The Free Motion Quilting Project: November 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Basic Butter Cookies

Yes, I'm baking! Whenever life gets stressful and I've found myself stuck on the computer for too many days in a row, I know it's time to get into the kitchen and bake. Last night I pulled out the mixer and James and I whipped up a batch of basic butter cookies while Josh cooked dinner. It was all a bit chaotic, but we managed to make a video nonetheless:

Yes, Black Friday to Cyber Monday is our biggest sale of the year and Josh spent the day checking email and packing orders with Dad. I was busy finishing up the last few edits to the new Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern (yes, it's officially down to the wire).

James spent a lot of time playing video games and watching TV, and yes, I was feeling extremely guilty about that. Sometimes working online feels like a frustrating juggle between work and family life and creative time. Then again, most moms I know work normal jobs and also struggle to make everything fit.

Whenever I feel too guilty that James is playing too much Lego Star Wars, I just remind myself that this is his vacation time, and what did I love to do on break as a kid? Play video games! So I decided last night to stop feeling guilty and make the best of the time we had together in the evening. And that involved baking both blueberry muffins and these basic butter cookies!

Here's the recipe for these Basic Butter Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a low speed mixer until combined. Gradually add the flour, then stir in nuts. Roll into 1-inch ball and place about 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are firm to the touch, but not brown. While still warm, roll the cookies in powdered sugar, then cool completely on a rack and reroll before serving.

These are super simple, but I have ideas for mixing them up a bit. I've never tried these variations, but they sound like they would work great:

Peppermint Variation:

Exchange the vanilla for 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract and exchange the pecans for 1/2 cup chopped candy canes. I think this could be REALLY pepperminty!

Chocolate Variation:

Exclude the pecans, and press the cookies down with a thumbprint and add a few milk chocolate morsels in the middle. Whether it works or not, chocolate and butter are always a good combo!


Leah Day

Marcia V. S.'s Building Blocks

Marcia V. S. writes, "Yay, finished before Thanksgiving. By following the guidance of Leah, I gained so much confidence with free-motion quilting that I quilted three other projects as well in the months since this one was begun. Next there's a queen-size top made years ago that I dare to revisit, add borders, layer, and QUILT!! Thanks so much, Leah and Josh!

"Because I was determined to use fat quarters and other pieces from my stash, there are eight different background fabrics in my quilt which is probably why I must have tried 90 different layouts before I settled on this one! It was going to be a charity quilt, but one of my nieces wants it for Christmas, and I couldn't be more pleased."

Barb M.'s Building Blocks

Barb writes, "Here are the front and back of my finished quilt, sadly the quilting detail does not show all that well on the back. I have learned so much during this endeavour and I want to thank Josh and Leah for encouraging us throughout our learning curve!"

Mary A.'s Building Blocks

Mary writes, "I finished my BBQA last week but just took the picture tonight after hanging it at my front door. (Sorry for the poor quality picture.) I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this quilt. I had never made a quilt-as-you-go project and found it so much fun to practice on small pieces and then to put them together at the end. Leah was a great teacher and I felt like I learned so much about machine quilting. It was truly a great course and I'm so glad I was part of it. My fabric was plain teal and then a gold and teal print and then a gold fabric on the back. I used a gold coloured Isacord thread for the quilting (discovering Isacord thread was definitely a highlight of this project. I have struggled with tension on my Elna every time I've attempted to machine quilt but Isacord thread has nearly eliminated my tension issues.) I used Hobbs 100% cotton batting."

Patricia H.'s Finished Quilt

Linda E. L.'s Finished Building Blocks

Linda writes, "Just finished my BBQA quilt! So many mistakes that I almost didn't post it, but the point of this project was to learn, and if you learn from your mistakes, then I have learned a LOT!

"My fabric was Kona brown and a peach colored fabric purchased when an upholstery shop was going out of business. It was his only bolt of 100% cotton fabric, so I bought the whole bolt at $2.00 a yard!

"It was pieced on a 1936 Singer Featherweight and quilted on a 1948 Singer 15-91. The thread was Superior So Fine 50 wt. in color #429.

"Thanks to Leah And Josh for excellent teaching and motivation and thanks to all my fellow quilters who offered many kind and encouraging comments. It has been quite a journey!"

Annette G.'s Building Blocks

Annette writes, "I have learnt so much and really enjoyed making this quilt.  I love the finished result.  I used all my blue scraps."

Lisa S.'s Building Blocks

Lisa writes, "Finished! I called my quilt "Joyful Etude" because it was such an enjoyable project!"

