The Free Motion Quilting Project: October 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fun Mini Blog Hop with Kimberly Einmo

This is the best combination ever: a new friend, quilting, questionable quilting design choices, and ultimately a beautiful quilt!

This is the combo I've made with Kimberly Einmo, a great new friend and fellow Craftsy instructor. We "met" during a Craftsy webinar and decided to work together on this blog hop project.

Kimberly pieced the top and definitely click here to check out her blog and get the details on how she put this cool block together!
If the pattern looks familiar it's the Variable Pinwheel Lone Star bonus design from her class Magical Quilt Blocks Out of the Box.

I love this class because it shows how many blocks you can create from simple elements: half square triangles, diamonds, flying geese and more, and you can put them all together to make a fantastic quilt in the end!

So Kimberly sent me the quilt and I decided to be adventurous! I wanted to experiment and do wild fun things with this quilt! The star was easy enough to knock out with diamonds and triangles quilted over the star points and dense designs from my class Free Motion Fillers Volume 2 stitched over to fill in the backgrounds with texture.

I love to have tons of open space to play with different quilting designs and the background for this block was just perfect. Rather than test out a few ideas, I jumped in with my first brilliant idea - ripples of water like the star has just been plunged into the ocean.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I also decided to trapunto the quilt so the ripply water effects would stand out even more against the denser quilted background. The picture above is the back side of the quilt after I've stitched and clipped the trapunto - pretty puffy eh? You can learn this awesome Trapunto technique in Patsy Thompson's class Ultimate Free Motion Quilting.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Needless to say, I soon came to an abrupt stop when I stepped back from the quilt and....what?!....WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Kimberly emailed me around this time just checking on the progress. Um? Sorry - I've RUINED IT!

I was too far in to rip so I had to go with it and admit I wasn't completely happy with my choices. Fortunately Kimberly was not only super accepting of my design, she also found it funny! She said she had questioned her fabric choices too, so really we were both rather unhappy with the quilt.

We debated through various emails whether to start all over with a new color combo and a design...

Eventually we both hit the brick wall known as the FALL and multiple deadlines, back to school stuff, appointments, and catastrophes fell our way. Recreating this whole project just to make it "perfect" was not an option. We had to be happy with the quilt as it was.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Ultimately I think this is a great lesson - I'm not perfect, and I don't make perfect choices every time. I make guesses, fly in too fast, and sometimes end up with less-than-perfect results. My thread color was the biggest problem on the quilt - it blended too closely with the fabric color in the center star and didn't provide enough contrast to make the star pop.

Another lesson learned -  when you want to accent the piecing, try not to blend with it!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Fortunately as more quilting filled the background, the little wiggly shapes looked less and less like sperm and more like the ripples in water I'd originally envisioned:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now that it's finished, I LOVE this little quilt and the testament to learning, friendship, and adventure it contains!

The best thing about this project? It wouldn't have happened without Craftsy, the awesome online learning platform which connects quilting instructors to students around the world and around the clock.

In honor of our first joint project, Kimberly and I have decided to give away one Craftsy class of your choice. Simply comment on my blog, then click here and comment on Kimberly's blog to be entered to win!

We will pick the winners Tuesday, November 4th and send the free class links via email.
Sorry! This giveaway is over, but we've had a great response so we will definitely be doing this again! 

And just in case you don't win the free class, you can still save 50% on all of Kimberly's classes listed below:
And of course, I have to finish up with a Casual Cam Quilting video so you can see the quilt in person:

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Announcing 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs from Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah DayI'm so happy to announce we've made our most popular book available for online purchase directly from us - 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs!

Inside you will find a high quality photo of each meticulously stitched design; every single one of the 365 filler designs have been stitched out in painstaking detail, no computerized images here.

Please note this is not a primer on free motion quilting basics: instead, this book is an inspirational companion and the largest collection of free motion quilting designs ever published. This new second edition offers a spiral binding to help the book lay flat next to your sewing machine.

