The Free Motion Quilting Project: Simple Finish for a Monster UFO

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Simple Finish for a Monster UFO

It's May 7th, 2014 and today I am finally, finally, FINALLY going to finish this quilt!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

It's actually pretty crazy to consider that this quilt isn't finished. I've dragged it with me for more than 2 years in a mostly-together-yet-still-unbound state, which is pretty ridiculous! Just FINISH it already Leah!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
You may recall, I first embarked on the completely ridiculous, absolutely insane idea to hand bind all the little squares together back in 2012. Looking back, I realize now that I really just wanted a project in my hands to work on during a trip to Texas when my grandma was dying. Busy hands and distracted mind - that was pretty much my goal, and this project fulfilled it.

Carefully hand binding the individual strips of blocks wasn't bad and it was a nice project to have for traveling. It was when the strips needed to be connected together that this beast really became a monster.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
 19 strips containing 19 blocks each, what was I thinking?!
Now I feel a sort of love / hate relationship with this quilt. In a way, it's going to be one of my favorites. It's a catalog of hundreds of designs, and loads of creativity went into making each block.

But this is also quilt I honestly never planned to make. From the beginning of this blog, I planned to keep the little squares in binders, where I could flip through them easily to get inspiration, or pull them out to pin on a project during the design process.

The binders got clunky however, and the little squares kept falling out. I also published all the designs in a book, so the binders of stitched squares began to feel irrelevant. So this quilt was one of those I might as well.. projects, which are sort of fun and annoying all at the same time.

Looking back, I think this quilt is one of my last torturous experiences with the power of complication.

I could have simplified this project in 100 different ways, starting with machine finishing the binding! I also kept a very vague, barely planned idea in the back of my head to add a border and somehow incorporate the 4 designs that couldn't fit into the main quilt into the corners (365 isn't a
square number - the main quilt is actually 361 squares, but who's counting!?)

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've gained a lot of understanding for my love of complication lately, and I see that this is a bad habit I tend to have with projects that overwhelm me. I plan something sort-of, then rush off to start the process, then hit a massive road block when I run up against the bad planning from the start.

In the case of this quilt, I couldn't decide how to attach the borders. I also couldn't decide how to incorporate the extra designs, or what the borders should even look like. In short, I stuck myself into a corner and stayed there.

For years.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
What's hilarious is I've been dragging this quilt around with me - to a Craftsy shoot in Denver, to classes in Greensboro, and all the while insisting that it's unfinished, when the truth is, it's been finished all this time. Clearly it's finished since I already had a photo shoot with it!

So today I'm making it official!

No more borders! I'm killing that idea stone dead and will salt the ground where I buried it. No more borders means I can finish this quilt TODAY, right now with one super long slog of hand binding.

I've armed myself with a powerful light, a comfy spot on the couch, a tall glass of water, and a very long audiobook to keep my mind focused on quickly, carefully, hand stitching the binding along the edge, and tacking the hanging sleeve down on the back.

It will be a lot of hand stitching for one day, but it will feel great to finally turn this monstrous UFO into a finished quilt. Here's to simplicity and getting it DONE!

Let's go bind baby!

Leah

23 comments:

  1. Good for you. I can see where I would have also wanted to add the four extra squares in the corners too. (I am like that and get myself into complicated decisions.....) You have inspired sol many wanna be quilters to try FMQ. I remember watching your utube vids many years ago. LOL Enjoy your day finishing your beautiful quilt.

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  2. Hooray and congratulations! It looks great without a border. In fact, it's gorgeous!

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  3. Congratulations Leah! Not all quilts should have borders. I love it without borders. It is a very special quilt.

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  4. Go for it, Leah! You will feel so great when it's done. :D

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  5. I love these quilts and best of luck with the binding - I use Lord of the Rings audio books for long slogs. Can I ask how you decided the placement of the squares. This is the kind of thing I would get over complicated about, spending days trying to get a pattern, then not a pattern until realising that just a pure random placement would work as well.

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  6. It is beautiful and worth every minute of slogging and stitching! So how big is the monster?

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  7. Way to go, Leah! Congratulations!

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  8. Phew! I feel tired just reading about it! What a massive project - but such a beautiful and unique piece of work - well done!!

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  9. Doesn't it feel great to move on?! :)

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  10. Looks great! I had a slow period and now I'm back full force because of you!!! I couldn't do all of that hand work, glad you can! It is beautiful and I'm sure that you are proud, just like the rest of your followers!!!

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  11. It is beautiful, and this will sound like your mother but we have all seen you grow with the making of it. That is the beauty of creativity self exploration and growth.

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  12. I made a sampler quilt that uses about 60 of your quilting designs. Wish I could figure out how to show you a picture of it - the reverse is a nubbly ivory silk so the navy thread shows well. Your designs are quite inspirational.

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  13. Дорогая Лия, поздравляю Вас с окончанием столь трудного и долгого проекта! Но он так прекрасен!!!

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  14. Very good for you, Leah! It's an Amazing and Wonderful proyect! Thanks for sharing all history. You have it feel me as I listen to me in when I read your post. And you are teaching me to overcome I am that type "complication" that also elevated to N. Thank you! Go for it! Have a nice stitching day! A hug!

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  15. Tetris, anyone? :) I've followed this project from the beginning, so am excited for you to be finishing it and not worrying about a border! Your descendants will have a wonderful time looking at all the beautiful FMQ designs in each block and marveling that each one is different. Kudos on a gargantuan project!

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  16. Leah, thank you for teaching me how to quilt. I have made 16 quilts - all given away to friends and family. You are one of my amazing women. Great job FINISHING a huge project.

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  17. Borders, smorders, who needs borders? It looks great just the way it is. Congratulations!

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  18. Woo hoo!! Glad you're getting her done...not a monster, a masterpiece!

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  19. Congratulations Leah, It such a beautiful quilt. Well done!

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  20. you finished it on my birthday!!! dont know why but that kinda made me happy, thanks for all your inspiration

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  21. What a beautiful piece! I woould love to see the four "extra" blocks in the corners of a label denoting your gargantuan endeavor. It could be appliqued on the back for everyone to marvel at.
    Congratulations on "letting the borders go" I personally think a border would some how diminish the impact of this beautiful quilt.

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  22. An unbelievable project and an incredible finish. Congratulations! It's beautiful.

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