The Free Motion Quilting Project: 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What is Your Word for 2016?

Yes, I'm one of those people that picks a guiding word for the year. Or rather a word seems to pick me. Two years ago I followed a guided meditation and the word RELAX barreled into my subconscious like a freight train.

This past year my word has been CREATE and I've certainly done a lot of that! I've created far more in the past year than many years combined, largely by learning how to get out of my own way and allow things to flow with less need for perfection.

I've definitely found having a guiding word to be a great learning experience. It has helped me stay more focused on an overarching goal that could otherwise have been lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Sometimes my yearly word has been challenging.

I know Relax doesn't sound like a challenging word, but it actually was! I had to learn how to relax, which started with learning how to stop working all the time. I'd developed a habit for always keeping my hands busy which seemed comforting, but actually made me feel increasingly anxious. I had to learn how to be still and really relax and overcome my fears of not working and not finishing my projects.

So your word for the year can be a personal challenge. Or it can be a guide to point you in the right direction.

My word for this year definitely feels like a challenge. It's GROW.

Now there are a lot of ways to take this word, but I've decided to take it at the literal meaning - grow plants. Yes, I'm going to be tackling gardening this year with gusto!

Gardening and I have a love / hate relationship. I love landscaping - leveling the land, building walls, hauling dirt, and improving my yard. I like building gardens, but I'm not a huge fan of actually growing the plants inside the garden.

It seems every time I put a lot of effort into a plant, it dies. Or bugs eat it. Or rabbits eat all of the beautiful collard green plants I've just planted right down to the ground (yep, happened this fall). It just seems pointless and temporary when I could spend that time making a quilt that will last forever and won't require daily watering!

So this word is going to challenge me to lose my bad attitude, get over my gardening grumbles, and learn to embrace growing things with my whole heart.

I'm also going to focus on growth in other areas of my life too. I want to grow as an artist and to feel more confidence with drawing and painting. Just writing that sentence would have been unheard of a few years ago because I've never really considered myself an Artist.

But these days, it's hard to deny. I make things, many of them artistic, so I'm an artist now. ;-) It's high time I get over that hangup.

I've decided to challenge myself to draw something, anything, every single day. Along with the drawing, I'm going to record a little journal entry so each day my drawing will be sort of like a diary for the entire year.

I know setting this intention and following through every day for 365 days has the power to change my life. I've experienced it before, and I want to see where this leads.

So what is your word for 2016? Do many words feel right this year or do you have one word shouting at you for attention? What are your intentions for this new year?

Let's go quilt (or draw),

Leah Day

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Enjoying the Quiet After Christmas

You'll have to excuse me if I'm a bit quiet this week. This is my favorite time of the year - the magical week between Christmas and New Years that just feels like an extra bonus before the new year begins on January 1st.

I usually dive in deep on a quilting project during this week and quilt like a mad woman on only the things I want to work on.

This year, I'm feeling pulled towards the Dream Goddess quilt as well as a big push to finish my year long scrapbook which sort of stalled out around the summer. I'm at that tricky stage of having done so much I can't drop it, but jeez - SCRAPBOOKING? What the heck was I thinking?

I'm also taking this week to get all my final ducks in a row with our new quilt along. We have a wonderful Machine Quilting Block Party planned for you this year and it's going to be so much fun to teach a block-by-block, month-by-month quilt along again. 

It's definitely a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work! I'm going to take the next few days to be off the computer so that I'll fully energized and ready to roll with the new block party on January 1st.

I hope you're planning to join us for this fun new monthly project in 2016!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I do hope you're having a wonderful, relaxing holiday! We've had a wonderful day together, though we began with a bit of a rocky start.

You see... my sweet, sweet eight year old has been having some gratitude problems this year. James really couldn't wrap his head around the fact that in our family Christmas is about showing your appreciation and love for the people in your life. He seemed to think it was all about presents and after not one, but SEVERAL behavior issues over the last few days Josh and I decided we needed to take drastic action.

In horribly Grinch fashion, we stole all the presents from under the tree and moved them to our bedroom closet. Then we picked out a big box and filled it with packing material and a bag of smooth, heavy river pebbles (shaking the box yields the same results as shaking a massive Lego set). We wrapped it up beautifully and set it out as the only present under the Christmas tree.

Why give my child a bag of rocks for Christmas? Well, we were all out of coal! It's been raining for days so we didn't want to rake up wet sticks and leaves so the bag of rocks seemed like the best option.

Before you think we traumatized our son, rest assured we did open presents after an important life lesson. We gave James time to feel his disappointment and to express his feelings. Then we expressed our disappointment in his behavior and that even though Christmas morning is usually new toy bonanza, he always needs to remember that getting tons of presents is not what this holiday is really about.

