The Free Motion Quilting Project: September 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Best Planner EVER!

Yes, I am actually blogging about my day planner. I LOVE it! This is the most amazing daily planner I have ever had in my life!

So what makes this baby so special? Mostly it's the ability to zero in on your exact goals, but also stay balanced with space to jot down more than just the five things on the top of your to-do list.

For me personally, this planner is helping me accomplish my most important goals and not get bogged down with distractions and conflicting priorities. The first chapter of this book is all about goal setting and getting in touch with what is important.

What is really important? For me, it's not writing another book, pattern, or DVD, but having time to hang out with Josh and James and finding time to pursue a creative idea. I hardly ever feel like there's enough time in the day for everything and it's frustrating to feel pulled in so many directions at once.

Fortunately this planner is helping me get back on track and find balance between business, family, and creativity. Each page is broken up like this:

Obviously you fill in the left column with the time breakdown of your day. Space is left below that column for what is on your mind. What are the negative and positive thoughts running through your head today? I find this space extremely helpful because acknowledging the negativity is the first step to doing something about it. If I'm pissed off, I really need to check in with WHY I'm pissed off today!

The next column starts with the day's intention and prioritized list of goals. I love that there's only space for 2 high and 2 medium priority goals. I've had the horrible habit of making a super long list of everything I need to do and then feel totally overwhelmed and unhappy when I can't accomplish it all in one day.
Below that list is a little picture of a circle with a triangle for you to check off all the areas of your life: learning, family & friends, work, health, fun!, goals, nature, and reflection.

Not surprisingly I always manage to check off "work" but rarely check off "Fun!" That is something I definitely need to work on.

On the next page you have space to write down what you are grateful for and any reminders from weekly goals you've set. Cultivating gratitude is such an important daily exercise. I find if I have just 5 minutes in the morning to sit and consider what I'm thankful for, my whole day goes better.

At the end of the day you have space to check in and answer the questions "Did you accomplish all your goals today? If not, what got in the way?" In the opposite column you have space to answer the question "What will you do differently tomorrow?"

This is just amazing. Rather than feel bad and disappointed with myself that I've screwed up some goals or failed to finish a task, this section is helping me come to terms with the fact that I'm not Superwoman! I can't get everything done every day. Stuff comes up!

Finishing up the section page is a section for a self assessment, a little quote for staying on track, and a spot to list your unfinished items that need to be carried over to the next day.

On top of the daily planner, this guide also helps you set weekly and monthly goals. Each week there's an extra page to check in on the past week and reassess. I love these sections because I have a tendency to be pulled in whatever direction the wind is blowing. Long term goals require long term focus and checking in weekly and monthly is definitely going to make a difference.

Wow! Is it scary or cool that I can write this much about my day planner? I have just found it so helpful and love that a friend passed it my way. Now I'm doing the same for you!

Click here to check out the Life Coach in a Book Planner at Amazon.

Let's go quilt,


Monday, September 29, 2014

46. How to Piece a Sawtooth Star Block

It's piecing time! We're piecing block #11 today - a beautiful Sawtooth Star quilt block:

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

This was actually one of the first blocks I ever learned how to piece nearly 10 years ago. I loved the flying geese blocks and basically found any excuse to piece them.

This radiating sawtooth mini quilt was one of my first perfect piecing projects. I learned how to piece an perfect 1 1/2 inch sawtooth in a workshop with Sally Collins and used it as the center for a bigger star, then that as the center for another star and so on to create this radiating effect.

Piecing these stars does require precision and accuracy, both of which I seemed to be lacking when I made this video! Excuse the lack of editing - I believe I had shot the middle section twice and just forgot to delete the first take. Oh well, at least there shouldn't be any confusion about how to piece this block!

Looking for piecing instructions? Find the cutting, piecing, and quilting instructions for each block in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

Let's piece three Sawtooth Stars this week and then learn how to quilt them with all these beautiful designs!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

We're also going to speed up the posting again and Josh and I will be combining our posts together. We will likely finish posting all the videos in early November, but remember - everything is staying online for you to watch and learn so there's no rush if you're just starting this project!

