Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Machine: Juki TL-2010 Q

Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree last night when I shared that I'm changing machines! After 4 years, I'm switching back to Juki with the TL-2010Q. Why? Learn why in this video!

Yes, I'm switching from a machine with an 11 inch harp space down to a machine with a 9 inch harp, but the visibility gained is absolutely worth it.

I encourage you to pay more attention to the position and angle you have to sit in at your machine, especially when free motion quilting. How contorted do you have to be in order to see what you're doing?

That angle of your neck might feel okay for the hour of quilting, but what long term damage is it doing? I'm only 30 and I've been going to chiropractors for 3 years that say my neck feels like it has whiplash trauma. I've never been in a car accident in my life, so it's pretty obvious where this is coming from.

Why do I think this Juki will work so much better?

I actually started this blog using a Juki TL-98 QE and actually quilted far more back then and never experienced this type of pain or headaches. So switching to the updated Juki TL-2010 Q just makes sense!

So that's my new machine update! Yes, I will be posting more about machines and reevaluating my list of what to look for in a machine. Yes, my opinion about longarms might even be changing because what matters most is your body and health. I've been very critical of longarms in the past, but the newer, more affordable table mounted midarms are definitely worth checking out.

Clearly visibility is far more important than I realized before, and I hope this post and video helps you not make the same mistake I did. Sometimes a big harp and tons of stitches aren't all they're cracked up to be!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Best Planner EVER!

Yes, I am actually blogging about my day planner. I LOVE it! This is the most amazing daily planner I have ever had in my life!
So what makes this baby so special? Mostly it's the ability to zero in on your exact goals, but also stay balanced with space to jot down more than just the five things on the top of your to-do list.

For me personally, this planner is helping me accomplish my most important goals and not get bogged down with distractions and conflicting priorities. The first chapter of this book is all about goal setting and getting in touch with what is important.

What is really important? For me, it's not writing another book, pattern, or DVD, but having time to hang out with Josh and James and finding time to pursue a creative idea. I hardly ever feel like there's enough time in the day for everything and it's frustrating to feel pulled in so many directions at once.

Fortunately this planner is helping me get back on track and find balance between business, family, and creativity. Each page is broken up like this:
Obviously you fill in the left column with the time breakdown of your day. Space is left below that column for what is on your mind. What are the negative and positive thoughts running through your head today? I find this space extremely helpful because acknowledging the negativity is the first step to doing something about it. If I'm pissed off, I really need to check in with WHY I'm pissed off today!

The next column starts with the day's intention and prioritized list of goals. I love that there's only space for 2 high and 2 medium priority goals. I've had the horrible habit of making a super long list of everything I need to do and then feel totally overwhelmed and unhappy when I can't accomplish it all in one day.
Below that list is a little picture of a circle with a triangle for you to check off all the areas of your life: learning, family & friends, work, health, fun!, goals, nature, and reflection.

Not surprisingly I always manage to check off "work" but rarely check off "Fun!" That is something I definitely need to work on.

On the next page you have space to write down what you are grateful for and any reminders from weekly goals you've set. Cultivating gratitude is such an important daily exercise. I find if I have just 5 minutes in the morning to sit and consider what I'm thankful for, my whole day goes better.

At the end of the day you have space to check in and answer the questions "Did you accomplish all your goals today? If not, what got in the way?" In the opposite column you have space to answer the question "What will you do differently tomorrow?"

This is just amazing. Rather than feel bad and disappointed with myself that I've screwed up some goals or failed to finish a task, this section is helping me come to terms with the fact that I'm not Superwoman! I can't get everything done every day. Stuff comes up!

Finishing up the section page is a section for a self assessment, a little quote for staying on track, and a spot to list your unfinished items that need to be carried over to the next day.

On top of the daily planner, this guide also helps you set weekly and monthly goals. Each week there's an extra page to check in on the past week and reassess. I love these sections because I have a tendency to be pulled in whatever direction the wind is blowing. Long term goals require long term focus and checking in weekly and monthly is definitely going to make a difference.

