The Free Motion Quilting Project: March 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sneak Peek for Block #4

Are you ready for April? I'm super excited about this month's block for the Machine Quilting Block Party! Here's a little sneak peek:

Click Here to check out the patterns (Block 4 goes on sale on April 1st).

Yep, we're tackling another Dresden Plate quilt block this month so you'll get more experience with piecing and applique! This time I stitched around the edges of the petals with a blanket stitch and I'll show you how to do it in our piecing video that comes out Monday.

Have you been enjoying the switch from piecing to applique each month? I'm enjoying teaching so many techniques this year so I hope you're having fun too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Caught in a Renovation Snowball

Today I'm starting Day 3 of our living room remodel and the honeymoon phase is officially over. I just didn't realize what a big change this would be, nor how much of the house would be affected. I'm so tired!

Yet again with this remodel we ran into issues with finding good help (you can read about the last remodel adventure here). This time I asked Dad to help me find a licensed contractor to work with us and do the job with a crew.

Unfortunately all the professional guys in my area either already had way too much work to do or didn't want to bother with my small job.

We tried to use personal contacts to find a licensed contractor and came up with a guy that does small jobs in addition to driving a dump truck. Unfortunately this guy shows up with only a massive ego in tow, no interest in listening to direction, and copped a bad attitude when he was called out for painting the walls without priming.

Dude, Painting lesson #1 - prime BEFORE you paint!

I came in and immediately found big gaps in the ceiling paint and long drips of primer running down the walls. The guy was clearly irritated at having to prime and took it out on us by doing a terrible job.

When I saw this mess, I was angry. Mostly at myself for not expressing exactly what I wanted and exactly how I wanted it done on paper and making the guy sign it acknowledging he understood.

While I think saying "Here's two gallons of primer for the walls and trim." should be enough to clarify that I wanted the walls primed, the better thing would have been to write a list and make sure we agreed to the terms of the project from the beginning.

The good news is, I was prepared. I'd worked ahead enough in the last few weeks that I have the time to work on this project all week. That's the good news. The bad news is I think I bit off a bit more than I expected.

The Snowball Effect

The initial goal of this job was to remove the back deck which was rotting off the back of the house and replace the back door with a big window. Because I knew this project would tear into the walls in the living room, I figured we'd also repaint the walls in the living room. Because there are only two walls to finish in this room, I thought this was going to be small and easy.

But then the project got a bit bigger.

The ceilings in the living room have had water damage because the roof was in terrible shape when we bought the house. This seemed like the perfect time to paint the ceilings and finally cover these ugly spots.

Except the living room ceiling doesn't end in the living room. It seamlessly connects to the ceiling in the kitchen and hall. So now we're painting the ceilings in two more spaces. That's more floor to cover and more stuff to move and clear.

And the hall walls were in terrible shape...why not paint them too? And the ego guy claimed he couldn't paint the ceiling in the kitchen without painting the walls so there's another room to paint as well.

See what's happened? This whole thing has snowballed and now it feels like the whole house is being repainted. While yes, this is going to be super nice when it's over, right now it just feels like overwhelming chaos.

I'm not a stranger to this type of chaos because I grew up with it. From first grade to seventh grade, my house was in some state of renovation, sometimes sealing off an entire room of the house for years. I grew up with my house like this so it feels weirdly comfortable to have everything jumbled up and tools all over the place.

But it also feels exhausting. Let's face it - I'm a quilter! I sit down most of the day at a sewing machine. I don't haul heavy stuff around, pound nails, rip off walls, or roll paint for hours every day.

This project has made it very clear just how soft my body has become from sitting and quilting every day. I've lost a lot of my upper body strength because I don't often lift or haul heavy things around. That must change. Whether I do physical work outside more often or work out harder at the gym, I've got to rebuild my strength and stamina.

But for now I'm just looking to get through this project. When confronted with his sloppy work and the option to continue under our direction, the contractor quit on the spot. His ego couldn't handle having to actually listen and follow directions.

That left us with a tricky situation - we needed extra hands to get the heavy window upstairs and installed in the window casing. I honestly didn't think we could do this ourselves.

But I guess I didn't give my family enough credit. We called my Father-in-law who lives just down the road and between Dad, Josh, and Chet, we managed to get the heavy window installed on the first try:

Gotta love strength in numbers! Now that the hardest, messiest part of the job is over, the rest should proceed quickly. Today we're going to finish the walls inside and I'll get back to painting today.

