The Free Motion Quilting Project

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Great Quilting Debate: Prewashing Fabric, Episode #36

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm taking on another Great Quilting Debate: whether to prewash fabric before making your quilt or not. Listen to the episode or download it to your computer here:

Or watch the episode and check out my super messy laundry room here:

Yes, I do think prewashing fabric is a super important step in the quiltmaking process! Here's the reasons why I wash everything unless it's too tiny and will fall apart in the washer:
  • Stops fabrics from bleeding into one another. Washing removes the excess dyes so all the fabrics remain the color they're supposed to be.
  • Eliminates the question of how to care for the finished quilt. You never have to worry about washing it and messing it up.
  • Gets all the fabric feeling and acting the same way. If all the fabrics have been washed and starched 2 times, they will all have roughly the same amount of stretch and give and be easier to piece together more accurately.
  • Erases the hard crease in the middle of fabric which is rarely square with the grainline of the fabric.
  • Makes fabric easier to square and cut accurately.
Now for the video I promised about preparing fabric:

Once you prewash the fabric, you're going to have to restore order to the soft, wrinkly fabric by applying starch and pressing. Yes, there's also a Great Quilting Debate about starch and whether it's good or bad for your quilts. Click Here to listen to that podcast episode too.

So prewashing usually goes hand in hand with starch and pressing, but not always. Some quilters wash, but don't starch. Some quilters starch, but don't wash. As you can see, there are lots of ways you can work with fabric and definitely not a one-size-fits-all option here!

There are times when you can't prewash fabric. Precut fabrics smaller than a fat-eighth are impossible to wash without turning into a wadded mess of broken threads. You can starch precuts to stiffen them, but washing is just not a possibility.

When working with fabrics like this, think hard about your fabric combinations. If you have a precut pack of bright batiks in the most common bleeding colors (red, blue, purple) that would be a bad idea to mix that with white fabric where a bleed will be most noticeable. Match potential bleeding precuts with darker fabrics like black so even if the colors migrate, your quilt will still look great.

I've never found an issue from mixing prewashed fabric with non-prewashed fabric. I always wash the background fabric for my Quilty Box projects and the precuts are rarely washed, but the quilts still turn out great.

Ultimately the decision to wash or not wash is down to time. If you only have a few hours to quilt each week, prewashing, starching, and pressing your fabrics will likely feel like a ridiculous time-consuming extra step.

But if you have a bit more time or you just want to go the extra mile on a special quilt, give prewashing a try. The relief of knowing you can wash your finished quilt without worry about bleeding dyes is absolutely worth it in my opinion!

Now for a few updates about what's going on around the house...

This weekend we traveled to Charleston to visit family and made a big Thanksgiving meal for everyone. I love to cook and I especially love the challenge of feast meals and getting everything done on time.

It was a huge relief to be able to place our huge book order right before we left. The final proof finally came in and the books look amazing! Trust me, if you place an order for 1000 of anything, you want it to be perfect!

Click Here preorder Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

Don't forget our Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday sale will begin on Thursday!

My basement laundry room doubles as a space for leatherwork, dyeing fabric, painting fabric, and building costumes. The downside of having so many crafts in one place is there really isn't enough space for them all and I tend to leave my toys out even after I'm finished playing with them so it was time to seriously clean things up today. Yes, this was just a bit of the mess all around me!

I noticed I have lot of bag hardware from and lots of leather projects I've left unfinished. I plan to work on that this week with James while he's out of school for Thanksgiving. I need to get this space organized so I can actually walk in here and get some work done rather than spend all my time cleaning it back up again.

I think part of the problem is not having an idea of what I want to do with all the leather scraps I have laying around. I'm going to do some searching online for fun project ideas and come up with some new things to create.

I'm happy to report I've finally finished my machine embroidered landscape! This cute design will be ready in December and compatible with all the major embroidery machine brands. I just need to write the instructions and create the final files for you to download and it will be done.

It feels great to be finishing up this project and I have many more machine embroidery collections in the works. I know next year we're planning to do lots of videos on walking foot quilting, but I think sharing more videos on machine embroidery will also be a good idea to.