Challenge yourself to memorize--not mark--a new design every day for a year. Stitch the designs exactly as shown or mix it up by creating your own variations. There is no limit to the possibilities!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Bind a Quilt by Machine

Whoo hoo! I'm getting such a thrill seeing all the beautiful quilts being finished and posted to the Building Blocks Facebook Group! There are so many beautiful fabric choices and all of them look just amazing.

So today is the FINAL day - the day we wrap it all up by binding the edges of the quilt so it's officially finished.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

For this particular quilt I decided to bind mine and Josh's entirely by machine because it's super speedy and I was able to complete the process within a day or so. You can also machine finish the edge exactly as I show you how to finish the corners, it just takes a lot more time!

So that's it! You now have the connection method detailed right here in this Quilt As You Go post and this machine binding method as well. I'm so looking forward to seeing all the beautiful finished quilts posted to Facebook and also hopefully posted here on our Building Blocks Gallery page.

Yes, I have to admit I'm a bit happy / sad here at the end of this 10 month project. On the one hand it is honestly a relief to be done with this quilt. I'm definitely NEVER going to make another blue and black quilt EVER again! Lol!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This finish is also making me a bit sad because it's been so fun to see so many quilters build skills, ask questions, and support one another so kindly online. We have an amazing community of quilters in the Building Blocks Facebook Group and it's been a delight to share and learn right along with you all year.

In case you're worried, yes, this group will be staying open for everyone that is just starting this project. The Building Blocks Pattern will remain available in our quilt shop so you can still join in and get started anytime.

Until next time...Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quilt As You Go Connecting Building Blocks

It's finally, finally, finally time to CONNECT our BLOCKS! Yes, we've pieced and free motion quilted through 42 blocks, learned loads and gained many new skills with this Building Blocks Quilt!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now it's time to put those skills to the test with this Quilt As You Go connection method. No, this isn't a hard technique to learn, but it does require preparation, attention to detail, and patience. To start, you first need to trim all of your blocks to 8 inches square.

Yes, you may trim through the outline of your block, but most likely your blocks have shrunk slightly to fit within the 8 inch size. Either way it doesn't matter. Center the quilted section under your ruler and cut carefully and accurately.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, you will also have a lot of waste. No one ever said Quilt As You Go was frugal! I've already heard a lot of ideas on the Facebook Group on using the scraps for dog and kitty beds so feel free to reuse them as you can.

Once all 42 blocks are trimmed, take some time to prepare your binding. This is crucial. Please take your time and if you really want an easier experience, starch your fabric TWICE before cutting. You will be a happier camper if you do!

quilt as you go binding

Now at this point I think it's time for a video to get the nitty gritty, up close and personal visual demonstration of this Quilt As You Go technique:

Yes, I machine pieced and machine finished each strip with a simple straight stitch. Here's what the front and back looked like on my finished quilt:

quilt as you go binding
Binding on the Front
quilt as you go quilt
Binding on the Back
Yes, I used contrasting binding from the back of my quilt, and I loved the effect! Don't be afraid of contrasting colors - it's cool!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It's important to note that you do have other options here. The Building Blocks Pattern breaks down the amount of binding for the front, back, and sides, so if you want, you can match the binding color with your backing fabric.

However, if you use this machine finished method, you will have stitching showing on the back of your binding. You could finish each binding strip by hand, which results in a completely flat, seamless stitchless appearance on the front and back. I did this on my quilt 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs and just a warning - it's friggin time consuming!

It might not seem so bad when connecting the blocks into rows, but when you start connecting the rows together, trust me, you will wish you had done it all by machine.

So now let's tackle that part - how to connect the rows together of our Quilt As You Go Quilt!

The rows will come together easier if you have starched the binding strips twice because the fabric will have less play and won't want to wiggle like crazy as you stitch the longer seams.

As the rows come together, it will help to have your machine in a flat bed table or at least pull up a small table nearby to rest the weight of the quilt on. The hardest seam will be the last one where the quilt is nearly at full size and the weight will fight the hardest against you.

