The Free Motion Quilting Project

Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Stitch in the Ditch with Walking Foot Quilting

We're four weeks into the Machine Quilting Party and we're ready to begin stitching in the ditch to secure the layers of the quilt together. But there are a lot of steps from piecing a quilt top to quilting so this post is filled to the brim with three quilting videos to help you pick the right batting for your quilt, set up your sewing machine, and begin stitching in the ditch.

Let's begin with picking the right batting for your Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt, this is a very important decision that could save you quite a bit of time. The right choice of batting could allow you SKIP stitching in the ditch completely! Learn more in this new video:


So what will allow you to skip stitching in the ditch between the quilt blocks? The rating of the batting you choose. This is a number printed somewhere on the batting package that let's you know the minimum amount of quilting required for that batting.

The wool batting I used in my newest version of the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt said "quilts up to 3 inches." which means I really shouldn't leave spaces bigger than 2 1/2 inches open on the quilt or the batting could potentially shift and become unstable inside the quilt.



So I had to stitch my quilt in the ditch because the walking foot designs designs we're quilting on the surface would leave too much space open in a few places and my batting might have become unstable.

Quilter's Dream Polyester, however, has a rating up to 12 inches - that is a huge amount of space! With a batting like that, you wouldn't need to stitch in the ditch because most likely the designs we're going to quilt on the surface will be enough to keep that batting stable.

Would you like to learn even more about batting and the basting process? Check out the Basting Basics Workshop, my newest online quilting class that is all about basting! I share my favorite methods for basting quilts of all sizes and dig into batting in depth because this is such an important choice for every quilt. Click Here to learn more.

Set Up Your Sewing Machine

Now that we've covered batting and basting, let's talk about your sewing machine. I personally believe this will make or break your machine quilting experience. If you want it to feel easy and smooth to machine quilt the Rainbow Log Cabin quilt, try the tips in this video:


Click Here to find the Affordable Sewing Table. This is the sewing table I've been using for years because it's sturdy, lightweight, and gets the machine on a flush surface with the table top. I honestly believe if you have a choice of buying a bigger machine or a flatbed sewing table, buy the table!

This will eliminate all the drag and pulling and tugging the quilt over the "hump" of your machine when it's set on top of a table and make it so much easier to feed through the machine.


The sewing table we offer is very small, but you can expand the table surface with folding tables so you have more space for the quilt to rest. Try setting up a 3 ft x 6 ft folding table to the back of the table and a second folding table to the left side of the machine. This is where the quilt typically wants to rest as you are quilting.

If you can, push the entire table set up - folding tables and sewing machine table - into a left corner. This will lock the quilt on the table so it can't flop off the edge and suddenly pull against you.


If you don't have any space folding tables, consider going vertical and creating a clamping system to clamp your quilt above your machine. As I mentioned in the video, this will require constant adjustment because as the quilt moves through the machine, you will need the clamps to change position so it continues taking the weight and bulk off the table surface.

I have used clamping systems like this for years. In some cases, I screwed handles or hooks to the ceiling. In other cases, I just hooked my bungee cords to a curtain rod over my machine, then attached clamps to the end of the bungee cords:


I know this seems like a lot of work and it is an investment. Sewing tables plus folding tables, bungee cords and clamps can add up fast.

I felt the same way for years. I made do with whatever I could find. My very first flatbed sewing table was a lucky yard sale find for $3 and it was a weird homemade contraption with a bent metal bed for the sewing machine. I spent $1000 in a machine before I ever spent $100 on the table it set in.

But after sewing only a few days with that cheap yard sale table I could see the difference it made for my ability to move the quilt. It made everything easier - easier to move, easier to see, easier on my body.

Please consider this a worthwhile investment into your quilting hobby. It can make a dramatic difference in your machine quilting ability and in how much you enjoy doing this. If it feels like an arm wrestling match to push and pull and fight your quilt through the machine, you aren't going to want to machine quilt!