And YES! I will have an update about the quilting frame and moving the Grace Qnique 14+ soon! It's been a crazy busy and stressful month and I'm hoping I'll be able to share more on that transition soon.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quilt Market Recap with Sheri Cilfaldi Morrill, Episode #35

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have a new interview with Sheri Cilfaldi Morrill from! Sheri recently attended Fall Quilt Market in Houston and she's going to give us a recap on what she noted at the show. Listen to the episode or download it to your computer here:

You can also watch the podcast and see the things I talk about in the introduction here:

Sheri is an awesome quilter and wonderful pattern designer. Make sure to check out her website right here.

Now a bit about Quilt Market - this is an industry trade show where quilt shop owners come to buy fabrics, tools, quilt patterns, and supplies to carry in their shops. It's only open to industry professionals because this is a place where everyone is buying wholesale - without tax and at a reduced price so then products can be resold for retail prices.

So this is the place to go if you're wanting to buy fabric, tools, machines, and supplies for a quilt shop. It's also good to go as a designer to see the popular trends and new fabrics available and find companies to work with. It's a great place to network and talk about running a quilting business.

Sheri has also been blogging for Craftsy and shared an excellent post with lots of pretty photos from Quilt Market right here.

A few days after fall Quilt Market closes, International Quilt Festival opens. This is a massive show with hundreds (maybe thousands) of gorgeous quilts. The quilts are already hanging during Quilt Market so Sheri was able to check out her favorite collections. She shared a blog post with lots of beautiful pictures right here.

I was extremely happy to hear that rainbow quilts and bright colors are trending right now! Two of the quilts in my new book have bright rainbow colors and those two quilts were also picked for our 2018 Machine Quilting Party!

I think it's interesting to know what's popular and trending, but it's not something I feel the need to chase after. It's far more important to follow your inspiration and make what you want to make and if it happens to be on trend, that's a wonderful bonus.

I did want to give you a heads up that our biggest sale of the year will begin on November 23rd - Thanksgiving Day. All of our downloadable quilting workshops, embroidery designs, patterns, and books (excluding the new book) will be on sale for 50% off! We'll also have select tools and supplies on sale too so if you're wanting to place an order you might want to wait a week to get the best deal during this sale. Click Here to check out the shop.

Whew! It's been a crazy pants sort of week and I wasn't kidding when I described it like labor transition. The final process is always stressful and difficult, but every time we go through this it gets a little easier.

I keep coming back to the simple truth that the more you do something, the better you get. I have so many more books I want to write and I refuse to give up just because the process is challenging. I've learned a lot in the last week and next time this will be even easier to manage from this experience.

Speaking of getting more experience, I'm getting back to machine embroidery and finally finishing a batch of designs I've had in progress for three years.

Both the landscape and tree design can be stitched as a motif, in-the-hoop coaster project, and in-the-hoop zippered pouch. I'm finally getting back to work on it and refusing to let my inner critic scare me off from machine embroidery again.

I love being able to hit a button and let the machine stitch out a perfect design. I also love having the embroidery machine running while I'm quilting something else nearby. My goal is to have the landscape project ready by Christmas so make sure to hold me to that!

Another project that needs work before the end of the year is the Eternal Love quilt pattern. Maybe I should turn this into a quilt along? It would certainly be wonderful to see many versions of this beautiful quilt stitched all over the world!

My goal is to create patterns of several more goddess quilts, but it's tough to prioritize this when there is no deadline to meet. This is my Great Work, but it seems like it's always ending up being the last projects on the list to work on. That needs to change.

Don't forget you can find all of the podcasts linked up right here and hit play on the player and binge listen to many hours of quilting friends goodness!

You can also Click Here to find all the videos linked in one playlist too.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How to Quilt a Basic Dresden Plate

Today we are quilting our last block for the Machine Quilting Block Party and wrapping up a fun year of quilting along together as we stitch more feathers, spirals, and ruler foot quilting. It's the perfect way to finish up our beautiful Basic Dresden Plate block!

Click Here to find the quilt pattern for block 11 and12. Yes, we combined the last two blocks into one pattern so you can finish your Flower Festival quilt this year!

This year has been a wonderful adventure piecing and quilting twelve flower quilt blocks. The six Dresden Plate blocks are a beautiful counterpoint to the traditionally pieced blocks and I hope you learned a lot about piecing and applique this year.

