The Free Motion Quilting Project: Feeling dumb...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feeling dumb...

It's not often I get reminded that I don't know everything.

Now, that might have come out weird, so allow me to explain: I feel that I know a good bit about quilting and because I write about it daily and generally quilt or think about quilting all the time, it's easy to assume that I know quite a lot about this subject.

But that doesn't mean that I know a lot, or even a little about other areas of expertise.

So today after yet another email glitch on the site, I finally decide to throw in the towel with my current hosting company. They never answer their email or phone and I'm tired of getting rotten service.

But the thing is, I know absolutely nothing about the internet or hosting companies! Despite the fact that I work online, I really am totally clueless about how this whole thing works!

So when I call up my new hosting company and am asked to create something called a "name server," I get so completely confused and turned around, I make some wild mistakes on my account and end up messing up the whole thing.

Luckily the service with this new company is so awesome it only took one phone call to work it all out.

But I was still left feeling a bit dumb and most definitely out of my league.

The nice thing though, is all I have to do is walk back into my studio to remind myself that we all have areas of expertise.

My hosting guy knows everything there is to know about hosting websites, servers, computers, and the internet. He knows SO much and has probably known it all for so long that he probably assumes that EVERYONE knows it too.

But we don't, or I certainly don't, as illustrated by my total mess up today!

I realized after I got off the phone that I can be guilty of this too.

Because I've been creating and using filler designs for more than a year now, it's easy to assume that everyone has been following along from the beginning and you all understand what I mean when I describe something as an "edge to edge" design, or that it would be great to use for "All Over Quilting."

When really this might be as confusing and foreign to a beginner, or someone new to the project, as name servers were to me this morning!

So my goal now is to try to make this project more user friendly and I'd love to get your suggestions.

I know many people have both commented and written in requesting more pages like this that list photos of the designs so they're easy to find by difficulty level or design type.

But this is only one thing! I'm sure there are many more small adjustments or additions that would make this project much more fun and easy to understand.

So please comment with your suggestion for improvements to the project: better navigation, more posts on certain information, etc, etc, etc!

I'd really like to hear the opinions of those who have just recently found the project and what stands out to you as needing improvement.

I especially want to know about any areas where my language could be better explained or defined so I am not leaving anyone out in the cold by assuming you're all on the same page.

And to sweeten this commenting fun fest, I will reward the best suggestion with a copy of Whitework Quilting by Karen McTavish!

So click around, take a hard look at the project, and think of the ways I can make it a more informative, but less intimidating place!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I think you do a great job with your blog and website - especially considering your experience level!

    I don't know of the different ways you can index sites, but a thumbnail photo index of your 365 designs would be great!

    Michele Hester

  2. How apropos, Leah! Just the other day I was trying to review your "How do I quilt this" series. They were not easy to find. Maybe sequencially related blogs such as the "how do i quilt this" ones could be listed together/linked/cross-referenced? So that they could be looked up quickly and sequencially? (Maybe the facility already exists and I just didn't find it?)
    leah, I give you the following definition of an expert, which will, forever, remove any incipient "feelings of dumbness":
    "An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he/she knows absolutely everything about nothing"

  3. Leah,
    It's tough to be critical at all about your blogging and videos. You have a very "teachable" demeanor in your videos and with your writing.

    I am newer to your blog and I have only been able to watch a smaller representation of all your videos. So I preface any suggestions by saying I don't have your complete library under my belt yet.

    One thing I am beginning to work with and understand is the importance of thread and needle size to quilting. Part of achieving the "look" of your design is to remind us what you're using in those respects. Also, I'd like to see the entire design quilted in the video even if it seems overkill. Hi speed ( as you've used at times) would be fine. Sometimes you get the jist of what you're doing but need to see how you work the entire design in the confined space. I have trouble with that sometimes when I FMQ.

    I love what you do here and you've helped me in a million ways. I've bought your book and will be back for more. You are gracious and giving in all that you do. We are all very appreciative!

  4. You needn't feel dumb--as I often remind my doctor boss who doesn't know anything about billing, posting payments, or most computer software programs--he already has a job, and that is to be a doctor! So not knowing how to speak computer language is no downfall for you. It's just someone else's job. I DO understand your quilting terms, but love it when you explain in detail about where you would use such a filler design on a quilt. Lots of different examples on actual quilts would be awesome!

