Friday, September 19, 2014

Sneak Peek on Butterfly

Yep, it's time to start thinking about what comes NEXT for our quilt along next year! We've had a wonderful year sharing videos for the Building Blocks Quilt, which still has many blocks and videos to come.

But my attention is definitely being occupied by the beautiful new quilt taking shape on my design wall:
This is the Dancing Butterfly Quilt and it will be our first project to work on together next year. Yes, I did say FIRST - this will not be the only project we make together next year! The gears are already turning in my head planning for a second and possibly third project, but I'll share more on those ideas later...

For this quilt, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and plan the quilt with multiple fabric and thread colors. The result is a BRIGHT, cheerful quilt with loads of texture and interesting designs.
All this week I've been basting blocks and shooting videos for the quilt pattern. This is a big relief because this time last year, I hadn't even started writing Building Blocks! Working at this pace, I should have all the videos shot by the end of September so Josh can edit them all through October.

Our goal is to release this new quilt pattern in December with all the videos included. This is a bit of a different structure from our past quilt along and will allow you to work at your own pace. I will be posting some videos for free, but these will be shorter versions of the pattern videos.

Why this change? Having the pattern come out, then videos post separately seems to be confusing to many quilters interested in joining in. We will again create a Facebook Group for questions and sharing, and I want everyone to feel open to work at their own pace and share as much as possible.

We have even more plans in the works for this pattern - kits, thread bundles, and maybe even laser cut butterfly packs to save you time cutting out the appliques. All that is still in the planning / organizing phase, so I don't have all the details worked out quite yet, but we're definitely going to have a lot of fun additions to the quilt pattern and many ways for you to join in with this project.

So that's the plan Stan! I hope you're as excited about this quilt as I am and ready to join us for the Dancing Butterfly Quilt Along when it kicks off in January!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big Craftsy Sale

Yay! We're heading into fall and Craftsy is celebrating with a big sale!

I'm delighted that the sale has my photo in it! That was taken on the last day of shooting Free Motion Quilting a Sampler, a 9 hour class that covers all the basics of machine quilting and how to quilt a beautiful set of 20 sampler blocks.

So what are you wanting to learn about this fall?

Craftsy has an amazing array of classes from quilting to photography to drawing to spinning. If you have been wanting to learn a new craft or a specific technique within a craft, chances are there is a Craftsy class available to learn it!

All of the classes are online and streaming, and yes, you need a high speed internet connect. The classes NEVER expire so you can watch the videos over and over as much as you like.

If you happen to have an iPad, the iPad app is terrific and allows you to download lessons so you can watch offline. I've found this particularly helpful when downloading a crochet or knitting class. I've downloaded those lessons I need and been able to watch them in the car without an internet connection.

So don't miss out on this big sale! Click Here to check out all the classes and save up to 50% off this weekend!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Amazing Italian Pasta Sauces

Josh here, again!

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects--cooking. More specifically, Italian cooking.

I've shared our signature Sunday spaghetti and meat sauce recipe before, so today I wanted to share a great tip on fresh tomatoes in pasta sauces.

Unfortunately, tomato season is over for us, but we can still find some fresh heirloom tomatoes at the local grocery store. These large, maroon, gnarly tomatoes are wonderful in sauces.

Do you know the secret to cooking good sauce from fresh tomatoes? need to skin the tomato, which is easier said than done. However, there's a trick to this... with a small, sharp pairing knife, carefully slit a shallow X at the bottom of the tomato. Bring a pot of water to a mild boil, and using a large slotted spoon, parboil the tomatoes for no more than 1 minute. Immediately scoop out the tomatoes and plunge into a bowl of ice water.

Let cool, and the skin will literally come right off with minimal effort.

Skins do not break down in sauces, and they shred apart, leaving tiny rolled up tubes in your sauce... and that is not good eats!

This tip comes from the excellent craftsy cooking course, Classic Italian Pasta Sauces, from chef Giuliano Hazan. If you ever wanted to cook authentic, rustic Italian tomato and meat-based sauces, this class is a must-watch. I never knew how simple a tomato sauce could be; in fact, there is one particular family recipe Chef Hazan shares that only has four ingredients--none of which is olive oil, parsley, or basil!

I love to turn the class on via our family iPad and watch it while I prepare dinner. Chef Hazan is a great instructor and his recipes are simply incredible... the one family recipe pictured above is so amazing it's now one of our go-to staples. And did I mention how easy it is? You can literally throw this together in minutes, cook on the stove, and then serve immediately with your choice of steaming pasta.

Click here to check out "Classic Italian Pasta Sauces" and get the class at a discount.

See you next week,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Josh's Circles and Wiggles in a Basket Block

Josh here. Today I'm stitching circles and wiggles in a basket block.

And here is the finish:

I'm stitching on Spoonflower cheater cloth. This fabric comes to you already marked, so no piecing required. This is great for beginners! We also have four colorways available for you to choose from.

See you next week!