Friday, November 28, 2014

Huge Black Friday to Cyber Monday Sale!

It's Black Friday and we're celebrating with a huge sale! Until December 1st, all our downloadable books, DVDs, and patterns are 50% off!

Since this is our biggest sale of the year, we've decided to pull out all the stops and also put tables on sale too:

Don't forget the Cyber Monday is an even bigger deal online! This Monday we are launching the new Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern so make sure to swing by to get the very best deal on the pattern all year.

Let's go quilt (or shop!)


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Catherine's Quilt

Here is Catherine H.'s finished Building Blocks quilt:

Catherine writes, "Building Blocks 2014 quilt finished in a nick of time before the holidays. This was a wonderful experience both in terms of teaching and the quilting but also the sharing and encouragement from an international group. So fun to see everyone's color choices, quilting decisions and have company during this past year. My quilt is made from Kona cottons and leftover scraps of wool batting because I like the way quilting shows up on plain surfaces and a high loft. My threads also were 'scrappy.' I used this quilt along to encourage myself to try and practice free motion regularly and when I ran out of one thread , I just switched over to another... Probably about 6 different shades and mix of Poly's, cotton and s bit of silk.. The fabric was prewashed and starched and some but not all blocks were marked with a blue mark b gone pen or white chalk."


Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving and enjoy this wonderful holiday with those you love most!

Let's go eat turkey!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Carol D.'s Finished Building Blocks Quilt

Carol writes, "Here is my completed quilt. I finished it right after we did the baskets as I needed to get on to other projects. After seeing the gorgeous color combos and prints you all have picked, I was a bit mad at myself for going plain. But once it was together, I really like the results and think I like the back the best!! I have really enjoyed this project and have learned soooo much, thanks to Leah and Josh and all of you. Can't wait to see the rest of the finished quilts!"

Seaside Quilter's Building Blocks Quilt

Seaside Quilter writes:

"Thank you Leah and Josh Day for a superb quilt along. There were so many 'firsts' for me - first house block, basket, disappearing nine patch, FMQ straight lines, spirals and circles, joining the blocks ... I've learned such a lot and loved being part of this group which has been so supportive and inspiring.

"I only started patchwork in 2013 so don't have a stash but used left overs from the projects I'd completed last year. The batting is polyester. I used Isacord thread in the top and a cotton Mettler thread in the bobbin. I now have 2 Gidget tables, love the quilting gloves and the supreme slider. I started the blocks on a Bernette 25 then upgraded to an Elna Excellence 760."

Deborah T.'s Finished Building Blocks

Deborah writes, "Thanks so much Leah Day and Josh Day for the great tutorial videos! I started my BBQA in April, finished today 11/24/14. I used material I purchased from JoAnn Fabrics in Cincinnati Ohio, Sulky 100% Viscose Thread (green#1177)."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Leah's Casual Cam - Hand Binding on the Couch

It's still crunch time and I'm ridiculously busy trying to prepare for our Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale and get the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern ready to launch. Yesterday I just couldn't stay on the computer another minute. I plopped down on the couch with an old unfinished project and enjoyed a few hours of relaxing hand binding.

The project I'm finally finishing is Express Your Love and you can still find the free quilt pattern here.

You can also find the Spoonflower Fabric Panel here.

I used Susan Brubaker Knapp's method to bind the quilt with a mitered facing that results in a really beautiful finish on the front of any art quilt. Click Here to find her instructions.

Yes, I'm horribly addicted to Arrow, a super hero series featuring men who like to take their shirts off an awful lot (not that I'm complaining) and women who are either super good or super bad. It's just as fun as Torchwood and Dr. Who, so if you like those shows you'll probably like Arrow too!

So that's it for my lazy Sunday! Today I'm back on the computer and STILL uploading videos for Dancing Butterfly. At least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel - only 9 videos to go!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Leah's Casual Cam - Crunch Time!

I'm so crazy busy right now with so many different things! Here's a casual cam to catch you up on the latest:

Off to upload another video and then go clean up. Things are getting too crazy and the studio is driving me nuts!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Barb B.'s Finished Building Block Quilt

Here we have another beautiful finished Building Block quilt. This one was made by Barbara B.:

Margaret H.'s Finished Building Blocks Quilt

Here is Margaret H's finished Building Blocks:

Margaret writes, "Just to let you know I really enjoyed the project and learned lots of new skills.  I was particularly happy to learn about quilt-as-you-go as I have read about it and was wondering how it worked. I really enjoyed watching Josh do his quilting.  It is very educational to compare the techniques of a beginner with those of an advanced quilter."

Thanks Margaret!

