Friday, April 18, 2014

FMQ Project Link Up

It's Friday and time to share what we've been quilting this week. This week I've been working on a new book! I'm not ready to spill the beans completely on this project, but suffice it to say it's going to be BIG with loads of information, pretty photos, and a few fun projects to try out! I go into writing mode, I tend to spend a lot more time on the computer than usual, which means my sewing machine is feeling a bit neglected. Rather than fall too deeply into this rut, I'm making an effort to get downstairs and piece or quilt SOMETHING every day.

This week I received samples and some yardage of my Quilt Me! Fabric from Spoonflower and had loads of fun cutting and piecing with it. It's interesting to find the limitations of this fabric - like how the Gridlines are tricky to match: didn't even attempt to match the lines here, thinking it would still look okay. After the final seam and press, however, I could literally feel my grandmother's spirit cringing at the sight of the mismatching lines. She was a stickler for matching strips and lines and this would have made her very unhappy!

So back to the drawing board...or rather the cutting table! I found if I filled the corners with little squares instead, matching the lines of the design wouldn't matter a bit:

It's really interesting to play with these fabrics and figure out what works and what doesn't. Because this fabric has such big designs, I think it's going to work best when cut into larger pieces. My third attempt at a block was my favorite - an 8.5 inch square surrounded with 3.5 inch strips and 3.5 inch corner squares.
Working in this freeform way was fun, but it wasn't always this way. I used to get really bogged down with my inner negative voice when working like this, mostly if my first attempt at something didn't come out perfect the first time.

These days I try to remain mindful that design is messy and never perfect. It doesn't always work out the first time, and yes, there is waste of fabric and time to figure out what works and what doesn't. It's all part of the process!

So how about you? Do you give yourself a break when you're trying something new, or do you demand perfection with every block and every seam?

It's your turn to share what you've been quilting this week!

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!

Grab a button to easily link back to the Free Motion Quilting Project!

Free Motion Quilting Project
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Colorful! Cheater Cloth

Yes! After a lot of fiddling with colors and fine tuning of designs, we have our Colorful Cheater Cloth!

Building Blocks Colorful Cheater Cloth on White

This collection of all 42 blocks in the Building Blocks Quilt Along as been quite a lot of effort to plan and color, but it's so colorful and cheerful - it was worth every second!
I have to admit, I never really understood the appeal of fabric design before because it just seemed really fiddly and complicated. Well, it is fiddly and complicated, but man, there's nothing like the feeling of slicing into my fabric and piecing it up into beautiful blocks.

The blocks here are from my Quilt Me! Fabric line, which was designed with the same colors as the Building Blocks Cheater Cloth. You can mix and match the two together to create some really neat blocks:
This is the Spinning Square Block in green from the Building Blocks Colorful Cheater Cloth

The idea behind this fabric and the cheater cloth is the quilting design is printed on the fabric making it easy to quilt on the lines and get loads of practice for free motion quilting.

No, the lines on the fabric won't wash out after quilting - they're permanent - but isn't this a cool way to practice and make a beautiful quilt at the same time?!

Looking at all the designs I've created over the years, I'm a bit excited and overwhelmed with all the possibilities for new fabric designs. I know I'd love to see fabric printed with feather filler and swirling water...What designs would you love to see in fabric?

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Josh's Stippling

Josh here, and today I'm tackling stippling on my spoonflower cheater cloth.

This was really my first go at extended stippling. I found it imperative to have practiced the wiggly U filler shapes and gotten comfortable with them before trying my hand at proper stippling. Looking at the completed block below, ultimately my best work was done over the 1/4" scale stippling, in the square blue corner. This scale came very naturally to me. The larger I found it harder to stay on line, and the 1/8" scale... well, if you watched the whole video, I wasn't shy on sharing my opinion.

And now for the flip side:

You can see how things went off the rails at the 1/8" level. Frankly, I just wasn't ready for that scale and tight stitching. Turning the block over and working freehand was helpful, in the end, but looking at the finished block now, I wish I'd continued with the 1/4" scale over the smaller stippling. I think that would have made a cool effect.