Of course, my favorite part about any quilt is the quilting. This year I included free motion feathers in every block, plus the extra sashing rectangles. It was so nice to have an excuse to play with feathers and find creative ways to slip them into every block.

I also enjoyed digging into three forms of machine quilting. Each month I stitched in the ditch with walking foot quilting, then quilted most of the designs with free motion quilting.

And we really stitched it up a notch with ruler foot quilting! I definitely want to learn more about this easy form of machine quilting and using different rulers as a guide. Just in case you're just trying out rulers for the first time, Click Here to find my video on Ruler Foot Quilting Basics.

When quilting with rulers, I used the templates from the Dresden Plate Template set on my home machine. These small templates fit perfectly in your hand and are easy to guide even on a small home machine. The best part is you can also use these templates for cutting six different styles of Dresden Plate quilt blocks.

This year has been a great adventure in machine quilting and I hope you'll join us for next year's Machine Quilting Party! We're going to explore walking foot quilting and create three beautiful quilts from start to finish. Click Here to find the schedule and materials list.

Now that all of your blocks are pieced and quilted, you're probably wondering how to start putting them together to make your quilt! Here's a series of tutorials I've shared on connecting quilted pieces:

And just in case you'd like to see last year's video, click here to find it.

Let's go quilt, 

Leah Day

Monday, November 13, 2017

How to Piece a Basic Dresden Plate

It's time to piece our last block for the Machine Quilting Block Party! Today we are going to return to the basics with a Basic Dresden Plate with just eight petals and simple curved edges. Learn how to piece and applique this basic Dresden plate in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the quilt pattern for Blocks #11 and #12 combined. We released these patterns together so if you play your cards right you'll be able to finish your Flower Festival quilt before the end of the year!

Dresden plate quilt block

I've saved one of the easiest Dresden Plate blocks for last! The Basic Dresden Plate has only eight petals so it will be very fast to cut the shapes and begin piecing the units together. I used Template #2 from the Dresden Plate Template Set to cut the shapes quickly.

I turned the edge of my curved petals, but remember you can also fuse that edge too. Click Here to learn more ways to create curved edge Dresden Plates!

Quilting a dresden plate block

 With our last block pieced, the last step will be quilting it! Make sure to come back tomorrow and learn how to quilt this Basic Dresden plate block with spirals, feathers, and simple ruler foot quilting.

Let's go quilt, 

Leah Day

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Let's Quilt Windy Feathers, Design #491

I have a new design for you today! I kept meaning to get out to the Crafty Cottage all week to shoot more design videos, then I realized I already had a brand new design I quilted on the Grace longarm: Windy Feathers! Learn how to quilt it in this new video:

Click Here to find my review of the Grace Qnique 14+. If you live in the US, make sure to mention Leah Day said Hello My Quilting Friends to get a discount or bonus accessories bundled with your machine!

I love how Windy Feathers turned out in the background of my hoop quilt:

This is a terrific design to quilt in spaces like this because it filled quickly, I could easily travel stitch to form more lines of the design, and the flowing lines added a nice contrast to the center circle.

Let's learn more about Windy Feathers:

Difficulty Level: Intermediate. Don't let this rating intimidate you! I mostly set the rating based on the amount of travel stitching a design has and how much time it takes to fill a space. Travel stitching is a skill you just have to build with quilting and Windy Feathers would be a great design to learn how to stitch right on top of your stitching to move through the design.

Design Family: Edge to Edge. This design is part of a little mini family that I call Pocket Designs. Basically you stitch the lines to create gaps or pockets, then you can leave those spaces open, or fill them with other designs, which creates a totally different effect!

If you're interested in geeking out on this with me (yes, of course you are!), first learn how to quilt Flowing Lines. This is the simplest version of the design and the fastest to stitch.

Then stitch it up a notch with Goldilocks and Trapped Paisley. I promise if you stitch out all of these designs you'll not only gain a lot of awesome quilting skill, you'll also fall in love with this design style too!

Where Do I Quilt It? - Backgrounds, sashing, and borders are all great choices for Windy Feathers. I love how the background of my Hoop Quilt turned out. Do you want to make one too? Go check out Anne Marie Chany's podcast to learn all about Hoop Quilts!

I've loved sharing videos on the Grace Qnique 14+ this year and learned so much more about quilting on a sit down longarm. But I admit - I'm still curious! I want to know what it will be like to put this machine on a quilting frame. 

