The Free Motion Quilting Project: September 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hang and Store Your Quilts the Best Way

 How to hang and store your quilts
Hello my quilting friends!

I have a fantastic podcast for you this week, covering a topic that concerns all of us as quilters: how to safely store your quilt! Say you have heirloom quilts from your grandmother and want to ensure they do not get damaged or discolored in storage.

I also show two different ways to hang your quilt.

Click Here to watch how I store and hang my quilts.

Be sure to also check out our sitewide sale and save 50% on our quilting books! The sale will end Monday, September 24th.

Click Here to check out our huge sale this week.


* Leaf Peepers Quilt Pattern is excluded

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to Quilt Matrix Star, Design # 500

HAPPY DAY 500! I can't believe I have finally shared the 500th design. I decided to pull out one of my oldie goldie favorites, Superstarand change it up a bit to create a new design called Matrix Star. Learn how to quilt this new free motion quilting design in this quilting tutorial:


I’ve updated the Quilting Design Gallery to include all 500 designs. Click here to check it out.

I’ve added links to all of the Free Motion quilting, walking foot quilting and longarm quilting tutorials I've shared over the last nine years. I’ve also added all the videos we’ve shared in our yearly Quilt Alongs too!

I had to do a full count and that’s over 700 quilting tutorials! It’s been a blast creating this resource for quilters and I would love it if you shared it with your friends.


Now let's learn more about Matrix Star:

Design Family – Center Fill. This design starts in the center of your quilt with a wiggly star shape. I took some time to tie off and very my thread tails so they'd be out of my way while I stitched this design.



Click here to find the cheater needle I use to quickly tie off and secure my thread in the middle layer of my quilt. I do this for every single thread break and as you can see in the video, it doesn't take that much time to secure the tails properly, even with gloves on.

Once I got the thread tails out of the way, it was easy to quilt the beautiful star over the small quilt sandwich. From there it’s just a process of echoing to expand the design until it fills the entire quilt square completely.

Difficulty Level – Super Beginner. I think this is one of the easiest designs I’ve shared in awhile. If you can stitch a simple line based star, and make it wiggly, then Matrix Star will be right up your alley.



Even if you're just learning how to do echoing, this design is perfect to experiment with. All the overlapping lines means even if you're echo quilting isn't perfect, it will still look great on your quilt.



Suggestions for Use – I think Matrix Star will work great on any style of quilt, especially using All-Over Style quilting. This style of quilting ignores the piecing design completely and allows you to quickly cover the quilt surface with texture. I use this style of quilting to cover the Jelly Town Baby Quilt with a huge Super Spiral design. Matrix Star will work the same way and cover the quilt quickly with beautiful wiggly lines.

So now you have 500 designs to play with, which one are you going to stitch next? Click here to check out the quilting design gallery and browse through the collection of designs and video tutorials I've shared over the last nine years.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, September 17, 2018

Let's Quilt Leaf Peepers! Echo Ditching and Block 1

Hello my Leaf Peeping Friends! It's been a very wet, rainy weekend, but the sun has finally come out. I'm hoping the weather will cool off and we can become real leaf peepers as the leaves begin changing colors.


Last week we finished up piecing the last leaf quilt block which means this week we get to dive into my favorite part of the process: quilting!

Click Here to find my tutorial on Echo Ditching with ruler foot quilting.

Click Here to find Sheri's tutorial on Quilting Block #1.

Yes, Sheri and I are both quilting this quilt differently with two very different styles of quilting! I hope you'll check out both tutorials to understand why we're making these choices and pull a bit of info from both of us as you tackle your quilt.

Now I'm off to clean up the mess that is my kitchen studio. I have the entire contents of the Crafty Cottage spread over the tables and it's time I sort through it all before putting it back.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Messy Sketchy Saturday

Yes, it's a messy sort of Saturday. A combination of Hurricane Florence and cleaning out the Crafty Cottage yesterday means the newly redesigned studio is a total wreck!


I honestly haven't had much time to sketch this week. I did try a variation of Ms. Bunny's dress, but with doubled seam allowances in places to allow for French or flat felled seams, but that resulted in a definite craft fail.

I personally find doll clothing to be so tiny that the extra bulk of French seams just made everything stiff and bulky. Flat felled didn't work at all on the deeper curving seams and I had to throw one entire test dress away because it was just too much to rip out and re-stitch.

