The Free Motion Quilting Project: March 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

Best Quilting Retreat Ever!

This week I gave myself a gift in the form of a mini quilting retreat. I didn't go anywhere or do anything special. I just gave myself permission to quilt my Dresden Plate quilt and not worry about what was happening online.

I cannot describe what an enormous relief this was. Instead of stopping to shoot photos and post to Instagram, which always leads to twenty minutes of brain freeze, I kept quilting. Instead of checking Facebook comments or sharing daily progress here, I kept quilting. I even let email hang for a day or two and didn't share a podcast this week because I just needed space and time to quilt.

Yes, we live in a social media driven world, but sometimes I wonder if all of this stuff isn't just a big distraction. Had I constantly stopped and started, stopped and started, I might not have finished this project in time.

It was also a relief to have a tight deadline. I know that sounds weird. Aren't deadlines supposed to add extra pressure and stress to a project?

Yes, but a good deadline can also force you to stop agonizing about every single detail. Three times in particular I stopped and looked at a block and thought "I really want to rip all that out."

If I'd had a month to make this quilt, I might have walked away from it. Taken a break. Let it sit on the table or the frame and pouted about it not being perfect. I might have even picked up a seam ripper and "fixed" that "mistake" I thought was too terrible to leave in.

Instead this deadline to have the quilt finished, connected, and bound by today forced me to keep quilting. I couldn't walk away. I couldn't pick up a seam ripper. I couldn't agonize about every design decision.

And now I'm looking at this quilt and I LOVE IT. There is nothing I would change about this.

Sure, some of the lines could have been better planned or lined up. Take a ruler to it and you'll find mistakes.

But I think fixing those mistakes or design glitches would only make the quilt around 5% better. Not enough to really matter. Only a quilt show judge would be able to see or appreciate the difference, and again, probably only if they had a ruler in their hand and knew where to look!

The main lesson from this is in how I feel about this quilt. When I stop and rip and agonize about everything, I slow down. It feels heavy. I want to walk away because the pressure builds and nothing feels right.

This quilt feels the opposite of all of that. It feels light, bright and challenging. I finished the last line of stitching and stepped back and had to wonder - did I make that? Did I really do that in a week?

Yes, I did, but only because I was ready and willing to accept the challenge. I quilted two blocks on my home machine and then forced myself to quilt the last two on my longarm frame. I white knuckled my way through it and I can 100% say that these quilting rulers I've designed for Grace Company are awesome!

So the lesson from this wonderful mini quilting retreat is it's okay to pull away and dig deep. It's okay to shut out the world of distracting social media and just focus on finishing the project. And it's okay to seek a tight deadline and use it to force you forward instead of getting stuck.

Whew! That was fun! What's next?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S - The curvy bias binding is a Quilt-As-You-go technique I shared in the Winter Wonderland Quilt Pattern.

P.P.S - These new quilting rulers are coming very soon! Be looking for them by the middle of April!

Monday, March 19, 2018

That's a really bad sound!

How to clean and oil your sewing machine
Ever turn on your sewing machine only to find it sounding more like a meat grinder? Yeah, that's what happened to me this weekend!

I've created a new tutorial on cleaning and oiling your machine and you can find it right here.

I push my machines hard on a regular basis and in order to keep them running smoothly, I regularly service them myself. I take the base of the sewing machine apart, then brush out all the parts and apply oil.

The most common questions I get about this are about the little details: how often do you clean the machine? How often do you change needles? Where and how do you oil it?

Find all of the answers you seek right here.

This weekend was a whirlwind of ruler quilting and I've had a blast quilting my new Dresden Plate sunshine blocks. I'm still not sure about the name of this quilt. Here's the first block I finished:

Sunburst Dresden Plate Quilt Block

Sunburst? Sunshine? Sunny Day? What do you think? Please share your suggestions in the comments.

