The Free Motion Quilting Project: May 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Quilt Pattern Writing with Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill, Podcast Episode #21

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm chatting with Sheri from Whole Circle Studio about designing and writing quilt patterns. Check out her website right here.

Sheri and I shared a fun collaboration last week! She pieced an awesome mini version of Road Work and sent it to me for quilting. Click Here to check out our collaboration.

Sheri has a bachelors degree in graphic design and one of her professors said - what do you like, what do you love, what do you care about? This is how Sheri finds inspiration in the world and is constantly paying attention to the things that catch her eye.

After her initial inspiration, she uses Adobe Illustrator and does several layouts based on her design idea. Then she will work with the math of quilting to figure out what works best.

Sheri really wants the patterns to be as clear as possible with tips and diagrams. She will then test it and get her husband to proofread before it goes to testing.

She tests all her patterns with three different quilters that are each at different skill levels to double check that it makes sense and there aren't lots of questions about the quilt construction. Sheri usually gives quilters three weeks to test and create the project.

Sheri found her quilting testers through Instagram and keeps a spreadsheet of potential quilters for testing. She does not pay for testing, but does send the pattern and sometimes materials to the quilters testing her patterns.

One of the struggles with quilt pattern design is working with prints, which can quickly go out of stock and never be printed again. For this reason, Sheri tends to use solid fabrics or prints that will be reprinted.

Sheri offers PDF versions of her patterns on her website and has nine patterns available in print versions as well. Sheri prices her patterns according to how many pages it requires to print, plus the packaging materials and her time to with the highest price $12 retail.

Sheri offers multiple sizes in all of her patterns except Aperture so you can pick the perfect size to make. This adds a little more time and effort and she does end up making multiple versions of the same quilt, but it's worth it so quilters can make the right size for themselves.

Make sure to check out her most popular Buzzzz quilt pattern! This is so cute!

Now let's check in with what we've been up to the last two weeks!

I've shared two new quilting designs that are both easy to quilt on your home machine. Fanfare will be a great choice for quilting blocks and open spaces in your quilt. Click Here to find the Fanfare quilting tutorial.

Clouds is funny because I can see the search terms used on my new website and since we switched in 2015, that has been the most searched term for a quilting design so here it is! You can now quilt clouds on your quilts! Click Here to find the Clouds quilting tutorial.

I've also shared a free quilt pattern this month using the beautiful fabrics included in this month's Quilty Box. This month's box was curated by Alex Anderson so we received 10 fat quarters of her new fabric RJR Mirage.

I loved these prints and really wanted to use them together in one quilt so I grabbed 10 solid fat quarters and pieced up a bunch of nine patches and then poof! made them disappear to make a Disappearing Nine Patch quilt.

Click Here to find this free Disappearing Nine Patch quilt pattern.

This month I've played musical podcasts with Stephanie Kendron, the host of the Modern Sewciety podcast. You can find Stephanie's episode for Hello My Quilting Friends right here and learn about her and how she creates her podcast episodes.

Then I was on Stephanie's podcast Modern Sewciety episode 121 last week. In that interview I talked a lot about business, how I make videos, and how I work with Josh and Dad to run the business smoothly. I'm not ashamed that I make a living from quilting because this is what allows me to share new designs, free quilt patterns, and this podcast with you!

Another new video that was shared this week was on quilting Heart Paisley on the Grace Qnique sit down longarm machine. I created this series because a lot of quilters were curious about these machines and how they differ from home sewing machines and I was curious too.

I've been quilting lots of different projects for these videos and a wide range of quilting styles too. Now this series is completely question driven so if you have questions about quilting on a sit down longarm come and ask in the comments and I'll make a video just to answer your questions.

But I'm not only quilting on the longarm, I've also been putting in a lot of quilting time on my home machine using a walking foot.

Throughout the month of May I've been working on a new quilting workshop on walking foot style quilting on a real quilt.

I took Mega Pinwheel Star Quilt and designed a simple quilting design, basted, and quilted it on my home machine in less than two weeks! And I filmed videos of every step along the way so you can learn how to use your walking foot to quilt real quilts too.

