The Free Motion Quilting Project: 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mega Pinwheel Star Free Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! This month's box arrived and it was filled with great quilting supplies and beautiful fabrics designed by Jennifer Moore.

Each month I challenge myself to use the fabrics in my Quilty Box to make a new quilt and write the pattern to share with you - all just in a few days! Click Here to learn about Quilty Box so you can join in the fun too.

This month I had an additional challenge: A quilter named Cathy wrote in asking if we could make the Twin Rainbow Star quilt pattern a bit bigger using fat quarters. I decided to see if it would work and that's how I created this Mega Pinwheel Star Quilt:

Click Here to find the Mega Pinwheel Star free quilt pattern.

I love making a quilt out of one single block! It's so fast because you just have to cut one set of shapes. The impact of single block quilts is also very dramatic because you just have the single shape and focal point to the quilt.

Do take your time piecing the massive half square triangles! The key to piecing these big shapes is to pin and stitch carefully so the fabrics don't shift.

What do you think of single block quilts? Do you like making mega half square triangles? What's the biggest block you've ever made? Share your experience in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 23, 2017

How to Quilt with Minky Fabric

This week I've been playing with Minky fabric on the back of several quilt sandwiches and I love the effect. Learn how to quilt with Minky fabric and machine quilt Paisley in this new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video:

Quilting with Minky Fabric BackingThoughts on Quilting with Minky Fabric

I really enjoyed quilting with Minky fabric. Honestly it was a lot easier than I expected. I've been intimidated by Minky for years, but once I got it basted up it really wasn't hard to quilt over.

The hardest part was cutting the Minky fabric which made a huge mess! At the store, the clerk cut it and ended up with red fluff all over her shirt, the table, and the floor. I felt bad because I had no idea Minky was such a messy fabric to cut.

I shoved it deep in a plastic bag and warned Dad that it was going to be a big mess so we were both prepared. We ended up cutting it with masking tape and that significantly reduced the mess.

Quilting with Minky Fabric Backing

We taped off the area we wanted cut out, then cut through the middle of the tape, then removed the tape and it took all the cut ends of the Minky with it. I did have to lint roll the tables and my shirt a few times, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the mess it made in the store.

To stabilize or not to stabilize

I do think stabilizing with some sort of lightweight stabilizer like French Fuse is a good idea. Minky is a stretchy fabric and the French Fuse stabilized the fabric and stopped it from stretching out of shape as I basted all my blocks.

When I quilted with fleece, a lot of quilters commented that they didn't stabilize at all. That's fine too! Keep in mind that I tend to quilt densely and whenever I've used weird fabrics in a quilt, I've always regretted not stabilizing.

I also do like using a batting with Minky fabric. I found on the sample I stitched without a batting, the Minky fluff tended to pull up through the fabric and show on the top. I also liked the drape and feel of the quilt best when fleece was the batting in the middle.

Best Quilting Designs for Minky Fabric

The other thing to consider when quilting with Minky is your quilting design and how that will effect the fluffiness of this fabric. I tested three designs on my practice quilt sandwiches: Stippling, Echoing lines, and Paisley.

Quilting with Minky Fabric Backing

On the front, the designs all look great, but on the back...honestly Paisley is my least favorite. That design has a lot of travel stitching which built up over the Minky fabric and showed up through the fluffy pile.

After looking at all of my samples I didn't really like this thread effect on the back of the quilt. I would stick with open designs that don't involve any travel stitching like Stippling, Matrix, and Ocean Currents.

What do you think about quilting with Minky fabric? Have you ever backed a quilt with Minky? Please share your experience in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Art Openings Aren't My Thing

A few months ago I shared a new flower mask I was creating for a local wearable art fashion show. The fashion show happened a few weeks ago and yesterday I picked up my mask from the art council.

Now that the event is over, I've been mulling over my experience and what I learned along the way. Here's a few of the lessons I picked up:

1. What you're afraid of will likely not happen.

While building the flower mask I was initially worried that someone would be rude and criticize it for being made from plastic flowers and hot glued together.

Turns out that fear was pretty silly. No one was rude about my mask or the plastic flowers. It was a pretty popular creation and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It even made the front page of the local paper the next day!

From the Shelby Star newspaper
2. Other things you never considered will bug you.

Even though my fears didn't come true, that doesn't mean the event was perfect. For one thing, I've never seen anyone else wear my masks or costumes before and that...was weird. Weird like someone else wearing your underwear weird. No matter how hard you try to feel cool with it, that just doesn't seem right.

So that was an odd experience and eventually I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that not having control over how my masks were worn or shown was okay. It was out of my control.

Next time I will solve this problem by offering to be a model of my own stuff. I think if I was part of the fashion show I would have enjoyed the event more.

3. Art openings aren't my thing.

I give things three tries before declaring I officially love or hate it. Now I can safely say I art openings aren't my thing.

For one thing, I stopped drinking in January. Only after quitting did I realize what a crutch it was for situations like this. Feeling uncomfortable and awkward? Just go grab a glass of wine...or three.