The quilt is going to be 4 super sized Dresden Plate blocks and I'm going to put the quilted blocks together like the Winter Wonderland quilt with curvy bias binding.

That's IF I can get all the blocks quilted. These are taking a LOT longer to quilt than I expected. Mostly because I start quilting in one section, then I get an idea for another section, and that takes another few hours, then I get another idea for the center...and you get the idea.

Sunburst Dresden Plate Quilt Block

But I couldn't be more in love with this gorgeous texture! Who would have thought you could do all this with 3 quilting rulers?

Just in case you missed my other post, I'm designing a set of quilting / cutting rulers with Grace Company and they will be available in April!

I plan to make this quilt all over again and shoot videos of each step, but right now the push is on to get this quilted, connected, bound, and finished by Friday so I can take it with me to a show on Saturday.

Cross your fingers! It's going to be tight!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, March 17, 2018

New Walking Foot Quilting Tutorial and Late Night Quilting

This has been one crazy week! Changing the location of quilting tutorials doesn't sound like a big deal, but yeah, it's a big deal.

Click here to find the new tutorial: How to Quilt Desert Sand.

I find that just being on the site and working on one page makes me want to work on another, then another. This is great because a lot of updating needs to happen there and it's high time I get it done.

Click Here to find a set of pages I updated with lots of new goodies!

The downside is I felt literally chained to my computer yesterday. As one page update fed into another, I kept putting off my quilting projects until...where did the day go?!

I ended up quilting until midnight, something I rarely do because I love to sleep. I went through a phase of staying up super late to quilt and it was completely unsustainable. Last night I was caught up working on my ruler quilt for Grace Company and just lost track of time.

I love, love, love this beautiful texture! This is the first quilt I'm making 100% with quilting rulers and planning the design as I go. I have kind of an idea of what I want for each block, but then when it comes to quilt it, sometimes that changes and has to adjust based on how it feels on the machine.

Yes, there will be videos! Yes, there will be a pattern!

But no, I'm not filming them right this second because this quilt needs to be Done with a capital "D" by Friday. I'll just have to make this quilt again and shoot the videos as I go. That's not my favorite way to work, but the good thing is if I mess up, I'll know what not to do for the next one.

And yes, this ruler is coming soon! This is the Mini Slide quilting ruler and it's honestly one of my favorites. It makes a very gentle curve, but it's identical on both sides which makes it so wonderful for stitching repeating lines like this without wobbling.

Be looking for this new quilting ruler, which can also be used for some very unique cutting and binding techniques too coming very soon to!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Just Wanna Quilt!

I shared the podcast today, yes, a day late, but it's up! Click Here to find Episode 49: Quilting and Copyright with Elizabeth Townsend Gard.

Elizabeth is the host of the Just Wanna Quilt podcast which is about understanding the quilting industry with a bit of copyright and intellectual property business mixed in for fun.

I've certainly gained a different perspective on the quilting industry as a whole by listening to Elizabeth's podcast and I think you'll like it to. Click Here to find Just Wanna Quilt.

Around the house today, I was really dragging. Yesterday I thought I had food poisoning. Today I realized I just had a weird cold that included bonus GI issues. Ew!

But that seems to have leveled out now and I started feeling better about halfway through the day. I pushed myself to get out to the Crafty Cottage and finish the quilt block I was working on and start the next one.

I've also reset my upstairs sewing machine to the Juki Exceed F600. Yep, still had it hanging around downstairs for backup. I don't have an insert for it in the Quilty Table so I had to improvise a bit:

Surprisingly, this is working okay and I'm making more progress on my Twisted Squares quilt. I probably won't have it all finished by next Monday, but I'll have a lot more quilted than I did last week.

I'm going to turn on a Vampire Diaries episode to play in the background and quilt at least three blocks on that quilt to finish out the day. What are you working on this evening? I hope it's something that makes you smile!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Updating the Header! Whew!