Now I have a beautiful giant star quilt to cuddle with on the couch and I'm thrilled by how this quilting workshop turned out. I really put my walking foot through it's paces and shared every step to quilting a real quilt on a home machine.

Make sure to check out this new Mega Star Walking Foot Workshop coming out tomorrow and learn how to make this beautiful star quilt from start to finish with me!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, May 29, 2017

Quilting Heart Paisley on a Sit Down Longarm Sewing Machine

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you have had a wonderful last weekend of May. I always feel like this month is as busy and crazy as December, and now *sigh* it's time to relax into the slower pace of the summer.

But even though it's summer, that doesn't mean we're going to stop quilting! I have several fun quilting projects planned this summer and my first goal is to finish up the Dream Goddess quilt so I can enjoy seeing her hang on my wall this fall.

So today let's learn how to quilt a small scale Heart Paisley design into the background of the Dream Goddess quilt:

Click Here to find all the videos I've shared so far on the Grace Qnique sit down longarm machine.

Quilting this small scale Heart Paisley design was really easy in this area of the Dream Goddess quilt. This is one of my favorite quilting designs because you can quilt it any size and the heart shapes easily nest next to one another so it has a very nice texture as well.

A question I answered in this video was about the hopping of the quilting foot. The Grace Qnique 14+ is a longarm machine which is designed so the foot hops along with the timing of the needle. This is meant to help the machine feed evenly over the fabric when the machine is set up on a rail system.

The thing that creates the hopping is internal, meaning you can't alter or change the way the foot hops, even if you change the foot.

This is very different from home (domestic) sewing machines where the hopping is often created by a badly designed foot. Click Here to watch a video to see how I stop a foot from hopping.

So this is just one of those things that differs between a longarm machine and a home sewing machine. You can't stop the foot from hopping on a longarm machine, even when it's set up as a sit down machine.

The good news is it doesn't stop me from quilting beautiful designs on this machine. If it was a probably, trust me you would be able to tell because I wouldn't be able to travel stitch as nicely or echo quilt as evenly.

Do you have more questions about quilting on a sit down longarm machine? Be sure to ask in the comments below and I'll shoot a video just to answer your question!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 26, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Clouds, Design #475

You know the most searched keyword for quilting designs on my website? Clouds! Who would have thought so many quilters are searching for this simple shape? I decided to give it a try and came up with this new design:

This is my first run at free motion quilting Clouds and I think it turned out pretty good! I realized immediately while quilting it that there are several ways you can alter the design which will change the way the Clouds look on your quilt. Let's check out the quilting tutorial and then I'll show you the variations of this design:

Would you like to support this project and free videos that come out every week? Click Here to find my book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs!

I was aiming for the stereotypical fluffy cartoon cloud shape while quilting this design and I'm really pleased on how it turned out. It's very simple and fast to quilt too which is always a bonus. Let's learn more about it:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. Clouds turned out to be a very easy design! If you can quilt a slightly curving line and manage a bit of travel stitching, you can definitely quilt Clouds.

The hardest part is dealing with the different angles of the clouds as you quilt from right to left and then from left to right. I found it felt more natural to quilt from left to right and my clouds tended to look weird when quilted from right to left, but that might just be me being picky.

Design Family - Stacking. The cloud shapes stack on top of one another to form the design. You can change the look by making the clouds taller and fluffier. You can also change it by having the clouds dip down into the row before less often.

If you wanted a sky of ominous low hanging clouds you could quilt a thinner line of small arches running almost parallel with the top edge of your quilt. I'll have to think on variations with echoes to create storm clouds! Lol!

I decided to quilt Clouds again and try three different versions of the design to see how it would look if I changed the travel stitching within the Cloud shapes.

This first version has no travel stitching. You stitch 3-4 bouncy arch shapes chained together without doing any travel stitching. This makes the clouds look less cloud-like and a bit more like popcorn:

Here I added back the travel stitching, but kept it very short - only 1/8 inch of travel quilting back along the arches before branching out with the next:

Personally I liked this look best and with the minimal traveling, it also felt the easiest to machine quilt. But I had to try one more change this time with 1/4 inch of traveling and much bigger arch shapes:

Which version of Clouds do you like best? Do you see how the change in travel stitching makes all the difference with this design? I'm sure there are even more ways to change it up so if you have any ideas to test let me know in the comments below!