Of course, a quilt isn't completely finished without the binding. Check back here tomorrow to see the final binding video so you can finish the edges of your Building Blocks quilt completely!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So that is it! I really hope you've enjoyed this Building Blocks Quilt Along and have learned loads throughout this process. I have certainly learned loads myself about teaching, connecting with so many people at once, and managing a project this massive!

Make sure to link up your finished quilt right here on the Building Blocks Gallery Page and share your experience making it. If you don't have a blog, you can always upload a photo to Pinterest instead.

So what has been the #1 thing you've learned in this project? Are you ready to branch out and start quilting all the quilts you've pieced? Are you looking for what's next?

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Don't worry! We'll have a new quilt along cranking up in December filled with beautiful new designs, applique butterflies, and lots more to learn in 2015.

Sign up for our newsletter so you'll get the best deal on the new Dancing Butterfly Quilt pattern when it first launches!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Casual Cam - Princess Zelda Costume

You know the most frustrating thing about creating videos and teaching online? It's not really REAL time. Everything I do has to be planned in advance so whatever I'm passionate about RIGHT NOW has to wait at least a few weeks before the videos are edited and everything is ready to go live.

So I've decided to start shooting a new series of What's Leah Sewing / Quilting Right Now? These casual cam videos will be super simple - just Josh grabbing one camera and me chatting about what I'm working on and some review of the posts we've had during the week.

Let's get the ball rolling with the first video about my Princess Zelda costume!

Whatcha think? Let me know if you like this new type of video and we'll definitely make more each week!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, October 25, 2014

54. Quilt Stippling and Echoes in a Slash Star

It's finally here! The LAST BLOCK for the Building Blocks Quilt!

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah Day

We're getting our last bit of free motion quilting practice with the designs Stippling, Wiggly U shapes, and Echoes in this Slash Star. We've practiced these designs a lot this year, and I hope by now you feel very confident quilting them on your last block!

Josh was also very excited to be finishing up his last block and we talked a lot about the project and how much his skills have changed over the course of this year.

 YES! You can STILL get started on this project right now--the videos will ALWAYS be available, you get the entire pattern immediately without having to wait for monthly installments, and new quilters are starting the Quilt Along daily and sharing their progress on our super active and fun Facebook group.

So what have you learned about free motion quilting this year? Which block was your favorite and which was your least favorite?

free motion quilting | Leah Day
The main #1 goal of this entire project was to teach absolute beginners how to piece AND free motion quilt. We've learned so many techniques: accurate piecing, pressing seams open, half square triangles, flying geese, paper piecing, improvisational piecing, quilting on a marked lines, and free hand free motion quilting.

I sincerely hope that this project has taught you loads about quilting, helped you build new skills, and given you the confidence to quilt all of your quilts yourself!

Of course, the project isn't completely over yet - we still need to connect all the blocks together Quilt-As-You-Go style to create the finished quilt. Make sure to swing back on Monday to learn how that method works so you can finish your quilt next week!

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

Leah  and Josh Day

Friday, October 24, 2014

#438 - Free Motion Quilt Octopus Legs

Whew! I feel like I've been slaving away at the computer all day. I've been doing a lot of housekeeping - creating invoices, polishing up my Youtube channel, getting distracted with funny videos from channels I love, etc, etc, etc.

This is one of the things I love and hate about being online so much - on the one hand I feel like I've gotten loads accomplished, but on the other hand my quilts downstairs are not going to complete themselves so I'd better get my work done and get off this computer so I can go stitch something!

So here's a new design for this week - Octopus Legs - long wiggly tentacles that will fill your quilts with absolutely gorgeous texture:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Lately I've been changing up how I shoot photos and including a little slip of embroidered fabric with either or placed at the bottom. Whatcha think?

I usually find edited photos with a little copyright symbol annoying and I hate having to spend MORE time on the computer to edit every single photo to put that bit of text in. Shooting this way, I can slip in my websites without having to do any extra work and when the photo gets shared and linked up as I love them to, it's easy to see where you can find more info about that design.

I've also been working on my YouTube thumbnails, which does add more computer time, but I think it's worth it. I certainly like seeing the design front and center rather than a blurry shot of my hands. See what I mean?

