to report that I'm finally finished with all my secret quilting projects! It's time to get back to Express Your Love and start playing with something new.

What is this new thing? Thread color!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This section was filled Micro-Zippling in the pretty red Brick color of Isacord.

Yes, I warned you last week that I'm lazy and I don't like to change thread colors, but today I took a look at the black wholecloth version of this quilt and decided she needed some red, orange, and yellow thread in the background rays.

And to add to the fun, I'm also going to explain an extra design element that effects how the thread and design appear on the quilt - thread density. Basically it's not just the color that matters, but also the design you're using as well!

So Micro-Zippling is always going to appear darker on the surface of your quilt.

Why? Because it is a single line, Independent design that wiggles through the area without travel stitching. Because there is no travel stitching, the background fabric is allowed to show through more, making this design have a darker effect on the quilt.

Or maybe I should say "less intense" because the dark / light analogy wouldn't work if this was a white wholecloth...

Regardless, this is just one effect and the red thread looks quite good here. But what will happen if we use a design that incorporates a lot more travel stitching?

You'll just have to wait until Thursday to find out!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, January 27, 2013

UFO Sunday - Biting Off a Mouthful

It's UFO Sunday and time to check in on all those unfinished objects! It seems the only UFOs I'm getting done these days are knitting, crochet, or spinning related, which is good because I have a lot left unfinished in all of these crafts.

A few weeks ago I made the dangerous mistake of looking in my yarn bin and deciding to start using it all up in various projects. One giant ball of Lion Brand homespun yarn lead to a thought I have never had before - "I can make a sweater for James with this!" - and this is what resulted:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I have a new UFO definition for this kind of project - biting off a mouthful. In over my head. Got more than I expected.

Because trying to use up 1 ball of UFO yarn to make a sweater lead to buying 2 new balls (because 1 is absolutely NOT enough), and spending 2 weeks crocheting a sweater that my child will probably never actually wear.

Had James stood still for 2 seconds you would see that the sweater body is a bit big and droopy, but the sleeves are a bit short, giving this UFO monstrosity a bit of a bulky kimono look.

I didn't work off a pattern for this sweater but instead worked it generally off a crocheted granny square, which was fun in the pure-crocheting-designing-fun arena, but not fun in the this-needs-to-actually-fit-arena.

So I've learned my lesson. Next time I have some fabric or yarn and think I'll quickly make up some awesome project to use it up, I'm going to think twice and not bite off more than I can chew.

It's not that this wasn't fun to make, it's that at the end of all that work, I would've liked the sweater to look better or at least be something James wanted to wear. But speedy projects with the intent to "use up" anything are just NOT going to look good or be something my child wants.

They're going to look rushed and unplanned and lumpy. And who wants to wear anything like that?

So that's it for my UFO this week! I sure hope you have a better story of redemption and hope in the face of unfinished projects! Personally I'm going to put the lid back on my yarn stash and head back downstairs to quilt. At least I never have to worry about a quilt fitting properly!
Let's go quilt,


Friday, January 25, 2013

FMQ Friday - Stay Warm!

It's cold, icy, and gray in NC today and I'm staying warm by getting lost in my lines of quilting:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Nope, I can't tell you want this is for, but I can say that I WILL be done with all this secret stuff by this time next week!

Now you link up and share what you are free motion quilting on this wintery day (even if it's not winter where you live!)

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, January 24, 2013

7. Traveling and Filling Through Small Sections of a Quilt

As you can tell from the title of this post, this is kind of a complicated topic! Basically as I was filling Express Your Love with McTavishing, I realized I had an excellent second video right in front of me on how to move through a quilt with minimal thread breaks as you fill many small sections of a quilt.

Quite simply this is how I really quilt a real quilt.

I'm always getting funny questions along the lines of "so you taught this THIS way, but how do you REALLY do it?"

It's funny because I sometimes spend so much time breaking a technique or design down to make it simple to understand that I actually end up making it more difficult to understand because it's NOT the way I would REALLY do it in real life.

I've now learned my lesson, which is why it struck me as so important to turn my cameras back on and shoot this video on quilting through all those tiny sun sections all in one go. Here's how the quilt looked after everything was finished:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

And yes, I quilted this entire section - all those little bits of McTavishing - with 2 thread breaks for bobbin changes. That's it!

Now let's learn how you can do it too:

As you'll learn in this video, this technique works great if you're using 1 main thread color through most of your quilt. Traveling and filling with multiple thread colors in each section just won't work the same way because you probably won't want the different colors overlapping one another weirdly along those outlines.

