The Free Motion Quilting Project: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

FMQ Friday - Quilting from Jail

No, don't freak out, I'm not really in JAIL! Lol.

But this morning I pretended I was in jail in order to force my brain back into the deep concentrated mode I need to be in for free motion quilting large projects. For the last 3 weeks my brain has been so disconnected and distracted by everything going on that I barely quilted at all.

Cycles like this tend to feed one another. The more you think "I'm too busy! I'm too busy!" then the more busy you will tend to become. I also find if I am constantly repeating to myself "I have no time to quilt!" then I will invariably have absolutely no time to quilt.

I had to reprogram my noggin this morning to remind myself that James is out of school. It was 6 am and no one was awake, there was nowhere I needed to be, and nothing I needed to do except quilt.

I shut the door to my quilting room and pretended I was locked in jail. I can't get out until this job is finished!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Of course, this will only work if the quilt or project you're working on can actually be done in the time frame you have to quilt. I'm not suggesting we all chain ourselves to our sewing machines until every UFO is done!

But today, this kind of forceful reprogramming of my morning quilting schedule was just what I needed. I quilted for 4 hours straight and when I finally left the room, I finally felt calm and collected and satisfied with my work.

This translated to feeling far more ready to interact with my family. I've worked hard at losing the destructive feelings of guilt when I quilt for long periods of time with the door shut. Today I came upstairs ready to make a snack, play some games, and talk to James and Josh about our weekend.

While cycles can be hard to pull out of, this is definitely a reset method that works for me. Long periods of quilting remind me how much I love this activity and how much I want to do it every single day.

Which is a great way to feel when I'm just getting ready to take Duchess Reigns back off the wall and begin the next phase of that quilt. If attitude is everything, I'm in the right place to take on this next challenge!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So what about you? Have you been out of the loop with quilting this month and are trying to get back on the ball? Link up with us and share whatever you've quilted (or wish you'd quilted) this week!

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, May 30, 2013

33. Learn how to Quilt Ribbon Stage, Design #390

Well, it's officially the last day of school! This week has been super busy and filled with running around in all directions, but after today all that will be done and *gasp* I can finally let out the breath I've been holding all week and relax.

In the spirit of relaxing, lets learn a new design that's sure to create a soothing texture on the surface of your quilts. This is called Ribbon Stage:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is basically a variation of Desert Sand with only the small additional rule to hit the points as you quilt through the space. Hitting the same spot repeatedly builds texture and creates an interesting extra effect on the surface. This particular combination of flowing lines made me think of the ribbon stage you look for when making hard candy.

But it's still super easy to quilt because you can basically bounce from point to point. Check out the video to see what I mean:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate.

Design Family - Foundational.

As you can see I used Ribbon Stage in the water section of Express Your Love, but where do you plan to use it? This simple foundational design will work in just about any area. So long as you set your foundation first, echoing and hitting points repeatedly is all you have to do to fully fill the space.

Now with it being the last day of school, I'd better take advantage of the last quiet day to quilt. I'm thinking it's high time I jump on my Bernina and do some piecing. I crave piecing only about twice a year, but it's an urge I've learned not to ignore!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

32. Learn How to Quilt Inside the Sun #389

It's design time! I don't know about you, but here in NC it's been one beautiful day after the other, all thanks to the warm sunshine. So that got me thinking about sun symbols and textures and I had to give this foundational design a try:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm calling this Inside the Sun and I think it will work perfectly in a hair or breath section of Express Your Love. Let's see how it's stitched:

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Foundational.

Because this was the very first time I've ever quilted it out, I decided to try it in a little 4 inch quilt square. I still quilt all designs in small squares at least one time for reference, keeping track of them, and of course checking to see if the idea will even work.

