The Free Motion Quilting Project: Finishing Duchess Reigns

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Finishing Duchess Reigns

It's official! I've been bursting at the seams since Sunday because I've FINALLY finished the quilting on Duchess Reigns!!!

I put the last stitches into the outer border of this quilt on Sunday and shot a quick casual video to share how I was feeling at the moment she was complete.


I wish I could say that it's thrilling and wonderful to finish a huge project like this, but really I mostly felt tired and relieved. Tired because I'd quilted for more than 3 hours to finish that outer edge, and relieved that the damn quilt is done and I can finally move on!

Yes, I can see issues in the quilt. Mostly I can see where different design decisions would have resulted in a very different quilt. From a distance, she's not as bold and eye-catching as I would like. Like most of my quilts, you have to get up to about 4 feet away to see the detail within each space.

So in a small sense, I'm disappointed, but in another sense, she is a perfect representation of where I was when I began designing her in 2012.
Shy Guy, my old tom cat was the inspiration for the corner motifs
 This was also an experiment of thread density and showing contrast only through filler designs. In all of those cases, I'm very pleased with the effect and look forward to trying new ideas that came from making this quilt.

As for what this quilt represents - Duchess Reigns represents transformation. In three years I've transformed in so many ways, and one of the most important was choosing to lighten up about the imperfections in this quilt. Yes, there are thread breaks I didn't fix properly in this quilt. Yes, there are mistakes that I covered with thread painting.

It's not that I don't care. I do care about the quality of my work, almost too much at times. Learning how to relax my death grip on perfection was so. amazingly. freeing.

I don't need her to be perfect, and I don't need to hold myself to that high, impossible standard. I guess I've learned to be nicer to myself as this project as progressed. I'm able to forgive the mistakes and move on, where I used to get stuck and berate myself for not being perfect.

I also finally allowed my freak flag to fly with this quilt. No wonder she changed my life - she's part woman, part bird, part cat! She's strong and beautiful and inspiring me to design even more crazy sexy goddesses than before. .

This quilt has certainly been a journey, a challenge, and a learning experience rolled all into one. Overall and overwhelmingly, I love her. I'm so glad I made her. And now I'm ready to go die more fabric and get her bound!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

31 comments:

  1. Yes you are an artist. The quilt is beautiful! Mazel tov! Immediately after finishing may feel anti-climactic, but I assure you over time you will be as amazed by this quilt as everyone else will be. It contains a mind-boggling amount of detailed work that viewers will be able to get lost in when they see it up close. I could stare at it marveling how you guided the whole thing by hand; the paths of the thread are a record of the time you put into it, as well as a beautiful image in their own right. Please post a gallery of detail pics when you're done binding!

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  2. She is amazing, as are you. As I view the photograph, I want to look at every square inch to take in how it all came together. Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey with you.

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  3. I know you didn't plan this, but she glows with the edges of the unquilted parts from fabric dyeing. Like YEAH I am done!!! Congrats, she is beautiful!

    Sharon in Colorado

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  4. It is absolutely extraordinary Leah! Congratulations!!

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  5. She is amazing! I know you will always know where the less than perfect (in your mind) places are, but the rest of us won't and she is totally amazing! Congratulations on the stunning finish.

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  6. Congratulations! It's amazing! What a wonderful memento of your journey!

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  7. Leah, she is beautiful! I do not look for perfection in every quilt I make. I enjoy the process and do not worry about the quilt police. I am so happy you finished her, I think she if just perfect the way she is! Enjoy!!!

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  8. Sometimes I think we are too close to our work, and it's too easy to see the imperfections. She is beautiful. Again, I hope someday I'll be able to see her in person. Amazing work, and I hope you'll be able to step back and love her again. :)

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  9. Absolutely amazing quilt. I so hope that one day I get a chance to see it up close. So beautiful. Great job. Please share it by entering it in many quilt shows so it can travel and inspire others.
    #QuiltLove

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quitshopgal.com

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  10. She's beautiful Leah! I can't believe how quickly you've finished her, since you got back to it, that is. I know you changed some designs to quicker ones, but I wonder if your quilting has become faster too. I hope you enter her in a show.