You can absolutely work at your own pace and always find all the videos for this project right here.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Modern Blocks Inspired by Flooring

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've got a craving and only modern quilting can satisfy it! I'm craving simple, free form, non-traditional, improvisational piecing. I also want to work fast with precut fabrics in solid colors. I'm giving myself permission to do all of this and to be a student and experimenter again, not a teacher.

So for this project and blocks I'm allowing myself to piece however I want, whatever I want, and share it here for fun!

These first two blocks popped into my head last night after spending four straight days down on my hands and knees laying laminate wood floors. I got to thinking about the two most important rules of laying a floor:

1. Keep the length of the floor straight across the room, even if the walls aren't straight.
2. Stagger the cuts between boards so they don't form straight lines across the room.

When I compare these rules to piecing, the only one that agrees is to keep the lines straight. When piecing traditional blocks, we usually want the seam lines to all match up perfectly, not be staggered like a floor.  But what would a flooring inspired block look like?

I couldn't shake the idea so I decided to piece up a small block to see. If I followed the rules of flooring with staggered breaks in the planks of wood, then the blocks will look like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Modern Block #1 - Staggered Nicely
What if I laid the floor badly with the breaks lining up very close across the rows? What if I also pushed the edge of piecing and designed the breaks to be just slightly off? I pieced another set of strips and came up with another block:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Modern Block #2 - Badly Laid Floor
I find this last one slightly unsettling. The quilter in me wants the seams to line up evenly across the block. The floor layer in me wants the breaks to be more staggered as above. This block is all wrong, wrong wrong!

But doesn't that also make it wonderfully right?!

What do you think? Which block is your favorite and why? Would you need to piece a third with the seams all matching in the middle?

It seems I can't get enough of wood floors because I'm now considering piecing a wood flooring inspired table runner. I guess if you spend enough time staring at something it eventually becomes inspirational!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, September 26, 2014

365 Designs at MQX Midwest - UPDATE!

While I've been mucking around with flooring, one of my quilts has been off on an adventure. Come see 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs at MQX Midwest!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Nope, she didn't win any ribbons this time around, but I didn't really expect to. This quilt is not really that kind of show winner, I think because it doesn't have a big overall design to catch your eye from far away.

Update! - I was totally wrong about the lack of ribbons! Turns out she won two awards - a faculty award from Jerry Granata and Viewer's Choice!

To me, these two awards mean so much more than the cash prize ribbons, mostly because this time around I'm not entering shows for the ribbons or awards. I'm showing because I want my quilts to be seen and appreciated.

These awards make me feel thoroughly hugged and kissed by the quilting world! It feels like 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs was really appreciated and enjoyed at the show, and that is the whole point.

So I'm off to do another happy dance! Super thank you to everyone who voted for my girl at MQX Midwest!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Flooring Adventures

Yes, we're remodeling once again! It seems like we can't go more than six months without either needing to repair or replace something in our house. So far to date we've replaced the roof, all appliances, the driveway, the plumbing, remodeled two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and the kitchen.

Whew! That sounds like a huge amount of changes, but keep in mind we've lived in this house for eight years, so most of those projects have been quite spaced out. This time around, we're finally tackling the biggest, smelliest, ugliest eye sore in the house: the carpet.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Please accept this home decorating tip - NEVER install red carpets in your house! This wall to wall carpet stretches through all the bedrooms, hall, dining, and living room and it shows every spec of dirt, every crumb of dropped food.

Unfortunately it was already very worn out when we bought this house more than 8 years ago, which big wrinkles down the middle that were deep enough to trip you. It's obvious this carpet has to go, but because it covers such a huge space it's been very hard to plan a time to rip it all out.

Simply put - I hate disrupting my life and routine for renovation work. Josh hates it twice as much as I do, so we can both get pretty grumpy when the house gets chaotic and crowded with tools, wood, dust, and all the other side effects of a big project.