A small quilt sandwich also has the advantage that you can move it A LOT and always swing it around in any direction so you can see where you're going. No, you probably wouldn't swing a quilt around as much as I show in the video, but you should always rotate to the best visual advantage, no matter how big the monster is you're working on.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Speaking of quilt monsters, over the weekend I managed to put aside all those critical voices in my head and just enjoy Duchess Reigns hanging on my wall. I've decided to take her down on June 1st to get started on the next part of this quilt. It's an exciting project to be working on in the time of the year I love quilting most. Summer means long lazy days of quilting, drinking iced tea, and quilting some more!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 24, 2013

FMQ Friday - Stitch for Fun, Not Perfection

It's Friday and this stressful week is almost over! One major thing making me smile today is seeing Duchess Reigns up on the wall in my dining room. I pinned her up last night right before eating dinner.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I can't really explain the mix of emotions this quilt brings up. I'm overwhelmed by all that's left to do, intimidated by the scope of this project, excited to see her making progress, and even slightly frustrated because after all the work of design and quilting so far, I can still see clearly the places that challenged me. For the first 10 minutes I looked at her, all I saw were the flaws and how much work was left to do.

But then Josh made me feel a million times better by saying "That is hands down, your absolute best quilt ever. I don't think you need to do a thing to it. It's perfect."

Lol. This quilt isn't even halfway finished and my sweet man is totally happy with it? Nice!

I know I'm my worst critic. I know if anyone needs to let me off the hook, it's me. The original Duchess was the same way - a superb challenge and stretch of skill and design. But was she perfect? Absolutely NOT!

So I'm going to leave this up for awhile so I can sort through these emotions. When I take her off the wall, all I want to feel is excitement and enthusiasm for tackling the next step.

Speaking of getting my attitude straight, today I spent some time quilting Express Your Love and found myself dealing with a steady stream of fabric issues.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Puffy batting + dense filler quilting = pleats

Can you spot it? To hide it I usually intentionally tuck the fabric and densely stitch over it so it looks like a pieced seam or odd mark on the fabric. As I posted on Facebook today, this is visible from about 4 inches away, but if you step back 4 feet, you can't see it at all.

But I can't deny this makes me upset. Yes, I was trying something new with this batting so I need to forgive the fact that issues are going to happen. Trying something new and experimenting is always a challenge, and challenges can be a fun way to stretch myself, or they can just be a pain in my butt. It's all about perspective!

I think I'll take some time in the next week to audition some new battings. I've been wanting to do this for awhile, but this experience is definitely reinforcing a lesson I already knew - Don't Guess, TEST!

How do you know what a batting will do when you stitch the snot out of it? Test it and see Leah!

Alright, I've done enough yelling at myself today. I'm going to get back on my machine and drop my funky attitude and just have FUN. That is the whole point, right?!

So what are you up to on this beautiful Friday afternoon? I hope it's something fun!

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,


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mindless Entertainment

It's Wednesday and time to check what's on the sewing machine...but...uggh...nothing good is happening there.

I'm not burning out, I'm just brain dead and uninspired. It's partly this busy time of the year when every day I turn around I have another birthday party or end of school party or meeting to attend with James. I swear for pre-kindgergarten we sure have a lot of end of year activities!

So what's a creative girl to do when her brain has left the building, her house is a wreck, and her heart just not into quilting?

Pick up needlepoint.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, this is what I mean by mindless entertainment, and my apologies if that has utterly offended you. Painted, preplanned, needlepoint is about as mentally challenging as tic-tac-toe.

All the colors are planned. All the spaces just need to be filled with that color thread. You don't need to think! You just need to grab a needle, pick the right color, and keep some scissors handy.

What's nice about working on this little gingerbread ornament is I'm able to keep half my mind focused on quilt designs or a Craftsy class I'm watching while the other half of my brain is just remembering to stitch brown thread in brown squares, pink thread in pink squares, blue thread over blue squares.

It's tedious, yes, but it's also mindlessly entertaining in a way I seriously need right now. I'm overworked and overstimulated. I need a break, but if I stop stitching entirely I usually just end up picking my nails because my fingers get restless.

Am I happy right now? I'm too busy to answer that accurately, but this time of the year will pass very soon. In less than 2 weeks James will be out of school, we will go on vacation, and the slow routine of summer will begin. I can't wait!

