The Free Motion Quilting Project: Machine Quilting Block Party

Machine Quilting Block Party

It's time to jump into machine quilting and learn how to piece, applique, AND machine quilt a beautiful Flower Festival quilt together! In 2017 we're hosting the Machine Quilting Block Party, a fun quilting adventure that will help you build new skills and become a more confident quilter. 

Click Here to find the quilt pattern for Block 1!

Machine Quilting Block Party Details

On the first day of each month in 2017, a new block pattern will become available in our quilt shop. Simply purchase the pattern, download it, and get your fabric ready to go!

A video on how to piece the block will be posted on the first Monday of the month. A video on how to machine quilt the block will be posted on the second Monday of the month. We've also shared a Quilting Basics series of video to help you get started with this project. Find all the videos and articles linked together right here.
What does the quilt look like?

This is a mystery quilt project so you won't see the final design until the very last block in December 2017! The name of the quilt is Flower Festival so each block is going to feature flowers and just to stitch things up a notch we're also including free motion feathers in each block as well!

This year we have two different versions of the quilt for you to create. The basic Flower Festival quilt can be created with 12 block patterns and will measure 43 x 58 inches when finished.



In 2016, many quilters expressed the desire add sashing and cornerstones or a border to make the quilt larger. For 2017 we've created a version of the quilt can be created with our extra, optional Sashing and Cornerstones Pattern. This will expand your quilt to measure 66 x 86 inches.


Share your photos and ask questions on Facebook!

To make this quilt along even more fun and interactive, please join our Machine Quilting Block Party Facebook Group. This group is designed for quilters following along with this project to share questions, comments, and pictures of their blocks in a fun, supportive place. Make friends with quilters around the world, but keep your posts on topic about the block party only.

Note: This Facebook group will change each year to follow Leah's current block of the month project, but all the posts will remain so you can search for questions about Flower Festival even if it's after December 2017.

You can also share the Machine Quilting Block Party on your blog or website! Copy the code in the white box and paste it into an HTML box to add a button to your blog or website:




Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

But what about the 2016 Machine Quilting Block Party?

The Machine Quilting Block Party is now in it's second year. In 2016 we created this beautiful Sunshine Surprise quilt. Hundreds of quilters joined in the fun and built amazing new skills for piecing and machine quilting.

Patterns for Sunshine Surprise are still available right here.

Because this past quilt along is finished you're welcome to begin at any time and work at your own pace. Follow along with the videos and articles below to create your Sunshine Surprise quilt:


Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

111 comments:

  1. Sounds like fun and a great way to expand my comfort zone with FMQ. Could you please let us know the fabric yardage requirements, especially the amount of background fabric? I might be able to buy them on sale.

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    1. I've just added the yardage requirements for all 12 blocks! You'll definitely be ahead of the game getting everything now!

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  2. signed up but want to know if I dan bust some of my stash. I could keep 3 people busy forf a year and not run out of material. might have to buy backing but oh well.

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  3. Willnthis be a quilt as you go? I noticed the batting is cut. I've never tried that technique before.

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    1. Yes, all of our Quilt Along patterns are Quilt-as-You-Go using a simple binding technique. It allows you to quilt the blocks separately in a very manageable size, then put them all together at the end.

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  4. Looking forward to it! Now off to the fabric store!!!

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  5. Just wondering what the cost of each monthly pattern will be.

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    1. You'll find out on January 1st! Make sure to check within the first 5 days of the month for the very best deal on your patterns.

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  6. Will you be offering the Island Batiks in your store, so we can buy them from you?

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    1. No, we're not planning to offer kits for this quilt along.

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    1. You'll find out on January 1st! Make sure to check within the first 5 days of the month for the very best deal on your patterns.

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  8. Will you be offering fabric kits?

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    1. Nope. We considered it, but it's very challenging to keep large quantities in stock so we will not be offering kits for this quilt along.

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    2. That's a bummer, but so understandable...guess I have a purpose now to visit Mary Jo's while visiting my parents and family over the holidays. Looking forward to this quilt along, I've never experienced a mystery quilt before...thank you!

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  9. I'm just court the tail end of the last quilt along, so defo want to give this one a go. Is it four colours and a backing fabric or is the 31/2yds cream the backing (sory I'm easily confused due to my dyslexia)

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    1. The 3 1/2 yards of cream will be the background fabric color and the fabric for connecting the blocks together and binding the edges. You will need 3 yards of backing fabric in any color you like to create the backs of the blocks as well.

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  10. I'm so excited! I think I may even have everything in my stash! Whaaaaa!? Yeah. lol

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    1. LOL! I thought all projects required more fabric! Any excuse to shop, right?

