Friday, April 17, 2015

Slow and Steady Turtle Journal Quilt

I've just completed another quilted journal page! This little guy should help me remember the point of quilting isn't to rush to the end of the project, but to enjoy every minute of the process:

I've added this little turtle quilt to the journal gallery today so click here to read more about him and learn about quilt painting, hand embroidery, and free motion quilting!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #17 - Abstract Leaf

Finally life feels back to normal and I'm back to posting new designs for the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along! Today let's learn how to free motion quilt Abstract Leaf, a pretty design that combines triangles and tear drop shapes for a pretty effect.

free motion quilting design abstract leaf 
I love how this looks on a bigger scale! The straight line, triangles, and tear drop echoes form a nice contrast with one another. For these blocks I quilted with Hobbs Heirloom Wool, which added extra pretty puff between the quilting lines.

Now let's learn how to quilt this design in a video from the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Pattern:

Have you tried quilting Abstract Leaf yet? What was your favorite part of the design and where did you quilt it on your quilt? Share your experience in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back Home and Happy!

Whew! It was quite a drive back home from New Hampshire to North Carolina. Josh and I split it up by driving 10 hours Sunday and 5 hours this morning. I'm so so so happy to be home!

Yeah, I was looking pretty ratty last night. I think I probably look worse right now. Thankfully I'm not feeling selfie-lishous at the moment. It's been a long day of unpacking, reorganizing, and really quickly getting back on ball with everything left in limbo while we were teaching at MQX East.

One big thing - TAXES. Blah! Thankfully my accountant and bookkeeper have been on top of it and all we have to do is go sign the forms so they can be submitted.

Another giant annoyance has been my credit card. They decided to update it to a new version with a special security feature. That's really wonderful, but the downside is both the expiration and security key needed to be changed for every account this card is used on.

This might not sound like a big deal, but I have many automatic subscriptions to things like Google storage, Vimeo, and my newsletter program all bill me automatically on this card so each account had to be individually changed to the new numbers. Uggh!

feather quilting classYes, I'm complaining because this transition is a bit hectic, but ultimately it's totally worth it. MQX was honestly the best show I've ever attended and the most fun I've ever had teaching! I had three full classes of awesome, creative quilters and met many women who I've only known previously by comments and pretty photos on Facebook.

It's so awesome to meet quilters in person and finally put the name and face together, though sometimes that's hard to do when your profile pic is your dog (talking about you Linda Stevens!)

Winning Teacher of the Year still makes me feel like crying with gratitude. I've been trying hard to put it into words and the simplest way to say it is I never expected my online teaching to be valued this way - essentially equal to, or better than, in-person teaching.

Leah Day and family
I don't teach in person much because my focus is online education and for the longest time I've felt like an outsider. I'm the weird girl who prefers YouTube to Paducah. I'd much rather shoot a video and share what I'm working on than pack up my bags and leave my family for a weekend.

I guess this proves that there is room for all of us - online and in-person teachers. Just like there's plenty of room for hand, machine, and longarm quilters. I'm always reminding my students not to set too small a definition of quilting, but I need an occasional reminder myself!

I'm so happy I went to MQX East and definitely plan to return, and I'm also so happy to be home and cooking dinner with Josh and getting big hugs from James.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 11, 2015

MQX Teacher of the Year

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this one. Last night I was recognized as Machine Quilting Teacher of the Year!

I can't describe how this feels. I'm so overwhelmed and thankful to be recognized this way. I almost immediately started crying because it just feels so good to be appreciated for what you do!

When I got on stage I had no idea what would come out of my mouth but it was something like: "Thank you so much for this recognition. I can't believe this. I'm really just a girl that makes videos in her basement."

So much of what I do is alone, on my own with a camera and sewing machine. To be recognized Teacher of the Year feels amazing and I'm filled with gratitude for all my students who shared their love this way.

Thank you so much!

Leah Day

Friday, April 10, 2015

Many Quilting Adventures at MQX East

Josh and I have had two great days at MQX, met so many wonderful quilters, and eaten loads of great food. What a terrific combination! Unfortunately I'm having trouble uploading photos today so most of these shots are pulled from Facebook. I'll update later with more photos as soon as I can!

On Wednesday we kicked off teaching with a class on Free Motion Quilting from Feathers to Flames. I like teaching out of this book because it's a mini book and easy for students to page through at their machines, but packs over 60 cool designs so everyone leaves with a lot of ideas and inspiration at home.

I use a white board to draw and illustrate the designs for each chapter, and usually wave my hands around a lot so Josh easily captured this silly shot of me:

Leah Day teaching quilting
Lol! I think a white board works okay, but some students weren't able to see, and sometimes I'm not as coherent as I'd like. I think it's time to transition to a power point presentation shared using a laptop and projector. While it will be a bit of work initially to write and draw out each design, I'll be able to use it again and again and I think it will make the class run more smoothly.

After class I gave my hair a quick comb and headed upstairs to meet Bonnie McCaffery for a photoshoot! Bonnie is now a professional photographer and came to MQX to shoot headshots for professional quilters and longarmers. We had a terrific time and I loved the experience! I felt relaxed and pretty and Bonnie knew exactly how to help me pose so the lighting was just right. I'll be sharing the photos I picked as soon as Bonnie has time to touch up a bit in photo shop and send them to me next month.