Let's go stitch!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

31. Learn how to Quilt Connecting Ocean Currents

My apologies for falling off the face of the earth since Friday! I've been quilting like crazy, designing like there's no tomorrow, and trying to stay on top of everything, which generally means I've been dropping the ball left and right. What is it about this month?! It's like my brain has gone on vacation and forgotten to give my body a leave of absence notice!

Despite my lack of mental togetherness (see, I can't even write today!) I did manage to dig my sewing machine out from under 3 projects and pull Express Your Love back off the wall and stitch a super cool design within her hair that I'm calling Connecting Ocean Currents.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah Day
All my brain can manage to say is "ooooo....pretty...." I'm really at a loss for words. Far better on video:

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Foundational.

I used this design in the goddess hair, but really it could work just as nice in her body, breath, or the background. The key is setting your foundation first, then echoing and connecting to create the swirly texture. As I said before it's oooo....pretty.....that pretty much sums it up!

Let's go quilt!


Friday, May 17, 2013

FMQ Friday - Practice is Never a Waste of Time

This might sound weird for all I talk about the importance of practice and its necessity for becoming good at free motion quilting, but today I finally realized with a jolt like getting smacked in the head this simple truth:

Practice is never a waste of time.

I've been busy working on a project today that I can't show you right this second. It's definitely been a challenge and earlier this week I began getting obsessed with perfection. I found myself asking "what is the PERFECT design to use here? I CAN'T make the wrong choice!"

I honestly don't know a better recipe for killing creativity. Start with an ultimatum and ratchet the stress up a notch with a demand for instant perfection!

As I sorted through my feelings on this project, I began to see how silly I was being. I grabbed a piece of paper and pencil, sat down on the couch and said "Just play. I don't care what happens, just try something."

So I sat and drew and designed. I'd printed out plenty of paper so I could mess up again and again and it not matter. I got out of my way, shut up my mind, and just let loose with any idea that popped into my now empty head.

In the end I did finish my design, but I also became aware that what I had done was far more than just sketching - it was practicing.

I was practicing picking designs. This might not seem like something we would need to practice, but it is! Just like you gain skills in picking fabrics and finding color combinations you really like, we also need to find design combinations that are pleasing too.

This step is so often left out of quilt books (quilt as desired) that even I had fallen into the idea that I should somehow "magically" know which design is perfect in any given space. Guess what?! I don't know! I need to sketch it and audition it and argue with myself and see something else and compare and contrast and finally, in the end, PICK which one I like best.

Because there is absolutely NO PERFECT DESIGN. It doesn't exist! There is this design or that one or #325 or #15 and every single one of them will work in one way or another.

Just as there are no perfect fabric choices, there are no perfect quilting design choices. There is only the task of choosing.

And to choose, you have to give yourself time to practice, to think, to weigh the designs, to sketch, to play, and yes, to make as many mistakes as possible along the way.

I think from now on I'm going to sit down and say to myself "I need to make some mistakes today." just so I don't ever fall in this trap again of seeking perfection where perfection will never, ever exist.

Perfection isn't the point, and practice is never a waste of time. Two more golden rules I hope to never forget!

Now I'm sorry I can't actually show you what I'm doing, but suffice it to say you'll see it in a few months! So what have you been up to this week?

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 make some mistakes!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Focus, Motivation, and Honoring Feelings

This month seems to be all about motivation: how to stick with a project through thick and thin and make small progress every day.

It just so happens that I picked up another great audio book on this subject: Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence. While the book can often wind around in lengthy (a.k.a boring) ways, it's certainly been eye opening to learn about the two dominate forms of motivation: promotion and prevention.

It's no surprise that I've found myself answering a lot of questions that indicate a promotion mindset. I like setting goals, I love being creative and thinking outside the box. I constantly ask "what if" and have the end result of every project in mind.

But that also means I don't always plan for how long things will take and often overestimate my ability to finish quick projects quickly. I tend to be messy and disorganized, even though I work on that issue nearly every day.