Monday, September 15, 2014

44. Circles and Wiggles in a Basket Block

Let's knock out another basket block today with circles and wiggles!

Yes, I know circles are the least favorite design of the year. They are challenging even for me, even marking every single shape on the quilt. I'm not exactly sure why - maybe it has to do with swinging around the circle and not being able to see the entire thing as you stitch it.

Even if you make a mistake, remember the trick about filling in circles with spirals to hide mistakes. It's a nice way to add more texture and it stops you from picking up your seam ripper to rip out a wobbly circle.

If you haven't seen this spiral in a circle trick check it out in this video:

Wishing you could join in the fun of this quilt along? Jump into this project and get everything you need - both piecing AND free motion quilting designs in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
I know this design isn't the easiest and I bet Josh is going to change it up a lot tomorrow so make sure to swing by to check out his take on this design!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Getting lost in freestanding lace

I've been quiet for a few days celebrating the launch of my new book and checking in with my goals for the coming year. One of my major goals is to get more familiar with embroidery and learn how to design and digitize beautiful designs that my machine can stitch out with a touch of a button.

Why am I so fascinated by this? Because you can make gorgeous things that used to take months or years by hand and now we can make them in minutes!
This is a beautiful freestanding lace butterfly from Urban Threads. I've seen ads for Urban Threads and their funky, steampunk and gothic inspired designs. Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and went searching through their free standing lace designs and fell in love with the Evenfall Lace collection

This was so fascinating to watch stitch out because free standing lace is just thread! I hooped a piece of clear, water soluble stabilizer (Super Solvy) and Aurifill 50 wt cotton thread and that's it. Once the piece was stitched, I soaked it in water and all the solvy melted away leaving just the lacy thread butterfly.

Right now I can only dream of digitizing something like this. I'm so confused by digitizing and really have no desire to spend MORE time on my computer learning more software. At this point I just want to get more comfortable with embroidery and learn more about it so I've decided to challenge myself to stitch SOMETHING on my machine every day.

I've been inspired by many Craftsy classes like the Elegant Embroidered Quilt and In the Hoop Gifts. These classes show how beautiful embroidery designs can really punch up a simple quilt and how to make something completely in the hoop with no extra stitching on my machine. It's just amazing what you can do with an embroidery machine and I really haven't pushed myself to learn beyond the basics.

So I'm going to start stitching out something new every day. It might be super simple or it might be extremely complex. I know for a fact that learning this way works and in the end, I'll be able to put all the thread, stabilizer, and fabric to good use. Yep, everyone in my family is going to get something embroidered for Christmas!

Off to embroider!

Leah Day

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Piece Perfect Quilts

Yay! It's finally time to release my new book How to Piece Perfect Quilts!
I'm so thrilled to be releasing this book today! Click here to check it out now!

Just in case you don't recognize the title, this was actually the very first book I wrote, way back in 2009 before I started this blog. Back then I did a lot more piecing than quilting (hard to believe, right?!) and wanted to share all my tips for piecing blocks and quilts perfectly.

Needless to say, my writing ability has definitely improved over the last five years. Also technology as seriously changed during this time and our biggest request was to make this book tablet-compatible.

So it made sense to take this book down when we changed websites last year so I could edit, spruce it up, and make it tablet-compatible.

Well, after this experience I now know that changing an existing book is twice as much work as writing a new book! Josh and I teamed up to edit and reorganize the information into eleven chapters. Then I taught my dad cut and piece as we recreated the five quilt projects in the book with prettier fabric colors and much better photos.

Teaching Dad how to cut and piece fabric while working on this book was a great experience. As he asked questions and issues came up, I added those tips to the book. I also decided to insert the original videos (yes, those shot back in 2009 when I was just 25 years old) into the book as well. They might not be the most polished videos I've ever created, but they're still great visual demonstration of how to piece perfectly.

After all this hard work, it feels wonderful to be able to release this book today and know that it's now the best book I could ever write about piecing! I really hope it helps all quilters learn how to prepare fabric, cut, and piece blocks and quilts with confidence.

Now some nitty gritty - due to amazingly good luck we actually have two different versions of the book ready today!
Ebook version - This is an awesome downloadable edition you can order right now, download immediately, and then print on your computer or transfer to your tablet to read and enjoy. This edition also includes links to the 22 piecing videos within the book itself. I've also linked up the table of contents so it's easy to navigate through the book and jump to the chapters you wish to read.

Note - this is an ebook and designed for tablets like iPad using a PDF reading app like iBooks. We will have a kindle version available soon.
Print version - Yes! For the first time ever, this book is available in print! The one downside to the print edition is we couldn't include the videos (where would we link them?!) The upside is you don't have to mess with downloading and printing it yourself. If you're not particularly computer savvy, this is definitely the version for you!

Whew! This has been a lot of work all summer long, but holding the printed book in my hands, or scrolling through the ebook on my iPad, I know that every second spend working on this book was well worth it!

Let's go quilt,

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