Whew! I just changed out the header for this blog and it gave me fits getting the sizing and spacing just right. It's always scary to upload a new photo and hit "publish" only to find the image way smaller than you expected, shifted off center and looking really weird on the top of the page.

Just in case I ever need to come back and do this again: size the header a bit smaller than the width of the total blog (1200 pix worked good), then if needed wiggle the width in the advanced settings to get it just right.

I also made a new FMQ Project square logo. Again, just something that needs to update every couple of years.

I decided to use a picture of the 365 quilt I created with the first 365 free motion quilting designs shared here. I've been feeling a bit nostalgic today, just looking at some old designs and playing around with a few ideas that are taking me back to 2009.

I do have a podcast coming today, but I'm waiting on photos so it might be a bit late. It might not go up until tomorrow. I dropped the ball and forgot to ask for photos last week and didn't realize they weren't in the folder until late last night.

But that's okay! I'm glad I had a chance to do this little update and tool around a bit on the blog. I'm not feeling well (unhappy stomach) so I think it's time for a break, a cup of tea, and some time drawing at the kitchen table.

We also released the Super Squares and Sashing Workshop today. This quilting class is all about learning how to quilt designs into different spaces in your quilts. Click Here to check it out.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sock Darning Tutorial and Sneak Peek

Whew! It's been a really long filming day. I shot the podcast intro for tomorrow and began working on new videos for a quilt along I'll be sharing this fall with Sheri Cilfaldi-Morrill. Here's a little sneak peek of the block I was working on:

I love these beautiful batik fabrics! Can we just skip the next 5 months and go straight to August? I'm really looking forward to sharing this project and showing you more sneak peeks as it develops.

Now for something that's up and ready for you to enjoy. Click Here to check out the sock darning tutorial!

I'm so happy to be able to fix the holes in my socks so I can keep wearing them. It makes no sense to throw away a perfectly good sock just because the heel has a hole in it.

Now I'm off for a cup of tea and a tiny bit of Zelda playing before dinner. I hope you've had a beautiful day!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Uggh...time changed...

Today was like this ugly darned sock.
It's fixed, but it's still ugly.

Well, maybe it wasn't THAT bad...
Daylight Savings Time began today. Uggh! I hate losing an hour in the spring because suddenly it feels so much harder to wake up early and get the day started.

On the weeks I take James to the bus stop I get up at 5:45 am. Yes, I like my sleep, but I also love to write and by waking up that early, I get to write at the kitchen table for around an hour before anyone else wakes up.

I already knew it would be an Uggh Day because one of my machines broke last night. I was quilting along happily, playing a silly Vampire Diaries episode in the background and suddenly the needle stopped catching the bobbin thread.

I broke thread and switched the machine to piecing. Still no go. The needle would drop, but didn't catch the bobbin thread at all.

Then the needle stopped going down. Umm...what???

I pulled on it and like a loaded spring, it just jumped back to the up position. This happened once before on this particular machine, but the glitch only lasted for a minute or so. I gave it a stern talking-to and it magically stopped glitching and went back to being an awesome machine.

Well no matter of yelling or sweet talking got her working again this time. To the shop with you!

Other than losing an hour and my upstairs machine, the day was nice. I shot a sock darning tutorial I'll share tomorrow, played a good bit of Zelda, and hung out with my guys. Give it a week and the time change won't matter a bit.

Let's go quilt (or go reset all your clocks),

Leah Day

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Chill Zelda Day

I'm finishing up the last pages of the Super Squares and Sashing Workshop today and fiddling with layout and design. This is one of those things that is tedious, but I actually enjoy arranging photos and text boxes on the page. It's kind of like quilt design and it's a bit of a puzzle to put together so the pages look as nice as possible.

After staring at the computer screen for a good while, I took a break with James to play some Zelda. I've been a die hard Nintendo Zelda fan ever since getting Links Awakening for Christmas in 5th grade. I even dress up like Zelda for comic book conventions!

