The Free Motion Quilting Project: Hot Cast Part 9 - The Finishing

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hot Cast Part 9 - The Finishing

Isn't it weird how when you get really bogged down with work, have a million important things to do, the ONE thing that you SHOULD be doing is absolutely not necessary, but is actually the thing you NEED to do?

Or...well...maybe this is just me...

Regardless, I've spent the entire weekend working on Hot Cast, hauling her off the wall and refusing to put her back up until she is painted, sealed, bound, and... drum roll please....FINISHED.

I've run the gambit with this quilt, through many highs, days where I could eat up miles of thread hand appliqueing or quilting the surface, and lows where she would set for days on end and I would avoid her.

This Friday, I made a list of all the projects I have going on. The list is long and includes not just quilts, but also my new book and DVD, all of which really should have priority over Hot Cast, but when it comes down to it, she needs to be finished right now.

So here's a few shots of this quilt progressing over the weekend. I finally fixed the troublesome columns by going much darker than I'd planned, but this is metallic paint which reflects darker in my basement, but lighter when she hangs on the wall:

free motion quilting | Leah DayLast night I stayed up until 2 am painting the steps and checkerboard floor. While I hate to cover up the quilting, this area was just too light with too much white fabric showing through. Even covered with a layer of silver paint, the quilting still shows quite a bit:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've learned loads with making this quilt and one thing I'm definitely going to improve on is the way I design. Coming downstairs this morning I decided to add even more color to the background by painting the sky:

free motion quilting | Leah DayFrom now on all of my goddesses will be designed in layers. The landscape and sky section was the background and could have been a lot more interesting if it had been designed separately from the body and columns.

It's all a learning process! I don't claim to have it all figured out yet, and that's exactly why I'm never bored with quilting. There's always something new to learn or try. Even the techniques you've tried before can be tried again for better / different results.

With Hot Cast, I tried mostly relying on a wholecloth base, with the body and hair of the goddess as hand appliqued elements.

But as I've learned many times, I really can't handle loads of white space on my quilts. Even with the dense quilting texture, I like more color!

So if I try this again, it will be on black fabric with lighter colors of thread. Paint does work, but as I was reminded with this quilt, one wrong move, one bad color choice, and you risk messing up the quilt.

It's also messy, time consuming, and takes up lots of space! Twice I had to move Hot Cast upstairs to hang because I needed my tables for cutting or pressing fabric. A lot of times she's been in my way and that added to my frustration here at the end.

But it's over now and just like all my other quilts, I go through a cycle of love to hate to absolutely despising them to loving them all over again the second they're done.

Now for Hot Cast, I did choose a rather weird binding color. This dark purple batik definitely stands out on the edges:

free motion quilting | Leah DayWell, it will when I get a better picture of it!

The fact is, I couldn't decide on a binding color for this quilt for the longest time. I was leaning towards white, but when I consider how easy it is for a quilt to get dirty or the edges to rub up against something and discolor it, white is about the worst color for binding in the world.

Black didn't feel right either. If I'm going to put a black binding on something, it's usually a border and a definite statement for the overall quilt, like with Shadow Self.

So I've wondered for awhile how I should handle this. I even considered devising a totally new binding method, but in the end, I know Hot Cast needs a solid bias binding. When I walked into my sewing room and sorted through the stash, a bit of dark purple called my name, and I just went with it.

You might be wondering - Why a bias binding?

The truth is, all quilts have issues. It might be the density of quilting or the angle I was quilting these edges, but the bottom and lower sides are all doing a bit of the wave:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is caused for a number of reasons, and can be easily dealt with by carefully steaming the edges, but from what my quilt Appraiser Susan Fetner has told me, a bias binding combined with steam can work out the waviness more permanently.

It's not a huge concern because I've already decided to do something that might disqualify Hot Cast from any quilt show it could have entered. I'm hanging the hanging sleeve on the top of the quilt, around the binding.

I know, I know, hanging sleeves are supposed to be hidden on the back of the quilt. They're supposed to be attached across the top, under the binding, then hand sewn to the back of the quilt. Maybe I should do a video on this???

But here's the problem, I like the back of this quilt almost as much as the front.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I might even like the back better than the front. Both sides are equally beautiful and deserve to be seen, not covered up with a hanging sleeve!

I always felt like Release Your Light was more beautiful viewed from the back, but because the hanging sleeve is attached on the back, I rarely ever hang it up that way.

So I'm attaching a black sleeve to the top of Hot Cast. I'm not picking a front or back. I'm just not! (imagine me stomping my foot)

I honestly don't care if it gets be disqualified from a quilt shot, though I think it would be ridiculously silly if it does, but that's the way I've decided to work this quilt.

Here's a few close ups of the quilting just in case you've missed seeing it:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
The heart quilted with Pebble Maze (pebbled first, then echoed into a spiral), the body was quilted with dense stippling called Microstippling.

free motion quilting | Leah DayFloor area quilted with Matrix (white) and Ocean Current (black thread). Steps quilted with Gentle Flames and Pebbling.

free motion quilting | Leah DayColumns quilted with microstippling, landscape quilted with Landscape Stitch, and sky quilted with Striated Earth, Flame Key, and Ocean Current.

free motion quilting | Leah DayColumn top filled with pebbling and arch filled with Echo Feathers.

