The Free Motion Quilting Project: Torrent of Fear - Part 1

Friday, January 20, 2012

Torrent of Fear - Part 1

Last week I wrote a long post about fear and how it can stop you from trying new things, including quilting your own quilts.

It's no secret that I've been thinking about fear a lot lately. Last year I was mired in a sea of fear and indecision that left me powerless to do anything but tread water. Looking back at those feelings and that stuck place, I'm able to see just how crippling this situation can be.

So it is that helpless, fear drenched state that is the theme for a new goddess quilt called Torrent of Fear:

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhen I sketched this quilt, I really wanted to include some positive aspect within it. An umbrella, a rainbow, a covered area that could protect the figure from that torrent of fear.

I liked the idea of shelter. Finding shelter, even if it's just a pink umbrella, to stop the fear from pounding down.

But after playing with the design for several days, I began to see that showing fear in all it's dark, soul-destroying glory was necessary. There is no shelter here, no positive light or redeeming quality.

This is exactly the way this type of fear feels. It doesn't feel like there is an end. When you're standing in that torrent of fear, you cannot move, you cannot create - you are stuck.

And if you let that torrent come down long enough, you will lose all your form: your beauty, your creativity, your intelligence. If you stand still long enough - you can lose everything.

For that reason, you may find this quilt unbearably dark and forbidding. You may find it too dark and painful to be beautiful.

But this is precisely why I need to make this quilt this way:

I want to SEE fear.

I want a visual representation of fear on my wall so I can look at it, and look within myself, and make sure I'm NOT that figure standing still, allowing fears to pound me into nothingness.

I want to look at that dark cloud and see the potential destruction it can bring into my life. I want to acknowledge it's power and it's presence because ignoring fear doesn't mean it goes away.

When I look at this quilt, it makes me ask questions.

Are you truly not in the mood to start that next quilt, or are you just afraid that something will go wrong with it?

Are you truly not able to cut that fabric up, or are you just afraid to cut it incorrectly?

Are you truly not able to pick a quilting design, or are you just full of fear for the outcome?

Fear stops us from making decisions, from being able to weed through all the many millions of options we have every single day and make a single, simple choice.

When we finally HAVE to make a decision, fear takes away our peace of mind (and our sanity) when it makes us question over and over "Is this right? Or is this better? Or maybe I should do this..."

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Fear is apart of our lives, but it doesn't have to rule us.

That's why I'm creating Torrent of Fear: to see it, to accept it, to acknowledge it's presence in my life, but to also set limits on what it is allowed to do under my roof.

No longer will fears to rule my parenting, my marriage, my business, or my quilts. No longer will I allow this emotion stick me in place and dissolve my ability to act, react, or create.

Which makes this quilt the perfect project to tackle a very big fear:

How to make a goddess quilt less complicated, time consuming, and difficult.

I've been afraid to tackle this challenge. I've been afraid of changing anything with the way I make this series of quilts, mostly for fear that the new, simpler quilts wouldn't stand up to the older ones.

I'm really afraid to hear someone say "I really like the way you USED to make these quilts."

This is the trick about fear - eventually you have to face it or risk getting stuck forever.

I can either continue to make crazy, densely quilted monstrosities that make me crazy, or I can face my fear and start making quilts the way I really want to make them.

So how do I want to make this quilt?

First off, I want to get it together quickly. I can't take 3 months to get this quilt top together! Looking at my schedule for the rest of this month, I really need the quilt top completed in less than a week.

I also want to quilt much faster and more efficiently too. No more dense, cardboard stiff quilts!

Speed is directly related to size. The bigger a quilt is, the longer it will take to make it. While I love big, over-the-top wall hangings, I've come to realize that a quilt can have just as much impact in a smaller size. The effect really has more to do with color and design than it does with overwhelming size.

So Torrent of Fear was sized at just 30 inches wide. After printing her out on just 18 pieces of paper (Emergence was printed on more than 100 pages!), I'm extremely satisfied with her size and shape. She actually fits on my large ironing surface!

So with those changes in mind, make sure to check back tomorrow to see Torrent of Fear in the!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I had to read some of this post to my husband....fear of cutting fabric, choosing the wrong pattern, etc - I need to let it go and this is actually what I want to do this with no fear!

  2. I like your ideas about thinking that people like the way you USED to make them. It made me think of any other artists, particularly composers as I am a musician.
    I thought immediately of Beethoven. Listening to his Horn/Cello Sonata he sounds squarely in the Classical period with Mozart and Haydn. His symphonies, especially the later ones are more Romantic.
    Any artist's work will evolve and continually change. Your inspirations, reasons, and techniques will always be changing and evolving as any artist's. Don't let that be part of your fear. Rather I think of this as a push in a direction. There is no right or wrong direction, just the one you are going.
    P.S. I think it is the right direction. :)

  3. I can't wait to see how your quilting will look as you move away from using only super dense stitching. It's going to be beautiful!

  4. This really spoke to me, I just sent a message to Melissa at Loblolly Quilts that I want it takes so long to do anything because I must redo so much of it because I am so critical of my own work, and this is fear based.
    I want to learn to FMQ as well but am so afraid of making mistakes! Thank you again for this insightful post.

  5. i am so looking forward to see Torrent of fear emerge. I can really relate to a lot of what you have beed saying about fear, and i can see how and where it has held me back....

    i am loving your goddess quilts

  6. I loved this post. You really hit the nail on the head about fear. I love your outlook on quilting. I love your new quilt. Also What new machine did you get lol?

  7. Thank you for opening my eyes! You've made me realize what is holding me back when it comes to doing my quilts, weavings, cross stitches. When I am in the middle of one of my projects I end up stopping because I think it isn't going to be worthy of...whatever, whoever...while reading your post I realized that it is the fear that what I finish won't be acceptable. I think I am going to have a great couple of days off from work now, cause I am going to tackle some of my UFO's in a different light! Thank you, thank you!

  8. I never thought I would find fear in sewing/quilting. I've been doing it since I was 10. I didn't actually start quilting until my daughter was born. But the more people were telling it it "should" be done. The fear started. The only person you have to please is yourself no matter what you do in life. I never even thought of doing a blanket stitch to bind a quilt. How imaginative is that? Thanks Leah for this topic


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