My goal is to be finished inside completely by Friday so life can get back to normal. James keeps walking into the living room saying "I just don't know if I can get used to this Mom." and my response is "I don't WANT you to get used to this kid!" I want our house back to normal too.

One thing I've learned with this renovation is to tackle things in smaller bites and not get caught in a renovation snowball. I could have painted only the living room ceiling. I could have refused to paint kitchen. I could have painted the living room years ago and not left it looking so ratty for so long.

When you wait to fix something, it just gets bigger and the job gets harder, more expensive, and more time consuming. Now that I'm caught in the snowball, I just have to ride it out and fix and finish everything at once. It's going to be a lot of work, but definitely feel great when it's finished.

Let's go quilt (I wish I was!),

Leah Day

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dresden Plate Party!

We've been having a party making Dresden Plates with the new Dresden Plate Template Set!

Dad has been piecing dozens of Dresden Plates together since January and I love seeing the variety of quilt blocks you can create using the templates. You can mix and match the templates in many ways to create a huge variety of Dresden Plate Quilt Blocks.

The easiest way to make a creative Dresden Plate is by changing the way the petal edges are finished. Let's learn how to finish the edges of the petals four different ways in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the Dresden Plate Template Set.

I think my favorite way to finish the Dresden Plate petal edges is by making them pointy because it's super easy to stitch and turn to make perfect points every time. This Dresden Plate quilt block was created by stitching pointy petals with Template #1 and #5:

You can use the same templates to cut petals and turn a straight edge to make an octagon, dodecagon, and a hexadecagon Dresden Plate:

This is probably the fastest way to finish the edges because you just fold over the edge and stitch them together! You can also fold over the inside edge too to create a finished edge to the inside as well.

If you're craving a curved edge petal, you can create two types of curves using templates #2, #4, and #6. There are two ways to create the curve - by turning the outer edge under using a turning template or by attaching fusible web to the outer edge before cutting.

Because the fusible web curve doesn't have to be turned, these petals will end up a bit longer than the rest and create 12 inch Dresden Plates.

I also shared yet another way to create a Dresden Plate last week with the Color Wheel Quilt Block tutorial. For this wheel style block you just attach fusible web to the edges of the fabric before cutting tumbler shapes, then cut the edges of the finished Dresden Plate using a circle cutter.

There are so many creative ways you can make Dresden Plate Quilt blocks! What is your favorite finish? Would you like to see more tutorials on creating Dresden Plate Quilts? Let me know in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Maintain Your Longarm Machine! Sit Down Quilting #9

I've had a lot of requests this week for a video on how to change a bobbin, oil, and change needles on the Grace Qnique 14+ so here it goes!

Click Here to learn more about this Grace Qnique machine.

One extra place I like to place 1 drop of oil is about 1/2 inch above the needle so that bar doesn't go too dry. That's just my personal preference.

Of course the best place to check for details about your machine is the machine manual. Always double check where your company recommends oiling the machine just in case your machine has different oil spots than the Grace Qnique.

For changing the bobbin, yes, it's a bit of an ordeal when the machine is dropped down into a table like this. I have to move the quilt, the Queen Supreme Slider, and the acrylic insert to change the bobbin. This is one good reason the quilt with one single color of thread - you only have to change when the bobbin runs out!

If you're changing thread colors a lot on a quilt, try quilting as much as you can through one color, switch, then quilt as much as you can with the next color and so on. It's certainly not a deal breaker for me because I like quilting with white Isacord thread for pretty much everything.

It is tough to keep track of how often you're changing the needles and oiling the machine. Another idea for keeping track might be to mark an X on your calendar. That way you'd know when the machine was last cleaned and maintained. Sometimes that's all it takes to guilt trip me into changing needles when I know I've been running the same one for a solid month!

It is a bit tricky to change needles as you can probably tell from the video. Just be sure to insert the needle so it faces the right way and make sure it's fully seated in the needle bar.

Please check your manual for better instructions! It's really hard to make videos like this because the angles are so weird and it's also hard to describe directions on the machine because technically the "front" of the machine is the side facing the needle (the side handle bars would be attached to if this was set up on a frame). *Sigh* I hope it made sense!

Let me know if you have more questions and as always, I love hearing your suggestions for future videos!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I'm Blooming!

I finished up my flower mask and dropped her off at the Arts Council this morning. What a fun finish! I'm literally blooming!

Thank you all so much for your comments on yesterday's post. It was wonderful to receive your feedback on my decision to write more often and to hear your own struggles with self doubt and negative inner voices.

