The Free Motion Quilting Project

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Art Openings Aren't My Thing

A few months ago I shared a new flower mask I was creating for a local wearable art fashion show. The fashion show happened a few weeks ago and yesterday I picked up my mask from the art council.

Now that the event is over, I've been mulling over my experience and what I learned along the way. Here's a few of the lessons I picked up:

1. What you're afraid of will likely not happen.

While building the flower mask I was initially worried that someone would be rude and criticize it for being made from plastic flowers and hot glued together.

Turns out that fear was pretty silly. No one was rude about my mask or the plastic flowers. It was a pretty popular creation and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It even made the front page of the local paper the next day!

From the Shelby Star newspaper
2. Other things you never considered will bug you.

Even though my fears didn't come true, that doesn't mean the event was perfect. For one thing, I've never seen anyone else wear my masks or costumes before and that...was weird. Weird like someone else wearing your underwear weird. No matter how hard you try to feel cool with it, that just doesn't seem right.

So that was an odd experience and eventually I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that not having control over how my masks were worn or shown was okay. It was out of my control.

Next time I will solve this problem by offering to be a model of my own stuff. I think if I was part of the fashion show I would have enjoyed the event more.

3. Art openings aren't my thing.

I give things three tries before declaring I officially love or hate it. Now I can safely say I art openings aren't my thing.

For one thing, I stopped drinking in January. Only after quitting did I realize what a crutch it was for situations like this. Feeling uncomfortable and awkward? Just go grab a glass of wine...or three.

Now situations like this literally make my skin crawl. The pressure to drink to fit in coupled with the very awkward conversations wasn't a good combination. I ended up leaving after a short time and felt much better drinking tea at home and planning my next mask project.

Ultimately I learned that I love creating masks, but I don't love talking about it to random strangers. That's okay. I don't think art openings are for everyone.

Figure out how to make it fit

Just because I don't like the opening event doesn't mean I shouldn't participate at all. I plan to continue making masks and costumes and art and keep entering them in shows because it's fun and I enjoy the challenge of making things other than quilts.

As with all things, the ultimate lesson is to figure out how to make it work for you. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all and we all have to find the path that fits just right.

That might be different from what others consider normal. That's okay. If I've learned anything in the last few years it's to just be myself and stop questioning my nature. 

So often I'll discount an experience like this as "I wasn't feeling well." or "That was different, this time will be great!" when the reality is every single art opening I've ever attended, even when my art wasn't present, has been an awkward, uncomfortable experience.

The next time I enter a piece of art, the day I drop it off will be the day I release it to be enjoyed by my town. Then I'll go home and start working on something new.

That's the best fit for me. Now, what would be the best fit for you?

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Podcast: Quilting Superwoman Jackie Kunkel

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I'm getting to know Jackie Kunkel, an amazing quilter who runs an online business at Canton Village Quilt Works

Jackie also writes books and patterns, teaches online classes, and is a certified Judy Neimeyer teacher. She is truly a quilting Superwoman and I hope you enjoy learning more about Jackie!

Now for a few links from Jackie's interview:

Click Here to find Jackie's website Canton Village Quilt Works. 

Jackie began longarm quilting in 2000 because it allowed her to work from home and fit her hours around her kid's schedule.

She has changed her business over the years - creating a website, selling products online, and writing magazine articles. Jackie believes in remaining flexible so her business can grow and change as the quilting industry changes.

Jackie is also discussed how she became a certified Judy Neimeyer teacher. She was a huge fan of Judy's quilts and found being certified to be helpful in teaching classes.

Jackie is also a big fan of batik fabrics and has a signature collection with Kathy Engel for Island Batik fabrics. She is working on a designer collection for Fall 2018.

We discussed lead times which can be really challenging with many fabric companies. Many companies will deliver the fabric to create quilts for Quilt Market only 1 month before market. Island Batik is one of the best companies to work for because they deliver the fabric much earlier than average.

Jackie keeps everything balanced by writing everything on a calendar and making sure she has big blocks of time open for designing and creating. She can't create while traveling and teaching, so she stays really organized with clear goals while she's home.

Jackie's doesn't say no to teaching opportunities, she tries to find a compromise or another time further in the future if a particular time is too busy.

