Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Josh's Gridlines

Josh here for my crack at "gridlines" in a modern Building block.

Once again, we have some dense 1/8" scale stitching. This is a great practice block! No curves, no circles, no stippling--just basic straight lines, and a whole lot of them. We have 1", 1/2", 1/4", and 1/8" scales. The key here to find a good path and minimize travel stitching, and since everything is broken down in grids, this comes pretty naturally without having to plot a complicated course beforehand.

That said, this one took a lot of time, so if you're a beginner like me, make sure you have a good 30 minutes to an hour.

The diagonal lines in the corner mixed things up a bit, especially as you had to maneuver around the edge and my fingers didn't have enough room outside the block.

Because I'm using Spoonflower cheater fabric, I elected to skip every other line in the 1/8" section as the lines were already on the block. As I write this and watch the video, I can see I now have a lot more experience under my belt and if I had to stitch this dense area now I think I'd flip over the block and stitch by freehand on the 1/8" scale.

Here's how the block came out:

And the back:

I'm proud of this one. Once the quilt is assembled, the dense travel stitching and errors on the edges will disappear, and I hope this block will really stand out.
Until next week, let's go quilt!


Monday, April 21, 2014

16. Quilt a Building Block with Gridlines

Is it just me or is this month just flying by?! We're already on our second block, quilting Gridlines in multiple sizes so you're going to get loads of practice quilting straight lines in free motion!

For this block we're again getting experience quilting with the lines 1 inch apart, 1/2 inch apart, 1/4 inch apart, and 1/8 inch apart.

For marking, I found the 1 and 1/2 inch grid sections to be easy enough to mark with a ruler over my lightbox. For the diagonal 1/4 inch section, I marked a single line in the middle of the space, then used a rotary ruler to mark the remaining lines within the space. That's one nice thing about lines - they can be easily marked with a ruler!

For the 1/8th inch section, marking is quite tricky because the marked lines could easily get so wide they all bleed together. See how I worked around this issue in our weekly video:

Remember you can still join the Building Blocks Quilt Along any time! Hop into this project by either purchasing the pattern, or the Cheater Cloth, now available in multiple colors!

So how did you like this Gridlines design? Easier than last week's Stippling on multiple scales?

Josh had pretty strong opinions about both designs so definitely stop in tomorrow to see his take on this block!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I hope you're having a wonderfully relaxing Easter day! We've had a wonderfully laid-back holiday, full of all of our favorite things. Of course we had to start the day with a big mug of hot chocolate (really it's just hot milk and Ovaltine):

We've had a lot of wet, rainy weather lately, so we decided an egg hunt in the yard would probably be too messy and gross (mud + chocolate = gross). Instead we did a little egg trail down the hallway to James's Easter basket, which included some candy, but also books and markers.

James was super happy and has declared this day "the BEST day ever!" many times. But he sort of broke my heart when he asked "So, is the Easter Bunny real or did you put all these eggs out?"

The days of fooling my sweet boy are over! I came clean honestly that nope, the Easter Bunny isn't real, but he's a fun idea to play with and make-believe. So far this hasn't translated over to "Is Santa real?" but I have a feeling that will be coming this December. Oh well...I always knew that would be a short, sweet ride!

Speaking of sweet, don't these eggs look beautiful?

Josh threw that one brown egg into the bunch so you can see just how blue and pretty these eggs are by comparison!

These are eggs from our backyard flock of chickens, and many are so bright blue we don't even need to dye them. These come from chickens called "Easter Eggers" which are hybrids of South American Ameraucana chickens. Josh has had only one Ameraucana chicken, but he's kept the blue egg gene alive by incubating eggs and hatching dozens of baby chicks over the years.

One of our other favorite things to do on Sunday is to make a big breakfast or brunch. Josh and I both love to cook, and we cook really well together as a team almost every evening. This morning we tried a new recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking show. Josh made the beans and I made the potato cakes:

I was so proud of this meal I took a picture of it! I've wanted to make potato cakes for YEARS, but every time I tried, they would literally melt in the pan into a gooey mess of potato and oil. The trick - add flower until the potatoes feel more like dry cookie dough and fry in only a little oil and butter. YUM!

After this wonderfully relaxing morning, I'm headed downstairs to do more of what I love - quilting!

Happy Easter!


Friday, April 18, 2014

FMQ Project Link Up

It's Friday and time to share what we've been quilting this week. This week I've been working on a new book! I'm not ready to spill the beans completely on this project, but suffice it to say it's going to be BIG with loads of information, pretty photos, and a few fun projects to try out!

http://www.spoonflower.com/collections/81480When I go into writing mode, I tend to spend a lot more time on the computer than usual, which means my sewing machine is feeling a bit neglected. Rather than fall too deeply into this rut, I'm making an effort to get downstairs and piece or quilt SOMETHING every day.

This week I received samples and some yardage of my Quilt Me! Fabric from Spoonflower and had loads of fun cutting and piecing with it. It's interesting to find the limitations of this fabric - like how the Gridlines are tricky to match:

http://www.spoonflower.com/collections/81480I didn't even attempt to match the lines here, thinking it would still look okay. After the final seam and press, however, I could literally feel my grandmother's spirit cringing at the sight of the mismatching lines. She was a stickler for matching strips and lines and this would have made her very unhappy!