I think we all go through periods of comparing ourselves to others or holding too high of expectations for a project. For this flower mask I had to remind myself that this was supposed to be fun! I took it down a notch and kicked back as I painted the face. Once I took the pressure off, I really enjoyed myself as I glued on the last flowers.

Now for the event details:

If you live in my area and would like to support the arts, plus healthy kidneys please buy tickets for the Wearable Art Fashion Show which will be held next Friday, March 31st at 6 pm. The tickets are $30 and the fashion show sounds like it's going to be a blast! Click Here to find tickets.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flower Mask and Death to the Deck

It's Wednesday and I've been thinking lately that I should be writing more. I love to write, but I often don't take the time unless I have a video to go with a post and that's just silly. We can do photos too!

I'm in a strange mood today as I'm under a deadline (due tomorrow) to get this flower mask finished and ready to drop off at my local art's council. I have a lot more little flowers to glue on between now and then:

I admit I let my negative voices get a hold of this project and start a nasty chat in my head about how it's not good enough. I keep imagining some snooty art person looking at it and saying "That's just plastic craft junk. That's not art." 

I think everyone struggles with feeling like an impostor sometimes (that's why it's called Impostor Syndrome) and I think the trick is just saying it out loud. That's the stuff I'm hearing in my head and now I have to deal with it!

Despite the junk my brain is saying about it, I've loved building this mask. I saw these jumbo flowers at Hobby Lobby and my first thought was "I want that on my head" and so I've built a mask to have three massive flowers on my head, plus lots of pretty ferns and silk flowers. It's mostly being held together with hot glue and staples, but I've screwed the largest flowers in place with 3 inch long drywall screws so they are not going anywhere.

What is this for you ask? A wearable art fashion show! My local arts council is putting on the show as a fundraiser for the council and a local kidney foundation. It will be fun to see how this stacks up against other more traditional wearable art. 

But then again, is there such thing as traditional wearable art? Maybe I'm overthinking this whole ART thing. It's not like someone is going to be wearing a watercolor canvas and turn their nose up at my hot glued flowers. Bleh.

Death to the Rotted Deck

In other news, we have a renovation starting next week to finally remove this horrible deck. This was built in the 1970's when code enforcement in this area clearly wasn't up to snuff.

See the extra support beams on the front? Dad and Josh added those a few years ago just to stop the deck from falling off the back of the house!

I've priced out replacing this masterpiece of craftsmanship and came up with a ball park figure of $20,000. For a DECK? Ridiculous!

The reason it would be so expensive to replace is because there's an upstairs and downstairs door stacked right on top of one another with very little space between. In order to span the distance and to actually be built properly (ahem, actually to code), it would need to be built either with steel or a lot of extra support beams.

Rather than shell out all that cash, we've decided instead to remove the deck entirely and replace the upstairs back door with a big picture window. 

It will be one less door to our door-happy house and one less thing to keep me up at night imaging someone falling off this deck, the stairs crashing to the ground, or the whole thing collapsing under a heavy wind. 

So today I'm going to clean up the living room and clear out as much furniture as I can. I love renovating because things change and look prettier than they did the day before. Progress!

What are you up to today? Any big projects in the works? Any nasty voices in your head giving you problems? Give em' a one-two punch from me!

Let's go quilt (or hot glue more flowers),

Leah Day

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quilty Box! Color Wheel Quilt Blocks

It's Quilty Box time! Yep, this is a post with affiliate links to support our business. I received an awesome box of gear this month filled with beautiful fabrics and supplies selected by Allison Glass and I challenged myself to make this pretty Color Wheel Block with the fabrics:

I've made many Dresden Plates over the last few weeks, but this is the first plate I cut into a circle to create a wheel block. It's not hard, but I do recommend having a good circle cutter to make it easier. I like the True Cut 360 as you can select circle sizes up to 12 1/2 inches and cut them really accurately.

Now learn how to make this pretty Color Wheel Quilt Block in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find this free quilt pattern.

To make this block, you will need the Dresden Plate Template Set because we use Templates #3 and #7 to quickly and easily cut the shapes for the color wheel. You'll also need some fusible web and my favorite is Lite Steam a Seam 2 because it's lightweight and fuses to fabric easily.

I decided to make my Color Wheel Dresden Plates fusible because I'm interested in learning more about fusible applique and I'm trying to play with it at any opportunity. You could also turn the circle edges by making a turning template instead. Click Here to watch another video on using a turning template.

