The Free Motion Quilting Project: Messy Rooms & Limiting Thoughts

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Messy Rooms & Limiting Thoughts

It's weird, but I can always judge out out of control and on the edge my life is becoming by walking into my son's bedroom.

When I have things "together" I can reasonably find a pair of pants, shirt, and diaper that will all fit him in about 5 seconds.

When things have gotten crazy and I'm scrambling through the day just trying to keep my head above the water, I know it because it will take 3 times as long to do everything.

Every piece of clothing I pick up is 3 sizes too small or 2 sizes too big. Every toy I pick up looks like it might have been entertaining for him before he started teething. His closet is a disaster zone. His room looks like a recently bombed Toys r' Us.

So that's my personal marker for how out of sorts I've let things get. And judging by the chaos I walked into last night, I'd say I was clinging to the edge of the "keeping it together" cliff by one finger.

Needless to say, I decided it was time to stop everything and get back on track. When I see James's room is out of whack, I know it's not just him, it's all of us.

Of course, keep in mind that I'm not a clean person. Yes, you will find all manner of cobwebs and dust in my house. I'm not clean but I am organized.

Knowing where things ARE is half the battle. Worrying about whether everything is also germ free is someone else's problem.

So I declared the house a disaster free zone and started organizing.

Last night I bagged up toys, folded clothes, installed shelves, and threw all manner of broken, useless, and questionable stuff out.

I declared that since my son is nearing 3 years old, it's time to get rid of all the 18 month old clothing we STILL have in his drawers.

I sorted, drilled, and nailed my way to a better organized, infinitely more sane reality and while I was working I realized that this organization stretches beyond my son's room.

I realized that taking the steps to have clothes that fit him within easy reach is not just good organization, but it simply makes my life easier.

So what else could I do that would simplify my life?

One big thing would be to finally fess up about the fact that I'm having a big problem with this beginner dvd.

Even though this is not as evident as a messy kids room, it's just as time consuming. Almost like having a big, giant tree blocking my path, slowing me down.

I realized just how big of a problem I'm having when I told Josh today "yeah, I want to move my tables again..."

So far, I've moved my tables 3 times and rearranged huge areas of our house for days at time to shoot this video. Talk about chaos!

Our house has been in a state of flux since November with the kitchen remodel and as soon as that has finished, I've been tearing the place up insisting on needing a better place to shoot videos.

Josh, ever patient, looked at me and said "Why do you need to move them AGAIN?"

And I started listing the reasons: I would get a better angle, better lighting, the background would look prettier...

And my wonderful husband looked back at me and said "What is the real issue here, Leah? It's not your tables or your camera angles, is it?"

Gotta love the guy. He always knows it when I'm totally driving myself crazy and exactly what to say to make me realize it.

So I started listing the reasons "If I shoot the dvd in here then it will look good and people will like it better and won't email me screaming that they can't believe they wasted $30 on this crap information from this no-talent, 26 year old wannabe quilter."

Josh paused for a minute to let me fully listen to what I'd just said and started laughing. After a minute or two I joined in. We had a great laugh, just sitting there at the table realizing just how silly I can be when left to my own devices.

This whole exchange might sound really insane to you, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

Sometimes you just have to say out loud what is bothering you.

For me, I've been feeling unqualified to make a beginner dvd because I've only quilted for 5 years, but instead of acknowledging that and moving on, I let it twist and grow inside me, stalling my progress.

But by talking and laughing about these feelings, I feel a lot better now.

The fact is, the dvd won't be perfect. You will probably see shots of my messy living room, and no, the lighting won't always be perfect. The point, I'm realizing, is not perfection.

The point is teaching beginners free motion quilting: sharing my methods for getting started and helping build confidence for trying something new.

Build confidence...I guess I need to go do some of that myself.

So I'm off to get more of my life back firmly rooted back on the ground. My plan: get organized, get a weeks worth of filler designs edited and produced, and get my head back on straight.

Let's go quilt!



  1. Leah
    what agreat attitude your man has. Let the silly stuff go. You are better than a beginner quilter, pass on your knowledge .Everything in life is edited and reviewed, but overall enjoy yourself, give yourself time to smell the roses and have some me time

  2. Amen! We all love you for the fact that you are human and you want to share and want to educate us all in the art of FMQ.
    You are doing this yourself, you don't have a huge budget and massive staff including directors, lighting staff, camera operators etc, we all know this and I know for me that's what makes it better - it's YOU and your gift for sharing that interests us - how many times have we been disappointed with the 'flashy' production with is all punch but no substance.
    Enjoy the procees - this is the beginners dvd and you will learn tricks, you will change how you do some things, just as you've said you've learnt in your FMQ journey - we will all relish this additional journey you are taking.
    And bless your dear husband for being able to see the truth in your troubles with simple words and a lot of love - he sounds a real keeper, just like mine.