Being in business since 2000, Jackie has seen the quilting industry change quite a lot in the last 17 years. The fabrics and quilting have both dramatically changed. When she began, hand quilting was the only form of quilting considered "real quilting" and that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

Jackie believes if you want to stay in business, you need to constantly rethink yourself and evolve. If you can't do that, you're not going to survive. Things are constantly changing and you have to remain flexible and excited about changing.

I loved learning from Jackie's experience and I hope you did too!

The sponsor for this week's show is the Waterfall Bargello Workshop where you'll learn how to piece this complex looking Bargello quilt using easy strip piecing techniques.

You'll also learn how to quilt this wall hanging with a combination of walking foot quilting and free motion quilting designs.

Last week I received this beautiful photo from Maggie with her Waterfall Bargello quilt in rainbow colors. This was so cheerful - absolutely the perfect quilt for spring!

Click Here to find the Waterfall Bargello Workshop.

And a few updates from my neck of the woods:

I've moved the podcast to Wednesday again to see if this will help free up my weekends so I can enjoy more time with Josh and James. I found posting on Saturday was resulting in a lot of time online because once I get sucked into the computer, I get kind of stuck.

So be looking for new podcast episodes every other Wednesday! Click Here to find all the podcast episodes shared so far.

The podcast is also on YouTube. Josh has been turning the audio clips into video clips with the podcast artwork. So if you prefer to find us on Youtube, you can always subscribe to our channel and get notified anytime a new video goes live.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Newest Quilting Friend

Yep, I have a new quilting friend that's a bit on the furry side!

This is Pickles, our super sweet new kitty. We rescued her a few weeks ago and now she's starting to settle in and her personality is coming out strong.

And...she's a bit of a whiner. Or I should say yowler. When she's not happy (which is anytime she's not being attentively petted or brushed) she meows with ever increasing volume until you just give in and give her what she wants.

What does she want lately? To hang out in the Crafty Cottage with me as I quilt!

The good news is once she thoroughly sniffed both above and below my desk, she found herself a spot under my chair and curled up to take a long nap:

I've never let a cat into the Crafty Cottage before and I hope it works out and she can start quilting with me every day. It's fun to have a companion and I'd rather share the space with her than listen to her meow right outside my door.

Speaking of quilting, I'm super happy to be back to making videos after nearly three weeks of remodeling and cleaning the house! I have a really fun quilt planned using the beautiful fabrics in this month's Quilty Box. Be looking for the video coming out Monday.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

I hope you have a wonderful Easter holiday filled with family, friends, and many chocolate eggs!

We had a fabulous time hosting a big family meal, scavenger hunt for baskets, and massive hunt for Easter eggs. I've never held such a big event at our house, and now that I have, I can't wait to do more.

But I have to admit two weeks of remodeling plus another week of cleaning has definitely wiped me out!

Be looking for our next Sit Down Quilting Sunday next week (4/23) and the Quilty Box project the next Monday (4/24). I have a really fun quilt planned that I'm sure you're going to love!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S Of course we had to shoot a silly photo too!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Stop with the Crazy!

We've finally finished the last leg of the remodel - moving furniture around the house! I still need to hang some quilts and paintings, but this will do for now:

We also moved this cabinet downstairs next to my computer and I took the opportunity to clean and clear my desk. This is the cleanest it's looked in years!

I should have taken a "before" photo but I didn't think of it. Imagine plastic boxes piled up on the top shelf of the black desk right up to the ceiling. Each box was filled with designs, sketches, ideas, and diagrams. Basically if I wrote something down on a piece of paper and thought it was important, I saved it.

Yep, that's just nuts.

The issue with all this stuff is it's just that - stuff. I don't actually use it. I never went through these boxes searching for a missing design. I kept it mostly out of fear that one day I will run out of ideas and all these papers and drawings will somehow bring it all back.

I've also collected binders, clipboards, and plastic boxes:

Why so much of all of these things?

Typically I buy like this when I think I've stumbled across the perfect solution to organize my life and sort through all the stuff that's surrounding me and making me feel crazy. So I buy more stuff to fix a problem caused by having too much stuff.

Yeah...that makes a lot of sense Leah...