Hmm...Octopus Legs...this definitely requires more photos! Josh, James and I actually saw a real octopus for the first time at Sea Life aquarium in Charlotte. It was so still that I nearly missed it perched up at the top of the tank:

Then it was fed and it's legs started to move in the coolest way across the surface of the water. Undulating is a great word to describe it, but it might not do enough justice. Suffice it to say octopi are now one of my favorite creatures!

So that's it for Octopus Legs! Do you have any questions about this free motion quilting design? Where do you plan to use it in your quilts? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 23, 2014

53. Quilt Easy Wiggles in a Slash Star

We're down to our second to last block! This time we're filling our Slash Stars with easy wiggly lines in the background and straight lines over the star:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

If you've quilted all 41 blocks so far, this block should be no problem! I've included lots of tips for marking in this video because no matter how you pieced the slash star, it probably won't fit the quilting guide perfectly.

Josh decided to go totally free hand with his block, filling it with wiggly lines running in the opposite direction from what was printed on his Spoonflower Fabric. He also changed up the lines in the center by only quilting the innermost line.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I like that his blocks became more and more wild as the quilt progressed. It was sometimes hard to sit next to him while he quilted this way (the rule abiding quilter in me wanted to insist he follow the lines exactly), but ultimately I have to admit his block looks pretty cool!

Make sure to watch Josh's video too!

Wow! With one single block left to quilt, our Building Blocks Project is nearly complete! Saturday we will finish up the last block and Monday I'll share all the details for putting the blocks together Quilt-as-you-go style so by this time next week you're project could be complete!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Am I Really Afraid?

Fear is my four letter "f" word. I struggle with it, try to wrap my brain around it, have even made quilts about it.

I recently found this quote in the book I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain.
Both make the mind restless.
I like this quote because many times I have feared things that have never happened to be before (like a car accident), but it is the fear of the potential pain that scares the pants off me.

Just recently I had an interesting opportunity to overcome my fears. I received two emails, nearly back to back, filled with harsh words criticizing my videos and how I teach online.

If you had asked me a week before how I would have reacted to two attacking emails like this, I would likely have looked alarmed and felt totally gutted and afraid at the prospect.

But here's the interesting thing - when the messages came in and I read them, I barely reacted. I shrugged my shoulders with acceptance that I'm not perfect and I can't make everyone happy.

So in the abstract I felt very afraid of being sent mean messages, but in reality, it doesn't really phase me.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've been testing this theory a lot lately. When I fear criticism, I write myself a completely over-the-top letter filled with harsh words. I read it and usually find it's pretty funny!

Don't get me wrong, it still hurts to be cut down particularly when it's a personal attack on how I look or talk, but I'm no longer curled in a quivering ball over it. I'd rather meet this kind of thing when it happens, but stop living in fear of negativity in the abstract.

So what are you afraid of? Is there any way to face the fear and challenge yourself to deal with the emotions that boil up from it?

The ultimate point - don't let your fears hold you back.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inspiration from Nature

Josh here. In case you've been away, Leah and I are now combining our Building Block progress together in the same post to better contrast the pieced fabric and my cheater Spoonflower cloth, as well as my interpretations and unique stitching of each design.

Here is our most recent block in our final Slash Star series, Pebbles & Spiral.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIf you haven't joined us for our Building Blocks Quilt Along, it's never too late! The project and pattern will always be available--you receive the entire pattern immediately upon purchase, no monthly installments, so you can quilt at your own pace and leisure.

If you already have the pattern but need to catch up on our videos, click here to see all of the accompanying posts for the project here.

Now onto today's topic... finding inspiration from nature for free motion quilting designs.

Today I'm going to be more specific when it comes to "nature--" I recently set up a 12 gallon saltwater aquarium, so we'll be talking about captive nature in an artificial environment. In a controlled venue, with glass walls and clear water, you can often appreciate the finer details of fish, rocks, sand, corals, and the water movement effect on the sandbed as the artificial sunlight hits the substrate.