Now situations like this literally make my skin crawl. The pressure to drink to fit in coupled with the very awkward conversations wasn't a good combination. I ended up leaving after a short time and felt much better drinking tea at home and planning my next mask project.

Ultimately I learned that I love creating masks, but I don't love talking about it to random strangers. That's okay. I don't think art openings are for everyone.

Figure out how to make it fit

Just because I don't like the opening event doesn't mean I shouldn't participate at all. I plan to continue making masks and costumes and art and keep entering them in shows because it's fun and I enjoy the challenge of making things other than quilts.

As with all things, the ultimate lesson is to figure out how to make it work for you. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all and we all have to find the path that fits just right.

That might be different from what others consider normal. That's okay. If I've learned anything in the last few years it's to just be myself and stop questioning my nature. 

So often I'll discount an experience like this as "I wasn't feeling well." or "That was different, this time will be great!" when the reality is every single art opening I've ever attended, even when my art wasn't present, has been an awkward, uncomfortable experience.

The next time I enter a piece of art, the day I drop it off will be the day I release it to be enjoyed by my town. Then I'll go home and start working on something new.

That's the best fit for me. Now, what would be the best fit for you?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Podcast: Quilting Superwoman Jackie Kunkel

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I'm getting to know Jackie Kunkel, an amazing quilter who runs an online business at Canton Village Quilt Works

Jackie also writes books and patterns, teaches online classes, and is a certified Judy Neimeyer teacher. She is truly a quilting Superwoman and I hope you enjoy learning more about Jackie!

Now for a few links from Jackie's interview:

Click Here to find Jackie's website Canton Village Quilt Works. 

Jackie began longarm quilting in 2000 because it allowed her to work from home and fit her hours around her kid's schedule.

She has changed her business over the years - creating a website, selling products online, and writing magazine articles. Jackie believes in remaining flexible so her business can grow and change as the quilting industry changes.

Jackie is also discussed how she became a certified Judy Neimeyer teacher. She was a huge fan of Judy's quilts and found being certified to be helpful in teaching classes.

Jackie is also a big fan of batik fabrics and has a signature collection with Kathy Engel for Island Batik fabrics. She is working on a designer collection for Fall 2018.

We discussed lead times which can be really challenging with many fabric companies. Many companies will deliver the fabric to create quilts for Quilt Market only 1 month before market. Island Batik is one of the best companies to work for because they deliver the fabric much earlier than average.

Jackie keeps everything balanced by writing everything on a calendar and making sure she has big blocks of time open for designing and creating. She can't create while traveling and teaching, so she stays really organized with clear goals while she's home.

Jackie's doesn't say no to teaching opportunities, she tries to find a compromise or another time further in the future if a particular time is too busy.

Being in business since 2000, Jackie has seen the quilting industry change quite a lot in the last 17 years. The fabrics and quilting have both dramatically changed. When she began, hand quilting was the only form of quilting considered "real quilting" and that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

Jackie believes if you want to stay in business, you need to constantly rethink yourself and evolve. If you can't do that, you're not going to survive. Things are constantly changing and you have to remain flexible and excited about changing.

I loved learning from Jackie's experience and I hope you did too!

The sponsor for this week's show is the Waterfall Bargello Workshop where you'll learn how to piece this complex looking Bargello quilt using easy strip piecing techniques.

You'll also learn how to quilt this wall hanging with a combination of walking foot quilting and free motion quilting designs.

Last week I received this beautiful photo from Maggie with her Waterfall Bargello quilt in rainbow colors. This was so cheerful - absolutely the perfect quilt for spring!

Click Here to find the Waterfall Bargello Workshop.

And a few updates from my neck of the woods:

I've moved the podcast to Wednesday again to see if this will help free up my weekends so I can enjoy more time with Josh and James. I found posting on Saturday was resulting in a lot of time online because once I get sucked into the computer, I get kind of stuck.

So be looking for new podcast episodes every other Wednesday! Click Here to find all the podcast episodes shared so far.

The podcast is also on YouTube. Josh has been turning the audio clips into video clips with the podcast artwork. So if you prefer to find us on Youtube, you can always subscribe to our channel and get notified anytime a new video goes live.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Newest Quilting Friend

Yep, I have a new quilting friend that's a bit on the furry side!

This is Pickles, our super sweet new kitty. We rescued her a few weeks ago and now she's starting to settle in and her personality is coming out strong.

And...she's a bit of a whiner. Or I should say yowler. When she's not happy (which is anytime she's not being attentively petted or brushed) she meows with ever increasing volume until you just give in and give her what she wants.

What does she want lately? To hang out in the Crafty Cottage with me as I quilt!

The good news is once she thoroughly sniffed both above and below my desk, she found herself a spot under my chair and curled up to take a long nap:

I've never let a cat into the Crafty Cottage before and I hope it works out and she can start quilting with me every day. It's fun to have a companion and I'd rather share the space with her than listen to her meow right outside my door.

Speaking of quilting, I'm super happy to be back to making videos after nearly three weeks of remodeling and cleaning the house! I have a really fun quilt planned using the beautiful fabrics in this month's Quilty Box. Be looking for the video coming out Monday.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

I hope you have a wonderful Easter holiday filled with family, friends, and many chocolate eggs!

