The Free Motion Quilting Project: September 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quilty Box Hokey Pokey Crazy Quilt

This month's Quilty Box was so awesome! I love the gear from Clover and the bright polka dotted fabrics:

quilty box september 2015
Just in case you've never heard of Quilty Box, it's a subscription service that sends you a box of awesome quilting gear and fabric each month. You never know what you're going to get, but having gotten three boxes so far, I can absolutely assure you, you're going to get something awesome every month!

Now I have a tendency to hoarde supplies, especially precut fabrics, for some magical day when I'm not busy and I have a master plan for doing amazing things with that gear. That's my tendency, but my desire is to stop hoarding and start creating!

To stop myself from hoarding this cool stuff, I challenged myself to create a new project with each month's Quilty Box! This month I opened the box to find an awesome assortment of quilting tools from Clover and some Riley Blake Polka Dot 5" precuts. Watch this video to see how I transformed this simple fabric into one funky polka dot quilt!

The first step of this process was creating half square triangles with the polka dot fabric and solid precut squares.

half square triangles
Then we layered the half square triangles with more solid precut squares and stitched these units exactly the same way you create half square triangles to create Half Quarter Square Triangles. This is such a funky block and I can only imagine all the creative possibilities in different colorways and sizes!

half quarter square triangle
Laying out this quilt was a challenge because I was trying to incorporate both the diamond shapes and pinwheels. Once I was happy with the layout, piecing this Hokey Pokey Crazy quilt was another crazy adventure! Dad pieced the bulk of this quilt top over two days and said without a doubt it's the hardest quilt he's ever had to piece because it was so friggin CRAZY!

hokey pokey crazy quilt | Leah Day
This quilt just makes me smile, smile, smile! The Hokey Pokey was a silly dance we did at the roller skating rink when I was growing up and seemed perfectly suited to name this bright, cheerful quilt.

So I challenged myself to use the materials in my Quilty Box to make a new throw sized quilt! What will you make with your new gear?

Remember, having cool stuff doesn't make you creative. USING that gear to make something new and fun is the whole point!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Big Magic Creating Mosaics

Yesterday I hopped on the Audible website ready to find a new set of audiobooks enjoy while quilting and was delighted to find Big Magic, a new book by Elizabeth Gilbert. I immediately downloaded the book and I've absolutely enjoyed every minute of this book about living a creative life without suffering, following inspiration, and creating with joy.

It's this last point that is really important to me: Creating. With. Joy.

I create new stuff every day. This is as natural to me as breathing, but it doesn't always feel easy. Because of my history of negative thoughts, I have to be very careful not to slip into pockets of brooding about the past or worrying anxiously about the future. I also tend to be a perfectionist, and no matter how many times I tell you in videos not to obsess about your stitches being perfect, I'm really saying it to myself.

While reading this book, it is the parts about creating with joy that have struck the greatest chord.

Where is the laughter and lightness in my work? Where is the happy flow and smiles at myself? I think I just got out of the habit of asking joy to come visit. I allowed the weight of duty and the burden of responsibility to take her place, and because of that, I haven't felt that bright, bubbly joy while I created in quite a long time.

So I did something about this little problem last night! I pulled out fabrics, fusible web, and a pair of sharp scissors and while laughing my head off at this new book, I cut and fused this beautiful mosaic quilt block:

This is very small - only 8 inches square - so cutting all those itsy bitsy triangles was quite tedious, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I've been obsessed with mosaics since this spring when I began running across them everywhere and they caught my attention in a way that mosaics never had before.

I've resisted the pull of making a mosaic quilt because it just seemed so weird. Why would I suddenly go from hating a craft style to loving it overnight? What am I going to do with this thing? Will I teach it? Will anyone else even like it?

I let all these doubts stand in my way and stop me from playing, which was really silly because what is wrong with playing around and having some fun with fabric? Does everything have to have a massive purpose or well laid plan? I like this, it calls to me, and I'm curious about where it will lead.

I jumped right in and had such a fun, joyous experience. This was pure fun and exactly what I needed to create. Today I've felt lighter, happier, and more energetic for following this impulse and creating with joy.

