The Free Motion Quilting Project: March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #15 - Coin Chain

Let's get back on track with our new designs for Dancing Butterfly! Today we're learning how to quilt a beautiful foundational free motion quilting design called Coin Chain:
free motion quilting design coin chain | butterfly quilt
I think this is one of my favorite quilting designs from this project! The circles really stand out on the quilt surface and you could add extra embellishment with bright buttons, embroidered stars, or beads. Let's learn how to quilt this design with this video from the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern:

Do you think marking the circles makes this design easier? I wouldn't worry if your circles are absolutely perfectly circular. Sometimes adding a bit of wobbliness makes it nicely organic.

I love the way this design looks in the butterfly wings and borders!

free motion quilting design | butterfly quilt
 Where do you plan to use this Coin Chain design? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, March 30, 2015

Awesome Anniversary Trip

Ah! Josh and I just got back last night from the most awesome anniversary trip. We headed down to Savannah, GA on Thursday and enjoyed three days walking around the historic district, eating great food, and enjoying the awesome Quilt Fest Savannah quilt show too.

A helpful attendant at the Savannah Tour of Homes snapped this picture of us together. We attended the tour on Thursday and walked through seven homes around Forsyth Park. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos of the homes or inside, but we were able to capture pictures of this gorgeous live oak:

This tree is over 300 years old! It was so big they ran cables up to a lightning rod at the top so the tree would be protected from lightning.

Downtown Savannah is quite simply the most inspiring, beautiful place I've ever seen. There is loads of ironwork, beautiful houses, and massive live oaks around every corner.

This is a picture of the riverfront area. These massive buildings are over one hundred years old and were once warehouses for cotton and other goods that were shipped out of the port. Now these are filled with little shops, hotels, and amazing restaurants.

Did I mention we like to eat?! I think this is our favorite hobby after quilting, and we're always willing to go out of our way for a great meal. In Savannah we found many unique places like The Coffee Fox which served a Affogato - espresso poured over a cup of ice cream, and Goose Feathers Cafe which served a `Ecrousant - a combination croissant and donut which was absolutely delicious!

We had so much fun taking tours, finding great places to eat, and wandering around Savannah without ever once getting back in our car. The icing on the cake was winning two ribbons at Quilt Fest Destination Savannah!

I also finally got to try out the machine I've been dying to try for more than 6 months - the Juki 22000 table mounted longarm:

This is SUCH an awesome machine and the show was running such a good deal that we placed an order and will be getting a 22000 sometime next week! I'm so excited and can't wait to shoot new videos on this big guy.

All in all, it was the best 10th anniversary trip ever! Josh and I had an amazing time, totally stepped away from business and just had fun the way we did on our honeymoon - traveling to a pretty place and eating lots of good food. If you're into the same things, Savannah, GA is definitely a place you need to check out.

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We Made it to the Big 10!

Josh and I have been officially married for 10 years! YAY!

It's really hard to believe it's been ten years. Sometimes it feels like we've been together forever, and other times I can't believe our son is 8 years old! 

In the time we've been married we've supported one another, built a business together, and survived several house renovations that made us both exceptionally crazy. 

When I stop to think about my life without Josh, I can't even picture it. I probably wouldn't be a quilter right now if Josh hadn't encouraged me to attend guild meetings and make my first quilt. I honestly don't know where I'd be without this awesome guy in my life!

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Here's to another ten awesome years!



Monday, March 23, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #14 - Sleeping Seeds

Ah! Spring really feels like it's around the corner and we've enjoyed several nice warm days outside with the chickens and our new flock of baby ducks.

It seems perfect timing for us to learn the next design for the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along - Sleeping Seeds!
This design is inspired by what I imagine inside a flower seed. The little wiggly spiral is the potential new plant that's sleeping within the tear drop seed shape. Hmm...I wonder what this would look like in the next stage of growth? Definitely inspiration for another new design...

Yes, you can still join the fun project! Click Here to find your copy of the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to Make Fitted Crib Sheets

Way back 8 years ago I was the mom of a tiny baby boy and decided to make all of my son's nursery gear myself. One of my favorite projects was his set of fitted crib sheets.

Using just 2 yards of fabric, I created cute new sheets that lasted more than 4 years and hundreds of runs through the washer. They fit the crib mattress perfectly and never popped off, and that's saying something cause my boy loved to bounce!