Jean H's Finished Building Blocks

Here is Jean H's finished quilt:

Jean writes, "I finished today! Hurray! I really enjoyed this process and the learning journey you took us on. I appreciated the expertise of Leah but enjoyed the risk taking of the new quilter, Josh. I used Comma designed by Brigitte Heitland for Zen Chic for Moda. Used aurifil thread. Batting used was Hobbs Tuscany silk. Thanks for being such a patient teacher, Leah. Ill post a better backing picture."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Malinda P.'s finished Builing Blocks quilt

This finished quilt belongs to Malinda P., who writes, "I finished my quilt last week just a little slow taking picture, My quilt was mostly pieced on a 1949 featherweight and was quilted on a baby lock medley, I enjoyed it so much gave me a lot of confident to do more FMQ."

It's beautiful, Malinda!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Come Learn With Me at MQX!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Today registration officially starts for MQX East and I would love to see you there!

This is my first time teaching at a big, national show and I'm so excited to to be able to teach three classes and a lecture during this event!

A bit about MQX East - it's located in Manchester, New Hampshire at the Center of New Hampshire Radisson Hotel.

Registration will begin TODAY at 12 pm EST and classes will be held from April 8th to 11th, 2015.

free motion quilting | Leah DayHere's a bit about the classes I'm teaching:

Free Motion Quilting from Feathers to Flames - In this class we will learn around 30 free motion filler designs from my book Free Motion Quilting from Feathers to Flames.

We’ll spend extra time focusing on beautiful feather and flame designs, and discuss many ways to use these designs in real quilts. All skill levels welcome! This class will be taught twice on Wednesday and Saturday.
free motion quilting | Leah Day 
Fill with Feathers: Blocks, Sashing, Borders - Do you love feather quilting designs but feel completely confused by how to use them in real quilts? In this class you will learn how to quilt several feather filler designs, then how to use them in multiple ways within quilt blocks, sashing, and borders.

Life Journey through Goddess Quilts - I'm pulling out all my girls for this lecture! Come see the entire goddess collection and hear the stories behind each quilt - the success and failures and continual learning experience of life and quilt making.

The BEST thing about MQX is the machines are all provided for you! If you're traveling from a great distance or you're like me and hate moving your machines, this is a great way to travel, learn, and build new skills.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mary's Finished Building Blocks quilt

Here's another beautiful finished quilt from the Building Blocks Quilt Along!

This quilt was made by Mary. R.

Mary writes, "Hi Leah and Josh- I really enjoyed this Quilt Along - the first I ever participated in. When we began I was timid and afraid to start quilting. At the end I have much more confidence, a better feel for my machines and what they like or don't like, and a real love for FMQ.
I also learned a lot about piecing and my skills improved so much- prior to this I was, as Cindy Needham calls it, 'a creative piecer.' I pieced and quilted this project using my BERNINA 830 and my Babylock Ellisimo. The solid fabric is Kona cotton, and the prints are cotton from my stash. I used Warm & Natural 100%cotton. Thank you for a wonderful learning experience and the opportunity to be part of this wonderful group of quilters!"
What a wonderful quilt Mary! I love the way you included family photos into your Spinning Square blocks. Thank you so much for sharing your time, energy, and enthusiasm with us!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lisa's Building Blocks Quilt

Here's another finished Building Blocks quilt, this time from Lisa P!

This BBQA has been the best FMQ learning experience. I have enjoyed the international participation of all the members with multiple skill sets, creativity, and the variety of color and pattern choices - sky's the limit for quilt design.

I used wool fabric which had been sitting on a shelf for 20 years. Wool is difficult to mark and the light box was of no help. Most of my FMQ was freehand. This dilemma challenged my beginner skills. I am proud of my accomplishment and grateful to Leah for creating this project. Most people I showed the quilt to said I should keep it but I decided to donate the quilt. This quilting experience has motivated and inspired me to press forward to the next challenge!!!

What a beautiful quilt Lisa! I'm so happy to be able to help you in your quilting journey and use up all that wool fabric!

Have you finished your Building Blocks Quilt? Make sure to link up your story right here or send it to us and we will post it here and link it up for you. 

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, November 14, 2014

Margie's Building Blocks Quilt

I'm posting another Building Blocks story, this time for Margie G!

Margie's Story - I have never done anything like this quilt-along before but boy oh boy, I sure did enjoy it.  I used a layer cake for the back "Oasis" by 3Sisters and my thread was Robison-Anton.
I have been either stippling or qitd (quilt in the ditch) for all my quilts for years but since doing this project, a whole new world has opened up to me.  I am having a blast!  I still don't like circles though.☺️
I am really looking forward to the next project in 2015.  Many thanks to you and Josh for all your encouragement and support during 2014.