If you've been needing a creativity kick in the pants, I highly recommend Big Magic as a great place to learn more about being creative and how to create with joy as your companion.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Easy Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Recipe

Yes, I've become quite the Pumpkin Queen this week! We've learned two magical ways to quilt a pumpkin mug rug and a cool new Twisted Tendril design. Now I'd like to share a super easy recipe for pumpkin bread and muffins.

Most of the time I use this recipe to bake bread, but James is such a fan of muffins that I had to try baking a set of those for him too. It works great either way, and it makes a LOT, so this is a great recipe to use for holiday baking so you'll have plenty of bread or muffins to give to friends and family this year.

Easy Pumpkin Bread and Muffins Recipe

3 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp. Ground Cardamon
2 c. Sugar
4 eggs
2 c. (1 14 oz can) Pumpkin puree
1 c. Oil (see special instructions for coconut oil)
2/3 c. Water
3/4 c. Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three loaf pans with butter and line with parchment paper for bread. For muffins, line muffin tins with muffin liners.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and sugar in a bowl until combined.

Special instructions for coconut oil - This is the oil I prefer to use for baking, but it can be tricky to work with because it tends to solidify when the house is chilly. If your jar of coconut oil is solidified, scoop out 1 cup into a small saucepan and heat on low until clear and completely melted. To ensure your oil doesn't solidify in the bowl, make sure your eggs, pumpkin puree, and water are all room temperature before proceeding to the next step.

In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and beat until well mixed. Add the pumpkin puree and oil and water, mixing well after each addition.

Begin adding the flour mixture to the wet mixture in small amounts and beating well to until smooth. Add the chopped nuts if desired.

For Pumpkin Bread: Pour into the greased loaf pans, filling halfway. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, remove from the pan at once and cool on a wire rack.

 For Pumpkin Muffin: Fill each muffin tin 3/4 full. If desired, top with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

You can also mix and match pumpkin bread and muffins. This last time I made one large loaf of pumpkin bread and 12 pumpkin muffins. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Let's go bake!

Leah Day

Monday, September 21, 2015

Quilting a Magical Pumpkin Mug Rug

Yes, I'm going a bit pumpkin crazy! I had to quilt another pumpkin block to try out more of the Twisted Tendril design, and to play with other ways to free motion quilt the pumpkin shape.

quilting pumpkin | machine quilting
One major change with this pumpkin was extending the stem and filling in that space with a free form Flowing Lines design. I really like how that extended the stem area to fill in more of the pumpkin shape and made the stem more interesting. See how these cool designs are quilted in this fun, free video:

The pumpkins I've been playing with have all been cut from the Fall Medley AccuQuilt die. I really love using my Accuquilt to cut applique shapes because it's so quick and always cuts the shape perfectly.

quilt pumpkin block | machine quilting
 To fuse the applique in place, I use Lite Steam-a-Seam 2, which is a super lightweight fusible web. I love it because even if I'm completely absent minded about fusing the shape in place and hold my iron on way too long, the glue doesn't evaporate like it can with some fusible web brands.

Now that I've stitched so many pumpkins, I'm really in the mood for pumpkin bread! Swing by tomorrow to find my family recipe for pumpkin bread and muffins!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Importance of Daily Practice

It's hard to explain just how important I believe practice is to learning any craft or skill. It's almost as important as breathing - you must put in the practice or do the work if you want to see improvement in your abilities.

But I've been having an argument with my son James about practice since school started this year. Watch this video to hear why we've been disagreeing about practice:

So 2 hours all in one go or 10 minutes a day? Which do you feel would be more productive?

 Whether it's practice or time to work on a new project from start to finish, many people have unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a creative person. Many assume that we must set aside hours and hours of time set aside to use at once.

The truth is that time rarely happens. I've personally found that if I have a wonderful day set aside for dedicated work on a project...someone (usually me) promptly gets sick the day before. Or we suddenly have an urgent errand that will chew up half my time, or I simply wake up that morning with an intense desire to stay in bed reading.

In the case of my son, he'd promise to spend an hour playing piano, but get bored in about 30 minutes, then spend the remaining time whining about having to practice so much. You just can't expect your attention span to hold tight on a single task for hours on end.

The point here is that creative urges can't be "stored" up for a later time. These impulses are special and should be treated with great care. If you feel like quilting, GO QUILT. Quilt something, anything, any practice you get is the perfect amount. Even if it's working on a real project or a scrap of fabric - it's all practice and it all builds skill.

