The Free Motion Quilting Project: October 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Leah and Alex Anderson at Quilt Market

Happy Halloween! Josh here. Leah is having a great time at Quilt Market in Houston, TX. She's been so busy meeting quilters, checking out cool new tools and fabric lines coming out next year, and doing schoolhouse presentations for Island Batik.

Yesterday she got a change to hang out with Alex Anderson, who is presenting her new awesome rotary cutter system.

And here is Leah with her beautiful new fabric line, coming out in April!

Stay tuned for more!

And don't forget, tomorrow is November first, which means Block 11 of the Machine Quilting Block Party is coming out!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Quilt Kelp Fan - #467

I'm nearly finished preparing everything for quilt market this week so I decided to take a break from thinking about fabric to think about machine quilting! Here's a cute new quilting design for you today that features a bit of thread painting, travel stitching, and echoing to make a really beautiful texture for your quilts:

Learn how to machine quilt Kelp Fan in a new video quilting tutorial with Leah Day

This fun design is called Kelp Fan because it reminds me of a flowy water plant for some reason. I love organic designs like this and, while it's a bit time consuming to quilt, I think the texture is totally worth it. Learn how to quilt it in this new video:

Learn how to machine quilt Kelp Fan in a new video quilting tutorial with Leah Day
Click Here to find hundreds of inspiring quilting designs in the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs. 

So how does Kelp Fan stack up with other quilting designs? Let's learn more about it:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. I set the difficulty here based on the travel stitching and thread painted dots which can be tricky to master. If you build up too much thread in these areas, it can cause your thread to shred so watch out for that as you're forming each filled circle shape.

Design Family - Pivoting - For Kelp Fan we're starting with a cluster of wiggly lines, then pivoting and echoing around it multiple times to create a little cluster of texture. Some similar quilting designs are Swirling Petals and Wire Flourish.

Now where will this new machine quilting design work on your quilts? The nice thing about Pivoting designs is they can basically work anywhere! You can quilt this on a small scale and add gorgeous texture to the border, background, or sashing of a quilt, or you can expand the design much bigger and quilt it over your whole quilt using All Over Style quilting.

So there's no right or wrong way to use this design! Where do you plan to use it? Do you like the thread painting element or will you leave your circles open?

Share your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you'll be the first to know when we publish our next quilting video!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sneak Peak of Leah's New Fabric Line from Island Batik

Exciting news! I have a surprise for you today: here is my brand new Heart Medallions fabric line from Island Batik.

Heart Medallions is one of a new fabric line from Island Batik, my first designer line of fabric. I made a fun and stylish tote bag, pictured below:

These feature  a nice wide strap and two pockets to keep my gear organized. Finishing this project made me finally stop, take a deep breath and relax. I've made everything I need to make for Quilt Market in Houston and I'm ready to go!

If you're heading to market to, please come see me at booth #746 from 10-12. Yes, the bag will be at the booth, along with some really beautiful quilts all featuring my awesome new fabric line!

Leah Day

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How to Quilt Heart Suckers #466

It's time to learn a fun new machine quilting design! I've been going back through older designs and found two old favorites Lollipop Chain and Tear Drop Tree and I decided to change the shape a bit to create a new machine quilting design called Heart Suckers!

Learn how to quilt Heart Suckers in a new free motion quilting tutorial with Leah Day

This quilting design has a pretty, cheerful texture, and it's really easy to machine quilt too. Just be sure to always travel stitch back as I demo in this new quilting video tutorial:

Click Here to find 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs a book full of inspiring machine quilting textures for you to quilt every day for a year!

Learn how to quilt Heart Suckers in a new free motion quilting tutorial with Leah Day
Now for a few more details about this new Heart Suckers quilting design:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is a pretty easy design with only minimal travel stitching (stitching back over a previous line of stitching). One tricky part will be forming the heart shape evenly so it looks roughly symmetrical. If you struggle with this just grab a marking pencil and mark it as you're quilting the stem.

