Saturday, October 25, 2014

54. Quilt Stippling and Echoes in a Slash Star

It's finally here! The LAST BLOCK for the Building Blocks Quilt!

We're getting our last bit of free motion quilting practice with the designs Stippling, Wiggly U shapes, and Echoes in this Slash Star. We've practiced these designs a lot this year, and I hope by now you feel very confident quilting them on your last block!

Josh was also very excited to be finishing up his last block and we talked a lot about the project and how much his skills have changed over the course of this year.

 YES! You can STILL get started on this project right now--the videos will ALWAYS be available, you get the entire pattern immediately without having to wait for monthly installments, and new quilters are starting the Quilt Along daily and sharing their progress on our super active and fun Facebook group.

So what have you learned about free motion quilting this year? Which block was your favorite and which was your least favorite?

The main #1 goal of this entire project was to teach absolute beginners how to piece AND free motion quilt. We've learned so many techniques: accurate piecing, pressing seams open, half square triangles, flying geese, paper piecing, improvisational piecing, quilting on a marked lines, and free hand free motion quilting.

I sincerely hope that this project has taught you loads about quilting, helped you build new skills, and given you the confidence to quilt all of your quilts yourself!

Of course, the project isn't completely over yet - we still need to connect all the blocks together Quilt-As-You-Go style to create the finished quilt. Make sure to swing back on Monday to learn how that method works so you can finish your quilt next week!

Let's go quilt!

Leah  and Josh Day

Friday, October 24, 2014

#438 - Free Motion Quilt Octopus Legs

Whew! I feel like I've been slaving away at the computer all day. I've been doing a lot of housekeeping - creating invoices, polishing up my Youtube channel, getting distracted with funny videos from channels I love, etc, etc, etc.

This is one of the things I love and hate about being online so much - on the one hand I feel like I've gotten loads accomplished, but on the other hand my quilts downstairs are not going to complete themselves so I'd better get my work done and get off this computer so I can go stitch something!

So here's a new design for this week - Octopus Legs - long wiggly tentacles that will fill your quilts with absolutely gorgeous texture:

Lately I've been changing up how I shoot photos and including a little slip of embroidered fabric with either or placed at the bottom. Whatcha think?

I usually find edited photos with a little copyright symbol annoying and I hate having to spend MORE time on the computer to edit every single photo to put that bit of text in. Shooting this way, I can slip in my websites without having to do any extra work and when the photo gets shared and linked up as I love them to, it's easy to see where you can find more info about that design.

I've also been working on my YouTube thumbnails, which does add more computer time, but I think it's worth it. I certainly like seeing the design front and center rather than a blurry shot of my hands. See what I mean?

Hmm...Octopus Legs...this definitely requires more photos! Josh, James and I actually saw a real octopus for the first time at Sea Life aquarium in Charlotte. It was so still that I nearly missed it perched up at the top of the tank:

Then it was fed and it's legs started to move in the coolest way across the surface of the water. Undulating is a great word to describe it, but it might not do enough justice. Suffice it to say octopi are now one of my favorite creatures!

So that's it for Octopus Legs! Do you have any questions about this free motion quilting design? Where do you plan to use it in your quilts? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 23, 2014

53. Quilt Easy Wiggles in a Slash Star

We're down to our second to last block! This time we're filling our Slash Stars with easy wiggly lines in the background and straight lines over the star:

If you've quilted all 41 blocks so far, this block should be no problem! I've included lots of tips for marking in this video because no matter how you pieced the slash star, it probably won't fit the quilting guide perfectly.

Josh decided to go totally free hand with his block, filling it with wiggly lines running in the opposite direction from what was printed on his Spoonflower Fabric. He also changed up the lines in the center by only quilting the innermost line.

I like that his blocks became more and more wild as the quilt progressed. It was sometimes hard to sit next to him while he quilted this way (the rule abiding quilter in me wanted to insist he follow the lines exactly), but ultimately I have to admit his block looks pretty cool!

Make sure to watch Josh's video too!

Wow! With one single block left to quilt, our Building Blocks Project is nearly complete! Saturday we will finish up the last block and Monday I'll share all the details for putting the blocks together Quilt-as-you-go style so by this time next week you're project could be complete!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Am I Really Afraid?

Fear is my four letter "f" word. I struggle with it, try to wrap my brain around it, have even made quilts about it.
I recently found this quote in the book I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain.
Both make the mind restless.
I like this quote because many times I have feared things that have never happened to be before (like a car accident), but it is the fear of the potential pain that scares the pants off me.

Just recently I had an interesting opportunity to overcome my fears. I received two emails, nearly back to back, filled with harsh words criticizing my videos and how I teach online.

If you had asked me a week before how I would have reacted to two attacking emails like this, I would likely have looked alarmed and felt totally gutted and afraid at the prospect.

But here's the interesting thing - when the messages came in and I read them, I barely reacted. I shrugged my shoulders with acceptance that I'm not perfect and I can't make everyone happy.

So in the abstract I felt very afraid of being sent mean messages, but in reality, it doesn't really phase me.

 I've been testing this theory a lot lately. When I fear criticism, I write myself a completely over-the-top letter filled with harsh words. I read it and usually find it's pretty funny!

