The Free Motion Quilting Project: April 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Amanda Made a Quilt with Block #4!

It's always such a delight to see the creative projects being posted to the Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group every day, and today I got an extra treat! Amanda B shared two beautiful photos of a quilt top she's pieced using Block #4 from the Machine Quilting Block Party!

Amanda Patchwork Quilt | Machine Quilting Block Party

Isn't this great!? The blocks are set up with 2 1/2 inch sashing strips and squares to create a extra 9-patch quilt block effect in the center. I love it when a quilt design creates bonus blocks like this!

Machine Quilting Block Party | Spinning Sun Block

I love how Amanda took the pattern from one block and turned it into such a beautiful quilt. This is definitely giving me ideas for playing with our past and future quilt blocks to see what beautiful quilts we can make with just one block design.

Thank you so much Amanda for letting me share your pictures on the Free Motion Quilting Project. It's definitely inspired me to keep piecing and playing with creative patchwork designs.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

LOVE Paintable Embroidery Design

I seem to be on a roll with a painting theme this week! Dad and I have just finished a funky new Stitch n' Paint Embroidery design featuring hearts, feathers, and a whole lotta love!

Click Here to find this new embroidery design at

I've been having so much fun painting these designs! Not only do they stitch out quickly out perfectly on the embroidery machine, they are so quick and easy to color and embellish in creative ways.

This new designed is sized at 5 x 7 inches so it will fit in standard picture frames. We have produced it in all the major file types: ART, ART USB EXP, DST, EXP, HUS, JEF, PCS, PES, SEW, VIP, VP3, XXX 
so it will work great on any embroidery machine.

I think this design would make a terrific gift for a friend. Just stitch it out, paint it with your own unique style, trim the extra fabric around the edge and pop it into a picture frame. You can't get an easier or faster handmade gift than that!

Let's go stitch and paint,

Leah Day

Monday, April 25, 2016

I AM ENOUGH Fabric Painting

It's high time I admit to my new creative obsession: painting. I want to paint, paint, paint! There's something fast and freeing about painting fabric that is giving me such a kick these days. 

I've been designing Stitch n' Paint embroidery designs so I have more excuses to paint (new design coming this week!) and this weekend I finally gave into my muse and painted some fabric I designed for Spoonflower:

If you'd like to make this too, you can find the background fabric right here.

Leah Day in 1998
Yep, this was me circa 1998
This video was really fun to create just using my iPhone and the timelapse option in the camera. I set it up on a mini tripod and hit record while I quickly painted the words I'd sketched over this fabric. 

I wasn't actually listening to any music while painting this, but if I had, it would probably have been along the lines of the music I added to the video. I was once a girl that head banged with purple hair at Lalapalooza after all!

I AM ENOUGH has long been one of my favorite affirmations because it perfectly sums up several points in one - No, you don't need to do any of this stuff. You don't need to do more. You're okay as you are. Please enjoy what you have and where you are and who you are right now.

Painting these words over fabric with all the things I feel pressure to do felt powerful and fun and I definitely see more painting in my future. These days I just want to work faster, simpler, with less fuss and complication.

I also want to express myself more without creating tons more stuff. I've finally reached that critical mass where I don't want or need more huge quilts, so I plan to make a lot of small quilts and cover every inch of my house with bright, beautiful things.

I'm also working on my first painted barn blocks to decorate the outside of my Crafty Cottage and woodshop. James and I primed to massive plywood boards this weekend so be looking for a new video on painting barn blocks sometime next week!

What is the next step for this beautifully painted fabric? I'm going to heat set the paint, baste it with thin batting and backing, and hand quilt the layers together with big stitch quilting.

Yes, you did just hear me say that. Big stitch. Hand quilting. Fast and slow. Whatever you're feeling, give into it and have fun!

Let's go create!

Leah Day

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spring Fabric Designs

I've been playing with Spoonflower fabrics again and finally learning how to create repeating designs easier and faster. I decided to participate in this month's Spoonflower challenge and designed this pretty Japanese garden themed design called Pink Flowers over Gray Echoes:

Pink Flowers on Gray Echoes
The voting will be open on this Spoonflower challenge until April 27th so you can vote for your favorite designs right here!

