The Free Motion Quilting Project: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Beautiful Infinity Knot Quilt

A little while ago I designed a throw sized quilt with the precuts I received from my monthly Quilty Box subscription, and the Infinity Knot quilt was born! I created a free pattern so you make this fun project yourself. Please click here for the Infinity Knot pattern.

Kelly G., a quilter on our worldwide quilting facebook group, shared this beautiful Infinity Knot quilt she's in the process of finishing. Don't you just love the polar bears and the cute tracks that make up the knot?

Be sure to check out the free pattern and accompanying how-to video on making the Infinity Knot quilt. This is a fun, simple project aimed at beginners with only two blocks which finishes out at 50 inches square, perfect for a nice throw.

I can't wait to see more Infinity Knot quilts! Join our Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group so you too can share your quilts.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 30, 2016

Machine Quilting Tutorial: Rings in Rings

It's the last Monday of the month so let's learn a new machine quilting design! Rings in Rings is a beautiful quilting design that will help you practice echoing, travel stitching, and quilting circles in free motion:

Rings in Rings machine quilting design and free video tutorial with Leah Day

Let's learn how to machine quilt it in this short video tutorial:

Rings in Rings machine quilting design and free video tutorial by Leah Day
Click Here to explore hundreds of beautiful machine quilting designs in the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs.

As you can see, this texture is a bit intense, and yes, Rings in Rings is a bit time consuming to machine quilt. For this reason, I'd use this design as an accent in small spaces of a quilt rather than as an All Over design. The texture definitely grabs your attention and will stand out beautifully wherever you quilt it.

So what do you think of Rings in Rings? Do you like quilting circles free hand or between lines like in this design? Where will you use a design like this?

Please share in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Different Summer

Yesterday was James's last day of school and the official start to summer break - three solid months of summer fun. Yippee!

However... most likely James won't consider this summer as fun as previous summers. A few months ago Josh and I realized we needed a big change. Far less electronics, far more sunshine. Much less tolerance for tears and tantrums, far more expectation for determination and patience. We literally changed our parenting style overnight, created a list of new family rules, and began enforcing every single one with some sort of physical exercise or chore.

Does this make me sound mean? For the past few months I have felt a bit mean. I enrolled my child in karate classes, added to his daily chores, pushed him to work harder, ignored tears and punished whining. Trust me, the past few months have been tough for all three of us.

But we've seen wonderful results. Back in February James was having issues in second grade. He wouldn't focus. He couldn't sit still. He'd rush through work and not care a bit about the quality, just about being the first one done. No, James doesn't have ADD, or some other label like that. He just needed more guidance, more structure, and, apparently, a lot more experience raking leaves in the back yard.

Over the past few months I've seen James transform from a wimpy crybaby to a resilient and respectful nine year old. Yes, I cringe at the words "wimpy crybaby" because I know someone, somewhere is going to judge me. How dare you call your son a crybaby! We want men to have emotions and be empathetic!

Yes, absolutely, I agree with you. But we also don't want to raise a man-baby who melts down when his boss asks him to work on a Friday night. Or do something he doesn't particularly like. I want my son to be in touch with his emotions, but not be ruled by them. I want to raise an adult, not a child in a grown-up body.

So in this spirit of parenting, this summer is going to be quite different. Instead of so-called educational television to "keep him occupied" James will be occupied continually with tasks that build dexterity in his hands, patience and perseverance in his mind, and strength in his body.

Today James hand stitched charm squares together while I wrote quilt patterns for fall market and when he made the exact same mistake three times (looping the thread over the seam allowance instead of stitching up through the fabric correctly), I made him do 15 push-ups as punishment.

Yes, I punished my child for not just hand stitching badly, but mostly for making the same mistake repeatedly, which implies he wasn't paying attention, wasn't engaged with the task, or simply didn't care.

Up until now I've resisted this sort of parenting because it was very similar to the way I was raised. My dad would often send me and my sisters outside and lock the doors so we couldn't come back in. I can remember feeling shut-out and unloved, feelings I never wanted my child to feel.

But then again... I turned out okay. These days I'm starting to think that maybe those times being outside for a few hours weren't so bad after all. I learned how to entertain myself. I found something to make or create. I usually got pretty muddy, and ultimately I had fun.

