Inspired by Leah Day

Have you heard of Leah Day?  I discovered her blog years ago, shortly after she began the Free Motion Quilting Project, an effort to create 365 free motion quilting designs.  Leah Day makes beautiful quilts and is an inspiration to me as an independent quilt business owner.  I was thrilled to be a guest on her podcast, Hello My Quilting Friends.

Free Motion Quilting

Everyone loves a challenge.  Facebook is covered with 30-days-to-better-abs and 100-days-of-art.  We see similar efforts in the quilting world – in fact Angie of GnomeAngel is launching another #100days100blocks to make Tula Pink’s City Sampler in May 2017.  Back in 2007, Leah Day took the challenge idea to the max with 365 days of different free motion quilting designs.  As you can imagine, it was practically impossible to share a new design every day so the project stretched out for more than a year.  Leah generously shared a video tutorial of how she stitched each  design, and that gallery is still available.

I turned to Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting gallery when I made my Rainbow Twister.  To keep things interesting, I used a different design for each column of blocks. I loved adapting her free motion designs to the pinwheel shapes of the twister blocks.

quilting inspired by Leah Day

See the twelve designs I chose here.

Leah’s designs inspired the quilting on Blue River as well.  I created the quilt with negative space to showcase the free motion designs. Get the details from my posts about water and my Blue River quilt.monochromatic blue free motion quilting

Hello My Quilting Friends Podcast

I was delighted to be a guest on episode 19 of Leah Day’s podcast, Hello My Quilting Friends.  I admit to a huge fangirl squeal when I got the invitation!  Having followed Leah’s blog for so long, I felt like I knew her and we had a great conversation about quilting, especially choosing color and design.  Listen here!

Leah has worked very hard to grow a quilting business, which is inspiration for my own entrepreneurial quilting journey.  Her video tutorials are fantastic and she offers wonderful quilt-alongs that showcase both piecing the top and quilting it as well.  She definitely delivers the total package!

I hope to meet Leah Day in person sometime.  She inspires me with her pursuit of the craft, especially her Goddess series.  What do you find most interesting in her work?




Three Ways to Choose Quilt Colors

In Quilting 101*, we learn that designs are built on contrast. When it’s time to choose quilt colors, many quilters start out with a dark design on a light background. Gradually we learn to use a wider range in our color palette and medium fabrics creep in. Visit the Quilting Room with Mel for an informative discussion about finding medium values for your quilt colors. But, planning a quilt can be difficult, so let’s take a look at some modern quilts and learn how to choose quilt colors.

*While there may be class out there with this title, I use the title in jest!

Choose Quilt Colors for Contrast

The idea of contrast is built in to the color wheel, and it is one reason I love rainbow quilts that show off all the colors!how to choose quilt colors

Mother Nature has done the theoretical work for us – Red and Green are complementary, and we can add a splash of interest with another color such as pink, orange or yellow.

The shades of each color must work harder when a quilter chooses a black background. Colors have to be much brighter to contrast and allow the design to POP.

Dear Jane quilt with black background

What happens when you don’t have a single color background? The light, medium and dark values within a color family have to really work well together to make the design shine.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. Please read the full disclosure policy here.

Color Choices from a Quilting Rockstar

I was blown away when I saw Tula Pink‘s Radiance quilt, featuring her new Slow & Steady fabric line.  Let me try to analyze this beauty and the lesson it can teach us for how to choose quilt colors.

tula pink quilt colors

At first glance, you see the solid diamonds as a rainbow. Look closer, though, and you see a variety of prints mixed in too. The diamonds are shades of red, green, pink, white, yellow and orange, set on a mix of backgrounds in blues, purples, turquoise, grey and black.

Tula Pink's great sense of color for quilts

The result is mesmerizing as your eye follows the flow of colors as they rise and fall across the quilt.

Lesson – Whole color families, not just 2 colors, provide contrast in your quilt.

Color Blocking as a Quilt Palette

Another brilliant quilt featuring saturated colors is Star Light, Star Dark by Jessica at the Quilty Habit.

color block example from

Rather than set colorful stars on a consistent background, Jessica shows us how to choose quilt colors with the color block style. Each section is monochromatic, featuring a dark star on a lighter background or vice versa. The color saturation and variety of block sizes make Star Light, Star Dark a gorgeous example of modern quilting.