So that feels a bit like a step forward and a step back. It's not much fun to make a dress alteration and then realize the earlier pattern pieces were better.


But then again, I learned something! That's definitely progress and I won't have to try those seams again, at least not with this dress. I'm going to finish the seams with a combination of zigzag and top stitching. That combination results in a beautiful flat seam that takes up very little space inside the garment and will hold up to heavy wear from little hands.

No, the hurricane hasn't been an issue for us... yet. Lots of rain and high winds are in the fore cast so I'm keeping an eye on it. I did bring the Singer 27 treadle inside so if we lose power, I can still sew! The only downside is it's currently in three very heavy pieces, spread across the living room floor and adding to the general mess. Uggh!

Oh well, sometimes life goes according to plan and sometimes things get messy. Just have to roll with it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thank you IKEA! Studio Remake

Two weeks ago James went down to the basement to grab something and said "Hey, there's a lot of water on the floor down there."

Basement + Water + Floor = BAD! Especially bad because we have three fish tanks in the basement. One of them is 180 gallons.


Turns out it was one of the smaller fish tanks (not the 180 gallon, whew!) It cracked and leaked around 5 gallons of water on the floor overnight. Instantly we went into cleanup mode, and unfortunately most of the water had leaked into my kitchen studio.

But bad things can some times have a silver lining. The water ruined a very ugly, dirty green rug, but other than that, it didn't do much damage. The horrible brown tile the rug was covering would probably survive a nuclear blast.

I had to collapse my big cutting table for several days while the floors dried and until I found a replacement for the carpet.

Which is where IKEA comes in. The big cutting table I have set up in my basement kitchen has been a cobbled together mess for several years. For awhile it was plywood. Then I added two plastic folding tables. Then I tacked on a homemade lightbox.

Slowly this table surface changed to fit our needs and it's gradually shrunk because there's usually 3 people trying to walk around it at any given time. This area is a pass through for the entire basement so it needs be easy to walk around.

Dad and I have both been complaining about the plastic folding tables for awhile. They certainly do work for awhile, but long term the tops begin to bow and they flex when putting a lot of pressure on the surface when rotary cutting.

So I decided it was time for an IKEA improvement! I already had a spare table top from another sewing machine setup and a handful of adjustable height legs. I took some more measurements, ran some searches and found the perfect combination. Here's the awesome results:


This is three LINNMON tables on OLOV adjustable height legs. I've adjusted the tables to be higher than they were before so the top is coming in around 35 inches, which is perfect for cutting and pressing while standing.

Underneath I have ANTONIUS frames and bins. Unfortunately they've discontinued the plastic bins and only offer this with wire frames now. I may go back for more frames, but I already have two under the longarm and another 4 in the laundry room.

Sometimes I think limiting the amount of storage I allow myself is good. If I have space to stash stuff, I just end up buying more stuff!

The new rug I found on Amazon and placed some white peel and stick tile against the wall to cover the bare concrete where the indestructible brown tile had never been laid.

I'm tempted to lay more white tile because the entire room feels so much brighter and happier now. But I'm resisting the urge because one day I do plan to wage war on that brown tile floor and I don't really want to make it more difficult by laying more tile on top of it.

All around, I think this remake has been a success! If you live near an IKEA definitely check it out for organizers, bins, and accessories. Even if it's a couple hours drive, it's worth it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Tips for Naming and Tagging Your Quilts, Podcast #74

Happy podcast day! I'm having a blast in my kitchen studio today which is finally put back (more or less) together after being collapsed for two weeks after Josh's fish tank disaster. I'm slicing up embroidery squares to experiment with a new quilt-as-you-go method.



This podcast came about from a listener suggestion. Dawn wanted to know if I had any tips on naming quilts and adding tags or labels to the back. I had a fun time thinking through both topics and shared my take on the importance of adding a quilt label. 

Think of it this way, if you don't at least put your name on it, who knows who will get credit for that quilt down the road???

I've also been stitching out several dresses for Ms. Bunny. What do you think - should doll dresses have finished seams? Do the fraying edges give you hives? I'd love to know the level of finishing you like to do for dolls and projects like this.

