The Free Motion Quilting Project

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Collaboration: How to Quilt Over Busy Quilts

This month I'm collaborating with Kate Colleran from SeamsLikeaDream.com! Kate has sent me a beautiful mini quilt called Two Step Mini which she cut and pieced using her new braid template. I love the way the fabric strips come together to create this unique block:


Click Here to learn how to piece this mini quilt in a tutorial with Kate!

Kate has created a quilt pattern for this mini quilt and bundled it with her braid template so if you'd like to make this too click here to check them both out on her website.

This is kind of a three way collaboration because the batik fabrics were all designed by Jackie Kunkel from Canton Village Quilt Works. It's so fun to work with other quilters and make something beautiful together!

Don't forget to check out my podcast interview with Kate and learn more about her quilting business.

But...you've probably already spotted a problem with quilting this quilt - it's pretty busy! How do you machine quilt over a quilt like this and not distract from the pretty piecing design or the beautiful fabrics?

That's exactly the question I got stumped on with this little quilt. I didn't want to totally ignore the piecing design because that braid effect is really cool, but I also didn't want to blend in completely with it. I decided to pick my favorite thing in the quilt and build the quilting design around that tiny center square. See what I mean in this new video:



Click Here to check out Kate's tutorial on piecing this mini quilt! Here's how the quilt finished with a combination of marked squares, Flowing Leaves quilting design, and ruler foot quilting lines in the border.


My quilting design did add more complexity to the quilt top, and depending on your quilting style and opinion that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Personally I love it!

Sometimes adding an extra design in the quilting, even on top of a very busy quilt, can be the right choice. For this quilt, there was a lot of symmetry going on with the pieced blocks and center square, but a lot of randomness going on with the most eye-catching colors randomly placed within each block.

By adding the marked squares on top, that centered the focus of the quilt on the center square. When I quilted the first square space with Flowing Leaves, I was honestly worried I'd ruined the quilt because the texture was quite overwhelming on top of the already busy fabrics.

That's when I decided to tone things down in the background with simple straight lines. Straight lines can be dynamic and add lots of movement to your quilt. They can also simplify and calm things down with a flat texture that gives your eyes a place to rest.

And that was exactly what this little quilt needed! The straight lines in the background really set off the busier texture in the center of the quilt and bring the whole thing together. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

Have you ever pieced a busy quilt and not been able to figure out how to quilt it? Have you ever gotten stuck on your quilting design? I hope this quilt will inspire you to take a look at that project and figure out how to move forward with it.

Don't forget to check out Kate's post on how to piece this cute quilt!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tumble Through the Looking Glass Quilt Pattern

It's Quilty Box time! Yep, this post will contain affiliate links that help support our business. This month we received an awesome box filled with tools and supplies selected by Angela Pingel, including a precut pack of her beautiful new fabric line Curious Dreams!


I decided to slice up these 10-inch precut squares into tumbler shapes using Template #3 from the Dresden Plate Template Set and piece them together in matching rows to create these beautiful diamond shapes.

I randomly arranged the diamond shapes with lots of white background tumblers to add lots of negative space. I wanted this quilt to look fractured and split apart, much like it must look to Alice as she tumbles through the Looking Glass!

Learn how to piece this beautiful quilt in this new quilting tutorial:



Click Here to find the free quilt pattern.

Make sure to experiment a bit with the tumblers so you get the hang of piecing them together. It's hard to describe how to align the shapes so I created this little graphic. You want the pieces to line up so that you're stitching through both tumbler shapes from the first stitch.

Once you get the hang of aligning the tumbler shapes, piecing them together is a speedy chain piecing process. Dad pieced the tumblers into matching rows, then pieced the rows together to create the quilt top.

The finished size of this quilt is 50 x 60 and I did add an extra 3 inch border around the edges just to finish it off nicely. I love the combination of the simple diamond shapes and random arrangement. There's no rhyme or reason to this quilt, which fits just perfectly with the book it was inspired by!