Okay, that's it for now! Time to go chill out on the couch with a needle and thread and hand bind until she's finished. I'm so happy she's finally done!

Let's go quilt,



  1. Very satisfying to have it finished. Congratulations! The back is worthy of being seen too! Definitely--great idea for the hanging sleeve.

  2. I love the back. Its almost luminous. I think it is because I have a preference for darker and dislike white a lot.

  3. Yes please to a video on applying a hanging sleeve! Your quilt is amazing - thanks for all you share with us Leah.

  4. Absolutely stunning! A real show stopper!! Beautiful quilting!!! The detailed photos of the quilting are inspirational!!!! Ahhhhh swooooon!

  5. Wow wow and more wow! I love it Leah. You have put so much of yourself into this quilt and been on quite a journey. It has been an honour to share this with you. Well done. Caroline

  6. Whoopee! Get out the band! well done, it looks fantastic, either side! Thank you for sharing ALL of this quilt.

  7. Wow - lovely! I really love how you use texture of the FMQ to create basically a change in value. I want to add that I totally agree with Susan - I usually "block" my work into the proper shape - steam it and let it dry. They lay straight and flat everytime! Thanks for sharing

  8. Completely agree about your decision not to put the hanging sleeve on the back of the quilt. The back is AWESOME. It would be a shame to cover up part of it. Wouldn't it be great if it could be hung to its' best advantage so you could see both sides!

  9. This is wonderful Leah. I have been where you are with the love,hate it a learning experience...back is better than the front...wavy quilt edges. I have a suggestion for you about the sleeve problem. It is detailed, so I didn't leave it here. Leona Harden - Serenity Mountain Quilts

  10. Beautiful threadwork! I love the back too.

  11. Wow! That is an amazing quilt.

  12. Wow, Leah, she's gorgeous! The quilting is stunning. Well done!

  13. Beautiful, beautiful.

    What would happen if you painted just the veins gold on the back side, and nothing else?

  14. Nina-Marie - Yep, even after a soak, block, and steam the edges are still a bit wavy. Bias binding and another steam will hopefully sort it out for good!

    Nina - I've thought about painting the veins on the back, but now that the binding is done, I'm kind of ready to let her go and be done. I'll have to hang her on the wall for a bit and look at the back. If it's really necessary I'll do it.



  15. Leah, these photos are just incredible. Beautiful, beautiful work. I would love to see this in person--but then I would want to touch it!

  16. Yea!! Congrats on the stunning finish! She's beautiful! I'm learning a ton on my current quilt now too, and share your joy of learning something new! Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Lovely! and Amazing too!
    A few years ago I saw a quilt at a large (think Mancuso) quilt show that was intended to be viewed from both sides. It was about Queen size. I don't remember how the sleeve was attached, but you would think with the "freedom" of thought used in art quilting they would make allowances for quilts intended to view from both sides! I think yours is a great solution. Maybe we (quilters) need to write letters/emails to those who make the rules and they can make some rules for quilts made to hang as yours is intended, to be viewed from both sides. Blessings :o)

  18. Hi Leah - your quilt is beautiful and your decision to not block the back with a hanging sleeve is entirely valid. Have you ever checked out the work of Barbara Shapel? She does amazing reversible quilts with a very interesting hanging sleeve that keeps both sides visible and the sleeve out of sight. She's at

  19. Congratulations on a beautiful work.

    I'm VERY impressed on the amount of painting that you did - and it is obviously very meticulously done.

    I love to paint quilts, but I've ruined almost as many as I've successfully completed, so painting is working it's way out of my repertoire. Too much work to be ruined so quickly! The odds are against me!

    Well done. All the best - Chris

  20. beautiful quilt

  21. No sleeve at all would also be an option if you hung it with those clips that are meant to hang curtains from a rod, purchased in the drapery department. This would make it easy to flip and clip - voila! - when you want to see the other side for a change.

  22. Your quilting is incredibly beautiful, Leah. Your quilt is a masterpiece.

  23. Leah, this is stunning! Love, love, love your quilting!

  24. A long process, but very much worth the time and effort. I enjoyed following your progress, trial and error with this quilt. I too love the back side of it. Very Nice!

  25. So, if you want to put the sleeve on the top, why not make it part of the overall design. Definitely not just black as that will pull the eye away from your beautiful quilt. Use the same purple as the binding to create the sleeve and why can't it be quilted too?

  26. Really an amazing quilt. Thank you for sharing your process with us. I, too like the back as well as the front.

  27. I love it! And I agree - you can't cover the back with a sleeve. The back is as beautiful as the front. Any show that would reject her would be missing out on something amazing.

  28. It is absolutely fascinating to follow your entire creative process, from inventive pencil sketch to spectacularly stunning finished quilt. Magnificent!



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