We had a fabulous time hosting a big family meal, scavenger hunt for baskets, and massive hunt for Easter eggs. I've never held such a big event at our house, and now that I have, I can't wait to do more.

But I have to admit two weeks of remodeling plus another week of cleaning has definitely wiped me out!

Be looking for our next Sit Down Quilting Sunday next week (4/23) and the Quilty Box project the next Monday (4/24). I have a really fun quilt planned that I'm sure you're going to love!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S Of course we had to shoot a silly photo too!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Stop with the Crazy!

We've finally finished the last leg of the remodel - moving furniture around the house! I still need to hang some quilts and paintings, but this will do for now:

We also moved this cabinet downstairs next to my computer and I took the opportunity to clean and clear my desk. This is the cleanest it's looked in years!

I should have taken a "before" photo but I didn't think of it. Imagine plastic boxes piled up on the top shelf of the black desk right up to the ceiling. Each box was filled with designs, sketches, ideas, and diagrams. Basically if I wrote something down on a piece of paper and thought it was important, I saved it.

Yep, that's just nuts.

The issue with all this stuff is it's just that - stuff. I don't actually use it. I never went through these boxes searching for a missing design. I kept it mostly out of fear that one day I will run out of ideas and all these papers and drawings will somehow bring it all back.

I've also collected binders, clipboards, and plastic boxes:

Why so much of all of these things?

Typically I buy like this when I think I've stumbled across the perfect solution to organize my life and sort through all the stuff that's surrounding me and making me feel crazy. So I buy more stuff to fix a problem caused by having too much stuff.

Yeah...that makes a lot of sense Leah...

When I see these piles of stuff, I feel like a hoarder. That is definitely something I do not WANT to be, but I know the urge to save and stash is definitely in my DNA.

I can remember when I bought a particular bead or a bag of wool fiber on a fun trip. I can remember when I drew that design or planned that quilt.

These memories make me feel more connected to my stuff, but they also make it very hard to throw things away. What happens if I suddenly want that collection of fabric marbling supplies I bought at a show three years ago?

Many times I'll go through a purging rampage and toss tons of stuff out of my studio. Then in a few months I find myself searching for that stupid box of precut wool felt circles that I had in a drawer for five years and I CAN'T BELIEVE I THREW IT AWAY! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!!!

Um...yep, that sounds like me...

I want to get a handle on this. Going through my design boxes I realized I'm still drawing the same designs I was drawing four years ago. Why haven't I just made that quilt already?! Why haven't I taught that set of designs? Why haven't I shared that idea?

When I really think about it, it always comes back to time. I don't feel like I have enough time to do the things I want to do. I buy more stuff because it scratches the itch, but more stuff, and more stuff to organize the stuff, doesn't actually satisfy.

What I need is dedicated time to create. The original goal of my business was to have time to quilt every day. If my business isn't fulfilling that basic goal, it's a failure.

This might sound harsh, but sometimes being harsh is necessary to make change happen. Instead of buying more craft stuff on my next trip, I need to bring some craft stuff with me and do something fun with it. My vacation should be playing with the things I've bought and making something new and pretty with all of these materials.

My goal this year was to simplify and make my life easier. I have a tendency to get bogged down and to let things pile up until it's too overwhelming and crazy to deal with. Instead of letting it get that far out of control, I need to keep things under control every day.

So my starting goal? Just keep my desk clean.

Simple. Easy. Doable. Just keep your desk clean, girl!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 10, 2017

How to Quilt a Daisy Dresden Plate Block

It feels like the whole world is blooming with beautiful flowers this week! Let's add more pretty flowers to the mix as we quilt our Daisy Dresden Plate block:

I spiced up the center of my Daisy Dresden Plate by adding Microstippling in the center circle and space between the middle rings. I love finding spaces like that within a block to stitch it up a notch. See what I mean in this new video:

What did you think of quilting circles with a ruler foot and circular rulers? I do find this a bit challenging, particularly when the ruler is on the outside and I'm quilting the circle to the inside like it was in the beginning of this video. 

I prefer to quilt with the ruler to the inside of the foot so I can swing the block around it and then remove the ruler easily to quilt inside of the shape. Definitely give it a try and let me know which way you like best!

My favorite part of this block is the bouncy echoes in the background. I love adding simple texture in the background of a block and rows of repeated echoes always have a relaxing effect on a quilt.

What is your favorite part of this block? Do you have any questions on quilting it this week? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Josh is Quilting on the Grace Qnique 14+

Last week I tried quilting with fleece fabric on the back of my quilt and I received a lot of questions about working with this fabric. I decided to try it again, this time without stabilizing with French Fuse and with a wool batting to see what would happen.

And because I had a really sore throat, I asked Josh to jump on the machine and see what it was like from a beginner perspective. So here's Josh quilting a super simple design called Teeth:

Josh quilted with me through 42 videos in the Building Blocks Quilt Along, but really hasn't done much quilting since. This was the first time he's ever quilted on this machine and I think he did great!