So we're trying to keep the project small and contained - rip the carpet, clean up the floors, and lay laminate wood flooring on top. We're also keeping it small by only tackling the dining, hall, and living room. I might never get around to ripping the red carpet from the bedrooms and that's just fine.

We've already had a few surprises with this project. We began ripping in the dining room, only to find that room was once sealed off with a wall and door that must have been removed by the previous owners. Unfortunately they didn't do a good job patching the floor so Dad had to hammer out their bad work and repair the floor where the boards are uneven.

As we ripped into the hall we were in for another surprise. Underneath all the carpet was the most filthy, ugly linoleum floor. I'd previously encountered this floor in the bathroom. Little did I know - it stretches through the ENTIRE house!

The linoleum is in bad shape and was too thick to lay the floor over so yesterday we took the time to rip it out of the hall way. Did I find gorgeous hardwood floors underneath??? No! Paper, glue, and plywood. My house has yet to ever surprise me with anything beautiful or amazing.

In fact, the more we rip, the more we find evidence of what was original to the house, and it's scary bad. The original carpet in the dining room was avocado green shag which probably complemented this orange linoleum quite nicely. Was everyone living in the 1970's blind?! Lol!

It might sound mean, but the more I learn about my house from doing these remodels, the more I realize that it was seriously butt ugly when it was built. Ugh!

Okay, enough ranting. I'd better get downstairs and quilt before we start again this morning. At least today we'll see real progress as the floors begin to go down. Yay!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Josh's Pebbles & Echoes in a Basket Block

This is Josh, it's Tuesday, so that means it's time for my turn at this week's block: Pebbles and Echoes in our basket block series.

And here's how it came out:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

How are you doing with these basket blocks? I know I really enjoy this set and can't wait to see it all come together. I'd love to hear your experience with the basket blocks so please comment below!

On another note, we are day 2 on our carpet removal and floor installation project upstairs. We're ripping out the monstrosity of a 1970s red carpet in the living room, dining area, and hallway. As you can see below, the carpet and foam layer are history, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Josh Day with broom

You can see I'm a lot happier than I was during our last home improvement project. After a disastrous experience with a contractor who truly put the "con" in contractor, it's nice to be 100% in control of a project. Stuff like this isn't any fun, especially what we're doing today with scraping up the old vinyl flooring that's coated with a millimeter of scum and grease, but the finished result will be well worth it.

See you next week!


Monday, September 22, 2014

45. Quilt a Basket Block with Pebbles and Echoes

It's time to free motion quilt our very last basket block, this time with Pebbles in the basket and rings of Echoes throughout the background:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

When quilting this basket block, I broke it up into three sections: the triangle basket, the background, then the handle. Filling the triangle basket with Pebbling will probably be the most time consuming part of this design. I didn't mark this part of the design because it was easy enough to free hand quilt and fill the pebbles organically through the space.

I did mark the background and basket handle circles because these designs needed to finish exactly as they were drawn on the pattern. I definitely didn't want the background echoes to end up super wobbly as that would have been really noticeable around the basket shape.

The trickiest part of the design will be the basket handle. Make sure to watch the video below to get tips on free motion quilting through this section slowly and carefully for the best results.

With this last basket knocked out, we now have a complete set!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Working on these blocks, we've learned how to quilt echoing, stippling, stacked circles, straight lines, matrix (wiggly grid), wiggly lines, and pebbling. I love these baskets so much I placed them in the four corners of my Building Blocks Quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, you can still join in this fun skill building project! Just pick up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern and start piecing and quilting block by block.

Josh will be giving this block a try tomorrow too so don't forget to swing by and check out his take on free motion quilting pebbles and echoes in a basket block!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cooking and Baking Up a Storm

My favorite part of every day is around 5:30 when Josh and I stop everything and cook dinner together. We've maintained this schedule for more than a year and now no matter what is going on, we stop, turn everything off and head to the kitchen to cook together.

Yesterday we made one of my favorite meals: Three cup chicken with seasoned rice. 