If you've been watching the news you know hurricane Florence is on the way. We're keeping an eye on the storm and I've stocked up on candles, batteries, and flash lights. If you're on the east coast please be safe and let's all hope for a quick recovery.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How to Quilt Rise and Shine, Design #499

Sunshines are one of my favorite symbols to use on quilts because my last name is Day and I love the idea of adding more light and creativity to my quilts. Learn how you can add a touch of sunshine to all your quilts with this Rise and Shine design:


I use a lot of different quilting tools to make free motion quilting easier on my home machine. On my hands I wear quilting gloves that help give me better control over where the quilt is going and the size of my stitches.



On the machine I placed a Queen Supreme Slider, a slippery Teflon sheet to help the quilt slide easily over the surface. I am using Isacord white thread in the top and bobbin of the machine. I find using the same thread in the top and bobbin reduces tension issues and prevents little dots of different colors showing up on the right or wrong side of the quilt.

I am quilting on the Eversewn Sparrow 20, a small affordable sewing machine that I think is perfect for basic sewing and quilting and also a terrific travel machine if you are needing something lighter to take to workshops.

Now let's learn more about Rise and Shine!



Design Family – Echoing. This design is stitched with a series of rules you can memorize to repeat the design over your quilt. I group designs with similar steps into families to make them easier to understand. If you can quilt one Echoing Design, chances are you can quilt all of them.

If you’d like to build some skill for Rise and Shine first, try quilting Echo Shell and Echo Daisy first. The steps to this design are simple: stitch a half to quarter circle shape, echo that shape close to the first line of stitching.

Then travel stitch and leave a wide gap between that first set of lines and echo again, this time leaving a lot of space between the lines. Echo one more time closely, then travel stitch inside the open space and fill that area with pointy lines. This gives soft curves the jagged sunshine effect.



Difficulty Level – Intermediate. Rise and Shine isn't super challenging, but it is a precision-oriented design. It requires being able to stitch the shapes, hit the line, travel stitch and consistently echo the curving lines lines.

If you're working on building this skills, this is a great design to practice with! Fill a fat quarter sized practice sandwich and you'll get the hang of the design and get lots of practice on precision quilting, travel stitching and echoing.

Suggestions for Use – Rise and Shine will work anywhere on your quilts and you can quilt it on any scale, or size. I personally think this would look amazing stitched on a large-scale with free motion couching. I'd love to see the bright sunshine shapes fill in a corner of a quilt, then a design like Clouds fill in another corner. That sounds like an awesome idea for a funky baby quilt!

Where do you plan to use Rise and Shine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Have you checked out the free motion quilting design gallery lately?

I recently updated it to include all of the designs for the Free Motion Quilting Project and the walking foot designs I shared this year. I’ve also added link pages for the longarm quilting videos and quilt alongs I’ve shared as well. That's well over 700 tutorials for you to browse through and watch any time!


Monday, September 10, 2018

Leaf Peepers Quilt Along Block 4

 How to piece a quilt block

This week we are finishing up the piecing with the fourth leaf block so we can finish up the quilt top. First learn how to piece the prettiest red, orange and purple block with half and quarter square triangles.

Click Here to watch the full tutorial for this week.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Drawing Dresses and Dripping Paint

Hello My Sketchy Friends! I'm continuing my doll making adventure by sewing dresses and undergarments for Ms. Bunny. Last week I stitched three versions of this doll and finally solidified the design. Now I am focusing on drawing and planning the two dresses described in the book Mally the Maker and the Queen and the Quilt.


This is tricky because I'm basing my design on the memory of my Ms. Bunny and the dark pink calico dress she wore. Click here to read that story.

It's tricky because after making a very similar shaped dress, I realized that it's far more formal looking than what I described in the book. So this is a bit of a conundrum – do I design for what I wrote in the book or design for the memory of my own Ms. Bunny?

Ms. Bunny #1 in formal dress #1 and Ms. Bunny #5 in formal dress #2
I think the ultimate solution is to design a dress that I like and in which Ms. Bunny looks cute. These dresses just ended up looking... well, a bit old fashioned. 

I'm going to keep tweeking until I get the pattern pieces perfect (which will probably take another three tries!) and then stash this pattern away for a future pattern collection with formal dresses. I can already see making Ms. Bunny a hoop skirt and ball gown!

