The Free Motion Quilting Project: April 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

27. Let's Review Basic Spiral, Design #005

We're finally finishing up with the background of Express Your Love with one last spiraling design! Today let's review Basic Spiral:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Since this is the last section we're filling, let's review the other five designs we've used so far: Zigzag Spiral, Wiggle Wiggle Spiral, Hot Hot Spiral, Loopy Doopy Spiral, and Cyber Spiral.

Just click on each link to find the designs. These are all variations on the same theme: mixing a simple independent design with spirals. Now let's master spirals alone with Basic Spiral:

Now with this section filled, this version of Express Your Love is looking really good!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

But I've decided to wait on teaching Textured Applique in her hair until later this summer or fall. Instead I'm hanging this version up on the design wall and starting a new version with the Spoonflower Printed Panel! Definitely check in on Thursday when we get started working on this new version of Express Your Love.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 29, 2013

Great Chat with Pat Sloan

Pat Sloan once again had me on her show - American Patchwork and Quilting Radio today and we had a great chat about getting started with free motion quilting: what issues most beginners struggle with, why free motion quilting seems so hard, and some tools and supplies that might make it easier to get the hang of.

Click here to search for and then download the podcast!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
In the radio show, I mentioned a video teaching you how to break your foot to make it work better. Click here to see this video and find the generic darning foot I'm modifying. This foot will fit on most machines (not all of them) but you will need to know if your machine is compatible with high shank or low shank machines. Just google your machine name and "shank" and you can usually find that information easily online.

Also in the show, I talked about getting started free motion quilting and seeing some really UGLY stitches! This is totally normal! The key is don't be afraid of it. Grab a layer cake or cut some 10 inch squares and give yourself permission to practice and play. It won't be pretty, but you will learn a lot!

By the way, all the tools I mentioned in the radio show are available right here in our Quilt Shop. I only carry the tools that I actually use and find helpful for quilting on a domestic sewing machine. Here's a run down of my 3 favorites:

Supreme Slider - This is a slick, Teflon sheet that sticks to your sewing machine and table and it makes your quilt slide and glide much easier. This dramatically reduces drag and that feeling of having to pull and tug on the quilt to get it where you want it.

Machingers Gloves - I swear by quilting gloves because I've used them since my very first quilting class and just cannot quilt as well without them. With gloves on I have much better grip over the quilt and a solid feeling of control. A lot of beginners complain of a "out of control" feeling and this can really help!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washers - These little Teflon washers go inside your bobbin case and help your bobbin to glide and slide so much easier within your machine. I immediately noticed fewer thread breaks, better tension, and I never had to pick out a nasty birds nest of thread again!

You can actually find all three tools in the Ultimate Quilting Kit which gives you a great deal on exactly what you need to get started.

Let's go quilt!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Getting on Track with Even My Photos Organized!

It's Sunday and I've managed to reorient my brain to know exactly what day it is! I've also managed to open up another big project can of worms AND finish it in just 2 days: organizing all my family photos!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This has been a big job because all our photos were scattered across 3 computers, over 20 photo CDs, and countless flash drives. Things were even more chaotic because many of the photos have survived not 1 but 2 hard drive crashes!

Needless to say, we have lots of duplicates, lots of crappy, blurry photos, but also lots of wonderful shots I've honestly never seen before:

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

It feels kinda weird seeing these photos. It takes me right back to those early days when James was so tiny and reminds me of just how fast the days are flying by. All the more reason to get back on track, get organized, and enjoy it all as it happens!

Seeing all these memories and shifting through the piles and piles of artwork James has created in the past 5 years of school (yes, he was bringing stuff home even at 18 months!), I'm finding myself wishing for a great way to display it all in the house so we can actually enjoy it.

I've done a few searches of magnetic paint, but the negative reviews and ridiculous application process are steering me towards this option of building magnetic boards from Galvanized Panning. I'm planning to hang one in James's room, the hall way, the kitchen, and maybe a strip in the stairwell. We walk down the stairs multiple times a day and it would be nice to see something new in this area.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

When I haven't been shifting through CDs and labeling folders, I actually did get on the sewing machine today to sew some strips on my apple core UFO. This little project has been in the works since this time last year when I thought it would be a great idea to cut out a lot of apple cores with my Accu Quilt Go.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It was a great idea and yes, the apple core pieces make for a very nice handwork project to take on a trip, but seaming the long strips of apple cores together? That is best done on a machine in my opinion!

