The Free Motion Quilting Project: February 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Amazing Experience at Quilt Con East 2017

What an amazing trip to Quilt Con East this past weekend! We had a great time seeing the beautiful quilts at Quilt Con, visiting with friends at the show, then traveled to Charleston to visit with family and celebrate James’s birthday while dressing up as Star Wars characters.

Now for the recap of Quilt Con – this was an amazing show!

I’ve never been to Quilt Con before, but now I see why it’s such a fun, fantastic show. There are so many quilters traveling over to the show, plus fun vendors and fabrics you don’t see anywhere else, and the quilts – the quilts were simply fantastic.

See what I mean with the Best of Show – Bling by Katherine Jones:

This quilt was incredible and what I loved most is Katherine's balance between the intense piecing and simplistic quilting. So many times I’ve seen intensely paper pieced quilts get quilted to death and back again. This is a perfect balance and I’m so happy this quilt won Best of Show.

I’ve been attending quilt shows for several years and noticed a few years ago that I wasn’t snapping photos much. There just wasn’t a lot of new stuff to see and not much was catching my eye. It’s not that it takes so much to impress me, it’s more that I’ve seen so many quilts pull out all the stops in an effort to impress, it just got to be too much.

Well, Quilt Con certainly gives you something new, and different, and…awesome. The minimalist style really called to me at this show and I found many quilts overwhelmingly peaceful.

Dipped Dimension by Kathleen Probst
Is that possible to be overwhelmingly peaceful? I’m not sure if that’s a contradiction, but that’s how it felt to me!

Less is more, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring or simple. Many quilts featured massive shapes that are quite challenging to piece or applique and were executed perfectly, again with minimal quilting that enhanced the piecing.

Here is one of my favorite quilts from the show called Los Angeles that was created as a donation quilt for the event. It was designed by Lisa Congdon and pieced and quilted by Gina Pina.

I also loved the experimental nature of many quilts. This is Smoke by Katherine Jones was created entirely with white thread, but ranging in weight (thickness) from 5 to 60 weight:

The thicker threads were quilted using bobbin thread work and the thinner threads from the top like usual. I’ve long suspected this is what varying thread weights would do, and I can’t wait to play with this idea and see what happens with different filler designs are combined with different weights of thread.

I also saw a lot of impressive machine quilting, particularly quilts playing with density, thread texture, and scale. This is a close up of the luscious texture on The Egg by Hillary Goodwin:

This was just a small selection of my favorite quilts from the show. I loved seeing so many fantastic quilts, so many innovative techniques, and so many quilting friends all in one place. Quilt Con is definitely the place to be!

I know I've returned home feeling very inspired and invigorated to try new things. Quilt Con has definitely sold me on the minimalist style and I'm eager to create my own overwhelmingly peaceful quilt.

Did you go to Quilt Con this year or in previous years? What was your take on the show? Do you like seeing minimalist quilts or does that feel too simple to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let’s go quilt,

Leah Day 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Collage Quilting 4 Designs - Sit Down Sunday #5

Last week I shared a video about getting to know your longarm quilting machine and began quilting on a printed table runner quilt.

This week I'm continuing this quilting project with a new video on Collage Style Quilting. This style of quilting involves picking multiple quilting designs and stitching them with no rhyme or reason over your quilt. See what I mean in this new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video:

For this quilt I'm using a mix of four free motion quilting designs: Root Pockets, Fossil Snail, Brain Coral, and Concentric Circles. Each design has a very different texture so they all stand out nicely from one another on the quilt.

Another nice thing about this mix of designs is how Root Pockets and Fossil Snail easily expand to cover large spaces on the quilt while Concentric Circles and Brain Coral easily fill the smaller spaces.

While I quilted each design I was also getting to know my Grace Qnique 14+ a bit better. Surprisingly enough, there are directions this machine doesn't like to stitch in and that was something I wasn't expecting.

When I first started using a sit down longarm machine I thought that because the machine didn't have feed dogs it would be able to easily quilt in all directions universally.

Turns out a longarm machine can still have directions it doesn't like...or maybe it's the thread that's the persnickety element here. Either way, I noticed the thread would twist hard, then begin to skip with a noticeable puff to the left when the thread didn't connect.

Once I noticed this, I became vigilant about watching for skips or the thread acting weird in any way. While a good chunk of my attention is focused on my quilting design, I'm also watching the thread and stitch quality like a hawk and anytime things don't look just right, I know it's time to change direction and try quilting a different way.

I do think it's important to quilt a real quilt when getting to know your machine. I know I wouldn't have caught this subtle thread issue if I wasn't downright obsessed quilting this table runner with these designs.