So I'll end by giving you permission to make this happen. Whatever you need to do to set up your machine so you can plop down and stitch for just 10 minutes a day. Even if it means rearranging your house and getting rid of some unused furniture - do you really need a guest room more than a sewing room? Could you find space in that large master closet or dining room that's rarely used?

Be creative as you look at your home and remember you have permission to stop making do and to make this happen.

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

Leah Day

Friday, September 18, 2015

Design #451 - Twisted Tendril

I've been machine quilting pumpkins this week and stumbled across this cool pumpkin vine quilting design. I wanted a free form loopy line that would appear almost like a twisted ribbon. With a bit of experimenting I've created Twisted Tendril!

free motion quilting design | twisted tendril
 This funky design is super easy to quilt and it's a great skill builder for both echoing and travel stitching. The best thing about it? It's supposed to be slightly messy so even if your stitching isn't perfect, it's still going to look great!

 This quilting design is a bit odd in that it doesn't really work like a normal filler design. I tried filling up a block with it, branching out different Twisted Tendrils from one another and it just ended up looking kinda weird...

free motion quilting design | twisted tendril

I think this could work as a fill, but it would need to be two colors and stitched like a Foundational Design. First form the main twisted tendril, then change thread colors and fill the background with echoes.

So in creating this design, we've also created a new subcategory of quilting designs called Accents. This is a suitable name because Twisted Tendril really acted as an accent or embellishment, but you wouldn't want to fill the whole background with it. It would lose it's magical, whimsical quality if it was densely stitched all over the place.
 free motion quilting design | twisted tendril
I had so much fun quilting this design and the cute pumpkins as well! Be on the lookout for a video next Monday on how I quilted the pumpkin above.

365 Free Motion Quilting Designs book
If you're on the hunt for more quilting inspiration to keep you busy all year, definitely check out my book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs. This book features the first 365 designs from this project, stitched out in beautiful photos that are so detailed, you can see every stitch!

Don't forget to share this design on Facebook and pin it on Pinterest to share it with your friends!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Meet Christa Watson!
Today I'm super excited to share an interview with the awesome Christa Watson, from Christa Quilts. Christa and I met through this blog and then met up recently in person at spring quilt market!

Christa is an amazing quilter and extremely sweet person and she's just published a new book on quilting called Machine Quilting With Style: From Walking-foot Wonders to Free-motion Favorites.

Let's start with a bit about you! When did you get into quilting and how did you get bit by the bug?

I made my first quilt back in 1994 and it was love at first stitch! However, I felt like I floundered around until I found the modern quilting movement in 2012, stumbled upon your blog around the same time, and realized there were other like-minded souls out there that I could really relate to!

So at what point did quilting become a business for you? Was it an immediate "I've gotta do this!" moment, or was it more of a gradual shift?

It started off as a “hobby-business” soon after I started quilting. I sold finished quilts at craft shows and started teaching right away as a means to support the hobby.

But it wasn’t until 2003 that I got serious and opened up my first online store. Now it’s a full-time business for my family. A couple of years ago we switched from being a full-service stand alone website to selling precuts through Amazon so that I could spend more time designing, teaching and writing.

Now let's talk about your first book - what made you want to write a book about machine quilting? I follow your awesome instagram feed and also see beautiful quilt patterns as well! consider myself more of a “start-to-finish” quilter. I enjoy each step of the process, from design to binding. I have always machine quilted my own quilts and thought it was just another step in the process to completion.

However, when I pitched the book to the publisher they were really excited about the machine quilting aspect of it, since most people don’t include that in their pattern instructions. I sometimes take it for granted that not everyone likes to machine quilt their own quilts like I do, so I’m happy to share what I know and help others overcome their fear of machine quilting. My book Machine Quilting With Style includes 12 complete patterns with step-by-step instructions on how to quilt them.

So is machine quilting your main focus - what you mostly teach?

Haha, see the response above! I love to teach in-depth start to finish classes over a series of weeks. However, it’s hard to take that type of class on the road so I’ve recently tried to break down my classes into shorter piecing classes and quilting classes. However, every now and then I get to teach a week-long class where we can make a whole quilt. I love that!

