Friday, July 31, 2015

Winner of Free Craftsy Class

My new class The Quilting Effect is only days away from launching on Craftsy and we have selected a winner of our giveaway. Congratulations Laurel D - you've won a free class pass!

Leah Day Craftsy class | The Quilting Effect
The Quilting Effect is a really different class from the others I've taught on Craftsy. I really wanted to dig into quilting design and discuss many ways to quilt over many different styles of quilts. We're going to learn about All Over Quilting on a scrappy style tumbler quilt:

Leah Day Craftsy class | The Quilting Effect
Then we'll learn how to design and quilt an asymmetrical star quilt with lots of background space:

Leah Day Craftsy class | The Quilting Effect
Then we'll dig into applique and discover many creative ways to quilt within and around applique shapes:
Leah Day Craftsy class | The Quilting Effect

I quilted each of these quilts THREE different ways (whew!) to create totally unique, beautiful effects on the surface. If you've been asking yourself - how do I quilt that quilt? where do I start? What will that design look like on the surface? then this class will definitely help you start answering those questions with confidence.

I'll be sharing more details on this new class soon, so feel free to post any questions you have about it in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Free Motion Quilt Loaded Boxes #446

It's time for a new quilting design! Quite awhile ago we learned Unloaded Boxes, which is a fun zigzaggy design with open square shapes. Now let's try filling those spaces to create Loaded Boxes, a beautiful combination of straight lines and spirals:

free motion quilting | loaded boxes quilting design
This design does have a lot of steps - stitch a ziggy line, form a square shape, fill the square with a circle and spiral. Travel stitch out and echo around the box and zigzag line multiple times. Whew! It's a lot to remember and may seem pretty complicated if you're just getting started. Just remember there are plenty of super easy designs on this project you can play with as well.

machine quilting book | Leah Day
While it may not look like it, this design is a variation of McTavishing, which puts it in the Branching Design Family. If you're curious about learning more about free motion quilting designs and how I organize them into design families, definitely check out the book Free Motion Quilting from Feathers to Flames.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quilting the Dream Goddess Part 1

You know the nice benefit of getting a lot done on a project you don't really want to work on? A wonderful feeling of productivity and lightness!

This year long scrapbook project actually feels lighter and easier to manage. I'm still not totally caught up, but I'm a lot closer than I was before.

In the evening I rewarded myself with several hours of quilting time on the Dream Goddess:

I'm filling her face first, then working outward to fill in the rows of feathers in her hair. I'd like to have a big chunk of this finished by Thursday so I can bring her with me on a special trip...more on that later this week!

Filling in different designs through this quilt feels easy and fun. I'm intentionally building up thread like I did with Duchess Reigns which creates bold areas of white that really stand out from a distance:

With Duchess Reigns I struggled with distortion across the quilt surface and a lot of pleats and puckers. I believe a lot of those issues were caused by hand dyeing the wholecloth before it was filled. Just in case it was caused by my basting method, I've not only pin basted this quilt, I also machine basted with water soluble thread:

With lines of basting stitches 2-3 inches apart, the quilt is holding together a lot more securely. It took a few hours to get all the lines stitched, but I think it will be absolutely worth it.

This is the first quilt I'm quilting on the Juki 2200. It's been a big adjustment switching from a domestic machine to table mounted longarm. I'm planning to use this machine mostly for my personal projects, like this Dream Goddess, but still film videos and quilt most quilts on my domestic machines out in the Crafty Cottage.

I honestly didn't expect quilting on a table mounted longarm to feel so different, but it has been a bit like learning how to free motion quilt all over again. I know I'll have the hang of it down by the end of the Dream Goddess quilt. I plan to shoot a video on using this new machine soon so be looking for an update sometime next week.

Now I'm off to throw more thread at this pretty girl!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I don't want to work on that...

Wow! It seems I really struck a chord with everyone last week on my post Stop Hoarding, Start Creating. This week has been one of my most productive and fun this year because I followed my creative inspiration each time it nudged me.