Josh and I found two quotes about gratitude that perfectly illustrated what we wanted James to learn from this experience:

After a few tears we headed back to the closet and opened up presents together snuggled in bed. I love my son and I wanted him to have a marvelous day, but this year marked a serious turning point.

We no longer have a child who can be swept away by the mystery and magic of Christmas and Santa Claus. He knows who the real Santa is and we need to adjust our Christmas accordingly. This day needs to be much less about presents and much more about having fun together and feeling gratitude for what we already have. 

Merry Christmas,

Leah Day

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Tree Magic

Our Christmas tree was a total bust this year. Josh made the call last night that it was too unstable to trust so we carefully took off the ornaments and lights, sucked the water out of the base, and threw the tree out the front door.

Christmas trees are really special to Josh and I. Josh loves the smell of pine which he says makes the air easier to breathe. I love a big Christmas tree for the magic it brings to the house. The combination of lights, ornaments, strings of beads, and bows always make our tree a festive knock out.

Christmas Tree Symbolism

I also love having a big, lush Christmas tree because I associate it with wholeness. In my family growing up, the very first year we didn't have a big tree was when we experienced a family catastrophe on Thanksgiving and we suddenly had a wrecked car, no money, and everyone was angry, sad, and upset.

We went out into the woods and cut down a spindly cedar tree that year. I remember really liking that tree, even though it was so dramatically different from all the Christmas trees we'd had in years past, probably because it so accurately illustrated how everyone was feeling: hollowed out, unable to take more weight, sad, on the verge of collapse. 

For this reason, Josh and I have always tried to find the tallest, fattest tree that will fit into our house. Even when we didn't have a truck and had to cram the tree into a tiny car, we always made the biggest tree somehow fit.

But this was the first year choosing the biggest tree came with consequences - it fell completely over, smashing ornaments and spreading a gallon of water over the floor. It honestly broke my heart.

Creating Change

My word for this year has been Create and I feel like this has been enormously helpful. Being creative has always given me a way to wrap my brain around challenging situations and process hard emotions.

Creating is a refuge for me as well, so when times have gotten tough I've been able to retreat and create something beautiful and, while it often didn't fix things completely, it did help me feel more in control over my situation.

Which is why after writing most of this post, I realized that I COULD NOT just leave that tree on the front steps. It wasn't working as it was, but what can I create from that tree that will work?

After James went to bed, Josh and I headed outside with a pair of loppers, handheld saw and headlamps and cut that once massive, heavy, lopsided tree in half. It's not going to be tipping over now!

We brought it back inside and decorated it once again, but I noticed immediately I had a very different attitude about it. The first time the tree fell, I got really angry. Like UniKitty angry.

I was so mad I didn't want to decorate it again. I didn't trust that tree not to ruin my day and smash more ornaments. I also didn't want to risk more water spilling on our delicate wood floors.

Bring back the Magic

Taking a saw to the tree and lopping it in half really fixed it for me. I felt in control again and since we began this transformation at night, it suddenly became a fun surprise for James in the morning. We even topped the little tree with his Elf on the Shelf to make it seem like the Elf did it for him:

In this way, I feel like we brought the magic back. James is 8 years old and definitely knows Santa isn't real and the Elf doesn't move on his own, but I think he will be surprised with the new, baby tree which actually looks even better than the first.

Now this tree really makes me happy! It's short and funny looking, but when I look down at it, I'm reminded of how important it is to create the change I want in my life and to keep moving forward.

Merry Christmas,

Leah Day

Friday, December 18, 2015

Machine Quilt Wire Flourish #459

Ready to learn a new machine quilting design? Today's design, Wire Flourish, is inspired by metal work and the beautiful fleur-de-lis and twisted sculptures I grew up watching my dad hammer out in his blacksmith shop.

The idea behind this design was simple - start with a wiggly spiral line, then branch out with to more spirals to both sides to form a symmetrical wire shape. The next step is to travel stitch and echo this starting line to expand the design and make it stand out on the surface of your quilt. See how to machine quilt it in this free video:

The only downside of Wire Flourish is the travel stitching required to create the starting wire. This can be a bit time consuming to start each shape, but you can always branch out and stitch a wider line instead of travel stitching. The key is finding out what works for you and sticking with it through your quilt so it looks consistent.

Looking for more great quilting tips? Learn much more about machine quilting and be inspired by hundreds of designs in the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Quilty Box Has Arrived!

Has your Quilty Box arrive yet? I was super excited to receive mine this month because it's extra special - I got to select the fabric and supplies for you this month!