Reading this book has been illuminating because I started this month with a clear focus to work steadily on Duchess Reigns. I expected it would take the entire month to finish up the center medallion. Turns out, it only took 12 days.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Seeing this huge section finished and knowing that I'm about 1/2 way through with the quilt definitely gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. I knew this quilt would be difficult and time consuming from the beginning, but seeing this section finished is really exciting. soon as it was finished I had no desire to work on her further. I clearly have a lot left to do, but at this moment I have absolutely no desire to work on this project.

Digging into this feeling, I find that I just need a break on this project. She's big and overwhelming and I need to honor how I feel about it. I want to work on something lighter and easier for awhile.

Please understand I'm not unhappy with Duchess Reigns by any means. This isn't at all the same feeling I had with the black wholecloth version of Express Your Love. I'm not putting her away to avoid some issue. In actuality I'm going to hang her up in the dining room just so I can live with her on the wall for a bit before stitching out the next section.


From what I'm learning about motivation, part of feeling the drive to finish something for a promotion-focused person is in imagining it done. In the past I've been so focused on finishing, finishing, finishing and grinding a quilt out that I didn't enjoy the process of actually making the quilt at all. And I ended up hating the end result.

So I think taking this time to hang her up, to live with her on the wall every day when I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will give me the time to look at every angle and to fall in love with her yet again.

Taking this break will enable me to stop feeling so pushed to finish her quickly and allow me to savor the experience. I will know it's time to take her off the wall when my pleasure at looking at her will feel diminished by her unfinished state. It's also usually around the time when Josh starts asking "When are you going to actually finish that project?!" He's very patient, but definitely prefers finished quilts hanging on the wall.

So as I roll up this quilt and move her upstairs to hang, what will I be working on in the meantime?

Of course there's never a lack for projects to work on in my sewing room, but for right now I'm feeling an intense urge to piece, to hand stitch, and to make clothes. I want to work with many different techniques and feel pushed and stretched to learn new things. I don't necessarily want to get loads of stuff done, I just want a little vacation, a little break from the intensity of Duchess Reigns.

So here's to honoring your motivation! Whatever you feel driven to do, do it. If you're feeling bogged down with a project, instead of grinding it out, ask the simple question Why? What needs to change in order for this to feel good again?

You might need a break, you might need to change a fabric color, you might just need to find a sunny spot on your deck to relax in with a different project completely. Give yourself a hug and honor your feelings and motivation. After all, you can't do what you don't want to do!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

30. Learn how to Quilt Jagged Scribble, #387

Whew! What a long weekend full of great food, big smiles, and warm hugs. I sure hope everyone had a Happy Mother's Day and felt extra special on our special day!

Today I'm happy to be getting back on the machine and further along with Express Your Love. Let's learn how to fill in those motifs we learned last week with a fun new design called Jagged Scribble:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is basically Cat Hairball filler, but with straight lines and sharp angles. It's super simple and a great way to create a flatter texture so the motif stands out and shows off that much better.

Now let's learn how to quilt it!

Difficulty Level - Beginner.

Design Family - Overlapping.

So with the body and face filled with beautiful motifs and Jagged Scribble, where should we move next? I think we'll tackle a new design in her hair later this week!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 10, 2013

FMQ Friday - Quilting, Sewing, and New Audiobooks, Oh My!

It's been 10 days since I set the goal to work on Duchess Reigns just a bit every day and already I'm seeing huge results:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Through April I had been filled with a negative attitude that it would take WEEKS to finish that feather wing and WEEKS to fill the background and more WEEKS to finish the background.

In reality, it's just taken 10 days to bust through this rut. The center medallion is almost done! Yay!

Mostly this got bogged down because it's quilted so darn dense and it's so extremely excruciatingly BORING to quilt the same identical thing on both sides. I realize now that, while I love symmetry, I hate quilting the same thing over and over again.

So I'm keeping my brain entertained by digging into a new stash of audio books and found a truly terrible tween / witch / paranormal fiction book, Beautiful Creatures, which was just entertaining enough to keep me focused last week. There were times the plot was so ridiculous I had to stop quilting to laugh out loud at just how silly the book was.