What do you think of this quilt? Do you like tumbler shapes? With the many tumblers in the Dresden Plate Template Set, I'm excited to dig into this shape and explore all the ways it can be arranged and pieced!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Get to Know Your Machine - Sit Down Quilting #4

Time for another Sit Down Quilting Sunday! For the past few weeks I've quilted on practice quilt sandwiches because I was mostly making a mess as I adjusted my machine's tension and ran a speed test to get used to the speeds of the Grace Qnique 14+.

But practice sandwiches will only get you so far. To really get the feel for any machine you have to start quilting real quilts. Quilting on a real quilt feels very different because you have a different focus. You want to see only pretty, balanced stitches and anytime the machine skips stitches, breaks thread, or does anything else weird, it's going to get your attention. See what I mean in this new quilting video:



Click Here to learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+.

I'm quilting a  little pear table runner I bought at Ikea a few years ago. I always wanted to quilt this with a variety of funky designs to go with the brightly printed pears.


To set off the background design, I decided to start with simple echo quilting around each pear shape. This is a printed panel so I don't have any piecing lines or lumps or bumps from applique shapes to get in my way. I really think cheater cloth fabric panels like this are a great choice for your first quilting project on a machine because it's flat, easy to quilt, and if you make a mistake it's not that big of a deal.

I've actually designed a few cheater cloth panels for Spoonflower which can really help you if you're just getting into machine quilting on any style or type of machine. Click Here to check them out.

Now for a few things I noticed about my machine - when quilting backwards and moving the quilt away from my body for longer than 4 inches, I noticed some skipped stitches. As soon as I noticed the issue I worked to rotate the quilt more to avoid that direction and the skipping stopped, but it's still something I'm going to keep an eye on.

Sometimes skipped stitches are caused by direction and sometimes a combination of factors like the thread, height of the foot over the quilt, and the fabric you're quilting through.

I hadn't experienced this issue before so I believe it's caused by the variegated thread I'm using on this quilt. I rarely use variegated thread for exactly this reason - it's finicky.

I've found variegated threads that change thickness along with color so your tension fluctuates as the color changes on the quilt (super annoying) and I've also found variegated threads can be less durable with a greater chance of shredding or breaking as you quilt at high speeds.

It could have also been the height of my quilting foot. I just received a new open toe foot from Grace Company that has an opening that faces me with my machine set up like a home machine. This is a new foot and if you'd like to order one for your machine just contact Grace Company and mention you saw it in my video.

I played around with the height of the foot quite a bit and I'll be sharing another video soon on how to adjust the height to get it just right for any quilt.

Ultimately I found this project super helpful for getting to know this machine. I broke thread several times, skipped some stitches, and had to rip some quilting out, but  I've begun to tune into the noises the machine makes when it's not 100% happy and prevent issues before they happen. That's really the whole point!

What do you think of this idea? Have you bought a new machine recently and been afraid to use it to quilt a real quilt? What do you think is holding you back the most?

Share your thoughts and experience and any questions you have in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Podcast #14 - Free vs. Paid Quilt Patterns with Kate Colleran

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have an interview with Kate Colleran from SeamsLikeaDream.com about writing patterns and the risks and benefits of offering free quilt patterns.


I'm also doing a collaboration with Kate next week! She sent me a really cute block she made with her braid template and she's going to share a video on how to piece it and I'm going to share a video on how to quilt it next Wednesday so be looking forward to that.

Now for a few updates about what's been going on for the past two weeks. The first big thing is I've gotten back to my walking foot book which has been on hold since last fall. Unfortunate the book was a bit of a mess to go back to and wasn't very well organized.

So I went through the book and pulled out index cards and made a list of every topic I wanted to cover in the book and then began organizing it all. This method really worked for me and I think I just needed to see each topic and design laid out this way and I was able to sort it out and now I'm just tackling one card per day. So each evening right before bed I pull out my little bluetooth keyboard and pop my iphone on top and I just write one little section - takes about 15 minutes.