Included in the box is a copy of Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers, a DVD that will guide you through quilting 30 beautiful designs. Within this DVD I teach you now to quilt the designs into small squares, then connect the squares together to make a cool free motion sampler quilt.

I selected the rest of the items in the box with this project in mind. You can easily quilt the designs into the 10-inch precut squares of Island Batik's London Fog, a gorgeous collection of batik fabrics.

Easily mark the squares you need with the enclosed 6 1/2 inch Frosted Olfa cutting ruler, and quilt each block with the spool of Isacord Polyester Embroidery Thread, my absolute favorite thread for free motion quilting.

Yes, you can still get this box of fun get at! Click Here to buy just this box for yourself. Click Here to subscribe to Quilty Box and make sure to use the coupon code LeahDec10 to save $10 on your first box!

Learn more about the materials I selected in this Quilty Box in this video:

Now you might be wondering about the DVD - we no longer carry the disc version of this DVD in our store. This DVD is now available as a downloadable video workshop that includes the sampler quilt pattern plus printable worksheets for all 30 designs. Click Here to learn more now.

I had tons of fun putting this collection of supplies together for you and I hope you enjoy learning how to free motion quilt on the beautiful Island Batik fabrics in your Quilty Box.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, December 14, 2015

Machine Quilt Light Spiral #458

Ready to learn a fun machine quilting design that will be perfect for a quick Christmas project? Let's learn how to free motion quilt Light Spiral!

This beautiful design was included in the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along, and today I feel like machine quilting this design on a much smaller scale. When quilted this way, the spirals get smaller and the lights can get bigger, making for a dramatic thread painted effect for your quilts. Learn how to stitch it in this new video:

I've been promising Josh a new set of hot mitts for pulling stuff out of the oven so today I sliced up some Insulbrite (heat reflective batting) and began machine quilting Light Spiral over the surface.
This looks super cute and the denser quilting design will hold this oven mitt together very sturdily so it lasts many years.

Do you have a special holiday themed project in the works?  Don't leave it until the very last minute! Aim to spend at least 15 minutes working on it every day and you'll definitely have it ready in time for Christmas.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, December 11, 2015

Don't Buy Your Kid a Toy Sewing Machine

Earlier this week I shared a post about buying a new sewing machine and today I have to follow up with an additional rant / tip - Please, please, please don't buy your kid a toy sewing machine!

I was once an unlucky recipient of a toy sewing machine when I was around 14 years old. I had wanted a new machine for years, but I just couldn't wrap my brain around the cost of a real machine. I saw a toy machine at Walmart and figured it would be just as good as the others.

I can remember well the total letdown of that little toy machine - all the parts were cheap plastic and the foot attachment was so wobbly stitching a straight seam was absolutely impossible. A machine should never be described as flexible, but that is exactly what that flimsy plastic machine was!

But here is what this machine was to me - frustrating, annoying, and yet another barrier between me and learning to sew properly. Many times I blamed myself for the uneven stitches and wobbly seams when in reality it was entirely due to the cheap machine I was using.

Now here's an interesting question I was asked today - Is a real sewing machine dangerous?

Stitch your finger one time and
you'll never make that mistake again!
I had to stop for a second and think about that. Whether it's a toy or a real sewing machine, the only way to get hurt is to stitch through your fingers. When I was a kid, I never let my hands get anywhere near the needle. I could see that sharp needle moving up and down and it didn't take much imagination to know how badly it would hurt to stitch over my fingers.

Looking at a toy sewing machine for sale at Walmart this morning, I found the entire needle area covered with a thick plastic guard. Clearly this thing was designed with parents fears as the #1 concern - not the child's enjoyment or skill building potential.

Please don't get me wrong - I absolutely hate to see my son get hurt, but I do think some valuable lessons in life are taught by using real materials. Your kid will only have to stitch through their finger one time to learn THAT HURTS. By getting hurt, they will learn to respect that piece of equipment and pay more attention to what they are doing.

Leah laying bricks in 7th grade
I believe in teaching my child to use real tools because that's how I grew up. My dad handed me a real hammer and nails and showed me how to drive them into a piece of wood to make a box. I smashed the crap out of my fingers and thumb for hours, cried many tears, but I kept at it and eventually learned how to hammer a nail without hurting myself.

Unfortunately it seems most parents aren't like my dad and prefer instead to infantilize their children with the toy version of everything from sewing machines to ovens to pottery wheels.

I could get James an Easy Bake Oven because they're designed for kids and supposedly safer than learning to bake with a real oven. But will opening little packets of processed powders to make strange colored cakes and cookies really teach him the type of baking I want him to learn?

