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
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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

http://www.brandylynndesigns.com/quilting/fibre-art/podcast/246-Live%2BPodcastsI'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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Your Favorite Quilting Colors

Josh here! No piecing instruction from me today, but instead I'd like to talk about something that is the very foundation of quilting: color choice.

To get an idea of my favorite colors, here is Leah's quilt Shadow Self. I helped Leah in the designing process by selecting all of the colors. Lots of greens, teal, varying shades of blue and gray.

You can read more about Leah's creation of Shadow Self here.

The greens and blues, paired with varying hues of charcoal and gray, have always appealed to me. I cannot definitively say why but I can absolutely point to nature as a source of inspiration. We recently had a fun discussion about color choice and personal preferences on the Building Block Quilt Along's "Anything Goes" facebook group.

So today I wanted to share a few pictures of some of my favorite images from nature--these are all shots taken by me featuring fish and various plant and animal life I've kept over the years in aquariums, both fresh and saltwater.

This is a discus freshwater cichlid, hailing from South America. The metallic teal along the fins is simply beautiful.

A soft coral called a green polyp coral. Believe it or not, but corals are not plants, but animals, deriving energy via photosynthesis through symbiotic algaes living within the corals called Zooxanthellae.

Another soft coral, the common name and species escaping me at the moment. The picture is almost ten years old.

A marine shrimp, aptly given the common name "sexy shrimp." Zoanthus button polyp soft coral to the left of the shrimp, and an open brain LPS coral on the bottom.

 A green mandarin dragonette, the prize of my reef collection. Absolutely stunning colors and always a tank show-stopper.

 The same male mandarin again hovering over a stony polyp coral.

This shot was of my 1-gallon "pico" reef contained within a glass flower vase, and the candy purple color on the rock is actually an encrusting coralline algae.

Lots of bright and beautiful colors on display above! But you also see dull grays, browns, and even rust colors. These are critical in creating the perfect contrast that makes up the visual feast.

These are examples of things I find really beautifully, color-wise, and what I'd love to put in a quilt. Also the patterns of the fish and corals, as well as textures, are inspiring.

And now I'd like to share two things, a couple of American cultural icons, that beautifully capture the mastery of colors.

The first image is an old vinyl album color by Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin'. If you are not familiar with it, a simple google search will bring up the picture. Note the washed out colors of both the sky and the street, in contrast to the central beige and forest green of the two coats. And of course there is the signature light blue VW microbus to the left.

The last thing is the season 6 finale of AMC's Mad Men. This is an amazing and arguably perfect display of colors, not to mention cinematography (and I'm not even talking about the moment when Judy Collins' Both Sides Now comes in). From the little boy's bright red popsicle to the deep maroon reds inside Don's car, these colors are like gemstones set against the imposing gray and cracked pavement, November Pennsylvania sky, and industrial smokestacks and streams of trailing smoke above Don Draper and his kids' heads.

If you haven't experienced the scene, do yourself the favor. It is simply incredible, a standalone piece, and something very close to perfect. In fact, as much of a fan of the show as I am, I sincerely wished the series had ended on that note, as it will be impossible to top or even equal.

To conclude, be careful with the bright, seizure-inducing Skittles colors, and don't be afraid to heavily lay in the grays, the earthy browns, the autumn (and even dead of winter) tones. Without these colors, the natural jewels of the fish and corals displayed above would not have such powerful effects.

See you next week!


Monday, April 7, 2014

14. Piece a Modern Building Block

http://www.leahday.com/shop/product/building-blocks-printed-quilt-pattern/It's the first Monday of April and time to piece up our next block!

This Building Block is a modern take on the four patch block we learned back in January. This time we won't be matching seams as the four pieces, which makes this block a little quicker and easier to piece.

You might have noticed in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern that you've been asked to cut 4 pieces, but we only need 3 blocks for the quilting designs this month.

Technically this was a typo in the pattern - you only really need to cut 3 of each piece, but if you've already cut the 4th, go on ahead and piece up the 4th block and use it for practice.

Why? Well, this month we're going to be playing with scale and learning how to quilt designs BIG, medium, small and tiny, and you might just like a little extra practice with one of these designs, or another quilting design you've been wanting to learn.

So it's up to you what to do with that extra block, whether to piece it and add a little extra practice this month or skip it and just make the 3 blocks required for the quilt. It's totally up to you!

Now let's watch the video to see how this quick block is pieced:

I don't know about you, but I love piecing blocks that are simple and quick like this Building Block! No matching seams means the block comes together quickly with no tricky spots that you need to pin.

Just in case you haven't joined in the fun of this Building Blocks Quilt Along, you can still join anytime by picking up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern!

Through this month we will learn how to quilt Stippling, Gridlines, and Circuit Board so definitely join in if you're wanting to learn loads about piecing and free motion quilting this year!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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