On a practice sandwich I can break thread or skip stitches and I'll shrug and keep quilting. On a real quilt, I'm hyper aware of anything happening because I hate ripping stitches and having to hide thread tails.

So this week I have homework for you - pull out a real quilt, get it basted up, and give these four designs and collage quilting a try! It's a really fun quilting style and definitely something I plan to play with much more in the future.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Collaboration: How to Quilt Over Busy Quilts

This month I'm collaborating with Kate Colleran from! Kate has sent me a beautiful mini quilt called Two Step Mini which she cut and pieced using her new braid template. I love the way the fabric strips come together to create this unique block:

Click Here to learn how to piece this mini quilt in a tutorial with Kate!

Kate has created a quilt pattern for this mini quilt and bundled it with her braid template so if you'd like to make this too click here to check them both out on her website.

This is kind of a three way collaboration because the batik fabrics were all designed by Jackie Kunkel from Canton Village Quilt Works. It's so fun to work with other quilters and make something beautiful together!

Don't forget to check out my podcast interview with Kate and learn more about her quilting business.'ve probably already spotted a problem with quilting this quilt - it's pretty busy! How do you machine quilt over a quilt like this and not distract from the pretty piecing design or the beautiful fabrics?

That's exactly the question I got stumped on with this little quilt. I didn't want to totally ignore the piecing design because that braid effect is really cool, but I also didn't want to blend in completely with it. I decided to pick my favorite thing in the quilt and build the quilting design around that tiny center square. See what I mean in this new video:

Click Here to check out Kate's tutorial on piecing this mini quilt! Here's how the quilt finished with a combination of marked squares, Flowing Leaves quilting design, and ruler foot quilting lines in the border.

My quilting design did add more complexity to the quilt top, and depending on your quilting style and opinion that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Personally I love it!

Sometimes adding an extra design in the quilting, even on top of a very busy quilt, can be the right choice. For this quilt, there was a lot of symmetry going on with the pieced blocks and center square, but a lot of randomness going on with the most eye-catching colors randomly placed within each block.

By adding the marked squares on top, that centered the focus of the quilt on the center square. When I quilted the first square space with Flowing Leaves, I was honestly worried I'd ruined the quilt because the texture was quite overwhelming on top of the already busy fabrics.

That's when I decided to tone things down in the background with simple straight lines. Straight lines can be dynamic and add lots of movement to your quilt. They can also simplify and calm things down with a flat texture that gives your eyes a place to rest.

And that was exactly what this little quilt needed! The straight lines in the background really set off the busier texture in the center of the quilt and bring the whole thing together. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

Have you ever pieced a busy quilt and not been able to figure out how to quilt it? Have you ever gotten stuck on your quilting design? I hope this quilt will inspire you to take a look at that project and figure out how to move forward with it.

Don't forget to check out Kate's post on how to piece this cute quilt!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tumble Through the Looking Glass Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! Yep, this post will contain affiliate links that help support our business. This month we received an awesome box filled with tools and supplies selected by Angela Pingel, including a precut pack of her beautiful new fabric line Curious Dreams!

I decided to slice up these 10-inch precut squares into tumbler shapes using Template #3 from the Dresden Plate Template Set and piece them together in matching rows to create these beautiful diamond shapes.

I randomly arranged the diamond shapes with lots of white background tumblers to add lots of negative space. I wanted this quilt to look fractured and split apart, much like it must look to Alice as she tumbles through the Looking Glass!

Learn how to piece this beautiful quilt in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the free quilt pattern.

Make sure to experiment a bit with the tumblers so you get the hang of piecing them together. It's hard to describe how to align the shapes so I created this little graphic. You want the pieces to line up so that you're stitching through both tumbler shapes from the first stitch.

Once you get the hang of aligning the tumbler shapes, piecing them together is a speedy chain piecing process. Dad pieced the tumblers into matching rows, then pieced the rows together to create the quilt top.

The finished size of this quilt is 50 x 60 and I did add an extra 3 inch border around the edges just to finish it off nicely. I love the combination of the simple diamond shapes and random arrangement. There's no rhyme or reason to this quilt, which fits just perfectly with the book it was inspired by!

What do you think of this quilt? Do you like tumbler shapes? With the many tumblers in the Dresden Plate Template Set, I'm excited to dig into this shape and explore all the ways it can be arranged and pieced!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Get to Know Your Machine - Sit Down Quilting #4

Time for another Sit Down Quilting Sunday! For the past few weeks I've quilted on practice quilt sandwiches because I was mostly making a mess as I adjusted my machine's tension and ran a speed test to get used to the speeds of the Grace Qnique 14+.