So starting in December, that's exactly what we're going to do. I'm not sure which day of the week we will be sharing videos, but soon they will switch from quilting on a sit down longarm to quilting on a frame longarm. I hope you're as curious as I am and excited to see these new videos!

(And please don't worry! I'm still going to share weekly posts and videos on quilting on a home machine too!)

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Is Starch Bad for Quilts? Podcast Episode #34

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm weighing in on another Great Quilting Debate - is starch bad for fabric and quilts? Listen to my take on this hotbed issue in this new podcast episode:

You can also watch the podcast and my progress painting over my ruined button mosaic here:

It's been a wonderful week and I want to start by saying thank you so very much for supporting our new book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. The response has been tremendous and wildly exceeded both Josh and my expectations!

The preorder for this new book will continue until November 30th so right now you can get a great deal on the book which will ship or be emailed to you on December 1st.

Click Here to preorder ebook version.

Click Here to preorder a print version.

During the podcast I was working on my ugly button mosaic and covering it up with Pebeo Prisme, Moon, and Ceramic paints. I love these super thick paints because they create awesome effects all by themselves. Here's the finished result:

I think this turned out okay! It's not ending up in the trash, which is something. It's not exactly what I originally envisioned, but it's not a terrible result either.

Now I'm turning my attention to finishing up projects before the end of the year and that list is LONG! I have two goddess quilt patterns I'd like to add to the site, lots of new pages to add, and many new videos too.

I spent a good bit of the intro talking about my quilt fiction novel which I've been working on every morning. At this point I'm a quarter way through, but experienced a setback when someone wrote in to tell me I was "cheating" at NaNoWriMo by starting my book before November 1st. Color me clueless - I had no idea!

This is the thing: there will always be people that try to derail you, stop you, limit or downright snuff out your light. There are people in this world that hate to see your excitement because they sadly believe that your success means there's less room for them to succeed too.

I know none of that is true. The more I create, the more I want to create. The more I've designed, the more designs that pop freely into my head. And the more people that are teaching, sharing, writing, and designing, the more quilting has a chance reach more people, which means there's even more space for everyone to succeed.

So no, I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo with this book, but I am still going to write my book! I've been using a handy app called Ink On to keep track of my daily word count and progress and Josh has been sticking gold stickers to the kitchen calendar as well.

I like seeing the chain of days - each marked with a bright star to show my progress and to keep me in the habit of writing. I think it's far more important to sit and write a short bit every day than to write for huge lengths of time one day a week. I feel the same way about quilting. Stitching for 15 - 20 minutes every day will be far more helpful to building your skill than quilting 4 hours every other Saturday.

It's very exciting to see the chapters coming together and I love the world I've created. I want to stitch the quilt from the book and make dolls for the characters. Yes, that's more projects to make and the list of things I want to finish before 2018 is already pretty long!

I believe the most important thing is following creativity and giving into the nudge, wherever it's directing you. Please don't let the Negative Nellies of this world get in your way or derail your pursuits. It's so easy to let one negative comment or criticism lock you up, and much harder to trust the overwhelming number of positive voices cheering you on.

I've also been working on getting out of my own way. Sometimes the only person that's stopping me from moving forward is ME! I've had three awesome embroidery collections basically sitting in files on my computer, waiting for me to get over my stuff and release them. Be looking forward to new projects in that area as well as more embroidery videos too!

As always, I love hearing from you and would love to make even more quilting friends in 2018. If you'd like to be on the podcast or recommend your favorite quilting teacher or company, please send us a message right here.

Now for the Great Quilting Debate! Is Starch Bad for Quilts?

Yes, the choice to use starch on your fabric is a contentious subject in the quilting world and over the years I've gotten comments ranging from "You're ruining people's quilts with your bad advice!" to "Wow! Starch made such a difference to my fabric and piecing is so much easier now!" 

One thing I forgot to include in the podcast is why I use starch - I find it stiffens the fabric nicely, which makes squaring it and cutting pieces and strips much easier and more accurate.

I also find starch fabrics are less likely to fray on the edges. Lately I've been testing the stability of my starched fabrics by not pinning units together. Even with the seams pressed open and no pins, my seams are matching every time and I think a lot of that has to do with all the fabrics in the quilt feeling and acting the same. I don't have one fabric that's going loosey goosie while another is stiff as a board.

