The Free Motion Quilting Project

Monday, June 26, 2017

Machine Quilting Adventure on the Road Work Quilt

Last month I collaborated with Sheri Cifaldi Morrill from Whole Circle Studio and quilted her mini Road Work quilt with a very simple design using ruler foot quilting. Click Here to check out that post.

Now it's time for me to fess up - Sheri actually sent me two Road Work mini quilts! Now it's time to hit the road and quilt this block with a totally new design.


As you can see, I really went for it this time! For the first mini Road Work I got stuck on it being a ROAD, but for this version I decided to completely ignore the road effect.

In fact, I ignored almost all of the pieced shapes except for the tiny pieced triangles. That was the only shape I stitched in the ditch. because my goal was to quilt free form and allow the quilting design to take shape and flow across the quilt surface. See how I quilted it step by step in this new video:


Click Here to find Sheri's pattern for the Road Work quilt which includes instructions for the mini, throw, twin, and queen sized quilt.

This quilting design looks really intense, but it started very simply. I marked a mixture of curving lines and straight lines to break up the space and make it clear to my brain - you are not quilting a road here!

Then I thought about one of my favorite designs, Tree Roots, and drew the lines branching out from the triangles to hit the curving line. Then I just kept drawing curving lines and a few straight lines until the space felt broken up into small enough pieces.

After breaking it up, I picked a few more designs to quilt including Pebbles in a Stream, Modern Weave, and Garden Maze. I wanted a lot of high contrast with straight lines and sharp angles juxtaposed to soft curving lines and stitched circles.

I also intentionally travel stitched to create bold thread effects on the quilt surface. I've used this technique a lot since Duchess Reigns and I think I need to experiment with thicker threads!

This takes awhile and I have to quilt multiple passes when quilting with Isacord so maybe I should try some 28 wt thread. It's on my list to experiment with more types and thicknesses of thread next month.

Overall I'm delighted with the results! Yes, this is very, very different from the first version of Road Work. I set myself free from the pieced design and focused on the filler designs I love best. The ultimate test is to check the back and yep, it's just as pretty as the front:


Don't forget to check out the first video quilting the Road Work quilt with ruler foot quilting. Click here to check out that video.

What do you think about this quilting design? Do you like this take on the Road Work quilt better than the first or less? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Machine Quilting Cool Leaves on a Baby Quilt

We're continuing with our baby quilt project and this week my baby has provided the inspiration for the design! James had an idea for this corner of the quilt and I asked him to draw me a picture.

After a bit of work, we came up with this new Cool Leaves quilting design. Learn how to quilt it on a baby quilt in this new video:


Would you like to learn more about the machine I'm using in this video? Click Here to find more videos on the Grace Qnique 14+ longarm machine.

quilting a baby quilt
They key with quilting Cool Leaves is to quilt your initial leave shape nice and big so it covers 2-3 inches of space on your quilt.

You want the shape to be big to start because you quilt inside and add two lines within the shape. If you quilt the leaf shape too small to start, you may not have room to fit these extra lines.

You also want to quilt the leaf designs big so they take up lots of space on the baby quilt and cover the surface quickly.

The hardest part of this design is getting the leaves to fit together nicely through the weird areas that often pop up while quilting. In the video I ended up with a very weird spot that I could have handled better if I'd marked the design or thought through it a bit more.

But at the same time, who would notice it if I didn't point it out!? No one!

quilting a baby quilt

I've loved quilting this baby quilt with these larger quilting designs. It's so nice to be finishing a long unfinished project and knowing it's going to be finished very soon. Next week I have another video quilting this baby quilt with rulers.

I have a little bit of space between the Clouds design we quilted before and the edges of the quilt and it looks like the perfect space to quilt straight lines with rulers and transform the Clouds into Rainy Day! Be looking forward to this video tutorial coming next week.

Learn how to quilt Rain Clouds on a baby quilt

Click Here to find all of the videos we've shared so far on the Grace Qnique as well as all the videos on this baby quilt project.