I've also been listening to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, a book about introverted people and how we tick. Yep, I'm definitely an extremely introverted person, which might or might not be surprising to you. It's part of the reason you'll see me in videos every week, but probably never in person. I just love being home where it's quiet and peaceful.

When I'm not working on Duchess Reigns, I've been working on a muslin for a button down shirt, following the information from two Craftsy classes:

Susan Khalje in The Couture Dress doesn't make a lot of radical changes to her muslin, but she does layout the process very clearly and really sold me on the importance of making a muslin and how all the pieces should be marked and stitched for most fitting clarity.

Lynda Maynard from Sew the Perfect Fit makes RADICAL changes to make three dresses fit three very different body types. I think I gasped out loud the first time I saw her take a pair of scissors to the muslin and cut it wide open to insert more fabric! What I love about this class is it's making me a lot more fearless about changing a pattern to make it fit better.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've been using information from both classes because both teach garment fitting just a little differently. I like seeing the many different ways fitting works and both teacher's opinions because I know from experience that everyone sews just a bit differently and we have to find the methods that works best for us.

The garment I'm modifying is a cute button down shirt pattern I've had for years (Simplicity 6407). Before I had James the shirt fit great at a size 10 and I made many versions of it in different fabrics. After having my baby, however, certain things just never went back to the way they were before (sound familiar?) and the shirts would always gape weirdly at the buttons in the front.

It's just so nice to be fitting this shirt properly now and be able to make something that looks good. Seeing this top again feels like I'm reuniting with an old friend!

So that's all that's bouncing around my sewing room today. What have you been up to this week?

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,


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Craftsy Class: Free Motion Fillers Volume 2!

Yay! It's finally time to launch my new class on Craftsy: Free Motion Fillers Volume 2!

I really feel like a chicken that's been sitting on a big egg for the past 3 months and now it's finally hatched! Here's a bit about this brand new class:

Just in case you can't watch the video, in Volume 2 you will learn 50 designs (10 brand new, never published before) from 5 new families: Overlapping, Foundational, Edge to Edge, Edge to Center, and Stem Centered. These designs have a much wider range of texture and really unique way of filling through the different areas of your quilts.

Speaking of quilt, for this class we're changing up the project we work on to learn the designs. This time we're stitching out everything into a large tote bag:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This tote bag finishes really big so you can carry loads of crafting supplies, but when you're quilting it on your sewing machine the panels will feel small and easy to move. We're also going to learn these designs on a smaller scale so you get the most bang for your buck - the greatest number of repeats of a design or shape within a small amount of space.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I know well the concern most quilters have with learning on a small scale - that it will make your quilt stiff and uncomfortable to sleep under. But with this class we're learning on a tote bag so this is the perfect project to stitch a little denser and get a lot more practice in a smaller space!

In addition to the 50 designs and tote bag construction, we're also going to learn more about quilting scale, how to pick thread colors, and how to diagnose and fix your thread break issues. I've included a thread break cheat sheet for you to work through whenever you're having thread issues on your machine so you can figure out exactly what is going wrong and get back on track with quilting.

Of course if you ever have issues or questions, you are a click away from connecting with me and getting the help you need! The Craftsy platform is specially designed so you can ask your question right at the spot that confuses you. I check and answer questions every single day so you're sure to get your questions answered within 24 hours.

While you're there, I would definitely advise signing up for some of the free classes Craftsy offers. Perfect Pizza at Home has radically improved my pizza making ability (much to Josh and James delight!) and Know Your Wool blew my mind with the information about rare breeds of sheep and the wool they create.

If you're looking for an awesome free quilting class, definitely sign up for Amy Gibson's 2012 Block of the Month and learn how to piece 20 beautiful blocks and learn a variety of techniques. These free classes are a great place to get started if you've never taken a class on Craftsy before!