I've also been playing with fabric designs inspired by machine quilting and what is the best place to start? Feathers! I've created this Feathers and Pebbles design in both black and white and a blue and gray colorway.

Feathers and Pebbles Black & White

With the black and white version, I keep thinking about basting up a square, quilting it on the lines, then painting within each space to make the feathers stand out.

With the Pebbles and Feathers in blue and gray, I keep thinking that would look great as a skirt or halter top shirt. What do you think?

Feather and Pebbles Aqua and Gray

Playing with fabric design also allowed me to easily create the background for a new art quilt I'm planning. I often feel a lot of anxiety in the spring and summer and my to-do list seems to grow longer and longer. It's overwhelming to have a constant stream of "I need to..." in my head, but this is the usual state of my brain:

I Need To...List of Reminders

This is called I need to...List of Reminders. It might not be the prettiest fabric, but it's going to make an awesome background for the quilt I have planned.

So that's the fabric designs I've been creating this month! I've had such a good time learning how to design better repeats much faster and I can see this definitely being something I design more regularly.

Let's go quilt (or design pretty fabric!),

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Machine Quilt Family Tree - #461

It's time for a new machine quilting design! I was playing with simple circular designs the other day and began doodling stick figures. Then I connected them together and realized I had a fun new free motion quilting design:

I'm calling this design Family Tree, which makes me laugh when I think of little people all growing together in a big tree. Learn how to machine quilt this new design by watching the video below:

Looking back through 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, it's easy to see that Family Tree is a nice combination of Bare Branches and Lollipop Chain, so if you like this design definitely give those a try too. 

Family Tree will be a great way to practice quilting circles and travel stitching, which are always important skills to build. The design itself can be quilted on any scale so if you're needing a funky, fun quilting design to cover a quilt quickly, this would be a great choice!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 18, 2016

Playing with a Miniature Sewing Machine

Miniature machine? Really? Yes, indeed! I've been playing with my vintage Essex Miniature Sewing Machine this weekend and stitching small pieces together and enjoying the feel of hand cranking out every stitch.

This little machine was built after World War 2 when sewing machines were in huge demand, but very short supply. Even though it's super tiny, this sewing machine was built for an adult to use and sew and mend clothing. See how it works in this short video:

I found my little Essex on Ebay and when purchasing it, I specifically looked for a vintage toy machine with a case and all tools included. Machines like this often have a guide that screws onto the surface of the machine and a clamp to secure it to your table top. Because the machine is so small, it will tend to shift around on the table so the clamp is really important.

I love taking this little machine on trips because I don't need to worry about a power cord or foot pedal. I store the machine in it's case with a little project ready to stitch so it's easy to pop it into the car and be ready to stitch something fun on the road.

Do you own a hand crank sewing machine? Do you like vintage machines or prefer newer machines with more features? Feel free to ask me any questions about this vintage Essex machine and I'll try my best to answer in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What would you pack for a trip?

Today Josh, James and I packed up and headed to Asheville for a quick one-night trip. We enjoy taking these short trips because they don't take much time to plan, aren't super expensive, and it gives us the chance to visit our favorite restaurants and shops all in one day.

Except we got to Asheville and found there was no vacancy! I'm not sure what's going on there, but the only hotels that weren't filled to capacity were the super expensive ones and that just wasn't what we were expecting today.

So we headed back home and I started thinking about the bag of crafty stuff I packed for this trip. Whenever we're getting ready to go, I will throw a handful of supplies in a bag and head out the door with something creative in mind. Usually in the evening we watch a movie and I'll spend time hand stitching, knitting, or crocheting.

The gear I picked was pretty simple - a white fat quarter, handful of colorful scraps, thread, scissors, and an embroidery hoop. I've been really inspired by Melissa Averinos quilted faces I've seen through Instagram and I wanted to try making some angry faces.

Why angry faces? They make me happy!

Putting together this bag of travel gear pushed me to identify what I really wanted to play with today. Had we stayed overnight in Asheville I wouldn't have a choice - if I wanted to stitch on something I'd be limited to just the gear in my travel bag.