I understand this book more than just a book about free motion quilting, you also cover a lot of walking foot quilting as well. Which style of quilting is your favorite? What did you focus on more in this book?

I actually prefer to incorporate both types of quilting in the same quilt. I think that’s just how my mind works. I like to use walking foot techniques to “anchor the quilt” and then fill in smaller areas with free-motion quilting.

In my super beginner classes, I teach them how to finish quilting entirely with a walking foot because that’s easier to master in a shorter period of time. I have found that once quilters have success with the walking foot, they are more willing to give free-motion quilting a try.

Out of 12 quilts in my book, 5 are quilted completely with the walking foot, 1 is all free-motion quilted, and the other 6 use both techniques.

What is your goal for this book? What do you most hope it will help quilters learn about the quilting process?

My main goal is to convince people that quilts don’t have to be computer-perfect to be both functional and beautiful. I hope quilters will realize how fun machine quilting can be and that you don’t have to have super fancy equipment to get the job done. The most important tool in your toolbox is a can-do attitude!

I remember us talking about your book at market and how you didn't feel like you could write it for awhile - like you weren't old enough. How did you overcome those limiting thoughts during the writing process?

For many years, my quilting mentors were always older than me since I started quilting so young, just like you, Leah! However, I’ve always been comfortable in the classroom, no matter the age range.

So I approached the book-writing process as if I were talking one-on-one to students in class. I love to share what I know in an encouraging way and try to break down big tasks into smaller, manageable steps. I also compared the book writing process to making a quilt – just one step at a time and before you know it – the whole thing is done!

I recently heard a great analogy within an old Creative Insurgents podcast that described writing a book as being "soul work." I always think of writing a book like having a baby (it takes about as much time!) What was the most unexpected part of writing this book? Was it easier or harder than you expected?

That’s a great analogy! Creating this book was very fulfilling. The time I got to quietly spend on each quilt was very therapeutic for me. Honestly, the hardest part for me was writing the proposal - the document I submitted to the publisher outlining in detail what I would cover in the book, including sketches of all the projects.

Because I planned out all of the designs and fabrics ahead of time (including the quilting), the actual time to create was really fun. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the pattern writing process, too. There’s nothing like getting an idea out of my head and onto paper. I’m also one of those geeky types that really enjoys quilty math - figuring out how many squares you can cut from of a yard of fabric makes me giddy!

The only thing that was harder than expected was not being able to share my work-in-progress. I am a very process oriented person so it was killing me keep it all quiet for so long. That said, if you go back to my instagram feed from last summer, there are plenty of sneak peaks and stealthy in-process pics!

Now that this project is complete, what's coming next?

I’ve already started on my next book, and I have a line of Kona Solid precuts that launch in October. I’ll be teaching at QuiltCon in February, EQ Academy in April and the John Campbell Folkschool in August. Like you, I don’t want to travel too much while my kids are still home - so that’s a full year of teaching for me already. I’m mostly just excited to make more quilts!
 I hear ya Christa! It's so exciting to make new quilts, play with new techniques, and then share them with the quilting world. If you're interested in following Christa more closely, check her out here on her blog Christa Quilts or her Facebook group Quilt with Christa.

And make sure to check out Christa's new book Machine Quilting with Style if you're looking for several awesome start-to-finish projects this fall!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pretty Quilted Pumpkin Patch

I'm feeling inspired by the fall and the cooler weather that has suddenly made me want to quilt, quilt quilt!

To make this simple block, I backed some orange fabric with my favorite fusible web, ran it through the AccuQuilt Go with a fall shapes die, and quickly created a few simple pumpkin blocks to play with.

For this first block I first quilted around the block with simple echoes, then filled the center with Snake Paisley quilted in Brick Isacord Thread. I love how much texture this flowing quilting design adds to that plain pumpkin!

This is a slightly older quilting video, but I still follow the exact same steps to free motion quilt this design inside the pumpkin shape:

Really the star of the show is the green tendrils quilted in Isacord Pear which really seem to glow against the black background. That's a new design I'm still playing with and I'm wondering what to call it. Leaf tendrils? Pumpkin vine? This one is definitely destined for a new video maybe next week!

Are you feeling inspired to quilt a special project for this fall? Do you like working on seasonal projects to display in your home?