Where do we quilt Clouds? - As you can see this design is easy to machine quilt big with large fluffy shapes. I think it would make a great bed quilting design!

That's good because I don't think this works as well on a small scale. Even when I tried shrinking down the cloud shapes, it tends to go fluffy a good bit of open space between the shapes.

I do think there's a lot of possibilities for combining Clouds with straight lines and curves and that might work better on a smaller scale. One thing is for sure, I've definitely got my head in the clouds now! Lol. Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Find Me on the Modern Sewciety Podcast!

Last week I shared an interview with Stephanie Kendron, the host of the Modern Sewciety podcast. Click Here to listen to this episode of Hello My Quilting Friends.

This week it's Stephanie's turn to interview me! Click Here to check out this Modern Sewciety episode #121.

I love podcasting because it's allowed me to connect with other quilters and make new friends. It's also something fun to listen to while I quilt! I hope you enjoy my interview with Stephanie and learn something new about me!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ruler Work Quilting on Sheri's Road Work Quilt

Time for a new quilting collaboration! My friend Sheri from Whole Circle Studio has sent me a super cool mini quilt called Road Work.

Isn't this neat? It's such an iconic design based on the lines painted on a road. I love how Sheri took something we see every day (a cross walk on a road) and turned it into a cool quilt!

Sheri has created a quilt pattern for Road Work so you can create a mini, throw, twin, and queen sized quilt with this simple, yet striking design. Click Here to check out the pattern.

So the big question do we quilt it?

I'll be honest, out of all the collaborations I've done this year, this one was the most challenging! I think it's because I love the piecing design of Road Work so much and I don't want to distract from the road theme of the quilt.

I debated using lots of different designs. I considered collage style quilting and all over style quilting, and ultimately I kept coming back to straight lines running down the length of the road.

But jeez...just straight lines? Really Leah? You can do better than that!

Ahem. Excuse me. My inner critic is feeling a bit opinionated over my design choices. Straight lines are awesome, but there was so much open space on this quilt it felt like a waste not to do something interesting in the upper part of the quilt.

I just so happened to be working on a new batch of designs last week and finally found the inspiration I've been looking for. I call it Split Personality - beautiful combination of straight lines and curves!

So how did this work on Sheri's Road Work Quilt? Watch the video to see for yourself!

I used my ruler foot and Dresden Plate templates to quilt the straight lines in this quilt, then set the ruler aside when I was quilting the curves. You could also quilt this design with your walking foot and with regular free motion quilting too.

Spacing the lines this perfectly was a challenge and sometimes I found myself switching the ruler to both sides of the foot to make sure it was centered perfectly as I quilted the straight lines.

It really is a testament to Sheri's awesome piecing skills because this design worked out exactly right!

It's funny, but as I was quilting this I realized the straight lines flowing into curves were a good symbol for this quilt. In life we have moments of straight lines - easy, effortless days where everything seems to click and flow.

And sometimes life throws a curve in the mix and you've just got to keep driving and work through it.

Working through it is exactly what I did with this quilt. I had a lot of fears crop up with this quilt - fear of messing it up, fear of being judged for a simple quilting design, fear of letting myself and Sheri down.

Here's something interesting I heard on an HBR Ideacast recently: A whole person is not all good things. Creative people tend to have fear and anxiety about their work.

For years I figured with enough effort I could squash my fear and stop running through angsty periods where I judge everything I do as second class. Now I realize that one comes with the other. I cannot use the creative side of my brain without also experiencing the fearful side of my brain too.

It also helps to have a deadline. You can't run and hide forever! Deadlines work really well for me because I'm forced to pull on my big girl panties and get the work done.

I hope you've enjoyed hearing this story and understand you're not alone if you fear messing up your quilts. Just flow with it!

Don't forget to check out Sheri's website and her new Road Work pattern.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S - Did I mention Sheri sent me two Road Work quilts? For the second quilt I challenged myself to let go of my fears and have a fun machine quilting adventure. Click Here to find the video on quilting this quilt!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! This month's Quilty Box came with an awesome collection of gear from Alex Anderson plus ten fat quarters of her beautiful Mirage fabric. I decided to create a very easy Disappearing Nine Patch quilt using these ten fat quarters plus ten fat quarters of solid fabrics I had on hand.