But practice sandwiches will only get you so far. To really get the feel for any machine you have to start quilting real quilts. Quilting on a real quilt feels very different because you have a different focus. You want to see only pretty, balanced stitches and anytime the machine skips stitches, breaks thread, or does anything else weird, it's going to get your attention. See what I mean in this new quilting video:

Click Here to learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+.

I'm quilting a  little pear table runner I bought at Ikea a few years ago. I always wanted to quilt this with a variety of funky designs to go with the brightly printed pears.

To set off the background design, I decided to start with simple echo quilting around each pear shape. This is a printed panel so I don't have any piecing lines or lumps or bumps from applique shapes to get in my way. I really think cheater cloth fabric panels like this are a great choice for your first quilting project on a machine because it's flat, easy to quilt, and if you make a mistake it's not that big of a deal.

I've actually designed a few cheater cloth panels for Spoonflower which can really help you if you're just getting into machine quilting on any style or type of machine. Click Here to check them out.

Now for a few things I noticed about my machine - when quilting backwards and moving the quilt away from my body for longer than 4 inches, I noticed some skipped stitches. As soon as I noticed the issue I worked to rotate the quilt more to avoid that direction and the skipping stopped, but it's still something I'm going to keep an eye on.

Sometimes skipped stitches are caused by direction and sometimes a combination of factors like the thread, height of the foot over the quilt, and the fabric you're quilting through.

I hadn't experienced this issue before so I believe it's caused by the variegated thread I'm using on this quilt. I rarely use variegated thread for exactly this reason - it's finicky.

I've found variegated threads that change thickness along with color so your tension fluctuates as the color changes on the quilt (super annoying) and I've also found variegated threads can be less durable with a greater chance of shredding or breaking as you quilt at high speeds.

It could have also been the height of my quilting foot. I just received a new open toe foot from Grace Company that has an opening that faces me with my machine set up like a home machine. This is a new foot and if you'd like to order one for your machine just contact Grace Company and mention you saw it in my video.

I played around with the height of the foot quite a bit and I'll be sharing another video soon on how to adjust the height to get it just right for any quilt.

Ultimately I found this project super helpful for getting to know this machine. I broke thread several times, skipped some stitches, and had to rip some quilting out, but  I've begun to tune into the noises the machine makes when it's not 100% happy and prevent issues before they happen. That's really the whole point!

What do you think of this idea? Have you bought a new machine recently and been afraid to use it to quilt a real quilt? What do you think is holding you back the most?

Share your thoughts and experience and any questions you have in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Podcast #14 - Free vs. Paid Quilt Patterns with Kate Colleran

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have an interview with Kate Colleran from about writing patterns and the risks and benefits of offering free quilt patterns.

I'm also doing a collaboration with Kate next week! She sent me a really cute block she made with her braid template and she's going to share a video on how to piece it and I'm going to share a video on how to quilt it next Wednesday so be looking forward to that.

Now for a few updates about what's been going on for the past two weeks. The first big thing is I've gotten back to my walking foot book which has been on hold since last fall. Unfortunate the book was a bit of a mess to go back to and wasn't very well organized.

So I went through the book and pulled out index cards and made a list of every topic I wanted to cover in the book and then began organizing it all. This method really worked for me and I think I just needed to see each topic and design laid out this way and I was able to sort it out and now I'm just tackling one card per day. So each evening right before bed I pull out my little bluetooth keyboard and pop my iphone on top and I just write one little section - takes about 15 minutes.

Honestly 15 - 30 minutes is all I really have to work on this right now and that's how I'm going to have to write it! It does feel really good to be making progress on the book and moving forward.

Another thing we're moving forward on is Sit Down Quilting Sunday which is off to a great start and has really generated a lot of nice questions on YouTube. It's so nice to be using a machine now that I really like and feel confident sharing on video!

This Sunday I'm going to share a video on quilting a REAL quilt. I've had a little printed table runner from IKEA for a few years and today I've basted it up and going to quilt it with bright thread and a really simple design. I want to get used to quilting on this machine and the best way to do it is on a real quilt.

Sponsor for the Show

The sponsor for the show this week is and the new Dresden Plate Template Set which is on sale for $5 off during February. This template set can be used to cut many Dresden Plate quilt blocks, you can cut out tumbler shapes as well and use the templates for ruler foot quilting too. Click Here to check out the set now.

Links from Kate Colleran's Interview (yep, there will be some affiliate links below):

Kate is the author of the book Smash Your Precut Stash which is a book about actually using the precut fabric packs you've purchased (instead of hoarding them forever in their perfect packages)!