The other tricky part is forming long enough stems so you can branch out with more Heart Sucker Shapes. As you're quilting the stem, be looking for the other directions you'll need to quilt into to move on with the design. If you need space to branch out, be sure to add an extra 1/4 - 1/2 inch of length to the straight line and that will help a bunch.

Design Family - Independent. These little heart sucker shapes can branch out and wiggle around your quilting space in all directions rather independent of anything else. Much like Stippling, there's no limit to where you can put this design or how big or small you can stitch it.

What do you think of this funky new quilting design? I think it will make a beautiful texture for a baby quilt or any quilt with a sweet-tooth theme!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hexie Echo Free Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! This month I received an awesome box of gear selected by Sarah Thomas of I had a blast making this beautiful Hexie Echo Quilt from the precut hexagons in the box!

Hexie Echoes quilt tutorial and free quilt pattern
Affiliate: Click Here to learn more about Quilty Box and help me continue making new videos every month!

Click Here to find the free Hexie Echo Quilt Pattern.

This quilt was really fast and fun to create! I eventually found a nice flow stitching on three strips at a time, then standing up to press and trim the edges. It went together in about 4 hours for me and created a 51 x 60 inch quilt!

I only used ONE hexagon from the box and the rest of the quilt was cut from precut strips I had stashed away. I love these hexagon precuts so I plan to make more quilts from them soon.

What do you think of this pretty quilt? It's kind of a funky mix between hexagons and log cabins and I think there's lots of ways you could stitch it up a notch with scrappy fabrics.

As always, be sure to ask any questions you have in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gearing Up for Fall Quilt Market

Fall quilt market starts in just two weeks and this will be the first time I fly to Houston, TX to attend the show! I'm really excited about the event and launching my new fabric designs with Island Batik. I've also created a new Isacord thread set so this week I switched back to free motion quilting to finish this sample:

And Ta Da! It's finished!

I want the center letters to stand out better so I'm thinking about painting them with red metallic, glittery paint. What do you think?

I'm off to prepare more things for market!

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Quilting through Puckers and Pleats

Have you ever been happily quilting on a beautiful project and then suddenly have your fun time ruined by noticing a mistake on your quilt? This just recently happened to me as I quilted the outer border of my walking foot wholecloth quilt. The lines came together just right to create a perfect storm of pleaty, puckery fabric.

No, this isn't a huge issue. It's pretty minor to other quilting disasters I've experienced, but this quilt is going in a book and that creates it's own set of pressure and expectation. In short - I want it to be PERFECT! Why isn't it PERFECT?!

I don't know about you, but when I see an issue like this is like all my confidence drains away and I want to chuck the quilt in the trash and pretend it never happened.

But I didn't. I pulled on my big girl panties and got over it. Here's a video on what I did:

It sounds crazy to say that I suddenly can't see the issues now that the quilt is complete, but I really can't. I showed the quilt to Dad too and he struggled to find the two puckery corners as well. 

Ultimately I think the solution to any problem, any tricky area, any quilt that's turned from beauty to beast is to keep working at it. Don't stop, don't give up, don't get pissed off and moody and internalize it. Just keep quilting and by the time it's done, you'll wonder what you were making such a big deal about in the first place.

Now I'm off to prep up a second walking foot wholecloth because I'm very curious as to what caused this puckery issue. The only way to know is to try it again and see what happens!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Harry Potter is a Bad Example

What in the world does Harry Potter have to do with quilting? Yeah, this is a bit of an odd post, but it's something that came up the other day while Josh and I were making dinner. I was chopping onions and James was talking about the part of the book where Harry learns how to fly.

Just in case you've never read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or it's been awhile, here's the gist:
Harry's class is outside learning how to fly on broomsticks. Harry's broom magically hops right into his hand and he feels somehow immediately warm and fuzzy about riding. His friend, Neville has a magical toy stolen by the bad kid, Draco, and he jumps on his broom and flies to catch it. 
He dives to catch the toy perfectly. Without ever having ridden a broomstick. Ever. 
I've read the Harry Potter books scores of times, and I never realized just how illogical this part was until the other night when Josh said something simple. "Doesn't that go against everything you know about building skill and talent?"