This is such a fun challenge because designing dress costumes was something I got interested in over a year ago. But costuming and pattern making for myself had a serious limitation: I quickly ran out of space for all the costumes! I quite literally have dresses and masks packed everywhere now.

But for Ms. Bunny and any other dolls I create from the book, the sky is the limit on garments and costumes because they're not going to take up nearly as much space. I already planned to make Ms. Bunny a set of undergarments today because that just suits her prim nature. She's just not the type to go commando! LOL!


I'm also pushing past my mental block with my sun and moon paintings today. I got bogged down with these pieces because I made several mistakes and keep seeing the mistakes instead of the overall piece. But the deadline is coming up and I have to finish them.

The ultimate lesson will be figuring out how to hide the mistakes or simply let them be and view these paintings as a fun learning experience.

What are you sketching or designing today? I hope you're having a fun time!

Let's go quilt,

Leah day

Thursday, September 6, 2018

How to Machine Quilt Hopscotch, Design #498

I've been playing around with altering some golden oldie designs to create new quilting fillers. This hopscotch design is a simple variation of paisley, but with a lot more bouncy echoes to create this funky texture. Learn how to quilt this design in this new quilting tutorial:


Quick Links to tools mentioned in today's post:





Let's learn more about quilting hopscotch.

Design family – pivoting

This design is a little tricky to place because it works a bit like a stacking design in the sense that the bouncy echoes lock together to form a solid texture over the quilt. But because it's based on Paisley, a pivoting design and all you do is add extra pivots and echoes around it, I think this best fits in the pivoting family.

That's just my esoteric way of keeping the designs organize, but it's good to know that you can look for different designs and so long as the way they are stitched is similar, you will most likely be able to quilt any of the designs in that family easily.

Difficulty level – beginner. Hopscotch isn't very challenging, but it's definitely one of those designs that needs more practice and play. I haven't yet figured out a system for when to stop pivoting and begin a new hopscotch shape. Sometimes when I go too long without creating a teardrop, the arch shapes seem to get too long and unwieldy. But other times they tend to stack identical teardrop shapes to close to one another than it looks like Paisley. Definitely looking forward to practicing and playing more with this design soon!

Suggestions for use – hopscotch will work in just about all areas of your quilts. Because you can shrink the echoes down easily this designs going to work great on a small scale. You can also increase the distance between the lines and quilt hopscotch on a large scale to I may have to give this a try with free motion couching on the long arm next week.

Do you have any questions about free motion quilting on your home machine or suggestions for new quilting tutorials? Please share in the comments below.

Let's go quilt

Leah day

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

5 Tips for Giving Quilts as Gifts

Hello my quilting friends! This week I'm talking about something I'm sure nearly all of us have struggled with: the best way to give a quilted item as a gift and how to handle our emotions if we receive a lukewarm reaction.


 https://leahday.com/blogs/machinequilting/5-tips-for-giving-quilts-as-gifts

I'm sharing 5 easy tips on staying sane and happy during the quilt gift giving process.

Click Here to watch the podcast and read more about giving quilts as gifts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How to Machine Quilt Pea Soup, Design #497

What happens when you combine the swirly flame shapes of Sharp Stippling with the cute bubbles of Double Pebble? You get the recipe for Pea Soup!


Quick links to tools and supplies I'm using in this quilting tutorial:

I’m quilting with my favorite Machingers quilting gloves as usual and have a QueenSupreme Slider placed on top of my machine to make sliding the quilt block around a big easier. 

We've combined the gloves, slider, and bobbin washers in a special Quilting Kit you can check out here.

As for the machine I’m using, I’m really enjoying quilting on the Eversewn Sparrow 20. This fun little affordable sewing machine is great for piecing and free motion quilting. I am using a Low Shank Darning foot that I modified to fit this machine perfectly. 

I'm also quilting with Isacord polyester thread because it's thin, strong, and rarely breaks as I quilt.


Now let's learn more about quilting Pea Soup!

Design Family – Independent. This design is a simple variation of Sharp Stippling. You can wiggle around your quilt easily in all directions with flame shapes, and occasionally swing into the circle shapes. This is a great design to practice echoing and quilting circles because you don't have to stitch either one of them perfectly to create this pretty texture.