Creating this quilt is so easy and fast! First you create jumbo Nine Patch Quilt Blocks, then Poof! make them disappear to create the quarter block shapes, then arrange and piece the blocks together to create the Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt.

Watch how I pieced my Disappearing Nine Patch blocks in this video:

Click Here to find the free Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Pattern

There are lots of ways you can arrange your Disappearing Nine Patch quilt and I played around with many creative layouts. Click Here to find more pictures and how you can rotate the blocks to create different effects.

The quilt will also look very different if you use one solid color of background fabric. I created this layout in EQ7 to see what it would look like with a white background. If you wanted to create this quilt you'll need around 2 1/2 yards of white fabric instead of the ten solid fat quarters.

I really liked the scrappy, colorful effect of my Disappearing Nine Patch quilt, but now I'm curious to see all the ways this pattern can change to create more cool quilt designs. This is definitely one simple quilt pattern with hundred of possibilities!

What do you think of this Disappearing Nine Patch quilt pattern? Do you like simple scrappy quilts or quilts with more background space? Do you like mostly squares and rectangles in your quilts or prefer triangles and more complex piecing?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Practice Echoing on the Grace Qnique 14+

When you quilt a shape, then quilt around it again with a parallel line that is called Echoing. This is one of the most important techniques to learn in machine quilting because evenly spaced lines are used in so many different designs, and it looks really pretty on any style of quilt.

Echo Quilting Tutorial Sit Down Longarm Quilting

See those rows and rows of evenly spaced lines in the background? That's echo quilting!

In this last video on my Peaceful Goddess quilt blocks, I'm quilting the background with a Super Spiral on the Grace Qnique 14+. This is unique because I usually quilt this design with a walking foot on my home machine.

But with practice you can quilt continuous echoes like this with free motion quilting! I found the open toe foot on the Grace Qnique created a perfect spacing for lines around 3/8 inch apart. That was perfect for the scale of my Peaceful Goddess blocks so I quilted around the appliqued circle, then around and around to fill in the background completely.

See how it works in this new sit down longarm quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find more videos on the Grace Qnique.

I've been getting a lot of questions about the hopping foot on the Grace Qnique and if I find that annoying or not. I actually hardly notice it anymore!

Echo Quilting Tutorial Sit Down Longarm Quilting
The foot base is so wide and the open toe gives me a clear view of the needle so the hopping doesn't bother me as it's outside of the place I look at while quilting.

The difference between a longarm and a home machine is that longarms have the hopping built into the mechanics of the machine. Every time the needle comes up, the foot comes up. Every time the needle goes down, the foot goes down.

This isn't like the darning feet for home machines I alter in this video. You can't bend or break it to stop the hopping action on a longarm. It's a built in feature.

So while it's annoying to see in the videos (yes, I agree), it's not a problem when I'm actually quilting.

Now that I'm finished with this Peaceful Goddess quilt project, what would you like to see next? Share your suggestions for new sit down quilting videos in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 19, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Fanfare - #474

It's Friday which means it's time for a new free motion quilting design. Ta Da Da-Da Da-Da....imagine a trumpet fanfare...

I'm calling this cool quilting design Fanfare! I love designs that fill based on spirals because once you set the starting lines, the rest of the design is super easy to quilt.

See what I mean in this new beginner quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs and challenge yourself to quilt a new design every day of the year!

Now let's learn a bit more about this Fanfare quilting design...

Difficulty Level - Beginner. As you can see in the video, I marked the starting spiral on my quilt with a marking pencil, and then quilted on the marked lines.

Nope, this isn't cheating, it's awesome! There are two skills to master with machine quilting - quilting on a line and quilting without lines. This particular quilting design will help you build both skills and it looks really pretty too. Win, win, win!

The bouncy echoes running down the spiral are pretty easy to quilt. Just slow down and bring your hands closer to the needle so you don't overshoot the spiral line.