I finished the acrylic painting and moved on to bead embroidery:

bead embroidery | Leah Day
This is a small Express Your Love goddess designed to be filled with beads and embroidery thread. Yep, I've been working on it since our quilt along in 2013 and I expect it's going to take quite a lot time to finish.

I don't often want to work on this panel because it's so time consuming. I can easily throw a few hours at this project and only have an inch of space to show for my hard work.

Still, every little bit of stitching gets me one step closer to it being done!

bead embroidery | Express Your Love
I also pulled out the materials in my Quilty Box and created THREE Diamond Path table runners (with a bit of piecing help from Dad):
Diamond Path Table RunnerDiamond Path Table Runner

But there is a project I really need to work on, but I just don't want to mess with it. This year I've been trying to keep a scrapbook with at least one photograph for every day of the year. I've been printing everything out using a mini printer which produces business card sized photographs.

photo scrapbook
I love having this record of our year. I often forget the fun things we do together and having the scrapbook will be a wonderful way to look back and remember.

But around March I got behind and it's just gotten worse and worse. Right now I need to print 4 months worth of photos and get them all organized in the scrap book. It feels like an overwhelming, not fun task, but I know once it's done I will feel very happy and relieved it's done.

Do you ever feel like this? Like you don't want to work on something, but if you did, it would be a relief just to have it done?

How do you make yourself work on a project when it just feels tedious and boring?

I've decided to put myself in jail today and just get all the photos printed. They don't have to be organized chronologically in the scrapbook (that will be next week), but they do need to be all printed out.

I've done jail time with projects before. This is how I finally finished the ridiculous hand binding on the 365 quilt and how I finished Duchess Reigns this winter. It's wonderful when your creative impulse pushes you to make something new and beautiful, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and FINISH the monster project that just needs to get done.

So now I'm off to jail armed with donuts and hot tea. How bad can this be?

Let's go finish something today!

Leah Day

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Craftsy Class Coming Soon!

Leah Day Craftsy Class
Way back in March I began working on a new Craftsy class that would be unlike any class I'd ever taught before. I wanted to explore different ways the quilting design effects your finished quilt. To test this theory, I decided to design three quilts, then quilt each of them three different ways.

Yep - that is NINE quilts! If you're wondering why I've been working on this class since March - that's why! This was a massive endeavor, but ultimately the best way to create the new class - The Quilting Effect. 

Leah Day Craftsy ClassWould you like a chance to win a free class pass?

So often I'm asked "How do I quilt it?!" and that's really a two part question - how do I pick the designs for the quilt and how do I apply the designs to the quilt?

In a world of over-the-top quilting and designs that only seem to become more and more intense, how do you choose what designs to use on your quilts? How do you know what you will like to see on the surface? And how in the world do you pick the right thread color?!

Leah Day Craftsy Class
If you've been asking yourself these questions, then this new class will be right up your alley! We will dig into selecting designs and thread colors, sampling to know what your quilt will look like in advance, and how to make these decisions based on the most important factor of all - the time and energy you have for that project.

My goal in creating this class was to empower you to play with quilting design and give you the confidence to jump in with both feet. Make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win this new class coming out soon!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quilty Box Challenge!

diamond path table runner | basiX template
Last month I received my first Quilty Box and loved the collection of fabric, patterns, and tools, BUT I didn't have time to make anything from the supplies. This month I've decided to challenge myself to use the gear in my Quilty Box to make a brand new quilt.

Remember - it's time to stop hoarding and start creating so if you're wanting a fun monthly challenge definitely join in this fun project!

This little table runner project only took a few hours to piece, and I'm thrilled with the results! This was pieced using Patricia Pepe's BasiX Template which allowed me to create complex blocks without paper or template piecing.

See how I used the materials in this month's Quilty Box to create this beautiful table runner:

Click Here to find the pattern for this table runner. 

piecing basiX templateI was inspired to create a table runner for this challenge, but quickly realized I didn't want to use only the Wilmington Prints Flourish Batik strips from the box. I added black Kona strips as well so the quilt would have nice contrast and lots of background space to add beautiful quilting designs.

Piecing this top went super quickly even though the blocks cut from the BasiX template are off grain. The key to piecing with off-grain fabrics is to be very gentle when handling them and to starch the crap out of the fabric before you cut!

