The Free Motion Quilting Project: Shadow Self - Part 4

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shadow Self - Part 4

Today is What's Leah Working on Wednesday so let's catch up on what has happened in the studio since last week.

While I'm usually working on a couple different quilts at a time, right now I've put all other projects aside to work exclusively on Shadow Self.

The quilting of this quilt started slow, but it usually does for me with show quilts. I generally get extremely picky, ripping out more stitches than I stitch the first couple of days.

This is obnoxious, but eventually I find a rhythm and start quilting sections of the quilt quickly.

For Shadow Self, I'm breaking with my usual habit of quilting and filling each section from the center to the outside.

Instead I'm quilting the major lines (the trapunto lines) first so I can take the basting pins out and secure each section of the quilt as I go.

I have done a little filling on each section and am using a nice mix of old and new designs:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis body section is stitched in Snake Paisley, a new design that I will explain in greater detail later this month. It looks a lot like McTavishing, but is stitched by starting with a thin "s" shape, pivoting and echoing that shape multiple times.

Here is a photo of the shadow side which I did fill as I stitched it because there was so much traveling involved.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe head is entirely quilted with Pointy Paisley which allowed me to stitch densely and really fill in the area tightly.

Here's a shot of the background shadow area that was marked with a doubled version of Left Turn, Right Turn:

free motion quilting | Leah DayWith this section I experimented a lot more with different fillers using Circuit Board, Matrix Maze, Cubing, Lightning Bolt, Trippy Triangles, and Interlocking T.

All of these designs use sharp angles and straight lines to emphasize the much more geometric, rigid texture I was shooting for with this side.

And in direct contrast, here is the bottom edge:

free motion quilting | Leah DayOn the green rays, I'm playing around with Brain Coral on the outside edge and Pebbling inside the lines.

On the blue rays, I'm trying something new: echo quilting. It's actually really funny that I've never echo quilted a motif before (think Hawaiian style quilting), but I was looking for a very simple design that would emphasize the flame design.

Overall there is very little contrast stitching, so the focus stays on the quilt design and fabric.

I must say that as I quilt this quilt, I love it more and more. The balance of trapunto and fillers was almost perfect, and I can't be more pleased with the emerging design.

One thing I might change the next time I design this way will be to leave a bit more space between the ray designs. In some areas the flames got pretty close to the interlocking lines, and I had to scramble to figure out what I would do in these situations.

Also some areas, especially around the body, are so teeny tiny and finicky that the only way to make the texture make sense was to stitch very, very densely. Next time I'll try to find ways of simplifying the design so there are fewer areas of such complexity.

On a personal level, this quilt is wonderfully helpful. I've never taken such a big issue and tried to "quilt it out" but it makes sense that this can be wonderfully healing and beneficial.

So that's it for this Wednesday! I'm off to quilt a bit more this evening and then tomorrow I'll be packing for the long awaited North Carolina Quilt Symposium. I can't wait!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Shadow self is looking so exiting. I wish I could see her "in real life". The textures must be gorgeous!

  2. Leah this is looking super - I've tried my first major bit of quilting on a queen size quilt - simple wandering rows between blocks (just to get the feel and be comfortable) then designed a complimentary FMQ design of each of the 8 blocks on the front - unfortunately when turning corners, even if I do a couple of stitches in one place before making the turn, there is 'pulling' on the back (the front thread is drawn through on the bobbin thread) - when I noticed this I tested on spare fabric changing tensions but it only got worse - any ideas?

  3. Hi Ethne - When you turn your corners, are you stopping the machine, lifting the foot a bit, turning, and then lowering the foot back down?

    It's important to actually stop to turn a sharp corner or angle and to slow down as you approach that corner.

    As you slow down, your stitches will get a bit smaller, then when you stop with your needle down in the quilt, it will allow you to pivot without the thread pulling.

    If you continue to get thread issues in this area, maybe try adjusting your tension so you have more on your top thread and less on your bobbin.

    Let's go quilt!

    Leah Day

  4. Great work. Can't wait to see the finished product.


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