Design Family - Foundational. The spiral line begins this design and sets the base. I mentioned in the video that you might be able to fit this into a border, just interconnecting two spirals together. I played with it a bit as a Zentangle design and so far just made a mess. 

Don't worry, the same rule for quilting holds for drawing. In this case I'm going to throw more ink at it!

The trick is keeping the bouncy echoes of the Fanfare design to one side of the spiral. That could be fixed by doubling the starting line and quilting bouncy echoes up both sides a bit like a quilted feather design. That might work better and look more balanced on your quilt.

Where do we quilt it? - I think Fanfare will look best in large blocks or cornerstones. If you begin with a large spiral, then add small bouncy echoes, the quilt will look great and remain soft.

Where do you plan to quilt Fanfare? Do you like spiral based designs? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Podcasting with Modern Sewciety's Stephanie Kendron

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have a terrific interview with Stephanie Kendron, the host of the Modern Sewciety podcast. Click Here to check out her website and podcast right now.

Stephanie began her podcast while remodeling her dream house after listening to lots of podcasts. Katie from Katie's Quilting Corner was super helpful and supportive to Stephanie as she was getting started.

Hosting a podcast is a lot more complicated than it looks. Stephanie learned how to do this from the Smart Passive Income podcast and Pat's steps to creating a podcast.

Stephanie set up an RSS feed and records using Skype on her computer. She used to edit each episode herself, but has recently changed to sending her audio to an editor who cleans it up and sends it back to her. Then Stephanie uploads it to itunes, then Libsyn, then Wordpress.

The hardest part of a podcast is knowing where someone is listening and how they found your podcast. It's almost impossible to track exactly where people are listening and how many people.

Stephanie's favorite conversations are when quilters open up and share their lives and personal journey. For her, the story is the key and that's why she created her podcast and continues to ask questions.

Make sure to check out Stephanie's podcast Modern Sewciety right here.

And you can find all of the Hello My Quilting Friends podcast episodes right here.

Podcast Sponsor

This podcast is sponsored by the Machine Quilting Block Party, a quilt along designed for beginning quilters! Each month you'll learn how to piece or applique a new quilt block, then how to machine quilt it with a combination of walking foot quilting, free motion quilting, and ruler foot quilting.

Click Here to check out the patterns and how to get started today!

Now for a few updates I shared before the podcast:

I'm really excited about a new quilting workshop I started filming last week. I'm quilting the Mega Pinwheel Star quilt with three simple designs using my walking foot.

Lately I've been tapping into what makes me feel great and the word effective keeps coming up. Working on this workshop closely with Josh and Dad, I really feel my actions have been focused and effective and that feels great!

I'm also working on my walking foot book! I've set a deadline for July 1st to have the text finished, which will be a tough deadline as I've decided to add more designs.

I debated this a lot, but ultimately decided I need to honor my nature. I'm a design junkie! It's also going to be used next year as our guide for the Machine Quilting Block Party so the more designs we have to quilt, the more we will learn together.

So that's it for this week's podcast! If you would like to be on the show or have someone you'd like to recommend, please click here to contact us today. I'm always eager to make more quilting friends!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Quilting Workshop in Progress!

Last month I shared the free Mega Pinwheel Star quilt pattern using the beautiful Monaluna fabrics included in April's Quilty Box. Rather than fold it up to quilt another day, Dad and Josh challenged me to plan a very simple, quick quilting design and film it for a new quilting workshop.

So that is exactly what I'm working on today! I decided to dive into walking foot quilting and pick three very simple designs to quilt the Mega Pinwheel Star quilt quickly and easily.

I'm delighted with how the videos are turning out so far! It's really exciting to go from a basic idea to halfway through quilting the quilt in just a few days.

The fact is, not all quilts need to be quilted with a complicated, time consuming design. For this quilt, I just wanted it to finish soft and cozy so James and I can enjoy cuddling up with it on the couch. I even backed it with minky so it's super plush!

I'll keep you posted on the progress of this new quilting workshop, which should be available sometime in June.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, May 14, 2017

How to Quilt Sharp Stippling Over Fusible Applique

Happy Mother's Day! I hope you're having a wonderful day with your family. I'm enjoying a typical Sunday with my guys - making pancakes kicking back for a few hours until we're ready to start the day.