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  11. she is incredible. You should be proud of your work on her.

    glen

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  12. Absolutely gorgeous quilt Leah! I am a graphite artist that has just entered the world of quilting. When I finish a composition (my forte is photo realism), I am absolutely beat. The composition gets left on the drawing board for a week and checked back in on for any changes. After a few weeks, the composition takes on a new look to me... absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess. ;) The imperfections become part of artistic license that many times adds to the composition and that the viewers do not even notice. A few weeks will silence your inner critic and you will see the true beauty of your creation. I believe that is the emotional price true artists pay. Congratulations on the completion of The Duchess Reigns! You are the most talented fiber artist that I have had the pleasure of viewing. You make thread flow like an experienced pen and ink artist with paper.... Very inspiring to those of us looking to expand mediums. :)

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind words Brenda! I know exactly what you mean. I've had three days to enjoy Duchess Reigns on the wall and find I'm enjoying her more every time I look at her. I can spend my life regretting choices and nitpicking small details, or I can appreciate how far I've come and enjoy her for what she is. I'm picking the positive path!

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  13. She is awesome. You are awesome. CONGRATULATIONS!! :-D

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  14. Beautiful! What a total labor of love! And thank you for sharing how quilting is really transformative inside and out. I just love reading your blog.

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  15. Leah, this is truly phenomenal! You are a real master of quilting, such a beautiful job!

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  16. A long-haul achievement! Beautiful! Xx

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  17. The Duchess is absolutely beautiful! Congratulations, Leah! and I hope to see her at quilt shows :)

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  18. You're always your own worst critic! It is a fantastic quilt and yes, very representational of you! Congratulations on your achievement and I would love to see it in a show. Will you tell us when and where you will be submitting it?

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  19. Increible........Felicitaciones...es una obra maestra....

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  20. What an accomplishment, Leah! The scale and the obsession make this a very powerful piece. It should be in a museum as an icon of female power. I raise a (virtual) toast to your vision and your perserverence.

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  21. I found your blog when you were half way with quilting this quilt. It is beautiful.
    Icia

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  22. Leah, I love your honesty and the way you have transformed throughout this process. Iti s just wonderful to read this from a quilter of your caliber, but I don't know if you realize how you have freed me and probably many other quilters from feeling that everything has to be perfect - or it is not good enough because it is not as good as yours!! I feel like I can go and play and enjoy the process so much more.
    Thank you , thank you, thank you!!!

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  23. Did you ever finish "Express Your Love", the one you did the crazy pieced sections for the hair? I've always wondered how you were going to machine quilt the hair sections. Perhaps I've missed the videos that showed this process? Or maybe you aren't finished with her yet.

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  24. Leah, it has been wonderful to read about your journey with Duchess Reigns and your honesty about your integrity in sharing yourself with us. I don't know if you realize how much it has helped me (and hopefully many others) in letting go of that complete need for perfection and the feeling of 'if it's not perfect - it's not good enough!' I feel like I can go and play more freely now and just have fun with it!
    You are an amazing young lady and totally inspirational to all.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  25. The Duchess Wholecloth Quilt is just beautiful - Wish I could see her at the quilt shows.

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  26. When I first saw this on your site, I thought "wow", that is truly amazing. The quilting techniques and much, much detail are beyond words. You are truly an artist. Don't beat yourself up with the little things that only you would notice. Like all quilters we all notice any slight boo boo's with our quilts, that is us, we judge ourselves for all the things that aren't perfect, but you really need to stand back and say, "Look at this amazing quilt, I did it". There are many who admire you and your work. You are an artist, you are a quilter, you bring beauty to life, and don't you forget it!!!

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  27. Leah, You are definately an amazingly gifted artist who just happens to be a brilliant quilter too! I love your duchess she is amazing and I would love to have her hanging on my wall too! For just a fleeing moment a minute ago I too just considered perhaps doing a duchess for myself!! But I'm not brave enough nor do I have the FMQ skills to even consider doing something like duchess for myself yet! Perhaps one day. I'm sure I would learn heaps like you along the way! Hmm maybe???? am I game! That's it too being game to take the challenge. Will look at cost factor perhaps!

    Anyway I too would love to see the final quilt pictures once duchess is binded and rehung again. Thank you once again for letting us the world into your studio, allowing us view your actual quilting methods while your working hard at it! I will remain a devoted aussie fan and look forward to your next projects too with bated breath. Happy quilting Julie Beard. Adelaide South Australia.

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  28. I was doing a search on google about project-at-a-glance pages and was scrolling when one of these pictures popped up. I didn't even have to look up who did it. I immediately said, "that's has to be Leah", so I clicked on the link for verification. And sure enough. You continue to amaze me, I love your work! Thank you for sharing!
    Steph

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    1. Aw! That is super sweet! Thank you Steph!

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