Of course I'm always open to more suggestions for new videos so please share your ideas in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, June 23, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Under the Stairs, Design #479

Wait, is this a tutorial for quilting under the stairs, or a new machine quilting design Under the Stairs? Lol!


I actually have a little Harry Potter style closet under the stairs in my house. It's a cute little space and I think I could cram a sewing machine inside if Josh didn't use it for all of his fish tank equipment. Instead of trying to quilt under the stairs, let's learn how to quilt the new design Under the Stairs.


Are you needing even more quilting inspiration today? Find an entire year's worth of quilting designs in my book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs.

Now let's learn more about this new machine quilting design:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. This design is very easy because you're just quilting zigzaggy lines. However, a few times I caught myself going in the wrong direction. Partly that's from trying to talk and quilt at the same time, but sometimes I'd just forget what I was doing.

So as you're quilting just repeat the steps of the design - up, over, up, over, travel back, and if you make it a chant as you quilt, you won't forget what you're doing.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. Under the Stairs is based on the same idea as Left Turn Right Turn, Curvy Turns, and Angle Turns. Basically you stitch a shape in one direction, then stitch it in the other direction, back and forth to form a column of the design from one edge of your quilting space to the other.

The cool effects are created when the columns of the design interact together. If you aim for a completely random arrangement and don't pay attention to the shapes at all, you'll get something like my design in the video.

But if you do pay attention to what you're doing and intentionally quilt a repeating pattern of lines, here's what will happen:


Under the Stairs will form a chevron effect across your quilt when quilted very evenly in each column. This is challenging and I found myself breaking the rules of the design a few times in order to quilt this so evenly.

Now when you force the lines to mesh together from one column to the other, here's what you get:


See the cool grid effect? When quilting this version I focused on stitching the stair steps into one another and created the little boxes within the design as the lines came together.

The only thing that is changing between these different effects is what you focus on as you quilt the design. Does this sound complicated? It's actually really easy. Jump on your machine and see what works best for you!

Where Do We Quilt It? - Edge to Edge Designs are great for quilting in blocks, sashing, and borders because they easily fill from ditch to ditch.

They're also a great choice as an All Over Quilting design. The straight lines and sharp angles always makes a design feel more masculine to me so I think this would be a great choice if you're making a quilt for a guy.


Where would you like to quilt this design? Do you like angular designs like this or prefer curves better? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Piece a Flying Geese Border

flying geese border quilt pattern
It's Quilty Box time! Note: this post will contain affiliate links that help support our business. Quilty Box is a subscription treasure box filled with fabric, thread, and a quilt pattern created by a different designer. Click Here to learn more about Quilty Box.

Each month I open my Quilty Box, plan a new project, and share how to make it with you. I love the challenge of writing a new quilt pattern, shooting videos, and creating a new quilt and I hope you will join in the fun too! Click Here to find all of the free quilt patterns I've shared so far.

In this Quilty Box I was delighted to find a beautiful collection of fabrics and supplies selected by fabric designer and quilter Masako Wakayama, a Japanese quilter who designs traditional American-folk style quilts. That's just plain cool!

We received lots of Masako's beautiful fabric, including a cute printed fabric panel with flowers, houses, birds, and more printed on the surface. Learn what I did with this fabric panel in this new quilting tutorial:


Click Here to find this free quilt pattern.

Flying geese border quilt pattern

I decided to piece a flying geese border using Masako's fabric to surround the printed fabric panel. Piecing a border from multiple pieces is a lot more tricky than just piecing a plain fabric border with fabric strips and I admit - this is one of my least favorite things to piece because it has to be so EXACT.