I'd like to get this little top pieced and out of this weird, super wrinkled and very pinned state it's in. It's not really fun to fold up a project and not be sure if it's going to fall apart before you can get back to it to finish it up!

Now I'm off to hop back into the sewing room to finish up one more thing to get completely back on track. For some reason one of the lights I installed last year just glitched out and needs to be replaced. Time to grab the wire nuts and screw driver once again!

Let's go quilt,


Saturday, April 27, 2013


Well this just goes to show how weird this week has been - I actually thought yesterday was THURSDAY! So much so that I forgot to post the link up! Argh!

While I go bang some sense into my head (or at least catch my schedule up to the right day of the week), please share what you have been busy with lately!

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,


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just Chillin and Stitchin...

Ah, the joys of spring!We're still in the middle of a big renovation and right at the moment, not much progress is being seen. I'm still living with a giant washer / dryer in my living room, along with 9 doors, various cabinets, and an entire room full of tools.

The chaos isn't fun, especially because I haven't been feeling well. I'm not horribly sick, but I just haven't felt really GREAT lately. So I hopped down to Spartanburg, SC yesterday to visit my chiropractor / nutritionist and now feel a lot better, but I still want to take it easy. Today I'm sitting on the couch and hand stitching on my beaded version of Express Your Love:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

There's just something healing about hand work. It's meditative and calming and no matter how bad I feel, I can always hand stitch.

While in Spartanburg, I happened across a needlepoint store, The Needle and Canvas, which is a cute store dedicated solely to needlepoint. I find it fascinating just how diverse the fiber world is, but how isolated each craft considers itself.

Personally I can quilt, knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, bead, embroider, and stitch needlepoint. I have always considered all of these skills one in the same: fiber craft. If I was to open a physical store, I might actually try to put a little of everything within it because I find mixing bits and pieces from all these crafts together so fascinating.

But not everyone feels this way. Calling myself a quilter in some stores will get blank looks, or worse. I've actually had multiple conversations with knitters and spinners who would never dream of quilting. Have you ever experienced this?

I find it funny because we're all pretty much doing the same thing. We're all just stitching thread, and yarn, and fabric baby!

What's so interesting is the cross over of tools from one craft to another. There was an entirely different selection of tools available for needlepoint, and being the gear-head I am, I had to ask what they were for. Luckily a needlepoint teacher was in the store that happily showed me how to use stretcher bars, a laying tool, and a few other gadgets.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI could easily see a lot of places where needlepoint and quilting could overlap nicely and I made sure to pick out some pretty thread to add to my beaded piece above.

After my retail therapy, I headed back home for some fun stitching in the sun. Josh put together a wonderful sandbox for James so I can sit on the deck and look down on my sweet boy playing in the sand. I'm feeling better already!

Let's go stitch,


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

26. Learn how to Quilt Cyber Spiral, Design #386

It's time to learn another new design! Let's go back to the spiral variations we were working on earlier this month and this time try mixing in a bit of Circuit Board to create Cyber Spiral!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The one thing to keep in mind with this design is to keep your lines straight and 90 degree angles, it's often easier to work along a straight line. The line is a visual reference you can check occasionally to make sure your lines are running either parallel or perpendicular. The only area this rule gets "off" is with the spirals, which add a nice bit of chaos to the mix!

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Intermediate

Just like with Hot Hot Spiral and Wiggle Wiggle Spiral, all of the designs in this little series will work great big or small. I actually thing this Cyber Spiral is the perfect design to use for a little boy or man quilt. It just strikes me as slightly more masculine. What do you think?

Let's go quilt!


Friday, April 19, 2013

FMQ Friday - Closet Design vs. Quilting Design

It's FMQ Friday and I'm running late! I've been busy all day installing James's new closet system - an arrangement of shelves, baskets, and hanging rods that supposedly fit together perfectly into the closet with only a few screws and effort.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

*Sigh* This project really beat me up today. Last night I had the top rail and 3 upright rails in place and thought I was in good shape to put the rest together, get James's stuff moved in, get the room ready for my handyman to spackle and paint by lunchtime.

But as soon as I got into the room and started installing baskets, I knew something was very wrong. Nothing was lining up! The baskets weren't sliding out! That shelf won't reach it's bracket! What is going on!?

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This really reminds me of my first experiences cutting out a quilt. My first quilt was a 9 patch, and just like with the closet I would jump right in, slice up lots of fabric, only to find that nothing fit back together properly.