Yes, as I shamelessly admitted in the video, I HATE breaking thread! This is the core reason why so many of my quilts are quilted in white thread. I'm lazy!

But understand why - being able to travel through a section and fill every area with one thread color is a huge time saver. When your interest is getting maximum bang for your buck, you like that thread color to show and don't mind the contrast, and you're in the mood for a lot of stitching, but minimal thread hiding, this is a good method to use.

I personally love the rhythm and flow that I can get into when filling this way. Had I picked the other background fills, I would be filling far more of those sections at a time with other designs as well.

At this point, however, I haven't yet figured out what other designs are going in those sections, or even if they will be quilted in white!

So that's another lesson - you don't have to have it all figured out to start with. Yes, a bit of planning will go a long way and I plan to sit down with this quilt tonight and stare at it on the wall for a bit to figure out where I want to go next.

Please understand that there is no wrong way to do this. Every quilt is beautiful. The point is enjoying the process.

Let's go quilt,


Download the free pattern for Express Your Love right here

Find the printed fabric (cheater cloth) panel right here at

Express Your Love Cheater Cloth Printed Quilt Panel

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

6. Learn to Quilt McTavishing

Last week we learned two ways to work with fabric paint - both over and under the quilted design which creates two very different effects for your quilt.

This week I felt the need to knock out a bigger section of the quilt. I was feeling like spending a few hours stitching in the background with an oldie goldie design I've loved for many years: McTavishing.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

McTavishing was actually the 2nd design I ever learned (stippling was #1), and I found it after a long Google search and clicking through various links until I stumbled across Karen McTavish.

All I can say is I found her awesome books - Mastering the Art of McTavishing, Whitework Quilting, and Quilting For Show, all at exactly the right time. It was 2008 and I desperately wanted to kick my quilting skills into higher gear.

And this single special design did exactly that! I suddenly saw that quilting designs could be far more than complicated stippling. They could have a simple step-by-step pattern and flow through an area with logic and reason.

In order to see what I mean, here's the video on how to place this beautiful design in the background sun rays of Express Your Love:

Feel free to play with this design anywhere in your quilt! McTavishing can easily fit into the background, the hair, body, or even the earth sections of the Express Your Love quilt, so have fun playing with this design and see where you will like it best!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, January 20, 2013

UFO Sunday - Unwind and Restart

It's UFO Sunday and it's high time I come clean and just honestly admit...

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Yes, I am a spinner.

I started hand spinning about a year ago and have slowly acquired multiple spindles, pounds of roving, and a whole lot of finished yarn.

Why is this a UFO? Because I'm really good at spinning large amounts of yarn, but I haven't been very good about taking it off the spindle and winding it into balls that can be plied or used in a real project. Rather than wind it off, I've just bought more spindles!

So today I'm wandering through the house and collecting spindles from every tote bag, bedside table, and nook and cranny I've stuck them in, unwinding the yarn, and trying to figure out what I will do with all of it.

I'm leaning towards plying all the yarn to make ultra bulky, art yarn, and then knitting up some super simple, super fast garments like this bulky vest. Regardless of what I do with it, I now have a nice collection of naked spindles to play with, which means spinning more yarn!
Let's go quilt (or spin),


Friday, January 18, 2013

FMQ Friday - Questions about Express Your Love

It's finally Friday and time to link up our Free Motion Quilting! Unfortunately I'm still mostly quilting stuff I can't talk about, so I can't wait to see what you guys are up to!

Recently I noticed a ton of questions coming in about Express Your Love and figure I should address them all right here.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
 The first question comes from Pat:
How do you get your design onto black fabric? 

Personally I transferred the pattern onto my black wholecloth fabric using a lightbox. First tape your pattern to the box, then tape your fabric on top, then mark the surface. I like the Sewline Ceramic Pencil or Fons & Porter Ceramic pencil for marking, but if you have a chalk you like that shows up well on dark fabrics, go for it!

Also remember that there's a lot of alternative methods open to you. You could use tracing paper and a wheel, you could cut the pattern out strategically and mark the outline of each section as you go. Really there's no wrong way to do it!

Do I have to make a black wholecloth?

No! I'm planning to applique a top using No Sewing Until You Quilt It. I'm planning to make a white wholecloth and dye it. I might batik dye a panel. I will likely stitch out a lot of designs on a Spoonflower panel.

Please understand that you will see MANY versions of this quilt this year. Do you need to make them all? No! I'm wanting several versions because I want to play with tons of designs and techniques and no longer have the stress of getting everything perfect the first time around.