Stitch in the Ditch

Okay, stepping off my soapbox about sewing machine tables now for the main point of this post! Stitching in the ditch! Learn how to stitch in the ditch in this new quilting tutorial:


No, we are not stitching in the ditch between every little piece! That would take forever and it's really not necessary because we're still going to quilt with Bright Star and Concentric Squares over the quilt too. By stitching in the ditch just between the quilt blocks, the layers of the quilt are more stable and secure and I got to remove a huge number of pins so they won't be in my way when I begin quilting the other designs.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this massive quilting tutorial, you can skip stitching in the ditch on your Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt if you pick a batting with a very high rating (quilting up to 10 - 12 inches).

I stitched from the center of the quilt into the batting area in the ditch, then returned to the center, rotated the quilt, and stitched to the opposite edge. The key to staying right in the ditch is stitching slowly and carefully and re-positioning the quilt often as you saw in the video to keep the quilt moving forward smoothly.

Now to clear up any confusion:

Yes, I stitch right in the ditch.

Yes, I press my seams open.

I always piece with a 1.5 mm stitch length that locks the pieces together securely.

I've never had an issue from making my quilts this way. I've never experienced batting leaking through the stitching or the stitching in the ditch quilting breaking the piecing stitches. Click Here to hear a debate about pressing seams open.

Maybe I need to do another Great Quilting Debate about stitching in the ditch! It will depend on how many questions I get about it this week! Lol!


Whew! This was a very big quilting tutorial, but I think you can see why. Picking your batting is a big choice, setting up your sewing machine for machine quilting is a big deal, and stitching in the ditch is a big job. This is BIG!

Take your time working through all these steps this week, and please don't worry if you fall behind. Remember the videos will stay online forever so you can catch up anytime.

If you're looking for the quilt pattern to get started with the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt, Click Here to find it in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting.

Click Here to find all the posts we've shared so far for the 2018 Machine Quilting Party.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, January 19, 2018

Walking Foot Quilting: How to Quilt Bright Star

It's time to quilt our third design for the Machine Quilting Party. Yep, we're still stitching straight lines, but this time quilting from the center to create a beautiful Bright Star!

Learn how to quilt this design with easy walking foot quilting in this new quilting tutorial:


Click Here to find the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting where you can find the Marvelous Mosaic Quilt Pattern and quilt along with us this year!


I had a great time quilting this using masking tape as a guide. As I mentioned in the video, I was avoiding putting marks on my blocks for these videos because I was also shooting photos of the squares too. I found it sped up the marking process too because I didn't have to worry about erasing the marks after I was finished quilting.

But I received a great question today about quilt marking and what pens / pencils I like to use. Click Here to find the fabric marking pens I recommend.

I do NOT recommend using the heat-erase pens because they can ghost (remove pigment from your fabric) and show back up again after the quilt is finished, haunting you like the ghost of Christmas past.

I prefer marking pens and pencils that erase, brush off, or wash out completely so no extra chemicals are left in the quilt. Click Here to find a video on marking quilting designs from last year's Machine Quilting Block Party.

Quilt Bright Star Two Ways

Bright Star is a super easy quilting design, but I want you to understand that there's more than one way to quilt all of the designs we're quilting this year. You can use your walking foot and walking foot quilting, or you can use your darning foot and free motion quilting.

Learn how to quilt Bright Star in a much smaller block in this free motion quilting tutorial:


Yep, this is an oldie goldie design from the first year of this blog project. I shared the original tutorial (in it's wonderful low res glory) back on Dec 7th, 2009. Click Here to find the original post. Oh, how times have changed!

But I want you to see that quilting this design can change. You can quilt straight from edge to edge across your quilt - provided it's a small space you're quilting.

So if you're looking at your quilt and want to quilt 20 inches across a space with Bright Star, it will be a good idea to start in the center and stitch outwards. It will likely feel a lot easier to quilt this way too, even with all the thread tails you'll have to tie off and bury inside your quilt.