I'm planning to relax and take it easy today, but also fit in time to turn some wood on the lathe in the wood shop and finally clean up my flower mask mess in the laundry room downstairs. Think plastic flower explosion. It's scary messy!

This week I've been continuing my progress on the Peaceful Goddess quilt blocks and shot a quilting tutorial on how I fill the spaces in this quilt with one of my favorite machine quilting designs: Sharp Stippling.

Curious about the machine I'm using? Learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+ in this video.

Sharp Stippling is one of my favorite quilting designs because it's so easy to quilt and creates a beautiful flame-like texture on your quilts. If you're feeling bored with regular Stippling, this design is kind of like it's younger, hotter brother. Spicy!

Quilting over fusible applique might not seem like a big deal, but it can feel different under your hands. I find fused quilts to feel stiffer and flatter than pieced quilts.

Surprisingly enough, this makes fusible quilts easier to machine quilt because the quilt is easier to move over the table. Something about that added stiffness makes the quilt less "sticky" to the machine bed and easier to move with less pressure and effort from your hands.

All this makes quilting over fusible applique easier...or does it?

I find I always need a small practice sandwich to stitch on to adjust to the feeling of quilting over the fusible applique. Because I can move the quilt faster, my stitches tend to become longer and less controlled.

So I always practice a bit to remind myself of how the quilt will feel. If I jump straight on the block, I'm bound to make mistakes I'll have to rip out.

And that's another really don't want to rip stitches out of fusible web.

I made a mistake with my feathers in one Peaceful Goddess face and had to rip out a lot of stitches around her eye. Then I messed up again and had to rip again. See the holes left over from the stitches? It got a bit mangled in that area.

Fusible web stops the fabric from sealing up after it's been stitched. These holes will close slightly after washing, but they will likely never go away completely.

So you don't want to make mistakes as you quilt over fusible applique. Isn't that a recipe for making all sorts of mistakes? It's like trying not to think about donuts after I've just mentioned donuts. Now you really want a donut don't you?

It's best to test and remind yourself what a fused quilt feels to machine quilt before jumping on the real thing. Take some time to make a small practice sandwich and quilt a bit on it and you'll be a very happy quilter.

Speaking of happy quilters, James and Josh gave me an awesome present for Mother's Day - permission to do whatever I want, play with anything I want, or do nothing at all. I'm off to dig out my crafty supplies and have fun making a big mess!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, May 12, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Undulating Oil, Design #473

Let's learn a new quilting design today! I've been looking back through my quilting design notebooks and found a special variation of the design Trapped Ripples. This new quilting design changes only one thing and creates this beautiful new quilting design called Undulating Oil:

Does this design look intimidating to you? Don't worry! Machine quilting Undulating Oil is pretty easy because we quilt the design in two parts. First you break up your quilting space with wiggly triangle spaces, then you fill the spaces with bouncy echoes.

Learn how to quilt it on your home machine in this new quilting tutorial:

Are you looking for more machine quilting inspiration? Click Here to find 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, a book packed with designs to inspire you as you quilt.

Now let's learn more about quilting Undulating Oil and where it will work best in our quilts:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Because this design is quilted in two parts it's a bit tricky to rate the difficulty level. On the one hand the curvy triangle foundation is easy enough to quilt. 

Just quilt gently curving lines and try to quilt from a corner to the middle of a line or from the middle of a line to a corner. Weirdly enough, this will almost always break a space into triangle shapes. You can bet I was a really happy quilter the day I figured that out!

This design does involve a lot of precision stitching and the ability to hit lines exactly, bounce, and echo evenly. It will be a great skill builder for bouncy echoes as well. So don't be put off if it looks a bit intense. Give it a try on a practice square and see how it goes!

Filler Design Type - Foundational. For this family of designs, you begin with a base, then fill the open spaces with shapes. This foundation is simple curving lines that break the space into triangle shapes. If you'd like to see more designs with this foundation, check out Foundation Puzzle and Crack Maze.

If you'd like to try this with straight lines, Trapped Ripples, Garden Mazeand Modern Weave are also great designs to try.