Make sure to watch the video to find many tips on piecing a flying geese border and you can find all the exact cutting and piecing instructions in the free quilt pattern.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Machine Quilting Flowing Lines in a Baby Quilt

Happy Father's Day! I hope you're having a wonderful day celebrating the Dads in your life. We got the day started right with a big breakfast and later today we're going on a hike through the woods, one of Josh's favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Now for our Sit Down Quilting Sunday tutorial, lately I've been quilting an unfinished baby quilt with many simple quilting designs. So far we quilted Clouds in one corner and filled it with a fluffy sky design.

Quilting a Baby Quilt

Then last week we quilted Ocean Currents in another corner so we have a bit of a organic / earth theme going on in this baby quilt.

quilting a baby quilt

The main design you see running through the center of the quilt is Swirling Water and I quilted that more than 3 years ago for a Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Vol 1.

So this baby quilt definitely has a lot of personality now with many interesting designs. Let's add one more as we quilt Flowing Lines into another corner of the quilt:


Would you like to learn more about the machine I'm using in this video? Click Here to find more videos on the Grace Qnique 14+ longarm machine.

quilting a baby quilt | flowing lines
They key with quilting Flowing Lines is to remember which type of line you're quilting.

You have echo lines that just echo the previously quilted line, and you have gap lines that travel along the line and branch out to form the interesting gaps and spaces between the lines.

If you want the design to be very simple, quilt simple gaps. Quilt a very gentle curve and return to your starting line to keep the design flowing gently.

If you want a more interesting, organic look, stitch a wild and wiggly gap! This will add extra texture to the baby quilt and make the next echo lines even more interesting.

quilting a baby quilt

I'm really enjoying quilting these larger designs on this baby quilt. It's so nice to be finishing a long unfinished project and knowing it's going to be finished very soon. Next week I have another video quilting this baby quilt with a new design James has named Cool Leaves. I think you'll definitely like this new design.

Click Here to find all of the videos we've shared so far on the Grace Qnique as well as all the videos on this baby quilt project.

Of course I'm always open to more suggestions for new videos so please share your ideas in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, June 16, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Cut Ribbons, Design #478

This week I was cutting ribbons for a present and thought hmm...this could make a neat free motion quilting design. That's all it takes these days to make me jump on the machine and quilt something new!


You've probably noticed by now that a lot of my designs are based on previous designs. How this works is subtle variations in shape, how the lines connect, touch or don't touch, whether the lines are straight, curved, hook, or point all play a roll in how a design appears on your quilt.

So many designs can look completely different, but be quilted almost exactly the same way. In this case Cut Ribbons works like Flowing Glass, Wiggly Tentacles, and Basic Maze.

If you looked at all of these designs together like in the image on the left, they all have very different quilted effects, but they are all quilted the same way. Learn how in this new quilting video:


Quilting a design in a little square is one thing, but what about a real quilt? What about a really BIG quilt? Learn how to machine quilt the biggest quilts in the quilting workshop Quilting a King on Your Home Machine.

Now let's learn a bit more about Cut Ribbons:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. Cut Ribbons is a really easy design. Like last week's design Fire Flow, this is a great skill builder for echo quilting.

In this case I quilted my ribbons and left 1/4 inch of space between the wider ribbon lines and only 1/8 inch of space between the ribbons themselves. It can be harder to quilt lines spaced different distances consistently, but this design will give you lots of practice.

Design Family - Edge to Center. Remember how I said how several designs are quilted similarly? They are all members of the same Design Family which means they are quilted the same way, even if the lines are shaped differently.

In this case Cut Ribbons is quilted from the edge of your quilting space into the center. If you're quilting the sashing between your quilt blocks, the edge of your quilting space is the ditches. So you stitch along the ditch, then quilt the Cut Ribbon shape into the middle of the sashing.

Where Do We Quilt It? Designs like Cut Ribbons work great in quilt sashing and borders because you can quickly quilt through the space using the ditches, or seamlines between the blocks as the edges of your quilting space.