The black wholecloth I'm working on right now is just one version, and it is possibly the fastest and cheapest method of getting to the quilting of this project without a lot of trouble.

Will you be painting the entire quilt?

No. I will likely paint a few sections, but not the entire thing. that I think about it...maybe! I might slather the whole surface with paint! It just depends on how I'm feeling the day I sit down to work on it!

Sunshine asked:

Have you ever used crayons (then ironed with wax paper) on a quilt to add color? It would take longer, require more effort but it might be softer? How soft or stiff are the Lumiere paints?

I have never used crayons on anything as big as Express Your Love. It might be something I play with this year!

As for softness, maybe we should form a scale from 1 to 10? I'm always getting questions about stiffness and it's a hard thing to describe.

So let's say a #1 is the softest bed quilt possible - Minimal quilting, big fluffy batting, and softened nicely after being washed 100 times in the washing machine.

That would make a #10 a rock hard, stiff as a board, fused quilt with enough thread stitched over it that it stands up straight on it's own and never droops.

So a quilt painted with Jacquard Lumiere Textile paints I would rate about a #6. It's not soft - the surface is definitely rough after painting and feels noticeably stiffened.  But the quilt itself is still pliable and bendable.

Maybe the rating thing is a bad idea. Really this is so subjective! What is stiff to me might be soft to you and vice versa. Really the best advice I have is to try it.

And no, I would never use this type of paint on a bed quilt. It's too rough, too stiff, and just not suitable for that job.

Lindaanngolzales asked:

Do I need to prewash the yard of the black cloth before working on it?

Yes, I would strongly advise you to prewash your fabric before marking or basting it to form the wholecloth.

The reason here is simple - cotton fabric does shrink. A wholecloth needs to finish flat in order for the design to be maintained. If the quilt shrinks after being quilted, the design will distort.

I personally have had experience with this and it's not pretty. This is a wall hanging / art quilt, and it needs to finish flat and straight, not wrinkled and soft.

Now you might be wondering why this art quilt / wall hanging would ever get wet. Why will it need to be washed?

#1 reason is marking - you want to wash those marks out. #2 is washing out everything else - starch, oils from your hands, etc - all of that does need to come out eventually with a final soak and block of the quilt.

But...if you really wanted to get around, you do not have to prewash if you absolutely swear you will never, ever get your quilt wet.

So that's it for questions on Express Your Love! I apologize if I'm being vague, but I really want you to branch out with this project and experiment and push your boundaries.

There will be many times this year that I cannot answer your questions because I simply don't have the answers. I'm trying new things right along with you, so I'm not going to know the effect of some of these techniques, or if they will even work, or if they will last the test of time and wear and tear.

What I am testing this year is my ability to move without direction, to try something without knowing the answer, and to stitch without fear of the consequences. This is all just thread and fabric and batting after all. What is there to be afraid of?!

Now let's link up and see what you've free motion quilted this week. Here's a few simple rules to this linky party:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, January 17, 2013

5. Quilting Over Painted Fabric

Gosh, I can't tell you how much I love working on this quilt with you this year! It's been so nice to walk into my sewing room and ask myself "What do you want to play with today?" That question had gotten a bit lost for me under the pressure of teaching perfectly, but now that I've found my creative wings once again, there's no telling what we will explore this year!

Speaking of creativity, one of the coolest ways to be super creative and create amazing effects on a quilt is to paint it.

Earlier this week we learned how to paint over quilted fabric and saw the effect this could give the Earth section of Express Your Love.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

In that video, I also painted the unquilted water section as well and left it to dry for a day. Now let's learn how to quilt back over that painted fabric because it has a totally different effect from painting over quilting:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Had I used a more contrasting thread color, or picked 2 colors to quilt on either side of the Ocean Current foundation, this could have been even more interesting. I love the shine and luminosity that comes from Jacquard Lumiere Textile Paints. It looks great on top of quilting because the light shines over the stitching and draws a lot of attention to the quilted texture, but not the individual stitches.

It also looks great with rows and rows of echo quilting on top as well. I guess we should call this the "stab" effect because your needle literally has to stab holes into the paint to form the stitches.

Unlike quilting over normal fabric, these holes won't close up completely, so there is one important warning about this technique - you cannot rip.

If you rip out stitching over painted fabric, you will leave a row of little dots behind. To cover these completely, you'll need to paint over them again. So for sanity and time savings sake, just try to stitch as perfectly as possible, and / or be willing to accept any minor mistakes so ripping isn't a necessity over this area.