If I don't send James outside, how will he learn this, experience this, find this for himself? He won't. If I don't push my child to pay attention to his mistakes so he will stop making them, how will he learn how to avoid them? If I don't help my child build these mental and physical muscles, who will?

So here's to a different type of summer! Far less television. Almost no video games. Lots more sunshine. Lots more chores. Lots more to learn, and way more growth. After all... isn't that my word for this year... grow?

Let's go grow,

Leah Day

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Machine Quilting Gentle Curves

This week I finally upgraded to the iPhone 6 with a lot more space so I could shoot more videos of what I'm working on at any given time. Today I'm machine quilting on my Juki 2200 sit down longarm and STILL knocking out the lines in the landscape of Dream Goddess. Check out the video to see why this is taking so long:

I admit, this has got to be the most boring machine quilting design in the world. But if you stitch rows and rows of it across beautiful hand dyed fabric, the effect is totally, absolutely worth it!

So that's what I'm quilting today. What are you working on? Has the warm weather pulled you away from your sewing machine and out to your garden, or are you quilting something special? Please share in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leha Day

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beautiful Quilting with Matrix

Our feature machine quilting design this month is Matrix, a super easy, wiggly grid design. Yesterday I got a ping on my Instagram feed from a quilter called Ktigger2 who used Matrix to machine quilt her latest quilt:

matrix machine quilting design
This is so awesome! Matrix was the perfect design to quilt over this scrappy quilt and add movement and interest over the surface. I love the effect of this texture close up:

Of course this month we learned how to machine quilt Matrix on a smaller scale in our Flaming Pinwheel block #5but you can always expand the design and use it to fill an entire quilt on a larger scale like this. Not only is it a gorgeous design, it's also super easy to quilt with your walking foot!

Have you had a chance to quilt Matrix this month? If not, definitely jump on your machine and give this fun machine quilting design a try!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 23, 2016

Machine Quilting the Basket Weave Quilt

Last week I received my Quilty Box for May and designed a beautiful new quilt using the 10 fat quarters in the box. This week I've shared a new video on how to machine quilt the Basket Weave quilt with a super easy, beginner level design!

Click Here to find the video on machine quilting the Basket Weave Quilt

This is quite possibly one of the easiest quilt patterns I've ever designed, and I really love the combination of straight lines and circles I quilted over the surface.

When planning the quilting design, I looked closely at the quilt and asked myself what I wanted to emphasize. The woven lines of fabric are my favorite part of this quilt pattern, so I knew I wanted to quilt a simple design into those spaces.

The simplest machine quilting design in the world is straight lines so that became an easy choice for the printed fabrics.

The background spaces were nice open spaces and could have been quilted with a wide range of designs. If you wanted to challenge yourself to try lots of different designs in one quilt, this would be a great space to try it!

I decided to fill those background spaces with rings of concentric circles that I quilted in free motion. However, you'll have to watch the video to see how I cheated a bit to make machine quilting these circles much, much easier!

Another idea I had while filming the video was to combine some big stitch hand quilting as well. If you didn't like the circles, or they were too challenging for you to quilt in free motion, you could always stitch them by hand instead. I've marked a handful of spaces that I will stitch by hand just for fun.

So what do you think about combining different forms of quilting? Do you feel most comfortable with walking foot quilting or free motion quilting? Have you ever tried hand quilting?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Back Home, Getting Back on Track

Dad is nearly 100% recovered and feeling great after his hip replacement so this weekend I came home and today I'm getting back on track, checking in with the various projects I have in progress around the house. I actually got a lot done at Dad's house, but it was always in a "make-do" sort of way. Like sewing at his coffee table:

Dad's coffee table is actually a pine and cedar blanket chest, so the sides are solid. This makes it really uncomfortable to sew with the foot pedal because the angle it puts my leg. So instead of fighting cramped calves, I stuck the foot pedal between my legs like a Thigh Master and mashed it to control the speed of the machine!

Once I got the backing of my quilt pieced, I was ready to mark the top. Dad and I managed this together on his tiny kitchen table:

And the final step was basting the Basket Weave quilt on the floor. I don't think I've basted a quilt on the floor since 2006! I definitely missed my big folding tables at home, but it wasn't so bad because the quilt was only 46 inches square.

While it was a bit hard on my knees, I enjoyed every step of working on this quilt at Dad's house.