I'd rather risk a burn teaching him how to open the oven and pull out a pan of muffins than risk my child growing into an adult who doesn't know how to really cook. Consider the message we're sending to our kids - you're not old enough, this is too dangerous for you, you need to be safe at all times.

At what point do we risk a little pain in exchange for our child understanding that the real world doesn't come with safety guards on every surface?

What this all really comes down to is common sense. If your child is mature and capable of listening, learning, and focusing on their work with attention, then they are ready for a real sewing machine.

If you're worried they will get hurt because that kid is too flighty and distracted, wait another year and look for a sewing camp or class in your area during the summer so they can learn the basics with a professional teacher.

I also think a real sewing machine should be an investment. That means spending $300 - $500 for a solidly built, REAL machine with changeable feet that can grow with your child. Unless you're willing to commit that kind of investment into your child's potential sewing future, don't buy in.

Whatever you do, don't buy a cheap toy sewing machine thinking that you can just get a better one once your kid proves they like sewing. You might as well take her passion for sewing and kick it off a cliff because that will be one frustrated kid. Who wants to sew or quilt when it means constantly fighting with a bad machine?

Buy a book on hand sewing instead and explain that this is how all clothing was made once upon a time, and it's still a viable way of stitching fabric together. If your kid really wants to learn how to sew, a needle and thread is a simple, inexpensive way to get started.

Let's go quilt (or sew)!

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Buy a Sewing Machine

It's the perfect time of the year to be shopping for a new sewing machine, but what machine is the best? How do you purchase a new machine with confidence, knowing you're buying the very best machine for you? And how do you eliminate the risk of winding up with a lemon - a machine that just doesn't do what you want?

I recently did the math and realized I've owned 15 different machines in the last 15 years and I've purchased several from dealers, online from big sewing machine sites, and on Ebay, and I've finally sat down and shared my top 10 tips for buying a new sewing machine. Watch it all in this free video:

Yes, I am a bit of a foot junkie! I realized a few years ago that 99% of my attitude to a specific machine had to do with the feet - how they attached, how secure they fit on the machine, and how accurately they measured the seam.

Wobbly feet make me crazy, and this is one of the main reasons I've steered clear of certain sewing machine brands. If I touch the foot and it wiggles, I usually keep looking for another machine.

Click Here to read more about buying a new sewing machine. 

Are you planning to buy a new machine this year? What are you specifically looking for and do you plan to trade in or keep the machine you have now? Have you ever purchased a machine you regretted? Did you keep it or trade it in for something better?

Buying a new machine is really fun and exciting, and I hope this video has helped you understand the buying process and how to make sure you're buying the perfect machine for you.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No Sugar in December?

Yeah...I've been overdoing it in the sugar department lately. One of my favorite all time snacks is a cup of Earl Grey tea and a chocolate biscotti, or even better the lemon pound cake from Starbucks. Ahhh....delicious!

But too many cookies and caffeine really wreck havoc with my digestive system and I've decided to abstain from sugar for the next 30 days. Unfortunately the next 30 days just happens to be during the worst time of the year for sugary treats!

I'm taking my inspiration from a story in Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project. She also struggled with this dilemma during the holidays, but found the best solution was to totally cut off all sugar consumption. Eating a cookie here or there created too much temptation to eat more, but making a solid decision not to eat any sweets made it much easier to stick with her goal.

While this may make me sound like a total scrooge, I think it's a good thing to set limits, particularly around this time of the year. I still plan to bake and decorate cookies with James, and I'm sure I will appreciate the time much better without the accompanying sugar highs and lows that usually come with it.

Have you ever had to cut out sugar during the holidays, or challenged yourself to some other diet restriction during a challenging time? How did you get through it, and did it become a permanent habit for your life?

I'm off to see if my UN-caffinated brain can get some work done!

Leah Day

Monday, December 7, 2015

Find Me on The Quilt Show!

This summer my family enjoyed a short vacation in Asheville, NC and I jumped at the chance to meet The Quilt Show stars Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson and film a fun episode about machine quilting! Watch the short trailer for this show first:
I had a great time sharing about my books and blog, as well as teaching Ricky about free motion quilting. I shared my quilt-in-progress Dream Goddess with Alex and the inspiration for my goddess quilt series.

Click Here to watch the show with your Quilt Show membership!

Watching this episode, I'm struck today by just how lucky and blessed I am to work in such a creative, supportive industry. I LOVE being a quilter and teaching online, and I'm so very thankful for the technology that has allowed me to connect with so many people.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, December 4, 2015

Machine Quilt Parchment Roll #457

It's Friday which means it's time for a new machine quilting design! Earlier this week James and I were baking cookies and I took a look at the end of the roll of parchment paper and thought "Hey, I can stitch that!" 

