The Free Motion Quilting Project: Duchess Reigns #3: Learning New Techniques

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Duchess Reigns #3: Learning New Techniques

One step step back.  That's a good description of how I'm progressing with the new version of The Duchess.  However while this might be seen as negative, it's actually working out quite well because it's the exact opposite of rush-through-pell-mell-and-hate-the-quilt-at-the-end, which is my normal way of creating big quilts.

While yes, I had finalized the design, and yes, I'd printed it out large scale ready to get started, looking at it on my design wall I had to admit that there were aspects of the design that still bothered me.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Seeing the quilt on a design wall really helps to put it all into perspective
So this time I sat down with a piece of paper and sketched out the changes I'd like to make with a pencil.  I also began the process of intertwining the feathers in the corners, which turns out definitely should be planned because they're so complex.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
While working on these design tweeks, I also began thinking of some new techniques I'd like to try with this quilt.  In 2008, the original Duchess pushed every limit of my quilting ability.  It was enormously challenging, but I learned so much during the process that I loved every minute of it.

For this quilt, I'd really like to have the same experience so I began thinking of techniques I'd like to learn and take the time to master with this quilt.

Almost immediately I remembered Sharon Schamber and her tutorials on inset cording and loopy corded binding.  These techniques are finicky, highly detailed, but they produce an incredible effect on the finished quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
For this sample, I haven't worked hard to make the colors match or even finish all the loops. 
So for the last week or so I've mostly moved from watching her DVDs to the sewing room, creating a sample to learn these techniques.

The finished technique is supposed to result in the quilt being see-through in these areas:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Creating this sample was a great test of the technique, but I still feel like I need more experience before jumping into the big quilt top.  I only have a limited amount of red fabric for this quilt so these techniques need to be 100% solid before starting on the real quilt.

The second technique creates a loopy corded binding, and for this tutorial the DVD is extremely clear and easy to follow.  Unfortunately the quilt I'm applying my cords to will have a curved binding, which is going to work a bit differently from the straight edged example quilt.

It will take some fiddling, but I plan to practice both techniques on a larger sample of the real quilting designs used in The Duchess Reigns.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
So that's what I'm busy with today!  After printing out this new sample pattern, I'm going to give these techniques another try.  Mostly I need to double check that I'm comfortable enough with the steps that I don't totally mess up the real quilt.

This sample will also give me a chance to play with thread colors and fillers I plan to use on the real quilt.  It might be time consuming and in the end the sample might wind up in the trash, but it pays to play on something small and reasonable before tackling the big quilt.

I'm off to learn something new and challenging today!



  1. ooh la la, looks fancy
    and difficult~
    way to go Leah!

  2. Way to go girl! Learning is one of the most interesting things about life! I strive to learn new things every day. I hope it works out how you envision. What you have so far looks STUNNING!

  3. Your work takes my breath away!

  4. The new 'Duchess' is going along very nicely. The inset cording gives the effect of "hardanger" pulled thread embroidery....great added dimension! That lacy feel will be very much in keeping with the overall theme, I think. Summer, for me, is packed back to back with family "special days" and events. Will have to be content with quilting 'vicariously' through others til Fall! Am so in love with your is so nice to have it to 'thumb through' when away from the machine AND 'puter. Hugs...Doreen

  5. Creative is one of many descriptors for you and your work, Leah. Beautiful!!!

  6. I'm so glad that you are showing so much of the behind the scenes work. (Or perhaps it should be called behind the seams??)

    Anyway, I've finished up a few quilts that I didn't love because my thread choices were wrong. I loved quilting them and my workmanship was good, but the colors look dull and lacked the right punch when I finished.

    I should have taken the time to practice on a finished piece to see what the effects would look like before diving in.

    Thanks, as always, for the great inspiration!


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