The Free Motion Quilting Project: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

70. Free Motion Quilting Glass Art, #415

It's a lucky thing that I film videos about a month in advance because trust me, you would not want to see what my hands look like today! My fire ant bites have mostly subsided, but I still have no desire to wear gloves and I don't have a lot of grip with my swollen left hand. I'm taking it as a little reminder to appreciate the full use of my hands and take better care of them from now on, especially when I'm outside and could potentially get stung, bit, or cut in a way that will make quilting difficult.

So here's a video I shot at the beginning of the month when I was already starting to think about Christmas and quilting decorative designs for holiday quilts:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This Glass Art is a combination of Flowing Glass and Spiral Pebble. Looking at this design, for some reason I keep thinking about the word baubles, which we don't say aloud much, but I seem to read a lot in books, especially historical romances. There always seems to be baubles and trinkets laying around...well...among other things!

Anyway, let's learn how to quilt this fun combo design:



I was feeling rather picky the day I filmed this and feeling like this design was a bit too open and too much blank space or background showing through.

Today I'm feeling like it's just the right mix of flowing lines and intense spirals. Sometimes you just need to step away from it for a few days, forget about what bothered you, and decide you like it exactly as it is!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Costumes in Progress

It's Wednesday and a combination of very painful, swollen hands and Halloween coming up tomorrow is keeping me off the sewing machine and busy at my dining room table working on James's costume.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Why are my hands swollen? James and I went to a petting zoo on Monday and unfortunately decided to stop and pet the animals while standing on top of a fire ant nest. Never NEVER again! I got bit about 10 times while trying to brush the ants off James's legs and they are absolutely the most painful insect bites I've ever gotten in my life.

So I can't quilt, but I can hold a paintbrush and finish painting the extra details of James's super cool costume. James is going to be Bumblebee from the movie Transformers and this is the chest piece which I made back in July using leftover cardboard and lots of duct tape. This piece, combined with knee pads, and a real Bumblebee helmet should do the job. I'll definitely post more pictures tomorrow when James is totally decked out in the full gear from head to toe!

Cheers,

Leah

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Josh's Quilting Tip #1

free motion quilting | Leah Day
With Josh learning how to quilt this month and so many quilters interested to hear about his experience, we're turning Tuesdays into Josh's Quilting Tip day!

Josh is just learning the basics to quilting so if you're at the same point in learning this awesome craft, hopefully these new posts will help you get started and answer your questions along the way.

Take it away Josh!
Well, first I should say I was expecting the entire process to be a lot more difficult and frustrating than what it ultimately was. Keep in mind I had never touched a sewing machine before, except for hauling them from place to place. I didn't even know how to drop my foot.

The first practice piece and actual block were tricky, but I quickly got into the swing of it as I became more comfortable with the needle and regulating the pedal for steady speed. But my blocks were still far from perfect.

Here is one of my earliest blocks:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

You can clearly see I'm a newbie. But I didn't have any baggage going in because I had absolutely zero experience sewing anything. So no bad habits to unlearn, no real fear of destroying a quilt with ugly stitches. I was a total blank slate and decidedly not being judgmental of my work.

I began with the U-shaped stippling that Leah had designed for our baby quilt project. I stitched them vertically and found this motion to the most natural flow for me. This is critical in FMQ--learn the angles and directions that are most comfortable for you to produce the most even stitching.

You can also see the block was marked first with a Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencil. And that leads us to my beginner tip today...

Starting out, I found it critical to mark every block. Leah attempted an experiment by marking half of the blocks and leaving the other half empty for freehand work.
Some designs, like the U-shapes, can easily be done without marking. But not the first time. You really, really need to mark your blocks starting a new design just to know where you're going and how to get through the block easily.
Now let's look at one of the last blocks I did and compare:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