If you're quilting a really tiny space - 6 inches or smaller - then it should be find to quilt straight across from edge to edge as I quilted in the second video.

I also want you to know that there is no right or wrong way to quilt any design.

No matter which way you stitch it, it's still Bright Star and it will still look great on your quilt!

Dealing with Thread Breaks

In the walking foot quilting tutorial I tied off and buried a lot of thread breaks. I don't like to have too many loose threads on the quilt at any given time, mostly because it's messy, but it can also get confusing which threads should be tied together when you end up with lots of breaks in one space.

Learn how to tie off and bury your thread tails in this quilting tutorial:


Click Here to find the Hide Your Threads Kit which includes cheater needles and the Pin Place so you can keep a single needle handy at all times.

Important note: Only tie 2 threads together into a knot at a time.

If you have 4 thread tails all in one place it's really tempting to tie them all together and try to bury it in the quilt. But it's really not a good idea. 4 threads create a huge knot that rarely pulls into the middle layer cleanly.

If you want your stops and starts to be 100% undetectable from the quilt surface or back, only tie 2 threads together at a time.

Yes, there is an alternative method that I call the Glob of Thread which I don't teach because it almost always results in the quilting stitches unraveling after the quilt is complete. It's unsightly and leaves noticeable lumpy knots on the front and back of your quilt so it's not a method I recommend.

Practice Makes Perfect

I do hope you'll quilt Bright Star this week because in 2 weeks we'll be quilting this design on a real quilt! This is the center and corner design we're quilting on the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt.


Take some time to practice this design and look forward to seeing how to quilt it on an 80 inch quilt on a small home sewing machine! Yes, it is possible to quilt large quilts on your home machine and I plan to show you how starting next Monday.


Remember, all the quilt patterns for the Machine Quilting Party can be found in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. Click Here to check it out!

I hope you're enjoying these walking foot quilting tutorials and the Machine Quilting Party. Remember you can find all the videos shared so far right here. 

We also have a playlist with just the videos right here so you can watch all of the videos in order. It's a great way to binge watch and listen to the process as you're piecing and quilting.

We've shared 3 walking foot quilting designs so far so you can learn the basics of this style of quilting, how to quilt Crazy Lines, and how to quilt Bright Star. I love how these simple straight-line designs look together. Yes, the designs are easy and simple, but the textures they can create on your quilt can be spectacular!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Piece and Quilt Precut Fabrics with Christa Watson, Episode #43

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I'm chatting with my awesome quilting friend Christa Watson about piecing and quilting with precut fabrics. This just happens to also be the topic of Christa's new quilting book! Listen or download the episode here:


Or you can watch the episode and see me stitching away at this forever cross stitch project in my living room:


Ad: Click Here to find Christa's newest book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. 

This is a terrific book for slicing into those precut packs you've stashed away so you can turn those nice fabrics into beautiful quilts. Best of all, piecing with precuts can be a lot faster and save you time in the cutting process.

The one downside is you can't prewash precuts and Christa and I talk through how to manage that at the end of the project. Christa doesn't like washing fabrics cut smaller than a fat quarter because they can distort and get weird on the edges. She does wash fat quarters in lingerie bags and that helps contain their tendency to fray on the edges.

Click Here to check out ChristaQuilts.com, her website where she shares lots of informative posts, plus has a terrific quilt shop where you can buy her books and fabrics.

Speaking of fabric, Christa recently designed a new fabric line called Modern Marks. She sent me a mini quilt and I got to quilt it!




Christa and I share a lot of quilting habits, but one place we differ is on quilt basting. She prefers to spray baste her quilts together and has shared an excellent tutorial on how she sprays the quilt top and backing fabric, then layers everything together on her design wall.


What I love the most about Christa is how energetic and enthusiastic she is about quilting, teaching, and running her business. She really fires me up and inspires me to keep trying new things. You never know if you'll like something until you try it!