You can also see all the "bird's beaks" (the sharp edges on the tiny stippling) on the 1/8" scale. I just didn't have enough control to make the curves, regardless of what I tried.

This was still an excellent learning experience. If you're a beginner like I am, I would absolutely suggest practicing on a scrap block.

Did you have trouble with this one? Was the 1/8" scale a bane of your free motion existence as it was for me? Comment below!

Until next week,

Let's go... stipple!


Leah's note: Josh was fiddling a lot with his speed slider. This can be very distracting and can inhibit learning proper speed control by working the pedal. If you have a speed slider, it's best to pick a speed and leave it alone while you learn the basics of free motion quilting.

All of the slower speeds you need for the denser quilting can be found in your foot pedal. You just have to figure out how to adjust your ankle and foot to find those slower, steady speeds. Fiddling with a speed slider is just going to become a distraction and something you're continually adjusting for every line of quilting you do. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

15. Quilt a Building Block with Stippling

It's time to learn about Stippling! This super popular free motion quilting design is a great choice for beginning quilters to tackle because there's no travel stitching involved. The rule behind this design is simple - Just wiggle! and try not to cross your lines of quilting.

Because Stippling is so popular, I've actually shot many video of this design over the years. If you've never quilted Stippling, you might want to check out these videos and try out this design in a practice sandwich first and get familiar with the simple shapes and movement. Here's a few posts and videos to check out from the past:

Lately I've been thinking of a fun analogy for quilting designs - it's really like a relationship!

In order to quilt a design well, you have to first meet and see if you like each other. Some designs you stitch out will just not be friendly at first and you may need to meet other designs before you find the right one.

Then you get to know one another by hanging out a lot. You learn where the design works best, where it looks good, and the better you know it, the better you like it!

Understand that you're never wasting time by stitching a design you know, or by practicing a design you're learning. You're just building a relationship that will make free motion quilting easier with every design you learn.

So a funny way to look at this block is as dinner date with Stippling. Try not to curse at him! He might be a bit random, but very wiggly all around!

A quick reminder if you haven't yet joined us on this super fun quilt along - You can join anytime by picking up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern right here!

So after stitching 1 inch, 1/2 inch, 1/4 inch, and 1/8 inch stippling - what is your favorite scale?

Were you able to shrink down your stitching, or did that feel like a struggle?

What did you think about quilting each section of the block in rows?

Do you need all your lines marked, or can you quilt this free hand without marks?

Share your experience and ask any questions you have about quilting Stippling on these multiple scales!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, April 11, 2014

FMQ Project Link Up

It's Friday and time to link up with the cool things we've free motion quilted this week!

This week I've been putting the finishing touches on my first fabric line. I'm calling it Quilt ME! and it's fabric designed to be cut and pieced like normal fabric, but the quilting design is printed too, so to quilt, all you have to do is follow the lines:

This has been tons of fun to play with, but lots and lots of work! I never new it was so tricky to get all the lines to connect together just right. It makes me respect fabric manufacturers so much more because they handle the repeats for hundreds of designs a year.

Just in case you're interested in designing fabric yourself, I learned how to do this from the book: A Field Guide to Fabric Design

Basically you start with an idea and draw the lines on small square of paper. To get the repeats to connect perfectly, you cut the paper apart and tape it back together, drawing more lines that cover the gaps.

It's a bit hard to explain, but this book does such a great job explaining the process. I decided to start small with just 5 designs: Stippling, Pebbling, Paisley, Gridlines, and one rainbow diamond stripe that could work as a border fabric for fun.

Despite the effort to color and design each fabric, I'm extremely pleased with the results and super happy to have such bright, cheerful colors to play with!
I plan to use my sample squares to test different battings to know how they act - how it would shrink, how my quilting stitches would look, if the quilt would be soft or not, etc. The only way to test batting is to put it in a sandwich, quilt it, zigzag the edges then throw it in the wash and see what happens.