  5. Leah
    Here's a couple of suggestions that I've had since the beginning of the project (I joined early on):
    Provide a "Search" feature that would allow us to type in a word or phrase to take us quickly to the place we're looking for. I often know the name of the design, but have to look through all 200+ days to find what I'm looking for.
    For example: one could search by design name "Pebbles in a Stream" or by "Day 25" or by type of design. The search engine would simply look in your data base for those words and come up with all the possibilities (kind of like using the find feature in Microsoft Word). The next best thing to this would be to have various options for searching, say by "Day" or by alpha listing of the design names, or even by level of difficulty or "type."
    The other idea on my wish list would be to have the pictures of each design like you now have them, but with the option of seeing all the designs on one page that simply needs to be scrolled down and up. Some web sites have a choice for how many items you'd like to see per page, you could have "20/50/100/All designs"
    For my own personal help, I'm trying to figure out a way to print out a small picture of my favorites and simply print out for reference, a kind of tailor-made reference.
    Thanks for asking us for input. Hold on to your hat--I'm sure you'll see some patterns even in the feedback!

  6. Please don't feel dumb when it comes to hosting companies, servers, etc! It is a true pain in the neck and it really helps to have a good hosting company (which it sounds like you have now!) I do a lot of internet and website for work for my company and I wouldn't be able to do half of the stuff I do if it weren't for the tech guys that answer every email and phone call! On the topic of helping the beginners, I love your site and your materials. I found you when I was just starting in machine quilting and your videos are the main reason I learned how to machine quilt!!! I was terrified before I watched all of your videos (over and over and over!) lol! I would love to see a "definitions" or "helpful terms" page on your website where we can go and look up "edge-to-edge" or whatever other lingo we don't quite understand. It shouldn't be too difficult to create one but it would help a lot! You may not consider yourself an expert but your site and videos are the first thing I go to for answers, help, or just plain inspiration! You are my "expert"! Keep up the AMAZING job! =)

  7. I happen to think that you are doing a wonderful job...if I were going to add anything I would say that I really enjoy seeing how pieceing and fabric influance the choice of quiliting and I would never turn down reading more about it! :)


  8. Leah - OK I've been following for a while and love everything you do so it may take a while to come up with something to 'help'
    my first thought was a drop down menu bar with links to filler design and filler experience levels, advice, quilt how to projects etc - but you've already sorted that with your quick link at the side - maybe a:-
    1/ Flickr/Bighugelabs mosaic with photo groupings of designs (and link backs to the posts)
    2/ upload photos onto a Flickr page with link backs to the blog posting - and a link to that page here on the side with a slideshow - that way everyone can get quick access to the blog video without scrolling back through the blog

    It would appear that the first thoughts are on finding patterns quickly

    You could also have a Flickr group were we post our attempts at FMQ as a result of your blog and teaching and there we could provide link backs to our blogs and describe our process and progress with quilting for all to see that yes we 'can do it' and do it on a basic domestic machine

  9. I, too, have a brand new Janome Horizon, and am jumping into the world of free motion quilting. I am looking forward to learning your designs and techniques. I would really like a printable line drawing of each design. I like to be able to practice drawing the design before I sew it. Don't know if this conflicts with your book(s), but it would be nice. Thanks!

  10. I love all that you do. One suggestion would be a wikipedia of sorts for your common terms. That way all you have to do is link to that particular word instead of repeating the definition each time. this way, those who do not know what it means can click on it, those who do, can skip it.

  11. First, thank you Leah for doing this. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I scanned some of the suggestions of which I agree with all and apologize if the following has already been mentioned. It's evident that a search feature is a popular request and it's at the top of my list as well. I love the fact that you offer suggestions how to use the designs and being able to see them all at a glance would be great, but I would like to add to that. Currently I am working on a portrait type quilt of 2 dogs. How nice it would be if I could search 'portrait' or 'dog' or something similar 'pets' perhaps and 3 or 4 suggestions for quilting designs might pop up. I know that's asking a lot!