Podcast Sponsor

This week's podcast is sponsored by our new Basting Basics Workshop. Come learn all the basics of basting a big quilt, plus lots of tips on picking the best quilt batting for your project in this online quilting class.

This workshop will come in very handy this week as we've pieced the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt and now it's time to baste and quilt it together.


Update Time!

This week I've been continuing my mission of finishing older projects. In the evening, I've been working on this little painted needlepoint gingerbread house and making very SLOW progress. Who would have thought cross stitch could take so long?


I've also pulled out the Winter Wonderland Quilt Pattern. This was a quilt pattern I created back in 2010 and really needed an update. James and I had a photo shoot together this weekend before it got really cold again. He mostly shot pictures of the chickens and cats, but shot a few of the quilt too.


Working on this has felt a bit like traveling back in time. It also reminded me how much I love this quilt and the unique technique Reverse Shadow Trapunto that's used to create the beautiful blocks.

I'm going to double and triple check my math and hand this off to Josh for the editing and layout. Be looking forward to these snowflakes falling back on the quilt shop by the end of the month!


This week I also shared a video on how to piece your Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt together into one big quilt top. It's so nice to go to the Facebook Group and see all the bright rainbow quilts filling up the feed! Click Here to find the latest tutorial.

As for walking foot designs, last week we learned how to quilt Crazy Lines. I love how easily everyone is jumping into walking foot quilting. I've been teaching free motion quilting for years and it's always such a struggle for beginners to get started and overcome the starting ugly stitches.

Walking foot quilting doesn't seem to have that barrier to entry and that is wonderful to see. Just in case you miss any videos or posts, remember you can always find them right here on our website.

Now I'm off to play in the snow!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, January 15, 2018

Piecing the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt Top

Welcome back to the third week of the Machine Quilting Party! We're chugging right along with our Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt and today we're piecing the quilt blocks together to create the finished quilt top. Learn how to arrange and piece your blocks in long rows in this new quilting video:


Are you looking for the quilt pattern? Click Here to find it in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting!

When piecing any quilt fabrics, remember I always lower my stitch length to 1.5 mm to produce a tight, secure stitch. This locks the pieces together securely so I can press the seam allowances open.


Have you heard this is a bad idea? Click Here to find a Great Quilting Debate about pressing seams!

There are a lot of nuances to quilt piecing that I hope I illustrated well in this video. My hands are constantly tweeking the quilt, lifting it up to check the seam allowances are staying open, brushing the fabrics so they stay in good alignment, and pressing hard to maintain that alignment as the rows are fed into the machine.

My #1 tip is to take your time. Be patient as you stitch the blocks and rows together.

My #2 tip is to be forgiving and loving to yourself if your quilt top doesn't turn out perfect.

My new Rainbow Log Cabin quilt was far from perfect! Dad and I pieced the log cabin blocks together and our seam allowances aren't quite the same, which is noticeable in a few spots on this quilt. Should I rip it out and obsess about perfection? Will you think less of me if I leave that in?

A few years ago, I would have ripped and fussed and fiddled and fought with the quilt to get it perfect. I would have worried my pants off about what everyone would think if those blocks didn't match perfectly.

It's taken years to let go of this anxiety and fear and accept the simple truth: I'm not a perfect person. I will not make perfect quilts. I can love myself and love my quilt exactly the way I pieced it the first time.


So if you are feeling upset about your blocks, please take a minute to look at the colors you've chosen, the pretty fabrics you pulled from your stash, and lovingly accept exactly who you are and where you are right now with your quilting skills.

You can always improve, and you do that by piecing and quilting more quilts. Keep your quilting experience light, easy, and joyful and there will always be more quilts to create and more skills to build.

A Quick Quilting Catch Up

Now a little recap just in case you're just joining in the fun of this Rainbow Log Cabin quilt project. At the beginning of the month we started this project by washing, starching, pressing, squaring, and cutting the fabrics accurately. Click Here to find this tutorial.