I love the saying "measure twice, cut once" and that's what I THOUGHT I had done with this closet system. But this system was actually a bit more picky than that. The best way to set it up is to hang the top rail, hang the uprights, but don't screw them into the wall. Instead use the spacing of brackets and shelves to guide the placement of all upright bars. If the shelves fit then the bars are in the right place.

This style of construction feels so weird to me coming from a quilting perspective, but as a designer, I know so much of design has to do with how something feels, which isn't something you can measure or quantify. While the construction has been screwy, the end result was definitely worth the work!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, this is already a mess. I kind of threw everything inside as quickly as I could so the room could be painted. I do plan to haul most of the toys and books back out once more shelving is hung in the room itself. As always, one thing at a time!

Now what are you working on today? Hopefully actually stitching instead of drilling holes in the wrong places!

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 (or get a beer and start on another closet!)


Thursday, April 18, 2013

25. Trapplique - Part 2

Lol. I must have sounded tired and worn out yesterday in my post about the bathroom renovation. In truth the person really needing kudos is Josh. I'm fired up to fix all the closets in the house on top of everything else and the poor guy is struggling to find a clean towel amid all the chaos and confusion.

Personally I'm revved up and ready to go! So much so that I'm even going to continue to post videos during the remodel! Didn't I tell you I find this kind of thing energizing?

So today let's finish up Trapplique! The steps left to do are simple: lay out the pieces on the quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Hand baste them in place with water soluble thread. We're using this so we don't have to worry about picking the stitches out later. This thread will just dissolve when we soak and block the quilt.

The next step is optional, but I found it pretty important for this particular quilt. Do a simple zigzag down along all the edges to hold the pieces in place. I did this in free motion, but you could use a walking foot if you were more comfortable with that.

Why did I do this in free motion? I've been experimenting a bit with free motion zigzag just for fun. It's actually pretty easy to control and faster to applique because you could potentially zigzag, then filler quilt at the same time by switching from a zigzag to a straight stitch. You know how much I hate to change feet, so I'm just learning how to applique with my free motion foot on instead!

For this tacking zigzag, I used regular thread in the video, but by the time I finished shooting, I realized that more water soluble would probably make this job easier too. This stitching will be covered, but it'd be nice not to have to worry about the odd weird stitch and just use wash away thread for this too.

Which by the way, Express Your Love is NOT a beginner level trapplique quilt. All those little pieces swirling in and out are really tricky to line up properly. I can't claim mine is in any way perfect. Not a bit!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Finally after everything is generally secure and in place, now it's time to satin stitch! I used a super wide zigzag with my machine at 6mm wide and .20mm long and slowly stitched forward and hit the reverse button anytime I saw a gap in the stitching.

Suffice it to say, satin stitching is VERY boring. I had to give myself lots of incentives like a piece of chocolate for every lock of breath completed because it was just so slow and tedious. I think I've gained 3 pounds just to muscle through this boring bit. Still, this is a step that can't be rushed if you want a nice, smooth, perfect satin stitch finish.

Now just make sure that you take off your Supreme Slider before starting the satin stitch! If you have your walking foot on, you definitely shouldn't have the slider on because it will be ground against the feed dogs.

So now that I've written all this out, now it's time to watch it!

I'm still having aspect ratio problems. If this video appears squished to you, switch to Mozilla Firefox browser and watch it there. Youtube is having a serious glitch in the upload and changing all my videos as they get on the site, then I have to manually stretch the video back with a tag, but it isn't perfect and isn't displaying correctly for everyone.

But as always, this is the best I can do! Enjoy!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring is Here! Where's my Crowbar?

So it's Wednesday and time to show you what I'm REALLY working on. And it isn't a quilt!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is me last night after a very long day building cabinets, organizing and designing my new bathroom, and working out more improvements all at the same time. I was pretty beat then, and I'm pretty beat now after another trip to Lowes and lots of work bringing in all the boxes of tile and hardware.

What is happening? Well for starters, we're finally getting our main bathroom renovated! This bathroom had horrible 1970's tile, a doubly horrible mirror and ridiculous light, and a triply horrible built in cabinet. Today it is all GONE!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm also finally fixing James's closet and painting his bedroom. This is kind of on my list of "mommy failure". So many of my friends knew what baby they were having and decorated beautiful, elaborate nurseries for them. I had no idea if I was having a boy or girl, so I just didn't do anything. Literally. I didn't even have a diaper pail when James was born. I really didn't plan that well at all.