Today I've finally gotten around to finishing up a super quick and easy pattern so you can make these too. Here's a video to guide you through sewing your own crib sheets step by step:

I hope you can see just how easy and fun this project can be! Not only do you get to play with several different sewing machine feet, you'll also gain experience working with elastic and finishing the raw edges of the fabric with a zigzag or overlock stitch.

I loved making these because they were cheaper and prettier than the store bought baby sheets in my area. I could pick out my favorite fabrics and coordinate with the other baby quilts I'd made for my son.

Pick up your fitted crib sheet pattern right here and jump right in to making your own unique fitted crib sheets today.

Let's go quilt (or sew!)

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Five Years of March 18th

Hmm...what were we doing this time last year, or the year before, or the year before that? I've been blogging for more than 5 years and this blog has become my own personal time travel machine.

I can scroll back through the older posts and remember trips we've taken, when important quilts and projects were started, and see my little boy James transform from a chubby 2 year old to the super skinny 8 year old he is now.

So today I'd like to blast back to the past and see what was happening on March 18th for the last five years!
This time last year Josh was quilting in a Rail Fence Block for the Building Blocks Quilt Along. Working together on that project was sometimes challenging, but mostly fun, and it taught us both a lot about how to communicate and make good videos.

After we worked together on that project, we began filming all videos together, though Josh definitely prefers to be the man behind the camera, not in front of it! this day in 2013, I was sharing a new free motion quilting design called Zigzag Spiral for the Express Your Love Quilt Along.

That was design #382 and it just goes to show how easily new designs can be created by combining simple shapes together. In this case it was Zippling combined with Basic Spiral to create Zigzag Spiral. Around that time I remember making a list of every shape I could think of and extrapolated over 225 new designs!

Now what was happening three years ago? We were right at the beginning of the very first Free Motion Quilt Along, which was a much more open ended, random assortment of videos and link ups. In response to a lot of questions I'd received about building quilting skills I wrote the post Blueprint to Mastery.
In this post I directly addressed the two issues that seem to hold quilters back the most: lack of time and too much negativity. Reading back through this post, I'm reminded again of the struggles I went through and still see from quilters in my classes.

Free motion quilting is tough and in the beginning it's pretty ugly!

You HAVE to practice it every day and keep building your skills or it's just not going to happen. Why do you think I started this blog?

To challenge myself to create designs and dedicate myself to learning free motion quilting. I know for a fact that I wasn't a very good quilter when I started, but within 40 days, my abilities had changed exponentially, and yours can too!

Now for what I posted back in 2011 which oddly fits into this whole theme - it was an update to the Transformation Challenge. The challenge was to create a letter page sized quilt featuring at least 5 filler designs from the blog.

The challenge was a fun way to encourage quilters to start quilting and designing on a small scale. Transformation was the theme and it was interpreted in many unique and creative ways. You can find all the finalists and winners to this challenge right here.

While it was a fun challenge to host, I wasn't able to keep up with the logistics end of the project. I didn't end up making the quilt featuring all the challenge quilts (too many projects, not enough time!), but it was loads of fun to see all the beautiful, creative quilts that were created with designs from the project.
Now what was posted back in 2010 - the very first March 18th on this blog? That day I posted Knit Stitch, design #145. Looking back, I know this was one of my absolute least favorite designs, so it's kind of funny it ended up being posted today five years go!

I can honestly admit that I don't like all the designs I've shared. At that time I was posting 4-5 new designs per week and that level of production required me to post any design that popped into my head, no matter how ugly they were.

It's been a mixed bag, looking back at all the posts on March 18th. Some of these posts have made me smile, some have made me cringe, but isn't that life? Are there months or years of your life that you just don't want to remember? I personally wish I could just erase all of 2002!

Ultimately I'm so happy that I started blogging back in 2009 and extremely thankful for this record of my creative journey over the years. I will always have a better memory of these years and what I created and how I felt because of these posts.

So what about today? On this March 18th Dad and Josh have been packing orders downstairs with lots of help from James who is out for spring break.

I've been spending the day upstairs designing new quilts and writing articles. Right now I have a lot of "secret" projects in the works that might stop me from posting here as regularly as I like. Rather than fight it, I've learned to accept the ebb and flow of this business. Suffice it to say there will be a lot of really, really awesome new stuff coming out soon!