No, the dark ripples on the sand above are not algae as the tank is only four days old but the visual effect of the blueish light as the water movement breaks the surface. The lighting is very, very blue, a little too much for my taste, but it does offer a very unique look, almost of a strong moonlight.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So what does this beautiful tank have to do with quilting? My reef tanks have actually been inspiration for many designs for Leah over the years. The designs above are Brain Coral and Ocean Currents which were both inspired by my past reef tanks.

See the pink holey rock at the far bottom left?
That's the central rock in my new tank, currently lifeless
for the most part but over time will color out again. The
beautiful green coral at bottom center is an open brain
coral, which inspired Leah's Brain Coral filler.
Right now the new tank is "cycling," which means I'm letting the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms take hold of the live rock and sandbed. I have kept a reef tank before--the rocks you see above were actually in a freshwater African cichlid tank for several years.

Assuming one can be extra patient, this is extremely helpful in starting out as you get absolutely zero "hitch hikers" (bad algaes, cyanobacteria, undesirable invertebrates) and you can load the tank with only the good stuff; I purchased a bottle of live cultured microorganisms which, over time, will populate the tank with everything you need for a successful marine system.

In a few weeks, once the obligatory diatom brown algae starts to show up on the glass, I'll add some snails. In a couple more weeks, I'll introduce a fish. Then finally, the coral life will come in.

A green mandarin dragonette, a very challenging yet rewarding
species. His coloration and patterns are a quilt waiting to happen!
What are some things from nature that inspire you to quilt?

Until next week!


Monday, October 20, 2014

52. Quilt a Slash Star with Pebbles and Spiral

Are you still with me? We're down to the last three blocks to quilt and many quilters have already finished their Building Blocks Quilts. Make sure to click here and share a photo or blog post about your experience!

Today we're free motion quilting our second Slash Star with pebbles and a big spiral to create this cool effect:

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah Day

As with all the Slash Stars, the quilting guides don't really fit exactly with this imperfect quilt block so make sure to watch my video to see how I fit the designs so nicely within the star:

Josh decided to mostly stick with the design for this block, but made it a bit easier for himself by quilting Underwater Rocks instead of Pebbling. This is a great variation because Underwater Rocks doesn't require careful, perfect travel stitching so it's faster and easier to stitch.

You can really see the difference between these two designs below. Personally I love Underwater Rocks these days because it's so carefree and easy to quilt and doesn't require as much focus and concentration as Pebbling.

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah Day

So which way will you choose to quilt your Slash Star? Make sure to share it with us on the Building Blocks Facebook Group!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dyeing Experiments!

I've got a craving for color that only dyeing fabric can satisfy! Here's a few of my "before" shots. I'll definitely update this post tomorrow after these have been rinsed out:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah Day

UPDATE - Now it's time to see the "after" shots:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

When dyeing fabric, I always find myself slightly disappointed when the dyes are washed out and the fabric is dried. This came out pretty good, but my red and purple piece really faded which let me know I didn't have enough soda ash mixed in my pre-soak before dyeing.

I added a bit more soda ash and a cup of salt and all my later pieces finished brighter:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

For some reason this green fabric is really calling to me. I think I'll die one more green fabric and quilt these as a 3 part series. I've already got the perfect Halloween themed name: Poison Study.

I've also been dyeing samples for Dream Goddess:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

By hanging up the fabric on the wall I can get a better idea if it's actually going to work and be the right color. It think the green is good, but I need to keep working on the hair colors. I want to transition the colors from bright, fire red near her face to deep purple and then black. 

I've never made a quilt out of completely hand dyed fabrics, unless you count Duchess Reigns, which was a dyed wholecloth. I don't count that quilt because I only used one color...and I haven't finished it yet. I'm mostly just trying to forget it exists! 

For Dream Goddess, I'm using the entire rainbow and planning to applique the pieces together using No Sewing Until You Quilt It to create the top quickly. All around, it's a fun challenge and I love the different fabrics I'm creating!

Let's go dye!


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