So now I aim to make up for it! James has picked out a pretty bright blue color for his walls, I've picked a matching lime green for the trim, and this room is soon going to become a super cool, super awesome bedroom for my super cool little boy.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
New Colors Coming Soon!
Now all this tearing out and putting back is making for a pretty messy house. James's room is ripped out with all his toys pulled to the middle of the room, the guest bedroom is housing most of the bathroom junk, and the living and dining room are holding all the new cabinets and gear going back in the bathroom.

Looking back, I see that this is definitely a recurring theme for me for spring. Instead of feeling the heat of the sun and seeing the green on the trees and jumping outside in the garden, I instead take a look inside the house, stomp my foot and insist that SOMETHING MUST CHANGE!

This definitely makes me happy. I get a buzz seeing a new paint color on the wall. I love picking out new materials and colors and playing with design. Just the thrill of taking something I didn't like and turning it into something I love, it's addictive and wonderful.

It makes me happy, but it definitely doesn't make everyone happy.

This is making for a lot of extra stress, noise, and difficulty getting around. Josh is rather stressed out and it's hard to maintain a normal schedule with so much going on.

The one thing I'm keeping in mind is just that this is temporary. The time it takes to rebuild everything may feel impossibly long, but the truth is in a few days it will all be back to normal again.

So that is what I'm working on this Wednesday! Here's to getting lots done and seeing amazing change in this beautiful time of the year!

Let's go drive some nails!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

24. Learn how to Stitch with Decorative Monograms

It's time to learn something new! This was exactly my thinking when I began considering this idea for incorporating smaller, simpler words into my trapplique pieces.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I wanted a totally different look from the Thread Painted Words stitched earlier that I am ultimately covering up, so I decided to use one of the decorative monograms included within the brains of my machine (Janome Horizon 8900).

Now I know not all machines have monograms. I also know that it's sometimes THE reason we buy a machine. It's so seductive, this idea of stitching words on things! At least while you're in the store buying the new machine.

Yet I've never actually USED this machine function! To be honest, I've never even used the memory stitch function so this entire idea was throwing me for a major loop. To stop being so afraid of it, and to challenge myself to learn something new, I created this video:

As I said in the video, most machines will have different buttons and settings. This is really just the settings and buttons for the 8900, but the idea behind the tutorial remains the same - stitch out samples first, get everything spelled right!, get your phrases stored in the memory, and be able to reliably recall them on command.

Definitely refer to your manual for more tips on using decorative words and even multiple alphabet styles that machines are now programmed with.

Once you get the hang of that, go play! I have to say, I loved learning this because it was such a challenge to overcome my fear of "messing it all up". Sometimes just jumping in with a practice sandwich is all you need to do to go from scared and confused to having it all figured out and confident of the next step.

Now my bathroom is being ripped out today and I'm needed upstairs for a design decision. After 6 years of wanting to remodel my main bathroom, it's finally happening! Whoo hoo!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reading Guilt as Guilt

I intended to post this yesterday, but taxes, school, family, and the giant quilts on my table all kept it from happening. It's officially spring and busy as all get out. What is it about this time of year that just makes everything need to be done RIGHT NOW?!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I digress...yesterday I spent most of the day in the sewing room working on stitching out all of the designs we've learned since the magical day 365 into 4 inch squares. There's something about this size and shape that just makes my organization-needing brain happy. It's easy to photograph, it's easy to organize. It's easy to stitch!

I still need to edit the photographs, but it already feels good to have "official" shots of each design. I also worked a lot on Duchess Reigns, though you wouldn't know it to look at her. It seems I can dump 4 hours of work into that quilt and empty 3 bobbins and she just laughs manically and declares, "I will NEVER be finished! Muwahahahaha!"

free motion quilting | Leah Day
So leaving my sewing machine, I was feeling...guilty. I'd quilted for most of the day with the door shut. Remember, my door has a very specific sign on the front. No one was dying, so I wasn't interrupted, but I still felt guilty for quilting most of the day.

But here's the thing about guilt - it doesn't always read as guilt. It's kind of a tricky emotion to get your fingers around, and certainly to identify without a microscope.

Previously, pretty much for the last 29 years of my life when I felt this way, I always misread it as being in a "bad mood." Yet I wasn't in a bad mood! I'd just stitched out a ton of stuff that had been weighing on my mind. I was HAPPY!

But I was guilty. And my guilt began to come out in temper and snappishness. James had torn yet another Lego figure into a massacre of legs, hands, head, and torso, which just weirds me out in general, and I didn't yell, but I did make James cry by threatening to throw the pieces into the trash. Monster mommy had come to play!