Kate has also taught a class with Craftsy called 3 blocks 30 Quilts. You'll learn how to piece three easy blocks, then how to arrange them ten different ways to create thirty different quilts! Click Here to check out this class.

Kate has also taught a class for Quilt University called Creative Quilting for Home Decor. You'll learn how to make quilted pillows, tabletopper sized quilts, table runners, and placemats and learn many piecing skills along the way. Click Here to check out this class.

Click Here to check out Kate's collection of free quilt patterns.

Click Here to check out Kate's Braid Template.

If you heard me mentioning holding the quilt up - yes, I'm planning to also put this podcast on YouTube! The video will be coming soon!

Would you like to listen to more podcast episodes? Click Here to check out all of the podcasts shared so far!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quilting Basics 14: Fun with Hand Applique

Last week we learned how to piece a Pointy Eight Dresden Plate and I secured the Dresden Plate to the background block by machine with a straight line of stitching all around the edge.

While this is certainly a faster way to applique, many quilters commented and emailed us to ask about hand applique so I've created an extra Quilting Basics video just for you!

I use very simple tools for hand applique - scissors, a thumb thimble, needles (#9 sharps) and thread. All of these tools are quite small and can fit into a ziplock bag along with your quilt project so hand applique is always an easy travel project.

Once you get used to keeping a handwork project going, it's really weird to be without one. Honest I haven't done hand applique in a few months and sitting down to make this video was so nice. It totally made me fall in love with hand applique all over again!

The trickiest part of hand applique is the angle and size of your stitches. I know I make this look very easy, and you would too if you spent your middle and high school years stitching delica seed beads together instead of having a life!

The first thing to work on is the angle of your stitches. Try to keep the stitches running parallel with the folded edge of the Dresden Plate petal and that will greatly minimize their appearance.

Also be sure to blend your thread perfectly with the applique fabric, not your background fabric. The only time you see the thread is when it peeks out between the folded edge of the applique and the background, but if the applique fabric matches the thread, it's almost invisible.

Once you get the hang of keeping your stitches parallel to the fold, then focus on making them tiny. The width of a seed bead or 1/8 inch long is perfect, but it may take time to get your stitches this small.

Incidentally, if you're interested in trying beadwork, Clover came out with one of the best beading looms I've ever seen a few years ago. It's so simple to use and can make projects of varying lengths. #Affiliate - Click Here to check it out on Amazon. 

So what do you think of hand applique? Honestly making this video has been a wonderful reminder of how peaceful and relaxing this stitch work can be. While it's certainly not speedy, not everything we make must be done quickly. Sometimes it's nice to take extra time and sew the stitches by hand.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quilting a Pointy Eight Dresden Plate Quilt Block

It feels like this week has lasted forever! I've been so excited about teaching you how to quilt this Pointy Eight Dresden Plate with all these beautiful designs. We're going to learn how to quilt Pebbling, more feathers, Swirl Spirals, and perfectly spaced lines with ruler foot quilting.

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #2.

Just in case you're worried about ruler foot quilting or you don't have a ruler foot yet, please know that this is 100% optional. You don't have to try ruler foot quilting on this block.

Instead you can mark the straight lines in the background and quilt them with your walking foot. We did a very similar design last year with our walking foot in Block #8 from the Sunshine Surprise quilt.

It's important to understand that there's many ways to quilt each design. Ruler foot quilting is a new way to free motion quilt using a foot with a high base and rulers to give you more control over the direction of the quilt. But it's certainly not the ONLY way you can do this. You could also quilt these straight lines with plain Jane free motion quilting and your regular darning foot too.

But if you do have a ruler foot and you're eager to try this new technique, this block will give you the perfect opportunity to give it a try. See what I mean in this new quilting video:

Click Here to find the Dresden Plate Template Set and template #1 that I used to piece and quilt this block. (Yes, these are out of stock right now, but should be back in stock by Wednesday).

What I love most about ruler foot quilting is not having to mark every line on my quilt. I did do a tiny bit of marking to help align my ruler foot and create the 1/2 inch spaced lines, but this was far, far less than I usually mark when quilting straight lines.

Issues with marking pens and pencils not washing out has come up in the Block Party Facebook recently. It's very important to test your marking pencils BEFORE you use them on your quilts or quilt blocks.

If you use a pen or pencil you haven't tested, you're really taking a big gamble with your time and effort on that project. If the marks don't wash out and become permanent, it will be really hard to see your beautiful piecing or quilting design.

So take the time to test your marking pens and pencils before you use them. Mark a scrap of fabric with some lines, then follow the instructions on the marking pencil package to remove the marks. If they don't wash out the way they should, that marking pencil cannot be trusted to mark your quilt tops.