Now that I'm home, I'm headed out to the Crafty Cottage to machine quilt it. I figure since the Basket Weave quilt was such an easy patchwork design, the quilting should match the piecing and be super simple as well.

Be looking for the quilting video coming out this week!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Test Decorative Sewing Machine Stitches

I've been living with Dad for a week after his hip replacement and decided I couldn't live for an entire week without a sewing machine. I popped home and grabbed my Viking Ruby, a vintage cherry red cam sewing machine.

Vintage Viking Ruby sewing machine
While I love her color and beautiful decorative stitches operated by the cam system, I haven't had the time to get to know Ruby very well. First I couldn't find feet at any Viking dealers, then once I found the feet online, I just got too busy with other projects to really put Ruby through her paces.

But this week I've had a lot more time to kick back and stitch in between running errands and cooking meals for Dad. I decided the best way to get to know Ruby was to make a stitch sampler of all her decorative stitches. Check out how I tested the decorative stitches in this quick sewing tip video:

Click Here to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you're the first to know when I publish new sewing tutorials!

How to test decorative sewing machine stitches
The cam system is super cool and it's been lots of fun to play with the different stitches and to see how changing the stitch length and width change the appearance of the decorative stitch.

I learned to make a stitch sampler like this from Carol Ann Waugh's class Stupendous Stitching. She uses the decorative stitches to make fantastic art quilts, but it all starts with knowing what your stitches look like and how they can be changed in creative ways to create different effects.

Trying out every single decorative stitch on the Viking Ruby is definitely helping me get to know this machine and the nuances of sewing with it. This was really useful because yesterday I put her to the test at James's school. I helped work the sewing station at Pioneer Day and worked with kids and other moms to finish 33 9-patch pillows!

Leah Day Viking Ruby sewing machine

I also brought my Essex hand crank machine for fun so the kids could crank the handle while I positioned their pillow under the foot. The kids LOVED hand cranking and seeing all the parts of the little machine move.

So that's what I've been up to this week!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 16, 2016

Easy Basket Weave Quilt Pattern

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

This past week I received my Quilty Box, filled with fun gear selected by Anne Marie Chany, the creator of Gen X Quilters. Anne Marie selected a beautiful set of 10 fat quarters of fabric for us to play with this month and I designed this easy Basket Weave Quilt pattern to show off the fabrics beautifully:

Click Here to find the video and free quilt pattern at

This month I've published the free quilt pattern in an easy-to-print PDF you can download, print, and share to your heart's content!

All that remains is the usual question - how do we quilt it? I have a fun plan for machine quilting this quickly and easily with my walking foot, but first, I need to piece my backing fabric. Stay tuned for more videos on this fun project!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hip Replacement Vacation?

Yes, I am on vacation this week...sort of! Yesterday I took Dad to the hospital to get his hip replaced and for the next week or so I'll be hanging out at his house helping him recover.

We've both been looking forward to this surgery for months because Dad's hip was in such bad shape. Thankfully the surgery was quick and we were back home within a few hours. Now comes the hard part - keeping Dad inside and not renovating his kitchen or mulching his garden! LOL!

Since I'm staying with Dad, I don't have a sewing machine, but I decided to bring my small stash of felted wool - my latest quilting addiction:

Wool felt dots

What I love most about felt applique is you don't actually have to stitch along the edge because felted wool doesn't unravel. The stitches are 100% decorative and I'm looking forward to experimenting with all sorts of funky embroidery designs stitched in bright embroidery thread.

felted wool fabric collection
Unfortunately I've been building this collection of felted wool like it's a precious, extremely scarce material. Yep, I've been hoarding this collection of beautiful felted fabrics, so this week my goal is to slice into this fabric, stitch together those dots, and make something fun in between running errands for Dad.

So that's what I'm up to this week. What are you creating? Have you ever helped a loved one recover from surgery? Did you make a special project during that time, or find it too challenging to balance the two tasks at once?

One thing I've learned - portability is key! Having a project with needle and thread already started is really nice to grab and stitch without having to think too hard or make major decisions. Sometimes all you can do is sit and stitch and that's okay!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 9, 2016

Machine Quilting a Flaming Pinwheel Block

It's quilting time and today we're machine quilting our Flaming Pinwheel block with a combination of free motion quilting and walking foot quilting!