Right now I'm exploring the incredible world of Breath of the Wild, which is the most awesome Zelda / Nintendo game ever! Just finished beating a massive labyrinth and shrine and can now go get more hearts and stamina.

I do have videos to film and quilts to quilt, but it's nice to kick back and relax and solve puzzles and hit things with swords for an hour or two. What are you working on today? I hope you're having a very relaxed Saturday!

Let's go quilt (or kill more Chu Chus and Gardians),

Leah Day

Friday, March 9, 2018

Super Star Quilting Tutorial and a Stubborn Cat

It's time for another fun walking foot quilting tutorial! I'm changing things up and going to begin sharing all the new quilting tutorials on my website. It gives them a more permanent place to live and hopefully easier for you to find.

Click Here to learn how to quilt Super Star. Let me know what you think of this new quilting tutorial format!

It's a beautiful day and I have a super cheerful quilt to work on. It's a bit chilly though so I'm waiting a few hours to let the Crafty Cottage warm up a bit before I go film the last videos on Prism Path

I can't wait to start quilting this bright, beautiful quilt! Josh will be editing the videos for quilt along series today so I'd like to have everything done for him by the end of the day.

Remember, Prism Path begins on April 2nd so you have plenty of time to gather your fabrics and be ready to begin this new quilt. I'll be sharing new videos every Monday and we will piece and quilt it together in just 6 weeks!

Click Here to find a fat quarter pack with the same colors of batik fabrics I'm using in this quilt.

Now if I could just figure out a way to stop Pickles from pawing at the window while I'm filming. She doesn't like being left outside, but she also doesn't like sitting still while I make videos.

Last week she decided to get my attention by jumping on the air conditioner. Talk about scary - it sounded like the back end of the cottage was being torn off! LOL!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sneak Peek of New Quilting Rulers with Grace Co.

Yep, you read that right! I'm teaming up with Grace Company to make a new set of quilting rulers!

Yes, you can quilt with this ruler too!
These are still in prototype, but I should have the official cut rulers sometime next week. I'm really excited about working with Grace Company for these because we'll finally be able to create rulers for home machines AND longarm machines. Longarms need the thicker plastic so the foot doesn't hop over the edge of the rulers.

Last year I designed a set of 10 quilting rulers for the Flower Festival Quilt Along. They were created cut Dresden Plate quilt blocks and were etched so they could also be used for machine quilting. I really don't like uni-taskers so I design my rulers so they can be used for quilting AND cutting.

But I could only produce this Dresden Plate Template Set for home machines. It was just too expensive to cut all 10 rulers for longarms too.

All experience is good experience and I learned a lot from creating that first set of templates. This new batch with Grace Company will be packaged singly so you can just pick up one at a time. That keeps the cost lower and makes it possible to cut them for both types of machines.

I don't have an official date when these will be ready yet, but I'm already planning a beautiful quilt to play with the designs. More videos and details coming soon!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New Quilting Friend from Qatar

I've made a new quilting friend this week! It's so much fun meeting quilters from around the world and having the excuse to have a chat on my quilting podcast.

Click Here to find this episode #48.

Grace Medina is a mother of two from Venezuela now living in Qatar. She shares quilting tutorials in Spanish on her YouTube channel Handy and Crafty.

This is the second Spanish quilting instructor I've had on the show. It's wonderful that quilting is being taught in different languages and countries so everyone who wants to sew and quilt can learn easily.

Starting this week I'll be sharing the show notes for the podcast on my website Click Here to find all the links, photos, and video!

The sun has come out once again which means it's a filming day. I'm heading out to the Crafty Cottage to begin quilting Prism Path.

Dad basted this quilt for me yesterday so it's ready to go! I love how this new version turned out with black fabric in the background.

