The Free Motion Quilting Project: Working Wednesday

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Working Wednesday

Today is What's Leah Working on Wednesday and I'm headed back in my studio to work on several projects today.

The first project is the new design squares stitched for the Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers DVD.

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhen I was shooting this photo, James decided he wanted to help so here he is grinning like crazy after laying all the blocks out for me. So cute!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've chosen to use only black fabric and white thread for this DVD and I've also cut my squares at 8.5" and marked a 6.5" square in the center. This is working a big bigger than my typical 4" squares, but I really like it!

The bigger squares have given me a chance to upscale the design a bit so the lines of stitching aren't quite so close together. The scale is closer to 1/4" rather than 1/8" between the lines.

I've also moved my camera a bit and played around with the angle until I've found the best possible vantage point to see the stitching.

Thanks to June's comments in this post, I'm also making a big point not to flip or turn the fabric squares drastically while stitching this DVD. I know it's difficult to turn a huge quilt, so I'm finally showing you how to stitch backward, forward, left and right without turning the square at all.

These first 10 squares are looking pretty good! With the videos and photos now shot, I'm turning them over to Josh to edit and produce the videos. I will then take over and mute and record my voice explaining the designs and how to stitch them.

So when I'm not stitching new designs, I'm working hard on Shadow Self. Even with the huge amounts of trapunto, this quilt is still going to take awhile to finish.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel! Here's the back of the quilt and you can see the entire shadow section has been quilted! Yay!

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo far I've almost finished the two biggest rays. You can really start to see the puff from the trapunto coming through:

free motion quilting | Leah Day I'm pretty much sticking with Paisley and dense Microstippling on the ray. Yes, I still stipple my quilts! I believe stippling is still an extremely useful, versatile stitch so long as it's not over used.

I can always switch out microstippling for Tree Roots because the designs read almost identically. They're both flat, directionless background fillers that can work anywhere on a quilt.

Now the green rays are really fun. I've been using Brain Coral on the outside and Pebbling on the inside, but only 1" thick.

I realized that the inside sections of these twisting lines are a bit big and I didn't want to get bored stitching the same filler in each section. Instead I'm doing a ring of Pebbling, then filling the insides with a different filler.

With this ray I did simple echo stitching inside each section:

free motion quilting | Leah DayOn another note, I'd like to share with all of you some of the weird, wonderful, and amazing things that have happened since starting this quilt.

First off, if you haven't yet, you'll need to go back and read Shadow Self - Part 1.

Since starting this quilt, my life has changed. My mental dialog is no longer a hateful negative voice and I've actually found the space inside my head that is not only compassionate, but gentle.

One of the biggest breakthroughs happened this weekend while out with my best friend for her last hurrah before she has her second daughter at the end of the month.

I had been wanting to find a book specifically on my issues: terrible inner negative voice, low self esteem and self worth, and inability to feel compassion or love for myself.

I was walking through a huge bookstore and happened by a shelf of self-help books. I've read a ton of them and a few have helped, so I always page through them a bit to see if they're actually something new or just the same old stuff.

The second book I picked up ended up being perfect. It's called I Know I'm in There Somewhere by Helene Brenner.

This book is not a "self help" book but a "self acceptance" book, which means that the book is not out to change who you are or what you're going through, but simply give you the means and understanding to accept it instead.

So far this book has helped me to finally look at every piece of my life without the veil of "How do I get over this right NOW!?" Sometimes it's not about getting over something, covering the feelings up and blocking them out.

I realize now that it's more important to feel the real feelings, let the pain happen, and then let it pass.

I knew this before when I started Shadow Self. No amount of yelling at myself to stop yelling at myself ever worked.

It was only when I started designing the quilt and visualizing my issues in fabric and thread that I finally started to accept myself, with all my faults, issues, and hangups combined.

I can safely say now that yes, I will be making more quilts that deal with personal issues. The next quilt design I'm working on deals with the abuse, alcoholism, and depression I grew up around in my childhood. Needless to say it will be a very dark quilt indeed!

It's not always easy and it probably will get me a few weird looks a quilting shows, but I would rather share and be open with issues that I know many women deal with than sweep it all under the rug.

So that's it for this working Wednesday! I hope I haven't made anyone uncomfortable, but as I said to a quilter in my guild recently: I'd rather share too much and potentially help someone than share too little and miss the chance.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Thanks for sharing with us. Since being treated for Cancer last year, I have found being open and up front with people is actually therapy. After surgery I am cancer free, for now and hopefully forever but no guarantees. Like I said being open about the whole thing has helped me mentally, and I keep on smiling and being thankful for everyday.