  3. The girls have said it! do it in your own time and don't stress it. Your quilting videos are fine so the beginner DVD will be too. I'm with you on the cobwebs and cleaning too, far more important things in life :o)

  4. OK, I could give you bunches of info about the proce of classes, the experience of teachers, lighting, video editting etc. But the truth is, you have to believe that what you are doing has value, and therefore you have value.
    Only you can make up your mind about that...
    Have fun, it comes across on video and more than makes up for a lack natural lighting- remember that $10clamp lights from Home Depot can make up for that. Remember what it was like when you were a beginner, how frustrating it was to have a bunch of questions and no one right there with you, especially someone you could re-wind and pause. As for the price of the DVDs- my sister will be taking a four hour class next month on machine quilting, the cost- $130. I do video editting and I have taught quiltmaking- believe me, your love of what you do comes across on camera and that is priceless.

  5. I would bet that you do more quilting in a month than most quilters do in a year. That means you actually have 60 years of experience. You look good for your quilting age.

  6. I just wanted to say that I know exactly where you're coming from. Sometimes you just have to sit down and figure out what it really is that's bothering you, even if it requires admitting something you'd rather not. If you don't, it starts effecting other things and other people (like moving all that furniture around!). You have to say out loud what your problem is and then decide what to do about it -- fix it or get over it or whatever. Only then can you really get on with things. It's sometimes a big challenge. Congratulations to you on overcoming this one! Self-awareness is a hard thing! :)

  7. Its going to be great, you have a gift and you certainly are not a beginner quilter and we look forward to your insights - perfect is boring, human is good.


  8. Leah, I am looking forward to your DVD. I think it will be down to earth and something I can follow. Don't sell yourself short by saying that you have only been quilting for 5 years. I have been quilting for 12 but you have probably put in 10 times the hours (or more!) than I have.
    And give your husband a big hug - he sounds like a great guy.

  9. I think that some people you will never please so be prepared for that. BUT...
    Most people, like me, will appreciate your effort and time in passing on your skills to us. I was first taught about 10 years ago but never had the time to do much patchwork/quilting until the last 5 years and I just sit back in amazement at what I have acheived. I don't live near town so I can't go to stores or take classes and the internet and books and the occasional trip to a show have been invaluable to me. I love your blog and have learnt and used so much from it already and am saving up for a couple of items to purchase.

  10. Dear Leah,
    What a brilliant and admireringly honest post. It made me wanna go and redo my closet, get rid of the stupid old stuff that has been needing to get thrown out and just release that energy, that mess and old things accumulate!!

    I will start tomorrow and use the time when my little boy sleeps to free my energy and thus creativity, because it has surely not been too high lately.

    The secret, for me, is to just start in one corne and just take one thing at a time - it is like eating an elephant: one bite at the time :)


  11. Wannabee??? Are you kidding? Your stuff is a great resource for a wannabee like me!!! I'm loving it. Now all I have to do is clean my kids rooms and get at it!

  12. I think everyone here has alluded to the idea that the reason we follow your blog and videos is because we LIKE them-their style, their information, their honesty.

    I don't want to watch a video where some snooty woman in a perfect studio talks down to me surrounded by shiny objects and products that make me wonder if she has ever actually used them.

    I'm not looking for infomercials when I want to learn something. I want another "real" woman to teach me how she "really" learned to do something and I want to feel like she lives next door to me, and understands me.

    And if anyone is petty enough to complain about the DVD, you tell them from me that I'll be happy to buy it back from them because I know a lot of really nice women who would be thrilled to have it!

    So there! :P

  13. Leah - I thoroughly enjoy your dvds and maybe like them better than the "professional" dvds because you are a real person I can relate to. You are honest, down to earth and honestly feel like a good friend when you are talking to us. Keep up the good work and I can't wait to get the beginner dvd!!

  14. I taught my first class last Saturday. When the shop owner asked me to do it, I told her I had never done it before, she said, "well, you had to learn to walk, didn't you?".
    You are really awesome at this! If you did nothing but edit all the videos together that you have posted on this site, it would be a phenomenal piece of work! Very educational, informative and very well spoken. You are clear and passionate about this, you are ready!

  15. Leah,
    You go girl! Fly and know that you make a difference to all that have met you so far. Believe with all of your heart and don't worry about the little things you can't control. Breathe and enjoy each step, wherever it brings you.

  16. If you hadn't said you've been quilting for just 5 years, I wouldn't have believed it. Whatever the case, your talent shows that I have something to learn and you definitely have something to teach. Go for it Leah...and don't move those tables again, lol.

  17. You are so talented. I really want to see what you have accomplished 5-10 years from now, because it will be "out of this world". I wish I had started quilting in earnest as early as you have, and found such incredible talent. Moderation is a good thing, as well. Quilting shouldn't push everything else out of your life. Personally I vote for a cleaning lady! Take heart, you are wonderful!

