The Free Motion Quilting Project: Duchess Reigns Part 7 - Marking, Clipping, and Basting

Monday, December 24, 2012

Duchess Reigns Part 7 - Marking, Clipping, and Basting

Happy Christmas Eve! While I haven't been blogging about it much, Duchess Reigns has actually gotten underway and it's high time I catch you up on the details. One of my goals for 2013 is blogging more currently - i.e sharing with you exactly what I'm working on as I'm really working on it.

Back in November I stalled for a bit to stitch out samples of the quilt, to test a technique I plan to use later in the process, and to make sure everything will look good in the end.

All the months of planning and designing and fiddling with this quilt have paid off because it's now moving very smoothly. Here's a photo recap of what has happened since we last checked in:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The quilt design was taped together and the top marked using 8 Fine Line Pens. Yes, I ran through a full 2 pens per quarter, which might seem like a lot, but there is a lot to mark in this quilt top!

After marking, which took around 5 days of steady effort, I basted this top with Quilter's Dream Deluxe Polyester batting. I'm using the deluxe thickness because I want the trapunto to be quite puffy and stand out nicely against the background.

At this point, the quilt is just a quilt top basted with one layer of batting and it went on the machine to be quilted with water soluble thread. Here's a video I shot right at this time to explain a bit about the process it was in at the time:

After quilting through the outlines of all the motifs, the quilt was ready to come back off the machine and head upstairs to be clipped. This is absolutely posItively my favorite part of trapunto. I LOVE to clip!

But during this time I had several projects all coming to a close all at once and my guilt button got a serious trigger - how can I sit and enjoy clipping when I have all that work waiting for me on the computer?

Finally I did the sensible thing - I made a list of my project in order of priority and knocked out the most important quickly and efficiently. Ah! Now I can enjoy this quilt again!

I did shoot another quick video of the clipping you can check out right here:

In essence, I'm carefully clipping away the background to leave batting (held in place with water soluble thread) only in the places that I want puffy. I'm choosing to have all the feathers puffy, outlines to the lion heads, border lines, etc. so all these places need the batting to be left in tact.

Yes, clipping like this is very time consuming and tedious. You have to be very careful not to clip through the quilt top, which is VERY easy to do, especially if you get into a hurry.

So I was careful and patient and only snipped the quilt a tiny bit in 2 places, which will luckily be covered in filler quilting so they shouldn't hurt the integrity of the quilt. As I've said before - show quilting isn't perfect and mistakes are definitely made in the process, so the key is knowing how to hide them!

After the quilt was entirely clipped, I shot this pic of it hanging on my big design wall:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This stage is super exciting because the quilt is finally ready to go! I prepared my backing and another batting - this time Quilter's Dream Polyester batting in the SELECT thickness. I've found that the request can be a bit too thin and the deluxe is too thick, but the select is just right for the main layer of a wholecloth quilt.

While basting, I encountered some issues with the quilt top, most notably that it didn't want to lay flat, even after a lot of smoothing and squishing with my hands, which has always worked in the past. So I pulled out some masking tape and clamps and stretched the top just the same way I stretch the backing while basting.

I shot another video to explain a bit about this basting process:

So the top was stretched nicely and most of the puddles and pleaty areas were sorted out, but I could tell this quilt is going to have some issues with baggy, puddle fabric in places around the feathers.

Is there something I should change to prevent this problem? It's hard to say. Personally I accept that with a 70 inch wholecloth with dense and intense puffy areas, there's just going to be some tricky spaces in the quilting. I kind of go into a quilt like this understanding there will be tricky areas and just with a willingness to accept and work on them.

It might be a question I should send to Cindy Needham. I recently took Cindy's Craftsy class Design It, Quilt It and found her basting method to be much more complex than mine, which might explain some of the issues I'm having.

The basic rule I sometimes fail to remember is that a bed quilt is not a show quilt and a show quilt is not a bed quilt. I get into the mode of basting with one method always and the fact is, it just isn't going to work for every single quilt I make.

So what is next for this quilt? Outlining! Last night I managed to get the center medallion finished up. Because the front is so covered in markings and pins, I flipped it over to the back so you can see the design clearly:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Why is this just outlined and not filled? You'll just have to wait and see!

Let's go quilt,



  1. Wow, that looks amazing already. Loving seeing how it changes as you proceed! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas from Down Under!

  2. Love this - and thanks for all the videos that you show us - they are so great and easy to learn of. Have posted a freemotion quiltingprodject on my blog - a result of one you startet on in march/april. Maybe you will have a look.....

    Have a great Christmastime and looking forward to follow you in the comming year :-)

  3. This is looking pretty amazing! I definitely need to try the ws thread.
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

  4. Gorgeous work, cannot wait to see the finish peice.

  5. She's looking amazingly lovely already. I can barely wait to see her in colored threads. I already know it's going to be stunning.


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