Yes, there is a lot of speed in the Grace Qnique 14+ and I trolled Josh a bit at the end by telling him to press the foot pedal harder. As you can see, his quilting looked pretty good for the first two rows, but when he sped up, his Teeth got really sloppy because he wasn't ready to handle the high speed, plus moving the quilt, plus forming the Teeth design: 

On quilting with fleece without stabilizer, yes, you can skip that step. My default is to stabilize anything weird, but in this case I think you can quilt without the stabilizer and be okay.

It does make the quilt more challenging to baste, but you could get around this by basting on a longarm (on a frame) with water soluble thread and avoid having to tape the quilt to a table, or spray baste outside.

I've really enjoyed playing with this fabric and next week I plan to quilt with Minky fabric! This is even softer, squishier fabric that will be delightful on the back of a quilt.

I can already tell you what is not delightful about Minky fabric - cutting it! More on that next week...

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Quilting Super Spiral Collaboration with Helen Stubbings

It's time for another collaboration video! This month Helen Stubblings from Hugs n' Kisses sent me this cute red and white star block!

So how do I quilt it? There's a lot of little pieces with this block and certainly many ways you could creatively add extra texture to the quilt surface. The best way to pick your quilting design is to shoot a picture of the quilt or block and print out copies of the picture on plain paper. Then you can draw your quilting ideas on the paper and figure out what you like best.

Personally I was looking for an excuse to jump back into walking foot quilting so I already had that style of quilting in my head. When looking at the block, I really liked how round the border around the star appeared and I wanted to accent that with circles or a spiral. Super Spiral is a bit faster and easier to quilt than Concentric Circles so that seemed like the perfect design for this quilt.

Learn how to quilt Super Spiral with your walking foot in this new video tutorial:

To get started on the right foot, mark the first few rings of the spiral shape on your quilt with a fabric marking pencil.

I marked this from the center, and estimated around 1/2 inch between the lines of the spiral so that as I worked further out from the center I could use the edge of my walking foot as a guide for the rest of the design.

When you begin stitching, take one stitch at a time, lift your foot and rotate the quilt very slightly. You'll want to avoid big rotations as this will make your spiral look jagged.

It's definitely a bit tedious to begin, but once you get further out from the center the curve of the circle will be bigger so you can stitch and rotate the quilt at the same time.

As I mentioned in the video, the center of Super Spiral is easier to quilt with free motion quilting because you can see the entire spiral and form the design without having to rotate the quilt. If you like you could knock out the center of the spiral with free motion quilting, then break thread and change feet and finish the outer section with walking foot quilting.

Quilting a Super Spiral like this over your quilt is called All Over Style Quilting. It's a method of covering your quilt with one single design and ignoring the piecing or applique design.

This style of quilting is fast and doesn't require a lot of thought or decision making during the quilting process. This is really important if you're needing to finish a project quickly and easily.

The downside of All Over Quilting with Super Spiral is how it overlaps your piecing design. This might not be the effect you're going for on your quilt, especially if it took a long time to piece.

What do you think of this design on Helen's quilt? Would you have quilted it differently? Share your thoughts and any questions you have about Super Spiral or All Over Quilting in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Piece a Daisy Dresden Plate Quilt Block

It's time to piece our fourth block for the Machine Quilting Block Party and this month it's a Daisy Dresden Plate!

In this quilting tutorial you'll learn how to turn the edges of the curved petal shapes, piece the twelve petals together, and machine applique the Dresden Plate to your block background. Make sure to watch the entire video tutorial to find all the tips on making this block:

Click Here to find the quilt pattern for Block #4.

The only tricky thing about this pattern is making sure your templates are printed the right size. You can find the petal cutting and turning template on page 6 of the pattern and make sure to measure the 1-inch square on the page so you're sure the templates print correctly. Some printers can do funky things like add borders and automatically shrink the page so watch out for that!

This time I decided to stitch the Dresden Plate down to the block background with a blanket stitch with contrasting white thread. This made it stand out quite a bit on the quilt surface.

You can also use a straight stitch and match the thread color with the fabric color like we did with Block 2, the Pointy Eight Dresden Plate.

You can also hand applique the Dresden Plate petals and center circle too. Click Here to find a tutorial on hand applique. Always remember there are multiple ways to tackle any technique and never a single way to do anything in quilting. It's good to try a lot of techniques to find the one you like best!

Speaking of techniques, we'll be trying lots of fun quilting designs with this block next week. I used circular rulers to quilt the center circles in my block, then added Microstippling just for fun. You'll also learn how to quilt feathers, arches, and easy bouncy echoes too.

Be looking for the quilting video for this block coming out next Monday. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and I'll be sure to help!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 2, 2017

How to Quilt with Fleece - Sit Down Quilting #10

Time for a quick Sit Down Quilting video! Last week I was in Hobby Lobby and I saw they had a huge stock of fleece fabric in really pretty colors and designs. It got me wondering how it works to quilt with fleece as your backing fabric. So I bought a few yards and gave it a go!

What's up with the French Fuse?