Last week I shared a video on piecing the log cabin quilt blocks. Many quilters on the Facebook group mentioned having issues with their blocks measuring the correct size. Make sure to watch the video to learn how Dad and I worked around the same issue. Click Here to find that tutorial.

This week the goal is to take the dozens of Log Cabin quilt blocks we've pieced and sew them together to form one big quilt top.


Wait! What?! One big quilt top? I thought we were quilting this on a home machine?

Yes we are! I want to teach you how to quilt a big quilts on your home machine. Don't worry it won't break your arms off, or kill you, or ruin the quilt. I'll share more tips on managing the weight and size of the quilt in each new video.

Remember, more videos for the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt come out every Monday, but you can follow along and make this quilt anytime and work at your own pace. You can find the pattern in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

You'll also want to layer and baste the quilt top with batting and backing fabric to create the quilt sandwich. Next week we will begin quilting the layers together as we stitch in the ditch between the quilt blocks.


Do you need help basting a big quilt? Click Here to learn about basting in the Basting Basics Workshop.

In this online quilting class, you'll learn all the steps to basting a quilt and a wealth of information about the different quilt battings you have to choose from and the big impact this middle layer can have for your quilts. I share my favorite pin basting methods as well as new techniques for machine basting as well!

Click Here to learn more about quilt basting.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S Are you looking for all the videos shared so far? Click Here to find a page where they're all linked up.

Would you like to binge watch all the videos as well? That's a great idea! Click Here to find the playlist.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Walking Foot Quilting: Let's Quilt Crazy Lines

Welcome to a new walking foot quilting tutorial! I'm really enjoying this Machine Quilting Party and making two different quilts with you at the same time. Are you enjoying the process? Is two quilts one too many?

Today we're quilting a super funky easy walking foot quilting design called Crazy Lines. Learn how to quilt it in this new video quilting tutorial:


Click Here to find Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day and start quilting along with us!


Each Friday we're quilting a quilt new design with walking foot quilting, and at the end of this quilt along in June we'll take 20 of the squares and connect them together to make the Marvelous Mosaic quilt! Click Here to find the first post with Walking Foot Basics to get you started.

Quilting Crazy Lines is a free-form version of straight lines we learned last week. For this design, I marked each line one at a time using 1/4-inch painters tape. I wanted the lines to be completely irregular and angled in all different directions so I didn't use the edges of my walking foot as a guide.


Instead at the end of each line, I'd pull up the tape and reposition it to create a new line at a new angle. I like the thinner tape for this job and I found I could reposition the tape a few times before it stopped sticking to the fabric.


Fiddling with the tape at the end of each line did take more time to quilt this block. If you'd prefer to move faster through your quilt block, you could mark the lines with a fabric marking pencil and long ruler instead.

What do you think of Crazy Lines? Do you like this texture or prefer the effect of evenly spaced straight lines instead? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Is Basting Spray Bad for Quilts? Podcast Episode #42

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I'm taking on another Great Quilting Debate - is basting spray bad for our quilts? Listen to my take on this topic using the player below:


Or you can watch the episode and see what I'm working on with this video:


Basting spray is an aerosol glue you can use to spray the layers of your quilt so they stick together. It's a faster basting method in comparison to pin basting or hand basting, and I know many quilters that prefer to use spray basting because it's easier on their hands.

As with all my Great Quilting Debate episodes, I 100% believe you should use what you want and what works for you! I use polyester thread for quilting, I like to prewash and starch all my fabric before cutting, and I press my seams open - all of these are topics that quilters argue about.

But I rarely hear anyone arguing about basting spray and this worries me. I get questions weekly about whether starch will make their quilts more susceptible to bugs (a ridiculous quilting rumor in my opinion), but I never get questions about the effects of basting spray - a far more detrimental chemical.