Today I'm going to cut 12 inch squares of batting and piece together samples from my Quilt Me! Fabric and quilt on the lines. The lines are spaced 1/2 inch apart, which is my preferred scale for bed quilts.

I also plan to quilt a small section of each block very densely. I really want to see how different battings react to dense quilting. I'm looking for a batting that will still finish soft, but not too wrinkly and crinkly.

So that's what I'm up to today! What have you been working on?

Simple rules for the FMQ Project Link Up:

1. Link up with a post that features something you've learned from the Free Motion Quilting Project.
2. Somewhere in your post, please link back here.
3. Comment on at least 2 other links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect with other quilters around the world!

Grab a button to easily link back to the Free Motion Quilting Project!

Free Motion Quilting Project
<div class="Free Motion Quilting Project" style="width: 150px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="Free Motion Quilting Project" width="150" height="150" /> </a> </div>

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#431 - Free Motion Quilt Blazing Spiral

I'm needing a new design fix today! This design is based on Basic Spiral, but with little pointy ends like flames to make it Blazing Spiral:

I read somewhere last year that Spirals are the new Stippling, which made me laugh at the whole fashionista sound of that. After all, gray is now the new white!

But it's understandable why they are so popular. Spirals add a beautiful flowing texture to your quilt. Even as an all over design, this isn't going to be boring!

The really nice thing about this design is you can use it to hide mistakes! I was stitching on all the lines in a Peaceful Goddess Panel and stitched off a bit.

Last year, I probably would have broken thread and started ripping out this little mistake. These days I'm refusing to rip, which means I have to find ways to hide mistakes like this within the quilting design.

So I decided to turn that little stitch off into a Blazing Spiral shape:
I stitched the Blazing Spiral, reconnected with the marked line and hid the mistake in one fell swoop. Then continued to stitch up the line (staying on it a bit better this time) and stitch more spirals into the space:

As the space became narrower, I had to work off the outer lines a lot more. Basically I'd stitch into the space with half or a piece of the flame shape, echo quilt to fill it, then travel along the outer lines to space the next line.

After I reached the tip of the hair section, I turned the quilt around and stitched Blazing Spiral all the way back to the end:

All told, this section may have taken 10 minutes to quilt, mostly because I kept stopping to shoot photos. Yes, this smaller scale stitching does take more time, but look how many repetitions of the design I was able to fit into this small space:
In the video and in the goddess panel I quilted this design on a small scale. If you're wanting to learn this design on a bigger scale, you'll want to check out the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Volume 1.

In this class I teach 50 designs on a larger scale as we work through all the blocks in a cuddly throw sized quilt.

While the movement of the design remains the same, working on a bigger scale definitely adds new challenges as you have to move more of the quilt, shifting the bulk and weight continually, as you form each Blazing Spiral shape. Get tips on working with bigger quilts on your home machine by signing up Free Motion Fillers Volume 1 today and get 50% off your class pass.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Canadian Quilt Talk Radio've gotta say - I LOVE being a quilter! This is such an amazing craft and filled with so many fun, terrific people! One person in particular I've recently met is Brandy Lynn from Canadian Quilt Talk Radio.

Brandy and I exchanged several emails back and forth to plan out a podcast interview and after just a few messages I knew I'd met a kindred spirit. We had a great time chatting together over an afternoon interview and this podcast will be available right here today, around 5 pm Eastern Time.

In the podcast we chatted about design, blogging, sewing machines and more. I also shared a few hints about our quilt along for next year, so you don't want to miss this interview!

But also don't miss checking out Brandy Lynn's awesome website and blog. One exciting
development last month was a kickstarter campaign to fund an awesome children's book on quilting - Kristy's Quilt. 

I love helping quilters follow their passion for writing, and this book has such an important goal as well - to help inspire the next generation to make quilts.

This is obviously important to lots of quilters because Brandy's kickstarter campaign was fully funded and the books will be available in June!

So make sure to swing by Brandy Lynn Designs and check out the podcast today. Canadian Quilt Talk Radio is also available here on itunes and with more than 40 episodes for you to enjoy.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day
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