You can see the improvement in stitch consistency and overall workmanship, especially comparing the U-shaped fillers here to the above picture. Also note the spirals--this filler, for me, was the most natural and easiest design to do.
These blocks were also marked. I quickly learned when trying an unmarked block that stitching a spiral was practically impossible. Maybe I'll be able to quilt this freehand one day, but for right now there are just some designs that absolutely have to be marked before being quilted.
So that's my tip this week! Mark every single block until you're confident you've mastered the flow of stitching.
Just in case you don't have a marking pencil, you can find the Fons & Porter marking pencil I used right here in the quilt shop. To erase the marks, just erase them with the eraser on the pencil or wipe the surface of the quilt with a damp towel before throwing the quilt in the washer.
Until next time, let's go quilt,
Josh

Monday, October 28, 2013

69. Free Motion Quilting Stitch Dot Turn, #414

It's time to quilt! Here's a fun design variation of Left Turn, Right Turn. The only thing I've added is a dot filled with thread painting which turns this into Stitch, Dot, Turn:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Stitch Dot Turn, Left Turn Right Turn, Curvy Turns, and Angle Turns are all designs built on this idea of stitching from edge to edge and branching out to the left and right. It's a pretty simple idea, but aren't the different textures they make awesome?


This design was also featured in the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Volume 2. If you're wanting to learn more about Edge to Edge designs or find lots of designs that will work great in the sashing of your quilts, definitely click here to sign up for this class!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Machine: Janome Horizon 15000

Whoo hoo! Yes, I have just gotten a new machine! The Janome Horizon 15000 came home with me on Tuesday after a quick trip to Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shop in Greensboro, NC. I mention the store because not very many Janome dealerships have these machines yet, so if you're eager to get your hands on one before Christmas and you live in this neck of the woods, that's where you should get it!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now before I jump into telling you WHY I purchased this particular machine, let me first stave off the fears that I can already feel creeping into the blogosphere with this announcement - getting an embroidery machine DOES NOT mean I will stop free motion quilting the way I have for so many years.

I have a skill with free motion quilting and I LOVE to quilt the way I do.

But I'm also wanting to learn something new, to check out this new technology and see what it's all about. For years I admit, I turned my nose up at machine embroidery with the declaration that "that's not really quilting."

It was after watching the Craftsy class The Machine Embroidered Quilt that I realized I was missing the point completely. The class teacher, Eileen Roache starts the class by defining a machine embroiderer as someone who "#1 loves their hobby, #2 expects beautiful projects every time they hoop something new in their machine, and #3 whatever they start, they really like to finish."

Whoa...that stopped me in my tracks. Because those are all things I would very much like to do: make quilts faster, with less fuss, and dependable results.

Watching that online class, I could see just how much faster the process was to allow the machine to stitch the digitized design automatically, and the designer side of my brain was definitely intrigued to see all the different possibilities for this new way to design and play with fabric and thread.

So really that's the background to this new machine purchase: I learned more about machine embroidery, got interested, and began looking at this as something new to get into this year.

As luck would have it, around the time I was getting interested in machine embroidery, some nice people from Janome America sent me an email about including some of my designs in a new machine, and then working together on an embroidery CD project. Whoo hoo! Why not?

This new embroidery CD features 50 designs and will be available in quilt shops soon!
So that is why I've purchased a Janome Horizon 15000 - it has 5 of my designs included in the "Designer Designs" area and pretty soon my first embroidery CD Expressions of Textures will be available in Janome dealerships. With how easily I design already, I know this will be the first of many embroidery collections!

Of course purchasing this new machine absolutely does not make me an instant expert at machine embroidery. I'm very much a beginner and already learned a lot just stitching out my five designs this morning:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
The 5th design can be seen on the machine in the first photo.
First thing to learn - the back isn't going to look as good as the front. I'm going to play around with different techniques like quilting the design without the backing, quilting with only stabilizer, etc, just to see what is the easiest way to produce the best design.

I also realized that I need to get a much thinner bobbin thread for machine embroidery. I had to change the bobbin to complete the stitching on two of my designs, and it made the design get "off" a bit when stitching out the rest of the design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Mostly this jumped off because I wasn't paying much attention and the inner hoop popped off while I was changing the bobbin and the whole piece shifted slightly to the right. But despite this imperfection, I think both blocks look great and could certainly still be used in a quilt.