There are unfortunately a lot of really bad fabric marking pens on the market these days and it's really easy to pick something that won't work. This is why I've used the Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencil and the Fine Line Water Soluble Pen for years - because they mark nice visible lines, and wash out or erase off when I need them too. Click Here to find both pens in the Mark Your Quilt Kit.

What did you think of this combination of designs and ruler foot quilting? Did you enjoy using rulers on your block? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Control Your Speed Without a Stitch Regulator - Sit Down Quilting Sunday #3

It's Sunday which means it's time to jump on the Grace Qnique 14+ and share a new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video! This week I'm answering one of the most common questions about this machine:
Does the Grace Qnique machine come with a stitch regulator? 
The answer to this question is no. This machine does not come with a stitch regulator when it's set up as a sit down / table mounted machine. Only when you upgrade the machine to roll over a quilting frame will you get a stitch regulator.

This means that quilting on the Grace Qnique is exactly like quilting on your home machine without a stitch regulator - you have to learn how quilt by balancing the speed of the needle moving up and down with your hands moving the quilt under the needle.

The best way to learn how to balance your stitches and get the hang of speed control is to do a speed test. Learn how to do this in this new quilting video:

Click Here to watch all the videos in this series!

You know something funny? I didn't even access the highest speeds of this machine! This sit down longarm could go even faster, but the question is - can I move my hands fast enough to keep time with it?

Probably not. This is why it's important to run the speed test and spend a lot of time getting to know the machine and how hard you need to press the foot pedal in order to go any particular speed.

When quilting you need to be able to speed up slightly to quilt designs that you flow through very quickly, then slow down to control your stitches as you quilt in the ditch or travel stitch.

This ability to change speeds on the fly takes time and practice. While stitching practice sandwiches is helpful, it's nothing like quilting a real quilt that you care about.

Next week I'm going to get a small quilt top basted up and begin quilting it on the Grace Qnique. Make sure to share any questions you have in the comments below and I'll share new videos to explain how the machine works just for you!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Quilting Basics 13: Ruler Foot Quilting for Beginners

On Monday we learned how to piece a beautiful Pointy Eight Dresden Plate quilt block and next Monday we'll learn how to quilt it with many awesome free motion quilting designs including ruler foot quilting!

So today let's learn more about ruler foot quilting and how to get started with this new style of free motion quilting on our home machine with a new Quilting Basics Video:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #2 so you can practice ruler foot quilting on a real quilt block.

Wait? Did I say ruler quilting is another form of free motion quilting? What?

Yep, a ruler foot is just a type of darning foot so that makes this another form of free motion quilting.

That means you can quilt with rulers a bit, set your ruler aside and wiggle around with Stippling, then pick up your ruler again and get back to quilting straight lines, which is exactly what I did in the video.

This also means that whatever settings you use for free motion quilting are the same settings you should use for ruler foot quilting. For me that's stitch length 0 (or the lowest setting) and the feed dogs covered with a Queen Supreme Slider.

But this also means that your stitch length and quality is 100% up to you. You still have to balance the speed of your hands moving the quilt with the speed of your needle bouncing up and down. My best advice when getting used to ruler foot quilting is to quilt slowly. Move your hands slowly and steadily, keep the ruler / template in position on the quilt, and against the ruler foot and make smooth, steady movements as you quilt.

It's good to quilt slowly because it will feel easy to push the quilt under the needle. The additional ruler / template on the quilt will act as an extra grip, giving you more control over the quilt movement. It will feel very easy to shift with the help of the ruler, and very temping to move it quickly.

But that will result in big stitches so take it slow until you can balance that extra hand speed with extra machine speed.

What to Watch Out for with Ruler Foot Quilting

At the beginning of the video I shared the most important tip for ruler foot quilting - never drop your needle with the foot in the up position.

When you drop your needle to bring your bobbin thread to the quilt surface, always double and triple check that your foot is in the down position.

Take a look at the difference between the needle area on my Grace Qnique 14+ longarm on the left and my Bernina 1230 on the right. See the difference in the needle bar?

On the home machine, I have a long needle bar that sticks out more than 1/2 inch to the right. The needle attachment on the longarm is completely different, which a small screw sitting almost flush with the metal rod above the needle.

When your ruler foot is in the up position, it has a tall enough base that it could potentially hit your needle bar and SMASH! there goes your needle bar, your timing, and potentially some other very expensive things in the top of your machine.

So save yourself a lot of money and hassle and never, ever drop your needle with your ruler foot in the up position. Easy peasy!