What do you think of this Cut Ribbons design? Where would you like to quilt it in your quilts? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Don't forget you can always find hundreds of quilting designs to quilt on your quilts in our Quilting Design Gallery.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Writing Quilt Fiction with Frances O'Roark Dowell

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today we have podcast episode 22 and it's a wonderful interview with a quilting fiction author Frances O'Roark Dowell, the author of Birds in the Air and many books for children. Click Here to check out her website.



Frances is also a podcaster. She has been the host of the Off Kilter Quilt podcast for seven years - that's incredible!

I learned about Frances and her books in an interesting way. Bonnie Hunter was reading Birds in the Air and tagged me in a post and said I popped into the book halfway through. Lol!

I had to pick up a copy and read it and yep, my book How to Piece Perfect Quilts helped the main character learn more about piecing. Other professional quilters were mentioned such as Carol Doak and the Dear Jane quilt project as well as quilting tools I've seen for years.

I felt this added a deep level of authenticity to the book which was so obviously written by a quilter who loves quilting. It was also fun to hear references to North Carolina, the state I've lived in my whole life. While the town the book is set in is fictional, other nearby towns like Gastonia and Asheville are meantioned and that also made Birds in the Air a pleasure to read.

Frances got into writing quilting fiction - stories about quilts and quilters - because she loved reading quilting fiction. I've definitely heard this about writing: write what you read. Whatever you're interested in, whatever makes you happy to read will also be the most fun for you to write.

She had read all the Jennifer Chiaverini books on the Elm Creek Quilters and she still wanted to read more stories about quilters making quilts.

Frances also wanted to write about her own experience as a quilter and share that within her book. I love that idea because it's another way of sharing your journey and life with the world.

The inspiration for Birds in the Air came from The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jenny Beyer and she flipped through it and saw a Birds in the Air quilt block and instantly the words caught her attention. She's already working on a sequel to this book called Stars Upon Stars and found the title and inspiration the same way.

Frances has a simple writing process. She doesn't wait for inspiration but instead writes Monday through Friday from 10 am to 1 pm. Frances is a "pantser" which means she writes by the seat of her pants as she writes a rough first draft, then works with editors to polish and revise the book to finish it.

She also tends to fly by the seat of her pants with quilting design, using a design wall to plan blocks and build unique quilts.

Frances and her husband formed a publishing company, Milton Falls Media, to publish Birds in the Air. Frances has been traditionally published with her children's fiction books, but wanted to try self publishing for this new book.

To market the book, Frances has her established podcast and blog, she also reached out to other professional quilters like Mary Ann Fons for book blurbs, and asked bloggers to share reviews. This was a lot of work, but she's sold nearly 10,000 copies!

Check out France's website FrancesDowell.com and her blog the Off Kilter Quilt to see what she's working on right now.

Also a big congratulations is in order as France's Birds in the Air quilt won 3rd place in the Riley Blake 2017 Fabric Challenge!

Our sponsor for the show this week was the new Mega Star Walking Foot Quilting Workshop.

In this online class you'll learn how to piece the Mega Pinwheel Star quilt, design a simple quilting design, and learn how to quilt it entirely with your walking foot on a home sewing machine.

Click Here to check out this quilting workshop now.

Now for some updates from my neck of the woods:

It's June and I always like to check in on my yearly goals this month and how things are going. If you'd like, you can go back to hear my New Year's Resolutions here.

My words for the year are Simple and Open and I feel like I've been very successful keeping things simple. I'm streamlining a lot of processes here on the blog and with creating videos which are simplifying my life and giving me a lot more time to design and create.

I've also forced myself to be open to being outside this summer. We've been having Burning Swimming Days every Saturday where we light a fire alternate between jumping in the pool and warming up by the fire (because the water is REALLY cold).

We cook hot dogs and s'mores and just have a fun time in the sun and yes, I do get bug bitten, but the extra chocolate and marshmellow on my s'mores makes it worth it!

So that's the update for this week! I've been thinking about returning to a weekly podcast and use the off weeks to answer your quilting questions. What do you think? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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