Now if I haven't totally freaked you out about this, let's see how it works!

This is the first time I've used both techniques in one quilt and I have to say the effect is definitely worth playing with.

Now many quilters have written in to say that you don't have paint or don't feel like playing with it right now. That's okay! Please follow along with this project as you see fit. You don't have to try every design or technique unless you want to.

And just a little reminder of where everything is:

Click here for the free downloadable pattern

Click here to find the printed fabric (cheater cloth) panel

That's it for today! Have fun playing with this super cool technique and see all that you can do with paint, fabric, and thread!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WIP Wednesday - More Bobbins Needed!

It's Wednesday and I'm winding bobbins:

I can't believe I actually emptied 25 bobbins of white Isacord Thread in less than a month! Today I was back upstairs winding more because I'm quilting so much white thread I really should get a second bobbin holder and start winding double the number at a time.

I like to wind on this little SideWinder I picked up from Mary Jo's Cloth Store. It's small, relatively quiet, and winds bobbins faster and better than my machine. It's one efficient little piece of equiptment!

It comes with an AC adapter, but I usually run it off batteries on the kitchen table. I always use a spool stand, no matter what type of thread I'm winding because it always works better that way.

All told, it takes around 30 minutes to wind 25 bobbins this way. And yes, if you're seriously blasting through quilts in free motion, you can easily run through 25 bobbins in a month!

As for what I'm quilting with so much white thread...

Update - Yes, I can finally tell you about this project! This is the quilt I created for my second Craftsy class - Free Motion Fillers Volume 1. Click Here to learn more about the class and save 50% today!

This class features 50 filler designs quilted in this beautiful Woven Colors quilt. This throw sized quilt was fun to put together because the blocks are SUPER simple, and the solid fabrics really let the free motion quilting designs shine. Click Here to join in the fun of this great class and learn how to quilt 50 awesome free motion quilting designs!

I'm linking this beauty up over at Freshly Piece's WIP Wednesday. Check out other links and see what a huge world of quilters are doing on this Wednesday afternoon!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

4. Painting Over Quilting

It's a nasty wet, slightly muggy day here in NC, but inside I'm making the world just a bit more beautiful.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Yes, I meant that literally! I've taken my black wholecloth of Express Your Love and covered the earth with paint - Jacquard Lumiere Textile Paint to be exact.

I know I shared a tutorial on quilt painting last year, but this time I wanted to go about it a bit more systematically. We had these beautiful rows of echo quilting through the earth and I just felt like it would look so much better if the thread could disappear under a layer of paint.

So let's see how this works in this handy video:

I can't emphasize enough the importance of sampling. This Lumiere paint can be really tricky to mix and if it doesn't end up being the color you want from the first, it will be many layers before you find that right effect. Take the time to make a sample so you know exactly what color you're working with before throwing paint on the quilt.

Yes, in our next video, I'll show you exactly what it's like to quilt back over the painted section of blue water. The effect of both areas (paint over stitching and stitching over paint) is very different and it's neat to combine both effects into one small space.

So that's it for today! Paint or stitch something to make it a bit more beautiful!

Let's go paint,


Monday, January 14, 2013

Pat Sloan's Radio Show

Super thank you for all the wonderful comments to yesterdays post! Dealing with online negativity is going to be a lifelong UFO, but the key I've learned is to never let it stall me out for long. Just keep moving and growing and the Negative Nellies will just have to stick it in their ear.

If anything I think it's the most positive thing to keep moving because that will make anyone stuck and angry even more stuck and angry to know they can't get me down, break my spirit, or turn me into a shadow of themselves.

Speaking of moving and growing, I'm going to be on the radio today! I'll be on the American Patchwork and Quilting Radio Show today with Pat Sloan and we're going to discuss sewing machines.  

OPPS! Turns out the call is about Basting! NEXT month will be about sewing machines!

So if you're in the market for a new machine or you're just wanting to get the skinny on what to look for in a machine for quilting, definitely tune in at 4 pm EST!  Click here to listen live today.

If you aren't available to listen live, the podcast is listed right here.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thick Skin UFOs

It's UFO Sunday and time to take a look at all those Unfinished Fiber Objects we have around our sewing rooms and see what can be done about them in a single day.

I'll admit, my UFO busting is on pause right at the moment because I'm busy quilting through several big projects.

But there is something unfinished I'm working on today. I guess I would consider it an emotional unfinished project. I'm working on my reaction to negative reviews and nasty trolls online.