  12. Hey...another thing you might want to try would be a "commonly used terms" fact sheet listing "edge-to-edge" is...
    might give folks a reference to speak "Leah talk" :)

    Overall, you've done an excellent job...

  13. Leah, I just love your blog, and this series is awesome. I have not been brave enough to try all the fillers yet, but you have inspired me to try a few, and make another attempt at FMQ. Your posts really do motivate me to “go quilt!”
    As for suggestions, I would love to see samples of the fillers in other colors, filling other shapes, or used in "real" projects. Maybe people would submit their own photos of where they have tried the samples or used the fillers in a project, and they could be linked to that particular filler's page? That would be very helpful to me, as a relative beginner, to see how the designs can really apply to a space. Your “How do I quilt this?” mini series was great help in that area.
    I find I have the opposite problem to that you describe here- give me my computer and I can do all kinds of wonderful things, but ask me to translate that over to fabric and thread and I struggle along, wishing I knew more! We all have our areas of expertise, and those we can wish to improve. Balance is a good thing!

  14. I think you do real well explaining things. But you could easily do the say 'edge to edge' in blue then if someone didn't understand it it would take them to the explanation which i am sure you have in your blog early on. You could do that with any term then those who don't know could click on it and those that do would not have to read the definition over and over.

  15. I'm a recent discoverer of your blog and caught up with every single post just two days ago. I agree that your blog could be just a touch more awesome if there was a thumbnail photo page of every single design that I could scroll quickly through to find what I need. That's really all that is missing.

    Different topic: I need some basketweave-type free motion designs. Do you have any of those up your sleeve?

  16. I agree wkth tell me why's suggestion. Maybe do some longer videos every once in a while that shows your design on the 4" square, then shows it on a small sample of sashing, or a small square applique block. I really liked "how do i quilt this?" but it seemed like a big ordeal compared to your regular videos. Maybe create simple applique blocks ever so often (or simple patchwork!), create a pdf pattern for it that we can print out at home, make a video where you fill the block with a new design, & then let us try to recreate the look ourselves. & then get a flickr group going where we can show them off!

  17. I am a novice to machine quilting, but not to quilting and piecing in general. I have been watching your site and learning for some time.

    I have been pleased and impressed by your site and your willingness to share information and to be helpful to others during the process.

    But, I am tickled pink that you took an unpleasant situation and are using it to make your site easier to navigate, clearer, and beginner-friendly. I doubt that it needs much, but what a great attitude of service!

    Thanks for all you do!

  18. I love the new layout. Features/links I like - Check out all the designs; Sort designs by difficulty, Search for specific designs.
    Suggestions - I would group all the design links together rather than spread out in separate ares on the page. It also would be nice - if possible that is - to have a drop down search option based on the design origins ie paisley, pebble, lines, etc. Another way/place this could be accomplished is to have a sort option available on the thumb nail page. I would also like to see a mention of your thread choices, needles used, what to look for in feet, etc.

  19. This is really one of those dumb questions or ideas, but I have trouble picturing the scale of the quilting designs. I actually think I do ok on some when they are small, but bigger gets to be another issue. I picture your designs being pretty tight - lots of quilting. Am I right? Now what...???? I guess my question isn't even very clear. (Kind of like talking through a computer problem when you don't know the right words to use. I lost wireless on my laptop this weekend. Not that the connection was lost - somehow wireless got turned off. After a near argument with my dear husband, I called my more tech-savvy daughter who told me exactly what icon on what key to look for. Instant success.)

  20. Leah
    My very small suggestion is for your entire site, not just for the FMQ part of it. I would appreciate it if you could indicate the size of each of your quilts/samples with the image. My hunch is that this is rather difficult to do technically, but it would be very helpful.
    In general, though, your site is super and you are a fantastic teacher.

  21. I've been following your blog since about day 20 or so and it is such a great resource! As a longarm quilter my suggestion would be to be able to look for designs by design type--center, edge to edge, etc. just like how you can click on the difficulty level. Thats about all the constructive criticizm I have. Thanks for all your inspiration Leah!

  22. I think that this an amazing site! I have only been following you for a month or so, but I already bought your book and DVD!!

    Here are my suggestions:

    1. You need to be more specific about where to find the thumbnails of all of your designs(communication!). It is clear from the comments above that "Check out all the designs" is NOT clear. Maybe "Thumbnails of All Designs" would be clearer.