Whenever I work with a weird fabric, I always stabilize it first. French Fuse is my preferred stabilizer because it's lightweight, fuses easily, and you absolutely can't tell it's in the quilt after it's quilted. Click Here to find French Fuse.

Dad and I found the best way to fuse the French Fuse to fleece was to crank my iron up to high and use a cotton pressing cloth (spare ugly fat quarter laying around) on top of the French Fuse. You need to press slowly over the fabric to ensure a good fuse of the interfacing to the fleece.

Is step this really necessary?

I think so. When basting a quilt, I always like to pull the backing nice and tight to the table top. Fleece is naturally stretchy and if I didn't stabilize it with French Fuse, it would stretch way out of control during basting.

Then if I layered the batting and quilt top on top and stuck pins through it, more than likely when I removed the tape the fleece would retract back into it's normal shape, causing my quilt top and batting to go crazy.

I think the better move is to stabilize! The flatter and less stretchy a fabric is, the easier it will be to quilt.

Two Layers or Three?

This was an interesting part of my experiment. I wanted to know if you could skip the batting on a fleece backed quilt and just have the quilt top and fleece. It would be very lightweight and a nice throw blanket for the couch or possibly a good choice for quilted garments.

Well ultimately I found it's definitely possible to quilt with only two layers: fleece and quilt, but you're going to have a different texture to your quilt.

You know that crinkly texture you get when you don't prewash your fabric and you use a 100% cotton batting that shrinks? This finish is a bit more intense than that. It's super crinkle!

When Dad and I compared the two finishes, we both agreed the quilting stitches looked just as nice on both squares, and he really liked the crinkly feeling. It also hides your quilting design a bit on the surface because the stitches sink further into the fabric.

Personally I like a very flat finish to my quilts so the quilting design shows up nicely on the surface so I liked the square that had thin batting in the middle.

One thing I noticed on both samples is how the individual quilting stitches are almost completely invisible on the fleece side. The fuzzy loft of the fleece completely covers the stitches so you can't see subtle variation in size of your stitches, just the texture the lines create:

So fleece would be a great choice for your backing fabric if you're still struggling to maintain a consistent stitch length for free motion quilting. It's nice to be able to hide the stitches, but not the texture of the design you've stitched.

Ultimately I found this to be a really fun test and I can't wait to try quilting an entire fleece backed quilt. What do you think? Have you ever quilted with fleece as your backing fabric? What do you think of using materials like this in your quilts?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Podcast: Designing Textiles with Leah Kabaker

Hello My Quilting Friends! I have a great interview for you today with Leah Kabaker. Click Here to find her blog No Idle Hands Here. Leah is a hobby quilter, artist, and former textile designer from California. She has a fascinating perspective on so many things and I hope you enjoy our interview today!

Leah has been a member of the San Fernando Valley Quilters Association. She worked for a converter fabric company in LA that converted gray goods to finished fabrics. She would work with designers and design fabrics herself to reduce the colors in the artwork and create repeats so it would print continuously.

We also discuss the huge amount of printed fabrics being produced for quilting and how design groups like Cotton + Steel have worked well because they have marketed themselves successfully. According to Leah, most quilting prints are designed in 6 weeks and when they're sold out, they're out. So you have to work fast and have an eye for trends far in advance.

Don't forget you can find all the podcast episodes in one place at!

Now for a few updates around the house:

Today is also the first day of the month so we have a new block ready for you today! Click Here to find the new pattern.

I'm really looking forward to teaching you how to piece these curved petal shapes for this Daisy Dresden Plate. I also used rulers to quilt the center circles which was a fun challenge. Be looking forward to those new videos on the first and second Monday of the month.

I'm still dragging through this home renovation. You can read more about it here. The last two days have felt very slow because the painting process is so time consuming, but yesterday we got the hall finished!

This took forever to paint because of the trim around the five doors. I don't ever want to paint this hall myself again. It's so fiddly!

The living room hasn't made much progress in the last two days because the new paneling we nailed up didn't like being painted. The first layer of paint just slid right off the slippery surface. We tested a few different things and ultimately found the slick design printed on the boards needed to be sanded down, then primed with a high bonding primer.

I'm determined to finish this and clean everything up by Sunday. I just can't take any more days with the house so messed up.

Doing all this work has reminded me how much I love to quilt and make videos. While I've been painting I've been planning new video series in my head so I hope when I'm done it will be super fast and easy to create.

But I have a big mess to clean up first. Wish me luck!

Let's go quilt (or sand and paint a wall. I think you know which we would all prefer!)

Leah Day

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sneak Peek for Block #4

Are you ready for April? I'm super excited about this month's block for the Machine Quilting Block Party! Here's a little sneak peek:

Click Here to check out the patterns (Block 4 goes on sale on April 1st).

Yep, we're tackling another Dresden Plate quilt block this month so you'll get more experience with piecing and applique! This time I stitched around the edges of the petals with a blanket stitch and I'll show you how to do it in our piecing video that comes out Monday.