This design is basically a riff on Belly Buttons, but this time we're filling the insides of the circles with spirals. Learn how to machine quilt it in this free video:

So where will this new machine quilting design work best? I think it will work great anywhere in your quilts! You can expand the circles and spirals to make for a very funky all-over style filler, and you can also shrink the shapes down to fill in tiny areas too.

Have tons of fun quilting this design and remember to share it with your friends if you like it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ready to Quilt Sunshine Surprise?

Are you ready to jump into an exciting new quilting project with me? In 2016 we're starting a new MYSTERY quilt along that will teach you how to piece AND machine quilt a beautiful sampler quilt.

Just in case you've never joined us for a quilt along, each year we have a fun project to work on together block by block. For the past two years thousands of quilters have joined our quilt along projects and Josh and I have been delighted to see so many quilters build new skills and confidence for machine quilting.

I can't show you our new quilt because it's a mystery, but here's a couple sneak peeks of our first block!

The name of the quilt is Sunshine Surprise and as you can see it's going to be a bright, cheerful quilt filled with beautiful designs.

I've intentionally designed this quilt to be for absolute beginners. We will learn how to piece each block step by step, then we will mark the quilting design on the block surface. By quilting on the marked lines, you will be able to focus on moving the block and controlling the speed of your machine - two of the hardest things to master with free motion quilting.

Learn more about this fun new project and find the material list here.

So are you ready to jump into the Machine Quilting Block Party next year? Be looking for more sneak peeks between now and January 1st when the patterns go on sale!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 30, 2015

Look Good to Feel Good

Lately I've been rolling out of bed, pulling my hair up in a messy ponytail, and getting to work looking like a total mess. After a few days, I start feeling a bit down and I catch myself questioning my decisions and comparing myself to others. It's easy to start down a slippery slope of negative thinking, and as you can see in this video, it ain't pretty!

I really believe that how you look has a direct reflection on how you feel. For years I didn't care much about my appearance. It seemed superfluous and silly to worry about combing my hair when I had videos to shoot, a toddler to keep track of, and a book to write all at the same time.

Part of the problem is I had never learned how to wear make up or do my hair. This is one of those things most girls learn in high school, which is nice because if you show up to class looking like a clown someone will clue you in.

In high school, I just didn't like the feel of makeup or see the benefit of wearing it. My self esteem was so incredibly low at that time that wearing makeup would probably have made me feel worse, not better. I just felt freakishly ugly and no amount of blush or lipstick would change that.

What really changed my perspective, and my attitude towards makeup and my appearance was shooting for Craftsy in 2012. I was quite nervous on set and anxious about how I looked and the clothes I'd brought to wear. My make up artist was so sweet and comforting and over and over she told me, "You are SO pretty!"

Leah Day | Quilting teacher
It was such a radical change to see myself made up and the best features of my face accented so nicely. I'd never seen this before and it made such a difference for filming that first class.

Since then, I've made much more effort when filming videos to look good or at least have combed my hair before turning the camera on. I don't film every day so it's very easy to fall back into my old, sloppy habits as you saw in this video.

I know for sure that taking a bit more time to look good makes me feel much better about myself. I question myself less, I value myself more, and every time I catch my appearance in the mirror, I have something to smile about.

So how about you? Do you feel better about yourself when you put energy into your appearance? When did you learn how to use make up and who taught you how? Has there ever been a time of your life that you felt particularly ugly and how did you move past that period?

This can be a sensitive topic and when writing this post I found myself revisiting a depressing time in high school and postpartum depression after James was born. Both are still hard times to look back on, but I can see now how both periods were made much worse because I didn't know how to make myself look better or feel better.

I've read recently that how you look is a reflection if your interior dialog. What are you reflecting today?

Let's get moving, let's try something new,

Leah Day

Friday, November 27, 2015

How to Machine Quilt Tricir #456

Yes, it may be Black Friday but that doesn't mean it's not also Free Motion Friday! It's time to learn a cool new machine quilting design that combines triangles and circles, hence the name Tricir.

This new machine quilting design is pretty simple, but there is a bit of travel stitching in order to get the circle nicely in the middle of the triangle. Just take it slow and don't panic if you stitch off the lines. You'll expand each shape with echoes so even if it's not perfect, it will still look great.

Learn how to machine quilt this design in this free video:

Looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon quilting? Check out this new playlist of quilting designs which will auto-play one after the other for a few hours of quilting fun!

And just in case you're not all shopped out, we have a big sale on workshops at
Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Modern Chevron Patchwork Quilt

It's Quilty Box time! I received a super collection of cool gear in this month's Quilty Box that was selected by Vanessa Wilson, The Crafty Gemini. It included some precut printed fabrics, beautiful threads, and a funky angle slicing ruler!

