The Free Motion Quilting Project: Duchess Reloaded #2 - Center design

Monday, June 18, 2012

Duchess Reloaded #2 - Center design

All week I've fiddled around with the new Duchess quilt design and come to realize that I really don't want to create a carbon copy of the original.

In truth: I want a totally new quilt design.

This is a hard truth to swallow. First off, the original design is quite nice and has many good qualities and it would be really great to have this design in a finished quilt that isn't falling apart.  More on that story here.

But the truth is, the original design just isn't doing it for me.  I spent a day fiddling around with the center and came up with this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Just in case you're in need of a comparison, here's the original:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Yep, that's about as much like the original as mozzarella cheese is like a seam ripper.  Still, I love this new goddess!  She's powerful and beautiful, as I like all my girls to be, but she's also pushing the edge of fantasy with her griffin legs and feathered wings.

Still, this was just the first draft and I was still trying to make certain elements (like her weird pomegranate hat) work in the design.  I even considered axing her vase, but ultimately decided it needed to stay in with a few modifications.

If you're wondering about the design process, it's actually very simple: I sit at my light box with paper, pencil, eraser, and various rulers and guides and draw and fiddle until I'm happy with 1/2 of the image.

Why only 1/2?  Because she is perfectly symmetrical down the center, all I have to do is fold over the paper in the middle, and the second half can be traced from the first half.  No, tracing is not against the rules, it's downright essential for achieving a perfectly symmetrical figure.

4 years ago, I worked on the large, full sized image on huge pieces of graph paper.  These days I work very small on a standard sheet of paper (8.5" x 11") then scan the image into my computer and resize it to any size I want.  This is far easier, and allows for endless possibilities when it comes to using this design.

When I say "fiddle" I really mean it.  There's nothing too technical about doodling on paper, layering it with other bits of paper, drawing the nice parts, erasing the bad parts.  The trick is to let the lines come and not get too judgmental.

It's really easy to get stuck on a line or section because it took a lot of time to put together.  Sometimes you have to accept that an element doesn't work and needs the ax, and you have to be ruthless about it.

So after several days of playing, I've finally settled up on this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I know at first glance it appears I have removed all the lovely feathers from the goddess's wings.  In actual fact, they will still be in the finished quilt, but I'm leaving the area open for free form feathers rather than trying to design each one exactly on the pattern:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
What I've done is deleted the feathers themselves, but drawn in a guideline for where they should reach TO.

This is the space they should fill up on the quilt.  When it comes time to quilt this section, I will mark the boundary line, then quilt free form feathers into the space.

No, the two sides will not be perfectly symmetrical.  The feathers could differ wildly on both sides, it will really depend on my mood when I quilt them.  The space the feathers FILL will be symmetrical, but the feathers themselves will not be.

Now if this feather thing makes absolutely no sense, don't worry!  After we work through our modern quilt project and stitch through a few new designs, we're going to return to the Heart and Feather Wholelcloth project and this time play with this idea of free form feathers.

Hopefully by that time I'll be at the same stage on the duchess and be able to show you many neat ideas for using feathers without marking, but still achieving somewhat symmetrical results.

Now with this pretty girl designed, it's time to start working on the borders and background of this fun quilt!

Let's go quilt (or fiddle with designs!)

Leah

18 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I can't wait to see it.

    Funny you put in a Goddess- I was just wanting to ask if you still plan to do 12 Goddesses this year, or if you have decided not to, as other things have taken priority.

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  2. oh Leah, that is stunning!! and the whole thing is less than 8", those will be some teeny tiny feathers!! awesome.
    doing a whole cloth quilt is on my WANT list,you are always so inspiring.

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  3. Leah ~ that is Fantastic! I am so glad you are having another go at creating "Duchess, 2nd generation," as life continues on, so should our quilting :)
    Godspeed,
    mary

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  4. Great design, that will be stunning as the quilt centre! Have you decided if the Duchess v.2 is going to be white on white like the original?

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  5. • • • She is breathtaking. How big will you blow her up?

    Thanks for the tip on scanning and enlarging. Right now I'm trying to do just than - manually. My draft isn't exact so I'm having trouble drawing those really large curves.

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  6. Jessim - Probably my biggest disappointment of this year has been the goddesses and not having time to work on them. Next year I plan to devote a lot more time to the series as I've continued to design them, even when I don't have time to make them.

    MC - No, definitely not! I couldn't handle keeping an all white quilt perfectly clean and white so this one is going on a huge piece of red batik fabric.

    Jayardi - The finished quilt is coming in around 77 inches, the goddess resized to around 30 inches. In the end, the quilt will likely shrink down to around 60 inches finished, though it's hard to estimate how much it will change. It all depends on how much quilting goes into it!

    Cheers,

    Leah

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  7. That design is marvellous. Absolutely amazing. When I was looking at the design, I was thinking it needed to be in red. I'm delighted that is also the color you chose. She's amazingly powerful, just like her creator.

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  8. It's really interesting to read about you revisiting the Duchess and redesigning her. Love how you share the design process with us.

    I made a quilt last year that just had to get OUT and I didn't fully have the skills when I started it. Now I want to make a new version and have kind of stalled out, just letting the idea percolate a bit I guess. The original is fairly good and it was donated to my church as a thank you for their help in a tough time, but this next version is just for me, though I might try to show it.

    I am looking forward to seeing how you progress on your quilt AND I LOVE how your current design has the spines for your feathers in them but not the plumes! I hate marking, but sometimes the design requires symmetry, so your method is great.

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  9. Red is a perfect choice for this beautiful design, but it will be stunning no matter what color you choose. You have such a creative imagination. On my blog I posted a pic of an amazing flower called a passion plant. I thought you might derive a new filler design from it.
    Have a terrific day!

    Emma

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  10. WOW! they are both stunning, but I like the second design. From here on out, if I saw a quilt of yours that I never saw, I'm sure I would say, "yep, Leah Day made that" . You have an awesome unique style.I will be standing by to see this finished!

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  11. Leah, I got your book from Amazon today! It was waiting patiently for me on my front porch! Such a great thing to come home to after along day at work! I love, love LOVE your book! You have such an amazing talent! Thank you for sharing it with us! I retire from teaching on June 26th, and one of my goals after that is to work on improving my FMQ skills and add some variety to my quilts! Thank you for providing such wonderful designs ! :-)

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  12. beautiful design.....I can't imagine FMQ it myself...

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  13. che programmam usi per realizzare i tuoi disegni???

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  14. Hi Leah that looks fab. Just to follow up on your designing, are all the pictures you have put on here of the new design hand drawn? Will you then scan them into the computer?

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  15. How beautiful! She is a Valkyrie. You will have to listen to Wagner as you quilt!

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  16. Oh Leah, this is gorgeous! I love that it isn't the exact same. You aren't exactly the same as you were then. The goddess is perfect!

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  17. When you talk about scanning a design and enlarging it, what software program do you use to enlarge and when you print it out does it print on 8.5 x 11 paper in sections?

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  18. Hi Kayla - I use Serif Draw Plus, which is a much cheaper and simpler program than adobe illustrator. Yes, you can resize the image to any size, but if you set the print to TILE, then it will cut the image up in pieces on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. I hope that makes sense!

    Leah

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