The Free Motion Quilting Project

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

That Quilt is Cheating!

Hello my quilting friend! I'm back this week with another Great Quilting Debate asking a simple question - what is quilt cheating?

Are there quilting techniques you consider inferior or just plain WRONG?

What do you think about cheater cloth? It has "cheater" in the name so it must be bad, right?

Do you find yourself shrugging your shoulders at quilts made on an embroidery machine or quilted on a longarm?

I've dug into this topic this week and had a lot of fun thinking through my past judgments and criticisms. Yep, there was a time that I thought machine embroidery was absolutely cheating. You just hit a button and it does it for you!

But now I see this as a terrific tool for making even more beautiful quilts and projects. That's not cheating, it's wonderful!

So if you've been feeling bogged down with too many rules over your quilts, or you're just craving something different, please come listen or watch this new podcast episode.

Click Here to find Is This Quilt Cheating? Podcast Episode 54.

And I've FINALLY finished my podcast artwork! I've been working on this for months, but just today put the finishing touches on the colors. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!

I'll create a grab-a-button thingy so you can share it too! This has been on my list for months and it's such a relief to have it finished.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Quilt Marking Tips

Super quick post today to let you know about the next step of the Prism Path baby quilt along. Learn how to mark the quilt top with straight lines and Matrix so the quilting process will be super easy from start to finish!

Click Here to find the tutorial.

Just in case you ever worry about it, no, marking your quilt top is NOT cheating. I actually find marking essential to take the guess-work out of what designs I'm going to quilt and how they will work on the quilt.

I've also found that marking the design makes it flow a lot faster. Instead of having to guess which design to quilt next or guess which direction I'm quilting, the marked lines are the perfect guide. The less I stop to think and brood about the design means more time quilting!

Do you like marking designs on your quilts? Or do you prefer to quilt everything free hand (without marks)? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Messy Hair Kind of Day

Thank you so much for your comments yesterday on the little show hoop quilt. The votes ended up split and Josh liked it off centered and I liked it the other way better.

Ultimately I realized it's still a useful piece for teaching and folded it up and put it back in my teaching suitcase. I might never use it, but I'm happier knowing it's there if I need it.

And on the plus side, I have a spare hoop to make another hoop quilt! Win win! I'm thinking something bright and sunny to have a special decoration to pull out for spring and summer. I still have a few fall quilts on the wall that are looking pretty weird now so that needs a change up.

As for today, I put away the quilts I'm keeping, tacked up the quilts I need to photograph, and made another stack to sell.

Yes. Sell. I've never done this before and I'm still working through the details of how, where, and when, but I'll keep you posted.

I also spend a good chunk of the day editing and writing Mally the Maker. I always intend to film the introduction to the podcast on Sundays, but it never happens. Never.

Mostly because I think Sundays are for messy hair.

It's not that the podcast and messy hair aren't compatible, it's just that it's supposed to be a day off, a day to leave the flat iron in the cabinet and not have to put on eyeliner.

With my messy hair floating in a halo around my head I wrote, did some sewing, rearranged some quilts on the wall, and hung out with Josh and James and played some video games. All around it was a terrific messy hair sort of day.

I hope you had a great day too!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Great Quilt Sort

The Great Quilt Sort is in full swing and I've managed to organize, fold, and make decisions about most of the quilts in my closets.

I started by giving a lot of quilts away. My in-laws and Dad took a few quilts and I gave a baby quilt away to a friend that's expecting. It's a very pink quilt so we'll cross our fingers she's having a girl.

I continued organizing and sorting and found myself running into a problem. If a quilt could possibly be used for teaching, I felt a tendency to keep it. That pile grew and grew until it basically took up the whole couch. Do I really need this many quilts to teach a class?

I should add that I don't teach classes in person right now. Maybe one day, but for now I'm focusing all my attention on writing and teaching online.

So... maybe these quilts need to find a new home too?

Another issue I have run into is my Quilt Along quilts. I need to keep those, don't I? Well, many of these projects are 3 or 4 years old. They are done. It was fun to create them and we learned a lot, but it's over.