I'm wondering just how many different ways I could quilt these pumpkins and how much the thread color will make a difference. It's bringing out my inner mad scientist who just loves to test, play, and quilt for fun!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, September 14, 2015

So Much Sashing

Today I'd like to bump up an old post and delve into something quilters often email me about, and that is sashing!

The diagrams and instructions below would be a perfect project alongside my DVD, From Flames to Feathers, which is on sale this week for just $9.99.

Within the DVD is a free pattern for the Squares and Sashing Quilt. Piece this quilt top together, baste it using your favorite method, then follow along quilting each square and sashing space with a different design.

Just to give you an idea of how to quilt the sashing of your next quilt, I've pulled in some photos from the 2012 Free Motion Quilt Along as a visual guide to quilting a small quilt top.

There are probably a million ways to fill the sashing of a quilt. You could start in the absolute middle, or you can start off to one side as I did. You could even start stitching along the outer edges of the sashing and work inwards.

Why so much choice? Because once you've stitched in the ditch, and filled most of the blocks, the layers of the quilt should be fairly stable and it should be fine to quilt it however you like.

So here's the instructions on just one method for filling the sashing with stippling:

Note: I'm illustrating this with this graphically designed quilt top. I've labeled the Top and Bottom so you can hopefully understand how the quilt moved through the machine, how it was rotated, and how the bulk was dealt with at any given time.

free motion quilting | Leah DayStart at the top of a row of sashing. A great way to hide your beginning point is to start right on the tip or side of a sawtooth star. Start filling the quilt moving in a downwards fashion, filling the space with 1/2" scale stippling:

free motion quilting | Leah DayYou'll notice that this feels a lot like stitching the design in a row because it is! You're basically stitching a row straight down that channel, filling the space as you move the quilt up through the machine.

When you reach the bottom of this row, rotate the quilt, then stitch a narrow wiggly line down to the next row. Leaving this bit of space in this sashing area will make filling the outer row easier later.

free motion quilting | Leah DayRotate the quilt again so you're at the top of the second row, again stitch a new row of stippling straight down into this section.

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow take a look at the image above. If we keep stitching straight down that row, we will leave an open space in the sashing between the two blocks Instead of leaving that space open, let's fill it quickly before moving down the row.

Simply quilt a narrow row of stippling into the space, then wiggle right back out so the entire sashing area between the blocks is filled. I wouldn't rotate the quilt for this since you're only stitching around 8 inches into the space and back out again. Even if it feels a bit awkward to stitch from right to left, it won't take very much time to get back out of the space and be stitching downwards again.

free motion quilting | Leah DayDo this one more time to fill the space below the middle block, then stitch to the bottom of the row.

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow all that's left to fill is the outer ring of sashing. Pick a direction to move in to stitch through this area.

It might seem a simple choice, but the direction you choose here is actually quite important. If you keep the quilt as it is when you finished that last row of sashing and you quilt to the RIGHT (see the image above), you will be stitching Counter Clockwise around the quilt.

You will rotate the quilt at the corners and have the bulk of the quilt in the arm of the machine as you stitch from left to right. This is a good direction to go with if you're most comfortable stitching from left to right, but keep in mind that with each rotation, you will have the entire quilt squished into the machine and this can be quite difficult to deal with.

The other option is to rotate the quilt again and stitch straight down so you're moving in a Clockwise direction. This is the method that I advise and use simply because you'll only have to deal with the bulk of the borders in the arm of your machine. It will be much easier to move and shift the quilt moving in this direction.

free motion quilting | Leah DayNo matter which direction you choose to quilt in, make sure to fill any pockets of open space in between the blocks as you go.

free motion quilting | Leah DayYou can see now why we left that little section of sashing open so you can wiggle through the entire space without stopping. If you'd filled that section completely, you'd have to stop, break thread, and start again on the other side.

More than anything else, sashing is a time consuming and tricky area to fill. The best thing to do is take some time to think about the space first and how it can most easily be filled based on which directions you like to work, and how much bulk of the quilt you can deal with inside your machine.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Once the sashing is fully filled, pat yourself on the back! Sashing areas are actually a lot bigger than they seem and at this point your quilt will be more than halfway finished. with shifting your quilt in many directions to see what feels most natural for you. I find rotating the quilt so I'm always moving in a downward direction, and the quilt is always moving up and out the back of my machine feels most natural. This method also means the least amount of bulk of the quilt will be in the arm of your machine.