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  11. Does the 1 yard of fabric need to be continuous or can I use 4 fat quarters? This looks like a lot of fun. Thanks.

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    1. You can definitely use fat quarters. The fabric will be cut up bit by bit, block by block so I've really padded out these amounts to make sure you will have more than enough.

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  12. I would like to make this a Christmas Quilt, will it work with prints?

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    1. Yes, prints can work, however you might want to check how well you can see through your fabrics. The blocks will be pieced, then marked and you'll need to be able to see through the fabric using a lightbox or bright window so you can mark the lines. You'll also need to be able to follow the lines while quilting so watch out for super busy prints that might be confusing you on what line to follow.

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  13. Could you tell us the finished size of the quilt, or is that part of the mystery?

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    1. I could have sworn that was posted on this page! The finished quilt will measure 42 x 56, but you could make it bigger simply by making more of your favorite blocks.

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  14. I just used my new (to me) long arm quilter today and I really like it.
    I'm eager to try this quilt and checked my stash, I'm ready to go!

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  15. HI Leah, I am so excited about this Quilt Along, (I only have 5 more blocks to FMQ, before I put the BBQA together, YAY). I plan to use fat quarters for Fabrics A, B, and C. Should I consider at least 5 fq's per color just to be sure? I definitely want to be ready...many thanks.

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    1. Yes, that should be perfect! I'm so glad you're excited to begin!

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  16. so the picture above is block no. 1?

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    1. Yep, a few sneak peeks just for you to have an idea of what we'll be getting started with.

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  17. Hi Leah,
    My New Year's Resolution is to this year actually do and complete your challenge (unlike the few past years). Do you have a rough idea of how much each month's pattern download will cost so I can estimate cost for the year? Also, I assume it WILL be a quilt as you go and therefore we need to purchase the backing right away? AND could you throw in a few extra blocks for those of us who want to make it bigger but not repeat? Thanks.

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    1. Yes, the blocks will be quilt-as-you-go so you'll need to have your backing fabric ready to go along with the other yardage. Nope, this is just a quilt along for 12 blocks and if you'd like the quilt to be bigger you can repeat blocks or add squares of your own design to the mix. As for the price, as I answered before - it's a mystery! Find out on Jan 1st!

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  18. Will you be creating a FB account for this quilt?

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    1. Yes, we will be creating a new Facebook group, however at the end of 2016 it will switch to our next project so from here on you won't have to join new groups every year.

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  19. Hiya Leah, this is a brilliant idea, I did the Building blocks quilt, and loved it and my finished quilt. I was just thinking the other day how I really want to make a quilt with yellows so this is perfect, your patterns and instructions are easy to follow and the first block looks really nice. Exciting! Thank you!

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  20. I am in! I am so happy to finally be cleared from PT and back to sewing. This will be an awesome way to start the New Year!

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  21. Sounds like FUN! I am in, I love what you do simply amazing.

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  22. Are 10" squares big enough for the colored fabric

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    1. Yes, in many cases you can cut colors A, B, and C from a 10" square. However, I'm not specifically writing the pattern for precuts so I'd advise using fat quarters instead of 10" squares.

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  23. I am completely new to this. Not piece quilting but free motion quilting. I mostly stich in the ditch or do simple shapes. Will this be too advanced for me? If I get behind can I catch up? How long is the pattern and instructions available? I am assuming there is a monthly fee for each block? I know you aren't giving a price and that is fine But I should expect a fee each month correct? I just bought a new machine and am really excited to use it and this may be the perfect incentive to let go of the apprehension I am experiencing. I tend to get overwhelmed and intimidated but I have been watching your videos all day and I am very inspired. Thanks.

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    1. Welcome Stacie! Yes, this project will be perfect for you. We will learn how to piece and quilt together and you will have templates to mark your block so you don't have to struggle with the design.

      Yes, each block will be sold separately. You will have plenty of time to make your block each month because it's only one large block at a time. In previous years we've made 3-4 blocks each month and that was too overwhelming so we're simplifying this block party to make it easier and less overwhelming.

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    2. Just a couple more questions. Sorry for the bother. Does the type of batting used matter? Also I have never done a quilt as you go. Is there something special like a certain presser foot that I will need to put all the blocks together? Thanks again.

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    3. No, the type of batting you use really doesn't matter. I'm using Hobbs Wool batting for my quilt because I want it to finish soft and squishy and very warm.

      No, you won't need a special presser foot for putting the blocks together. Just your normal foot for piecing will be just fine. Do keep in mind - we won't be putting the blocks together until December 2016 so you really don't need to worry about that step yet.

