The Free Motion Quilting Project: Duchess Reigns #6 - Marking the Top and Stitching Samples

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Duchess Reigns #6 - Marking the Top and Stitching Samples

It's amazing how fast time moves from summer to fall. I just realized the last time I posted about Duchess Reigns was back in August. Ugh! I wish I worked faster, but the fact is designs like this shouldn't be rushed.

This quilt started back in the summer and I've slowly worked my way to the final version. Even now I'm making tweaks as I alter certain aspects of the design and fills that will be used over the surface.

But I've learned with this project that sketching fills only does so much. Sometimes you have to see a piece of the quilt IN THREAD to know how it will work, to know what will happen with it. So that's what I've been doing for the past week: stitching samples of key sections of this quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

They have even fit together pretty nicely so I can see the effect on the design wall. As I said in the studio tour video, it's one thing to look at your quilt from 20 inches away, it's another thing entirely to stand back 10 feet and see the effect it has.

And effect is what I'm going for.

With this quilt, I'm taking my time. Far more time than I've taken with my last two goddess quilts Hot Cast and Emergence. With both of those, I finished the quilts only to feel a sinking disappointment. They could have been better if only I'd spent more time planning and designing and experimenting rather than rushing off to finish them.

Taking my time on Duchess Reigns has also lead to an interesting coincidence. It was exactly 4 years ago that I was marking the surface of the original Duchess - November 2008. At that time I was only dreaming of show quilting, dreaming of being a quilting teacher, dreaming of owning a quilting business. This blog, my business, even my quilting ability was largely undeveloped.

I can still remember spending hours marking the surface of that quilt, occasionally helped along by James in a bouncy chair (he was 18 months old at the time). The original duchess really changed my whole world quilting wise because it not only pushed me beyond what I thought I could possibly do, it also lead to my first show ribbon, which finally helped me see and believe that I was really good at this.

This week as I mark the surface of the Duchess Reigns, I'm being helped along by my 5.5 year old. James is such a different person now - talking non-stop, independent, opinionated.  it's making me reflect on just how much has changed in 4 years and what's to come in the next 4.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I'm so very happy I'm working on this right now. This quilt is kind of a testament to all I've learned, and how much I've changed as a quilter. Everything from the construction process, dyeing (yes, this white top will be dyed!), fillers in planning - all of it is a push to see and account for every aspect of design.

No, I don't expect this quilt to be perfect, but I do want to finish this quilt and feel very happy with it, so I'm going to continue to take my time, stitch more samples, and enjoy this process.

Let's go quilt,



  1. It looks amazing! Are you dying the fabric after you quilt it? Just wondering because it looks like you have marked the white fabric.

  2. Wow Leah- those samples are beautiful.

    I dream about showing quilts, and last night the speaker at our guild was all about 'no matter what level of quilt you are making, just submit it', but of course, I know that just isn't true.

    I would love if you share more posts about your process in making masterpiece quilts and the show process.

    I do hope this one is intended for show- just the samples are phenomenal.

  3. Take your time and enjoy the process, not just the end result. It's fun just hearing occasional snippets of how this quilt is progressing. And from what I see so far, it is going to be STUNNING!

  4. Quelle énergie tu as pour mener à bien tes projets tout en t'occupant de tes enfants!
    Bonne chance pour la suite et prends le temps de respirer....!
    Amicalement, jo

  5. Gaaaah those thread samples are beautiful. Wow.

  6. Keep up the great work! You are living a dream many do not have the chance to do so, enjoy!
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

  7. Wow is all I have to say... so beautiful!

  8. Thats really AMAZING...nice greatings from Berlin

  9. Jessim, there was a time when if you belonged to a quilt guild you would submit perfectly ordinary quilts and they were welcome in the local shows. I didn't get to see any local shows this year, but one thing I know. I missed the ordinary quilts this year.

  10. As always just blown away by your artistry with tread. Simply beautiful.

  11. For Jessim... just do it! Enter something and get the thrill of seeing your work hanging.

    Our small town quilt show had a 'first quilt' category and also a senior category for quilters over 65 years who felt they might be slipping a big....


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