As you can see, there's a lot of emotional attachment here and it's a process to work through it. I have many quilts that I've spent months, if not years quilting and it's hard to let them go.

But I also need to make room for new quilts to be made. It's a catch-22 because I'm afraid if I release these quilts one day I will need them and they won't be there and worse, I'll have to make it all over again.

Argh! Obviously that's a bit illogical, but you get the idea. Now for another problem I could use your help on. I have a quilt that I probably put in over 200 hours of quilting very densely. It was for a mini quilt along back in 2010 and was supposed to be the show quilted version of an appliqued quilt.

I never finished it because at the time my definition for a show quilted / quality quilt was super densely quilted. I got in over my head on that project and never finished it.

So I've decided to turn it into a hoop quilt so I can at least enjoy it a little bit. But I found I can set up the hoop two different ways. Which way do you like best?

Option A - Off Centered. This captures a bit of the border area and more of the leaves of the heart flowers.

Option B - Centered. This showcases more of the quilting and the funky technique I was playing with at the time with travel stitching.

Let me know which version you like best in the comments below! I can only cut it once after all!

Overall I've really enjoyed this sorting process. It's been an adventure to pull out all of my quilts and go over the designs and fabric choices. I can see how my quilting style has evolved over the years and I can see the direction I'm moving into and that's fun too.

So that's what I'm doing today! What is on your machine or piled up on your couch? I think I'm going to take a break from sorting and folding and go stitch something while listening to a fun audiobook. It's time for a break!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, April 20, 2018

How to Quilt Concentric Circles

I have a new walking foot quilting design for you today! Concentric Circles is a design you use when you want to take a bit more time and energy to get a really special effect.

How to quilt concentric Squares

This feels really elegant to me and yes, it requires breaking thread with every single circle.

But, there is a way to cheat and I included that option in a second video in this tutorial. Click Here to find the videos and learn how to quilt Concentric Circles.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Got Quilts?

What a great day! I spent almost the entire day editing Mally the Maker, and then I finally found one of my sewing machines a new home and helped pack it off and send it away.

It was wonderful to open up a corner of the living room that had been very full for months. I rearranged the couches for our summer setup (in winter one couch faces the fireplace, in summer, they both line the walls), swept the floor, dusted off the window and was feeling really good about my productivity.

Then I saw the stack of quilts. I had this pile of quilts loaded up on that table with that machine and now they needed a new home. Go find them a new flat surface to occupy, or actually deal with the mess, Leah?

I decided to deal with it by making a bigger mess:

I've been having a bit of a quilt problem lately. I've been finishing a lot more quilts lately. I made a lot of new quilts last year for the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting and then I've made second versions of three of them for the Machine Quilting Party.

So between workshops and classes, yearly quilt alongs, and all the quilts I made as a beginner, this is really starting to add up!

I'm not sure why I decided it was the perfect time to pull out EVERY quilt and dump them all in the living room.

Well, not every quilt. I left my heirloom quilts I inherited from my grandmothers and great grandmothers in the closet. I also haven't pulled out the goddess quilts yet. They're coming though.

I'm going to take a good, hard look at every quilt I own. Some I want to keep for sentimental reasons. Some I'll keep because they're a great teaching tool.

But some of these quilts need to go. I'll have to think on this to figure out the best method, but I'm thinking about offering a few for sale on my website.

It's not that I don't love these quilts, don't get me wrong. I do love them, I loved creating them. But now I need to let go of the old to make room for the new.

And there are a lot more quilts to come!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Take Better Photos with Brenda LaFleur

I've made an awesome new quilting friend with Brenda LaFleur! She is a photographer and teacher from Louisiana and she came on the podcast to chat about photography.

I was digging in the dirt during the introduction so I apologize for the less-than-perfect sound. Josh and I had just picked up several herbs and tomato plants and I knew if I didn't get them into the ground immediately, I'd kill them with neglect.

I also had some bulbs to plant too and I'm not sure...they were looking pretty rough as I plopped them into the ground. I might have managed to kill them before they were even planted!

Let's cross our fingers they will magically come back to life and give us gorgeous blooms I can photograph! Pretty flowers and quilts - what is better than that?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at