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  24. Will this quilt project be quilted block by block and then put together, or is the whole top assembled and then quilted? Sorry if I missed this info in the general instructions.

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    1. Yes, each block will be pieced and quilted separately then we will put them all together to make the quilt at the end of the quilt along.

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  25. This sounds great. I've been thinking of starting the building blocks quilt, but this sounds like more fun since it will be real time. Will I learn just as much with this quilt along?

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    1. Yes, absolutely! This project will be a lot simpler than Building Blocks and probably less overwhelming. This time we have fewer blocks that are bigger so it will be easier to keep up and learn a lot about quilting!

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    2. Thanks Leah for this response - and thanks Rachel for asking. This was my question, too.

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  26. I'm working on the Building Blocks now but plan to add this party quilt to the mix. With only one block a month do you think I can continue with the Building Blocks? I'm new to this FMQ but I have been practicing then I started the BB quilt - see my post on the FMQ Quilt Along board.

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    1. I think you should be fine working on both projects. This new quilt along will be much, much simpler than Building Blocks and easier to keep up with.

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  27. Can't wait! This project aligns nicely with my machine quilting goals for 2016, so I am very excited. Glad to be working along with so many people!!

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  28. Received my fabric for Christmas. Husband actually went into the store to buy it by himself! Can't wait for project to start!!! Even washed and set the color for the fabric so it wouldn't bleed into cream.

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  29. Hi Leah,
    How many Isacord spools will be needed to complete the blocks if I use only 1 color? Thanks.

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  30. Sounds like great fun and an excellent way to learn/improve our piecing and free-motion quilting skills. I gave a shout out for this event at My Creative Blog List - http://mycreativebloglist.blogspot.com/2015/12/2016-free-motion-quilting-block-party.html

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quiltshopgal.com

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  31. Leah how do I sign up for this? I have done a little free motion but this sounds like a great way to get more practice. Thanks

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    1. We don't require a sign up or anything. Just buy the blocks as they come available on the 1st day of each month.

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  32. this looks so fun I agree with others and I got a little overwhelmed with building blocks and did not finish it..yet This will be great and Iam check my stash now.."see" u on the 1st.

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  33. Hi Leah,
    I have never done a quilt as you go and am looking forward to trying this. I do my own quilting and I am excited to do more than just basic and stippling. Thanks MaryLee

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  34. I am a mid arm quilter when I make time. My Mom made all the quilt tops so this is a relatively new experience for me. Do you recommend plain or print backing? I use a fence, actually and prayer, to keep the unwanted out of the garden. ( and insecticidal soap!). Thanks. I've never blogged before.

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  35. I can't wait to get started. Thank you Leah coming up with another great idea.

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  36. I just bought my sewing machine and have never quilted before. Is this a doable project for a brand new quilter?

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  37. I have just purchased my first sewing machine and have been watching your videos and some others. I have never quilted before. Is this something that I could start and learn as I go?

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  38. I went on site at 8 a.m. on January 1st and the block instructions are already out of stock. If it is a download, how can this be? Will it be available later?

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    1. It's ready now! You can pick up your first block right here: http://leahday.com/products/machine-quilting-block-party

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  39. Hi, I just downloaded the first block and I can't wait to go get my fabric today. I got turned on to your site by my cousin-in-law (Thanks Carolyn). I have always wanted to know how to free motion quilt and I think this will be a fun way to do it. This is going to be one of my New Years resolution to get this done. Stacey

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  40. I noticed that you mentioned embroidery designs, what if we don't have an embroidery machine?

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    1. I'm sorry for the confusion - we've just released a new machine embroidery collection, but it is not involved in this quilt along. The Machine Quilting Block Party requires only a basic home sewing machine. No embroidery in this quilt along!

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  41. Happy New Year Leah! I just downloaded the first block and am really looking forward to doing the free motion quilting. I think that these large block sizes will be the perfect size for learning this new skill. Thanks for putting this project together!. LecClier

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  42. I'm trying to buy the block from uk but the chekout screen won't change it from $ to £
    So I'm unshore how much the block is ac Gona cost (I don't no rates either) or show on my statement. I'm very confused but so want the block. Anyone able to help me out as to how this works please

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    1. All payments must be in US dollars. You can check an online currency converter to see what the cost will be in pounds.

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  43. Do you have a "button widget" of html for the Sunshine Surprise Block Party? I'd like to add it to my blog page so people could click through to you. Thanks so much for these FMQ lessons!

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    1. Just added it to this page! Thanks so much for that suggestion!