Explore Ruler Foot Quilting

Now what can we do with ruler foot quilting? How can this help us quilt our quilts?

A ruler or template basically acts as a guide for the foot. As you push the ruler, plus quilt through the machine, it gives you a guide to keep the foot in the correct place as you quilt.

Instead of veering off in wild wobbly lines like a drunken sailor, you can now quilt perfectly straight, evenly spaced lines without marking by using a straight edge ruler as a guide.

You can also quilt perfectly round circles, arcs, and any other shape that's been cut on a ruler. Think of the ruler as an assistant and it, combined with the ruler foot, allow you to quilt certain shapes perfectly.

This also means that quilting rulers are a new thing to collect. Oh yes, every ruler opens a new world of shapes and designs for you to quilt, but a good place to start is with straight lines, arcs, and circles and you can find rulers to quilt all of these shapes in the Dresden Plate Template Set.

This set of templates can cut dozens of Dresden Plates AND can be used for ruler foot quilting - how's that for multitasking!

The key is keeping the ruler in position on the quilt and next to the ruler foot. I like using True Grips which help keep the templates in place so they don't slip as I quilt. I also like wearing Machingers Gloves, which I always wear while quilting, but they seem especially handy for gripping both the quilt and the template at the same time.

After you get your templates ready to go the next step is just to practice! I'd start with a small block or fat quarter sized practice sandwich. This will feel just like free motion quilting, but managing the additional ruler on top of the quilt might take awhile to get used to.

I do think straight lines are the easiest so give them a go first. Mark some straight lines on your quilt as a guideline, then try quilting evenly spaced lines 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 inches apart.

Once you feel comfortable with straight lines, branch out with other designs. Here I've used Template #7 from the Dresden Plate Template set to quilt overlaping shells. I marked straight lines 1 inch apart in order to space these shapes perfectly:

The lines etched on the back of the rulers will help guide your ruler placement and I really think a quilting ruler is only as good as the guidelines provided on the back. Those guidelines help you align the ruler so you can easily quilt the same shape repeatedly and create cool stacking designs like all the pictures above.

So what do you think about ruler foot quilting? Have you ever tried this type of free motion quilting before? Make sure to post your questions to the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, February 6, 2017

How to Piece a Pointy Eight Petal Dresden Plate

Are you excited to piece our first Dresden Plate quilt block together? This eight petal Dresden Plate will come together super quickly and easily with big petals that are super easy to piece and turn. Click Here to find the pattern!

To get started piecing this Dresden Plate quilt block, you'll first need to create a cutting template so you can cut the unique wedge shapes for this block. Click Here to find a tutorial on creating your cutting template.

You could also skip this step by picking up the Dresden Plate Template Set which comes with Template #1 used for this Pointy Eight Dresden Plate. We'll be using all of these templates to make different Dresden Plates for the Machine Quilting Block Party this year, plus using them for ruler foot quilting as well!

And finally one more step of prep for this block is to create a turning template and turn the edges of the center circle. Click Here to find another tutorial on creating the center circle.

Once you create your cutting template, cut out your pieces carefully. Now let's learn how to turn those simple wedge shapes into awesome pointy Dresden Plate petals!

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #2.

What do you think of the easy pointy petals? Isn't that a fun technique? I love being able to create the point easily by stitching across the top and turning the shape right side out.

I value precision piecing and knowing that my Dresden Plate will finish flat and perfectly round. This is why I piece this plate together in sets of 2 petals, then check to make sure each quarter section is square and straight. It's a little extra step that can make a big difference!

When it comes to securing the Dresden Plate to the block background, you have a lot of options. The option I shared in this video was to stitch 1/8 inch inside the turned edge of the Dresden Plate petals. You could also use a decorative stitch and you could stitch this by hand.

Would you like to see a tutorial on hand applique and how to stitch this turned edge down so no stitching shows? Let me know in the comments below and I'll shoot an extra video on hand applique!

With Block #2 pieced, the next step is to machine quilt it and we're going to explore many beautiful designs this month. We'll learn how to quilt Pebbling, more feathers, Swirl Spirals, and ruler foot quilting on your home machine. Be looking for a new Quilting Basics video on Wednesday to help you get the basics of ruler foot quilting!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Quilting Tension Test! Sit Down Quilting Sunday #2

Wow! I've been really happy with the response to our new Sit Down Quilting Sunday series. I received lots of questions about the Grace Qnique quilting machine and how it works as a sit down / table mounted longarm.

The most common question I received was about adjusting your tension so in this week's video let's learn how to do a tension test:

Click Here to read more about the Grace Qnique.