So that's my newest machine and a bit about why I bought it. No, I didn't get this free or for any discount from working with Janome. It's an investment for fun, efficient stitching, and I can't wait to master the basics and start digitizing new designs on my own!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, October 25, 2013

FMQ Friday

Is it really already Friday?! This week has flown by super fast because I've been extremely busy with many fun projects!

First up this week was finishing up the secret project I've been working on since September. Well, it's not truly done yet, but the videos are all shot and today I'm getting the quilt finished and bound:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is the Super Beginner Baby Quilt, a quilt pattern including video that will walk you through piecing and free motion quilting on a very basic level. Best of all, we have a real beginner stitching along with me: My husband Josh!

The best part about this pattern is you get to see someone who's NEVER stitched a stitch in his life learn how to piece and free motion quilt. Josh was a super good sport about this project and his questions and experiences provided a lot of interesting video that I think will be insightful to new quilters.

More than anything else, Josh taught me what just-starting-beginner level really is. I need to learn to take it down a notch and step into a beginner's shoes more often, and what better way than watching my husband try to stitch my ideas???

free motion quilting | Leah Day
 free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Auto photo shot a lot of weirdness and finally some good smiles!
And just in case you're wondering, nope, we're not making baby quilts together because we're expecting a new delivery! Baby quilts are just a great size quilt to get started with and I love having a stash of them ready to give away whenever a friend is expecting.

So look for this new video pattern coming soon (as soon as I can get the videos edited!) to the Quilt Shop!

We also learned two beautiful designs this week on the project:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Amazing Daisies really is amazing in the texture it fills through this block. This design could be broken down in much simpler ways so make sure to watch the video to see all the different design possibilities.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Paperclips is a nice beginner level design (I think!), and a great way to cover your quilt quickly and hide mistakes along the way.

So that's what I've been up to this week! What have you been busy quilting?

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,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 24, 2013

68. Free Motion Quilting Paperclips, #413

Are you looking for a fun, quick design that will hide all mistakes, cover your quilt with wonderful texture, take out the dog, wash your laundry, and put away the dishes?

Well, I'm not sure this design can do all of those things, but it's definitely going to be easy, fun, and quick!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Paperclips is a wonderful Overlapping Design which means it really is as simple as stitching long spirals all over the place, overlapping like crazy until your quilt is filled completely.

There's no precision involved with this design. If you make a mistake, overlap another paperclip on top of it to hide it completely. If you have a mistake in your quilt's piecing that you'd like to hide - overlap a few of these shapes on top and no one will ever see it!


So how will this look on a real quilt? This is a very free form, random design, and with all the spirals going every which way, this can be a bit chaotic (much like a real wad of paperclips can be). Even still, I think it's a great choice to use in the background of any quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall Cleaning Frenzy

It's Wednesday and time to check into the sewing room to see what's cooking!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

On the table is Emergence finally getting her official storage sleeve. After finishing her I shoved this quilt into the top of the closet and piled other properly stored quilts on top. When I pulled everything out for my local lecture a few weeks ago, she came tumbling down on my head, reminding me that no matter how far back in the closet I shove her, she's still there waiting to get me!

Lately I realized that my feeling towards Emergence and Hot Cast are changing. After finishing these quilts, I wasn't happy with them, very disappointed in fact.

Now after several months of working on accepting my imperfections and loving my creations for what they are and the process of making them, I can see these quilts in a different way. They're a testament to who I was when I made them, and whatever mistakes I was so angry and upset about when they were finished just don't seem to matter as much now.

So it's time I start taking these quilts seriously and treating them with love and respect, and that starts with an official storage sleeve! I blogged about this last year right here so you can make them too. 

Basically it's a pool noodle covered in paper and fabric, then the quilt is rolled on, then a sleeve is cut and sewn to fit the quilt very snug so it stays in a nice round shape. Once in the sleeve, you can store the quilt laying flat, hanging up vertically by the end of the sleeve, or propped upright in the corner of a closet.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I store multiple large and small quilts rolled and stored horizontally in the top shelf of my closet
Also on my agenda today is cleaning. Serious CLEANING. I have had it with my clutter. I've had it with all this STUFF! The trash bags are coming out today and I plan to hit the recycling center at least once in my quest to clear and clean.

