The Free Motion Quilting Project: Recent Projects

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Recent Projects

Today I was extremely late in publishing my filler design and though I am the all powerful, reigning overlord of this blog, I still like to stick with some semblance of a daily schedule.

So why was I so very late???

Drumroll please...

I was uploading the DVD Free Motion Fillers - Volume 1 to my manufacturer!

Yes, the first volume is done and will be officially launching very soon with the downloadable workbook (exact details still delightfully ambiguous - I AM overlord after all!)

While uploading a DVD might sound really glamorous and high tech, really all it did was tie up my computer for 17 HOURS. Argh!

If you know anyone personally that lives and breathes on the internet, you will know how extremely painful and excruciating it can be to live even a few hours without access to the constant flowing stream of the internet.

So while I couldn't check email, blog, or shop for new fabric, I decided to head back into my sewing cavern and actually make things out of the fabrics I had on hand. Novel idea!

Here's what I came up with:

Wholecloth Quilt Vase of Hibiscus -

Believe it or not, this was actually my very first wholecloth quilt design.

I started it back when I knew nothing about trapunto, was still stippling everything to death, and didn't believe in prewashing fabric.

Needless to say, my first attempt at this wallhanging didn't go well!

So I've taken the original design and spruced it up a bit. I will be coming out with a complete pattern of this design one day, but for now let's just enjoy the pretty picture.

I'm sure you're wondering how this can possibly be a wholecloth when it's obviously using different fabrics.

This is the wonder of something called Shadow Trapunto.

Layers of colored felt and fabric were placed under organza and stitched with water soluble thread. The excess fabric was cut away, leaving it only in those areas it was meant to be.

The whole thing was then sandwiched and quilted so densely this quilt really does resemble cardboard. I didn't even have to use a walking foot to bind it!

I was playing with the new filler designs and used Brain Coral, Echo Shell, and Mussel Shell and then got lazy and finished with Pebbling and McTavishing to fill in the background areas.

I learned a lot with this piece, most notably how much (and how little) silk organza can take. The slightest mis-snip can cause holes in the organza that will always show in the finished piece, no matter how dense you quilt it.

While this might seem really annoying and ridiculous to bother with, I'm looking at it in a different light.

You see, for all my patience with free motion quilting, I really, really, REALLY hate to applique. It's not that I can't do it, I can, but I get so picky and micromanaging with it that it takes forever.

So lately I've been working on a new method of using multiple fabrics layered together, but without the tedium of turning under edges or lining things up.

I'd prefer to spend less time cutting, glueing, and stitching the fabrics together and a lot more time quilting them!

From the looks of how well the picture turned out, I believe I'll be working with silk organza quite a lot in the coming years.

Okay, enough about that wholecloth, let's move on to my Halloween Costume!

Clown Overalls - This Halloween I've actually managed to get things together to the extent that my son and I will both have costumes.

James is going to be Charlie Brown, which is the easiest costume in the world if you're 2, still fairly bald, and particularly chubby in the middle!

While I farmed out James's costume to an Ebay fairy, I decided to sew my clown costume myself. I didn't want to be a real clown with a big floppy outfit. I'd prefer to be a more acrobatic clown with a pair of nice fitting overalls.

This was a really terrific pattern by Cindy Talor Oats that I picked up back when I was pregnant with James and I just now got around to cutting it out!

I must admit that the pattern is one of the absolute best garmet patterns I have ever dealt with. It's obviously written by a quilter because she used a lot of 1/4" seams and very good instructions.

Unfortunately, my husband took one look at the finished overalls and claimed they were officially "The Ugliest Thing I've Ever Made." Ha! Well, at least he's honest.

I think I would have preferred the overalls to be in this pink Michael Miller fabric, but for a clown costume I'll be wearing only a few times, I think I'll survive it not being made from the prettiest fabric in the world.

Gum Drop Cushion - Now this Amy Butler pattern has been in my studio for at least 6 months and I've been dying to try it out.

Finally I cracked it open today and was delighted to find that not only is it easy to cut, it's just as easy to stitch up and I think I made this pillow in 3 hours or less.

I've been needing something to put my feet on when I'm on the computer for long hours because my legs keep falling to sleep.

My gum drop cushion is the perfect fit and height inside my desk.

If you try this, make sure you have at least 10 bags of 20 oz of fiberfill, or the equavalent of 3 large trash bags full of fluff. I was surprised how much it took to get the nice stiff cushion I was going for.

Whew! That was a lot of little projects in one busy weekend, but I had loads of fun with all three of them.

The thing I love the most about this blog project is that I've held myself back from starting another BIG quilt.

While big quilts are a wonderful learning experience and terrific to show, they're also huge greedy gobblers of time and energy.

Big quilts often also come with a heavy learning curve. I can never be happy just by making a wholecloth and leaving it alone. Instead I have to spend 3 more months stitching 50 million beads to it or painting the whole surface.

While the end result is always worth every minute it takes to create them, it's also nice to work on small projects that can be finished in a day or two.

Now let's go Quilt (or sleep)!

Leah Day


  1. That was one BUSY weekend. Ok girl, if your legs are falling asleep you are spending.too. much.time.on.the.internet!! If you hate applique, come on over to my blog to see my new (and first!) tutorial on making fabric stickers. You just might change your mind about applique. I'm allergic to needleturn so had to find an easier way.

  2. the vase and flower are beautiful.

  3. I do a raw edge applique b/c I like the immediate result. I can see the possibilities of laying out one's design, covering with the organza and then going to town with the quilting. (I am a border to border gal so it may be awhile before I jump on that train though.) Great whole cloth. Don't you just love learning new concepts first hand! cw


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at