Have you been enjoying the switch from piecing to applique each month? I'm enjoying teaching so many techniques this year so I hope you're having fun too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Caught in a Renovation Snowball

Today I'm starting Day 3 of our living room remodel and the honeymoon phase is officially over. I just didn't realize what a big change this would be, nor how much of the house would be affected. I'm so tired!

Yet again with this remodel we ran into issues with finding good help (you can read about the last remodel adventure here). This time I asked Dad to help me find a licensed contractor to work with us and do the job with a crew.

Unfortunately all the professional guys in my area either already had way too much work to do or didn't want to bother with my small job.

We tried to use personal contacts to find a licensed contractor and came up with a guy that does small jobs in addition to driving a dump truck. Unfortunately this guy shows up with only a massive ego in tow, no interest in listening to direction, and copped a bad attitude when he was called out for painting the walls without priming.

Dude, Painting lesson #1 - prime BEFORE you paint!

I came in and immediately found big gaps in the ceiling paint and long drips of primer running down the walls. The guy was clearly irritated at having to prime and took it out on us by doing a terrible job.

When I saw this mess, I was angry. Mostly at myself for not expressing exactly what I wanted and exactly how I wanted it done on paper and making the guy sign it acknowledging he understood.

While I think saying "Here's two gallons of primer for the walls and trim." should be enough to clarify that I wanted the walls primed, the better thing would have been to write a list and make sure we agreed to the terms of the project from the beginning.

The good news is, I was prepared. I'd worked ahead enough in the last few weeks that I have the time to work on this project all week. That's the good news. The bad news is I think I bit off a bit more than I expected.

The Snowball Effect

The initial goal of this job was to remove the back deck which was rotting off the back of the house and replace the back door with a big window. Because I knew this project would tear into the walls in the living room, I figured we'd also repaint the walls in the living room. Because there are only two walls to finish in this room, I thought this was going to be small and easy.

But then the project got a bit bigger.

The ceilings in the living room have had water damage because the roof was in terrible shape when we bought the house. This seemed like the perfect time to paint the ceilings and finally cover these ugly spots.

Except the living room ceiling doesn't end in the living room. It seamlessly connects to the ceiling in the kitchen and hall. So now we're painting the ceilings in two more spaces. That's more floor to cover and more stuff to move and clear.

And the hall walls were in terrible shape...why not paint them too? And the ego guy claimed he couldn't paint the ceiling in the kitchen without painting the walls so there's another room to paint as well.

See what's happened? This whole thing has snowballed and now it feels like the whole house is being repainted. While yes, this is going to be super nice when it's over, right now it just feels like overwhelming chaos.

I'm not a stranger to this type of chaos because I grew up with it. From first grade to seventh grade, my house was in some state of renovation, sometimes sealing off an entire room of the house for years. I grew up with my house like this so it feels weirdly comfortable to have everything jumbled up and tools all over the place.

But it also feels exhausting. Let's face it - I'm a quilter! I sit down most of the day at a sewing machine. I don't haul heavy stuff around, pound nails, rip off walls, or roll paint for hours every day.

This project has made it very clear just how soft my body has become from sitting and quilting every day. I've lost a lot of my upper body strength because I don't often lift or haul heavy things around. That must change. Whether I do physical work outside more often or work out harder at the gym, I've got to rebuild my strength and stamina.

But for now I'm just looking to get through this project. When confronted with his sloppy work and the option to continue under our direction, the contractor quit on the spot. His ego couldn't handle having to actually listen and follow directions.

That left us with a tricky situation - we needed extra hands to get the heavy window upstairs and installed in the window casing. I honestly didn't think we could do this ourselves.

But I guess I didn't give my family enough credit. We called my Father-in-law who lives just down the road and between Dad, Josh, and Chet, we managed to get the heavy window installed on the first try:

Gotta love strength in numbers! Now that the hardest, messiest part of the job is over, the rest should proceed quickly. Today we're going to finish the walls inside and I'll get back to painting today.

My goal is to be finished inside completely by Friday so life can get back to normal. James keeps walking into the living room saying "I just don't know if I can get used to this Mom." and my response is "I don't WANT you to get used to this kid!" I want our house back to normal too.

One thing I've learned with this renovation is to tackle things in smaller bites and not get caught in a renovation snowball. I could have painted only the living room ceiling. I could have refused to paint kitchen. I could have painted the living room years ago and not left it looking so ratty for so long.

When you wait to fix something, it just gets bigger and the job gets harder, more expensive, and more time consuming. Now that I'm caught in the snowball, I just have to ride it out and fix and finish everything at once. It's going to be a lot of work, but definitely feel great when it's finished.

Let's go quilt (I wish I was!),

Leah Day

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dresden Plate Party!

We've been having a party making Dresden Plates with the new Dresden Plate Template Set!

Dad has been piecing dozens of Dresden Plates together since January and I love seeing the variety of quilt blocks you can create using the templates. You can mix and match the templates in many ways to create a huge variety of Dresden Plate Quilt Blocks.

The easiest way to make a creative Dresden Plate is by changing the way the petal edges are finished. Let's learn how to finish the edges of the petals four different ways in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the Dresden Plate Template Set.