Most of this "stuff" isn't quilting related. It's old shoes, James's toys, stored food that's gone bad, furniture that we no longer want but is still here taking up valuable space in our house.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I pulled everything out of my baking cabinet and found half the food had expired. UGGH!
So often I feel claustrophobic in my house because I'm so overwhelmed by so much clutter all around. It's exhausting to look at, and I find when we leave the house for a few days and stay in Asheville or Charlotte, I feel like a weight is lifted because I don't have to SEE all this junk.

Yesterday I began reading the book "The Courage to be Rich: Creating a life of Material and Spiritual Abundance" by Suze Orman. I've already been working on issues with shame and guilt, so when this book jumped out at me at the book store I realized it was in line with what I'm already working on.

Right on target, in the very beginning of the book Susie targets clutter as a major source of stress, guilt, and anger. Clutter is basically wasted money - stuff we bought but for whatever reason we don't want or need it now.

I've kept things for years always with the mantra - I'll get to that some day! I spent money on it! I have to keep it forever!

No more. I'm going to forgive myself for making a bad purchase, release the guilt of spending the money, donate what I can, and throw away the rest that is making me crazy. It's largely a huge relief just to walk into a room and see clear, clean surfaces, and know that a quilt isn't going to fall on my head if I open the closet door!

So I'm off to find more trash bags and continue going room to room. This might take awhile, but I know I will feel much better when it's over.

Let's go clean!

Leah

Monday, October 21, 2013

67. Free Motion Quilting Amazing Daisies, #412

It's time to quilt! After a long, beautiful weekend filled with making jack-o-lanterns and baking bread, I'm craving some quilting time and especially a new, pretty design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is a simple variation of Super Daisy, only this time stitched as a Foundational Design and repeatedly echoed until it fills the space completely. It works great stitched into long, narrow spaces like a lock of hair from Express Your Love:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

 I know this looks complex, but that's what all Foundational Designs look like after they're filled completely. To start, you always work with a very simple line of quilting and in this case that single line could be it's own design! Let's watch the video to see how it works:


I love the way this design starts so simple with a basic daisy chain and then expands and expands until you get that channel effect created by the repeated rows of echoing. It's super funky and definitely a great skill builder for practicing echoing and hitting exact points.

Where will you plan to use Amazing Daisies? Give this design a try, post about your experience on your blog and link up with us this Friday on Free Motion Friday.

Also if you're in need of tools and supplies for free motion quilting - like Machingers gloves that help you get a great grip on the surface of the quilt - click here to check out our Online Quilt Shop.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, October 18, 2013

FMQ Friday

It's Friday and time to link up and share our quilting! This week we learned two fun designs:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Underwater Rocks is my new absolute favorite design, and with over 400 designs under my belt, that's really saying something! I just love the organic, free stitching in this design. It was truly relaxing to stitch!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

We've also learned Oblivion, which should probably win an award for complexity! Designs like this make me want to draw more and fill pages with crazy combinations of shapes and symbols.

In my studio today I'm wrapping up my many versions of Express Your Love. I finally mastered that mitered faced binding and got 4 corners to turn out acceptably crisp:


The solution to this? Actually follow the directions! Susan Brubaker Knapp has written directions right here with photos that are super clear and detailed.

Just follow them! Don't argue with them, don't think you know better, just do it the way it's taught! (Yep, I'm  yelling at myself here since I so often want to fiddle with directions and wonder why I have crazy results).

Josh has also been busy on the sewing machine and I'm so proud of his first blocks:


This is what you can realistically expect if you are just sitting down to the sewing machine today and you've never quilted in free motion before. It's not perfect, but do understand that this quilting is perfectly fine. It's fulfilling the needs of the quilt by holding the layers together securely. That's the ultimate point of quilting!

So even if your lines of quilting aren't perfect, even if the stitches aren't all the same size, even if they're a bit jerky and clumsy - it's still going to be a great quilt! So don't judge your stitches, don't be ashamed, and don't make it harder than it has to be. Just keep quilting!