It may surprise you to find I actually get quite a lot of hate mail. The internet is a place where people can post hurtful things in a matter of moments completely anonymously and without ever being called out on what they wrote.

Consider this, at a public quilt lecture would you ever berate the speaker for not being precisely clear on the technique she used in a quilt she's shown? Do you ever get the opportunity to stand at the end of a workshop and rate the experience from 1 to 5 stars and tell the person, to their face, that you though their class "was like watching paint dry?"

I often get emails in solid caps, screaming at me about anything from using polyester thread to the way I press seams open. The people that do this kind of thing are absolute scum and they know they can write anything they want without ever being called out in person.

I consider my reaction to this kind of thing a constant work in progress.

Sometimes I manage to read something and look at it logically and remember that everyone has a right to express themselves, no matter how stupid and belligerent they sound.

Other times I react with equal parts anger and sadness, raging against the jerk that has ruined my day.

Regardless of how I react today, I know this will always be something I deal with online. There will never be a week I don't tick someone off for something I've done or not done perfectly. This will always be an unfinished project.

One day I might find the perfect solution to nasty people and finally have a solid reaction in the bag where I don't let a person's hurtful words reach all the way to my heart.

But until then, this is an unfinished project I'm just going to have to chip away at until my skin gets as thick as a rhinoceros!

Let's go quilt,


Friday, January 11, 2013

FMQ Friday Link Up - Show me something pretty!

It's Free Motion Quilting Friday and as you've probably picked up from my other posts, I'm crazy busy with a project I can't actually show you!

So while I can't show you pretty pictures, you can! Link up and share anything you've quilted this week!

Here's a few simple rules to this link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect!

Free Motion Quilting Project

Thursday, January 10, 2013

3. Echo Edge Stitching, design #381

Now that we've stitched some beautiful words and expanded them with echoing, let's tackle another foundational design. This time let's find a foundation within a line of the quilt, then echo off it to fill the space completely. I'm calling this Foundational Design Echo Edge Stitching and here's how it looks in the Earth sections of the quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

When it comes to picking your foundation, really ANY line can serve this purpose. Take a look at the quilt surface and see if there's any lines or shapes that you like a lot. Pick that as your foundation and echo it many times with repeated lines of quilting to fill the space completely.

Let's see how this works in the Express Your Love quilt:

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Foundational.

As you heard in the video, I'm not going to stick with Foundational Designs for an entire month as I'd planned because the fact is, this isn't how I work in real life! When designing a quilt, I sit down and think about texture and what I want to see on the quilt surface.

I hardly ever stitch even 2 designs from the same family in the same quilt. Not that that's a bad thing, it's just not what I do! So I'm going to begin sharing designs as they come to me, as they flow onto my design pages, and as I pick and choose which textures to stick in the quilt in any particular place.

Now a lot of quilters have mentioned struggling to print out the free PDF pattern for Express Your Love. I've included some extra printing instructions on the download page and here's some extra tips:

#1 - Download an updated version of Adobe Reader. Older version will not be able to handle printing a poster sized PDF.

#2 - Open the PDF and click "print." A box will pop up and you want to look for "poster" or "tile pages"

#3 - You'll know you have it right if you see the full image of the quilt split into 12 pieces

I hope that helps! If there is interest, I can check into getting large, poster sized patterns printed. Let me know in the comments if you would like to be able to buy the complete pattern in one big sheet for around $7.

Let's go quilt,


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WIP - Slow Progress on Big Projects

Could someone please rewind time and take us back to the beginning of December and give me another month to work on projects, PLEASE??? I'm missing those wonderful days of the holiday where I all had to do was eat cookies and quilt.

Wait a minute...that wasn't last month, that was December 4 years ago! Lol!

It seems time is the commodity I am suddenly short of, and that's a shame because I have so many beautiful projects in the works. I did get some progress made on each of them, but as of today they're all being rolled up and put in a corner of the sewing room, not to be touched until the middle of February.

Between an upcoming vacation, secret project, and making videos, there's just no extra time for any other projects. These two are just for me personally, so they're the first to get the ax.

But I did get a little bit done on both so I don't feel too bad for setting them aside. On Duchess Reigns did get her trees stitched, and I also started on a corner Lion head / flame feather set:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Beautiful? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. Wondering if I will ever get through with this outlining process? Most definitely yes.

Speaking of so-time-consuming-I-though-I-was-in-purgatory, I've finally finished ALL the hand binding on 365 this week. 361 pieces are connected together AND hand bound on the back to seal up all raw edges. I even have a plan for the borders, but it will have to wait.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So it's curled up in the corner of the sewing room like a sad puppy. I'll get to it later, I promise!