Difficulty Level – Beginner. Pea soup is quite an easy, fast design to quilt. If you find yourself struggling to stitch sharp points, follow my advice in the video and slow down, or stop when you're wanting a sharp point on your quilt. Then shift your hands and get a good grip on the quilt and don’t hesitate as you quilt in the new direction to make a sharp direction change.

Suggestions for Use – this design will work great anywhere on your quilt. You can quilt this on a large scale easily and make the circles really big so they take up lots of space. You can also shrink the design down to a small scale to use it to fill intense areas of your quilt as well.

Where do you think Pea Soup will work best? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, September 3, 2018

How to Piece Quarter Square Triangles

Hello My Leaf Peeping Friends! This week Sheri and I are tackling the third block in this fall themed quilt along.



 Leaf Peepers 2018 quilt along Leah Day

This is one of my favorite blocks from this quilt because I love those great orange and yellow colors! I still have several packs of the batik leaf peepers quilt fabric so if you'd like to make a quilt with these beautiful boutiques, click here to check out the fabric.

We have just one more week of piecing left to go. But don't worry, there's a lot more information to come. We are going to not just piece the Leaf Peepers Quilt, we’re also quilting it together. Remember, you can join in the fun any time by picking up the leaf peepers quilt pattern. 


Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ms. Bunny is here!

After two solid days of drawing, cutting, and stitching, I can now introduce Ms. Bunny!


Yes, it took 5 dolls and multiple tweeks of the pattern to reach the perfect sized body with proportional arms and legs and pretty ears. And I finally managed to stitch her legs on the right way on the last doll. Yay!

I'm still playing with the right amount of stuffing to stick into her arms and torso. Too little and she flops around like a fish. Too much and her arms stick out like she's tightrope walking.

All in all, I've learned so much about doll making from this experience. It is VERY different from flat quilt designing, but just as rewarding.

Who is Ms. Bunny?

Ms. Bunny is a key character in my new book Mally the Maker and the Queen in the Quilt (preorder coming soon!) and she was based on the very special doll I was given for Christmas when I was around 4 years old. Almost overnight she became my special stuffed animal that I couldn't sleep without. She was quite simply my best friend.

Sadly, I lost Ms. Bunny on a scout camping trip when I was around 7 or 8. I'm not exaggerating when I say that was devastating. I was given tons of other bunny dolls, but none of them were the exact right size or shape as Ms. Bunny.

When I began outlining Mally the Maker, I knew I wanted to give Mally, the main character, a special friend to help her along the way. And it didn't take me more than a second to think of my lost friend. Ms. Bunny is a central character in Mally the Maker and will always play a special role in this book series.

So part of what has made this doll making process more challenging has been the fact that I'm trying to recreate something I haven't seen in 26 years. I'm actually surprised I managed to make this with only 5 versions of the doll.

Now that she's stitched it's time to design her dresses! I can't wait!

Let's go sew,

Leah Day

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Draw, Stitch, Erase, Draw Again

It's prototype time! Mally the Maker is nearly ready to preorder (crossing my fingers for September 12th) and I’ve I wanted to design dolls for book for months. But designing in 3D is really tough! I've put off working on this project because it seems like no matter how much time I throw at it, I never get anywhere.


But I think I will get somewhere with this if I just stick with it and keep playing with the design. 


When I put the doll pattern away, I lost all my progress because I couldn't remember what I learned or what I'd planned to do next. So this week I set up a temporary cutting table in my upstairs office and I’m drawing, cutting out fabric, then stitching the pieces and usually erasing and drawing again.

Yes, this is a lot of trial and error for doll making!

I decided to focus on the Ms. Bunny doll because she’s my favorite character from the book. These are pretty far from the mark, but I learned so much with both of these that I already know how to change the pattern to make the third prototype.

Last night I was talking to Josh about this project and speculating that I would need to make 20 Ms. Bunny dolls before I had it right. Josh thinks I'm being a bit pessimistic and I'll most likely only need to make 10 dolls.

So my goal today is to stitch at least three to reach the half way point and I know I'll see lots of improvement and understanding in how this pattern works. Ultimately it’s not quick to design something new and completely from scratch, but it’s a fun challenge and that’s how I’m trying to approach it.

What are you sketching today? Is it working well, or do you feel like your design is struggling? Draw, erase, then draw again!

Let's go quilt or draw,

Leah Day

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