The Free Motion Quilting Project

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

LOVE Paintable Embroidery Design

I seem to be on a roll with a painting theme this week! Dad and I have just finished a funky new Stitch n' Paint Embroidery design featuring hearts, feathers, and a whole lotta love!


Click Here to find this new embroidery design at LeahDay.com

I've been having so much fun painting these designs! Not only do they stitch out quickly out perfectly on the embroidery machine, they are so quick and easy to color and embellish in creative ways.



This new designed is sized at 5 x 7 inches so it will fit in standard picture frames. We have produced it in all the major file types: ART, ART USB EXP, DST, EXP, HUS, JEF, PCS, PES, SEW, VIP, VP3, XXX 
so it will work great on any embroidery machine.

I think this design would make a terrific gift for a friend. Just stitch it out, paint it with your own unique style, trim the extra fabric around the edge and pop it into a picture frame. You can't get an easier or faster handmade gift than that!

Let's go stitch and paint,

Leah Day

Monday, April 25, 2016

I AM ENOUGH Fabric Painting

It's high time I admit to my new creative obsession: painting. I want to paint, paint, paint! There's something fast and freeing about painting fabric that is giving me such a kick these days. 

I've been designing Stitch n' Paint embroidery designs so I have more excuses to paint (new design coming this week!) and this weekend I finally gave into my muse and painted some fabric I designed for Spoonflower:


If you'd like to make this too, you can find the background fabric right here.

Leah Day in 1998
Yep, this was me circa 1998
This video was really fun to create just using my iPhone and the timelapse option in the camera. I set it up on a mini tripod and hit record while I quickly painted the words I'd sketched over this fabric. 

I wasn't actually listening to any music while painting this, but if I had, it would probably have been along the lines of the music I added to the video. I was once a girl that head banged with purple hair at Lalapalooza after all!

I AM ENOUGH has long been one of my favorite affirmations because it perfectly sums up several points in one - No, you don't need to do any of this stuff. You don't need to do more. You're okay as you are. Please enjoy what you have and where you are and who you are right now.

Painting these words over fabric with all the things I feel pressure to do felt powerful and fun and I definitely see more painting in my future. These days I just want to work faster, simpler, with less fuss and complication.

I also want to express myself more without creating tons more stuff. I've finally reached that critical mass where I don't want or need more huge quilts, so I plan to make a lot of small quilts and cover every inch of my house with bright, beautiful things.

I'm also working on my first painted barn blocks to decorate the outside of my Crafty Cottage and woodshop. James and I primed to massive plywood boards this weekend so be looking for a new video on painting barn blocks sometime next week!

What is the next step for this beautifully painted fabric? I'm going to heat set the paint, baste it with thin batting and backing, and hand quilt the layers together with big stitch quilting.

Yes, you did just hear me say that. Big stitch. Hand quilting. Fast and slow. Whatever you're feeling, give into it and have fun!

Let's go create!

Leah Day

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spring Fabric Designs

I've been playing with Spoonflower fabrics again and finally learning how to create repeating designs easier and faster. I decided to participate in this month's Spoonflower challenge and designed this pretty Japanese garden themed design called Pink Flowers over Gray Echoes:

Pink Flowers on Gray Echoes
The voting will be open on this Spoonflower challenge until April 27th so you can vote for your favorite designs right here!

I've also been playing with fabric designs inspired by machine quilting and what is the best place to start? Feathers! I've created this Feathers and Pebbles design in both black and white and a blue and gray colorway.

Feathers and Pebbles Black & White

With the black and white version, I keep thinking about basting up a square, quilting it on the lines, then painting within each space to make the feathers stand out.

With the Pebbles and Feathers in blue and gray, I keep thinking that would look great as a skirt or halter top shirt. What do you think?

Feather and Pebbles Aqua and Gray

Playing with fabric design also allowed me to easily create the background for a new art quilt I'm planning. I often feel a lot of anxiety in the spring and summer and my to-do list seems to grow longer and longer. It's overwhelming to have a constant stream of "I need to..." in my head, but this is the usual state of my brain:

I Need To...List of Reminders

This is called I need to...List of Reminders. It might not be the prettiest fabric, but it's going to make an awesome background for the quilt I have planned.

So that's the fabric designs I've been creating this month! I've had such a good time learning how to design better repeats much faster and I can see this definitely being something I design more regularly.

Let's go quilt (or design pretty fabric!),

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Machine Quilt Family Tree - #461

It's time for a new machine quilting design! I was playing with simple circular designs the other day and began doodling stick figures. Then I connected them together and realized I had a fun new free motion quilting design:


I'm calling this design Family Tree, which makes me laugh when I think of little people all growing together in a big tree. Learn how to machine quilt this new design by watching the video below:


Looking back through 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, it's easy to see that Family Tree is a nice combination of Bare Branches and Lollipop Chain, so if you like this design definitely give those a try too. 