Now it's your turn! What have you been quilting this week?

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,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 17, 2013

66. Free Motion Quilting: Oblivion, #411

I had a blast wild quilting yesterday and letting fabric flow crazily over my quilt. Today I'm tapping into my creativity again to put together a funky new design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This Oblivion is a combination of McTavishing with Blind Eyes and a ton more echoes! It's definitely a multi-step design that might take a little practice to master, but stick with it because the end result is totally worth it.


 This is a multi-step design, so watch the video a few times, then practice drawing the design on paper. Yes, I know it's frustrating to be told to draw when you want to quilt, but building skill on paper is cheaper and easier than stitching it out on fabric, getting lost in the design, and having to rip out or throw away your block. So DRAW IT first! It's good practice and time well spent getting the hang of any design.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wild Quilting

It's Wednesday and time to show you what's on my sewing machine right now:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yep, this is the first version of Express Your Love we quilted together starting in January. I put aside this black wholecloth for awhile and now I'm ready to pull it out and finish the hair section.

What is this exactly? I call it Textured Applique and it's basically free form stitching strips while intentionally creating pleats, ripples, and twists in your fabric. In other words: WILD QUILTING!

Lol. I woke up this morning with the words from the book The Last Wild Witch echoing through my head "and they let a little wildness inside..." I guess I'm needing a bit of wildness today to loosen up and let go.

And really this is the perfect way to finish off this quilt! Love should flow freely and wildly in this quilt. It's not perfect or precise. In the words of Tracy Chapman: uncouth, unchained, and unrestrained.

What I love the most about this is it's never really done. You can always add more fabric, thread, yarn, beads. Whatever you want you can add! It's like hugs, the more you get, the happier you will be.

So I'm off to twist, fold, pleat, stitch, and tear more fabric for this quilt. By the end she's going to have some WILD green hair!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Craftsy Live Chat Today!

Do you have a burning question about free motion quilting? Would you like to hang out in real time?


I love to chat with as many quilters as I can, and if this is popular, it might become a monthly or weekly event for us to get together and connect!

Also live today is my recent chat with Pat Sloan on American Patchwork and Quilting Radio. Tune in right here and hear all about blogging - why you should do it, how much fun it is, and ideas for potential videos!

 

Tune in, chat, listen, and enjoy!

Leah Day

Monday, October 14, 2013

65. Learn how to Quilt Underwater Rocks, #410

It's time to go quilt and today we have a gorgeous design to learn! This new, alternative version of Pebbling is much easier and more fun because it doesn't require ANY perfect stitching. Just swing around your circles, over lap, echo, whatever and you'll end up with something like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I love free form designs, but I really haven't made very many of them. Tree Bark is another design that's like this - fluid, organic, completely impossible to mess up because it's absolutely not focused on perfection.

I can see a lot more designs like this coming soon. More thread, less precision!


Just like with regular Pebbling, Underwater Rocks will definitely stand out on your quilt. Check out how nicely it filled the background of Express Your Love:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Unfortunately after stitching that area I had to go back to more precise stitching for the designs around it. My hands and body had relaxed so much I had to take a break and come back in order to get back into the precise / controlled way of stitching.

So give this one a try today and let yourself go with the flow with this groovy design!

Let's go quilt,

Leah

Friday, October 11, 2013

FMQ Friday

What a wonderful week! In the last five  days I've made fun progress on many projects and enjoyed two days with James while he's out of school for fall break. Yesterday I gave a new form of binding a try (with a super helpful boy at my side):

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is mitered facing, a way to bind a quilt that pulls the raw edges to the back rather than conceals them with binding right on the edge. I learned it from Susan Brubaker Knapp's free instructions right here.

Of course, I thought I new better and decided to double the facing and fold it over. Bad idea Leah! This ended up making the facing especially thick and bulky at the corners, exactly where you don't want that to happen:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So next time I try this, I will do it by the letter and follow the instructions exactly! During the week we also learned two fun designs:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Split Paisley is a super simple variation of Paisley and the splitting wiggly line is giving me a lot of ideas about other ways I can change up this design even more.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Lotus Ripple is also a variation of a previous design, this time Feather Fans. Both are super fun designs based on echoing around three clustered feather shapes.