So when we got home I decided to stick to the bag and make myself be creative and adventurous at home. I spread out my materials over the kitchen table and have had a blast cutting and arranging small angry face squares.

So what would you pack in your travel craft bag? What do you really want to play with today? Can you give yourself permission to pull out your materials and make a big mess? I promise you'll have fun if you do!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dresden Plate Patchwork Quilt

#Affiliate - This article and video share this month's Quilty Box, a subscription box of quilting gear you can receive every month. Learn more about Quilty Box at

It's Quilty Box time! This month's box was put together by Jeni Baker from and she has selected a terrific set of fabric and supplies to play with. I've been hankering for a chance to play with my Accu Quilt Go and the Dresden Plate Die I picked up several months ago so I decided to create a mini Dresden Plate Patchwork Quilt:

Of course, cutting out the shapes for my Dresden Plate was super easy with the die. I prewashed the fabric, starched, and pressed it so it was stiff and easy to work with. Then I cut 6 inch strips and ran them through the Accu Quilt Go to cut many little wedge shapes.

Unfortunately I ran into a snag with the first Dresden Plate I pieced. I knew 20 pieces should have created a circular plate, but it didn't sit flat. It felt like there was an extra piece and no matter how much I pressed and fiddled, it wouldn't work. After a bit of frustrated Google searching, I found that many quilters have had this issue with this die too.

So I ripped that plate into 4 quarters of 5 petals each and checked for square. They were way off! I squared up the shapes, pieced them back together again and suddenly 20 pieced worked perfectly. So it's important to know if you're trying this with the Accu Quilt Go Dresden Die that it doesn't work perfectly and will require trimming to create a perfect Dresden Plate.

Now that you understand the prep, let me show you how I pieced my mini Dresden Plate patchwork quilt:

Yes, this was the quilt video that I sliced off the tip of my finger as I was filming. I cut that section out because it hurts me to watch and I'm sure you didn't want to see it. I do hope you can see how easy it was to make this mistake and how to avoid doing this yourself.

Always take your time rotary cutting and re-position pieces so they are always along the edge of the ruler and you can make a straight cut away from you. Cutting across the top from left to right or right to left certainly feels like a time saver...until you cut yourself and everything slows down!

I hope this video has inspired you to give Dresden Plates a try. They are a really fun shape and create very beautiful quilts. Yes, there are a lot of steps to preparing each piece, but the finished effect is totally worth it!

So what was your favorite part of this video? Have you ever created a Dresden Plate quilt before? Did you find it easy or hard to piece? Share your experience in the comments below!

Looking for more videos to enjoy? Click here to find a playlist of many videos where I walk you through the process of piecing entire quilts on video!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stitching Ditches in the Spinning Sun Block

This Monday we learned how to Machine Quilt a Spinning Sun block and a few members of the Facebook group were confused about which seams I ditched for this block.

Stitching in the ditch refers to quilting right in the seamline or "ditch" between fabrics. For most of the blocks in the Machine Quilting Block Party I've quilted some ditches but not all of them, just depending on the design I was going for.

For the Spinning Sun Block I didn't stitch the center square in the ditch, but I did stitch around the outer half square triangles. You can see this clearly from this picture of the back of the block:

Why did I choose to ditch this way? The main reason is I considered the center star of the block it's own unit. It was being filled with the marked sun design and Sharp Stippling, which wiggled over the half square triangles and center square seamlessly.

Had I stitched that center square in the ditch, the Sharp Stippling would be overlapping that square line. I don't like that appearance so I didn't stitch the center square in the ditch.

But you can see I did ditch around the outer edges of the half square triangles once I switched to orange thread. I ditched these seams because I wanted the star shape to stand out nicely and I wanted a "fence" that I could travel along while quilting Pebbling into the background of the block.

I generally view ditching as an outline that separates different filler designs from one another. It's kind of like a coloring book - the lines tell you where to color. For me, the ditches separate one filler design from another.

As you can probably tell by now, ditching is an opinion-based choice that's entirely up to you to decide. There isn't a wrong way to stitch your blocks in the ditch! Don't let little things like this trip you up or get you stuck.