Wow! Is it scary or cool that I can write this much about my day planner? I have just found it so helpful and love that a friend passed it my way. Now I'm doing the same for you!

Click here to check out the Life Coach in a Book Planner at Amazon.

Let's go quilt,


Monday, September 29, 2014

46. How to Piece a Sawtooth Star Block

It's piecing time! We're piecing block #11 today - a beautiful Sawtooth Star quilt block:
This was actually one of the first blocks I ever learned how to piece nearly 10 years ago. I loved the flying geese blocks and basically found any excuse to piece them.

This radiating sawtooth mini quilt was one of my first perfect piecing projects. I learned how to piece an perfect 1 1/2 inch sawtooth in a workshop with Sally Collins and used it as the center for a bigger star, then that as the center for another star and so on to create this radiating effect.

Piecing these stars does require precision and accuracy, both of which I seemed to be lacking when I made this video! Excuse the lack of editing - I believe I had shot the middle section twice and just forgot to delete the first take. Oh well, at least there shouldn't be any confusion about how to piece this block!

Looking for piecing instructions? Find the cutting, piecing, and quilting instructions for each block in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

Let's piece three Sawtooth Stars this week and then learn how to quilt them with all these beautiful designs!

We're also going to speed up the posting again and Josh and I will be combining our posts together. We will likely finish posting all the videos in early November, but remember - everything is staying online for you to watch and learn so there's no rush if you're just starting this project!

You can absolutely work at your own pace and always find all the videos for this project right here.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Modern Blocks Inspired by Flooring

I've got a craving and only modern quilting can satisfy it! I'm craving simple, free form, non-traditional, improvisational piecing. I also want to work fast with precut fabrics in solid colors. I'm giving myself permission to do all of this and to be a student and experimenter again, not a teacher.

So for this project and blocks I'm allowing myself to piece however I want, whatever I want, and share it here for fun!

These first two blocks popped into my head last night after spending four straight days down on my hands and knees laying laminate wood floors. I got to thinking about the two most important rules of laying a floor:

1. Keep the length of the floor straight across the room, even if the walls aren't straight.
2. Stagger the cuts between boards so they don't form straight lines across the room.

When I compare these rules to piecing, the only one that agrees is to keep the lines straight. When piecing traditional blocks, we usually want the seam lines to all match up perfectly, not be staggered like a floor.  But what would a flooring inspired block look like?

I couldn't shake the idea so I decided to piece up a small block to see. If I followed the rules of flooring with staggered breaks in the planks of wood, then the blocks will look like this:

Modern Block #1 - Staggered Nicely
What if I laid the floor badly with the breaks lining up very close across the rows? What if I also pushed the edge of piecing and designed the breaks to be just slightly off? I pieced another set of strips and came up with another block:

Modern Block #2 - Badly Laid Floor
I find this last one slightly unsettling. The quilter in me wants the seams to line up evenly across the block. The floor layer in me wants the breaks to be more staggered as above. This block is all wrong, wrong wrong!

But doesn't that also make it wonderfully right?!

What do you think? Which block is your favorite and why? Would you need to piece a third with the seams all matching in the middle?

It seems I can't get enough of wood floors because I'm now considering piecing a wood flooring inspired table runner. I guess if you spend enough time staring at something it eventually becomes inspirational!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, September 26, 2014

365 Designs at MQX Midwest - UPDATE!

While I've been mucking around with flooring, one of my quilts has been off on an adventure. Come see 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs at MQX Midwest!

Nope, she didn't win any ribbons this time around, but I didn't really expect to. This quilt is not really that kind of show winner, I think because it doesn't have a big overall design to catch your eye from far away.

Update! - I was totally wrong about the lack of ribbons! Turns out she won two awards - a faculty award from Jerry Granata and Viewer's Choice!