I really wanted to keep my project simple and quick because it's only one day until Thanksgiving and definitely not a time to take on something complicated and fussy. I kept the pieces big, cuts simple, and put together a Modern Chevron patchwork quilt that would be the perfect throw quilt for the couch.

Learn how to piece this patchwork quilt in this free video:

Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you don't miss any of our new videos coming out every week!

Modern Chevron Patchwork Quilt Pattern

I used 18 prints from the Birds & Bees precut layer cake pack (precut 10 inch squares) and 18 10-inch squares of white fabric to make 36 blocks.

 I spent a lot of time playing around with the layout of this quilt and I think there are MANY unique possibilities using the 10" slicer ruler. I liked this chevron pattern because it reminded me of the funky chevron crocheted blankets I grew up with, only this patchwork version was MUCH easier and faster to create.

By the way, next month I'm picking the gear for your Quilty Box! Make sure to Click Here and sign up today use the coupon code LeahDec10 and save $10 on your first box and enjoy the cool gear and unique project we'll make together.

So what are you going to make with the materials in your Quilty Box? This is definitely one quilt you can slice and stitch in an hour or two so it's perfect for this time crunch time of the year!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Quilt an Olaf Frozen Quilt Panel

Yes, Olaf is in the house! I found this delightful Frozen quilt panel and realized it would be the perfect gift for my young niece and a great way to practice machine quilting.

Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt
I found this project to be really fun and a great learning experience. The challenge is the same as every quilt: how do we quilt it? Where do the design go and what will look best in which space?

Having hundreds of designs to choose from can really make it hard to pick just a few designs to work with. I knew Olaf didn't need to be elaborately or densely quilted. In fact, I had a bit of a time crunch on this project and needed to have him off the machine in just a day or two, which meant the quilting design needed to be fast and not fussy.

What makes a design fussy? Lots of thread color changes, thread breaks, and dense quilting. Thread breaks and color changes have long been the bane of my existence. It's both time consuming and distracting to stop, pull out your bobbin and re-thread the top of the machine. Dense quilting is also S...L...O...W. If I'd quilted this on a wall hanging style scale (1/8 inch between the lines of quilting) I'd probably be getting Olaf finished when my niece is graduating from college. Not an option!

Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt
For that reason, I quilted 99% of this Olaf quilt panel with white thread. I intentionally choose designs like Stippling and Tangle of Lights that could be quilted with minimal thread breaks. I also quilted this panel on a 1/2 inch scale and left most of Olaf un-quilted so he puffs up nicely on the surface.

I also added snowflakes! Lots and lots of snowflakes were marked on the quilt surface using a stencil I cut from an AccuQuilt snowflake die. These shapes took up space and added to the overall design.

Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt
All told, it took around 4 hours to quilt this panel from start to finish and I couldn't be more pleased! It's super soft and cuddly, but the quilting definitely added a beautiful additional texture to the surface. Watch how this design was planned, then quilted in this free video:

Here's the list of materials I used to transform a single 1 yard Olaf panel into a quilt:

- Olaf Panel for the top
- Craft sized wool batting (Quilter's Dream Wool)
- 1 yard blue solid fabric for backing
- 3 strips of white fabric 
- Snowflake stencils or templates (optional)
- Basting Pins and Pinmoors
- White and Black Isacord Thread 
- Machine quilting gloves

About halfway through quilting my Olaf quilt I hit a little speed bump of indecision. I made the mistake of stopping and analyzing the quilt and I wasn't completely thrilled with the designs. It was still less than half quilted and looked a bit blotchy and weird and I started to feel like I'd made the wrong choices.

Do you do this to yourself? Is this part of the reason why it's hard to pick machine quilting designs?

Instead of picking up a seam ripper or chucking the quilt in the trash, I just kept quilting. This is the learning experience I think is most key to this quilt - who cares if your quilt isn't perfect? FINISHED is better than perfect!
Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt

I also found as I quilted more of the panel and the design emerged that I really liked what I'd picked. It just took a bit more time to see the machine quilting designs coming together and see the cool effect it created.

So my advice to you with any quilt project is this: Pick some designs and jump right in. If halfway through you feel worried you made the wrong choice, keep stitching. Judging a quilt by it's half quilted state is silly because you have no perspective of the overall design.