Once you fuse your Color Wheel onto your background fabric, you should stitch it down along the edges to secure it completely. I like to use a blanket stitch because it's fast, easy to line up with the edges of the fused fabric, and doesn't show up much from a distance.

Now that our Color Wheel Quilt Block is created, how will we quilt it? My favorite way to quilt blocks like this is to stitch straight lines radiating out from the Color Wheel and fill each segment with a different color of thread and a different design.

Would you like to see more videos on quilting this block with many designs? Let me know in the comments below and I'll make more videos for this series!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Large Scale Quilting on the Grace Qnique 14+

Last week I shared a video on how to quilt tiny designs on the Grace Qnique machine while working on my unfinished hand dyed wholecloth quilt. This week I decided to do the exact opposite and share a video on quilting BIG! See what I mean in this new video tutorial:

The most frequent question I still receive about the Grace Qnique is a stitch regulator. I covered this in the video on speed control – the sit down model of the Grace Qnique 14+ does not have a stitch regulator.

Quilting big circles on Grace Qnique
What you see in the videos is my ability to balance speed and movement precisely to create consistent stitches. It’s a skill, not a computer program, and it does take time to develop.

The good news is the more you quilt, the better you will get, and the more you quilt, the faster you will get better. It might not look either perfect or pretty in the beginning, but if you stick with it, it will get better!

For this week’s project, I decided to take the first step in creating a quilted book cover – actually quilting something that could be sliced up. In this case it’s a simple fat quarter of Studio E fabric and I decided it would be perfect to quilt and follow the water ring design in the print fabric with quilted rings.

I’ll probably go back over this with more quilting designs, but it definitely made me more aware of just how fast this machine can go, which means my hands can move much faster too. 

quilting big circles on the Grace Qnique
This works great on a small sandwich like this which can so nicely fit into the 15 inches of space I have on this machine. I felt really comfortable quilting it even at the fastest speeds, but as you saw in the video, I couldn’t sustain that hectic pace too long. It was just too stressful.

So how will this work on a larger quilt? I’m planning to test that in a future video. I have some ideas for making the test even more interesting with fleece and minky fabrics, but more on that later! 

Next week I’ll be back with a video on machine maintenance. I ran into an issue this week with inserting the needle and it really drove home the importance of getting all the simple things right in order for the machine to run it’s best.

Feel free to post any questions you have about this machine or suggestions for future videos in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Podcast #16: Time Management with Vicki Holloway

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I have a fun interview with Vicki Holloway about time management and how she has a full time job, is a longarm quilter, podcaster, and blogs daily right here on her website.

That is a LOT of stuff to manage at once and as someone that frequently feels frustrated with my lack of progress on many projects, talking with Vicki really helped me get focused, create a daily plan, and to feel better about what I'm getting done every day.

Make sure to check out Vicki's website right here. Vicki started quilting when she was a little girl making baby quilts for her cousins, then took a break for several years and came back to the craft when she had children. She also wanted to make a Double Wedding Ring Quilt and like me, didn't get very far!

Now for a few of Vicki's tips on getting things done:
  • She learned how to prioritize tasks as a working mother by breaking jobs into 10 - 15 minute segments. 
  • Let go of the idea of "All or Nothing." You have to be willing to bend or break things up into pieces.
  • Excuses are time vampires.
  • Vicki gets up at 6 am every day. She has 1 hour 30 minutes to sew before work and has a plan of what she will sew or quilt from the night before.
  • She can only sit at the machine or stand at the longarm for 30-45 minutes because of arthritis so she always breaks up her time with different activities.
  • Vicki lives close to her work so she can come home for lunch and breaks and get a little quilting time in during the day.
  • She spends a lot off time thinking through blog posts, podcast episodes, and quilt projects during the day so she's ready to create during her creative time.
  • Vicki is not a fan of chain stitching, mass cutting, or any other volume quilting techniques. She works one block at a time, one row at a time, through a quilt.
  • She doesn't have too many projects going at once and keeps things very organized within her sewing space.
  • Managing what you do with your time is more important than perfect organization. She doesn't watch TV, read much, or make fancy dinners now because she would rather be creating.
  • Vicki has a rule to Do It the First Time which means when you see something like the trash overflowing, go on ahead and take care of it rather than struggle with it over and over again.
  • Routines and systems are Vicki's key. In the summer Vicki travels with her husband, but she lives in the north so in the winter she stays home to create.
Vicki shares a Daily Prompt Challenge where she challenges you make something every day with a unique prompt. It's helping quilters that are creatively stuck to get unstuck and start quilting again.