Honestly 15 - 30 minutes is all I really have to work on this right now and that's how I'm going to have to write it! It does feel really good to be making progress on the book and moving forward.

Another thing we're moving forward on is Sit Down Quilting Sunday which is off to a great start and has really generated a lot of nice questions on YouTube. It's so nice to be using a machine now that I really like and feel confident sharing on video!

This Sunday I'm going to share a video on quilting a REAL quilt. I've had a little printed table runner from IKEA for a few years and today I've basted it up and going to quilt it with bright thread and a really simple design. I want to get used to quilting on this machine and the best way to do it is on a real quilt.

Sponsor for the Show

The sponsor for the show this week is LeahDay.com and the new Dresden Plate Template Set which is on sale for $5 off during February. This template set can be used to cut many Dresden Plate quilt blocks, you can cut out tumbler shapes as well and use the templates for ruler foot quilting too. Click Here to check out the set now.

Links from Kate Colleran's Interview (yep, there will be some affiliate links below):

Kate is the author of the book Smash Your Precut Stash which is a book about actually using the precut fabric packs you've purchased (instead of hoarding them forever in their perfect packages)!

Kate has also taught a class with Craftsy called 3 blocks 30 Quilts. You'll learn how to piece three easy blocks, then how to arrange them ten different ways to create thirty different quilts! Click Here to check out this class.

Kate has also taught a class for Quilt University called Creative Quilting for Home Decor. You'll learn how to make quilted pillows, tabletopper sized quilts, table runners, and placemats and learn many piecing skills along the way. Click Here to check out this class.

Click Here to check out Kate's collection of free quilt patterns.

Click Here to check out Kate's Braid Template.

If you heard me mentioning holding the quilt up - yes, I'm planning to also put this podcast on YouTube! The video will be coming soon!

Would you like to listen to more podcast episodes? Click Here to check out all of the podcasts shared so far!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quilting Basics 14: Fun with Hand Applique

Last week we learned how to piece a Pointy Eight Dresden Plate and I secured the Dresden Plate to the background block by machine with a straight line of stitching all around the edge.

While this is certainly a faster way to applique, many quilters commented and emailed us to ask about hand applique so I've created an extra Quilting Basics video just for you!



I use very simple tools for hand applique - scissors, a thumb thimble, needles (#9 sharps) and thread. All of these tools are quite small and can fit into a ziplock bag along with your quilt project so hand applique is always an easy travel project.

Once you get used to keeping a handwork project going, it's really weird to be without one. Honest I haven't done hand applique in a few months and sitting down to make this video was so nice. It totally made me fall in love with hand applique all over again!

The trickiest part of hand applique is the angle and size of your stitches. I know I make this look very easy, and you would too if you spent your middle and high school years stitching delica seed beads together instead of having a life!

The first thing to work on is the angle of your stitches. Try to keep the stitches running parallel with the folded edge of the Dresden Plate petal and that will greatly minimize their appearance.

Also be sure to blend your thread perfectly with the applique fabric, not your background fabric. The only time you see the thread is when it peeks out between the folded edge of the applique and the background, but if the applique fabric matches the thread, it's almost invisible.

Once you get the hang of keeping your stitches parallel to the fold, then focus on making them tiny. The width of a seed bead or 1/8 inch long is perfect, but it may take time to get your stitches this small.

Incidentally, if you're interested in trying beadwork, Clover came out with one of the best beading looms I've ever seen a few years ago. It's so simple to use and can make projects of varying lengths. #Affiliate - Click Here to check it out on Amazon. 

So what do you think of hand applique? Honestly making this video has been a wonderful reminder of how peaceful and relaxing this stitch work can be. While it's certainly not speedy, not everything we make must be done quickly. Sometimes it's nice to take extra time and sew the stitches by hand.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quilting a Pointy Eight Dresden Plate Quilt Block

It feels like this week has lasted forever! I've been so excited about teaching you how to quilt this Pointy Eight Dresden Plate with all these beautiful designs. We're going to learn how to quilt Pebbling, more feathers, Swirl Spirals, and perfectly spaced lines with ruler foot quilting.