What exactly is pushing me to the brink? Well...that's the thing...I can't tell you because it's a secret. Yeah, I hate secrets too, but I can at least share a shot of the fabric. Pretty huh?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is getting sliced and diced today and maybe in a month or so I'll be able to show you what it's going to be!

So this is what I'm working on today. What are you working on? Link up over at Freshly Pieced to share your WIPs!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2. Echo Quilting Around Positive Words

On Thursday last week I started off our new Free Motion Quilting Project with a tutorial on thread painting positive words into your quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This week let's learn how to echo around those words, filling the area completely with gorgeous texture and color. Yes, I broke thread and switched to blue, which isn't quite as clear on video, but the 2 tone combination really rocks:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now let's see how it's done in this video:

Just in case you've missed the links, you can download and print a free copy of Express Your Love right here.

You can also pick up a printed fabric panel from Spoonflower:

Keep in mind, this is NOT the only way to put words on your quilt! We're going to learn lots of other ways to add words, from hand stitching to beadwork to couching this year. Personally I like the speed of adding letters and echoing by machine, but hand stitching embroidery is also a wonderful way to slow down and connect with the quilt.

So that's it for today! Definitely give this technique a try and remember we'll link up Friday with whatever you've free motion quilted this week!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, January 6, 2013

UFO Sunday - Step away from the insanity

It's UFO Sunday time! What UFOs are you busting through today?

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I took some time this week to finally piece together this little 8-bit self portrait. Each piece finished at 1/2 inch (Pinmoor on the surface for reference). Yes, this was insane.

When I cut it out I was thinking "I'll whip through this in no time!" and in reality, not Leah's-fairy-tail-maximum-efficient-universe, I cut it out and left it on my sewing table for 3 weeks in tiny, horribly venerable pieces.

So getting it pieced felt good because I can finally throw junk back on that table without fear of 1 inch pieces blowing all around the room and having to scramble to put them all back in place properly.

I plan to design two more portraits for James and Josh and put the three of us together into some sort of quilt with our favorite 8 or 16 bit video game characters like Super Mario Brothers, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong.

As for the rest of it, yes, it's now a UFO. I'm feeling very overwhelmed at the moment and the idea of piecing just isn't appealing when I have a literal mountain of quilts to quilt. This UFO will have to wait for now and I can use the wonderful excuse of letting it "gestate" as I plan out the rest of the design in the back of my head!

So that's what I've finished this week! What are you working on? Any UFOs you've busted completely

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Simple Heart Opener and Reality Check

I attended a wonderful yoga class and found this pose most beneficial this morning:

This is a simple heart opener, which means when you hold this pose you should gently stretch the muscles in front of your heart, across your ribcage. When I sat for this photo at the end of class, my instructor reminded me to clasp my hands firmly, press both palms together, and bring my elbows together as well, a step I'd been missing. Holding it, I could feel my chest open up and it was suddenly easier to breathe.

I tend to curl my body forward and around my heart, which means I really FEEL a pose like this! Another instructor always reminds me to open my heart, both literally and figuratively. Curling up is partly a habit from crafting, and might also be a reflex from being hurt in the past and wanting to curl up and protect myself from more harm.

After quilting the words "I have an open and willing heart" I'm finding myself drawn to heart opening poses and twists that stretch and move this area. Sometimes when stretching and trying to open this area, I feel waves of anger or sadness, usually accompanied with a memory I don't really want to revisit.

I'm not meaning to dredge stuff up. Seriously, I did my digging back in 2011 and found it only dug the hole deeper and deeper. That's why I set Sinkhole on fire.

But stuff still sometimes comes up. While stretching today, I suddenly began thinking about the past and why I'm struggling to let these memories, and their accompanying pain and anger, go.

While in another pose I suddenly had the thought - No one is making you angry or hurting you right now. Right now you are here in yoga class, enjoying this stretch. So why are you feeling angry and hurt? This is not real.

The "this is not real." was really interesting. It was a bit like a lightbulb in my head went off. Yes, the pain is real, yes, I was hurt in whatever painful memory, and yes, it sucks to revisit it.

But it isn't REAL because it isn't happening RIGHT NOW. I'm feeling pissed off and hurt, and that event happened YEARS ago! Drop it Leah, that pain is fake!

So I dropped it, reminded myself where I was and finished class with a single goal - next time a bad memory crops up, I'm going to give myself a reality check. Where am I? Is this happening now? Is there any benefit from getting angry or sad from this AGAIN?