Suggestions for Use - Quilting designs like Undulating Oil can be quilted anywhere so long as you can break up the space with the foundational curving triangle shapes. If you wanted to quilt this all over a bed quilt, the first step would be to quilt the wiggly foundation working from the center of the quilt to the outer edges.

If you break down the space into large sections then it won't become too dense as you fill in each triangle with bouncy echoes. You can also experiment with where you begin the echoes. If you begin all in the same spot, you'll create these pretty flower designs!

What do you think of Undulating Oil? Do you have questions about quilting it on your home machine? Make sure to post your questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Creating the Flower Girl Costume

I officially have an alter-identity... the Flower Girl! Lol!

This has been such a fun costuming adventure. I'm going to try to link to all the steps of this process, including links to the books I used for inspiration.

Now, the quick backstory on how creation came into being: this winter I constructed a massive flower mask for a local wearable art fashion show. Click Here to read about the construction process.

After the show, I realized I wasn't done with the costume. I wanted to make a companion piece dress that would balance the extreme height and over-the-top flowery impact of the mask. Click Here to read about the beginning ideas for the dress.

I built a hoop skirt, a massive fluffy petticoat, and draped the dress in about six days. This was the fastest costume I've ever created and definitely has the biggest impact.

Here's a quick video for you to see how I get into the dress, which is also an adventure:

Draping the dress was my favorite part because I was able to use new skills I learned from the book Designer Joi's Fashion Sewing Workshop. One thing I might not have made clear in the video - this dress is created from two 70-inch long pieces of batik fabric that were cut straight off the bolt.

I arranged the two pieces over my dress form and overlapped the fabric in the front of the dress to create the crisscross design. At the beginning I used a 1 inch strip of elastic to hold everything in place so it would be easier to drape. I never cut the fabric because then I would have had to turn the edges under and finish them. So this is the full 45 inches of width being draped from one shoulder down the front of the dress form.

This was a tip I learned in the book Techniques for Draping and Design, which often used the selvages of the fabric as the finished edge of the sleeves and side seams. I'm not sure about you, but I had NEVER heard that before...

The most time consuming part of the dress was the hand stitching. I stitched long basting stitches over the shoulder seams, then pulled the stitching tight to gather the fabric so it fit the dress form.

I gathered the front and back of the dress the same way - running parallel lines of big stitches, then pulling on the stitches and knotting it off to fit the waist of the dress form tightly.

To make it possible to take on and off, I installed a short invisible zipper in the back, then sewed the back and side seams on the machine. I left the front of the dress open so my petticoat would show and add a bit of contrast to this otherwise overwhelmingly red costume.

The front edges of the costume are also selvages, leaving all the raw edges only along the hem. I folded the hem up so it also allowed the petticoat to peek out a bit and blind stitched to secure.

Whew! That might sound like a lot, but this dress came together very quickly. I began draping on Friday night, then mustered up the courage to start sewing on Saturday morning and had the entire dress together by the afternoon. Finishing the hem was the longest part of the process simply because it was such a LONG seam.

The dress definitely makes a statement all on its own, but when combined with the mask it's truly over the top. Perfect, exactly what I was going for!

So why did I do this? Why do I want to dress up with a big flower mask on my head and a giant hoop skirt?

Simple - it makes me happy. 

I enjoy playing dress-up. I also enjoy the challenge of creating a costume like this using techniques I've just learned. Working fast and dirty forces me to stop nitpicking every little detail.

Instead of focusing on perfection, I was focusing on just trying to get it together in time for the festival I could attend that weekend. I made the deadline and was able to go to the festival that Sunday in full costume.

Which brings me to the second reason why I do this - it's a challenge and it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Driving to the festival I felt a bit scared and all the what if's started swirling in my head. What if people yelled at me? What if someone pushed me down? Could I even stand back up again without help? What if I tripped and fell and made a fool of myself?

These fears are natural when you step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. I began listing my fears out loud to Josh and James: I am afraid to do this. I'm afraid people won't like me. I'm afraid I will get hurt. I'm afraid I'll get in trouble.

Isn't this silly? I'm a thirty-three year old woman who wants to wear a giant flower costume and I'm afraid of getting in trouble?