  2. Leah, your quilt is turning out lovely, and amazing. I am so enjoying the process of you sharing, both your work and your finding yourself. Sometimes it is a little more than i need to know, but i personally know how sharing helps us grow and overcome, or just realize the truths of what we have gone through. I am a talker and feel that most people can learn something from most any thing we share. The events of our past are not who we are. They may be who someone else was, or part of why we are who we are, or react as we react. But we can be a constantly changing, growing being if we allow are self to move forward. You are doing a wonderful job of that.

  3. The new squares are looking really good. And good for you in looking for your true self. Quilting is my self expression, and each quilt shows a part of me that I have come to accept also. Some people will never get it, but so what....they are probably still holding on to the life vest instead of living. So I say, good for you,girl!

  4. These black blocks would make an awesome quilt!

  5. Thank you for reminding me that I am OK as I am - I keep finding that wisdom and losing it again. If I couldn't spend time with my "art" I don't think I would ever remember.

    Thank you also for your generosity in sharing so much of yourself. I look forward to your posts each day.

  6. Leah, I was browsing through your videos and articles on the "how to's" of free motion quilting. I'm getting ready to block a quilt and wanted a refresher course.
    I was encourage by connecting the past with the present. I read today's blog, where you say you are using Paisley and Micro Stippling on the rays of your quilt. In your "how to" section on free motion quilting, you mention that Paisley is one of your least favorite fillers of the top 4. That has taught me to always be open to see each space to fill with new eyes, which you obviously are doing. Sometimes a space just calls out for a certain type of filler!
    I can't wait to send you pictures of how I have used your designs. I used your design suggestions for quilting a log cabin quilt (Nov 09) and have used 8-10 of your free motion designs. I must say, paisley is a fun and easy design to use and to improve on quickly! Thanks for sharing with us.

  7. I'm so glad that you've found a book that speaks to you in a way that helps, and are going to use quilting as an outlet for your feelings. Quilting in any form is a way to express ourselves. We look at a painting on the wall and ask, "What was the artist thinking when she painted this? What was her inspiration, her mood, her emotion? What story is she trying to tell?" Why should your (incredible) quilts be any different from a painting? It's art, and art is all about expressing and eliciting emotion.

  8. This was a really special post to read and I love the comments that have come from it too. I believe in facing the hard things head on. I know it is not easy, but you will never regret having dealt with it. Our pasts do make us who we are. Only you can change your future and accept your past as the past.

    Your quilting is beautiful and very inspirational as well!

  9. Thank you for sharing yourself, and congratulations on your road to personal acceptance. I don't mean to sound corny, but part of life is making the most of each moment we have and find out what's most important to us. Learning how to do that can be difficult, but so worth it. Thanks for the great site. I am curious to know if the 1st dvd will contain different designs than the current one?

  10. Leah -

    What a creative and proactive person you are!

    Thank you for sharing so much.

    Looking forward to seeing the new non-flipping videos! The new black blocks are fabulous - I like the way clicking reveals an enlarged view.


    PS I must have skipped a posting, I thought only Micro Stippling was 1/8 inch apart. These new sizes will work great for me and are more like what I have been doing actually.... Now I understand why my first two quilts did not feel hard, the way you had described!

    PPS Knowing the back story of the quilt really makes it open up to me. And so nice to see some of the steps you went thru to create it too. Thank you.

    I feel a little silly - Hope this will be funny to you. When I first went to your post today I scrolled thru to see the pictures, then read the words. At first I thought the photo of the back of quilt was the bottom of a tennis shoe and you were going to write about how inspiration for FMQ comes from many different places!

    When you double click the image really shows how much detail work you have put into this - I'll be sure to do that for now on! And I had been focusing on the beginning designs so I have been missing out on so much. But now there is time to catch up!

    : )

  11. Share it sister! The world needs more folks telling their stories instead of bottling them up, and sharing them via art is the best!

    I encourage you to check out the book "The Artist's Way". While it may not be a self-help book per se, it's always been such a great asset to me. I've had it since college and find myself returning to it again and again. Email me if you want more info, or just check it out at a bookstore when you're there.

  12. With all you do I cannot believe you still have time to read! You are a driven and truly inspirational person. I get tired just reading your post. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.


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