So back to the drawing board...or rather the cutting table! I found if I filled the corners with little squares instead, matching the lines of the design wouldn't matter a bit:

It's really interesting to play with these fabrics and figure out what works and what doesn't. Because this fabric has such big designs, I think it's going to work best when cut into larger pieces. My third attempt at a block was my favorite - an 8.5 inch square surrounded with 3.5 inch strips and 3.5 inch corner squares.

Working in this freeform way was fun, but it wasn't always this way. I used to get really bogged down with my inner negative voice when working like this, mostly if my first attempt at something didn't come out perfect the first time.

These days I try to remain mindful that design is messy and never perfect. It doesn't always work out the first time, and yes, there is waste of fabric and time to figure out what works and what doesn't. It's all part of the process!

So how about you? Do you give yourself a break when you're trying something new, or do you demand perfection with every block and every seam?

It's your turn to share what you've been quilting this week!

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!

Grab a button to easily link back to the Free Motion Quilting Project!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Colorful! Cheater Cloth

Yes! After a lot of fiddling with colors and fine tuning of designs, we have our Colorful Cheater Cloth!

Building Blocks Colorful Cheater Cloth on White

This collection of all 42 blocks in the Building Blocks Quilt Along as been quite a lot of effort to plan and color, but it's so colorful and cheerful - it was worth every second!

I have to admit, I never really understood the appeal of fabric design before because it just seemed really fiddly and complicated. Well, it is fiddly and complicated, but man, there's nothing like the feeling of slicing into my fabric and piecing it up into beautiful blocks.

The blocks here are from my Quilt Me! Fabric line, which was designed with the same colors as the Building Blocks Cheater Cloth. You can mix and match the two together to create some really neat blocks:

This is the Spinning Square Block in green from the Building Blocks Colorful Cheater Cloth

The idea behind this fabric and the cheater cloth is the quilting design is printed on the fabric making it easy to quilt on the lines and get loads of practice for free motion quilting.

No, the lines on the fabric won't wash out after quilting - they're permanent - but isn't this a cool way to practice and make a beautiful quilt at the same time?!

Looking at all the designs I've created over the years, I'm a bit excited and overwhelmed with all the possibilities for new fabric designs. I know I'd love to see fabric printed with feather filler and swirling water...What designs would you love to see in fabric?

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Josh's Stippling

Josh here, and today I'm tackling stippling on my spoonflower cheater cloth.

This was really my first go at extended stippling. I found it imperative to have practiced the wiggly U filler shapes and gotten comfortable with them before trying my hand at proper stippling. Looking at the completed block below, ultimately my best work was done over the 1/4" scale stippling, in the square blue corner. This scale came very naturally to me. The larger I found it harder to stay on line, and the 1/8" scale... well, if you watched the whole video, I wasn't shy on sharing my opinion.

And now for the flip side:

You can see how things went off the rails at the 1/8" level. Frankly, I just wasn't ready for that scale and tight stitching. Turning the block over and working freehand was helpful, in the end, but looking at the finished block now, I wish I'd continued with the 1/4" scale over the smaller stippling. I think that would have made a cool effect.

You can also see all the "bird's beaks" (the sharp edges on the tiny stippling) on the 1/8" scale. I just didn't have enough control to make the curves, regardless of what I tried.

This was still an excellent learning experience. If you're a beginner like I am, I would absolutely suggest practicing on a scrap block.

Did you have trouble with this one? Was the 1/8" scale a bane of your free motion existence as it was for me? Comment below!

Until next week,

Let's go... stipple!


Leah's note: Josh was fiddling a lot with his speed slider. This can be very distracting and can inhibit learning proper speed control by working the pedal. If you have a speed slider, it's best to pick a speed and leave it alone while you learn the basics of free motion quilting.

All of the slower speeds you need for the denser quilting can be found in your foot pedal. You just have to figure out how to adjust your ankle and foot to find those slower, steady speeds. Fiddling with a speed slider is just going to become a distraction and something you're continually adjusting for every line of quilting you do. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

15. Quilt a Building Block with Stippling

It's time to learn about Stippling! This super popular free motion quilting design is a great choice for beginning quilters to tackle because there's no travel stitching involved. The rule behind this design is simple - Just wiggle! and try not to cross your lines of quilting.

Because Stippling is so popular, I've actually shot many video of this design over the years. If you've never quilted Stippling, you might want to check out these videos and try out this design in a practice sandwich first and get familiar with the simple shapes and movement. Here's a few posts and videos to check out from the past:

Lately I've been thinking of a fun analogy for quilting designs - it's really like a relationship!

In order to quilt a design well, you have to first meet and see if you like each other. Some designs you stitch out will just not be friendly at first and you may need to meet other designs before you find the right one.

Then you get to know one another by hanging out a lot. You learn where the design works best, where it looks good, and the better you know it, the better you like it!

Understand that you're never wasting time by stitching a design you know, or by practicing a design you're learning. You're just building a relationship that will make free motion quilting easier with every design you learn.

So a funny way to look at this block is as dinner date with Stippling. Try not to curse at him! He might be a bit random, but very wiggly all around!

A quick reminder if you haven't yet joined us on this super fun quilt along - You can join anytime by picking up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern right here!

So after stitching 1 inch, 1/2 inch, 1/4 inch, and 1/8 inch stippling - what is your favorite scale?

Were you able to shrink down your stitching, or did that feel like a struggle?

What did you think about quilting each section of the block in rows?

Do you need all your lines marked, or can you quilt this free hand without marks?

Share your experience and ask any questions you have about quilting Stippling on these multiple scales!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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