Learn how to machine quilt a Flaming Pinwheel Block with Leah Day

One of the coolest things about this block is the design flow I created through the center Pinwheel area. If you notice the wiggly lines in the orange areas connect with the curving lines in the yellow areas and the straight lines in the red areas. Make sure to mark your block carefully so these lines match up and it will make machine quilting through these areas very quick and easy.

See what I mean in this new machine quilting video:

I hope you had a chance to check out our tutorials on Matrix this weekend and try machine quilting this fun design. Matrix is both simple and easy to quilt either in free motion or with your walking foot. 

Walking foot quilting tutorial with Leah Day
One thing that I hope isn't confusing is the switch from free motion quilting to walking foot quilting. We use very different settings for the two different quilting techniques because the mechanics of how the machine is quilting is very different.

For free motion quilting, we don't use the feed dogs on the machine so I put a darning foot on my machine and drop my stitch length to 0 (no, I don't drop my feed dogs). I also cover my feed dogs with a Queen Supreme Slider to make the block easier to move.

For walking foot quilting, the feed dogs are used in conjunction with the feed dogs on the walking foot to feed the quilt forward evenly. I put on a walking foot and raise the stitch length to 1.6 mm because I like the look of that size of stitch. 

However, if you like bigger or smaller stitches, all you have to do is play with that setting to find the stitch length you like. I also move the slider off my feed dogs for this style of quilting because it could get damaged under the walking foot.

As far as which style of quilting to choose - that's entirely up to you! I think it's important to build both quilting skills so you're comfortable both walking foot quilting and free motion quilting.

What kind of quilting are you most comfortable with? Do you plan to quilt this block with your walking foot or in free motion? Would you like to see more walking foot style quilting in future videos?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below and share the video with your quilting friends!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Machine Quilting Matrix Grid Design

This month our feature machine quilting design is Matrix, a design entirely created by gently curving lines. The lines run perpendicular to one another creating a wiggly grid over your quilt that looks amazing and is super easy to quilt!

This month you'll find a practice worksheet for Matrix included in the Block Party #5 pattern. The wonderful thing about this design is you can quilt it either with your walking foot or darning foot. So this weekend make sure to try both methods when quilting this design and let me know which you like best!

Let's learn how to quilt Matrix in a few older videos from past Quilt Along projects:

I call this design a Quilt Buster in this video for a reason! Matrix is a terrific design to use as an All Over Fill, and as you saw at the end of the video, I've used it to fill a quilt super quickly on a 5 inch scale (5 inches between the wiggly lines). It was an effective and quick way to finish a quilt with minimal quilting.

Now let's see Matrix machine quilted on a much smaller scale:

You can definitely see how versatile this design is across the two videos! On a tiny scale, Matrix becomes an intense, wiggly grid design. It's a terrific design to use in backgrounds and borders because it's so easy to quilt, but the texture it adds to your quilts can't be beat.

Have you ever tried quilting Matrix? Does it look easy or difficult at first glance to you? Definitely give it a try because it's very easy, super forgiving, and might just become your next favorite design!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 6, 2016

Beginner Quilting Videos to Binge Watch

Did I say binge watch and beginner quilting in the same title?  Yes, indeed! Josh has created a wonderful playlist of all his beginner videos and organized them together into a playlist for you to enjoy:

Each video will play after the other automatically, allowing you to watch Josh and I quilt together for hours on end without having to stop and search for a new video.

Click Here to find this new beginner machine quilting playlist.

Click Here to subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Just in case you don't remember Josh's time behind the camera, back in 2014, Josh quilted every single block in the Building Blocks quilt, most of the time with me at his side sharing helpful (and not so helpful) tips as he quilted.

If you've been feeling frustrated with free motion quilting, Josh will certainly make you feel better! When he got started making these videos, he didn't really know how to turn on my machine. He'd quilted a bit with me on a few projects, but never on camera.

Over the course of the year, Josh shared new videos along side mine every single week and you can really see his progression as a quilter block by block. Eventually he began making his own design decisions and machine quilting only what he wanted to within each block.

I admit sometimes this drove me crazy! But we made it through the year quilting each block together and had a great time teaching this way.