Don't get me wrong, it still hurts to be cut down particularly when it's a personal attack on how I look or talk, but I'm no longer curled in a quivering ball over it. I'd rather meet this kind of thing when it happens, but stop living in fear of negativity in the abstract.

So what are you afraid of? Is there any way to face the fear and challenge yourself to deal with the emotions that boil up from it?

The ultimate point - don't let your fears hold you back.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inspiration from Nature

Josh here. In case you've been away, Leah and I are now combining our Building Block progress together in the same post to better contrast the pieced fabric and my cheater Spoonflower cloth, as well as my interpretations and unique stitching of each design.

Here is our most recent block in our final Slash Star series, Pebbles & Spiral. you haven't joined us for our Building Blocks Quilt Along, it's never too late! The project and pattern will always be available--you receive the entire pattern immediately upon purchase, no monthly installments, so you can quilt at your own pace and leisure.

If you already have the pattern but need to catch up on our videos, click here to see all of the accompanying posts for the project here.

Now onto today's topic... finding inspiration from nature for free motion quilting designs.

Today I'm going to be more specific when it comes to "nature--" I recently set up a 12 gallon saltwater aquarium, so we'll be talking about captive nature in an artificial environment. In a controlled venue, with glass walls and clear water, you can often appreciate the finer details of fish, rocks, sand, corals, and the water movement effect on the sandbed as the artificial sunlight hits the substrate.

No, the dark ripples on the sand above are not algae as the tank is only four days old but the visual effect of the blueish light as the water movement breaks the surface. The lighting is very, very blue, a little too much for my taste, but it does offer a very unique look, almost of a strong moonlight.

So what does this beautiful tank have to do with quilting? My reef tanks have actually been inspiration for many designs for Leah over the years. The designs above are Brain Coral and Ocean Currents which were both inspired by my past reef tanks.

See the pink holey rock at the far bottom left?
That's the central rock in my new tank, currently lifeless
for the most part but over time will color out again. The
beautiful green coral at bottom center is an open brain
coral, which inspired Leah's Brain Coral filler.
Right now the new tank is "cycling," which means I'm letting the beneficial bacteria and microorgamisms take hold of the live rock and sandbed. I have kept a reef tank before--the rocks you see above were actually in a freshwater African cichlid tank for several years.

Assuming one can be extra patient, this is extremely helpful in starting out as you get absolutely zero "hitch hikers" (bad algaes, cyanobacteria, undesirable invertebrates) and you can load the tank with only the good stuff; I purchased a bottle of live cultured microorganisms which, over time, will populate the tank with everything you need for a successful marine system.

In a few weeks, once the obligatory diatom brown algae starts to show up on the glass, I'll add some snails. In a couple more weeks, I'll introduce a fish. Then finally, the coral life will come in.

A green mandarin dragonette, a very challenging yet rewarding
species. His coloration and patterns are a quilt waiting to happen!
What are some things from nature that inspire you to quilt?

Until next week!


Monday, October 20, 2014

52. Quilt a Slash Star with Pebbles and Spiral

Are you still with me? We're down to the last three blocks to quilt and many quilters have already finished their Building Blocks Quilts. Make sure to click here and share a photo or blog post about your experience!

Today we're free motion quilting our second Slash Star with pebbles and a big spiral to create this cool effect:

As with all the Slash Stars, the quilting guides don't really fit exactly with this imperfect quilt block so make sure to watch my video to see how I fit the designs so nicely within the star:

Josh decided to mostly stick with the design for this block, but made it a bit easier for himself by quilting Underwater Rocks instead of Pebbling. This is a great variation because Underwater Rocks doesn't require careful, perfect travel stitching so it's faster and easier to stitch.

You can really see the difference between these two designs below. Personally I love Underwater Rocks these days because it's so carefree and easy to quilt and doesn't require as much focus and concentration as Pebbling.

So which way will you choose to quilt your Slash Star? Make sure to share it with us on the Building Blocks Facebook Group!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dyeing Experiments!

I've got a craving for color that only dyeing fabric can satisfy! Here's a few of my "before" shots. I'll definitely update this post tomorrow after these have been rinsed out:

UPDATE - Now it's time to see the "after" shots:

When dyeing fabric, I always find myself slightly disappointed when the dyes are washed out and the fabric is dried. This came out pretty good, but my red and purple piece really faded which let me know I didn't have enough soda ash mixed in my pre-soak before dyeing.

I added a bit more soda ash and a cup of salt and all my later pieces finished brighter:

For some reason this green fabric is really calling to me. I think I'll die one more green fabric and quilt these as a 3 part series. I've already got the perfect Halloween themed name: Poison Study.

I've also been dyeing samples for Dream Goddess:
By hanging up the fabric on the wall I can get a better idea if it's actually going to work and be the right color. It think the green is good, but I need to keep working on the hair colors. I want to transition the colors from bright, fire red near her face to deep purple and then black. 

I've never made a quilt out of completely hand dyed fabrics, unless you count Duchess Reigns, which was a dyed wholecloth. I don't count that quilt because I only used one color...and I haven't finished it yet. I'm mostly just trying to forget it exists! 

For Dream Goddess, I'm using the entire rainbow and planning to applique the pieces together using No Sewing Until You Quilt It to create the top quickly. All around, it's a fun challenge and I love the different fabrics I'm creating!

Let's go dye!

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