Both of these designs worked great in the background of Express Your Love. I just wiggled them in and around the breath shapes and let the echoes do most of the work filling the odd areas. See if you can find these designs in this full sized image of the whole quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So that's what I've been working on! What have you tackled this week?

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,

Leah Day

Thursday, October 10, 2013

64. Learn how to quilt Lotus Ripple, #409

Let's go quilt! Today I'm playing with a very subtle variation of Feather Fans. You really can change a very small aspect of a design, like how the echoes work, or how the thread builds up in certain areas, and you'll find a totally different design. This variation is called Lotus Ripple:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This might feel a bit easier to stitch because the echo is just a smooth line around the feather shapes. However, because I've quilted Feather Fans so many times, I kept wanting to bounce between the feathers and had to concentrate to stop making that movement. Free motion is a pretty muscular and habit forming skill so if you only ever echo one way, you might find it hard to break that habit!

See what I mean in this free video:


Just for quick reference, I think this design will look terrific in the background of any quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So that's it for today! Go quilt something slightly different from usual and see what happens. It's always nice to change things up a bit and try something new.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thoughts at 30

Ahhh....What a truly wonderful birthday! Yesterday I finally left my twenties, turned 30, and took a day off to relax and reflect on my life so far. This is one of my more personal posts, so only read if you're into this kind of thing! You can always enjoy our most recent design, Split Paisley, instead.

This birthday has been a long time coming because this past year I watched it so closely. I literally counted down to my birthday in my journal until the day arrived.

Mostly I was wanting to finish my 20's with no unfinished business. I even had the insane goal to try to finish all my unfinished projects (UFOs) in one year. Ha! Even if I had an entire year to focus on nothing else, I definitely couldn't have worked through all this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So halfway through the year I put aside my desire to finish physical projects and instead turned to my internal unfinished business. This was really the background to designing Express Your Love and sharing this quilting process since January:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The meaning behind this quilt is simple: express love. I wanted to show love to my family more freely and openly. I wanted to feel better, satisfied and whole, and somehow lose the constant gnawing guilt that I wasn't doing enough, working hard enough, treating everyone well enough.

In setting this intention, I got a lot of answers as to why these feelings exist and why sometimes it feels impossible to express my love freely. I thought going into it this was a simple as saying "I love you" more often. Now I know there's a lot more to all of this and I got a lot more than I bargained for, but in a good way!

Guilt was the first mystery I unraveled partway through the year. Hours of quilting would leave me feeling contaminated with excessive guilt, which made me snappish and surly, which only created more guilt!

Figuring out my guilt triggers, and most especially the negative voice in my head that likes to constantly berate me for being a bad mother, was a huge step forward. I'm absolutely not perfect, but at least now I can acknowledge when I'm feeling guilty and figure out what I can do about it.

Shame was the second mystery I unraveled this year. This is probably the most important discovery of my life because it is the core root of all issues. Shame isn't something we like to talk about because it's...well...shameful!

But it's still there, hiding in the darkness, lurking in the corners. When I first started reading about shame it's like I finally found a light switch in my heart and when I flicked the switch, I finally saw the monsters of shame that had been hiding there the whole time.

My monsters specifically are two accepted ideas that are unbelievably painful, but they have been the constant thread through my life since I was a little girl. They are No. 1 - I was not wanted, therefore I have no right to exist, and No. 2 - I will never be enough, so one day I will lose absolutely everything I have because I wasn't worthy of it in the first place.

These are two very common ideas for people who have been rooted and bound in shame. I know I'm not alone with these issues, and that they are very common for people raised in abusive, dysfunctional homes.

Working on this isn't easy. The fact that these two "truths" are actually lies doesn't seem to matter. When I describe letting go of them - it's like trying to cut off my legs while I'm standing on them - impossible. How can an idea I've taken for truth my whole life suddenly and instantaneously be accepted as a lie?