Thoughts are habits and this year, I want to build a habit to open my heart, see and feel what is happening right NOW, and stop these painful memories in their tracks. You know that saying "You are what you eat?" I think another good one is "You are what you remember." Let's make good memories today!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, January 4, 2013

FMQ Friday: Let's get quilting!

Yay! Our new Free Motion Quilting Friday linkup has finally started!

Just in case you've never linked up before, here's some simple steps to get started:

1. Write your blog post and feature some free motion quilting you've done this week.

Remember, your post doesn't have to have anything to do with the videos / tutorials I've posted to the project this week. It can be ANYTHING you have free motion quilted so anyone and everyone can link up!

2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post:

3. Click the blue link up button below and follow the directions from there.

As for what I'm free motion quilting this week, right now I'm in the design phase on several new projects, and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the state of my big projects.

Duchess Reigns is looking like a shot polar bear all stretched out on my table.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

365 is looking like a sleeping giant all wrapped up next to the couch.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So that leaves Express Your Love on the machine, looking like she needs a lot more stitching!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I'm feeling overwhelmed because I haven't had time to quilt today. It's one of those taxes / computer work / quilt design days that I can't pull myself away from the computer. I'll have to find a way to separate my hands from my keyboard because they're itching to quilt!

Now it's your turn! Here's a few simple rules to this link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect!

Free Motion Quilting Project
Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, January 3, 2013

1. I Am Enough and Other Positve Words

It's time to get started on Express Your Love! I've decided to number these posts this year simply because it's easier to refer back to and list everything in order. I will also be numbering designs starting from 381 and adding them to the original design pages right here as we learn new ones. I hope it's not going to be too confusing, but there's a lot of content here and it's hard for even me to keep track of it all without numbers!

So today I want to share with you some very powerful words that I'm learning to live.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I Am Enough.

I first saw these three words on the front of an Artful Blogging magazine and bought it simply for those small words in the left hand corner of the cover. It's like those words shouted at me - Hey you! This is what you're searching so hard for!

The article in the magazine showcased an amazing blog project started by Tracy Clark, which shares the stories of people finding the power and acceptance in the simple words I Am Enough.

At the time I found these words, I couldn't say them honestly to myself. In every area of my life I could only see where I wasn't measuring up. I worked hard every day, but I could always work harder. The joy I found in work was always tainted by my slave-driver mentality.

It's been two years since I first found that magazine article and in that time I've learned how to practice compassion and empathy. I say "practice" here with exactly the same meaning as practicing free motion quilting - I had to learn this from the ground up, and in the beginning, I totally sucked at it.

Compassion is accepting how you feel on a given day, giving yourself a place to rest, comforting yourself with a warm hug. Sometimes I would take a nap and wrap my arms around myself and say "I'm here, I love you, please rest now." Come to think of it, those would be good words to have in this quilt too!

Slowly I learned how to let go of that long list of all the ways I was lacking and began to accept myself for exactly who I am. I am enough.

The other words I've stitched on this quilt came to me the day I stitched them:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I have an open and willing heart.

These words popped up in my journal the morning I made the video. Basically I was writing about how I wanted to be more open to my husband, willing to listen and hang out the way we used to. At some point in the last few years, I just started working all the time, to the point that even when we watched a movie together, I'm always stitching on something.

James was the one that clued me into this behavior. You never PLAY. You're always WORKING. Why can't you hit the X button and come play with me? (James already knows that the way to close a computer program is to hit the X in the upper right hand corner).

I never realized it could be a problem to always be working, particularly when my work is creative and portable and can be taken along with me anywhere in the house. I didn't realize that if I'm stitching on something, that means half my brain isn't clued in to what is really going on, meaning I'm not really ALL THERE. My body is physically sitting there, by my mind is concentrating on the next stitch, not on interacting with my family.

So after being clued into my behavior, I started journaling every morning about it. It was honestly hard to put down my work. I love to be stitching on stuff, and it's comforting to me so how can this be bad?!

But my family needs more from me. So those words "I have an open and willing heart." that is really a reminder to be open and willing to change my behavior. Over Christmas, Josh began playing a new video game and I sat down and watched him play.

We used to do this together all the time, just sit and chat over the game and laugh at the story. At some point in the last few years, I began seeing this as a waste of time and stopped watching. Sitting down again, taking the time to BE THERE without anything in my hands was awesome. It's surprising to me just out separate I've felt, how lonely and distant, and the issue all along was my compulsion to be stitching all the time.

Finally, there is one last set of words I stitched this morning:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

My Cup Runneth Over.