Lesson – keep it all in one (color) family and try a color block quilt

Keep it simple with just one color

Another method to help choose quilt colors is to pick one color family and make a monochromatic quilt. The placement of light, medium and dark fabrics are critical to the design in a monochromatic quilt.  Purple Angles by Mary McElvain features a paper pieced block.

how to choose colors for a monochromatic quilt

By changing the position of fabrics within the block, you can highlight a cross or a ring.

how to choose colors for a monochromatic quilt how to choose colors for a monochromatic quilt





Lesson: Monochromatic quilts have amazing variety!

Let’s continue to experiment with color selection in our quilts. Choose an unusual color or gradient for a background, or try color block and monochromatic palettes. Change the position of light, medium and dark fabrics in your block to discover alternate designs. Most of all, enjoy the creative process!


Free Motion Midweek- More from Blue River

Don’t forget to enter the Early Bird RSVP contest for the #SpringBreakSewingDay! Details on this post. Let’s look at a few more designs from the open spaces on my Blue River quilt:  (pattern available in Monochromatic Quilts:Amazing Variety) I used … Continue reading

Free Motion Monday (Mid-week) – In the water

(OOPS… just noticed I didn’t hit publish, sorry!) In my quilt Blue River, I used several water-themed free motion quilting designs in the open blocks. In fact I even quilted some fish! I started on the right edge and stitched … Continue reading

Free Motion Monday -Flame Variations

Let’s take a look at the quilting designs I used on my quilt “Blue River.”


This is the first quilt in the book I co-authored, titled “Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety.”  As the name implies, I was inspired by water, so the rail fence blocks have parallel wavy lines to represent the movement of a river.


The alternate blocks gave me lots of room for free motion quilting.  I used a flame shape to create a central design that was stitched from the center of the block and echoed.


I have learned a lot about free motion quilt designs by following Leah Day’s blog.  Check out her extensive gallery here.

I repeated the flame motif on a smaller scale by stitching three flame clusters connected by a single line, then I echoed around all of them to fill the block.


Here is the design step by step.  A flame is an important basic shape to have in your free motion toolkit because it can stand alone or combine with other elements to become flowers and leaves too.


Once you have mastered the slight curve of the flame, echo it a few times, then stitch in a new direction.  An echoed flame can be a quick all-over design on a masculine quilt.

Work in a circle to stitch a flower with flame-shaped petals.


You can add stems to a row of flowers, or echo a cluster of blossoms as I have done in my Blue River quilt.

What are your go-to free motion quilting designs?

Quilts and Free Motion Quilting: Favorite Projects of 2015:

At the end of the year, many of us reflect on the journey.  I completed alot of projects and worked on my free motion quilting.  Here are some of my favorites from the past year.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate motion quilting projects from 2015  The pictures are in somewhat random order.

Top Row

Top row left shows the back of my latest longarm project, a Judy Neimeyer Mariner’s Compass quilt that I finished for a client. Judy Neimeyer designs amazing quilts using paper piecing to create fabulous medallions with lots of points.  It is always a fun challenge to think of complementary free motion quilting designs.

Top middle is the progress on my 92 Stars quilt .  Although I planned to piece several blocks each month, this project keeps getting pushed aside when more urgent deadlines appear.

Top right is my entry in the 2015 Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake fabric challenge.  I tried improv piecing and straight line quilting as my personal challenge with this quilt.

Middle Row

The middle row shows my sketchbook.  It is very relaxing, almost meditative, to begin the day by filling a page with doodles, which eventually find their way into free motion quilting designs.

The middle image is my banner for True Blue Quilts. I use this as a sample of my free motion quilting designs which were featured in several Free Motion Monday posts.

Middle right shows the Garden Twister pattern which is available through Craftsy. I love pinwheels and the Twister rulers!

Bottom Row

Bottom left shows the feathers on the Mariner’s Compass quilt.  It can be tricky to fill triangle spaces, but I found a way.

In the middle, you see a block from a new pattern, Beaded Curtain. It goes together quickly with jelly roll 2-1/2″ strips.

Bottom left is my first book of quilt patterns, Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety, which can be purchased on Amazon.  My mom and I had fun designing, sewing and writing patterns together.  It was a long process – almost 4 years from idea to publication – but what a thrill to hold the actual book in our hands!

That’s it for me.  What was your favorite project of 2015?

Happy Quilting!