I think my favorite way to finish the Dresden Plate petal edges is by making them pointy because it's super easy to stitch and turn to make perfect points every time. This Dresden Plate quilt block was created by stitching pointy petals with Template #1 and #5:

You can use the same templates to cut petals and turn a straight edge to make an octagon, dodecagon, and a hexadecagon Dresden Plate:

This is probably the fastest way to finish the edges because you just fold over the edge and stitch them together! You can also fold over the inside edge too to create a finished edge to the inside as well.

If you're craving a curved edge petal, you can create two types of curves using templates #2, #4, and #6. There are two ways to create the curve - by turning the outer edge under using a turning template or by attaching fusible web to the outer edge before cutting.

Because the fusible web curve doesn't have to be turned, these petals will end up a bit longer than the rest and create 12 inch Dresden Plates.

I also shared yet another way to create a Dresden Plate last week with the Color Wheel Quilt Block tutorial. For this wheel style block you just attach fusible web to the edges of the fabric before cutting tumbler shapes, then cut the edges of the finished Dresden Plate using a circle cutter.

There are so many creative ways you can make Dresden Plate Quilt blocks! What is your favorite finish? Would you like to see more tutorials on creating Dresden Plate Quilts? Let me know in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Maintain Your Longarm Machine! Sit Down Quilting #9

I've had a lot of requests this week for a video on how to change a bobbin, oil, and change needles on the Grace Qnique 14+ so here it goes!

Click Here to learn more about this Grace Qnique machine.

One extra place I like to place 1 drop of oil is about 1/2 inch above the needle so that bar doesn't go too dry. That's just my personal preference.

Of course the best place to check for details about your machine is the machine manual. Always double check where your company recommends oiling the machine just in case your machine has different oil spots than the Grace Qnique.

For changing the bobbin, yes, it's a bit of an ordeal when the machine is dropped down into a table like this. I have to move the quilt, the Queen Supreme Slider, and the acrylic insert to change the bobbin. This is one good reason the quilt with one single color of thread - you only have to change when the bobbin runs out!

If you're changing thread colors a lot on a quilt, try quilting as much as you can through one color, switch, then quilt as much as you can with the next color and so on. It's certainly not a deal breaker for me because I like quilting with white Isacord thread for pretty much everything.

It is tough to keep track of how often you're changing the needles and oiling the machine. Another idea for keeping track might be to mark an X on your calendar. That way you'd know when the machine was last cleaned and maintained. Sometimes that's all it takes to guilt trip me into changing needles when I know I've been running the same one for a solid month!

It is a bit tricky to change needles as you can probably tell from the video. Just be sure to insert the needle so it faces the right way and make sure it's fully seated in the needle bar.

Please check your manual for better instructions! It's really hard to make videos like this because the angles are so weird and it's also hard to describe directions on the machine because technically the "front" of the machine is the side facing the needle (the side handle bars would be attached to if this was set up on a frame). *Sigh* I hope it made sense!

Let me know if you have more questions and as always, I love hearing your suggestions for future videos!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I'm Blooming!

I finished up my flower mask and dropped her off at the Arts Council this morning. What a fun finish! I'm literally blooming!

Thank you all so much for your comments on yesterday's post. It was wonderful to receive your feedback on my decision to write more often and to hear your own struggles with self doubt and negative inner voices.

I think we all go through periods of comparing ourselves to others or holding too high of expectations for a project. For this flower mask I had to remind myself that this was supposed to be fun! I took it down a notch and kicked back as I painted the face. Once I took the pressure off, I really enjoyed myself as I glued on the last flowers.

Now for the event details:

If you live in my area and would like to support the arts, plus healthy kidneys please buy tickets for the Wearable Art Fashion Show which will be held next Friday, March 31st at 6 pm. The tickets are $30 and the fashion show sounds like it's going to be a blast! Click Here to find tickets.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flower Mask and Death to the Deck

It's Wednesday and I've been thinking lately that I should be writing more. I love to write, but I often don't take the time unless I have a video to go with a post and that's just silly. We can do photos too!

I'm in a strange mood today as I'm under a deadline (due tomorrow) to get this flower mask finished and ready to drop off at my local art's council. I have a lot more little flowers to glue on between now and then:

I admit I let my negative voices get a hold of this project and start a nasty chat in my head about how it's not good enough. I keep imagining some snooty art person looking at it and saying "That's just plastic craft junk. That's not art." 

I think everyone struggles with feeling like an impostor sometimes (that's why it's called Impostor Syndrome) and I think the trick is just saying it out loud. That's the stuff I'm hearing in my head and now I have to deal with it!

Despite the junk my brain is saying about it, I've loved building this mask. I saw these jumbo flowers at Hobby Lobby and my first thought was "I want that on my head" and so I've built a mask to have three massive flowers on my head, plus lots of pretty ferns and silk flowers. It's mostly being held together with hot glue and staples, but I've screwed the largest flowers in place with 3 inch long drywall screws so they are not going anywhere.