Vicki's top three steps to her system: she has a schedule, uses calendars and timers on her phone so she doesn't lose track of time, and she keeps a list of what she needs to do next. She writes down her lists on post-it notes and then rips up the note when she's completed all the tasks.

Vicki and I also collaborated together on a really fun quilt project. She shared a tutorial on improv piecing and guided you through piecing this modern quilt block. Click Here to find her tutorial.

Then Vicki sent me the quilt and I had so much fun quilting it! I love how this turned out and you can find my video on improvisational quilting right here.

The sponsor for the show is the Machine Quilting Block Party where you can now find three block patterns that will guide you through piecing the blocks AND machine quilting them with several beautiful designs. Click Here to learn more about the Machine Quilting Block Party!

Now for a few updates from the beginning of the show:

We finally have an official home for the podcast right here. This player will automatically update when new episodes go live so you can always find new episodes on this page.

I also plan to add tabs both on this blog and on the website so this page is also easy to find. It's one thing to make a page, it's another thing to actually link it up so quilters can find it!

I've made a lot of progress on my Peaceful Goddess Quilt pattern and fusible applique. I've had a lot of questions in my head about fusible web, how to stack the pieces so the blocks are easy to build, and what color thread to stitch over the edges of the pieces.

The best way to answer questions like this is to go play! This morning I plunked myself down in the studio and cut and fused and answered a lot of these questions. I love, love, LOVE how these Peaceful Goddess faces are turning out in beautiful Island Batik fabrics:

In order to spend more time on the goddess quilts, I have been getting ahead on the Machine Quilting Block Party and I've already thinking about the block party for 2018. I know we're still in very early days of 2017, but I've learned the earlier I can plan this project, the better it will work.

I've made a lot of great progress on my walking foot quilting book and finally finished the chapter on the quilting designs, which was a struggle. Josh's advice to simplify was super helpful and encouraged me to not get too obsessive about the writing being perfect.

I've also been scoping out a place I can work on the book without interruption. Here's the Crafty Cottage Tour I mentioned in the intro and you can see the old table top which was completely covered in junk at the back of the room. This is who I am - when there's a flat surface that's not needed to be clean for a video, it will get covered in junk. I'm just not a kid that likes to put away her toys!

I've collapsed this table and bought a small chair and collapsible desk that I installed on the wall. In order for this to work I have to sit down in the chair, then pull down the desk. Then I'm in "jail" and I can't move until my writing is done. To get up from the seat, I have to collapse the desk so I can't leave it out and cover it with clutter.

I know this is odd, but this is who I am and hopefully this new setup will help me get more writing done! The inspiration for redesigning this space came from reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. After listening to this audiobook, I knew I needed to redesign this space so I could get more work done without interruption.

I've also shared two new Sit Down Quilting Sunday videos and you can find all of them listed right here. I've been enjoying this new series and answering your questions about sit down quilting on a longarm machine. I've also enjoyed the challenge of learning how to quilt on a longarm which is very similar to home machines, but also has a lot of differences too.

That's it for this week! I'm definitely fired up from Vicki's podcast and ready to get organized and create more every single day!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quilting a Patchwork Tulip Quilt Block

It's time to quilt the third block for the Machine Quilting Block Party and this month's block includes many beautiful designs. We're going to learn how to quilt Swirling Water, one my my all time favorite quilting designs, Pebbling, more feathers, and try a bit more ruler foot quilting.

Please remember that the ruler foot quilting is 100% optional. You could also quilt the straight lines with normal free motion quilting or with your walking foot. I've really enjoyed learning this new technique and I'd love for you to try it, but if you don't have rulers or a ruler foot right now you always have alternative methods for quilting these sections.

I used Template #5 from the Dresden Plate Template set to quilt the straight lines in this block. Yep, you can use the template to cut out Dresden Plates and quilt them too! Let's jump right into machine quilting so you can see how ruler quilting works in this video tutorial:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #3.

I marked most of the quilting designs in my block because I wanted to create an exact copy of the quilting design included in the pattern. This was a design choice - not cheating, breaking the rules, or anything bad.

You can always mark the lines and quilt along them and it will actually be faster and easier to quilt your quilt because marking takes the guess work out of the quilting process.