On Thursday Josh and I hit the show in the morning and immediately bumped into this beautiful quilt:

winter wonderland quilt
I about shouted out loud when I saw this quilt! This is an awesome version of my Winter Wonderland Quilt created by Kelley Neeley. It's just really exciting to see a quilt I've designed executed so beautifully. I then ran into Kelley as I sat down at the Sew Very Smooth booth and she recognized me. I had to give her a hug for doing such a great job on her quilt and even changing up the design by adding lace!

I then got a bit distracted at the Sew Very Smooth booth because I saw a tool I'd just played with at the Savannah Quilt Fest and had to stop and chat with the maker. Steve and LuAnn Tippets make the Ideal Quilt Guides, very simple rulers for ruler work style quilting.

I've been pretty skeptical about ruler work on a domestic machine, mostly because I don't know how we can manage the bulk of the quilt pushing through the machine AND keep a ruler in place at the same time. Their 8 inch ruler just happened to be on the Juki 22000 so I started playing and my opinion quickly changed.

IF your machine is on a flush surface with the table and IF you are using a ruler with the special rubber coating Sew Very Smooth specializes in, then it will stick securely to the fabric, giving you a lot of control over the quilt and enable you to use the ruler to form perfectly straight lines and 45 and 60 degree angles.

Now I haven't done much more than play with this, but I'm excited! I can't wait to get home to play with these rulers when my new machine arrives.

After my ruler find, I started walking the show and taking a close look at the quilts. Wow! MQX really kicks up the free motion quilting to a whole new level! Many, many quilts I saw could easily have been the Best in Show because they featured excellent design, beautiful craftsmanship, and amazing use of color.

As a teacher at the show, I get to pick my favorite and award it a Faculty ribbon. I wandered the quilts in search of my favorite. I found it in this little art quilt by Anne Kimball called Why It Urpp II:

alligator quilt
I love this quilt because it's so experimental! In the description, Anne describes stumbling across the perfect way to make alligator skin effect with setacolor paint and cheesecloth, then trying to figure out how to make a background that worked with the awesome alligator.

I love the texture of this quilt and the way the alligator is hanging off the end. I just recently experimented with satin stitching off the edge like this and it is NOT easy. I still haven't quite figured out the right combination of stabilizers and steps to make it work.

I appreciate experimentation and I give Anne's quilt my faculty award because I want to see more of this at shows. When we try new things and step into the unknown, weird, unexpected things can happen, but this is how we find magical effects and new techniques as well.

After wandering the show for a bit, I ate lunch quickly and scooted off to teach our next class - Fill with Feathers: Blocks, Sashing, and Borders. This is the second time I've taught this class on feathers and I think it's actually easier than my filler design class because we focus on just feather designs and nothing else.

Many students stitched it up a notch by adding circles, spirals, and other creative designs within the feather shapes. Lots of creativity all around!

 Working of a large collection of worksheets also makes the class run easier, but again, I think I've had it with drawing on a white board. I never know how big the white board will be and they're always either too high, too low, too heavy, etc, etc, etc. When we get back home I'll be researching how to teach this more effectively either through powerpoint or video in class.

Whew! We've definitely been busy, but today we're taking it easy until 4 when I present my trunk show / lecture on the goddess quilts. I've been looking forward to that all week and I can hardly wait!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dancing Butterfly Design #16 - Echo Hook

Time to get back to Dancing Butterfly! Our super long car journey has definitely thrown off my schedule and I'm honestly not quite sure what day it is, but I know we're overdue for a cool video on free motion quilting!

butterfly quilt | free motion quilting
 The free motion design we're learning today is called Echo Hook and I love the simple texture this will create for your Dancing Butterfly Quilt. It fills really quickly with big clusters so your design block and butterfly block will fill super fast.

Find many more videos and instructions for making your Dancing Butterfly Quilt right here.

What do you think about Echo Hook? Have you tried this design before? Share your experience or any questions you have in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In New Hampshire for MQX

Josh here, and today we are in Manchester, New Hampshire for MQX, and wow, this is going to be a great show! We are both so excited to be here.

Unfortunately, we only have one picture to share as we were in a hurry to get here and most of the pics turned out too blurry as we had to shoot from inside the car with the window closed.

We left North Carolina at 6:30 am Monday morning, packing up our car the night before. We drove through most of the breadth of North Carolina, a lot of Virginia, then Maryland, and stopped for the night in lower New Jersey.

I hope I'm not the only Bruce Springsteen fan among Leah's readers, but I have to say I was surprised to learn the New Jersey turnpike spans a lot more of the state than what I'd always imagined from The Boss's song "State Trooper."

We left New Jersey and entered New York via the George Washington Bridge. My grandparents lived in Northport, Long Island until 1986 and I remember visiting their home when I was very young, but this is the first time I'd ever driven through New York state. We drove over I-95 along the westernmost perimeter of Manhattan and here is the one picture we took that didn't turn out too blurry.

We drove through a sliver of Yonkers, but after that the city was behind us as we continued into Connecticut, Massachusetts, and then New Hampshire.

It was a long day yesterday driving and today has also been pretty long, but we'll have some great photos to share soon of MQX!

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