My goal this year was to try to figure this out. Why DO I do this?! Why do I act like this? This isn't ME! I don't WANT to act like this!

Figuring out that this particular emotional roller coaster stemmed from guilt was SO helpful. I'm not sure what tipped me off exactly, other than just knowing that I SHOULD feel very happy with all I'd accomplished, but only feeling terrible for being unavailable all day.

The funny thing about this is Josh never minded one bit. He really couldn't understand why I was feeling guilty as he certainly didn't need me around to have a good day. We always have a big Sunday breakfast and I had made eggs and french toast before heading down to quilt so James was fed and happy too. Mom was not needed. A guilty mom was absolutely unwanted!

So this guilt was totally useless. I didn't hurt anyone or do anything wrong by stitching all day on a Sunday afternoon, but this empty feeling of guilt was definitely turning me into a monster the second my quilting session ended.

Rather than let it ruin the whole day, I stopped everything. Literally I sat down and stared at a wall and asked myself "Can you chill? Can you just drop this?" At first, I couldn't let go of the bad feelings, but very soon I could see how pointless it was. I reminded myself again and again that no one had missed me, I hadn't flaked out on anything, and I just needed to let myself feel good.

Have you ever done this? Reading guilt as guilt was certainly a breakthrough for me! I'm just wondering if anyone else has experienced this kind of thing before...

Let's go quilt (without the guilt!),


Friday, April 12, 2013

FMQ Friday - Put a Smile in it

It's finally Friday! We've had a long week here and you probably noticed just how distracted I was yesterday forgetting to update the YouTube video to public so you can actually watch it! Just in case you missed it, the video on Picking the Perfect Fabric Color is right here.

Today I'm just now getting on the sewing machine because my morning was spent laughing myself silly at my son and his classmates playing in a school circus:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yep, that's my boy perfectly cast as a silly clown with a giant pink hat!

Seeing this circus performance is reminding me to lighten up, simile more, and especially to brighten up my colors. I'm feeling very inspired to hop into the studio and grab the brightest prints imaginable and fuse together a super quick version of Express Your Love.

Of course, I have made some progress this week on Duchess Reigns. Getting half of her wings finished was a BIG milestone:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

My goal is to have this center section done by the end of April. It seems every day is getting more and more packed with activities, and this quilt is tending to be the last thing on my to-do list. I have to make it a priority to stitch SOMETHING on her every day or else this project will never get done!

Now I'm off to quilt with a simile on my face and make something pretty. What are you up to today?

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, April 11, 2013

23. How to Pick the Perfect Fabric Color

So we're going to go a bit backward today and talk a bit about fabric selection. I realized looking at all the trapplique pieces over the Express Your Love quilt that I would have a problem quilting her body if the breath sections were stitched in place, so I decided to pull fabrics and select the body color, quilt it, and trapplique it as well!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Picking this body color is super important because it will really tie together all the colors of the background, plus her hair, plus the breath sections together. Body is key, for this quilt at least!

In the process of making my decision I realized this would make a good video to explain exactly how I made my decision and why. Yes, color choice is always a personal decision, but hopefully this method will help you pick the fabrics for your quilts!

Yep, the gold was definitely the right decision for me. Would you have picked a different color?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Let's go quilt,


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It's Wednesday and what am I really working on? Well, I'm not quilting today, I'm instead putting in some much needed time organizing my desk, files within my computer, and even quilting designs.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've been designing quilts since I started quilting in 2005 and I still have every original pattern I ever drew, unless it was so totally ugly and horrid I threw it out. Creating free motion quilting designs didn't start until 2009, and it certainly added to my stash of sketches, doodles, and miscellaneous designs sketched on little bits of paper.

I'm terrified of throwing anything away in case I forget something, so you'd think I would have figured out a good system of organization for all this stuff if it's so important.

Nope. Lots of bits of paper. No organization whatsoever.

Case in point was the top of my desk, which when I began pulling the unlabeled, unorganized bins down was so mixed up I found two goddess designs in with a block of the month I once planned, on top of the sketches for a new jacket pattern. How in the world would I have found any of this stuff had I actually been wanting to find it?!

One thing I'm learning today - it is one thing to buy a box for stuff to go into. The NEXT STEP is to label the box and put only one thing, or one set of things into it! It is a 2 part process Leah!

After a good bit of digging around and shuffling around, I managed to clean up my space to this glory of organization.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, my bins are organized! Yes, they even have LABELS!I still have tons of bits of paper all over my desk and computer monitor, but just look at those bins!

