The Free Motion Quilting Project: FMQ Friday - Stitch for Fun, Not Perfection

Friday, May 24, 2013

FMQ Friday - Stitch for Fun, Not Perfection

It's Friday and this stressful week is almost over! One major thing making me smile today is seeing Duchess Reigns up on the wall in my dining room. I pinned her up last night right before eating dinner.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I can't really explain the mix of emotions this quilt brings up. I'm overwhelmed by all that's left to do, intimidated by the scope of this project, excited to see her making progress, and even slightly frustrated because after all the work of design and quilting so far, I can still see clearly the places that challenged me. For the first 10 minutes I looked at her, all I saw were the flaws and how much work was left to do.

But then Josh made me feel a million times better by saying "That is hands down, your absolute best quilt ever. I don't think you need to do a thing to it. It's perfect."

Lol. This quilt isn't even halfway finished and my sweet man is totally happy with it? Nice!

I know I'm my worst critic. I know if anyone needs to let me off the hook, it's me. The original Duchess was the same way - a superb challenge and stretch of skill and design. But was she perfect? Absolutely NOT!

So I'm going to leave this up for awhile so I can sort through these emotions. When I take her off the wall, all I want to feel is excitement and enthusiasm for tackling the next step.

Speaking of getting my attitude straight, today I spent some time quilting Express Your Love and found myself dealing with a steady stream of fabric issues.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Puffy batting + dense filler quilting = pleats

Can you spot it? To hide it I usually intentionally tuck the fabric and densely stitch over it so it looks like a pieced seam or odd mark on the fabric. As I posted on Facebook today, this is visible from about 4 inches away, but if you step back 4 feet, you can't see it at all.

But I can't deny this makes me upset. Yes, I was trying something new with this batting so I need to forgive the fact that issues are going to happen. Trying something new and experimenting is always a challenge, and challenges can be a fun way to stretch myself, or they can just be a pain in my butt. It's all about perspective!

I think I'll take some time in the next week to audition some new battings. I've been wanting to do this for awhile, but this experience is definitely reinforcing a lesson I already knew - Don't Guess, TEST!

How do you know what a batting will do when you stitch the snot out of it? Test it and see Leah!

Alright, I've done enough yelling at myself today. I'm going to get back on my machine and drop my funky attitude and just have FUN. That is the whole point, right?!

So what are you up to on this beautiful Friday afternoon? I hope it's something fun!

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect.

Let's go quilt,



  1. Today I realized I cut out all the pieces for a quilt mirror image to what they are supposed to be. At least I hope I did all that way, because if some were mirror image and some were not...

  2. I agree with Josh. Even unfinished Duchess Reigns is one of the most phenomenal quilts I've ever seen.

  3. Leah, you've got nothing to yell at yourself about. You should be singing your praises for Duchess Reigns and everything else you do, as well! To know what you know and be able to teach what you teach as well as you teach it, even if you were decades older than you are, is wonderful. And as far as the experimentation with the batting and so forth, wasn't it Thomas Edison who said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Process of elimination--where would we be without it? Thank you for being such a pioneer in free-motion quilting and for sharing your experience.

  4. You know what Leah, the way I detach myself from judgement about my work is, "It's just a piece of fabric." Have you ever read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. In that book she talks about how it is not the artist's job to criticise their own work, it is the artist's responsibility to just show up and do it. I love your work, Leah and so do thousands of people across the world. We are interested in your journey and your work inspires and influences how we quilt, not solely, but in some definitive and individual way. Enjoy what you do. Don't make it about perfection. Just make it.

  5. I thought you were very brave to try a new batting with such a complex quilt. We are following you not to see perfection but to learn. And learn I do!

  6. I've been sewing for years. Your site has brought a lot of new ways of looking at things and bringing back the fun in sewing. I used to sew my clothes--usually something that needed to be worn that night. PRESSURE. Then I learned to quilt, and expected to finish up things quickly. As I bent my head over my sewing machine, I can remember thinking, "the prison guard won't let you out if the sewing machine is too slow. Years later, my friend who was sewing place mats with me on our lovely sun deck, said, "the Chinese overlords wouldn't give us a bowl of rice for what we got done today" and it struck me: this is a hobby? This is supposed to be fun, and I have guards and overlords in the picture? On my beautiful sundeck? Where is the pleasure of sewing with a friend? When did speed become so important?

    So, recently, I've treated myself as a best friend. I would never say anything rude to a best friend. I would compliment and encourage myself as a best friend. I would look up and be aware of where my friend is and what she is doing. I catch myself saying things like, "look at that section, it reflects how happy you are" and "look at how much you have improved" and while I sew, I think "I love this feeling of breathing in a sunlit area where the flowers and ferns are my backdrop. How lucky a day this is."

    So, here is a gift, Leah: you will have a whole week ahead of you with your new best friend: it's you, if you weren't paying attention! Think of how you will spend it. Will you offer a cup of tea in your best cup? Will you go for a walk to enjoy the colours of the season? Will you look into the eyes of a child and see the perfection, the character of a dirty nose, the charm of many ideas and the sense of wonder. Say thank you to yourself each time you practice this positive living.

  7. No post link for me again this week. Being back in Alaska has me enjoying the weather, and I just have not gotten around to taking pictures of what I have been doing. Leah, Duchess Reigns is beautiful.

  8. Wow! Your quilting just looks amazing and out of this world!


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