Monday, November 30, 2015

Look Good to Feel Good

Lately I've been rolling out of bed, pulling my hair up in a messy ponytail, and getting to work looking like a total mess. After a few days, I start feeling a bit down and I catch myself questioning my decisions and comparing myself to others. It's easy to start down a slippery slope of negative thinking, and as you can see in this video, it ain't pretty!

I really believe that how you look has a direct reflection on how you feel. For years I didn't care much about my appearance. It seemed superfluous and silly to worry about combing my hair when I had videos to shoot, a toddler to keep track of, and a book to write all at the same time.

Part of the problem is I had never learned how to wear make up or do my hair. This is one of those things most girls learn in high school, which is nice because if you show up to class looking like a clown someone will clue you in.

In high school, I just didn't like the feel of makeup or see the benefit of wearing it. My self esteem was so incredibly low at that time that wearing makeup would probably have made me feel worse, not better. I just felt freakishly ugly and no amount of blush or lipstick would change that.

What really changed my perspective, and my attitude towards makeup and my appearance was shooting for Craftsy in 2012. I was quite nervous on set and anxious about how I looked and the clothes I'd brought to wear. My make up artist was so sweet and comforting and over and over she told me, "You are SO pretty!"

Leah Day | Quilting teacher
It was such a radical change to see myself made up and the best features of my face accented so nicely. I'd never seen this before and it made such a difference for filming that first class.

Since then, I've made much more effort when filming videos to look good or at least have combed my hair before turning the camera on. I don't film every day so it's very easy to fall back into my old, sloppy habits as you saw in this video.

I know for sure that taking a bit more time to look good makes me feel much better about myself. I question myself less, I value myself more, and every time I catch my appearance in the mirror, I have something to smile about.

So how about you? Do you feel better about yourself when you put energy into your appearance? When did you learn how to use make up and who taught you how? Has there ever been a time of your life that you felt particularly ugly and how did you move past that period?

This can be a sensitive topic and when writing this post I found myself revisiting a depressing time in high school and postpartum depression after James was born. Both are still hard times to look back on, but I can see now how both periods were made much worse because I didn't know how to make myself look better or feel better.

I've read recently that how you look is a reflection if your interior dialog. What are you reflecting today?

Let's get moving, let's try something new,

Leah Day

Friday, November 27, 2015

How to Machine Quilt Tricir #456

Yes, it may be Black Friday but that doesn't mean it's not also Free Motion Friday! It's time to learn a cool new machine quilting design that combines triangles and circles, hence the name Tricir.

This new machine quilting design is pretty simple, but there is a bit of travel stitching in order to get the circle nicely in the middle of the triangle. Just take it slow and don't panic if you stitch off the lines. You'll expand each shape with echoes so even if it's not perfect, it will still look great.

Learn how to machine quilt this design in this free video:

Looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon quilting? Check out this new playlist of quilting designs which will auto-play one after the other for a few hours of quilting fun!

And just in case you're not all shopped out, we have a big sale on workshops at
Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Modern Chevron Patchwork Quilt

It's Quilty Box time! I received a super collection of cool gear in this month's Quilty Box that was selected by Vanessa Wilson, The Crafty Gemini. It included some precut printed fabrics, beautiful threads, and a funky angle slicing ruler!

I really wanted to keep my project simple and quick because it's only one day until Thanksgiving and definitely not a time to take on something complicated and fussy. I kept the pieces big, cuts simple, and put together a Modern Chevron patchwork quilt that would be the perfect throw quilt for the couch.

Learn how to piece this patchwork quilt in this free video:

Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you don't miss any of our new videos coming out every week!

Modern Chevron Patchwork Quilt Pattern

I used 18 prints from the Birds & Bees precut layer cake pack (precut 10 inch squares) and 18 10-inch squares of white fabric to make 36 blocks.

 I spent a lot of time playing around with the layout of this quilt and I think there are MANY unique possibilities using the 10" slicer ruler. I liked this chevron pattern because it reminded me of the funky chevron crocheted blankets I grew up with, only this patchwork version was MUCH easier and faster to create.

By the way, next month I'm picking the gear for your Quilty Box! Make sure to Click Here and sign up today use the coupon code LeahDec10 and save $10 on your first box and enjoy the cool gear and unique project we'll make together.

So what are you going to make with the materials in your Quilty Box? This is definitely one quilt you can slice and stitch in an hour or two so it's perfect for this time crunch time of the year!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Quilt an Olaf Frozen Quilt Panel

Yes, Olaf is in the house! I found this delightful Frozen quilt panel and realized it would be the perfect gift for my young niece and a great way to practice machine quilting.

Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt
I found this project to be really fun and a great learning experience. The challenge is the same as every quilt: how do we quilt it? Where do the design go and what will look best in which space?

Having hundreds of designs to choose from can really make it hard to pick just a few designs to work with. I knew Olaf didn't need to be elaborately or densely quilted. In fact, I had a bit of a time crunch on this project and needed to have him off the machine in just a day or two, which meant the quilting design needed to be fast and not fussy.