I hope you've enjoyed this little blast from the past as much as I have. Do you know what you were doing 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years ago today? Blogging is definitely a cool way to keep track of life as it happens and be able to quickly look back too.

Let's go quilt,


Monday, March 16, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #13 - Flame Key

Whew! The last few designs like Spiral Matrix and Amazing Daisies have been pretty complex. Let's change gears and try a super easy design today called Flame Key:

This design works from Edge-to-Edge on your quilt and adds a beautiful, flowing flame-like texture to the surface. Let's learn how to quilt it in this video from the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern:

So this free motion quilting design is pretty easy! Once you get your flames lined up against one side all you need to do is travel and echo to fill in the space. The more wiggly and freeform your flames are, the better!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time Change Sale

We've been celebrating the time change this week with a super quick sale on all download books, DVDs, and quilt patterns!
One of the download books that's currently on sale is How to Piece Perfect Quilts, a 125 page study on the art of precision piecing. If you're struggling with matching your seams and unsatisfied with how your quilt blocks look, this book will explain exactly where you're going wrong and how to improve.

This downloadable book also includes instructions for making five simple skill-building quilt tops which could double as either lap quilts or cute baby quilts - take your pick! Pick up a copy of How to Piece Perfect Quilts, on sale until Monday for just $12.48. Click Here to learn more now!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kathleen's Finished Building Blocks Quilt

While we are in the midst of The Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along, our quilt along from last year, Building Blocks, goes ever onward!

Check out Kathleen's beautiful finished quilt.

Kathleen writes:
I joined Leah Days Building Blocks Quilt Along April 2014 and finished February 2015. I named my quilt "Journey" as this has been a real journey for me in several areas.
First, when Mom passed away I was lost as to what to do. I was Moms caregiver for years and that was my entire life.  I literally had to learn how to live again and do things for me.
Second, I was a garment sewer for years but knew nothing about quilts. I had never
heard of free motion quilting before finding Leah Day's website.  I was fascinated with all the designs and videos  on Leah's website and decided to join the quilt along.
However, I have made every mistake along the way known to quilters but I have learned so much.  I have learned that "finished is better than perfect". What a great "Journey" this project has been.
Thank you Leah and Josh for the great pattern and all the work you put into the videos showing us every step along the way. In addition, thank you fellow quilters for all your encouragement on the Face Book page. I couldn't have done this without you all!

So far more than fifty quilters have finished their Building Blocks FMQ skill-building quilt. New quilts are being finished all the time so now's the perfect time to join in the fun.

Let's go quilt,


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #12 - Spiral Matrix

Here is a beautiful, mesmerizing design called Spiral Matrix! This is design # 12 in our Dancing Butterfly Quilt.

It may look difficult at first, but it's really quite simple once you get a hang of it.

As you can see, spiral matrix begins as a wiggly grid with some Aztec-like square spirals within the wobbly checkerboard. This is one of my husband Josh's favorite designs! Beyond the Dancing Butterfly quilt, this design would be absolutely perfect in an art deco inspired quilt.

Until next time, let's go quilt!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New YouTube Channel Trailer

This morning I jumped out of bed with big ambition - it's time to finally shoot a channel trailer! This is a super short video just to showcase what our videos are about to people on YouTube, who find my videos first through my YouTube Channel.

As you can see, it's only 35 seconds long and took us a few minutes to shoot in short segments, then Josh edited it down and I spliced in the photos and video. What do you think of that last clip of Josh spazzing out with a knee lifter in his hand?! LOL! It cracks me up every time!

That's a clip from last year's Building Blocks Quilt Along just in case you're looking for the full video.

I'm so happy we made this video today because it's been on my list for more than 2 years. Yes, I've meant to shoot a 30 second video for YEARS. I just now got around to doing it.

I never claim to do anything perfectly - I don't make quilts perfectly, I don't run my business perfectly, and I certainly don't keep up with all the many social media plugins perfectly. But I try my best and when it's time to do something, I get it done.

So I hope you enjoyed this short clip and will head over to our newly improved channel and subscribe today!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #11 Echo Edge

Let's learn some super simple wiggly lines today with Echo Edge Stitching! Click here to join in on the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along.

And here is Echo Edge stitched out:

This is a superb design for beginners of free motion quilting, especially for those who are having trouble with curved lines. It provides a nice sand dune, terrain effect and would be great in both large and small areas of your quilt.