What is this for you ask? A wearable art fashion show! My local arts council is putting on the show as a fundraiser for the council and a local kidney foundation. It will be fun to see how this stacks up against other more traditional wearable art. 

But then again, is there such thing as traditional wearable art? Maybe I'm overthinking this whole ART thing. It's not like someone is going to be wearing a watercolor canvas and turn their nose up at my hot glued flowers. Bleh.

Death to the Rotted Deck

In other news, we have a renovation starting next week to finally remove this horrible deck. This was built in the 1970's when code enforcement in this area clearly wasn't up to snuff.

See the extra support beams on the front? Dad and Josh added those a few years ago just to stop the deck from falling off the back of the house!

I've priced out replacing this masterpiece of craftsmanship and came up with a ball park figure of $20,000. For a DECK? Ridiculous!

The reason it would be so expensive to replace is because there's an upstairs and downstairs door stacked right on top of one another with very little space between. In order to span the distance and to actually be built properly (ahem, actually to code), it would need to be built either with steel or a lot of extra support beams.

Rather than shell out all that cash, we've decided instead to remove the deck entirely and replace the upstairs back door with a big picture window. 

It will be one less door to our door-happy house and one less thing to keep me up at night imaging someone falling off this deck, the stairs crashing to the ground, or the whole thing collapsing under a heavy wind. 

So today I'm going to clean up the living room and clear out as much furniture as I can. I love renovating because things change and look prettier than they did the day before. Progress!

What are you up to today? Any big projects in the works? Any nasty voices in your head giving you problems? Give em' a one-two punch from me!

Let's go quilt (or hot glue more flowers),

Leah Day

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quilty Box! Color Wheel Quilt Blocks

It's Quilty Box time! Yep, this is a post with affiliate links to support our business. I received an awesome box of gear this month filled with beautiful fabrics and supplies selected by Allison Glass and I challenged myself to make this pretty Color Wheel Block with the fabrics:

I've made many Dresden Plates over the last few weeks, but this is the first plate I cut into a circle to create a wheel block. It's not hard, but I do recommend having a good circle cutter to make it easier. I like the True Cut 360 as you can select circle sizes up to 12 1/2 inches and cut them really accurately.

Now learn how to make this pretty Color Wheel Quilt Block in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find this free quilt pattern.

To make this block, you will need the Dresden Plate Template Set because we use Templates #3 and #7 to quickly and easily cut the shapes for the color wheel. You'll also need some fusible web and my favorite is Lite Steam a Seam 2 because it's lightweight and fuses to fabric easily.

I decided to make my Color Wheel Dresden Plates fusible because I'm interested in learning more about fusible applique and I'm trying to play with it at any opportunity. You could also turn the circle edges by making a turning template instead. Click Here to watch another video on using a turning template.

Once you fuse your Color Wheel onto your background fabric, you should stitch it down along the edges to secure it completely. I like to use a blanket stitch because it's fast, easy to line up with the edges of the fused fabric, and doesn't show up much from a distance.

Now that our Color Wheel Quilt Block is created, how will we quilt it? My favorite way to quilt blocks like this is to stitch straight lines radiating out from the Color Wheel and fill each segment with a different color of thread and a different design.

Would you like to see more videos on quilting this block with many designs? Let me know in the comments below and I'll make more videos for this series!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Large Scale Quilting on the Grace Qnique 14+

Last week I shared a video on how to quilt tiny designs on the Grace Qnique machine while working on my unfinished hand dyed wholecloth quilt. This week I decided to do the exact opposite and share a video on quilting BIG! See what I mean in this new video tutorial:

The most frequent question I still receive about the Grace Qnique is a stitch regulator. I covered this in the video on speed control – the sit down model of the Grace Qnique 14+ does not have a stitch regulator.

Quilting big circles on Grace Qnique
What you see in the videos is my ability to balance speed and movement precisely to create consistent stitches. It’s a skill, not a computer program, and it does take time to develop.

The good news is the more you quilt, the better you will get, and the more you quilt, the faster you will get better. It might not look either perfect or pretty in the beginning, but if you stick with it, it will get better!

For this week’s project, I decided to take the first step in creating a quilted book cover – actually quilting something that could be sliced up. In this case it’s a simple fat quarter of Studio E fabric and I decided it would be perfect to quilt and follow the water ring design in the print fabric with quilted rings.

I’ll probably go back over this with more quilting designs, but it definitely made me more aware of just how fast this machine can go, which means my hands can move much faster too. 

quilting big circles on the Grace Qnique
This works great on a small sandwich like this which can so nicely fit into the 15 inches of space I have on this machine. I felt really comfortable quilting it even at the fastest speeds, but as you saw in the video, I couldn’t sustain that hectic pace too long. It was just too stressful.

So how will this work on a larger quilt? I’m planning to test that in a future video. I have some ideas for making the test even more interesting with fleece and minky fabrics, but more on that later! 

Next week I’ll be back with a video on machine maintenance. I ran into an issue this week with inserting the needle and it really drove home the importance of getting all the simple things right in order for the machine to run it’s best.

Feel free to post any questions you have about this machine or suggestions for future videos in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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