The Free Motion Quilting Project: Hot Cast - Part 3

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hot Cast - Part 3

It's amazing how fast a quilt will move when you're absolutely in love with her! I've spent the last three days finishing the design and beginning the construction process for Hot Cast.

I haven't really pushed myself to GET IT ALL TOGETHER RIGHT NOW because it is simply impossible this week with all the snow and my 3 year old being home from school, and because I usually rush this process which only lead to issues down the road and I finally seem to have learned my lesson from previous quilt catastrophes.

It might seem simple, but with every goddess, the construction process changes a bit. With each quilt the design has different challenges that render an old method not as useful or more tedious and time consuming than it needs to be.

Here's a quick review of the construction techniques used in past goddesses:

Life and Fire - Appliqued using Ann Holmes's No Sewing Until You Quilt It method so the whole top was constructed using French Fuse, basted, then the first stitches made in it were to quilt it and applique it at the same time.

free motion quilting | Leah DayRelease Your Light - The body and hair were hand appliqued on a white bed sheet, fully quilted like a wholecloth, blocked and bound, then the whole quilt was painted using Shiva Paintstiks.

free motion quilting | Leah DayShadow Self and My Cup Runneth Over - Both of these quilts were pieced (and a bit of applique) using Sharon Schamber's Piece-lique technique.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah DayWhile designing Hot Cast, I immediately saw issues with the design that would make traditional piecing or applique really tricky. For one thing, the pieces I actually want to applique are huge, around 40 inches long or more.

I also wanted to leave large areas of the quilt white, almost like a wholecloth, so that the quilting was the absolute #1 focus.

Then I started thinking about Release Your Light and painting most of the surface of the quilt, but nothing will allow me to forget how extremely tedious and time consuming painting a large quilt can be. While it's a wonderful way to make a quilt and certainly saves loads of time in the construction process, it's by no means my favorite way to add color to a quilt.

If I'm really being honest with myself, I know that fusing would probably be the most perfect method, but for this quilt I want to use loads of trapunto and the stiffness caused by fusing drives me up the wall.

Right now hand applique is still my absolute favorite construction method, if I have the time to devote to it. I know you might be shaking your head really this is probably one of the most tedious and time consuming construction methods around!

But for me it is peaceful and one of the few times I allow myself the joy of handwork. It is not fast, but if done carefully it does result in perfect work. Best of all, I can hand applique while sitting on the couch, or on the floor, or anywhere James decides he wants to play, and we can spend some time together while I put this quilt together. I certainly can't do that with painting or machine applique!

With so many methods available, and already knowing the specific look I was wanting for this quilt, I decided the best thing I could do was to test a variety of techniques and see which one worked the best.

First I created a sample of the body section of Hot Cast. I just quickly marked this on scrap fabric, basted it with scrap batting and backing and quilted the outlines very quickly.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI decided to try this on a body section because I have a very specific idea for what I want the body to look like for this quilt and I wanted to find the quickest way to get this look.

So first I tried painting. For this quilt I'm playing with Jacquard Lumiere paints. I'd heard about these several times from my quilting friend Susan Brubaker Knapp and finally decided to give them a try.

I love how the yellow and orange look like molten metal, exactly the look I'm trying to achieve.

Unfortunately the black body areas didn't turn out the way I wanted. I had to apply the paint very thick in order for it to totally cover the white fabric and then it went stiff and still had some white bleed through.

That settled it! No painting the body! So what about applique?

I quickly drew out a few of the shapes on the opposite side onto freezer paper, cut out black fabric, turned the edges, and glued them down to the sample.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe right side was painted and the left side was appliqued. The first applique piece went on okay, but then I struggled a bit to line up the pieces along the body edge. Not lining up all the way is just not going to cut the mustard for this goddess, so this method of cutting all the body shapes separately was scrapped too.

While this might seem like a time consuming waste of fabric and energy, it was actually quite essential to knowing how to put this goddess together. Looking at the little sample I could see clearly that I like two things about it: the black kona cotton used as the body and the bright Jacquard paint used as the veins.

So I decided to try one more sample, painting the black fabric to indicate the veins.

free motion quilting | Leah DayEureka! That's what works, isn't too time consuming or annoying, and will achieve the look I'm hoping to achieve. Best of all, this allows me to construct the body out of one solid piece of black fabric, hand applique, fully quilt the whole quilt, then go back after the quilting is finished to paint the veins.

Once the construction method was figured out, I began creating the large body piece. Because this piece is so big, I was extra careful to keep everything very, VERY flat and very, VERY stiff. I used loads of starch on the black fabric to stiffen it almost as much as the freezer paper so that it wouldn't warp or shift as I was turning the edges.

This time I also took another extra step of hand basting the body to the marked quilt top using YLI water soluble thread. I basted from the center, smoothing and flattening gently, until the whole body section was attached securely. This thread will stay in place even after I've hand appliqued the edges to keep the body fabric from shifting during the quilting process.

free motion quilting | Leah DayAnd finally last night I started on the hair. Originally I'd planned to make her hair purple and blue, but in the middle of the night as I lay in bed visualizing the quilt, I realized this was a mistake and said aloud "Her hair is not right." and woke Josh up out of a sound sleep!

So this morning I got back to work on it and changed her hair to orange and yellow, the perfect colors for a goddess on fire.

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo that's the construction methods used so far. My plan is to only hand applique her body and hair. I may fuse the landscape in the background, or I may just let green thread do all the work, I haven't decided yet.

I do know that the columns, stairs, and floor the goddesses is standing on will remain white, or may be painted with only a subtle wash of pearly Lumiere paint to make them look like marble. I plan to quilt these areas almost like a wholecloth, adding puffy trapunto feathers and raised ridges to the columns that will stand out more because the fabric will remain light.

I'm playing with a lot more stark contrast with this quilt, and a lot more white than I've ever used before and it's fun to see where this will go!

I'm having a really terrific time putting this goddess together. Unlike other quilts in this stage, I'm taking my time, still sleeping, and not rushing through or racing to the finish.

She is my favorite of all of them so far and, while I can't wait to see the finished quilt, I love working on her a bit every day. It's this patience and peacefulness that I've definitely needed this winter, a chance to sit down with a needle and thread on a cozy couch, watch some movies, listen to some books, and slowly stitch these pieces together.

Let's go quilt,



  1. You mentioned the stiffness of fusing...have you ever tried Mistyfuse? No stiffness. Wonderful product.
    Looking forward to your completed goddess!

  2. She's lovely, I'm eager to see her finished.

  3. It was interesting to see all the different ways you have done this series. And yet it is all coming back to basic hand needle and thread. Seems just right! Pretty funny that you woke up your husband with your affirmation:)

  4. Of course the hair has to be fire colored! And I love the way the paint turned out on the black fabric! Stunning!

  5. She is coming together nicely, and I do love the overall design. Have you ever used Tsukineko inks? My husband gave them to me as a Christmas gift a few years (3-4) ago. I think the directions say they should not be thinned more than a certain amount, but I have used them to tint water and creat a mild cloud effect with out problems of fading or washing out. It is kind of like using water colors, there is much freedom in their design possiblilities. I have used them with resist (elmers school glue-the blue kind, which rinses out and can be seen easily)to help with the color flow, and also with a heat gun to quickly dry them and control the flow. Either way it is a fun creative process! YOu may enjoy it.

  6. Wow, you're doing great! I love hearing about all your construction possibilities...can't wait to see the finished quilt!

    p.s. I love hand applique too!!


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