It was like Josh smacked me in the face with a frying pan! In high school I purchased the book on tapes and would listen to them any time my hands were busy crafting, which was pretty much all the time, but I never saw how monumentally silly this part of the book was.

Skill is never built instantaneously. I've never picked up a new tool, knitting needle, crochet hook, or piece of fabric and felt a sudden warmth in my arm and been able to magically do the task. It took me two years to learn how to crochet and another three to learn how to knit. I've never mastered any craft without practice, patience, and years of trial and error.

My view of skill is that it's a muscle that needs to be flexed over and over to become strong. Unlike popular belief, I don't believe talent is doled out in limited quantities to each person at birth. Talent is the product of building skill so the harder you work, the more talented you can become.

I hear from people on an almost daily basis with excuses like "I can't draw a straight line." "I can't thread a needle." "I can't sew on a button." My question is always - have you ever tried? How many times have you tried to do these things? Come back when you've tried it 100 times and I bet you'll be able to do it.

Harry, with absolutely no prior experience, having never even touched a flying broomstick in his life is suddenly able to jump on one and fly off with perfect skill and precision. Even worse, we're made to believe that this is innate, inborn talent because Harry's father was very skilled at broomstick riding.

That is like saying that my kid will be immediately gifted at quilting because I'm a professional quilter. He will sit down at my sewing machine, feel a warm tingle down his spine, and suddenly be able to machine quilt Stippling and Pebbling with no problem at all. Trust me, I've tried teaching my kid how to quilt, and this hasn't happened.

Talent is the product of hard work and skill building. Period.

But it's a MAGICAL world!

As I began mulling over the whole broomstick thing, I looked for loopholes. It's a magical world, so maybe Harry magically was good at flying on a broomstick.

That would work if the book included other examples of some kids showing up at school already mastering Transfiguration or Charms without any prior experience. But it doesn't. All other skills in the books are gained through years of study, practice, and patience.

And this leads to another point - the school would never have worked in the first place. The kids born in wizarding families would have such a great advantage over the muggle-born kids that there would be no contest.

These kids would have been riding broomsticks, stealing their parent's wand and playing with it, and interacting with magical plants and objects for eleven years. An eleven year advantage is the kind of gap that separates a violin soloist, Olympic level gymnast, and professional basketball players from the rest of us.

Hogwarts would have been filled with kids who had extreme skill and understanding of the magical world mixed with kids who had never seen or held a magical wand in their life. The gap would have been so huge, the muggle-born kids would have never caught up.

That might sound harsh, but I think kids need a dose of reality. Harry Potter is setting a bad example that skill is immediate and instantaneously built. This is just another thing leading kids to believe they can be whoever they want to be, do whatever they want to do, without actually having to work for it or be disciplined in the slightest.

This is a problem because going forward, kids are going to have to work harder than ever to create a secure future for themselves. I've been watching the shift of businesses from hiring lots of employees to hiring mostly contract labor. Contract work is cheaper because you don't have to provide benefits and when the work is done, the contract is over.

The new work force is going to have to be more flexible, creative, and entrepreneurial than ever before. The days of showing up to work and having a secure job for life are over. But if a kid has been raised to think they can be whoever and do whatever they want without working for it, how will they cope in this new reality? They won't.

So that one simple conversation making dinner with Josh has turned into quite a story, hasn't it? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject so please share in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, October 10, 2016

Quilting a Diamond in the Sky Block

Last week we learned how to piece this beautiful Diamond in the Sky Block and this week it's time to machine quilt it together!

I decided to fill this block with an easy combination of designs: Sharp Stippling, Pebbling, and Matrix with a pretty marked sun motif in the center. I began the machine quilting process by stitching in the ditch around the Square in a Square block, the template pieced triangles, and the borders.