Apparently in forums and reviews, tension issues were the most common complaint about the Grace Qnique. All I can speak for is my personal experience and I've found the tension to be very easy to set on this machine.

So far I haven't experienced any tension or stitching issues that were not caused by something going wrong in the threading of the machine - either I missed a guide while threading the machine or the thread hopped out of a guide while quilting.

With a home machine, you might be able to miss a guide and it won't totally mess up your tension. I don't think that holds for longarm quilting machines. Every guide must be threaded exactly or the top and bobbin threads will not be balanced.

Another thing to consider is the speed of the machine. Longarm quilting machines stitch very fast and it's easy to confuse a speed / movement issue with a tension issue.

Here's the difference - a tension issue will show up consistently no matter what design, shape, or direction you are quilting. I've adjusted the tension here to pull too tight to the top and you can see the white bobbin thread pulling to the top of the quilt with every stitch.

A speed / movement issue will have weird fluctuations only in specific spots like a certain curve. This happens when the movement of your hands doesn't work with the speed of the machine and the thread pulls in this weird way. We call this eyelashes:

See how the eyelashes only pull in certain curves? See how the thread is mostly balanced at other times? That's speed / movement issues, not tension.

These issues will also not go away no matter how much you adjust your tension dial because the tension has nothing to do with it. It's the movement of your hands that's the culprit here. You need to slow down your hands and work to get in time with the speed of the machine.

Foot Height and Stitch Quality

Another thing that can effect the look of your stitches is the height of your quilting foot. If the foot is set too high, it can allow the quilt to bounce a bit as you stitch over it.

This can cause the stitches to look very slightly unbalanced, and it's usually inconsistent. I've found that when my foot is too high and I quilt backwards, the stitches will pull slightly to the top of the quilt. This is subtle, but if you're paying very close attention to your quilting, it may appear as another annoying tension fluctuation.

But it's an easy fix - whenever you switch from one quilt to another, unscrew your presser foot slightly and drop your needle in the down position. You want the foot to make contact with the top of the quilt, but not squish it. Also make sure to wiggle the foot around until the needle is positioned right in the center of the circular base and tighten up the screw.

Check Your Tension Often

How can you guarantee your stitches will look great on every quilt you make? Do this tension test daily! Every time you start a new project, every time you change thread types, and every time you're quilting with a different batting because all of these things can effect your quilting stitches and the tension balance.

If you begin each quilting session with a small tension test, you're going to have a better experience all around. Your body will be more warmed up for free motion quilting, you'll sort out any ugly stitch issues on a scrap sandwich rather than your real quilt, and you can adjust the tension so it's perfectly balanced as you start your project.

Many times I've heard quilters complain about checking tension as a waste of time and thread. Since when did thread become such a valuable, limited resource? Spend it out and you will SAVE time not having to rip out stitches because you didn't check your tension and stitch quality to start.

Now that I've answered the most frequent question about the Grace Qnique, what's your next question? What would you like to see next in this series? Please share your ideas and questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Podcast #13: Quilting Hobbist Carrie Barraco

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have an interview with Carrie Barraco, a textile artist who sews, knits, crochets, quilts, weaves, and spins. Right now her main focus is quilting and she loves fabric, and piecing different patterns and prints together.

It was a big intro day because I have lots of things to catch you guys up on. It's the second month of the Machine Quilting Block Party and you can click here to find the new pattern.

I've filmed a new batch of tip videos for this new pattern to teach you how to build a cutting template for the Dresden Plate Petals, how to turn a circle applique, and the basics of ruler foot quilting.

Ruler quilting is the thing I'm super excited about because of our new Dresden Plate Template Set. In a world of single tasking quilting rulers, I wanted to make something that would do MORE than just ruler foot quilting and so far these templates have been doing really well. We've just put an order in for a new batch and they are on sale this month for $5 off because we're using them this month in the Machine Quilting Block Party.

But...sad news, this podcast is going to have to move to a bi-weekly thing. I'm still struggling to manage my time with it and this past month has been near burn out crazy so I'm going to slow down the podcast, slow down my pace a bit with blog posts too so I have time to relax and do some quilting just for me.

Just in case you missed it, I also used these rulers in my video with Stephanie Soebbing for quilting her little Strippin Mini Quilt.

More news! I have a new longarm quilting machine from Grace Company! I'm quilting on the Grace Qnique 14+ as a sit down quilting machine (so still like a home machine) and I'm filming a new series of videos on this machine called Sit Down Quilting Sunday.

So far the response to this new series has been terrific and lots of questions have been coming in that I will be answering in new videos each Sunday.