Growing up, my mother often said: "I have nothing left to give." to explain why she didn't want to participate in our family or really care what was going on. I guess I learned my distant behavior from someone!

While I have hated this phrase my whole life, the idea behind it somehow still managed to worm its way into my brain and give me a mental picture that all my love fits into a giant glass of milk. And this glass is half empty, and one day it will run out.

This idea that there is a limit to my love, a limit to my caring and compassion for my family - I HATE THIS IDEA!

So stitching these words was another step away from that mentality, away from that horrible, soul corroding belief that I will one day be empty because I love and care for my family. My heart is open and my love is so deep and overwhelming my cup runs over with it. I will never be empty. I will never be not enough for this.

Reading back through this space, I love how the three messages work together:

I Am Enough.
I Have An Open And Willing Heart.
My Cup Runneth Over.

So enough talking about all of it! Let's learn how to quilt / thread paint these positive words into our quilt:

That's it for today! I hope you will give this a try. If you have a message you like better, just draw it into the space with a fabric pencil, then quilt right on the line and build up around 4-5 layers of thread over the surface.

In our next video, we will learn how to echo around each letter to fill in the space completely and add more texture to the quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Let's go quilt,


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WIP - More Outlining on Duchess Reigns

It's Wednesday and time to check in with my WIP (Work in Progress) Duchess Reigns!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It's hard to see the quilting on the front because of all the marking lines, so here's the back:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I need to quilt around the middle ring a second time, this time filling around the trees and outer woven lines. That will be my goal for this week!

What I can't wait to tackle is the corner lion heads and flames. That is going to look super cool when quilted out, but it's still going to be a bit before I can tackle these sections.

So that's my WIP for this week! I'm linking up over at Freshly Pieced so go check that out to see other cool projects quilters are working on right now!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

It's officially 2013! Was it just me or did 2012 last FOREVER?! This past week I've felt like a kid on a long trip whining "Are we there yet?!"

We're now finally THERE and it's time to start a new project!  Here's the introduction / explanation of all that's going on this year:

So yes, probably the first thing you noticed is I've cut my hair! I was feeling the need for something new and whacked off my ponytail last week. It's a relief to not have so much hair to deal with anymore!

Now for the really important details and changes to the project coming this year:

This year we will be working on this quilt, Express Your Love:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

You can find the Printed Fabric Panel (a.k.a cheater cloth) right here at 

I've printed my panels on the Cotton Poplin, which I feel has the nicest color quality, but the Kona cotton or Combed cotton can also work just fine. You will need 1 yard of fabric for 1 goddess quilt.

I'm also sharing the PDF printable pattern for free right here.

Download the pattern, print it out full size (12 sheets of paper), tape it together and you will have a complete, full sized pattern!

As for the construction - you can put this quilt top together ANY WAY YOU WANT. Tomorrow I will start with a video using a black wholecloth quilt (1 yard black fabric marked with the design, basted with 1 yard batting and backing fabric).

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm really leaving the construction method totally up to you to start with. However you want to construct your top, mark it, or just go with the Spoonflower Panel is just fine.  Through the year, I will piece, applique, and fuse more quilt tops and teach those techniques along the way.

So understand from the first that this IS NOT going to be a step-by-step carefully detailed tutorial on how to make EXACTLY one top identical to mine. This is going to be a free-for-all of new techniques, tons of new designs, and by the end of it I might have 3 or 5 or 15 or more finished Express Your Love quilts. I honestly have no idea how many I will make!

Now as for the structure of the week and what you can look forward to, here's the schedule:

Sunday - UFO post and link up - post your progress on any UFO you're working on.

Monday - FMQP Post - New designs, new techniques, etc on Express Your Love

Tuesday - FMQP Post - New designs, new techniques, etc on Express Your Love

Wednesday - WIP Wednesday - Simple blog post on what is on the machine right that second and linking up over at Freshly Pieced.

Thursday - FMQP Post - New designs, new techniques, etc on Express Your Love

Friday - Free Motion Quilting Friday (FMQF) - Link up with ANYTHING you have free motion quilted, not just what we're working on during the week. Everyone and anything is welcome, so longarmers please stop lurking and start linking up!

Saturday - Random something, recipes, or a day off, just depends on how I'm feeling that day. Maybe a few more James Day Puppet Shows

So there's going to be a lot more posts, more designs, more videos, more everything this year! I'm super excited to be sharing all this with you and hope you will quilt along, share your free motion quilting progress, and challenge yourself this year right along with me!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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