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  44. Hi Leah and Happy New Year!! I am really looking forward to this project giving my quilts a more polished/professional look to both my piecing and my machine quilting. While I have been quilting regularly since 2009, I still feel my work needs some help. So this year I made several resolutions to seek out some quilting professionals to assist me in gaining confidence in these two areas. I have been watching you grow over these last few years and love your teaching styles and techniques. Therefore, I feel you are one of the professionals that I want to spend my time and money learning from. Leah, thank you for sharing your talents and skills with others. Dorothy Kenny

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  45. Chose Christmas colors. Hopefully red is now set, pre washed with salt and vinegar!
    Leah, you and your family continue to impress me with your talents. I hope one day to meet you in person.

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  46. I cannot find Island Batik Basic Cream anywhere on the internet. Will the quilt not look good, i.e.,too stark,if I use Kaufman cotton white?

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    1. That will look amazing! Don't worry if you can't find the exact same colors. Your quilt will look great no matter what colors you pick.

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  47. Hi, Leah! I'm excited about this project & have pieced the first block. I'm having a little trouble seeing through the darker red fabric when trying to trace the quilting design. Do you have instructions for a DIY lightbox? They can be a little pricey. Thanks.

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  48. I am unpleasantly surprised about how much light boxes cost.

    I wonder if this product would do the job for a lot less money:

    http://www.joann.com/light-box-electric-6inx9in/4173167.html#q=%22light+box%22&start=6

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    Replies
    1. I used a scrapbooking clear plastic paper box with dollar store battery powered christmas lights. Less than $10 total. Worked great :)

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  49. Leah, I am stuck. I don't have a light box. They are expensive. If I tape the template and fabric on the window, it doesn't lie perfectly flat and I cannot see the template lines well enough to trace reliably. I am also worried that if I buy and use a ceramic pencil it won't come out. Help! (So far, I make two blocks but am annoyed with myself because they don't align perfectly.)

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    1. Many quilters are finding creative ways to create lightboxes on the Facebook group. One method I just recently saw was to use an old picture frame propped up on cans of soup with a bright light underneath.

      Your block and the quilting diagram will not line up properly if the diagram isn't printed "actual size" or 100%. Double check the little square on the page to make sure it's printing properly.

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  50. Ok I jumped! I got a new machine ,JanomeQCP last week and I have been figuring everything out on it. I hope this block of the month is just what I need. I have the directions for the first block so will have to get to work to catch up.
    I had run across other videos of yours and they have really helped to get the machine up and running.
    You are very talented in the way you do your presentations.

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  51. Is there a way to be part of this specific facebook group without becoming known to the rest of the facebook groups which I have no interest in sharing?

    You advise to rinse out the starch and markings on the block upon completion as a year long time period is a lot to leave in the starch--what about the fact that the rest of the fabric waiting to be used is already starched, but some of that will not be used for several months from now?

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    1. I'm not sure about your question about Facebook. This new group is open so your messages will be displayed publicly.

      On washing out - the main reason I shared the washing out video was to remove the marks, which can become permanent if they are left in for a long time or in a hot environment. I personally don't think starch makes your fabric or quilts more or less susceptible to bugs so your fabric should be fine.

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  52. Hi Leah:

    Thanks so much for the quick reply!

    In an effort to clarify my question re the facebook quilting group, I would just prefer to remain anonymous and not become involved with the rest of the aspects of the facebook site, but I would like to join the block party part of it. I have a feeling however that you can't do one without the other. Once you join facebook at all, you can't select to be only involved in any particular group. You're either in or out and I just prefer not to participate in the other parts of it. I'm not sure if this will make any sense, but I would definitely like to thank you for all your efforts and time in creating such an informative way to learn about quilting. I am thoroughly enjoying it and am looking forward to next month's block! Your teaching is so clearly presented and easy to understand. Thanks so much for all you do to help us learn!

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    1. You're very welcome. I do understand what you mean about Facebook. My best advice would be to start an account and double and triple check the settings to see if you can set all your information to private. To join our group, we do like to see a quilt of some sort in your profile or in your photos just to know you're a quilter. We've had many spammers try to join and that's an easy way to spot them before they cause issues.

      There are ways of setting up the account to make your profile less active and visible. So long as you just click the links to go to the group, you should be fine.

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    2. Thanks once again Leah for your help on joining your facebook quilting group and I will take your advice and look into the details you mentioned.

