The Free Motion Quilting Project: Emergence is Finished!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Emergence is Finished!

She's finally done and hanging on the wall!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Overall, I'm very happy with the changes to this quilt.  Here's a photo of what she looked like before:

free motion quilting | Leah Day 

Yes, she's in desperate need of a good blocking to get the circle to hang flat and even.  This was my first attempt at a really weird edge, and well...there's a first time for everything.  It will probably never hang perfectly, but once blocked and dried, it will hang much better than this.

Comparing the finished quilt to the older version, not only does the goddess stand out better, her hair makes more sense, and her face looks a million times better.

Even still, there are aspects of this quilt that I cringe at.  Looking at all the colors coming together over the surface, I can't help but feel that this could have been a bit better thought out.

Maybe this is excessive judgement of my work, but regardless, I don't feel the blind love and overwhelming satisfaction with this quilt that I have at the finish of Release Your Light and Shadow Self.

Don't get me wrong, I am really happy with Emergence, but more than anything else this quilt has finally ground into my head the importance of patience, of taking the time to flush out every aspect of a design, and to audition colors excessively before taking the first stitch.

Of course, there are times when staring down the barrel of a deadline, or feeling the weight of several projects piling up, or just the simple excitement to be on the machine quilting, that rushing through the small details or leaving them to "sort out later" seems like a good idea.

Ultimately, I've learned that rushing is never an option with a quilt like this.  Time must be taken, care must be taken, steady attention and focus must be applied to every aspect of the design.

No, not all quilts need this type of time and attention.  But these goddesses are far more than just quilts I slap together and stick on the wall.  They represent cycles of my life, trials I have overcome, and lessons I don't want to forget.

With Emergence, I was far too willing to rush through planning the colors, background design, hair, and ultimate effect of the quilt because I just wanted her done, done, done.

Almost a full year later she is finally finished, but this hasn't been a fun or easy process.

I guess the ultimate lesson is about intention and attitude.  I started this quilt in a hurry, made mistakes, got frustrated, and left her unfinished for months.  Coming back to this quilt, I've managed to slow down and reassess my need for speed and ultimately learn that if I want to be happy and satisfied at the end of a project, I have to take my time and enjoy each step of the process.

So here's to the process!  I'm heading downstairs to take the first stitches on The Duchess Reigns.  Not on the actual quilt top, but on several small mock-up sandwiches that will allow me to test color, filler designs, and overall impact before the quilt gets started.  I'm not leaving any questions unanswered with this quilt and planning to enjoy every step of the process, no matter how time consuming!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Well done! I had to learn the same thing. My favorite part is the cutting (I do almost exclusively raw edge appliqué) and I have to make myself audition the fabrics carefully before I start cutting. Another veteran quilter once gave me excellent advice -- always check your values. Color gets all the credit but value does all the work.

  2. You work is wonderful as always and I really appreciate you talking about balancing your ambivalence about parts of the quilt and the process and how you view that. I don't think it is something we talk about much as artists but I think it is well worth our time- thank you.

  3. Wow- that is just phenomenal. Do you think you will show it? It is such a work of art.

  4. I like the new one better too. Looks like a ton of work, but great end result

  5. Congrats. Could always mount on foam board painted the color of your walls, or masonite, etc. That probably sends shivers down your back, huh?

  6. Really lovely, great theme.colors and the FMQ really completes this. If after blocking it is still not laying flat it might not hurt to run a sleeve on the backside just in from the edge (will have to be bias cut) and run a piece of boning through your sleeve. Might work.

  7. She is awesome Leah! Thank you for sharing her before-and-after journey so we can see that even a "finished" quilt can be changed. This may not fit any rules, but you could stitch a ring of stiff, coated wire (like used to make wreaths) around the sink hole after blocking so it will hang flat and not tend to curl.

  8. Absolutely breathtaking!! You may have outdone yourself on this one - LOVE the colored hair!! Congrats!!

  9. She commands so much more attention in this updated version. I couldn't have told you anything I thought was "wrong" with the original, but it's such an improvement with the new work you've put into her.

  10. YAY for you! I'm glad you completed such an important quilt. She really pops with the changes you made!

  11. Congratulations Leah, she is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, you are a real inspiration.

  12. I think it would be just awesome to see an exhibit of your work showing all of your goddesses in some sort of time-line progression.

  13. Yay! She looks really cool. Congrats on the finish. Now it won't be in your way anymore - it probably feels really good to have her done. :)

  14. I agree with Wipgirl...I love her transformation and your courage to make the change and share your experience along the way. I've learned so much.

  15. I love the finished quilt and changes that you made especially the hair and paint. Everything really comes together. Thanks for taking the time to show the process and changes along the way. It's a great finish and very inspiring!

  16. Your quilt look so much beter now. I love it. And patience is something I also do not have enough of.

  17. Just as with children, each quilt that is 'born' has many lessons to teach if we have the "ears to hear". 'Emergence' may be one that the lessons are to be in the process rather than the final outcome! Many accompany you on this pilgrimage...thank you for taking us along! Hugs, D

  18. I had an idea -- I think you can add a half moon curved sleeve on the back (challenging I know but cut on the bias of course) -- and then create tension with a piece of bendable plastic. It would make the bottom hang perfectly. Finding just the right plastic rod would mean searching the hardware store.

  19. Just FYI...
    The two links, the one for "Release Your Light", & the one for "Shadow Self"
    do not work...
    I love your blog, Leah. Thank you SO MUCH for putting yourself out there like that! I don't quilt much anymore, but I ALWAYS enjoy reading your blog posts! =-)

    1. Thank you for pointing this out Wendy. We recently changed websites and a whole host of links broke. This is the last job to be finished and it's been a LOT of work, but I will get it done hopefully by the end of the year.


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