If you're feeling confident with your quilting and want to branch out beyond lines, that's just fine too. Free hand quilting refers to quilting without marks to guide you and it's a beautiful way to add your own "signature" to your quilt. No one else will quilt any design exactly the same way you do. That also means that you may run into issues and gaps in designs and have to figure out creative ways to fill in those spaces.

Just be patient with yourself and always keep a marking pencil nearby. I can't tell you the number of times I've gotten a bit stuck in a design and found my way out by marking a few lines to help me see how to move forward.

So what have you thought of our Patchwork Tulip quilt block? Was the piecing design challenging for you? How did it feel to machine quilt? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dense Quilting on a Longarm Machine - Sit Down Quilting Sunday #7

This week I've been cleaning out the Crafty Cottage which had gotten very junky and filled with random quilt projects I'd planned to shoot videos with, but never got around to. One of the quilts in that pile was this unfinished wholecloth:

This quilt was actually a test for Duchess Reigns to see if my idea for dyeing the quilt in the middle of the quilting process would work. I really should have finished this mini quilt and maybe I wouldn't have spent two years fighting with Duchess Reigns.

Just in case you're curious: dyeing an entire quilt after it's been basted and outline quilted isn't a good idea.

This little wholecloth turned out too pretty to chuck in the trash, but I've never had much time to finish it. Now that I have these Sit Down Quilting Sunday videos to share, I figure I can also use this as an opportunity to share projects like this and further test the limits of my Grace Qnique machine. See what I mean in this new video:

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

I was surprised by how well the machine handled the dense quilting. I didn't run into any issues with skipping stitches and the machine powered through the quilting even when I knew there were at least 8 layers of thread in one line.

The trick to quilting so smoothly was good speed control. I needed to move the quilt slowly and steadily so I ran the machine at a very slow, steady pace. This required only the TINIEST amount of pressure from my foot on the foot pedal.

When I first received this machine, I definitely didn't have this much control over the speed and I found it challenging to find these slower speeds. Now with 7 weeks on this machine, I'm able to maintain a consistent slow speed and avoid crazy pulses where the speed suddenly goes from fast to slow or slow to fast. This is all down to practice and quilting real quilts. No way around it!

If you've never tried wholecloth quilting you really should give it a try. Wholecloth quilts provide a marvelous way to build new skills for machine quilting and design. If you quilt with contrasting thread, it will dramatically improve your ability to quilt any design, travel stitch, and echo because you'll be able to clearly see what you're doing.

Learn more about wholecloth quilting by taking a workshop with me! Click Here to check out the Heart & Feather Wholecloth Workshop.

I figure since I've shared a lot of very dense quilting lately you're probably in the mood to see some large scale quilting next. What do you think? Let me know what you'd like to see and I'll plan a new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video just for you!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S - You can find all the Sit Down Quilting Sunday posts right here!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Quilting an Improv Quilt - Collaboration with Vicki Holloway

You know what I love best about starting my podcast Hello My Quilting Friends? Being able to meet other quilters and make new friends! One awesome new quilting friend I made this month was Vicki Holloway and she has sent me this awesome improv quilt to play with!

Click Here to find Vicki's tutorial on improv piecing. Improvisational piecing is a method of piecing without a set quilt pattern. You're allowed to break rules, slice up the block and piece it back together again and add whatever fabrics you like. This is so freeing and fun!

My personal rule for myself when improv piecing is - your first choice is right. For some reason setting this rule helps to stop my tendency to fuss with my fabrics and keep arranging and rearranging pieces to death.

When piecing this way, whatever I try first, whether it's the first arrangement of the blocks or the first way I think to cut a block up, that is the method I use. I don't ask questions, I don't agonize about my decision, I just act on the first impulse that fires through my brain.

I love this little quilt and my favorite part is the little orange bits that flow through the piece. I decided to accent those elements with simple quilting lines in matching orange thread. See the design and quilting process in this new collaboration video:

Sometimes you have to know when to stop quilting and I think I picked the right time with this quilt. Would you have quilted it differently? Did you like the idea of adding more quilting designs with the blue thread? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

My favorite part of the quilting design is the Microstippling stitched into the gap spaces. It's almost like the orange fabrics are continuing through the quilt, but are somehow transparent.

When the lines overlap, I quilted Cat Hairball Filler into the center overlapping spaces. This is almost like thread painting and designed to cover the fabric completely in the thread color:

Honestly I'm having a hard time mailing this quilt back to Vicki! I guess I'll have to improv piece one for myself to keep.

Vicki Holloway and I also have quilting podcasts and I was on her podcast last week and chatted about how I began my quilting business. Click Here to find the episode.

