The Free Motion Quilting Project

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Tunic Challenge - Part 4

It's finished! This is the last week of the Tunic Challenge and our goal for this week was to finish our tunics and show them off. So here's a video for you to see how my tunic finished:

This has been such a wonderful project with Amy Johnson from Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures. I know for sure that I wouldn't have made this shirt right now if it wasn't for this challenge and being able to sew along with a friend.

My favorite part of my tunic is definitely the Renaissance Ribbons that accent the front placket, sleeves, collar, and hem. I went a bit ribbon crazy!

But I don't think it looks ridiculous. A bit formal, yes, but for the first time in a long time, I've made a shirt I will look forward to wearing!

My least favorite part is the collar. When I created the muslin test garment in week 2, I used the bias strip collar, but I didn't think it looked good with my long neck.

Then I played with the band collar and for some reason I couldn't get it to fit properly along the neck edge. I'd also caught a cold and was running a high fever so I don't think I was exactly in the best frame of mind for collar fitting.

The next morning I tackled the collar after taking some cold medicine plus half a shot of 5 Hour Energy...which incidentally is a very interesting cocktail if you'd like your whole body to go numb while your mind drifts off on tangents of strawberry milkshakes and shortbread cookies.

I digress...I managed to measure the actual collar of the shirt, then the collar pattern and I found you could use the regular angled collar for another placket, but only if you change the seam allowance from 5/8 to 3/8. So I stitched it and stuck it on my shirt and this time it fit perfectly.

That is, until I put it on and realized I'd just added a 3 inch collar to an already high neckline. I'm ready for my Elvis impersonation! Uh Huh!

The good news is I can fold the collar down so it doesn't come up to my ears and I really like this look. All in all, this wasn't a huge problem and is certainly not a deal breaker. I love my tunic!

Now for a few tips and insights as I've finished this project:

1. Do not skip making a muslin! Also don't change your collar design halfway through like I did. If you change your mind, make another muslin to test the new collar.

2. Don't test the muslin by putting it on for 5 minutes and looking at yourself in the mirror. That just tells you what it looks like. Put it on and wear it around the house for a few hours - that will tell you want it FEELS like and if you will really like that length. Turns out, I shortened my tunic a bit too much.

3. There can never, ever be enough ribbon trim. Seriously. It's awesome!

4. All projects are made better with the help of a friend. At least for me, they actually get done! Thank you Amy!

So that's what I've learned from the Tunic Challenge. Let's check out Amy's blog to see how her tunic turned out.

Do you want to read the past posts about this challenge? Click Here for Part 1 about cutting out the pattern.

Click Here for Part 2 on sewing the muslin test garment, and Click Here for Part 3 on cutting out the fabrics for our finished tunics!

Let's go sew,

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Teach Quilting Classes

Hello My Quilting Friends! It's time for a new podcast episode and this week I'm sharing tips and ideas for teaching quilting classes. I received this request from Suzanne on Instagram and she wrote:

"How do you prepare and plan to teach a class from prep to actual class time and then post-class?"

That's the question I'm answering today. If you'd like to make a suggestion for a future podcast episode please contact me or you can send me a message on Instagram or Facebook. I love knowing that you're engaged and interested in the show and I may just record an episode just to answer your question!

Now here's the show:

As you can tell, I have a lot of strong opinions about what makes a good quilting class and what makes a good quilting teacher and I think that all this information can apply whether you're teaching in person or online or anywhere in between. I do think it's important to come from the heart when you teach. If you're tired and run down, it's going to be reflected in how you express yourself.

I also share a lot of tips on how to teach and the importance of samples and a hand out. Find a few friends to practice your class as well before you teach a bigger group so you'll know what questions are going to come up ahead of time.

Click Here to find the full transcript

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to Piece a Sun Explosion Block

It's time to piece our very last quilt block for the Machine Quilting Block Party this year! Our final block combines many units we've learned this year including a Square in a Square, Half Square Triangles, and Flying Geese to create a beautiful Sun Explosion quilt block.

Let's learn how to piece this block step-by-step in this new quilting tutorial:

Click Here to find the pattern for Block 12

The trickiest part of this Sun Explosion Block is the flying geese units that are expanded with little strips to create the side units. Make sure to watch the video above to see how I deal with the bright orange fabric shadowing through the light cream fabrics.

This is our last block for this year, but remember the party is starting right back up on January 1st, 2017! We have a new mystery quilt called Flower Festival to piece and quilt together month by month next year.

We will have more details on this new quilt along very soon. In the meantime, get to work on your Sunshine Surprise quilt! If you finish your quilt and post a picture to the Block Party Facebook Group we will send you the Block #1 pattern for next year for free!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tunic Challenge - Part 3

Photo from The Tunic Bible
 It's our third week of the Tunic Challenge and I'm on the home stretch! Amy Johnson and I have been sewing along together for the past three weeks to push each other to make something for ourselves. We both bought a copy of The Tunic Bible and this week we're cutting out the pieces of our tunics to sew next week.

I've had a lot of fun picking out my fabrics and deciding how to stitch my tunic up a notch. In the book, we have 12 necklines and 6 sleeves and 4 hems to choose from (not to mention 2 ways to fit and 3 different lengths), and if I extrapolate the different combinations, you could potentially create more than 288 different garments from this one pattern!

My favorite by far was the tunic with an elongated placket and ribbon trim. It looks a bit retro to me, and obviously comfortable to wear around the house, but is also easily dressy enough for a nice occasion.