Keep quilting and if in the end you hate the quilt, at least it's done and you learned something! Win win in my opinion!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, November 20, 2015

Machine Quilt Open Flow - #455

It's finally Friday and time for some free motion quilting! I originally shared this quilting design in the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Vol 1 and I love the flowing, organic texture it creates on your quilts:

The texture really reminds me of Flowing Lines, but it's machine quilted more like McTavishing which means this free motion quilting design will be able to fit more places and be easier to quilt in the background of your quilts. Watch this new machine quilting video to see what I mean!

Now where will this machine quilting design work best in our quilts? I believe this design will work just about anywhere so long as it's not too small and complicated.
If I was quilting this design in the Heart & Feather Wholecloth, I wouldn't try to stick it into all the little fiddly spots in the interior of the quilt. I'd instead use it as the filler around the outer edge where it has more room to flow.

Open Flow will work even better larger scale with wide 6-7 inch long gaps. This will create a dramatic effect on the quilt surface and, even better, it will also cover huge amounts of space with every shape you stitch.

So what are you needing to quilt this week? Do you have several projects to finish in time for the holidays? Give Open Flow a try and see if this new design will help you knock out those projects with a super fast finish!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Gorgeous Dancing Butterfly Quilt

Josh here today for a quick little post. We received an email last week from a quilter who had completed her Dancing Butterfly quilt, and it's so beautiful we just had to share it.

This butterfly quilt was made by Kathy A, and it's simply stunning. I love the color contrast of the violet and dusky orange, and the central butterfly squares make this a show stopper.

Here's another angle:

You can see more beautiful finished Butterfly quilts by joining our Dancing Butterfly facebook page here.

You can pick up the pattern for Dancing Butterfly in both digital, download format as well as a printed physical pattern for $19.95. We've dropped the price of the physical version from $29.95 to $19.95 for the holiday season.


Monday, November 16, 2015

New Sewing Machine Review

Yes, it's high time I shared a detailed sewing machine review on the Juki Exceed F400, the machine I've been using for more than a year for sewing, patchwork, and machine quilting. Watch the detailed review in this video:

Read the detailed sewing machine review for the Juki Exceed F400 right here.

Yes, this machine really snuck up on me! I really wasn't planning to fall in love with it, but once I began using it I soon realized it was very well designed and awesome feet and features that typically come with much more expensive machines.

The ONLY thing I have to gripe about is the complicated set of steps to access the decorative stitches. But really, I use those stitches maybe once or twice a year so it's not much to complain about! Overall I love the way the machine is set up and I'm happy to use it in my videos and workshops.

What are you looking for in a new sewing machine? What are the features you value the most? Share in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, November 13, 2015

Machine Quilt Living Feathers - #454

It's Free Motion Friday and time to learn a new feather design called Living Feathers!

This beautiful quilting design combines feathers and leaf shapes to create a rich texture for your quilts. It is a bit slow because there are a lot of steps that go into every leaf shape. What this video to see what I mean!

I originally created this design in 2011 when machine quilting the background of Emergence, one of my favorite goddess quilts. As you can see, this is a perfect background quilting design and I love the bright green texture it added to this area.

Emergence Goddess Quilt from a distance:
 Living Feathers Quilting Design close up:

This was quilted on a very tiny scale with YLI Variations thread, one of the only variegated threads I like to use because the color changes are so subtle. This was perfect for making a earthy, forest filled background, the perfect texture for a goddess quilt representing transformation and new life!

Yes, you can definitely machine quilt Living Feathers on a bigger, bed quilting scale. Just start with a much bigger leaf shape so you can fill the space with large, plump feathers, and expand each element with rows of echo quilting.

Do you have a friend that would love learning how to quilt this design? Please share this post so everyone can learn how to free motion quilt Living Feathers!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sassy Quilt Chain Cutter

Occasionally I receive quilting tools in the mail with requests to try them out and maybe share a video on how they work. Recently I received a Sassy Quilt Chain Cutter, a useful gadget for cutting apart your pieced chains.

Watch this new video to see how this chain cutter works:

I do like this tool and I found it really helpful when chain piecing. It's always awkward to hold the chain of pieces and a pair of scissors all at the same time and this tool gives you a hands free blade for easy cutting.

Definitely keep an eye out for this helpful quilting tool at your local quilt shop!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 9, 2015

Star Wars Pajama Pants

Are you excited about the new Star Wars movie coming out in December? We've been eagerly awaiting this new movie and getting excited about the new toys and video games coming out this fall. The last time James and I were in Walmart we ran across some cute Star Wars flannel fabric which I thought would make a great pair of pajama pants!

I made James's Star Wars pajama pants using Simplicity 1037 which is a ninja costume pattern, but the pants are just simple elastic waist pants that could easily be repurposed for pajama pants!

This project was both easy and quick because it only required two pants legs and a length of 1 inch elastic. From start to finish, making pajama pants like these should take about 1 hour and it's a great project for learning the basics of cutting out a pattern and sewing.