Vicki will be on my podcast next Saturday with an interview all about how she manages her time and stays organized. Be looking forward to this new interview on Saturday, March 18th!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to Piece a Patchwork Tulip Quilt Block

Are you ready to piece the next block for the Machine Quilting Block Party? This month is all about patchwork as we stitch small shapes together to create this cute Patchwork Tulip quilt block:

Just like our Blooming Nine Patch quilt block, there are a lot of little pieces in this block! Make sure to cut carefully and label your pieces so you don't get confused. It also helps to piece the block together in units from the vase to the stem to the flower. See what I mean in this new piecing video:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #3.

Did your block finish the right size? You can find the finished size on page 7 of the pattern. Even if it didn't come out exactly this size, that's okay! We're going to trim the blocks down before piecing them together with our Quilt As You Go technique so it's no big deal if your block doesn't measure exactly the right size.

Before we can connect the first three blocks together, we need to quilt it. Next Monday I'll share a new video on how to quilt this block using a variety of beautiful designs you can quilt with regular free motion quilting and ruler foot quilting!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Get Your Foot the Right Height - Sit Down Sunday #6

Last week I shared a video on collage quilting with four different designs and I mentioned how important it is for your foot to be the right height over the quilt. So this week I have a new quilting video for you on adjusting your foot height:

You might not be able to find all of these feet on the Grace Frames website right now, but you can definitely call and ask about ordering them. Click Here to find the Grace Company contact info.

I love the open toe foot I'm using on the machine now because I can so clearly see the needle. I also love the ruler foot design because the thick side makes a very sturdy base for ruler foot quilting.

Adjusting the foot is simple - get it to the right position and tighten the screw - but sometimes it takes a little practice to get it just right. Take your time and don't rush this adjustment.

Also make sure to readjust the foot every time you change batting. Every batting has a different thickness so it's going to change how the foot rests on the quilt.

Yep, this foot is going to hop.

I don't think there's anything we can do about the hopping because it seems to be an integral function of the machine. But by adjusting your foot as low as possible without squishing the quilt, you will minimize the movement of the foot.

Also because the foot bases are so wide, the hopping doesn't bother me as much as it does on a home machine. I don't find it very distracting and it certainly hasn't stopped me from being able to echo quilt accurately and quilt many fun designs with this machine.

I hope this video has helped you understand how to adjust the foot on the Grace Qnique. Do you have any questions about this machine or how it works for quilting? Be sure to post in the comments below and I may make a video just to answer your question.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Podcast: Longarm Quilting Business with Julie Persinger

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I have an awesome interview with Julie Persinger talking all about running a longarm quilting business.

I've been fascinated about longarm businesses for a long time and it's great to hear Julie's perspective and how she got into machine quilting after being a hand quilter for many years.

Julie doesn't have a website or blog, but you can find her right here on Instagram. Just message her through the Instagram app if you're interested learning more about her longarm quilting services.

Julie quilted over 31 quilts for Luke Haynes and his log cabin series. Click Here to see the quilts.

Many of Luke's quilts incorporate non-traditional quilting elements that Julie has to figure out how to quilt over. Here's an example of how she handled a pocket on the front of one quilt!

We talk about a lot of things in this interview from how Julie began longarm quilting, how she balances that work with homeschooling her kids, and how she prices her services. I loved learning about Julie and hearing her perspective as a longarm quilter.

Julie got back into quilting after her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was given a quilt from Project Linus. This quilt was so comforting and helpful to her family during a difficult time that she wanted to make quilts to donate as well. Click Here to learn about Project Linus.

Thank you Julie for coming on the podcast and sharing about your life and business!

Very Busy Week - Lots of Updates!

I did have a super long intro to this podcast because so much has been going on over the last two weeks.

I've been digging into applique for two new goddess quilt patterns that will be released this fall. I'm trying to pick the right applique method that will give me the finished look I'm after, but not take a million years to create.

I think fusible applique with a machine stitched finish is going to be the winner, it's fast, not very fiddly, and so far it's coming together very quickly.

I've also been working on the walking foot book and today I just finished Chapter 2. The best piece of advice I've heard so far is to stop editing myself as I go. I start writing and scroll down to the new section I'm working on and jump in. I don't even let myself read the previous sections or I will start editing and nit picking and get nothing new written.

Surprisingly enough it was very easy to keep up my writing habit while on the trip to Quilt Con in Savannah, GA. I found a lot of little moments either riding in the car or in the morning hanging out with James to pull out the keyboard and write a little bit.