    2. I would like to be able to see thumbnails of JUST each category - ie. beginners, intermediate, etc. When I click on the Beginner link in "Sort Designs By Difficulty Level" I am able to see only 4 designs (actually 4 blogs with beginner designs). This is NOT helpful!! As a beginner, I would like to focus on designs that I "might" actually be able to do!!!

    If this is not clear, please send me an email!!

    Best regards!

  23. Thank you for this blog! You have given me many ideas, now only to find the time to use them.

    Several suggestions for site improvements:
    1) Just as you have images of your designs by their number, perhaps a listing of all beginner designs, intermediate designs, and then advanced designs.
    2) also consider a cross reference by free-motion quilting type: directional, all-over, edge to edge, etc. That way when a beginner needs an all-over design the quilter may only have 30 designs from which to choose, rather than the 220 which exist currently.
    3) Perhaps a discussion of needles and threads, and what to use when, including thread material (cotton vs poly), thread thickness, and when to use what size needle
    4) discussion of troubleshooting, such as what might cause "eyelashes" or what may cause skipped stitches.

    Overall, though, I love your site/blog. I enjoy watching you stitch your designs and very much appreciate your videos. Your precision is fabulous! I know what you say, to quilt a bit every day and then it becomes far easier. As a single, working mom, I find that finding the time to be the biggest challenge. I also am very envious of your studio space. My quilting area is a corner of my bedroom, which is barely large enough and I cannot leave any projects out. Someday, though!

  24. I have always wanted the ability to organize/sort the 365 designs by type. So when I want an edge-to-edge design, I want to just look at thumbnails of those. Or sorting by curvy or angular designs. I usually look for designs using these criteria because I know what kind of shape I'm filling on the quilt and I know whether I want a curvy or angular design based on what the rest of the quilt's piecing looks like.

  25. Leah what wonderful job you're doing. I've only just come across your blog and love the designs.
    I'm quite new to quilting and have a computerised set up, but I really want to learn free motion to open up my options.Your video section is such a great help.
    The thumbnail index sounds a great idea.

  26. My suggestion: Hire a personal assistant. You deserve it!

  27. I was stopped by your comment that we all have areas of expertise. It reminded me of my husband saying, "We all have areas of dumb." It's just an interesting way of looking at the same thing.

    As for suggestions, I think you could use an easier way to search for designs, organizing them into similar groups, perhaps larger project samples, and as others have stated, thumbnails.

  28. I create dictionaries of terms for myself in a lot of areas I'm studying. You can create a link that would have the terms (such as "edge to edge") in alphabetical order and a few sentences of explanation with a pic for further clarification. Whenever you reference one or more of the terms you can mention the link at the beginning of the post.

  29. You should take a look at this - a sort of online magazine. Your blog comes close, but perhaps something organized along the lines of a book or magazine that brings a common theme together may be a way to address your concerns.

    Another thought is a master table of contents. Some of your other pages need updating, too.

  30. Opps, now I cannot remember if I included the link I was talking about. Sorry if this is a repaet.

  31. I would like to see filling design recomdations for actual quilts. You had suggested to me in a prior blog or email, that I get clear plastic and place it over my quilt or parts of the quilt and draw the design to audition them. That was such a great idea that I mention it here. I have many quilt tops that are waiting to be quilted and I have many ideas floating around in my head. Still many with no ideas yet. If bloggers send in good quality pics of quilts, maybe you could make a video of a quilt using the plastic and auditioning different filler designs. You could choose a beginner, intermediate or advanced design for different skill levels of quilters. You could feature different styles of quilts-landscapes, portraits, pieced blocks making an overall geometric pattern (example= Mariner"s compass)ect. You could show an overall design, or area filler designs. You can even indicate size of the designs. You have done someof this with previous demos, but more would be great. This would help many, like me, who are still unsure what designs to choose and where to put them in a quilt. This could be a regular feature used weekely or every couple of weeks; each showing ideas for 1 or 2 quilts. You would not use every picture sent to you but choose those that would be good for demo purposes. You can even photograph your students quilts to feature in these videos. You can call this feature something like "Now let's choose designs for this quilt". I know you can come up with a better name.
    For those who would like definitions of design classes,
    I found your book "From Daisy to Paisley" great in giving the definitions in pictures and wording. I encourage your blog readers to purchase this book. I am finding it a valuable reference source. I even take it with me in the car for times I have to wait- drive in window at bank or getting gas. I have paper and pencil and practice "muscle memory".