If you'd like to follow along and make your own beautiful Dancing Butterfly quilt, it's never too late to join in on our quilt along!

Let's go quilt,


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #10 - Amazing Daisies

Today we're going to be picking some amazing daisies while we work along on our Butterfly Quilt Along!

Let's learn how to create amazing daisies in free motion:

I hope you enjoy stitching these fun and pretty daisies! Until next time, let's go quilt!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Casual Cam - Blocking Duchess Reigns Wholecloth

Yes, it's finally time to get Duchess Reigns reigned in and under control! This massive wholecloth project has gone on long enough and I'm ready to get her bound and finished so I can ship her to her first show.

So yesterday I filled up the bathtub and dumped her in. I needed to soak the quilt to remove any remaining chemicals - starch, excess dye, water soluble thread, pen marks, etc, and to give the thread and fabric a reset of sorts.

You might have heard this before - thread has memory. Right now the thread in Duchess Reigns just remembers being quilted, then wrinkled up, so the surface is anything BUT flat!

She also has some distortion issues caused by the density of the quilting combined with the distortion that happened after dyeing. Who knew so many issues could be caused by getting a quilt really wet halfway through the quilting process?! Lesson learned.

So after a good soak and several rinses in water (the dye never really stopped leaking, but I got bored and impatient), I pulled her out and took her down to my tables set up for blocking. Here's a video we shot to capture the moment:

Eventually, after about 700 pins, Duchess Reigns did chill out and rest flat...mostly. I'd be lying if I said this quilt is perfect. She's definitely suffering from some distortion caused by the density of the quilting. But I love her and that's what matters.

I'm super happy just to be finishing her up and finally seeing her hang flat and straight on the wall. She will be heading out to her first show in just a few days so I'd better get a move on with this binding!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dancing Buttefly Design #9 - Light Spiral

Today we're featuring a very smooth and flowing design, Light Spiral!

Now let's take a look at how to free motion quilt this design:

And here is Light Spiral finished out.
This block is from Karen of Fireball Quilts and is just beautiful. I love her take on the butterflies, as you can see at left--she's using different animals in their place, as you can see with the silhouette of the owl. And don't you just love her colors?

You can join in the fun of the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along by instantly downloading your pattern today. It's never too late to sign up and as you can see by Karen's modified pattern, you can substitute anything you want if butterflies just aren't your thing. The sky is the limit!

Until next time, let's go quilt.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Casual Cam - Packing up after a Workshop

Yesterday I taught a workshop at We're Sew Creative in Concord, NC and had a great time sharing my love of free motion quilting with a small class of awesome quilters. Today I'm getting reorganized and figured I'd share a video on how I pack my bags for teaching:

I really like letting students try a variety of products and tools in class so they have the opportunity to find what works for them. I also like bringing as many quilts to show all the different effects you can create using just thread and awesome free motion designs.

Unfortunately this makes for a LOT of stuff to bring to a class and I'm tired of it all being stored in separate, extremely disorganize bins. After my last workshop I went to Walmart and picked up the biggest suitcase with 4 wheels to hold all my workshop gear in one place.

Why 4 wheels? I found after my last flight to Denver for a Craftsy shoot that it's very easy for bag handles to get jammed or broken. My bag had 2 wheels and the pull handle jammed making it almost impossible to move, especially when I had another bag, laptop case and purse to juggle as well. Having 4 wheels means the suitcase will roll even without the pull handle working, so hopefully that absolute catastrophe won't happen again.

So have you ever taught a class before? One of the biggest challenges for me is making a clear progression through material. Believe me - I have a LOT to say about free motion quilting!

 I've found the easiest way to make it through a large amount of material is to teach it out of a book. I teach my beginner class out of the book Free Motion Quilting From Feathers to Flames and we focus a bit at the end of class on feather designs in particular.

This keeps me on track and moving steadily through each chapter of designs and covering extra content - like how to use designs in real quilts, how to quilt quickly, and understanding how much quilting a quilt actually needs (not that much these days).

I do love teaching in person, though it's still not the sole focus of my business. I like being home too much to get on the road full time, but I'm definitely keeping my eyes and ears open for bigger shows and festivals that sound like fun to attend. My next stop? MQX East! Click Here to read about it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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