Most recently I've been slowly working through the book Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw, I've found a therapist (finally), and I'm actively working: strength training my mind and heart, to remove the monsters from my soul.

Ultimately I know that it IS possible to rise above what I was taught and told and shown as a young child. I know that my brain is a muscle that I can exercise and work in a new direction. I know that my thoughts, good or bad, are my responsibility. I have the ability to respond to these issues and I will succeed.

So today at 30, I know I have loads of hard work to do, but at least now I know WHAT this work is and what direction I must work in.

What has helped the most this year is finally accepting that I can't be perfect. I can't quilt perfect. I can't teach perfect. I'm not a perfect wife or a perfect mother. What I can do is try my best, and to ACCEPT what that is, whatever it is.

For many years I felt intense shame any time my mistakes showed. What will people think if I can't quilt this perfectly? Obviously I'm not good enough to be teaching!

These days I see all my mistakes as opportunities to teach. Here let me share how I am NOT perfect, but how I continue to move forward. I have to keep stitching and accept what happens next.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Standing here at 30, I feel so very grounded and solid, surrounded by my family, celebrated for existing. I feel unbelievably lucky and blessed to have these people around me, willing to do something special just to make my day great.

At 20, I didn't have this sense of stability, celebration, or happiness. My life was a great big question mark then - full of scary uncertainty and negative thoughts.

At 10, I was just entering the time when my mother had "nothing left to give" and began her great downward spiral. It was after this birthday that I began baking my own birthday cakes, otherwise I wouldn't get one at all.

It's amazing what can happen in 10 or 20 years.  It's amazing what can be discovered, learned, built, healed, and released. I am so fortunate to have these wonderful people in my life that have helped me grow so much in just 10 years from the confused girl I was to the woman I am now.

I am filled with wonder and excitement for the future. In the next year I hope to release my chains of shame and weights of guilt. I want to become ever more authentically ME - Perfectly imperfect, but still worthy of my life.

I also hope I can get a few of these unfinished projects done, but really...what does a finished quilt really matter in comparison to being able to truly say and finally believe: I AM ENOUGH?

Here's to the future!

Leah Day

Monday, October 7, 2013

63. Learn How to Quilt Split Paisley, #408

Let's get quilting! We're playing with a simple variation of Paisley today to see what happens when you insert one of the wiggly lines from Wiggle Maze into the center of each tear drop shape. Looks like Split Paisley to me!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is a pretty flexible design that you should be able to fit into most any space. Here's a few Split Paisley's squished into the background of Express Your Love:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now let's learn how to quilt it together!


Remember this design would look just as great on a larger scale too! If you'd like to learn some larger scale Pivoting Designs like this Split Paisley, definitely check out the class Free Motion Fillers Volume 1 to learn how to quilt 50 large scale designs on a beautiful throw quilt.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

That's it for today! I'm off to clean up my sewing area and take stock of what is left to do this year. At this point it's time to wrap up our Express Your Love project and start planning for what comes next!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, October 4, 2013

FMQ Friday - Stitching Something Different

It's Friday and I'm in the mood to stitch something different...

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Do you ever feel like you quilt the same way all the time - same designs, same scale, same thread color? It's really nice to branch out occasionally and quilt something totally different and out of your normal comfort zone.

I'm stitching simply and more open as I blaze through these blocks for a project yet to be revealed. It's fun to see how many blocks I can quilt in an hour because they are so simply quilted.

Changing things up and stitching differently reminds me that there is more than one way to quilt. I don't have to quilt super densely all the time. I don't have to make my quilts so overwhelming and time consuming!

Of course on the other hand, I love the effect of dense quilting designs and I feel really satisfied when I finish something big.work. This week I finished my Spoonflower version of Express Your Love with all the filler designs we will learn in October:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

While this was super fun to quilt, I wonder how it would have looked if I had stitched it on a larger scale like I'd planned to originally...breaking free from patterns and stitching ruts may be tougher than I thought!

Overall I think it's great to change things up and I definitely plan to do it more often!

So what have you been working on today? Whether you're quilting simply or intensely, link it up and share your progress here!

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,

Leah Day
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