Saying it out loud didn't make me less afraid, but it forced me to acknowledge how much my brain hates doing anything different. Overcoming this anxiety - feeling the fear and doing it anyway - that is why I do this.

I also created this costume because I wanted to make parents and kids happy. A few years ago, Josh and James and I attended our first comic convention and we had so much fun posing with our favorite superhero characters.

I went to this local festival with one goal - to pose with little kids and make a cool photo for their parents. Since I can't talk in the mask, I came up with simple hand gestures to indicate taking a photo so parents would know it was okay. I clapped my hands and waved at everyone in a cheerful way.

It was interesting to see people's reactions to this costume. When caught off guard, many people were startled and a little afraid of me. Some kids stared so hard at the mask, obviously wanting me to smile to make it clear I was friendly.

One memorable set of boys were so sweet and timid. They crept up to me so slowly because they were so scared. I knew if I made a sudden move they would both burst into tears and run away so I held really still and just reached out my hands to hold theirs.

James was exactly the same way when he was little so I was really careful to keep my distance when a kid seemed frightened. We once had a fun Easter egg hunt ruined because the Easter bunny thought it was a good idea to approach the child who was screaming in fear. Thanks a bunch, bunny!

I found I got the best reaction when I stayed in one place so everyone could see me from a bit of a distance and decide how close or how far away they wanted to be. When I was walking around, people would often miss me until I was right up next to them, and I imagine that was pretty frightening.

Other people were so excited to see a girl in a giant flower costume that they ran right up and hugged me. FYI- it's almost impossible to be hugged properly in a hoop skirt!

It was so much fun to be surrounded by happy, excited people, and to hopefully have helped create a cool photo for parents to enjoy. A few people asked where I bought the costume and I indicated through hand gestures that I sewed it myself. That might be an inspiration to new makers in my area.

As for all of those fears in the car on the way to the festival - I did nearly trip three times when the petticoat slipped under the hoop skirt and I stepped on it. I learned to pull up the dress slightly when I walked. Who cares if someone sees my tennis shoes underneath?!

No one attacked me or yelled at me, other than trying to get my attention for a photo from a far distance. And I didn't get in trouble. In fact, the event organizers encouraged us to stay longer and the police loved the costume.

See how silly all those fears were? But how would I have known what would happen until I pushed myself to go and have this experience?

I believe in pushing myself to try new things. This costume pushed me to build in new ways with new materials. The dress forced me to work fast and not worry about finishing every seam just right. The experience of wearing it out in public taught me how to overcome my fears of getting in trouble or hurt in a space I couldn't control.

Now that I've had this experience, I can't wait to become the Flower Girl more often, to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and to make people happy too.

Let's go costume!

Leah Day

Monday, May 8, 2017

Machine Quilting Pansy Patch Quilt Block

Ready to quilt the Pansy Patch quilt block? We're quilting this block with a beautiful combination of designs: simple spirals in the flowers, Sharp Stippling in the background, and big feathers in the vase.

Did you have trouble piecing your Pansy Patch quilt block? Click Here to find the piecing tutorial to review how it was pieced.

Many quilters have shared photos and stories from piecing this block on the Block Party Facebook Group. It was more challenging than our previous blocks and does require you to piece with an accurate 1/4-inch seam allowance. The key is to enjoy the learning process and accept your block however it finishes. Please resist the urge to rip out stitches as ripping is not quilting - it will not make you any better at this craft!

Now let's check out the video and learn how to quilt this beautiful flower block together:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block 5.

One thing for sure - this block has a lot of ditches! Make sure to watch the video to see how I stitched in the ditch with my walking foot to secure the layers together before switching to free motion quilting.

I made a bad choice of quilting the background design Sharp Stippling with white thread. It ended up blending in quite a bit with the background color so it wasn't as visible as I would like. Click Here to watch an extra quilting tutorial so you can see how to quilt Sharp Stippling in another project.

Also remember that you can always mark the design using the quilting diagram from the quilt pattern. This will save you time having to guess how to quilt the design and speed up the quilting process.

What did you think of piecing and quilting this Pansy Patch quilt block? Was it just a bit too much? Or would you like more blocks like this? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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