So yes, I'm on Team Starch and I use it to prepare the fabrics in every single quilt we make. If we're using precuts, every single strip or square is starched on both sides before it's cut or pieced into the quilt.

A big key to using starch on fabric is knowing the proper technique to use it. The first time I starched a piece of fabric, I sprayed it down, then hit it with my hot iron and suddenly all this horrible flakey white stuff flew everywhere and the bottom of my iron went brown and smelled gross.

It took a few tries before I learned how to apply the liquid to fabric and press without making a massive mess. Learn how I do it in this Quilting Basics video:

As for Team Starch is Evil, I get it! If you've been taught that a substance is bad for your fabric and you've never used it before and got along just fine, that's great!

When researching starch, I found a lot of helpful information right here at

I do think the whole bug-loving-starch thing is a bit silly and I shared my opinion on where that story got started in the podcast. It makes absolutely no sense that a substance used for hundreds of years in clothing that washes out of fabric completely could make a moth more likely to chew up your quilt!

There are a lot more products out there like fusible webs, spray basting, and permanent marking pens that can wreck far more havoc on your quilts and I don't see a massive concerted effort to demonize them. I've written about chemicals in quilts here in case you're interested in reading further.

As with our last Great Quilting Debate podcast on pressing seams open, I think there's room for every technique, every method, and every opinion. Please don't feel like just because you don't use starch or press your seams open we can't be friends!

This is a debate so please share your thoughts in the comments below. I'd love to know your thoughts on starching fabric, what you learned when you first started quilting, and how you prepare your fabric now.

If you're preparing fabric for a quilt this week, make sure to snap a picture and share it with me! If you tag me @LeahDayQuilting on Instagram, I'll see your photo when you post it!

In 2 weeks I'm going to continue this discussion with another debate on Prewashing! Who would have thought I could turn fabric preparation and piecing into three different podcast episodes?!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How to Quilt a Log Cabin Flower

Are you enjoying a slightly faster pace to the end of the Machine Quilting Block Party? Today I'm quilting Block 11, the Log Cabin Flower Block. Click Here to learn how to piece this block with me.

This block is quilted with a nice combination of free motion filler designs including feathers, Swirling Water, and Chain of Pearls. Quilt along with me in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the combined pattern for Blocks 11 and 12. If you work fast your be able to finish your Flower Festival quilt before the end of the year!

I decided to add an extra step to the back of my Log Cabin Flower block. I used my embroidery machine to stitch a quilt tag to the backing fabric. Learn how to do this in this extra tip video:

The advantage of adding your quilt tag to the backing of your quilt BEFORE it is quilted is you get this cool effect of the quilting design running over the quilt tag:

Another advantage of having the quilting run over the quilt tag is slightly sad. There are some people that steal quilts. When a tag is created separately and stitched to the back, it's easy to rip off, leaving no sign of the original maker. A lot of show quilters will add a tag to the backing before it's quilted so quilting stitches run over the tag, making it impossible to remove without damaging the quilting.

And yes, I know that date is all kinds of wrong! I was being really hopeful I'd have my entire quilt done during the summer, but that just didn't happen. I might wait until next July to put it together so I only have to change the #7 in 2017 to a #8!

There are a lot of seam allowances in the Log Cabin Flower Block and if you add the extra machine embroidery, it may feel a little trick to quilt in the flower and background sections.

Just take your time quilting the feather designs in this area. Stitch slowly and carefully and bring your hands a little closer to the needle so you have more control over where the quilt block is going. If your needle begins to sound different - like a louder POCK sound - slow down and try to stitch over that spot quickly.

Sometimes thicker spots can cause your thread to break, but the quicker you stitch over them, the less likely this will be to happen.

My favorite part of this block is the Chain of Pearls design filling in the vase. I quilted over the circles the second time so they stand out dramatically on the quilt surface. But keep in mind that that's an optional extra step I did just for fun. What can I say, I'm a thread junkie!

Are you planning to embroider the back of this quilt block with your quilt tag? Do you like adding machine embroidery to your quilts? I'm planning to experiment with this more next year so be looking forward to more tutorials like this!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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