I really hope to see you in this new class Free Motion Fillers Volume 2. Remember, you can always find 50% off links to all of my classes here, so just in case, here's the list of all of them:


Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

29. Fun with Quilting Motifs

Judging from the comments I've received lately, this new version of Express Your Love is pretty popular!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

One thing that is making her stand out so beautifully is the extra layer of design I added to her face and body. What is this exactly?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I call this a Motif - it's a drawn design that's added over the quilt fabric and then outlined to define the shape. This type of quilting is marked because you only want THAT design in THAT space and exactly THAT way. It's very specific, often symmetrical, and not something you could stitch free hand (no marking).

How does this differ from all the designs we've learned so far this year? All of the designs we've learned so far are Fillers - free form designs that can be memorized and stitched without marking.

So really the big difference is Motifs are marked, Fillers are not. Motifs are planned ahead and designed to accent your piecing / applique design specifically. Fillers are planned in the sense that you pick a texture you like, but not marked because you stitch them "free hand" and allow your memorization of the pattern to fill the space completely.

I really hope this isn't confusing. I've so far never touched on motifs at all on this blog, though I use them an incredible amount in my quilting design. Just for reference, Duchess Reigns has hundreds of individual motifs from the goddess in the center to the interwoven ring around her, to the lion heads in the corners.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

She also has multiple filler designs which are stitched around the motifs to give them definition and add more texture. The two can be used separately or together. Personally I think well planned motifs surrounded by beautiful filler designs is the best combination, but you could easily quilt a quilt all with marked motifs or you can quilt a quilt entirely with fillers.

So understand we're not suddenly changing the rules here. We're just adding a new tool for our toolbox - planning a design you mark on the surface of your quilt.

Now enough gabbing! Let's watch the video to see how this works!

Click Here if the Video Does Not Appear

In this video I'm drawing motifs into the quilt by hand just based on what I want to see in the quilt, but you can also use quilting stencils to create awesome quilting motifs instead. The best class I've ever taken on this technique is Design It, Quilt It taught by Cindy Needham. Click here to get Cindy's class for 25% off the regular price.

Now if you're just getting started and want to follow along with this version of the quilt, you can click here to order a Printed Fabric Panel.

I'm also quilting this version entirely with Isacord Silky White thread, and those little weird nugget thingies on the end of my pins are actually Pinmoors, pin anchors used for basting with straight pin.

So whatcha think? Are motifs opening up a whole new world of quilting designs for you? Share your ideas or questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Finding a Place for Everything

It's probably pretty obvious that I like to organize. It's not so much that I like the act of organizing itself, but I absolutely love being able to find what I want, exactly when I want it, and exactly in the place it's always supposed to be.

Just in case you've missed this line of posts, most recently I posted on organizing one specific space in my studio and weighing different drawer options to fill the space most efficiently. I then had so many requests for a sewing room tour I had to shoot one to show the whole space in one go. So click on those links if you're interested in learning about my organization feats so far.

But recently my sewing room and kitchen studio have been cluttered to the point of distraction. I have loads of space, I have invested many times in more storage, I have even built extra odds and ends into the place to make it hold far more than it could originally, but I still find myself tripping over bags of wool and bins of scrap fabric on the floor. WHY ISN'T MY ORGANIZATION WORKING?

Because I truly believe that if my space is properly organized, I WILL NOT have things to trip on. Everything will be put away. When I want to play with something I'll pull it out and play with it and at the end of my sewing time, put it away in its proper place.

So today I've been first trying to figure out WHY my sewing area is getting so messy. WHAT specific items are making it feel cluttered and why are they there and not put away properly?

Very quickly I realized that there's a lot of stuff in my studio with no specific space. Certain tools, materials, and even threads are haphazardly organized across many drawers with no rhyme or reason. I can't find a pair of scissors to save my life, but I have 3 different places I'm keeping needles. This is just weird.

So I have a new mantra: LABEL IT!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This morning I went through every drawer and labeled each one with what it specifically contained. This was both fun and will finally stop me from opening the wrong drawer 4 times before picking the correct one.

This also helped me to start cleaning up. Instead of needles in 3 places, I now keep new, unopened sewing needles in one drawer and the packs I've opened in another. All the rotary cutters have a special place, all the yoyo makers, everything that can be lumped into a set group is now together in one space and much easier to find.