See how I made James's Star Wars pajamas in this new video:

I finished all the seams just using a simple zigzag stitch, then trimming down the extra fabric close to the stitching. So far James has been wearing these pajamas almost every night so they've already been washed multiple times and are wearing really well!

I know I'll make James many pajama pants using this pattern so I backed the tissue paper with French Fuse Interfacing to make it much more stable and durable. The pants pattern now feels more like fabric and is much easier to spread out and align on the fabric for cutting.

Are you a big Star Wars fan or do you have a kid in your life that is? Definitely check out the new Star Wars novelty prints and flannel fabrics at your local quilt shop and make something fun for the Star Wars fan in your life!

Let's go sew!

Leah Day

Friday, November 6, 2015

How to Machine Quilt Balloons! - #453

Two new quilting designs in one week? Yes! I'm really wanting to dig into new machine quilting designs and get back to a regular schedule with posting new videos each week. So Free Motion Friday is back and this week we're learning how to quilt Balloons!

Learn how to machine quilt Balloons with Leah Day
Earlier this week we learned Hearty Vine, Karen Klamczynski's design that would be perfect for bed quilts because it really worked great machine quilted on a large scale. Balloons is very similar and I think it's going to be a great design for baby quilts and bed quilts that you want to quickly cover with one whimsical design.

Watch the video to learn how to machine quilt this new design!

This is such an easy quilting design - just quilt a wiggly line and swing into a tear drop / balloon shape on the end. You do have to travel stitch back a bit on the wiggly line before branching out with your next wiggly line and balloon shape.

Learn how to machine quilt Balloons with Leah Day
Other than the bit of travel stitching, this design will flow really easily and quickly over your quilt. This is one of those few designs I'd love to see in variegated thread because if the thread colors were spaced just right, it might look like there are balloons of many different colors on your quilt!

Now for your machine quilting challenge -  get on your machine this weekend and give this new design a try and share your progress with us on the Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group.

We'd love to see how you quilted this design and answer any questions you have about using it in your quilts. Please share this design with your friends too - the more the merrier!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wholecloth Kits Back in Stock!

Back in the beginning of September we launched the new Heart & Feather Wholecloth Workshop and updated a beautiful pattern with a full length workshop and detailed videos to guide you through the basics of wholecloth quilting.

How to make a wholecloth quilt -
We also offered a small stock of wholecloth kits that were extremely popular - we sold out of all the kits in just 2 hours!

How to make a wholecloth quilt - the kits are back in stock, again in limited quantities, so if you're wanting to make a beautiful wholecloth quilt definitely pick one up today!

This kit comes with everything you need to make this quilt:

- Fabric for the top, back, and binding
- Two layers of batting
- Water soluble thread for trapunto
- White Isacord thread for beautiful quilting

If you've never tried wholecloth quilting before, this is really the perfect project to get started with. It's a small 16 inch quilt that features simple heart and feather motifs you can mark on the quilt surface. The small size is excellent because it will give you a taste for wholecloth quilting without getting overwhelmed with a big, time consuming project.  

How to make a wholecloth quilt
Even better, the Heart & Feather Quilts make for excellent Christmas gifts! Pick up your kit plus the Heart & Feather Workshop and create your own skill building wholecloth quilt this fall!

Because of the limited quantities, we are limiting orderst to one kit per person and all kits come with the Heart & Feather Video Workshop. Pick 'em up while they last!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 2, 2015

How to Machine Quilt Hearty Vine - #452

Time to learn a new machine quilting design! Karen Klamczynski from Fireball Quilts shared a design called Hearty Vine on her blog. Karen was inspired to add cute hearts to Cucumber Vine to create this new design:

Learn how to machine quilt Hearty Vine

I really enjoyed machine quilting this design today! It's a bit challenging to quilt the heart shapes from the top and I played around with different ways to stitch it. Ultimately I found stitching one half the heart, then travel stitching back, then stitching the other half felt more natural and resulted in a fairly symmetrical heart shape.

Learn how to machine quilt this beautiful design in this free video:

This design really wants to expand with big spiral swirls and big hearts so I think it will be perfect for bed quilts. When I tried shrinking down the heart shapes and the spirals, it didn't end up looking good or feeling very natural to stitch, so this is just one of those designs that really wants to go big!

Learn how to machine quilt Hearty Vine
Speaking of big filler designs, I asked members of our Facebook Group what they were interested in for next year's Free Motion Quilt Along. Many quilters are interested in learning more about quilting bed quilts so they finish soft and cuddly.

How about you? What are you interested in learning next year?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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