Now it's time to tackle the computer. Turns out I have 3 files in 3 different locations for taxes. Geez...this is going to take awhile...

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

22. Learn the Basics of Trapplique - Part 1

Yay! It's finally time to teach you a super cool technique called Trapplique!

I mentioned way back in January that details on this technique would be shared sometime this year because I've been wanting to play with it for quite some time. The technique itself and the name comes from my friend Nina Paley, who got into quilting back in 2011 and knocked my socks off by creating the most awesome technique combining trapunto and applique together in one go!

Now for reference, let's see Express Your Love BEFORE trapplique covered up all those dark breath spaces:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is actually an older shot from last month. Turns out I didn't take a photo right before trapplique because I was so excited to see what she would look like with the pieces in place.

One important tip to remember is that the breath sections are all "on top" of the background and even the goddess body, so technically all these spaces need to be filled first. I'm kind of getting ahead of myself a bit, but we will sort it all out by the end!

Now the AFTER shot:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Granted, this did take a lot of time. And it's not the easiest quilt design to start trappliqueing up a storm with because so many pieces over and underlap each other. My one suggestion after doing this whole thing is to use only 1 color of fabric for all the breath. That way you at least won't have to change thread colors as you satin stitch around the edges.

Now I got a bit chatty in this video because I wanted to explain a bit about where we're going with this technique, why I love it so much, and so on and so forth. Just stick with it as I you the first step of this technique!

So that's the first step! Mark the sections you want to trapplique on fabric, baste with 1 layer of batting (no backing), quilt the outline, then quilt something within if you like.

Cut out the pieces carefully, making sure to leave just a bit extra where a piece will be overlapped. I kind of forgot that step on some pieces, but it still worked out okay. Gotta love the way fabric can shift and the power of a wide satin stitch!

Now in the next video we'll chat about auditioning fabric colors. That choice of gold above for her body was actually a tricky decision and I'd like to show you how it came about.

The next video will be on using the built in alphabets in your machine to stitch the phrases, then FINALLY we will finish up in video #25 with trapplique part 2.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So this month might be a bit of back and forth. Understand that if you don't completely understand what I'm talking about NOW, you might in a few videos. Always test and sample an idea first so it makes more sense. I think the first time I read Nina's blog about trapplique I was left thinking "huh?" but after stitching it out, it definitely works and is super, super cool.

Let's go quilt,


Monday, April 8, 2013

Daily Quilt Journal

On April 1st I started many new things, and one I'm really excited about is a Daily Quilt Journal.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Basically for me it's just a Word document where I place photos daily of anything I've stitched along with one or two lines of text.

The point to the short text is just to keep this simple. I already journal 3 pages a day so I don't feel the need to write a ton with each photo, but I do want to document how I feel about what I'm working on, mostly so I can see trends in how I'm feeling and how my work is going.

And in 8 days, trends are definitely showing up!

For all that I preach about accepting mistakes and not ripping, I've sure done a lot of ripping the last few days. I took this photo yesterday and my text was: It was a mess when it started and it's a mess now after three days of ripping. What have I achieved?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Perfection is something I've written a lot about. Mostly this is cropping up in Duchess Reigns where it's easy to agonize over every missed stitch.

So today after a long battle with this section, after finally winning the day, no wonder I'm not feeling hugely happy and relieved - I'm exhausted after a long day of nitpicking my work!

My goal with this journal is two fold - to remember each day through my stitches, which means I have to actually quilt SOMETHING every day, and to keep a sharp eye on my attitude. Not every day will be perfect, not every day will have amazing things created, but at least every day I will be creating something, which definitely makes me happy.

Let's go quilt,


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Best. Day. Ever.

Sundays are turning into my sort of weird post days where I throw anything up here that feels right. Today I have to simply sit, simile, and celebrate the best. day. ever we just had celebrating Easter a week late!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

What made this day so wonderful? It's hard to put my finger on just one thing because there wasn't just one thing that made this day magical. It was partly a choice - my choice - to be responsible for both my happiness and the joy everyone had at the party.

Instead of feeling stressed that the food wouldn't be done on time, snappish at my husband to "help me out in here!" I adopted a totally different, blissful attitude. I loved every second of preparing lunch because I CHOOSE to enjoy it. It wasn't a means to an end, it was the process to relish every step of the way.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Ever attended an Easter egg hunt with a real chicken in attendance?!
Since April 1st, I've been charting about 25 items in a list I call my Happiness Inventory, inspired of course by The Happiness Project. Each day I get a check mark if I've gotten through the whole day by doing or not doing a certain thing. For example I get a check mark for No Yelling, just as I get a check mark for Flossing. It's a way to keep score and build habits for the ways I want to change my life.