We hope you enjoy this new playlist! Let me know if you have more ideas for video playlists that we can put together for you to enjoy our videos.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sit Down Longarm Sewing Machine Set Up

A few days ago I realized I hadn't posted anything to Instagram, it was late in the evening and I was really wanting to quilt, so I set my camera in a tripod and shot a still of myself quilting on my sit down longarm, the Juki 2200.

sit down longarm sewing machine | Leah Day longarm machine

Little did I know this would spark quite a lot of questions on both Instagram and Facebook about what all was going on in this photo! So I set up my camera again today and shared more details about my longarm machine setup, what the heck I'm wearing, and how the clamps help me move the quilt:

Click Here to learn more about the quilting back support I'm wearing.

Yes, I'm still enjoying my Juki 2200 sit down / table mounted longarm! I use this machine mostly for quilting my personal quilts, but if you'd like to learn more about it and see more videos with it, please let me know. I've already shared a video review of the Juki 2200 right here.

I must say I REALLY like this machine now after setting it up in my new Quilty Table. This is a special table designed for sit down longarms that positions the longarm sideways to your body and more like a home sewing machine.

I'm not sure why, but this setup feels far more natural for me. Before I'd really struggled to feel comfortable facing the machine and even expanding the table as much as I did, I never really liked it.

This new table combined with my clamps and bungee cords is absolutely perfect. It takes up less space, but is able to quilt bigger quilts. Kind of an odd contradiction, but if it works, it works!

Please feel free to ask any questions you have about this longarm machine set up in the comments below.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Stencils are Back Up!

Yes, indeed, I've finally gotten my act together and rebuilt my quilting stencil page at Click Here to check it out now.

Why has this page been missing for so long? Mostly it was just lost in the shuffle as we scrambled to build a new website last September. 

I know that was more than 8 months ago, but changing website systems is a bit like moving house - doesn't everyone leave some boxes unopened for a few months?

In any case, I'm definitely going to be working on the site more and returning pages that I've been missing a lot, like my quilt gallery. 

While these pages have never been super important for website traffic (not that many people searching for quilt goddesses unfortunately), the gallery has always made me happy and has been a convenient way for me to organize my quilts and remember when they were made.

This kind of reflection is fun and often reminds me of cool techniques and ideas that I might have forgotten. Just working on our stencil page today reminded me of the three cool stencil marked quilts I created last year. I've added pretty photos so you can see them all here.

It's also inspired me to take a look at the stencils I've already designed and create new, fun projects for you to enjoy! While it might not seem like it, marking designs with stencils actually takes less time and focus than quilting free hand, and they are a terrific starting point for planning your quilt design.

But what do you think? Have you ever marked a quilt with stencil designs? Would you be interested in seeing new videos featuring quilting stencils? What are your favorite designs that work best when marked with stencils?

Share your opinions and ideas in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 2, 2016

Piecing an Easy Flaming Pinwheel Block

It's the first Monday of the month which means we have a new block to piece together! This month we're learning how to create a Flaming Pinwheel block which features half square triangles and flying geese:

We've definitely gotten a lot of practice piecing half square triangles this year, but we could always use more practice! This time we're piecing the half square units together to form a pinwheel block in the center and surrounding it with flying geese units. Let's learn how to piece this beautiful block in this new video:

I do hope you enjoyed this new video! Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you're the first to know when a new video is released.

Of course this Flaming Pinwheel block won't be complete until we quilt it! Later this week we'll learn tips for quilting Matrix, our feature machine quilting design this month, then next Monday we'll learn how to machine quilt this block with a combination of free motion quilting and walking foot quilting.

I can't wait to share many fun tips for quilting this block and the gorgeous effects we can create with Matrix!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 1, 2016

New Flaming Pinwheel Block

It's finally May 1st and time for another block added to the Machine Quilting Block Party! This month we're quilting a Flaming Pinwheel Block with a combination of walking foot and free motion machine quilting!
Machine Quilting Block Party Block 5

walking foot quilting | Machine Quilting Block Party
Click Here to find the pattern for this Flaming Pinwheel quilt block

The best thing about this month is tomorrow is the first Monday, the day our piecing video is released! So you won't have to wait long to learn how to piece this beautiful block.

The following Monday (5/9) we will learn how to quilt this block with a combination of free motion quilting and walking foot quilting. It's really fun to combine techniques like this and I can't wait to share more about walking foot quilting!

Don't forget to pick up your pattern within the next five days so you get the best deal. Click Here to find all the videos posted to the Machine Quilting Block Party so far.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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