With thanks
Margie G
Thank you Margie for sharing your beautiful quilt with us! I've been checking out all the quilts that have been linked up so far and it's so wonderful to see the progress quilters made from Block #1 to Block #12. I'm so proud and excited to see so many quilters building this skill and gaining confidence with free motion quilting!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Doreen's Building Blocks Quilt

So many quilters finishing their Building Blocks quilts this month we decided to hold a little contest and giveaway. When you finish your quilt, just share a blog post about it on your blog, or post it to Pinterest, and then link it up on this Building Blocks Gallery Page.

On Friday each week in November I'm using a random number generator to pick a winner for a free copy of the new Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern - our next quilt along quilt!

Of course, not everyone has a blog or a pinterest account, so if you can't get your photos posted, please feel free to contact us here and I'll post your story for you. Today I received this story from Doreen H, a wonderful quilter who has been a kind, supportive voice to everyone on the Building Blocks Facebook Group. Here's her experience:
Hi guys!

I just wanted to say how much I learned. I started quilting about 5 years ago and was already fairly good when I started this quilt along but I learned SO much!

I used the solid colors like you suggested and in Kona. I did my best to trace but it didn't always work so I made adjustments. I tried hard to follow exactly cuz I knew it was a learning process. I used 100% cotton batting (from JoAnns).

I can't wait to start the next one!!

Thank YOU Doreen for sticking with this project and making such a bright, beautiful quilt!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Casual Cam - Thoughts as I finish Dancing Butterfly

Yes, just as you might be finishing your Building Blocks quilt, I am finishing my Dancing Butterfly Quilt so I can shoot photos of the full quilt tomorrow morning. Here's a video of my thoughts and reflections at this unique moment of this project:

Yes, this quilt will be enjoyed by me and my family, but it's now so much more than just another throw quilt or another bed quilt. So yes, I'm pretty grouchy about sitting through another hour of boring star stitch, but in another way I'm enjoying every last stitch and excited to see where this quilt will take us.

Let's go quilt,


Friday, November 7, 2014

Dream Goddess Reveal

This is a first - I went from wrinkly dyed fabric to completed quilt top in just 2 days!

I used the easiest construction method - No Sewing Until You Quilt It - to put this top together. It's simple, it's quick and it doesn't require a masters degree in complication or tedium to connect the pieces together.

What I love the most is the reveal in the end when you pull all the freezer paper away and reveal the fabrics beneath. It's like a big surprise at the end - TA DA! I love it!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

In the video I mention again the The Paradox of Choice and I highly recommend this book. I've just gotten to the section on regret. Man, I wish I'd read this 3 years ago! I have a bad habit of making decisions, second guessing, then falling into a deep, deep pit of regret over what I choose. It's AWFUL!

After reading this section I'm actively limiting my choices and not second guessing. Once a decision is made, it's OVER. Let it go already. There will always be another quilt to make another choice with!

How about you? Do you like the idea of limiting choices and not second guessing, or is this the fun part of quilting for you?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Paradox of Choice

Ah, yes, the The Paradox of Choice ! I've been listening to this audiobook today as I turn the edges and glue together the giant pieces of the Dream Goddess:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

She will be together completely by this time tomorrow! It's really exciting to be getting back to my goddess series and moving quickly from design to construction.

Which brings me back to The Paradox of Choice - how many choices have gone into this quilt already? Allow me to list them all:

How will the goddess look?
What color will each piece be?
How big will the quilt finish?
Will it be a bed quilt, art quilt, or a mix of the two?
Will I compete with this quilt?
What type of fabric should I use? Print, batik, hand dyed, hand painted?
What thread will I use?
What colors of thread will piece the quilt and quilt it?
What quilting designs will I use on the surface?

I could go on, but I think you get my point. Making a quilt requires a LOT of decisions and there are literally millions of choices. Just the choices between fabrics and threads is mind boggling!

Which is why reading this book is particularly fascinating to me while I work on it. Unlike all previous quilts, for Dream Goddess I have deliberately limited my choices. Or rather, I have declared one master rule for this project:  

Once a decision is made, it cannot be changed.

I tend to be super annoyingly wishy washy when it comes to quilt construction. Should I applique or piece? I don't know... On Monday I'm dead set on applique, then on Tuesday morning I change my mind and decided to piece it instead. Then on Tuesday afternoon I flip back to applique. ARGH!