Another reason why today was so amazingly awesome - yesterday was a very bad day. I had a long list of X marks because I caved to my temper, yelled my head off, and the whole day, my mood, James's behavior, everything just steamrolled right down the hill.

What I learned yesterday and hope to never forget is that yelling benefits no one and hurts everyone. I felt terrible, James's behavior got worse, not better, for being yelled at, and I just wanted to run and hide and lock myself away so I wouldn't hurt anyone again.

But instead of allowing myself to hole up in the sewing room and get obsessed with a project (yes, sad to admit, that is what I used to do after behaving badly before), I instead resolved to take responsibility for every damn word that comes out of my mouth. And that means no more yelling. Period.

Is this hopelessly optimistic? I don't think so. In just 6 days of charting my list which contain everything from writing 2 pages in my journal to exercising daily, I find I have a much better grasp on what makes a good day a "good" day. That row of check marks is literally a guide to behaviors and tasks that truly make me happier, easier to live with, and in turn make the people around be happier and easier to live with too.

Figuring all this out right now just feels perfect. As I posted last week, Easter and I have had issues in the past, but today stretched out on the quilt I brought out while James hunted eggs, I smiled in the sun with the knowledge that I have truly created the best Easter ever for my family. One of happy memories, great food, and lots of fun.

No, I know this isn't everyone's idea of Easter. I had some comments to my last post about religion that I chose not to publish because they were rather angry and offensive to me. The fact is, like Christmas, I have had to make these holidays work for me, for how I believe and for what is meaningful for myself and my family.

To me, creating a fantastic, special day for my family was the Best. Day. Ever. I can't wait until the end of May when my Mother-in-Law's birthday will give me the excuse to go over the top all over again!

Let's be happy!


Friday, April 5, 2013

FMQ Friday - Timing is Everything!

It's FMQ Friday and I've got to say, timing really is everything!

This is striking me today because just 2 days ago I posted about giving Lucy a makeover and considering signing up for two Craftsy classes I've had my eye on for awhile. Well, turns out today a ton of classes are going on sale!

Craftsy Spring Sale: Select online classes up to 75% off. Sale ends Monday, April 8th, at midnight!

I'm going to pop over there and check out what's posted for today. Basically the sales change depending on which day you're checking, so make sure to swing by and "refresh" your browser each day so you're sure to get the best deal.

Timing is also coming into mind because I've recently set the goal to be more open to attending retreats and fun fiber and quilting related events in my area. Up until now I've assumed not much is going on, but you know when your eyes are open, you tend to see a lot more possibilities!

There's not only an awesome workshop on Nuno felting going on at The Fibre Studio in Charlotte, there's a whole fiber festival going on in Stanford, NC - the Carolina Fiber Festival.

After fencing in our freshly cleared back yard this week, Josh and I are seriously considering a few sheep or goats, raised for fleece. Yes, I'm just that into spinning these days to actually raise the animals this fiber comes from! Finding this festival might be the first step to finding a good farmer to buy goats or sheep from.

Another thing I've been keeping my eyes peeled for is more retreats in the Charlotte area. I had SO much fun at Sew South that I'm really wanting to support and attend more retreats coming to this area. I THINK I've found a good one to attend in September, but I'll need to check if there's still space available before posting about it here.

The fact is, timing and awareness is everything. For years I had a "humbug" sort of attitude about living on the East coast. It seems all the big, awesome quilting festivals are all out west. But on closer inspection and if you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll find there's a lot more available if you're looking for it.

Now I'm off to check out the sale on Craftsy today and see what trouble I can get into learning even more crafts! What are you up to today?

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!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

21. Learn how to Quilt Loopy Doopy Spiral, #385

It's time for another fun design, still working along that same theme we're playing with in Zigzag Spiral, Wiggle Wiggle Spiral, Hot Hot Spiral, and now Loopy Doopy Spiral!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is basically a combo of Loopy Line and spirals and it's quite a fun combo. Because the loops allow the rule for crossing your quilting lines, you can get away with quite a lot with this design. Just remember, mistakes are only mistakes if you decide they are wrong!


Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Independent

One thing I struggled with, which you will definitely pick up on in the video is the scale of the design. This just wants to be BIG, so if you're not following along with Express Your Love, definitely give this one a try over a bed quilt and I'm sure it will fill quick and fast!