If you're ready to dive into sashing and explore 16 cool designs that work great in the sashing of any quilt, pick up your copy of Free Motion Quilting from Flames to Feathers today for only $9.99.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crocheted Granny Square

This month's Quilty Box came with a ball of yarn and a crochet hook, which I used to embellish the edge of my apple coaster. I ended up with lots of yarn left over so I decided to shoot another video tutorial on how to crochet a super easy Granny Square block:

Just in case you're looking for written instructions, here's the pattern for this easy crocheted Granny Square:

Begin with a slip knot and chain (ch) 5. Slip stitch (sl) into the first chain to form a loop. Ch 3 (this will act as your first Double Crochet (dc), 2 dc into the center of the loop, ch 3, 3 dc into the center, ch 3, 3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, ch 3 and sl into the top of the first set of chain three for this row.

Sl into the tops of the 3 dc to get to the corner, ch 3 (this will act as your first dc), 2 dc into corner space, ch 3, 3 dc, [ 3 dc into next corner space, ch 3, 3 dc] rep 3 times to complete next row. Sl into the top of the first set of chain three for this row.

Continue in this pattern making sure to chain 3 stitches to turn a corner and not add any chains between the clusters of 3 dc across the sides.

While this might read at first to be a totally foreign language, most knitting and crochet patterns are abbreviated this way to make the pattern shorter and easier to follow.

Crochet really is fun and easy to learn because each stitch builds on another. For this project we learned how to chain, slip stitch, and double crochet, but there are lots more stitches and types of crochet to learn. Would you like to see more crochet videos? Let me know what you'd like to see in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Galadriel Lord of the Rings Costume Part 1

Yes, I've been working on a new costume for Halloween! Last year I was Princess Zelda, and this year I want to be someone a bit more recognizable so I picked Galadriel from Lord of The Rings.

galadriel costume | how to make galadriel costume
The easiest thing about this costume is going to be the gown, which has a convenient Simplicity pattern #1551 that is styled clearly to look like Galadriel's beautiful white dress. The thing is - after picking up this pattern I watched The Fellowship of the Ring again and realized her gown is hardly seen!

Most of Galadriel's dress is covered up by a floor length hooded cloak of net lace. I searched Simplicity's site again and found a corresponding pattern (#1582) that will work to create the cloak as well if I have time.

This weekend I knocked out a good chunk of her dress, but stopped at the point of sewing the side seams to check the fit. As you can see, it needed some work!

galadriel costume | galadriel lord of the rings
I cut this out at a size 14, which was the closest to my measured size according to the pattern measurements. Gone are the days when I can cut out a size 8 and be done with it! After piecing the princess seams and shoulder seams, I can definitely tell it needs to be brought in a bit. Here's a short video Josh helped me shoot last night to show this particular stage of the game:

galadriel costume | galadriel lord of the rings
So I just need to stitch all the princess seams again, and stitch the side seams, taking an extra 1/8 inch allowance to reduce the dress a half size so it will fit better.

I did find while working on this another use for Clover wonder clips. I've mostly used these for binding, but I found they can also work great in place of pins to gauge how much a seam needs to be adjusted!

The other thing I've definitely decided to change is the neck area. It took 2 hours to get the gauzy neck drape to fit just right and I ended up not liking it. All I have to do is rip the shoulder seams and pick out all the basting to remove it and the neckline will be smooth and simple once again.

So that's it for this update! I'm really excited about this costume and enjoying this experience of sewing with satin again after such a long time.

Let's go quilt (or sew!)

Leah Day

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Honoring the Life You Want

It's been awhile since I shared a Light Up Your Life post and today I've created a video for you that explains why:

Yes, it's been quite a busy month with getting James back in school, catching a truly terrible cold, and dealing with a lot of business hassles. I am overwhelmingly thankful I don't have a stack of contracts to travel because right now I flat out couldn't handle it.

For the longest time I've felt pressure to travel, partly because it's a very common thing for professional quilting teachers to do, and also partly because aren't successful people supposed to want to travel? Having read the 4 Hour Work Week, it's easy to forget that not everyone wants to optimize efficiency and reduce wasted time for the same reasons.

