The Free Motion Quilting Project

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Podcast #16: Time Management with Vicki Holloway

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I have a fun interview with Vicki Holloway about time management and how she has a full time job, is a longarm quilter, podcaster, and blogs daily right here on her website.

That is a LOT of stuff to manage at once and as someone that frequently feels frustrated with my lack of progress on many projects, talking with Vicki really helped me get focused, create a daily plan, and to feel better about what I'm getting done every day.

Make sure to check out Vicki's website right here. Vicki started quilting when she was a little girl making baby quilts for her cousins, then took a break for several years and came back to the craft when she had children. She also wanted to make a Double Wedding Ring Quilt and like me, didn't get very far!

Now for a few of Vicki's tips on getting things done:
  • She learned how to prioritize tasks as a working mother by breaking jobs into 10 - 15 minute segments. 
  • Let go of the idea of "All or Nothing." You have to be willing to bend or break things up into pieces.
  • Excuses are time vampires.
  • Vicki gets up at 6 am every day. She has 1 hour 30 minutes to sew before work and has a plan of what she will sew or quilt from the night before.
  • She can only sit at the machine or stand at the longarm for 30-45 minutes because of arthritis so she always breaks up her time with different activities.
  • Vicki lives close to her work so she can come home for lunch and breaks and get a little quilting time in during the day.
  • She spends a lot off time thinking through blog posts, podcast episodes, and quilt projects during the day so she's ready to create during her creative time.
  • Vicki is not a fan of chain stitching, mass cutting, or any other volume quilting techniques. She works one block at a time, one row at a time, through a quilt.
  • She doesn't have too many projects going at once and keeps things very organized within her sewing space.
  • Managing what you do with your time is more important than perfect organization. She doesn't watch TV, read much, or make fancy dinners now because she would rather be creating.
  • Vicki has a rule to Do It the First Time which means when you see something like the trash overflowing, go on ahead and take care of it rather than struggle with it over and over again.
  • Routines and systems are Vicki's key. In the summer Vicki travels with her husband, but she lives in the north so in the winter she stays home to create.
Vicki shares a Daily Prompt Challenge where she challenges you make something every day with a unique prompt. It's helping quilters that are creatively stuck to get unstuck and start quilting again.

Vicki's top three steps to her system: she has a schedule, uses calendars and timers on her phone so she doesn't lose track of time, and she keeps a list of what she needs to do next. She writes down her lists on post-it notes and then rips up the note when she's completed all the tasks.

Vicki and I also collaborated together on a really fun quilt project. She shared a tutorial on improv piecing and guided you through piecing this modern quilt block. Click Here to find her tutorial.

Then Vicki sent me the quilt and I had so much fun quilting it! I love how this turned out and you can find my video on improvisational quilting right here.

The sponsor for the show is the Machine Quilting Block Party where you can now find three block patterns that will guide you through piecing the blocks AND machine quilting them with several beautiful designs. Click Here to learn more about the Machine Quilting Block Party!

Now for a few updates from the beginning of the show:

We finally have an official home for the podcast right here. This player will automatically update when new episodes go live so you can always find new episodes on this page.

I also plan to add tabs both on this blog and on the website so this page is also easy to find. It's one thing to make a page, it's another thing to actually link it up so quilters can find it!

I've made a lot of progress on my Peaceful Goddess Quilt pattern and fusible applique. I've had a lot of questions in my head about fusible web, how to stack the pieces so the blocks are easy to build, and what color thread to stitch over the edges of the pieces.

The best way to answer questions like this is to go play! This morning I plunked myself down in the studio and cut and fused and answered a lot of these questions. I love, love, LOVE how these Peaceful Goddess faces are turning out in beautiful Island Batik fabrics:

In order to spend more time on the goddess quilts, I have been getting ahead on the Machine Quilting Block Party and I've already thinking about the block party for 2018. I know we're still in very early days of 2017, but I've learned the earlier I can plan this project, the better it will work.

I've made a lot of great progress on my walking foot quilting book and finally finished the chapter on the quilting designs, which was a struggle. Josh's advice to simplify was super helpful and encouraged me to not get too obsessive about the writing being perfect.

I've also been scoping out a place I can work on the book without interruption. Here's the Crafty Cottage Tour I mentioned in the intro and you can see the old table top which was completely covered in junk at the back of the room. This is who I am - when there's a flat surface that's not needed to be clean for a video, it will get covered in junk. I'm just not a kid that likes to put away her toys!

I've collapsed this table and bought a small chair and collapsible desk that I installed on the wall. In order for this to work I have to sit down in the chair, then pull down the desk. Then I'm in "jail" and I can't move until my writing is done. To get up from the seat, I have to collapse the desk so I can't leave it out and cover it with clutter.