  18. Leah, I'm glad you have *your* husband. Give him a big hug right now. I'll wait...


    Stop doubting yourself!

    Didn't you see all those women that night on the 11th? 'Cause *I* did! I was there! You were definitely one of the youngest people in the place, but we were all listening *very* intently to *everything* you were saying! Do you honestly think anybody in there was thinking, "She's too young to teach me anything!" 'Cause I certainly didn't hear anybody *say* anything like that! And I honestly don't think anybody was even *thinking* anything like that!

    ...besides... Honestly? I'd kinda like to see a little mess in the background of your videos.
    Otherwise I might start thinking you're too PERFECT! ;-)

    Keep going! You're doing MORE THAN GREAT!!!

  19. Trust me, your machine quilting skills are way beyond those of a beginner! And your husband is a very wise man, as most of them are :-).

  20. Oh Leah...I think we can all relate to your feelings. I've been quilting for over 20 years and do some fantastic piecing, but when it comes to quilting it was always stitch in the ditch for me! That is until I found your blog. My b'day is tomorrow and I will be 58 and I have no problem learning from someone younger than me. I have learned so much from you. Being organized is important, having great family support is important and your self confidence is important, too.

  21. Oh Leah, I have to post a comment here, although I will confess that I read your blog (or check for your posts) on a daily basis and have never left a comment because I feel like your blog is not for "beginners", as I am. I have been watching the mini clips and sometimes catch myself saying, "UGH! I wish she had filmed a little longer, I was beginning to think I could do that!"...and now I read you feel like you are a beginner? LOL! Man, you are so far ahead of us beginners you stopped seeing us in your rearview mirror stitches ago! hahaha!
    I so love your video clips and look forward to learning a stitch or two with each visit. I'll have you know that before I found you I only aspired to learning how to stipple a quilt...but now I can say that there are a few more stitches that make me want to put a little more effort into this "quilting" thing!
    Thanks for having such an informative blog, I love coming here! B=)

  22. Hi Leah, there is a name for what you are feeling - not sure of the name, but there is this whole syndrome of feeling inadequate and like you are a fraud and people are going to find out. I remember going to a session on it once, and almost everyone in the room said they suffered from it. The people were all doctors, lecturers and PhD students at my university! The leaders said that often the higher up you get, the worse it can get. They also said that it is usually unfounded, and that we should give ourselves a break. I think you are right about just wanting to share some things and encourage people. I would say from reading your blog that you are emminently qualified to do that. You have been a great encouragement to me, just reading your blog. I doubt there are many of us out here in blogland who are looking for perfection - then we would have to try to live up to that :( But we all need encouragement. So, I hope I have encouraged you to keep going. regards Sam (Sandra)

  23. Leah:

    I've been subscribing to your blog since the first Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs. I want to encourage you to keep going on your DVD. You are in a position to not over-look simple points that serve as AHA moments to newbies. I find that sometimes more experience lends itself to skipping some of the really beginner stuff that are stepping stones to becoming more experienced.

  24. Leah, I read your blog and watch your videos faithfully! I have learned more about design and quilting from you than from all the "experienced" quilters. Don't let your personal demons get you down!

  25. Leah, I'm over twice your age. I made my first quilt about 35 years ago. I've been quilting almost daily for the past 8 or 10 years. I have learned ALOT from you. But I understand the self-doubt. We are our own worst enemies. You have so much to teach, just keep it up. Keep going, you're doing great.

  26. Love the talk with your husband. You have to really be close to a partner to let them put a mirror up for you like that. Congratulations! And, relax. Lane

  27. We're all our worst critics. You are doing something big, taking a risk - and risks are terrifying! I love to read your blog, as it's really down to earth and normal. I love to hear that your house has dust and cobwebs...and that when your house gets disorganized, it gets to you (me too!)

    You will be fine..we will cheer you on. Little steps Leah! Sounds like you have an awesome cheering squad already at home!

  28. Oh,Leah...
    You have given me the courage to 'jump in and just do it'. I watch your blog religiously and have come to know that if I don't make the attempt, I will never get there! Thank you for that, I feel I have come a long way just watching your vids on this blog. my husband has also made comments on how much my quilting has improved, I showed him your site and the vids I have been watching. Do you know what that man did for me? He went out and bought me that Juki Tl 98Q! I am such high cotton now! All thanks to you Leah, so please believe me, the CD will be great where ever you put your tables!

  29. Leah, thanks for writing from your heart. Rest assured - you are a really great machine quilter and a fine teacher. Your designs are beautiful and beautifully executed. I love your videos! They have been very helpful to me.

    As a businesswoman, I have to warn you to be prepared to deal with unpleasant people. Know that what these people say and how they behave is NOT ABOUT YOU! IF and when this happens, remind yourself to focus on all of those who are delighted with your products. Don't let them get to you!

    I'm looking forward to seeing more of your beautigful designs.


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