When I see these piles of stuff, I feel like a hoarder. That is definitely something I do not WANT to be, but I know the urge to save and stash is definitely in my DNA.

I can remember when I bought a particular bead or a bag of wool fiber on a fun trip. I can remember when I drew that design or planned that quilt.

These memories make me feel more connected to my stuff, but they also make it very hard to throw things away. What happens if I suddenly want that collection of fabric marbling supplies I bought at a show three years ago?

Many times I'll go through a purging rampage and toss tons of stuff out of my studio. Then in a few months I find myself searching for that stupid box of precut wool felt circles that I had in a drawer for five years and I CAN'T BELIEVE I THREW IT AWAY! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!!!

Um...yep, that sounds like me...

I want to get a handle on this. Going through my design boxes I realized I'm still drawing the same designs I was drawing four years ago. Why haven't I just made that quilt already?! Why haven't I taught that set of designs? Why haven't I shared that idea?

When I really think about it, it always comes back to time. I don't feel like I have enough time to do the things I want to do. I buy more stuff because it scratches the itch, but more stuff, and more stuff to organize the stuff, doesn't actually satisfy.

What I need is dedicated time to create. The original goal of my business was to have time to quilt every day. If my business isn't fulfilling that basic goal, it's a failure.

This might sound harsh, but sometimes being harsh is necessary to make change happen. Instead of buying more craft stuff on my next trip, I need to bring some craft stuff with me and do something fun with it. My vacation should be playing with the things I've bought and making something new and pretty with all of these materials.

My goal this year was to simplify and make my life easier. I have a tendency to get bogged down and to let things pile up until it's too overwhelming and crazy to deal with. Instead of letting it get that far out of control, I need to keep things under control every day.

So my starting goal? Just keep my desk clean.

Simple. Easy. Doable. Just keep your desk clean, girl!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, April 10, 2017

How to Quilt a Daisy Dresden Plate Block

It feels like the whole world is blooming with beautiful flowers this week! Let's add more pretty flowers to the mix as we quilt our Daisy Dresden Plate block:

I spiced up the center of my Daisy Dresden Plate by adding Microstippling in the center circle and space between the middle rings. I love finding spaces like that within a block to stitch it up a notch. See what I mean in this new video:

What did you think of quilting circles with a ruler foot and circular rulers? I do find this a bit challenging, particularly when the ruler is on the outside and I'm quilting the circle to the inside like it was in the beginning of this video. 

I prefer to quilt with the ruler to the inside of the foot so I can swing the block around it and then remove the ruler easily to quilt inside of the shape. Definitely give it a try and let me know which way you like best!

My favorite part of this block is the bouncy echoes in the background. I love adding simple texture in the background of a block and rows of repeated echoes always have a relaxing effect on a quilt.

What is your favorite part of this block? Do you have any questions on quilting it this week? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Josh is Quilting on the Grace Qnique 14+

Last week I tried quilting with fleece fabric on the back of my quilt and I received a lot of questions about working with this fabric. I decided to try it again, this time without stabilizing with French Fuse and with a wool batting to see what would happen.

And because I had a really sore throat, I asked Josh to jump on the machine and see what it was like from a beginner perspective. So here's Josh quilting a super simple design called Teeth:

Josh quilted with me through 42 videos in the Building Blocks Quilt Along, but really hasn't done much quilting since. This was the first time he's ever quilted on this machine and I think he did great!

Yes, there is a lot of speed in the Grace Qnique 14+ and I trolled Josh a bit at the end by telling him to press the foot pedal harder. As you can see, his quilting looked pretty good for the first two rows, but when he sped up, his Teeth got really sloppy because he wasn't ready to handle the high speed, plus moving the quilt, plus forming the Teeth design: 

On quilting with fleece without stabilizer, yes, you can skip that step. My default is to stabilize anything weird, but in this case I think you can quilt without the stabilizer and be okay.

It does make the quilt more challenging to baste, but you could get around this by basting on a longarm (on a frame) with water soluble thread and avoid having to tape the quilt to a table, or spray baste outside.

I've really enjoyed playing with this fabric and next week I plan to quilt with Minky fabric! This is even softer, squishier fabric that will be delightful on the back of a quilt.

I can already tell you what is not delightful about Minky fabric - cutting it! More on that next week...

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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