I know this is odd, but this is who I am and hopefully this new setup will help me get more writing done! The inspiration for redesigning this space came from reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. After listening to this audiobook, I knew I needed to redesign this space so I could get more work done without interruption.

I've also shared two new Sit Down Quilting Sunday videos and you can find all of them listed right here. I've been enjoying this new series and answering your questions about sit down quilting on a longarm machine. I've also enjoyed the challenge of learning how to quilt on a longarm which is very similar to home machines, but also has a lot of differences too.

That's it for this week! I'm definitely fired up from Vicki's podcast and ready to get organized and create more every single day!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quilting a Patchwork Tulip Quilt Block

It's time to quilt the third block for the Machine Quilting Block Party and this month's block includes many beautiful designs. We're going to learn how to quilt Swirling Water, one my my all time favorite quilting designs, Pebbling, more feathers, and try a bit more ruler foot quilting.

Please remember that the ruler foot quilting is 100% optional. You could also quilt the straight lines with normal free motion quilting or with your walking foot. I've really enjoyed learning this new technique and I'd love for you to try it, but if you don't have rulers or a ruler foot right now you always have alternative methods for quilting these sections.

I used Template #5 from the Dresden Plate Template set to quilt the straight lines in this block. Yep, you can use the template to cut out Dresden Plates and quilt them too! Let's jump right into machine quilting so you can see how ruler quilting works in this video tutorial:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block #3.

I marked most of the quilting designs in my block because I wanted to create an exact copy of the quilting design included in the pattern. This was a design choice - not cheating, breaking the rules, or anything bad.

You can always mark the lines and quilt along them and it will actually be faster and easier to quilt your quilt because marking takes the guess work out of the quilting process.

If you're feeling confident with your quilting and want to branch out beyond lines, that's just fine too. Free hand quilting refers to quilting without marks to guide you and it's a beautiful way to add your own "signature" to your quilt. No one else will quilt any design exactly the same way you do. That also means that you may run into issues and gaps in designs and have to figure out creative ways to fill in those spaces.

Just be patient with yourself and always keep a marking pencil nearby. I can't tell you the number of times I've gotten a bit stuck in a design and found my way out by marking a few lines to help me see how to move forward.

So what have you thought of our Patchwork Tulip quilt block? Was the piecing design challenging for you? How did it feel to machine quilt? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dense Quilting on a Longarm Machine - Sit Down Quilting Sunday #7

This week I've been cleaning out the Crafty Cottage which had gotten very junky and filled with random quilt projects I'd planned to shoot videos with, but never got around to. One of the quilts in that pile was this unfinished wholecloth:

This quilt was actually a test for Duchess Reigns to see if my idea for dyeing the quilt in the middle of the quilting process would work. I really should have finished this mini quilt and maybe I wouldn't have spent two years fighting with Duchess Reigns.

Just in case you're curious: dyeing an entire quilt after it's been basted and outline quilted isn't a good idea.

This little wholecloth turned out too pretty to chuck in the trash, but I've never had much time to finish it. Now that I have these Sit Down Quilting Sunday videos to share, I figure I can also use this as an opportunity to share projects like this and further test the limits of my Grace Qnique machine. See what I mean in this new video:

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

I was surprised by how well the machine handled the dense quilting. I didn't run into any issues with skipping stitches and the machine powered through the quilting even when I knew there were at least 8 layers of thread in one line.

The trick to quilting so smoothly was good speed control. I needed to move the quilt slowly and steadily so I ran the machine at a very slow, steady pace. This required only the TINIEST amount of pressure from my foot on the foot pedal.

When I first received this machine, I definitely didn't have this much control over the speed and I found it challenging to find these slower speeds. Now with 7 weeks on this machine, I'm able to maintain a consistent slow speed and avoid crazy pulses where the speed suddenly goes from fast to slow or slow to fast. This is all down to practice and quilting real quilts. No way around it!

If you've never tried wholecloth quilting you really should give it a try. Wholecloth quilts provide a marvelous way to build new skills for machine quilting and design. If you quilt with contrasting thread, it will dramatically improve your ability to quilt any design, travel stitch, and echo because you'll be able to clearly see what you're doing.

Learn more about wholecloth quilting by taking a workshop with me! Click Here to check out the Heart & Feather Wholecloth Workshop.

I figure since I've shared a lot of very dense quilting lately you're probably in the mood to see some large scale quilting next. What do you think? Let me know what you'd like to see and I'll plan a new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video just for you!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S - You can find all the Sit Down Quilting Sunday posts right here!
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