I'm also finding from this experience that many things I've put in drawers should NOT be in drawers. Precut fabric is best put in artbins so I can pull the whole bin out and put it on the table while I'm laying out my fabric and planning a design. While most thread I use commonly works great in drawers, this thread in particular needs to move to an artbin:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Why? This is trash/art thread. It's several years old, some of it good, some bad, but none of it will ever be stitched into a quilt. I'm going to make stuff out of it, eventually, but for now this isn't a project I'm needing to jump into, so this thread needs to get out of a drawer that's in such a primary location and up on a shelf out of the way.

Of course, once I started organizing, I found more places I've not used wisely. Many times I'll finish a quilt and just shove all the scraps from the project in one big bin and shove it on the shelf. This is NOT a good way to organize scraps:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Which got me thinking - what IS a good way to organize scraps? I have yardage organization down as my hanging method is still working great, but scraps have never been my forte. This is just not working with so many colors all jumbled up!

I began pulling out red pieces and putting them all in one bag. As soon as I started pulling out the colors and sorting, I realized I would love a bin of just red scraps, a bin of blue, a bin of purple, and so on. Instead of cutting yardage I will be far more likely to use scraps if I know I have a bin of all one color ready to go.

But here's a question: should I keep prints and solids separate? 

I use printed fabrics sparingly (i.e almost never) because they usually hide a pretty quilting design which never makes me happy. I use batiks that read as solids and solid colored fabrics far more. Should I keep these two different types of fabric separate or lump them all together so long as they are the same color? How do you organize this?

I'm leaning towards separate, but that would require 12 bins or more to organize all the colors of the rainbow by color AND by solid / print. So I need more bins...hmm...

Yes, I think I need to get back into the sewing room and look around and think some more. Unfortunately it's right about now that I'm feeling so overwhelmed by the problem that I usually just throw everything in the corner and walk out of the room. I'm trying hard not to do that today and to work through this step by step.

Here's to finding a place for everything, even when that means reorganizing the entire room!

Let's go quilt,


Friday, May 3, 2013

FMQ Friday - Many Projects, Steady Progress

It's Friday (nope, I didn't lose track of the days this week!) and I have to say I'm a little amazed at myself. I'm actually managing to make progress on 3 very different projects all at once!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
The first is of course Express Your Love, which we started a new version of yesterday. Every morning I'm doing my hair, sitting down in front of the cameras and shooting at least 1 video for this quilt.

It's very nice to be finally making steady progress and getting ahead. Life is so much less stressful when I have time to design and think things through. Yes, the last version was a bit stressful because I had absolutely nothing shot and prepared on January 1st when it started. I've definitely learned my lesson from that experience!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The second project sharing the same machine is Duchess Reigns. I actually put this quilt on my Happiness Chart this month so every day I get a check if I've worked on her, or an x if I haven't. I know that might seem silly, but in the last 3 days I've gotten more done on the center medallion than I had quilted in 3 weeks!

I'm also working a bit here and there on my apple core scrap quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Only 2 more rows to go and this little sucker will finally be together! It's been in UFO state for more than a year, so finishing this one up feels really good.

Speaking of feeling REALLY good, I'm super excited because my next Craftsy class is about to launch! Whoo hoo! Free Motion Fillers Volume 2 is coming out next Wednesday!

It has honestly felt like I've been sitting on an egg for the last 3 months waiting on this class to come out. Now it's finally almost here! Just remember to swing by here if you're planning on enrolling in the class. I always like to share my 50% off link so you get the best deal on the class on the very first day!

So that's what's going on in my sewing room. What about you?

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, May 2, 2013

28. Get Tips on Outline Quilting!

It's time to get started with a new version of Express Your Love! For this quilt, I'm getting started with the printed fabric panel created by Spoonflower. Click here to pick up a panel of your own so you can follow along with us!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now before we get started, I do want to address what is happening with the other version of Express Your Love we've worked on so far this year:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

We learned many beautiful designs and techniques on this quilt, but I don't want to finish up the hair or bind it just yet. This quilt is now hung up on my design wall, inspiring me daily with her beautiful presence, and waiting patiently to be finished.