And the last thing to share is the January Quilty Box. I'm super sorry it took me so long to post this awesome project - I combined the strips from the quilty box with some fabric I designed for Spoonflower and created Fussy Cut napkins and a little quilt. Click Here to find that tutorial.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, February 3, 2017

Quilting Basics 12: Turned Edge Applique

This month we're learning how to piece and applique a Pointy Eight Dresden Plate and building lots of new skills for piecing and applique. Of course, to finish the center of the Dresden Plate, you have to create a circle shape.

In this Quilting Basics tutorial, let's learn how to create a turning template so you can turn the edges of your fabric to create a perfect circle every time.

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #2.

Just like creating the cutting template, I took a bit of a shortcut with this template making process by printing the circle design directly onto freezer paper sheets. Just make sure to print using an inkjet printer as laser printers get way too hot for this type of paper.

This technique does require a few things you might not have handy in your sewing room. I use the cap of...something...I'm not sure where that little plastic cup came from because I've been using it for years as my little starch cup. I also keep a small paintbrush handy so I can paint the starch on the edge of the fabric.

Why use a paintbrush? Starch can be really hard to control in a spray bottle, and even harder in an aerosol can. You don't want to get all of the fabric wet at once, and you especially don't want to get your turning template wet because then it will get soggy and make a big mess with your fabric.

Another thing that's super important and cannot be overstated is giving yourself more than enough fabric to turn. Yes, I'm telling you to waste fabric!

The more fabric edge you leave around the template, the more you have to hang onto. As you can see in the video, I'm hitting the edge with my iron, then pulling it up and over the template. The fabric heats up, so the more you have to play with, the better.

So if you want to create a 3 inch circle, cut yourself a 4 inch square of fabric. That way you have at least 1/2 inch all around and a bit more fabric in the corners of the square to turn the shape easily without burning your fingertips.

And one final key to this process - patience. The first time I tried freezer paper applique, I didn't leave enough fabric around the edge (stubborn) and I didn't cut the template smoothly (rushing) and I ended up with a really weird looking applique (disappointed).

Take your time with this process and work slowly. You only have to make ONE circle for the Pointy Eight Dresden Plate, so take your time learning how to turn the edges nicely.

Next Monday we'll learn how to place this perfect circle applique on our Dresden Plate quilt block and stitch it in place.

Is this the only way we can make circles? Absolutely not! There are a hundred different ways to do things in quilting and I want to give you a variety of techniques to play with this year. In few months we'll learn how to fuse circles instead so you can learn how that process works as well.

What do you think? Do you like turning the fabric under like this? Do you wish it was fused instead? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Quilting Basics 11: Create a Cutting Template

Today is February 1st which means Block #2 is ready for you! This month we're going to learn more about piecing, applique, and ruler foot quilting as we create this beautiful Pointy Eight Dresden Plate together:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #2.

To get started on the right foot I want to share another Quilting Basics video with you to teach you how to create the cutting template needed for this Dresden Plate There are many times in quilting that we can't cut a shape with our normal rectangular or square ruler because the shape is unique and can't be cut using the angles or lines on a normal ruler.

At times like these, we need to create a cutting template so we can cut the shapes we need accurately for our block. Learn how to create a cutting template and cut your pieces for this new Dresden Plate quilt block:

Wishing you could skip this step? You can use Template #1 from the new Dresden Plate Template Set instead. Click Here to check it out.

The first step to creating this cutting template is to print page 6 of the Block #2 pattern. Double check that you print the template the correct size by measuring the 1 inch square in the corner of the page.

I sped up the process a bit by printing the template directly onto freezer paper. Click Here to find printable freezer paper sheets.

Make sure to print your template using an inkjet printer. Laser printers heat up too much and will melt the freezer paper together. I killed Josh's favorite printer doing this so don't repeat my mistake!

To make the template rigid, first press a piece of freezer paper waxy side down onto your pressing board. Then top it with the template page, waxy side down, and press again until you see no air bubbles or wrinkles on the pages.

Pull the template up and trim down the sides carefully. You want to cut up to the lines around the template, but you don't want to cut the lines off.

With this template you can cut the edges with a regular rotary cutter and ruler. When we create curved edge petals, you'll need to cut the shape out with scissors so you form a nice smooth curved edge.

Now that your template is cut, you're ready to start cutting fabric! Make sure to buddy up the paper template with a regular ruler so you don't cut the edges of the template. If you do accidentally cut the edges of the template off, it's probably not going to work. Just make a new template and try again.

If you're in a really big hurry and you don't want to mess with making a paper cutting template, you can find this template included in the Dresden Plate Template Set.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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