The Free Motion Quilting Project: Enjoying the Process

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Enjoying the Process

On Friday in the Strange Leaf design I mentioned coming to a new realization with my quilts that I enjoy the process more than the actual finished result.

I really wanted to talk about this more and the realizations that have come about in the last two days.

See, typically when I get started on a new quilt I rush, rush, rush with each step. It doesn't matter whether it's for show or just a bed quilt. I'm always rushing through each step.

Take for example The Duchess. This quilt is a wonderful example because I rushed through the design, rushed through the marking, rushed through the quilting and of course, made a million mistakes along the way.

And the thing I failed to realize at the time is that the fun part, the part I could focus on and really get into was the process of MAKING the quilt!

So for the last 2 days when I've walked into my sewing room, I've walked in with a focus not to finish, finish, finish something, but to simply enjoy the process.

Amazingly enough, when I've stopped my relentless obsession with finishing, I've actually managed to finish quite a lot!

The difference is that this time I was stitching on these projects because I felt like piecing, binding, or basting, and not because I HAD to.

Yesterday I sat down and finally put the binding on this Christmas quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah DayPieced up this quilt for James and got it basted this morning with his help:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I used the scraps of his quilt to piece this baby quilt for a friend:

free motion quilting | Leah DayAnd finally finished the last stitches of hand binding on this printed wholecloth while watching a movie:

free motion quilting | Leah DayEven as I was clipping the last threads from these projects, I realized that in 2 days I've accomplished more in my sewing room than I have in a month.

And best of all - I enjoyed and appreciated every single minute of it!

The more I read about happiness and contentment, the more I've come to realize that it's truly a state of mind. I am happy when I choose to be, especially when I don't allow all the stress of life to weigh me down.

I've also realized my happiness is also extremely tied to my productivity level. I love to create, whether it's a new design, a new quilt, or a new pattern.

But it's not the end result I'm really after, but simply the process of applying stitches to fabric.

So I'm off to quilt these two kid quilts and a few new designs. It's a wet, rainy day here in NC and it's just the perfect kind of day to spend behind my sewing machine free motion quilting!

Let's Go Quilt!

Leah Day


  1. How right you are - I've been contending with images of baby quilts over the last few days and though I'd love to start I'm trying to avoid rushing in until I've sorted out some of my 'many' current WIP's - and when I do go up to work on them I try to do it when I'm feeling creative and calm

  2. I can really learn a lesson from you. I'm trying to stress less ~ especially about things I can't change. I'm a slow learner though.

  3. A wonderful example of ... It's the journey, not the destination.

  4. Leah,
    I think you have just become a true quilter! Enjoying the process is way more important than the finished product, but it also makes the end product special. The workmanship is often better when you are enjoying yourself too.
    It is nice to finish and either use or give the quilt to someone else to use, but hope you can always enjoy the process in the future.
    Judy B

  5. Reading about your realization today was just what I needed. I've been wandering about the same realization myself lately. A couple of months ago I was feeling driven to get projects finished - and not having very much fun. I have been trying to articulate what I've been learning and you said it very exactly and precisely! Thank you. Congratulations on getting so many fun projects finished, too!

  6. This applies very much to life itself. We all have the ability to choose how we react to certain situations.

  7. I agree! It seems like there are so many patterns these days that are just "finish it quick" quilts and I always wonder if quilters can really enjoy the quilting process when they're finishing a quilt in an hour on a Saturday. I know time is tight, but we don't just quilt because our beds are bare! (I know mine aren't....)

  8. Leah, there must be something in the air! I too came to this realisation only last week. I have always rushed to finish my projects just to 'get it done'. In the process my craftmanship has been compromised. I shrugged away slight problems and just kept on powering on. After reading 'Mastering Precision Piecing' by Sally Collins, it hit me that working, measuring, being accurate and careful and loving the effort it takes to get it right is what makes quilting so wonderful.

  9. I do the same thing! I am so anxious to arrive at the destination that I don't enjoy the journey. And yet, life is the journey! I have to keep reminding myself to be in the present in my thoughts and not in the future.

  10. After about 40 years of making quilts, I have been thinking on the same lines, I do have a couple of long term projects -- hand work from start to finish, but mostly I rush through lap size quilts because I want to get them done... Your thoughts have got me to thinking about that -- I'm going to go sit in my sewing room and just think on the process... Thanks!

  11. I agree totally! I, too, tend to rush through the process and forget to actually enjoy what I am doing. After all, that's why I quilt, because I love doing it. What's the point in rushing to the finish line if we miss the journey?

  12. I think it is a common problem with busy lives these days we are always rushing to the next thing. It is hard to slow down sometimes but it really is so much more fun to slow it down and enjoy the process.
    Thanks for reminding us Leah.


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