Remember, this quilt along begins on April 2nd and you can find the quilt pattern to follow along in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

I also have a sock darning tutorial I'm wanting to film today too. I think I've found the perfect hoop for darning the toe of a sock - a mason jar lid! LOL! Sometimes you just gotta use what you've got on hand. Stay tuned for more details!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Paisley Ultimate Quilting Tutorial

Hello from a very rainy, gray day in North Carolina! I can't film new quilting videos on days like this because the rain is too loud on the Crafty Cottage roof.

Instead I'm staying in the house and quilting on a project that's been on my list for months. My Twisted Squares Quilt has been basted and I'm quilting this upside down - the quilt top is on the back and the back is printed Minky fabric I designed for Spoonflower!

This will be a new tutorial coming out in a few weeks. I've been putting it off because I knew it would take awhile to finish it, but now that I've started, I can't wait to get it done. This is going to be one bright, snuggly quilt!

Yesterday I shared a new Ultimate Quilting Tutorial for Paisley. This is the last of four older tutorials I've just recently updated. The videos had been originally posted back in 2009 and were look looking a bit dated so I filmed a new Ultimate tutorial quilting on both my home machine and longarm.

Click Here to find all four tutorials.

This Paisley tutorial was particularly tricky because I wrote all the text and had everything perfect. Then I clicked "save" and...


...the site glitched and I lost all my work! ARGH!

That wasn't fun. It took another hour to write it all back out again, but hey, I had already written it once, so it went a bit faster writing the second time. I hope you'll check out this tutorial and learn more about quilting Paisley.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, March 2, 2018

Walking Foot Quilting: How to Quilt Jagged Plain

Hello my walking foot quilting friend! Wow, that's a mouthful! We're starting our third month of the Machine Quilting Party and I can't wait to teach you a new batch of quilting designs. Learn how to quilt our first Foundational Design in this new quilting tutorial:

Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day - This is the book we're using as a guide to our quilt along! If you'd like to learn more about walking foot quilting and find the patterns for the quilts we're making together, you'll need to pick up a copy.

Click Here to find this book in print format.

Click Here to find the ebook version.

Click Here to find the kindle version of this book.

Now you might be looking at Jagged Plain and thinking - isn't this just Zigzag Lines, but with a bit more punch?

In an way, you're right. Both designs are created with straight lines that zigzag in different directions. The difference is in how you plan and think about the design.

With Jagged Plain, I begin by marking the foundation - the starting line that guides the design. Yes, this could just zigzag evenly across your quilt, but I encourage you to make this more interesting. Jagged Plain can double back and twist, so long as the lines remain straight and angles sharp, and create a much more interesting texture for your quilts.

I used Jagged Plain in one of the "X" blocks for the Hugs & Kisses Quilt. This is far more interesting and free form than if I'd quilted Zigzag Lines into the same area. This is another beautiful quilt from the book and a great way to dive deeper into the quilting designs and get to know them better.

Helpful Quilting Tools

Yes, is absolutely possible to quilt your quilts with just a quilt, thread, and a sewing machine. But if you find yourself having issues keeping the quilt moving smoothly or controlling where it's going, it's good to know what tools can be helpful for the job.

To keep a good grip on the quilt, I always wear quilting gloves. I love Machingers best because they're lightweight, but super grippy and my hands don't sweat when I wear them.

I also baste my quilts and blocks using Pinmoors and Flower Head Pins. The Pinmoors are anchors that cap the sharp end of the pin so I don't get stuck. They are much easier to insert and remove than safety pins and easier on my hands.

I also always have Queen Supreme Slider on my sewing machine because it helps the quilt slide easily over the surface. I don't want to think what it would feel like to quilt with grippy Minky material on the back without a slider to help it move. Click Here to learn how I set up my machine for walking foot quilting specifically.

So that's it for this week! I hope you enjoy learning how to quilt Jagged Plain. Remember, we have a lot of walking foot quilting tutorials available so make sure to check them all out right here.

And if you're ready to go on a quilting adventure with me, be sure to pick up the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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