I've long since given up making rice because Josh has it down to a science. He gets the rice started and helps me prep the veggies (we add both broccoli and orange bell pepper to the recipe), then I stir fry the chicken in a matter of minutes.

The weather cooled off this weekend and we've opened all the doors and windows in our house so the cool breeze can blow through. The cooler weather has made me want to start baking again so this morning I broke the mold on my usual Sunday breakfast and made baking powder biscuits instead.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I found this recipe in The Everything Bread Cookbook, which is fabulous! I've successfully made several loaves of the basic white bread and these biscuits came out great. So far every recipe from this book is a winner!

This week we're going to finally rip out and replace this horrible red carpet in our dining room, living room, and hallway. When we first toured this house 8 years ago, I believe my very first comment was "I love the house, but that red carpet has to go." 

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Well, eight years later we're finally doing it! I can't believe it's taken us this long to get around to it, but I'll be so happy to see this horrible carpet go.

Now I smell tomato, garlic, and basil which means Josh has gotten started on Sunday dinner which is always some version of spaghetti. Yum!

Let's go cook!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Sneak Peek on Butterfly

Yep, it's time to start thinking about what comes NEXT for our quilt along next year! We've had a wonderful year sharing videos for the Building Blocks Quilt, which still has many blocks and videos to come.

But my attention is definitely being occupied by the beautiful new quilt taking shape on my design wall:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is the Dancing Butterfly Quilt and it will be our first project to work on together next year. Yes, I did say FIRST - this will not be the only project we make together next year! The gears are already turning in my head planning for a second and possibly third project, but I'll share more on those ideas later...

For this quilt, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and plan the quilt with multiple fabric and thread colors. The result is a BRIGHT, cheerful quilt with loads of texture and interesting designs.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

All this week I've been basting blocks and shooting videos for the quilt pattern. This is a big relief because this time last year, I hadn't even started writing Building Blocks! Working at this pace, I should have all the videos shot by the end of September so Josh can edit them all through October.

Our goal is to release this new quilt pattern in December with all the videos included. This is a bit of a different structure from our past quilt along and will allow you to work at your own pace. I will be posting some videos for free, but these will be shorter versions of the pattern videos.

Why this change? Having the pattern come out, then videos post separately seems to be confusing to many quilters interested in joining in. We will again create a Facebook Group for questions and sharing, and I want everyone to feel open to work at their own pace and share as much as possible.

We have even more plans in the works for this pattern - kits, thread bundles, and maybe even laser cut butterfly packs to save you time cutting out the appliques. All that is still in the planning / organizing phase, so I don't have all the details worked out quite yet, but we're definitely going to have a lot of fun additions to the quilt pattern and many ways for you to join in with this project.

So that's the plan Stan! I hope you're as excited about this quilt as I am and ready to join us for the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along when it kicks off in January!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big Craftsy Sale

Yay! We're heading into fall and Craftsy is celebrating with a big sale!

I'm delighted that the sale has my photo in it! That was taken on the last day of shooting Free Motion Quilting a Sampler, a 9 hour class that covers all the basics of machine quilting and how to quilt a beautiful set of 20 sampler blocks.

So what are you wanting to learn about this fall?

Craftsy has an amazing array of classes from quilting to photography to drawing to spinning. If you have been wanting to learn a new craft or a specific technique within a craft, chances are there is a Craftsy class available to learn it!

All of the classes are online and streaming, and yes, you need a high speed internet connect. The classes NEVER expire so you can watch the videos over and over as much as you like.

If you happen to have an iPad, the iPad app is terrific and allows you to download lessons so you can watch offline. I've found this particularly helpful when downloading a crochet or knitting class. I've downloaded those lessons I need and been able to watch them in the car without an internet connection.

So don't miss out on this big sale! Click Here to check out all the classes and save up to 50% off this weekend!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Amazing Italian Pasta Sauces

Josh here, again!

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects--cooking. More specifically, Italian cooking.