Instead look at the block and decide what you want to do. Do you like ditching or hate it? Do you view it as an outline the same way I do, or a nuisance that is better left un-stitched? Please share your thoughts on ditching in the comments below!

Let's go ditch!

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ouch! Rotary Cutter Accident

Yesterday I was working on a fun new Dresden Plate quilt and was quickly squaring up a shape. Rather than reposition my ruler, I cut across the top from left to right - you know, exactly how you're NOT supposed to do it?!

I ended up cutting off the tip of my middle finger. Don't worry, it wasn't through muscle or bone, but it did shave off the entire top several layers of skin and bled like crazy.

Moral of the story - Don't try to speed through projects! Take your time and put attention and focus in every cut. The time I saved by not re-positioning my ruler, I've now lost by the buckets because it's harder to do everything with a painful finger.

Now because I have a weird sense of humor, here's a fun design you can stitch to celebrate my accident!

Lol! Maybe I need to create a new design called Bloody Fingers? I'm definitely going to be thinking about ways to capture this silly mistake in thread.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 11, 2016

How to Machine Quilt Block #4

It's time to machine quilt block #4 in the Machine Quilting Block Party

Last Friday I shared an extra tip video on Pebbling so you could practice quilting that skill building design over the weekend. Today we're going to machine quilt Pebbling, Sharp Stippling, and a marked sun motif to finish this block beautifully.

Remember, you can join this quilting block party anytime! Just pick up your block patterns and follow along with the videos as you learn more about piecing and machine quilting.

In this video, make sure to watch the section when I machine quilted Pebbling into the background of the Spinning Sun block. I often used half or quarter circle shapes to bounce along the ditch lines instead of having to stitch in the ditch.

I also explained how to avoid hesitation knots at the beginning of the video. These little knots often happen to beginning quilters, but with practice it's really easy to fix this issue.

So now that we've finished up block #4 are you seeing an improvement in your piecing and machine quilting skills? Are you feeling more confident and able to quilt projects you've created in the past?

If you're not seeing drastic improvement, consider adding a little extra practice time every day. Just 15 minutes a day can make a huge change to your machine quilting skills.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Craftsy Boundless Fabric

Did you know Craftsy has a fabric line? This week I was clicking around Craftsy after answering student questions in my online classes and ran across the new fabric collections for Boundless Fabric:
Most of the collections are arranged within a color family so if you love blue or red or green, you can find a collection that's perfectly suited for you. I decided to pick up a pack of blue / teal 2 1/2 inch strips to create a waterfall bargello quilt!
I love coordinating color precuts like this because it can be such a pain to pick out several solids of the same shade.

Craftsy is offering precut 2 1/2 inch strip packs, 6 inch strip packs, charm packs, and 10 inch squares. Comparing the price and quality to popular Kona and Moda fabrics, Boundless is just as great quality with a tight weave and strips I purchased were cut nicely on grain.

As for the price, I feel that these prices are cheaper than I see in most quilt shops, but of course there is the extra cost of shipping. However, if you order over $99 and are shipping in the US, you get free shipping.

So all in all, I really like the Boundless Fabric line from Craftsy and I plan to buy more. If you'd like to check it out, click here to see all Craftsy has to offer.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, April 8, 2016

Practice Machine Quilting Pebbling

This month is all about Pebbling! This free form, circular stacking design is one of my favorite machine quilting designs because it's so versatile. You can quilt it around nearly any shape, the circles can expand to take up lots of space, or shrink down to the size of sand within tiny areas.

Tips for Machine Quilting Pebbling
We're using this beautiful design in our Spinning Sun block for the Machine Quilting Block Party and I've included a practice worksheet for you to trace onto fabric and practice machine quilting. Click Here to find this worksheet in the pattern for Block #4.

Tips for Machine Quilting Pebbling
The one challenge with Pebbling is stacking the shapes together, which can require travel stitching over one spots multiple times. I actually struggled to quilt this design for years because I was quilting with cotton thread that couldn't take the travel stitching.

Every time I swung around to travel stitch around a Pebble my thread would break and I'd have to stop, rethread, and start again. And then my thread would break again!