What makes a design fussy? Lots of thread color changes, thread breaks, and dense quilting. Thread breaks and color changes have long been the bane of my existence. It's both time consuming and distracting to stop, pull out your bobbin and re-thread the top of the machine. Dense quilting is also S...L...O...W. If I'd quilted this on a wall hanging style scale (1/8 inch between the lines of quilting) I'd probably be getting Olaf finished when my niece is graduating from college. Not an option!

Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt
For that reason, I quilted 99% of this Olaf quilt panel with white thread. I intentionally choose designs like Stippling and Tangle of Lights that could be quilted with minimal thread breaks. I also quilted this panel on a 1/2 inch scale and left most of Olaf un-quilted so he puffs up nicely on the surface.

I also added snowflakes! Lots and lots of snowflakes were marked on the quilt surface using a stencil I cut from an AccuQuilt snowflake die. These shapes took up space and added to the overall design.

Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt
All told, it took around 4 hours to quilt this panel from start to finish and I couldn't be more pleased! It's super soft and cuddly, but the quilting definitely added a beautiful additional texture to the surface. Watch how this design was planned, then quilted in this free video:

Here's the list of materials I used to transform a single 1 yard Olaf panel into a quilt:

- Olaf Panel for the top
- Craft sized wool batting (Quilter's Dream Wool)
- 1 yard blue solid fabric for backing
- 3 strips of white fabric 
- Snowflake stencils or templates (optional)
- Basting Pins and Pinmoors
- White and Black Isacord Thread 
- Machine quilting gloves

About halfway through quilting my Olaf quilt I hit a little speed bump of indecision. I made the mistake of stopping and analyzing the quilt and I wasn't completely thrilled with the designs. It was still less than half quilted and looked a bit blotchy and weird and I started to feel like I'd made the wrong choices.

Do you do this to yourself? Is this part of the reason why it's hard to pick machine quilting designs?

Instead of picking up a seam ripper or chucking the quilt in the trash, I just kept quilting. This is the learning experience I think is most key to this quilt - who cares if your quilt isn't perfect? FINISHED is better than perfect!
Quilting Olaf Frozen Quilt

I also found as I quilted more of the panel and the design emerged that I really liked what I'd picked. It just took a bit more time to see the machine quilting designs coming together and see the cool effect it created.

So my advice to you with any quilt project is this: Pick some designs and jump right in. If halfway through you feel worried you made the wrong choice, keep stitching. Judging a quilt by it's half quilted state is silly because you have no perspective of the overall design.

Keep quilting and if in the end you hate the quilt, at least it's done and you learned something! Win win in my opinion!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, November 20, 2015

Machine Quilt Open Flow - #455

It's finally Friday and time for some free motion quilting! I originally shared this quilting design in the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Vol 1 and I love the flowing, organic texture it creates on your quilts:

The texture really reminds me of Flowing Lines, but it's machine quilted more like McTavishing which means this free motion quilting design will be able to fit more places and be easier to quilt in the background of your quilts. Watch this new machine quilting video to see what I mean!

Now where will this machine quilting design work best in our quilts? I believe this design will work just about anywhere so long as it's not too small and complicated.
If I was quilting this design in the Heart & Feather Wholecloth, I wouldn't try to stick it into all the little fiddly spots in the interior of the quilt. I'd instead use it as the filler around the outer edge where it has more room to flow.

Open Flow will work even better larger scale with wide 6-7 inch long gaps. This will create a dramatic effect on the quilt surface and, even better, it will also cover huge amounts of space with every shape you stitch.

So what are you needing to quilt this week? Do you have several projects to finish in time for the holidays? Give Open Flow a try and see if this new design will help you knock out those projects with a super fast finish!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Gorgeous Dancing Butterfly Quilt

Josh here today for a quick little post. We received an email last week from a quilter who had completed her Dancing Butterfly quilt, and it's so beautiful we just had to share it.

This butterfly quilt was made by Kathy A, and it's simply stunning. I love the color contrast of the violet and dusky orange, and the central butterfly squares make this a show stopper.

Here's another angle:

You can see more beautiful finished Butterfly quilts by joining our Dancing Butterfly facebook page here.

You can pick up the pattern for Dancing Butterfly in both digital, download format as well as a printed physical pattern for $19.95. We've dropped the price of the physical version from $29.95 to $19.95 for the holiday season.


Monday, November 16, 2015

New Sewing Machine Review

Yes, it's high time I shared a detailed sewing machine review on the Juki Exceed F400, the machine I've been using for more than a year for sewing, patchwork, and machine quilting. Watch the detailed review in this video:

Read the detailed sewing machine review for the Juki Exceed F400 right here.

Yes, this machine really snuck up on me! I really wasn't planning to fall in love with it, but once I began using it I soon realized it was very well designed and awesome feet and features that typically come with much more expensive machines.

The ONLY thing I have to gripe about is the complicated set of steps to access the decorative stitches. But really, I use those stitches maybe once or twice a year so it's not much to complain about! Overall I love the way the machine is set up and I'm happy to use it in my videos and workshops.

What are you looking for in a new sewing machine? What are the features you value the most? Share in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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