Now for a guilty admission - I've been hoarding ribbon trims.

This started more than a year ago when I first stumbled across the seriously addictive, absolutely wonderful delight that is Reniassance Ribbons. Ribbon isn't even a good word for it. This is DIVINE!

I began my collection with the 2 inch wide gorgeous trim on the right, but do I use it? I must get more so I can play. But then what if I mess that up?

Yeah, most of my horded collections of supplies start this way. And then get promptly stuck in the this-is-too-pretty-to-cut / I-just-want-to-pet-it-and-love-it-from-afar state that doesn't actually yield to using it.

But I really, really love this stuff! Wouldn't it make me more happy to use it and see it and get to show it off in a fancy garment?

Absolutely! I'm determined to use a significant amount of this to trim my tunic. Just as soon as I figure out how to make my hand cut into it. I can't seem to force my fingers to close around the scissors and make...them...cut....

*Sigh* I will just have to make myself do it!

So this beautiful bubble blue and purple trim was my starting point and then came the search for fabrics. I decided to go with a darker color to make the ribbon stand out that much better and my eyes fell on a big piece of dark purple batik.

I'm sure this was a big piece of backing fabric set aside for something important. So important I absolutely can't remember it now. No problem - it will now be my tunic.

Cutting out of course went easy as pie because I already had the pattern pieces prepared. I also added an extra layer of white cotton voile which is very thin fabric that I will use to back the purple batik.

This will be an interlining that will strengthen the tunic and reduce wrinkles. It did double the time to cut out the whole thing, but as with all of this - it will be worth it!

So that's what I did this week on the Tunic Challenge. Let's see how Amy Johnson got on with it.

We just have one more week to go - sewing and showing off our finished tunics! You can join in the fun too - pick up a copy of the Tunic Bible and follow along. It's a very fun pattern with so many variations. I know I will definitely be making many sleeveless tunics for next summer.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, December 2, 2016

How to Quilt Impossible Maze - #471

It's Friday and time for a new machine quilting design! This new design, Impossible Maze, is inspired by the second design to be posted to the Free Motion Quilting Project - Etch n' Sketch. It's even simpler and easier to quilt than before because I've switched out all the curves for straight lines and right angles:

Learn how to quilt Impossible Maze in a beginner quilting tutorial with Leah Day

I really like the texture of this Impossible Maze quilting design. It's a bit like Monster Teeth and Hardwood Floors, but I think it will be even easier to quilt than other of those. Notice how my straight lines aren't really all that straight? You can also get away with that because it's not supposed to be exactly perfect. See what I mean in this new quilting tutorial:

Do you enjoy these tutorials each week? Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you don't miss any new videos!

Now let's learn a bit more about this Impossible Maze quilting design.

Learn how to machine quilt Impossible Maze - free video!
Difficulty Level: Beginner - Yes, this design involves a lot of straight line quilting, but it's perfectly fine if it's not perfect.

Look closely at my block above - see how the lines are a bit wobbly and sometimes closer together and sometimes further apart? It's quite forgiving and still looks great inspite of these imperfections.

Now if you want it to be perfect with nice straight lines the best bet would be to mark the design. Don't worry, it's not cheating. I do it all the time!

Design Family: Edge to Edge - Impossible Maze is quilted by stitching from one edge to another. This could be from one ditch to another across a narrow bit of sashing. It could also be across a border. It could also mean quilting across an entire quilt. All are fair game.

Suggestions for Quilting - As for the easiest space to put this design I would suggest 4-6 inch sashing and borders. This is enough space for the quilting design to stand out and show off, but not so much space you're having to stop and reposition your hands several times while quilting the straight lines.

Of course, the best way to know where any design will work best is to quilt it! Experiment and play with Impossible Maze in your next quilt and be sure to snap a picture to show us what you did with it. You can post your pictures ot the Leah Day Quilting Facebook Group or tag me on Instagram or Facebook @LeahDayQuilting.

Let's go Quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Podcast 4 - Machine Embroidery with Patsy Thompson

Hello My Quilting Friends! This week I have a excellent interview with Patsy Thompson about machine embroidery. Patsy is an award-winning quilter, and she's also a self-published author, and you've probably seen her DVDs in your local quilt store. She has this really unique style of free-motion quilting, her thread colors especially. When you see her quilts, I think you'll instantly recognize them. It's really that distinctive.

Patsy and I are going to talk all about machine embroidery, how she uses machine embroidery in her quilts, how she does it, how she digitizes, all of that good stuff. Of course the machine she uses, so definitely be looking forward to this interview with Patsy.
She shares a lot of good information. We're going to include a few photos in the show notes, so if you'd like to see some visuals, you can of course come by and see the full transcript and show notes from the episode, and that's going to be at, so you'll be able to find it there. You can also see Patsy's amazing work at

Click Here to find the full transcript with links to everything mentioned in the podcast.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sneak Peek for Block #12!

It's almost December and our very last Machine Quilting Block Party block for 2016! Here's a little sneak peek to give you an idea of next month's block:

This last block will finish off the last row of your Sunshine Surprise Quilt so you can connect all the blocks together to create your completed quilt. It's so exciting to see so many beautiful blocks being posted to the Block Party Facebook Group so be sure to join in and share your progress this month!

And yes, the party will continue in 2017 so if you're just finding out about this project, just wait until January 1st and begin the Flower Festival quilt with us next year!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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