I've shared our signature Sunday spaghetti and meat sauce recipe before, so today I wanted to share a great tip on fresh tomatoes in pasta sauces.

Unfortunately, tomato season is over for us, but we can still find some fresh heirloom tomatoes at the local grocery store. These large, maroon, gnarly tomatoes are wonderful in sauces.

Do you know the secret to cooking good sauce from fresh tomatoes?

You need to skin the tomato, which is easier said than done. However, there's a trick to this... with a small, sharp pairing knife, carefully slit a shallow X at the bottom of the tomato. Bring a pot of water to a mild boil, and using a large slotted spoon, parboil the tomatoes for no more than 1 minute. Immediately scoop out the tomatoes and plunge into a bowl of ice water.

Let cool, and the skin will literally come right off with minimal effort.

Skins do not break down in sauces, and they shred apart, leaving tiny rolled up tubes in your sauce... and that is not good eats!

This tip comes from the excellent Craftsy cooking course, Classic Italian Pasta Sauces, from chef Giuliano Hazan. If you ever wanted to cook authentic, rustic Italian tomato and meat-based sauces, this class is a must-watch. I never knew how simple a tomato sauce could be; in fact, there is one particular family recipe Chef Hazan shares that only has four ingredients--none of which is olive oil, parsley, or basil!

free motion quilting | Leah Day | Josh's pasta and sauce

I love to turn the class on via our family iPad and watch it while I prepare dinner. Chef Hazan is a great instructor and his recipes are simply incredible... the one family recipe pictured above is so amazing it's now one of our go-to staples. And did I mention how easy it is? You can literally throw this together in minutes, cook on the stove, and then serve immediately with your choice of steaming pasta.

Click here to check out "Classic Italian Pasta Sauces" and get the class at a discount.

See you next week,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Josh's Circles and Wiggles in a Basket Block

Josh here. Today I'm stitching circles and wiggles in a basket block.

And here is the finish:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm stitching on Spoonflower cheater cloth. This fabric comes to you already marked, so no piecing required. This is great for beginners! We also have four colorways available for you to choose from.

See you next week!


Monday, September 15, 2014

44. Circles and Wiggles in a Basket Block

Let's knock out another basket block today with circles and wiggles!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, I know circles are the least favorite design of the year. They are challenging even for me, even marking every single shape on the quilt. I'm not exactly sure why - maybe it has to do with swinging around the circle and not being able to see the entire thing as you stitch it.

Even if you make a mistake, remember the trick about filling in circles with spirals to hide mistakes. It's a nice way to add more texture and it stops you from picking up your seam ripper to rip out a wobbly circle.

If you haven't seen this spiral in a circle trick check it out in this video:

Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
I know this design isn't the easiest and I bet Josh is going to change it up a lot tomorrow so make sure to swing by to check out his take on this design!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Getting lost in freestanding lace

I've been quiet for a few days celebrating the launch of my new book and checking in with my goals for the coming year. One of my major goals is to get more familiar with embroidery and learn how to design and digitize beautiful designs that my machine can stitch out with a touch of a button.

Why am I so fascinated by this? Because you can make gorgeous things that used to take months or years by hand and now we can make them in minutes!

This is a beautiful freestanding lace butterfly from Urban Threads. I've seen ads for Urban Threads and their funky, steampunk and gothic inspired designs. Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and went searching through their free standing lace designs and fell in love with the Evenfall Lace collection

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis was so fascinating to watch stitch out because free standing lace is just thread! I hooped a piece of clear, water soluble stabilizer (Super Solvy) and Aurifill 50 wt cotton thread and that's it. Once the piece was stitched, I soaked it in water and all the solvy melted away leaving just the lacy thread butterfly.

Right now I can only dream of digitizing something like this. I'm so confused by digitizing and really have no desire to spend MORE time on my computer learning more software. At this point I just want to get more comfortable with embroidery and learn more about it so I've decided to challenge myself to stitch SOMETHING on my machine every day.