Family Tree will be a great way to practice quilting circles and travel stitching, which are always important skills to build. The design itself can be quilted on any scale so if you're needing a funky, fun quilting design to cover a quilt quickly, this would be a great choice!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 18, 2016

Playing with a Miniature Sewing Machine

Miniature machine? Really? Yes, indeed! I've been playing with my vintage Essex Miniature Sewing Machine this weekend and stitching small pieces together and enjoying the feel of hand cranking out every stitch.


This little machine was built after World War 2 when sewing machines were in huge demand, but very short supply. Even though it's super tiny, this sewing machine was built for an adult to use and sew and mend clothing. See how it works in this short video:



I found my little Essex on Ebay and when purchasing it, I specifically looked for a vintage toy machine with a case and all tools included. Machines like this often have a guide that screws onto the surface of the machine and a clamp to secure it to your table top. Because the machine is so small, it will tend to shift around on the table so the clamp is really important.

I love taking this little machine on trips because I don't need to worry about a power cord or foot pedal. I store the machine in it's case with a little project ready to stitch so it's easy to pop it into the car and be ready to stitch something fun on the road.

Do you own a hand crank sewing machine? Do you like vintage machines or prefer newer machines with more features? Feel free to ask me any questions about this vintage Essex machine and I'll try my best to answer in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What would you pack for a trip?

Today Josh, James and I packed up and headed to Asheville for a quick one-night trip. We enjoy taking these short trips because they don't take much time to plan, aren't super expensive, and it gives us the chance to visit our favorite restaurants and shops all in one day.

Except we got to Asheville and found there was no vacancy! I'm not sure what's going on there, but the only hotels that weren't filled to capacity were the super expensive ones and that just wasn't what we were expecting today.

So we headed back home and I started thinking about the bag of crafty stuff I packed for this trip. Whenever we're getting ready to go, I will throw a handful of supplies in a bag and head out the door with something creative in mind. Usually in the evening we watch a movie and I'll spend time hand stitching, knitting, or crocheting.

The gear I picked was pretty simple - a white fat quarter, handful of colorful scraps, thread, scissors, and an embroidery hoop. I've been really inspired by Melissa Averinos quilted faces I've seen through Instagram and I wanted to try making some angry faces.

Why angry faces? They make me happy!


Putting together this bag of travel gear pushed me to identify what I really wanted to play with today. Had we stayed overnight in Asheville I wouldn't have a choice - if I wanted to stitch on something I'd be limited to just the gear in my travel bag.

So when we got home I decided to stick to the bag and make myself be creative and adventurous at home. I spread out my materials over the kitchen table and have had a blast cutting and arranging small angry face squares.

So what would you pack in your travel craft bag? What do you really want to play with today? Can you give yourself permission to pull out your materials and make a big mess? I promise you'll have fun if you do!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dresden Plate Patchwork Quilt

#Affiliate - This article and video share this month's Quilty Box, a subscription box of quilting gear you can receive every month. Learn more about Quilty Box at QuiltyBox.com.

It's Quilty Box time! This month's box was put together by Jeni Baker from InColorOrder.com and she has selected a terrific set of fabric and supplies to play with. I've been hankering for a chance to play with my Accu Quilt Go and the Dresden Plate Die I picked up several months ago so I decided to create a mini Dresden Plate Patchwork Quilt:


Of course, cutting out the shapes for my Dresden Plate was super easy with the die. I prewashed the fabric, starched, and pressed it so it was stiff and easy to work with. Then I cut 6 inch strips and ran them through the Accu Quilt Go to cut many little wedge shapes.

Unfortunately I ran into a snag with the first Dresden Plate I pieced. I knew 20 pieces should have created a circular plate, but it didn't sit flat. It felt like there was an extra piece and no matter how much I pressed and fiddled, it wouldn't work. After a bit of frustrated Google searching, I found that many quilters have had this issue with this die too.

So I ripped that plate into 4 quarters of 5 petals each and checked for square. They were way off! I squared up the shapes, pieced them back together again and suddenly 20 pieced worked perfectly. So it's important to know if you're trying this with the Accu Quilt Go Dresden Die that it doesn't work perfectly and will require trimming to create a perfect Dresden Plate.

Now that you understand the prep, let me show you how I pieced my mini Dresden Plate patchwork quilt:



Yes, this was the quilt video that I sliced off the tip of my finger as I was filming. I cut that section out because it hurts me to watch and I'm sure you didn't want to see it. I do hope you can see how easy it was to make this mistake and how to avoid doing this yourself.

Always take your time rotary cutting and re-position pieces so they are always along the edge of the ruler and you can make a straight cut away from you. Cutting across the top from left to right or right to left certainly feels like a time saver...until you cut yourself and everything slows down!

I hope this video has inspired you to give Dresden Plates a try. They are a really fun shape and create very beautiful quilts. Yes, there are a lot of steps to preparing each piece, but the finished effect is totally worth it!

So what was your favorite part of this video? Have you ever created a Dresden Plate quilt before? Did you find it easy or hard to piece? Share your experience in the comments below!

Looking for more videos to enjoy? Click here to find a playlist of many videos where I walk you through the process of piecing entire quilts on video!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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