To me, these two awards mean so much more than the cash prize ribbons, mostly because this time around I'm not entering shows for the ribbons or awards. I'm showing because I want my quilts to be seen and appreciated.

These awards make me feel thoroughly hugged and kissed by the quilting world! It feels like 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs was really appreciated and enjoyed at the show, and that is the whole point.

So I'm off to do another happy dance! Super thank you to everyone who voted for my girl at MQX Midwest!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Flooring Adventures

Yes, we're remodeling once again! It seems like we can't go more than six months without either needing to repair or replace something in our house. So far to date we've replaced the roof, all appliances, the driveway, the plumbing, remodeled two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and the kitchen.

Whew! That sounds like a huge amount of changes, but keep in mind we've lived in this house for eight years, so most of those projects have been quite spaced out. This time around, we're finally tackling the biggest, smelliest, ugliest eye sore in the house: the carpet.

Please accept this home decorating tip - NEVER install red carpets in your house! This wall to wall carpet stretches through all the bedrooms, hall, dining, and living room and it shows every spec of dirt, every crumb of dropped food.

Unfortunately it was already very worn out when we bought this house more than 8 years ago, which big wrinkles down the middle that were deep enough to trip you. It's obvious this carpet has to go, but because it covers such a huge space it's been very hard to plan a time to rip it all out.

Simply put - I hate disrupting my life and routine for renovation work. Josh hates it twice as much as I do, so we can both get pretty grumpy when the house gets chaotic and crowded with tools, wood, dust, and all the other side effects of a big project.

So we're trying to keep the project small and contained - rip the carpet, clean up the floors, and lay laminate wood flooring on top. We're also keeping it small by only tackling the dining, hall, and living room. I might never get around to ripping the red carpet from the bedrooms and that's just fine.

We've already had a few surprises with this project. We began ripping in the dining room, only to find that room was once sealed off with a wall and door that must have been removed by the previous owners. Unfortunately they didn't do a good job patching the floor so Dad had to hammer out their bad work and repair the floor where the boards are uneven.

As we ripped into the hall we were in for another surprise. Underneath all the carpet was the most filthy, ugly linoleum floor. I'd previously encountered this floor in the bathroom. Little did I know - it stretches through the ENTIRE house!

The linoleum is in bad shape and was too thick to lay the floor over so yesterday we took the time to rip it out of the hall way. Did I find gorgeous hardwood floors underneath??? No! Paper, glue, and plywood. My house has yet to ever surprise me with anything beautiful or amazing.

In fact, the more we rip, the more we find evidence of what was original to the house, and it's scary bad. The original carpet in the dining room was avocado green shag which probably complemented this orange linoleum quite nicely. Was everyone living in the 1970's blind?! Lol!

It might sound mean, but the more I learn about my house from doing these remodels, the more I realize that it was seriously butt ugly when it was built. Ugh!

Okay, enough ranting. I'd better get downstairs and quilt before we start again this morning. At least today we'll see real progress as the floors begin to go down. Yay!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Josh's Pebbles & Echoes in a Basket Block

This is Josh, it's Tuesday, so that means it's time for my turn at this week's block: Pebbles and Echoes in our basket block series.

And here's how it came out:

How are you doing with these basket blocks? I know I really enjoy this set and can't wait to see it all come together. I'd love to hear your experience with the basket blocks so please comment below!

On another note, we are day 2 on our carpet removal and floor installation project upstairs. We're ripping out the monstrosity of a 1970s red carpet in the living room, dining area, and hallway. As you can see below, the carpet and foam layer are history, but we still have a lot of work to do.

You can see I'm a lot happier than I was during our last home improvement project. After a disastrous experience with an incompetent slob who truly put the "con" in contractor, it's nice to be 100% in control of a project. Stuff like this isn't any fun, especially what we're doing today with scraping up the old vinyl flooring that's coated with a millimeter of scum and grease, but the finished result will be well worth it.

See you next week!

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