I've been inspired by many Craftsy classes like the Elegant Embroidered Quilt and In the Hoop Gifts. These classes show how beautiful embroidery designs can really punch up a simple quilt and how to make something completely in the hoop with no extra stitching on my machine. It's just amazing what you can do with an embroidery machine and I really haven't pushed myself to learn beyond the basics.

So I'm going to start stitching out something new every day. It might be super simple or it might be extremely complex. I know for a fact that learning this way works and in the end, I'll be able to put all the thread, stabilizer, and fabric to good use. Yep, everyone in my family is going to get something embroidered for Christmas!

Off to embroider!

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Piece Perfect Quilts

Yay! It's finally time to release my new book How to Piece Perfect Quilts!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm so thrilled to be releasing this book today! Click here to check it out now!

Just in case you don't recognize the title, this was actually the very first book I wrote, way back in 2009 before I started this blog. Back then I did a lot more piecing than quilting (hard to believe, right?!) and wanted to share all my tips for piecing blocks and quilts perfectly.

Needless to say, my writing ability has definitely improved over the last five years. Also technology as seriously changed during this time and our biggest request was to make this book tablet-compatible.

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo it made sense to take this book down when we changed websites last year so I could edit, spruce it up, and make it tablet-compatible.

Well, after this experience I now know that changing an existing book is twice as much work as writing a new book! Josh and I teamed up to edit and reorganize the information into eleven chapters. Then I taught my dad cut and piece as we recreated the five quilt projects in the book with prettier fabric colors and much better photos.

free motion quilting | Leah Day | Max GrayTeaching Dad how to cut and piece fabric while working on this book was a great experience. As he asked questions and issues came up, I added those tips to the book. I also decided to insert the original videos (yes, those shot back in 2009 when I was just 25 years old) into the book as well. They might not be the most polished videos I've ever created, but they're still great visual demonstration of how to piece perfectly.

After all this hard work, it feels wonderful to be able to release this book today and know that it's now the best book I could ever write about piecing! I really hope it helps all quilters learn how to prepare fabric, cut, and piece blocks and quilts with confidence.

Now some nitty gritty - due to amazingly good luck we actually have two different versions of the book ready today!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Ebook version - This is an awesome downloadable edition you can order right now, download immediately, and then print on your computer or transfer to your tablet to read and enjoy. This edition also includes links to the 22 piecing videos within the book itself. I've also linked up the table of contents so it's easy to navigate through the book and jump to the chapters you wish to read.

Note - this is an ebook and designed for tablets like iPad using a PDF reading app like iBooks. We will have a kindle version available soon.
Print version - Yes! For the first time ever, this book is available in print! The one downside to the print edition is we couldn't include the videos (where would we link them?!) The upside is you don't have to mess with downloading and printing it yourself. If you're not particularly computer savvy, this is definitely the version for you!

Whew! This has been a lot of work all summer long, but holding the printed book in my hands, or scrolling through the ebook on my iPad, I know that every second spend working on this book was well worth it!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Josh's Stippling & Echo Shell in a Basket Block

Josh here for another block in our basket series. Today I'm stitching Echo Shell and Stippling.

I enjoyed stitching these echo shells. It was so helpful that the echoes were more in the center of the block, opposed to along the perimeter where the stippling is.

The block being set at a right angle was also a great help in my stitching. The angle definitely made things easier. Keep in mind, Leah is left-handed, I am right-handed, so we often utilize opposing angles when we free motion quilt.

I feel I am gaining skill and confidence in my stippling. No real issues to report, and stitching the curved shapes in both stippling and the echo shell was much  more comfortable and came far more naturally to me than they did when I was starting out.

Here is the completed block:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This was a quick and easy block, and it was a lot of fun to stitch out. Very minimal, almost no travel stitching. Looking at the finished block, I now wish I had stitched in the handle. Instead of following the premarked cheater Spoonflower lines, I would have marked outside the path and made a tight, slinkie-like fill through the handle.

And on the note of baskets... the summer growing season is over here in NC, and I just used up our last basketful of green tomatoes. If you still have a lot of green tomatoes on the vine, here is a quick, super easy soup to throw together which is light, delicious, and the perfect end to the summer.