So this week I'm celebrating my choice to honor the life I want. I want to be home, making dinner with Josh every night, hanging out with James in the evening, just being a good wife and mom.

Why is it that I feel a twinge of fear and shame when I write that? I almost worry that I will be attacked because that's not good enough, or no longer appreciated as a noble goal to work towards.

I believe that it is the highest of goals, one that requires me to also take very good care of myself. How can I take care of others with a gentle, compassionate heart if I am a seething mass of resentment and anger? It just doesn't work that way!

How about you? What do you know in your heart is essential for your life? Have you been honoring what you want, the life you want to live? In what ways could you do better?

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

Leah Day

Friday, September 4, 2015

Patchwork Play - How to Piece a Four Patch Block

I've been in the mood to piece lately and decided to shoot a fun video on how to piece a four patch block!
A four patch is a great block to get started with because it's so simple - four squares come together with matching seams in the middle. It's super simple cutting and piecing, and the patchwork blocks can be combined together in so many ways to create unique, beautiful quilts.

Let's learn how to piece a four patch block in this video:

I had SO much fun making this video and trying stop motion animation for the first time! The section with the blocks dancing around was created by clearing the table and moving the blocks a little at a time, then snapping a picture for each frame. It was fun to do and has definitely given Josh some ideas for filming funny Lego videos!
 Here's the specific piecing directions for this Four Patch quilt block: 

Cut 2 - 3 1/2-inch squares in cream fabric (I used Island Batik Cream)
Cut 2 - 3 1/2-inch squares in teal fabric (I used Island Batik Bermuda)

Piece the cream squares to the teal squares. Press your seam allowances open, then match the seams in the middle and piece the two units together. Give the block a final press, then make a bunch more for fun!

As you can see, there's a lot of quilt layout options when it comes to four patch blocks. I typically see these arranged in a patchwork checkerboard, but there's a lot more that you can do just by rotating a few blocks to create a totally different arrangement.

Did you enjoy learning more about patchwork? What other funky ways can we change this block to give it a new look? I have a feeling I'm going to need to play with patchwork a lot this month!

Now for the equally important question - how would you QUILT this block? 

Join in the fun of the Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group. This week I'm challenging everyone to piece a four patch and quilt it in a creative way. Post your creatively quilted four patch by next Friday to share it with the group!

Looking for even more tips on precision piecing? Learn all the steps to piecing perfectly with matching seams every time in the book How to Piece Perfect Quilts!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wholecloth Quilting Fun
 Yes, I definitely use wholecloth and fun in the same title!

I've loved wholecloth quilts for many years, ever since first seeing one at a quilt guild meeting. I was obsessed with the idea of being able to make a quilt without piecing or applique, but I just couldn't escape the idea that this was cheating...

No, it's definitely not cheating!

 Wholecloth quilting is actually a very traditional technique where marked, usually symmetrical motifs are made to puff over a flatter, more densely stitched background.

The method to make certain areas of the quilt puffy with extra batting is called Trapunto, pictured below.

One of my favorite things to do is kick back with a big quilt and clip the batting for trapunto. It's honestly the most relaxing thing in the world, so long as I have a good pair of sharp scissors.

Inspired by my love of clipping and trapunto, a few years ago I designed a simple wholecloth and taught many beginner quilters the basic steps to this unique quilting style.

Now we've updated this simple pattern to create the Heart & Feather Wholecloth Video Workshop.
We've included 10 videos in our new workshop to guide you through every step of making a beautiful wholecloth quilt. This video workshop will teach you how to:
  • Prepare your fabric and mark the wholecloth design
  • Add extra puff to your quilt with trapunto
  • Master the three dense filler designs that will make your motifs pop
  • How to fill the quilt in the most logical and fastest way possible
  • Finish your wholecloth with step-by-step blocking and binding

Are you unsure if wholecloth quilting is really for you? The best thing about this project is its small size and simple design.

The Heart & Feather Wholecloth quilt finishes at 16 inches square.

This is one wholecloth project you can jump into and not get bogged down with month and months of tedious quilting.

It will give you a taste for this quilting style without becoming overwhelming.

Click here for more information about our new Video Workshop, The Heart and Feather Wholecloth Quilt.

Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at