Obviously it was impossible to master this design with constant thread breaks. It wasn't until I started trying new threads and found Isacord thread that I realized I COULD quilt Pebbling, so long as the thread I was using was thin and strong enough to travel stitch multiple times over the same area.

Definitely keep this story in mind as you try machine quilting Pebbling and if you find your thread breaking, try switching threads until you find one that works better for you!

Have you tried quilting Pebbling before? What was the biggest struggle with this design for you? Share your experience in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gardening Time!

This past weekend Josh and I got serious about gardening. My terraced pathway project was nearly complete and we finally decided to cover the surface with rubber garden tiles. I debated using these or pea gravel or just leaving the surface as dirt, but ultimately I like the rubber tiles the best:

Of course, as soon as I got the pathway complete, we had to fence it off completely! See the innocent little guy on the right?

That's Kitchen and he's not innocent at all. He loves to use my gardens as a bathroom which is really disgusting and could hurt the plants. So we've fenced in this garden completely by surrounding it with woven wire between the garden and the carport, and then 2 foot chicken wire around the pathway.

You wouldn't think this little fence would be enough to keep cats out, but it's working well so far!

In these terraced side gardens we've planted lots of herbs: basil, parsley, thyme, and oregano. I also keep rosemary and sage, but in other gardens because those plants get so big. I've also planted green beans and cucumbers which can easily grow upward along the woven wire against the carport.

I'm really excited about growing and eating so many vegetables this summer. We're planning to can at least two shelves of tomatoes because we eat spaghetti every Sunday night.

Have you started planting your gardens yet? What are you planning to grow this summer?

Let's go garden!

Leah Day

Monday, April 4, 2016

How to Piece a Spinning Sun Block

It's hard to believe we're already tackling our fourth block in the Machine Quilting Block Party! This Spinning Sun block is one of my favorite combinations of half square triangles and super simple four patch blocks.

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #4.

However, don't let the simple piecing fool you! I made a mistake with my block as you'll see in the video and nearly ended up with pleats near my seamlines. Watch the video to see how I noticed the issue and worked it out as I pieced the fabrics together:

It's really easy to make a mistake like this and it might not seem like a big deal. I'm pretty sure I was stitching with slightly smaller seam allowance for the four patches, but then end up with the whole unit running slightly big. I should have double checked my four patches by placing a ruler over the top to make sure they were the correct size.

But as you can see in the video, even when I forgot that extra step, I was able to work out the extra fabric with a little persuasion through the full length of the seam.

Just in case you're needing a refresher on the extra tip videos and posts I've shared on preparing your fabric and marking your block, make sure to check out the full collection of posts for this project right here.

Even if I had stitched a pleat into my block, I probably would have left it because we're going to machine quilt the background with the gorgeous filler design Pebbling. In addition to being an eye catching design, Pebbling is also terrific at hiding mistakes!

So make sure to pop by on Friday to find a tip video on Pebbling and this time next week (Monday, 4-11) we'll learn how to machine quilt this Spinning Sun Block with many beautiful designs.

Don't forget to pick up your pattern for Block #4 before the 5th so you can get the very best deal!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Spinning Sun Block Pattern

Our next month the Machine Quilting Block Party has begun with a bang with the new Spinning Sun Patchwork Block!

This beautiful block combines simple four patch units with half square triangles to create an awesome asymmetrical star. The quilting design is also kicked up a notch with Pebbling, a marked sun motif, and Sharp Stippling.

Click Here to pick up the pattern for Block #4.

We did have a small issue with the pattern that has already been updated. The cutting chart was slightly cut off, excluding the following amount:

Fabric D - Cut 2 - 2 1/2 x 16 1/2 inch strips

If you purchased the pattern before 10 am EST last night, you will have received an update email with included a download link to the updated pattern. Just click the link, download the updated pattern, and you'll be good to go.

If you purchased the pattern anytime after that, your pattern was already updated!

We're super sorry about that slip, but we've tried to make the update as quick and smooth as possible. Make sure to pick up your patterns by April 5th so you can get them for just $3.99 each! Click here to shop now.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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