Click Here to find the pattern for Block #2.

Just in case you're worried about ruler foot quilting or you don't have a ruler foot yet, please know that this is 100% optional. You don't have to try ruler foot quilting on this block.

Instead you can mark the straight lines in the background and quilt them with your walking foot. We did a very similar design last year with our walking foot in Block #8 from the Sunshine Surprise quilt.

It's important to understand that there's many ways to quilt each design. Ruler foot quilting is a new way to free motion quilt using a foot with a high base and rulers to give you more control over the direction of the quilt. But it's certainly not the ONLY way you can do this. You could also quilt these straight lines with plain Jane free motion quilting and your regular darning foot too.

But if you do have a ruler foot and you're eager to try this new technique, this block will give you the perfect opportunity to give it a try. See what I mean in this new quilting video:



Click Here to find the Dresden Plate Template Set and template #1 that I used to piece and quilt this block. (Yes, these are out of stock right now, but should be back in stock by Wednesday).

What I love most about ruler foot quilting is not having to mark every line on my quilt. I did do a tiny bit of marking to help align my ruler foot and create the 1/2 inch spaced lines, but this was far, far less than I usually mark when quilting straight lines.

Issues with marking pens and pencils not washing out has come up in the Block Party Facebook recently. It's very important to test your marking pencils BEFORE you use them on your quilts or quilt blocks.

If you use a pen or pencil you haven't tested, you're really taking a big gamble with your time and effort on that project. If the marks don't wash out and become permanent, it will be really hard to see your beautiful piecing or quilting design.

So take the time to test your marking pens and pencils before you use them. Mark a scrap of fabric with some lines, then follow the instructions on the marking pencil package to remove the marks. If they don't wash out the way they should, that marking pencil cannot be trusted to mark your quilt tops.

There are unfortunately a lot of really bad fabric marking pens on the market these days and it's really easy to pick something that won't work. This is why I've used the Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencil and the Fine Line Water Soluble Pen for years - because they mark nice visible lines, and wash out or erase off when I need them too. Click Here to find both pens in the Mark Your Quilt Kit.

What did you think of this combination of designs and ruler foot quilting? Did you enjoy using rulers on your block? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Control Your Speed Without a Stitch Regulator - Sit Down Quilting Sunday #3

It's Sunday which means it's time to jump on the Grace Qnique 14+ and share a new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video! This week I'm answering one of the most common questions about this machine:
Does the Grace Qnique machine come with a stitch regulator? 
The answer to this question is no. This machine does not come with a stitch regulator when it's set up as a sit down / table mounted machine. Only when you upgrade the machine to roll over a quilting frame will you get a stitch regulator.

This means that quilting on the Grace Qnique is exactly like quilting on your home machine without a stitch regulator - you have to learn how quilt by balancing the speed of the needle moving up and down with your hands moving the quilt under the needle.

The best way to learn how to balance your stitches and get the hang of speed control is to do a speed test. Learn how to do this in this new quilting video:



Click Here to watch all the videos in this series!

You know something funny? I didn't even access the highest speeds of this machine! This sit down longarm could go even faster, but the question is - can I move my hands fast enough to keep time with it?

Probably not. This is why it's important to run the speed test and spend a lot of time getting to know the machine and how hard you need to press the foot pedal in order to go any particular speed.

When quilting you need to be able to speed up slightly to quilt designs that you flow through very quickly, then slow down to control your stitches as you quilt in the ditch or travel stitch.

This ability to change speeds on the fly takes time and practice. While stitching practice sandwiches is helpful, it's nothing like quilting a real quilt that you care about.

Next week I'm going to get a small quilt top basted up and begin quilting it on the Grace Qnique. Make sure to share any questions you have in the comments below and I'll share new videos to explain how the machine works just for you!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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