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

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lucy's Getting a Make Over!

It's Wednesday and time to show you what I've really been working on this week! Today I haven't been quilting much because of sorting out tax stuff (no fun!), but I do plan to get back into the studio today to work a bit more on Lucy:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day
What in the world have I done to her?! Lucy is a very, VERY old dressmaker dummy that I picked up at an antique store back in high school. She's been with me through a lot, but that doesn't mean I've used her that much.

The biggest problem was she wasn't ever exactly my size, and she was all open and gappy, so nothing ever looked that great on her in the first place.

Turns out the solution has been staring me in the face forever! I've been working through the Craftsy class The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje and she happened to mention covering an adjustable dress form with batting and fabric.

Oh man! I have batting! I have fabric! Let's cover this girl up!

So that's what I'm doing today - carefully measuring myself, then adjusting Lucy to be exactly the same size or a little smaller, then creating a puffy cover out of craft felt (I could use batting, but I have bolts of this stuff I need to use up) and then covering that with a smooth layer of cotton fabric.

So far it's mostly just a lot of pinning and fiddling, but I hope by the end, I'll have a smooth dress form I can use to successfully size clothing properly. I'm really considering the Craftsy class on Fashion Draping as well as Katrina Walker's class on Decorative Seams. Katrina was filming her class at the same time I was and we really hit it off talking about sewing, quilting, and raising sheep of all things!

Why this sudden interest in making clothes? Well, the truth is I started sewing garments long before quilting and occasionally I need a "fix" of sewing a new shirt or skirt.

Unfortunately this fix is never quite satisfying because nothing I make ever fits right or looks as good as I originally planned. I'm always hunting after that illusive "perfect" set of garments I could make again and again with gorgeous fabrics to have an amazing closet full of nicely fitting clothes.

In reality, I've never made something I really enjoy to wearing often and I'm hoping learning to fit and customize my pattern using a muslin template from The Couture Dress will teach me what I need to know about this fitting process that I'm missing. And just because I'm enjoying it so much, here's a link to sign up for this class for 20% off the regular price!

Now I hear the sound of James upstairs starting to cough again. He's caught another cold and it sounds like it's time for more applesauce, water, and cuddling on the couch.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

20. Learn how to Quilt Hot Hot Spiral, #384

It's time to learn a new design today and expand our supply of Independent designs swirled up with spirals! Today let's learn design #384 - Hot Hot Spiral!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is such a fun, simple combination of Sharp Stippling and Basic Spiral, but just a warning - YouTube is being cute with my videos all of a sudden changing the aspect ratio to make the video all squished and weird. So enjoy a chuckle today as you see me talk through my squished, hamburger looking face!

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Independent

Hopefully YouTube will get this video issue fixed. I haven't changed anything with how I edit, produce, or upload my videos, but all of a sudden they're super weird and this is SUPER ANNOYING!

I'm off to go felt something. A few hours of sticking pins in wool might make me feel better!

Let's go quilt,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Sew South Trailer and the Power of a Vision

The Sew South Retreat ended a week ago, but I'm still floating on cloud 9 for all the happy memories I have of that awesome time.

I took on the project of compiling some video and photos just for fun, mostly because I just loved the experience and wanted to do something for Jennifer Mathis, the retreat creator, who worked so very hard to give us such an amazing experience.

Thinking back on the experience, I've had some time to reflect on exactly what made the retreat so much fun, so outstanding in my memory.

I think it has to all come down to Jennifer's vision she describes in our interview at the beginning of the video. She had a clear mental picture of what she wanted, of how the retreat would feel, of how much fun it would be, and she worked to make that vision become reality for one special weekend.

Having a vision is something I spoke about during my short lecture at the retreat. Having an idea of what you want out of your quilt, planning the design, sampling to see what works and what doesn't - all this goes into a successful project whether you're creating a special bed quilt for your grandbaby, or you're hosting a retreat for 50 people.

You don't have to be special or extraordinary to have a vision and act on it and make it reality. So often we think "I can never do that." and cut ourselves off from a dream before it even starts. The truth is YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT. 

You just have to want it enough to do the work and make it happen. A truly powerful vision must come from your heart and be fueled with your passion and determination.

So here's to seeing what you want and making it happen. I think that is what I love about the memory of Sew South the most - seeing Jennifer live her vision for three days and knowing on the last day she had accomplished something powerful and amazing for the 55 people attending.

Rock on Jennifer!


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