And the trip was awesome! I had such a great time, saw so many beautiful, inspiring quilts, saw lots of quilting friends, and got to hang out with family too. It was win win all the way around. Click Here to read more about my Quilt Con experience.

I mentioned the awesome vendor I found at Quilt Market, but couldn't remember the name. It's Fish Museum and Circus and the maker is Deborah Fisher and she makes awesome ceramics with a pincushion top. I loved being able to find a cute present for my sisters and myself that was completely unique to Quilt Con.

And now...I'm so glad to be home! I really couldn't sustain that level of energy for long and I love being home to play with all the goodies I picked up at the show.

This week we have a new block for the Machine Quilting Block Party and so far I think it wins the best texture award of all the blocks shared so far! I love how the pebbling and ruler foot quilting turned out on this Patchwork Tulip block. Click Here to find the quilt pattern.

And yes, I've got to share the photo of me being silly with the huge flowers at Hobby Lobby with James. These massive flowers totally crack me up!

For some reason the instant I saw these I was like "I want this on my head!" so now I'm building a mask to do just that:

I got one massive poppy flower attached and it feels a bit forward top heavy so I think I need two more flowers to balance it out.

And maybe some big long sprigs of something sticking straight up. I used to work in a plant store and I learned you always have one plant growing low, one plant in the middle, and one plant shooting above the rest.

The other thing I've learned from making my other masks is to work in layers. The flowers will go on and look pretty clunky, but then I add more layers of fabric, paper, timtex, clay, and glue and with each layer it will get better and closer to the idea in my head.

So that's it for this week's podcast! If you have a suggestion for the podcast or would like to be on the show, please send us an email. I'm always interested in meeting new quilters and making new quilting friends!

If you're looking for more podcasts to listen to, check the podcast app on your iphone or click here to find all the podcasts shared so far.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I'm on My Creative Corner Podcast!

I've made a new quilting friend! Vicki Holloway is a terrific quilter and podcaster and this week she has shared an interview with me about how I built my quilting business. Click Here to find the episode player.

If you listen to the podcast you'll learn about how I built my business from the ground up. It took many years of thinking, learning, and trying different things. There were many frustrating times when I wanted to make a living as a quilter SO BAD, but I just didn't know how to make a sustainable business.

One thing I hope I emphasized enough is how lucky I have been. I was born at the right time, the internet took off at the right time, my father-in-law bought a camera that I "borrowed" at the right time, and I married the right guy who taught me a lot about website design and then became my business partner.

I feel like so many of these things fell into place because a piece of my heart and mind was always chugging away with that single minded goal of building a successful business. If you'd like to read more about the interview click here to find Vicki's show notes.

I'll be sharing an interview with Vicki Holloway in a few weeks all about time management. Vicki is a powerhouse - she works a full time job, blogs almost daily, shares a podcast, and makes awesome quilts. Her key to getting so much accomplished is solid time management - a skill I really need to build!

We'll also be sharing a collaboration! I love collaborating with other quilters because I get to quilt something new and challenging and learn more about quilting along with you. Vicki has pieced this awesome improv quilt and I get to quilt it!

Click Here to find Vicki's tutorial on this improv quilt. I'll be sharing Vicki's podcast and the video on quilting this awesome little improv quilt next week.

You could even piece up a little improv quilt yourself and follow along with this little project! I challenge you to give it a try - improv is so freeing and fun.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Block Party Pattern - Patchwork Tulip!

Just in time for spring we have a new flower block for the Machine Quilting Block Party! This month we're going to learn how to piece and machine quilt this beautiful Patchwork Tulip block:

Click Here to find the pattern!

I love the piecing in this block and the unique flower shape that's created from easy Half Square Triangles. There are a lot of little pieces with this block so be careful as you cut your fabrics and keep everything organized with sticky notes so you don't get confused.

The video guiding you through piecing this block will be published next Monday, March 6th so you'll get a helping hand piecing this block from me!

We're also exploring many beautiful free motion quilting designs this month. I quilted big bold feathers in the tulip flower, then Swirling Water in the background and Pebbling in the vase.

I've also experimented again with ruler foot quilting with straight lines in the vase above the Pebbling. I love the texture this added to the block and I can't wait to see your versions of this Patchwork Tulip block this month!

Remember it's never too late to join in the fun of the Machine Quilting Block Party. Click Here to find all the block patterns published so far and learn more about this fun block of the month project!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day 

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