No, I've not become a convert to Mary Ellen's Best Press, but I think you should definitely use SOMETHING to stabilize your fabric before piecing and cutting. I still prefer Niagara brand spray starch because it's less expensive and makes the fabric much stiffer and easier to handle. Find more on starching your quilts here.

basiX template | diamond table runner
The thing I loved most about this project was working with the BasiX template and playing with the layout of all the blocks. I loved this pattern so much I'm already piecing together more strips to make two more table runners!

So what will you make from your Quilty Box? Are you inspired to make a table runner too, or a scrappy quilt from the precut strips? Share this video with your friends and challenge yourself to get creative with Quilty Box!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stop Hoarding, Start Creating!

hoarding craft supplies
Are you really a creative person, or just a hoarder of cool creative stuff?

This is an issue I run into a lot. I have a lot of creative interests and in recent years I've been able to invest in those interests and expand quite large stashes of beads, yarn, fiber, paint, and fabric. But does owning all this STUFF actually make me a creative person?

Nope. It just means I have a very full feeling house.

See what I mean in this Light Up Your Life video:

crafty supply hoarding | art yarn
How to Actually Be Creative

To me being creative comes as natural as feeling hungry for lunch around noon and feeling tired and ready for bed around 9 pm. It's like a little nudge of desire in the back of my head that makes me want to spin, knit, crochet, bead, or quilt.

Sometimes it's the feeling of the craft that I find myself craving - like the feeling of soft wool sliding through my fingers as I spin, or the meditative pace of hand stitching hexagons. Sometimes a project will pop into my head fully formed. I MUST go make that blue jacket right NOW!

I believe that natural impulse to make beautiful things or to revel in the crafty process comes to everyone. I believe ALL people have creative urges, but unfortunately most have learned to ignore those urges and squash them before they even become real desires. Remember, you are allowed to WANT.

crafty supply hoarding | yarn hoarding
Excuses Kill Creativity

But I often find myself killing my creative impulses too. I'm too busy, or too tired, or the house is already a mess, and why in the world do I want to pull out my drum carder now?!

I make a lot of excuses and then (because the impulse never really goes away) - I go shopping.

Touring the aisles of Michaels or Mary Jo's Cloth Store certainly makes me feel very happy. So many beautiful things to play with - paint, yarn, beads, and more fabric than I could ever use in my lifetime...

And so a vicious cycle beings with creative impulses being ignored in favor of a quick trip to the shop and new materials being brought home. Soon the STUFF is so overwhelming it needs it's own special shelving and storage bins and MORE time is spent organizing all this cool, creative stuff than has ever been spent actually USING it.

I find it interesting that I'm not the only one having noticed this trend recently. Bonnie Hunter recently shared in her post Stash Attack! and I loved her comparison to cooking food:

"I want to be able to call myself a quilter because I MAKE QUILTS.  Not because I shop.

That’s like saying “I’m a cook!”  And all I do is buy groceries that fill the fridge and no one eats them, and when things go bad, we toss them out." 

Making Mistakes and Learning

Personally the main thing that stops me from using my supplies is the fear of wasting my awesome gear. What if I make a big mistake? What if the project is a total catastrophe? What if that jacket doesn't fit? What if I totally botch that painting?

All these little questions are little threads of fear that eventually tie you up in a web of insecurity. I'm scared of wasting my paint and canvas because I'm not that skilled at painting and I will likely mess it up.

crafty supply hoarding | creative painting Leah Day
But what will help me gain the skill for painting? ACTUALLY PAINTING!

Mistakes are simply part of the creative process. They are necessary, intrinsic and essential. I will learn nothing by keeping the paint safe in the tubes. I have to be willing to use what I have, accept my skill where it is, and DO THE WORK.
So what about you? Do you tend to hoard your craft supplies and fabric or do you only buy exactly what you need for exactly one project? Do you follow your creative impulses or try to squash the impulse with other activities?
This week I challenge you to follow one impulse, no matter how big or how small. Just follow it, try the idea, play with the materials, and see where it leads!

Now let's get moving, let's try something new,

Leah Day
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