Why don't I want to finish it just yet? Well, I know how my brain works and I know if I finish this quilt right now I might find it hard to start new versions of the same design. I need this to remain "open" in my mind, which means unfinished.

Is this weird? Yes. But it's also honest.

The experience of creating this first version taught me a lot about being honest and true to myself. I honestly didn't like how it was looking halfway through. I had to admit that publicly, deal with the frustration of unsatisfactory design, and figure out ways of fixing it. She is now a testament to the power of honesty, allowing myself to feel and deal with negative feelings, and not be afraid to admit something is wrong.

Learning how to listen to my intuition, even when it was telling me something I didn't want to hear, was a very important step. I'm listening to that same intuition now and it's saying that the best thing to do right this second is start a new version of this quilt with a brand new set of goals, ideas, techniques, and challenges.

So that is what we're going to do! Let's get started by learning what challenges I've placed on this quilt and get tips on outlining it so it's ready to fill with many beautiful designs!

So challenge #1 was to use a new batting! I'm trying out Quilter's Dream Puff, which is a super lofty polyester batting. It's definitely a very different feeling from my usual batting (Quilter's Dream Poly).

Challenge #2 is to use all NEW designs. We have space for over 50 new designs in this quilt and it's going to be loads of fun to play with new textures and ideas over the surface.

Yes, I'll admit, there will be times I will cheat and try out a design in a 4 inch square just to be sure it works and will look good in this quilt, but for the most part we will be learning right on the surface this quilt!

Now one thing I am definitely going to simplify with this version is my thread color. Rather than use multiple colors of thread, this time I'm sticking with one thread: Isacord Silky White. With the amazing textures we're going to play with, I think this one thread color needs to remain constant throughout.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So definitely jump right in and get started with this new version! Even if you've not participated so far, this will be the perfect time to jump in and start learning new designs and techniques for free motion quilting.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Month, New Goals

It's Wednesday and time to check in with what's really stitchin' in the studio!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is the new version of Express Your Love I've started with a Spoonflower fabric panel. We'll be getting started working on her tomorrow, but I figured you might like a sneak peak at what we will be learning this month!

Because this is the first day of the month, I've also been working on my new resolution chart. Yep, I'm still very much obsessed with the Happiness Project! I've made more connections and realizations in the last month than I have in three years and I truly feel like I understand what makes me happy and how to increase the happiness of my family every day.

This month I've decided to focus on pleasure, how to make any task more fun and enjoyable simply by asking "What will make this even better? How can I feel RIGHT right NOW?" I've definitely learned over the last month that I behave better, with less anger or irritation, and with more compassion and kindness when I feel good.

Feeling good is also a theme I'm pulling into my sewing room. While I'm loving my progress with Express Your Love and feeling super happy about everything going on with that quilt, I'm less happy with the progress, or I should say NO progress made lately on Duchess Reigns:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've actually had to put working on this quilt on my monthly chart. Every day I will have to give myself a check if I've worked on her at least a few minutes, or an x if I haven't touched her. I'm trying to incorporate a new idea into my quilting routine - even 5 minutes is enough time to quilt.

So often I consider hopping on the machine to work on this quilt, but I get bogged down by the enormity of this project. I haven't even finished the center medallion yet! How many more hours, bobbins, and whole spools of thread will it take to finish her?! What is five measly minutes going to do in the face of so much work to be done?

Well...I'm definitely NOT going to get her done any sooner by not working on her! I have to lose this idea that I need hours and hours to work. I need to gain a new perspective that any amount of time is the perfect amount of time.

And I need to get over the fact that this is my life now. I'm busy! There's always a million balls in the air! There's always going to be 10 things to focus on at once. Get used to it already!

So this month I want to focus on enjoying the process, not the finished result. More enjoyment, less irritation. More fun, less frustration.

I think this is also going to benefit the process of quilting Express Your Love. By finding more pleasure in my day, I will have more pleasure to share with my family. As they say - If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! But the truth is, it's MY responsibility to find this happiness and lighten up! 

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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