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  53. Leah Day
    I have three yards of a white material I would like to use for the back ground. So you think I could make it with this. I have another piece of white that is 3and1/4 ( I cut a piece of to test color)
    I would prefer to use the 3 yards piece. On Facebook someone suggest using the strip on the binding.
    If I used another material for binding would the three yards do it?

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    Replies
    1. The materials are listed above and you will need 3 1/2 yards of background fabric. It's totally up to you if you wish to swap out border or binding fabric. The calculation is based on using the same fabric for all three.

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  54. love new block!!! can't wait to get started!!

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  55. I have never used starch before and was wondering what kind/brand you use?

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    1. I like Niagara brand spray starch because it doesn't have a very strong smell and it comes in spray bottles so you can tell how much you have left.

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  56. My fabrics are a little darker so the light box doesn't work well for transferring the quilting designs. I used Sulky dissolvable , traced the design, and sewed though it. The Sulky disappears when rinsing the block. This might be an alternative for those using darker fabrics.

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    1. Barbara what weight Sulky solve did you use and did you use spray adhesive to keep it on the block?
      I went to sulky and look at their little demo. Looks like a good idea to me.

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  57. Leah, I'm just getting started on block 1. My question is this: Will we be cutting more, for example, 4 inch blocks as we go along? If so, is it OK to cut a 4 inch strip WOF in anticipation of this, or should I just cut what is called for each month?
    Thank you!

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    1. Yes, you can definitely cut strips as we will be using the same sizes in later blocks. Keep all your fabric organized in a bin so you can easily pick up those strips and cut from them in a few months.

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  58. Finally finished 3!! Worked at it since 8 AM !! Would not have marked echo shell. Made a mess of it . Have done it before free motion with no problems.

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  59. Do you need a special foot or special machine to do free motion quilting. I found a used Bernina which was supposed to have special free motion capabilities, but it was $2,000. USED. Can you get started for less?

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    1. You need a darning foot for free motion quilting, but chances are you can buy one for the machine you own right now. No, you definitely don't need to spend $2000! I'm working with a Juki F400 through most of the videos which is around $700 and a great little machine.

      I would first get started just with what you have on hand. If you have a machine already try visiting a dealer and asking about compatible feet or searching online. Darning feet are far more common these days because of the popularity of free motion quilting so you will likely be able to find something for the machine you have right now.

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  60. Leah, I got the #10 block pattern but never received the quilting pattern for it, what do I do?

    Marie Gengarelli

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    1. Hi Marie, please email at the page below. Thanks! Josh

      https://leahday.com/pages/contact-us

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  61. Hi Leah,

    I read/watch lots of your blogs/videos and I love the way you explain things and your work!! Big thank you first of all for all the effort and love you put in!
    I never really did FMQ, but I'd like to start and this block project is very beautiful and a great way to begin FMQ I think. Now I'm afraid since it's almost over/done I won't see the videos etc. later (and next year). How long will all the content be available? Or should I wait for the next years project? And also do you have a discount price if I purchase all 12 blocks together?

    Thanks a lot! Heike

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    Replies
    1. You're super welcome Heike! On the block party - we'll be starting a new quilt in January so you might want to wait and join in with the new project starting January 1st. This current block party will remain available indefinitely, but it's always nice to start a new project right at the beginning, right?

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  62. Thank you for your response! I just got me the first block - I can't wait until next year :) But anyways I'm very looking forward to 2017 project and new upcoming videos! Heike

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  63. Some of the required fabric amounts are a lot to deal with at one time. It was hard enough getting them in and out of the washer and dryer. Have you given us enough in your fabric ccounts to be able to cut it as recommended in your materials listing? In other words, could I cut off 1/4 yard of the cream and deal with it for block #1 and do so for each of the remaining blocks as the material lists are published.

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    Replies
    1. I would cut the yardage down into 1 yard sections. Yes, this has been accounted for in the fabric calculation. 1 yard amounts will set you up nicely to press and square the fabric easily.

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  64. I want to put your Block Party button on my blog. Can you remind me how to do this? It's been a while!!

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  65. Repposting my question, because I really want to know! I am still working on the 2016 block party, but I would like to make the quilt better. Before I figure out all of the measurements for cornerstones, etc, myself, I am wondering if the optional sashing pattern for the 2017 block party would work (are the sizes the same) I can figure out what to quilt, but it would be nice if somehow the finished sizes were the same :) Unless you want to put out an additional pattern for the 2016 ... Thanks!!

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    1. Yes, the 2017 quilt along (Flower Festival) is made to the same sizes as last years (Sunshine Surprise) so you can use the Sashing and Cornerstones pattern to make your sunshine quilt bigger!

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    2. Awesome!! Just what I was hoping :)

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