Maybe this is because I don't use basting spray so quilters are taking their questions about it elsewhere. Or maybe quilters don't know about the possible side effects of using this chemical in their quilts.

A few years ago I ran across a research paper put out by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on the effects of lots of different glues commonly used in quilts including basting spray, fusible webs, and fusible batting. The conclusion was very clear from this study - if you want to create a quilt that will last beyond your lifetime (100 years +) or be considered a good candidate for museum curation, none of these materials should be used in the quilt.

Click Here to find the article I wrote in 2011 about chemicals in quilts.

Of course, I know a lot of quilters don't care about their quilt going in a museum or outliving them! I know this matters very little if you want to make a quilt for all 18 of your grandchildren by Christmas and pin basting makes your hands hurt.

Again, use what works and helps you make your quilts.

But please make sure you are using this chemical safely. Our sewing rooms are NOT well ventilated and I don't think it's safe to spray basting glue in the house and especially near a sewing machine. Not all brands of basting spray are smelly, but glue is glue, and glue isn't good for our lungs to breathe or land near our machines either!

If you do use basting spray, please use it outside. 

My quilting friend Christa Watson has a great tutorial on spray basting. She sprays her quilts outside, then brings the layers back inside to squish them together. Click Here to find Christa's spray basting tutorial.

Photo from ChristaQuilts.com
Christa recently updated this tutorial to show you how to spray baste vertically using a design wall as well. Click Here to find this new tutorial.

Whew! That was quite a bit of a basting rant, but these Great Quilting Debates are debates for a reason. We all have different opinions about these materials and what is best for our quilts. Ultimately you just have to decide what works for you and helps you create the quilts you want to make.

Get the Basics of Basting under your Belt (and say that three times fast!)

I know I'm feeling particularly opinionated about basting because I've just finished a new online quilting workshop on this topic. If you'd like to learn more about quilt basting and dig into this subject more, please join me for the Basting Basics Workshop!

This online quilting class covers all the topics of basting, and we pin baste a baby quilt, a king sized quilt, and teach machine basting as well.

I prefer to either pin or stitch the layers of my quilts together because it doesn't add any extra chemicals or glues to the quilt that I have to worry about later.

I also include a lot of information on picking your batting - one of the most crucial choices when it comes to basting your quilts. I had a lot to share about batting because this layer ultimately determines how long it will take to quilt your quilt.

So if this podcast episode has peaked your interest in quilt basting, please join me for a quilting class to learn more. Click here to find the Basting Basics Workshop!

Stitching and Quilting Updates...

Now I've mostly been working on this workshop this week, but in my evening hand stitching time, I've been finishing up my Express Your Love mini embroidery. I just put the last stitches in the binding last night so it's finally finished!


It feels awesome to be done with this little quilt, which has been in progress since 2013. I got serious about finishing it this fall and began working on it for 30 - 60 minutes every evening. When I started in September, it looked like this:


This is the power of a little work every day! Just a few minutes on a project, every single day, is so much better than just spending one day on a project once a month.

This is also how I'm writing a book. So long as I get a little done every day, I know I'm moving forward steadily. Even if it's just a few hundred words, even if it's just polishing what I've written before, that's still forward movement.

What was the challenge this week?

My word for the year is challenge and, yes, it was a very big challenge to film all the videos and create the new basting workshop all in just two weeks! I'm delighted with how this class turned out and thrilled Josh and I could work together to make it all come together so quickly.

But a personal challenge was also put in my path over the weekend. I had a very personal reminder that life is short and none of us know how much time we have on this Earth. We can lose the ones we love in a second and then they are gone.

On Sunday I was planning to stay home and work while the guys went on a hike. But did that work really need to be done right then? Nope.


I put work aside, pulled on my boots and two layers of clothing and we climbed a mountain together. This was a wonderful day and we all had a great time!