I rarely ditch in the beginning of a block, but it seemed like a good idea this time around. See what I mean by watching this new machine quilting tutorial!

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #10

Do you have any questions about how to machine quilt this block? Crazy as it sounds, I do respond to every question posted here on the blog and on my YouTube channel. Sometimes I'll even create a brand new video to just to answer your question in detail!

One important note about Matrix - if you mark this design make sure to tape your template together with the four pages in order so the curvy lines flow across the block properly. I realized a bit too late that my diagram was off and my lines weren't working out quite right.

It's certainly not the end of the world, but it's something I had an issue with for this block and I wanted to pass that tip along. Do you have any tips for quilting this block? Please share your ideas, inspiration, and questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How to Quilt Brick Stitch #465

Let's machine quilt a new design today. Brick Stitch is a simple blocky variation of Sashiko Shell that looks like...well...a wall of bricks!

Lately I've been organizing my quilting design collection and coming up with new methods to categorize them. Does that sound nerdy? LOL! I love seeing how the designs work and how they are similar. It also helps me make more designs because all I have to do is look for a way to change the shapes slightly and a new design is born.

Now for the video tutorial:

Click Here to read more about the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs.

Stacking the bricks together this perfectly is pretty tricky so take my advice in this video and mark yourself some straight lines if you have trouble with it.

Now where will Brick Stitch work best in your quilts? Because the bricks stack together so evenly, I think this is a great design for the background of a quilt.

If there's a lot of complicated shapes to  hop over (like applique vines or pieced star points) then I would mark the lines to help you keep the bricks even across the space.

I'd love to see how you machine quilt this design! Make sure to tag LeahDayQuilting if you share a photo on Instagram or Facebook so I can see what you've quilted with Brick Stitch!

By the way, would  you like to get an email notification every time a new quilting tutorial goes live? Click Here to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you're the first to know when new quilting videos are available!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, October 3, 2016

Piece a Diamond in the Sky Block

Time to piece a new quilt block for the Machine Quilting Block Party! This month we're tackling a Diamond in the Sky block which combines a Square-in-a-Square block with template pieced triangles. As you can see, this combination is awesome!

Template piecing can be a bit tricky so make sure to follow the steps in the video to create your template and cut out the pieces carefully.

The upside of template piecing is the ability to cut out any shape or angle, especially when it's a tricky shape to cut out with your ruler. The downside of template piecing is your pieces will only be as accurate as your template and cutting, so take your time and be careful!

Next week we're going to quilt this block with a wide variety of designs. We have another marked sun motif for the center, some Sharp Stippling and Pebbling in the triangles and Matrix is back for another beautiful flow through the background.

Now what do you think of template piecing? Do you think you'll try more of it, or was one block enough? Any tips to help other quilters that you picked up while creating this block?

Please share your experience and ideas in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Diamond in the Sky Block Pattern

We have a beautiful new block pattern for the Machine Quilting Block Party! Learn how to piece AND machine quilt this Diamond in the Sky Block.

On Monday I'll share a new piecing video guiding your through all the steps of template piecing this beautiful block. Template piecing is a fun way to construct unique shapes very accurately.

The following Monday (10-10), I'll share a machine quilting video to guide you through all the steps of machine quilting your Diamond in the Sky block. I used a combination of free motion quilting and walking foot quilting for this block that really stitches it up a notch.

Now this is the 10th block for the Machine Quilting Block Party so we only have #11 and #12 to go and our Sunshine Surprise Quilt will be complete!

But just in case you're wondering, we will be starting right over again on January 1st with a new mystery quilt and a new set of beautiful blocks to piece and quilt together. 

Our theme for next year's quilt along will be flowers and I'm really looking forward to piecing fun flower blocks with you in just a few months! I'll be working on this new project next week so be looking for new sneak peeks for next year starting soon!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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