Summer's End Green Tomato Soup

free motion quilting | Leah Day3-4 medium green tomatoes, chopped in 1/2" pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
Kosher or sea salt
Black pepper
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1 pound fresh bratwurst sausage, or 1 pound ground chuck
2 cups homemade chicken stock, or store bought

Brown meat in a cast iron pan, set aside in a colander with paper towel beneath the meat. Drain well and keep aside.

Wipe down cast iron pan, return to heat, add olive oil. Saute onion and green tomatoes with bay leaf for at least 8 minutes. Your goal is to remove the toughness and bitterness from the unripened tomatoes. When fully sweated, add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Incorporate and stir for another 2 minutes.

Add drained and degreased meat and chicken stock. Season with a little more salt and pepper and dried parsley. Cook at medium heat until soup begins to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Can be served with a cilantro and sour cream coleslaw, a splash of Tabasco sauce, and tortilla chips.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Satin Stitching Snag

Alright, I'm hitting against a major design snag in our new quilt along and I need your help!

Here's the deal: my over-complicating nature has flexed her wings and discovered that there are two ways to do machine applique satin stitch:

1 - Satin stitch the block - This requires stabilizer, but with a little practice you can produce some nice looking satin stitching over the edges of your applique. When quilted, you'll stitch on either side of the satin stitching, which will leave a gap like this on the back:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

2 - Satin stitch the quilt - This does not require stabilizer because once the quilt is basted with backing and batting, those extra layers stabilize the satin stitching enough. This feels a little more challenging because everything is squishy because of the batting.

The thing I'm obsessing about is the satin stitching also will obviously show on the back. I know, I know - the back is the BACK, but would this bug you?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Of course, I've already stitched two of mine one way...and now reconsider my decision. Argh!

Let's go quilt,


43. Quilt a Basket Block With Stippling & Echo Shell

Let's get back to our basket blocks today and gain more practice with two classic designs: Stippling and Echo Shell:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I love how simple this design is, and it will absolutely work over any basket block design. Just fill in the basket with echoes and wiggle around the background with Stippling.

You might notice that this block looks a bit different from our marking guide in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern. The reason is Stippling is a design that is easier to quilt free hand once you memorize the rules of the design.

The elements I did mark (the echo shell in the basket and handle design) are harder to free hand quilt without lines to guide you. It's good to remember that you're always allowed to mark lines of you need them. Once you finish quilting you can erase the lines and no one will know you had to mark anything!

Now let's check out the video and learn how to free motion quilt this basket block:

Don't forget to swing by tomorrow to check out Josh's video and his take on free motion quilting this block from a beginner's perspective.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Amazing Applique with Kimberly Einmo

I recently "met" Kimberly Einmo in a Craftsy webinar and we immediately hit it off. She's an awesome quilter and teacher and wonderfully supportive friend. I'm so thrilled to share her new Craftsy class Amazing Applique with you today!

This class is focused on applique, but the cool twist is most of the shapes are cut on the AccuQuilt Go cutter. Kimberly shows you how to quickly and easily cut shapes for piecing and applique from precut fabrics. It's super fast cutting and easy construction - the best of both worlds!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Just in case you're worried - you don't have to have an AccuQuilt Go or Baby in order to make the beautiful quilts in this class. In the class course materials, the applique shapes are also provided in full size so you can trace, fuse, and cut the traditional way you prefer instead. Of course, cutting with a die cutter is much faster, but do understand that you can definitely take this class and make the amazing appliqued quilts even if you don't have an AccuQuilt system.

What really made this class special to me was Kimberly's applique stitching. She uses twin needles to zigzag finish the edges of her circle appliques. I haven't seen twin needles used in years so this was a real treat to find an easy project to play with them!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So I know what I'll be doing today! Kicking back on the couch with Kimberly Einmo's Amazing Applique class playing on my iPad. Click here to sign up for this class today and save 25%!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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