I also went through all my photos from 2017 this week so I could make a calendar with photos from the previous year. I realized we need more days like this - more memories, more fun times together. My son is 10 and this time of him being a kid is fleeting and I want to make the most of it.

I don't want my son only remembering me working or stitching or designing something and never being present with him, just happily walking through the woods. Because I know my son will likely mirror my habits. If I show him life is all work and no play, he will grow up to live that same life.

So that's it for this week! Just in case I don't say it enough, please know that I love that you're here, reading and watching and learning with us! I feel so thankful for this life and business and I appreciate being able to share it with you.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Piece Log Cabin Blocks

Welcome back to the second week of the Machine Quilting Party! Today we're piecing the log cabin quilt blocks for the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt. This is one of my favorite traditional quilt blocks because it's so easy to piece, but creates such a pretty effect on your quilt.

Learn how to piece a log cabin block in this quilting tutorial:


Are you looking for the Rainbow Log Cabin quilt pattern? Click Here to find it in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting.

Just in case you missed the video from last week, click here to learn how to prepare and cut your fabricsI do advise prewashing your fabric, starching and pressing to make the pieces nice and stiff so they are easy to cut and also easy to piece together too.

Yes, if you prewash fat quarters, they are going to get a bit messy. Here's a photo of what you can expect from washing fat quarters in the washing machine:


It will take a bit of time to clip these apart and clean up all these stray threads, but this isn't a deal breaker for me. Personally I'd rather deal with tangle of threads now than deal with bleeding dyes in my finished quilt later.

If this does happen to you, clip apart all the fabrics and shake them out flat before throwing them in the dryer. If you dry the fabrics wadded and tied up like this, it will take a lot more time to pull them apart and press them flat later.

Seams Open, Seams Closed?

Now that we're getting into piecing, I know you're probably wondering about those seam allowances. I lower my stitch length when piecing to 1.5 mm to produce a very tiny, secure stitch. Because my stitch length is so small, I feel confident pressing my seams open.

I like seams pressed open on my quilts because I find this makes my blocks more accurately pieced and my quilt tops are flatter and easier to quilt over. This is one of those things quilters like to debate and many quilters strongly disagree with seams pressed open.

This fall I started taking on a lot of quilting debates on my podcast Hello My Quilting Friends! Click Here to find podcast episode all about pressing seams to learn more.

Trimming vs. Force Fitting

As I mentioned in the video, Dad and I had a piecing adventure as we created the Rainbow Log Cabin together. Dad's the best fabric cutter I could ever have because he was a machinist before working with fabric and he definitely knows how to cut accurately.

But his seam allowance is sometimes, well, a bit big.

Honestly it's not off by very much. I guesstimated Dad's seams are probably only 1 or 2 threads too wide.

I know, 1 - 2 THREADS?! Yes, that is enough to throw off a log cabin block because these blocks build exponentially from the center to the outer edges. By the time you get to the outer strips of the block, the pieced square could be as much as 1/8 inch off.


The best solution for this problem is to trim excess strip off. Force fitting the longer strip to the smaller block is going to create distortion and a ripply effect that will go on to haunt you in the quilting process. Just follow the steps I share in the video for trimming off the excess strip if you start to notice that show up in your log cabin blocks.

Yes, your blocks may end up smaller than the size listed in the book. That's fine! The key is consistency. Dad consistently pieces with a slightly big seam allowance, so all of his blocks ended up slightly smaller than they should have.

Quilting Homework 

This week our goal is to piece the log cabin blocks. Follow the instructions in the book to piece the blocks using the correct dominate / recessive color combinations.

Next week we will piece the blocks together to create our Rainbow Log Cabin quilt top!


I hope you're having a blast with the Machine Quilting Party. Remember you can always join in the fun and begin quilting along with us. You can find all the videos shared so far right here.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please share it with your friends, and feel free to post the images and video here to Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram - where ever you like to hang out and share online! That really helps me out a lot and helps other quilters learn more about quilting.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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