The Free Motion Quilting Project: Day 247 - Graffiti Art Curved

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 247 - Graffiti Art Curved

If you remember back to last week and Graffiti Art, the interesting design I misspelled, you'll remember that I mentioned a curvy version of this design, and here it is!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Yeah, I misspelled this one too! Josh is always griping at me because I'm horribly lazy about spelling. I'm always asking him "How do I spell...?" even though I have access to countless online dictionaries at my fingertips!

As for the words showing up, if you want them to show up the best, use Graffiti Art and don't echo stitch them. The words will stand out very boldly and be clear to read on your quilt.

If you want them to show up mildly, stitch them in cursive like Graffiti Art Curved and don't echo stitch them. This is more subtle, but also more personal because it's a lot more like handwriting. If you want to hide your words, then stitch the echo stitching and it will hide the words and make them more of a subtle statement.

And how do I know? Because I made the mistake of stitching Sinkhole, not knowing that the straight lines and sharp angles of Graffiti Art would overwhelm the nice words stitched in cursive. The darkness is overwhelming the light.

This is a pretty big problem and one I'm still trying to find a solution to. The bad words on this quilt are just simply way too overwhelming. It's one thing to make a dark quilt, it's another thing to make a vortex of negativity and depression.

free motion quilting | Leah DayMy best friend asked me last week if I'm ever going to finish Sinkhole, show photos, or close the door on this quilt. I didn't have an answer for her.

The reason? This quilt is far, far from being finished. It may be that I need to rip every dark line out, slowly and painstakingly un-stitching each word. All I know is, I have an intense pull to work on Hot Cast, and I'm following that pull and allowing myself some space from Sinkhole.

I certainly don't regret quilting this quilt the way I did. I received a lot of advice generally along the line of "Don't do that! That's so negative and bad!" which I happily ignored. This is a journey, no one ever said it would be easy, and I'm very, very glad I stitched out all those negative phrases, even if I do rip them out, paint over them, or obscure them in some way, that will be part of the journey too.

So that's my long winded explanation and a photo of one side of the quilt. Let's get back to learning actually how to quilt Graffiti Art Curved:

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This is a bit easier than the straight lines and sharp angles of Graffiti Art because it flows more naturally like handwriting.

Design Family - Foundational. The words are stitched as the foundation line, then echo quilted to fill the space. If you'd rather the words stand out more, don't echo quilt. It's as simple as that!

Directional Texture - All Directions. The texture of the design is created by the words you stitch. Another name for this design that I considered was "Words Have Weight" which they definitely do.

Suggestions for Use - Words are powerful. Quilts are powerful. I think combining the two makes for an extremely awesome work. The question is, What do you have to say?

Back of Graffiti Art Curved
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Leah, I remain convinced that your Sinkhole project is psychologically brilliant and comprises a major, important component in your personal catharsis and rebuilding process. Don't worry about those who fret about the negativity. You are using the work constructively, not negatively. It's no wonder you need a break from it to focus on Hot Cast - breaking down childhood baggage is TRAUMATIC work and rebuilding the positive elements within yourself takes "digestion time". Hot Cast is giving you that creative moratorium during the process. When you're ready, you'll go back to Sinkhole and finish exorcising those demons!!

    You are a wonderful inspiration to many of us, and I thank you for being a part of the catharsis that has brought me out of 5 years of depression that hampered my sewing creativity!

  2. So glad I saw this because I have a project I want to personalize a bit and I think you have inspired me! Thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas and great sewing!

  3. Speaking of ripping out machine quilting. Do you have any tips for this process. I quilting an area that is tightly quilted and needs to be ripped out and I was hoping there may an easier way.

    As always, look forward to seeing what you are working on.


  4. Just wondering: The owner of the local quilt shop said she literally used two threads when she top stitched the front of her button-up shirt. Could you do the same thing and not have to go over it twice?
    My daughter has beautiful handwriting and I've had her do all the months of the year with pens. She echos with different colors. I love her work. I'm thinking of using it as a quilt. I love it.

  5. Hi Leah:
    Would this not help with your problem? If there is enough space??
    These are your words: If you want to hide your words, then stitch the echo stitching and it will hide the words and make them more of a subtle statement.
    It's a thought.

  6. I like the curved lettering better than straight. With the Graffiti Art's straight lines and sharp angles, there are areas where the echoing becomes just straight lines. With the curved lettering, the texture is more flowing throughout.
    I can see that the straight line lettering on Sinkhole does stand out. It would be very tedious to un-stitch all that stitching, especially where it is very dense. I like your idea of painting over it-a grey wash may be enough to tone it down.
    And as a final thought= studies have shown that spelling ability is NOT an indication of intelligence!

  7. What about painting over the dark side of sinkhole with a kind of glaze, like a translucent paint? Or painting over the light side with a metallic to make it stand out? Even if you don't finish it, I can tell it's been hugely beneficial for you just to make Sinkhole!

  8. Now that the words are there and you are finished with them, can you paint them out? Even with a thinned down acrylic paint if not paintstiks? Might be fun to see them just disappear from sight.

  9. I really like what you have done with sinkhole. On the side pictured, the negative words are in reverse, making the viewer struggle a bit to read them. It's a perfect metaphor for putting those words behind you. The words aren't gone from your life, but being able to understand them is diminished.
    I also like how the positive words stand out in red, and they are in the smaller sections of the sinkhole. Those are the sections that give support to the hole (Imagining that the hole is like a large, corrugated tube)and are currently giving support and structure to your rebuilt life.
    Personally, I wouldn't change a thing.
    You have done an amazing job out of something very horrible. YOU are amazing!

  10. RE: Sinkhole I agree with the folks who've suggested you somehow "paint over" the negative words. To me, ripping them out and redoing them gives them too much importance; you are well beyond that point in life. Put the negatives behind you and celebrate the positives ... especially your wonderful talent!

  11. It doesn't matter if you never finish Sinkhole. You will have finally SUNK your negativity.

    It is never necessary to finish everything you start.

    I would not unpick those words - they are important to you. Important that you do not allow them to dominate you again.


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