  32. I've just found your site and it's
    I'd like to see something creative in your header box... "365 days of......". I can picture the box being filled in with one of your wonderful quilt designs.

  33. I have been coming to this site for a few months. I have had a hard time finding where to make comments. I was thrilled that the link in that subtle area was actually the one that got me here. I was always wondering how people made comments. I found something that I wrote about your fabulous book but I don't really know if it made it to your blog.

    I thought I saw somewhere to send in photos of our quilts that used your stitches but I couldn't figure out how to do that.

    I would like to echo the desire to be able to easily find various fillers and also see how they are used. I loved the most recent stitch but I couldn't really tell how you stitched the whole thing out. I like to sit and try it in my sketch book as I play and re-play the video.

    I love your site and your teaching style. Now I'll actually be able to read others' comments. See - you're not the only one struggling the the tech stuff:)

  34. Hi Leah - I just recently found your blog and I absolutely LOVE it!! Thank you so much for sharing!! We really appreciate it!!

    I want to work my way through your patterns and make a sample of each and every one to put into a workbook like you suggest. Obviously I need to start with the easier ones first - then slowly progress from there. So I like the suggestions that others have made regarding indexing your patterns. That would make them easier to find.

    My suggestion for something that would really help me is to have a "Printer Friendly Version" button like they have at "Moda Bake Shop". I could click the button and print out the Day # (so I could find your blog for that day again) - Name of the Design - and the info showing the Difficulty Level - Filler Design Type - Similar Designs - Directional Texture - Suggestions For Use, etc. Then I could make my sample square - and - print out the info that went with it - to add to my super-duper reference workbook. I think that would help a lot!! Thanks.

  35. I follow your blog (though my blog reader isn't keeping up :( ) and enjoy it as is :)

    the search feature would be my favorite update, too :)

  36. When superiors at my dad's work use to call him and expert he use to reply with..."An ex is a has-been and a spurt is a drip under pressure"...a little plumber joke mixed with a dose of reality. Yup, dad was a plumber.

    I know you both put so much into your business, and are constantly looking at ways to make it better, so I find it hard to criticise what you are doing. I also know nothing about web design, but If I had a wish list it would start with...I think it would be great if you had/sold downloadables, such as line drawings of the designs. They could be sold in groupings you choose, or we could pick. I would like to be able to choose different types in a single package to help me learn the different types and how differently they work. Paying with paypal would be nice too. I don't buy much on-line, and a seller not having pay-pal option will sometimes keep me from buying. I've had my creditcard "hacked" twice, both times with non-paypal sellers who had an execlent rating.

    It would also be something that you could use as give-aways on the blog...if you even want to go there,lol.

    Seperate tabs for different series, such as your recent "How do I Quilt This", and the Free Motion Designs...and maybe break them down into the different filler groups, but this has already been sugested.

  37. I think you are being to hard on yourself. This is a great site for beginner and advance quilters.

    The only suggestion I have is if you could take your quilt designs and use pieced blocks (once in a while). I have used your designs for all over menderings, borders and sashing, but when it comes to the actual pieced block, I just get stumped and I not sure how to use it for that.

    One of the reasons I like your site, is it is so hands on. I'm one of those that need to see it and then I can usually run with it. I know you make the suggestions of what that design could be used for, but maybe you could added to "how do I quilt this" as an addition.

    Your site is very user friendly. When I come on a site that isn't, I just dont' have the time to mess with it. Don't fix what is not broken!

    Keep up the good work.


  38. I'd love it if you included a new category under "Find a Design" that lists designs by Suggestions for Use. For example a collection of designs that are good for sashing, a collection that are good for working around appliques, a collection that are good for filling in large spaces, etc.

    And to echo what others have noted - a search function would be so useful.

    Otherwise your site is fantastic! I refer to it often. Thanks!

    JoAnn Peraino


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