I'm really tired of this habit and I'm determined to break it with this quilt. Make up your mind and STICK WITH IT! The more I change my mind, the slower I make every decision and the more unsure I feel about it.

According to the book I'm reading, this is very typical. We like to have some choice, but the more choices and decisions you have to make, the more stressful the experience becomes. Just consider all the different colors of Isacord thread - there are over 300 different color. Which is the RIGHT one?

When faced with an endless variety of options, the easier path is not to make a decision but to stare indecisively at the thread rack and drool on the floor. Which I have done in various quilt shops for more time than I care to admit.

I now believe that this is a core reason why I didn't feel very happy with my last few goddess quilts - I had too many options and didn't feel capable of making the BEST decision. I got bogged down mostly in the construction of these quilts and choose complicated, fiddly ways of putting them together.

I also easily get stuck when picking filler designs. Pretty easy to do when we have over 400 to choose from! I get so nitpicky because the designs can really alter the appearance of a quilt from a distance depending on the thread color you use. The only way to know what you will get is to stitch it out on scrap fabric, hang it on a wall, step back and see if you like it.

But testing like this gets boring quick and I'm tired of feeding what is behind it all - the monster that constantly quests for perfection and is never, ever satisfied because this thing or that thing could always have been BETTER.

I want to love my quilts and love the process of creating them. As I read this book, I see now that limiting my choices will likely lead to more satisfaction when the quilt is finished. Rather searching through the entire catalog of thread colors, I'm going to just pick what I already have on hand. Rather than testing 100 different filler designs, I'm going to pick the 10 that jump in my head first.

Rather than vacillating between 10 different ways to construct this quilt, I choose the easiest, fastest method - No Sewing Until You Quilt It - and this top will be finished in just 2 days.

Ultimately I've found this process exhilarating! It's wonderful to be able to move this quickly on a project, and liberating to free myself from constant questioning. Whenever I want to change my mind or question a decision all I've had to do is remind myself of the rule - once a decision is made, it's made. Move on.

I now think that limiting choices is a good thing and am planning to reduce my fabric stash considerably. Just the limitation with this quilt to only use hand dyed fabric forced me to use fabric more creatively and quickly than I have in the past. No, the colors didn't always turn out the way I wanted, but ultimately I think this quilt is going to be far more beautiful because it hasn't been micro-managed to death.

So how about you? When faced with your entire stash of fabric can you easily pull colors and start on a new project? Have you ever set yourself a rule like not changing decisions? What aspects of quilting to you love or hate the most because of the decisions you have to make?

Let's go quilt!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winner to the Fun Mini Blog Hop!

I've picked a winner for the Mini Blog Hop with Kimberly Einmo! Congratulations Diane!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've just sent this little quilt off to Kimberly to keep for a bit. We're going to pass it back and forth, so make sure if you're attending one of Kimberly's classes that you ask to see the Sperm Quilt! Lol!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 3, 2014

Casual Cam - Auditioning Fabrics for Dream Goddess

James was out of school today for parent / teacher conferences so we decided to shoot a short video this morning. He's definitely made this video a lot more entertaining!

I'm off to wash out more dyed fabric!

Leah Day

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Casual Cam Fabric Dyeing Fun!

I've just published another Casual Cam video...and let's just say it's REALLY casual...

The big news this week has been our launch of the spiral bound edition of 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs on our site! We haven't carried this book in the past because we really wanted quilt shops to carry it.

But...turns out most quilt shop owners aren't that easy to please or that willing to order, even from Brewer our distributor. It's a lesson we've learned and we're undecided about printing more books, so get em' while we got em'!

On the video - yep, my desk is usually this messy...actually I consider that rather clean. I'm a bit worried about these casual cams - I'm revealing to the world just how imperfect and messy my life is! Do you like this???

I have to admit being a bit confused by the great reaction we've had to these new videos. For a long time I've sought to make my videos more perfect by setting up lights, doing my hair and make up, and retaking and editing out all my mistakes. Do you like to see the real me better?

Any thoughts you'd like to share would be very welcome in the comments below! I'm off to start rinsing all the fabric you saw in the video. Cross your fingers it turns out pretty!

Let's go dye,


Saturday, November 1, 2014

BEST Halloween EVER!

We had such a great time last night! Trick or treating, and we all were in costume: I was Zelda as you might know from my first casual cam about building the costume

Josh was a commander from Star Trek, James was Boba Fett from Star Wars, and my dad was a hazardous waste / radiation removal guy, which is a surprisingly cheap and scary costume! See us all ready to head out for serious candy acquisition:

Hope you had had a fun and safe Halloween!

Let's go quilt,


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