The Free Motion Quilting Project: A Brief History and Call for Advice

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Brief History and Call for Advice

Alright guys, I need some help!

As you all know, creating this project of 365 designs has been a very big project, taking my twice as much time (2 years rather than 1) than I expect, and expanding in so many different ways that even I've started to feel overwhelmed by it.

Well, the project itself - this blog and videos - that's not overwhelming.

It's how to take the designs and videos and turn them into books or DVDs. It is both overwhelming and, well, straight up difficult, to try to figure out what I should do with everything.

It might sound crazy, but when I started the project last August, I was really surprised when readers began asking for books. I figured it was all online and free, why would anyone want to pay for it!?

But the requests turned into demands and by September I was working on my first book and DVD. Since I was only starting out, had limited time and resources, I produced the book as an ebook and burned the DVD using my home video editing software.

I ended up producing two sets: Volume 1 and Volume 2 last fall and these featured the first 40 designs from the project in chronological order (these sets were discontinued in June). At the time, chronological order was the best thing to organize by because I didn't have huge quantities of different skill levels to choose from.

Over time, as the project grew, I started to see the wisdom in organizing the designs by difficulty level instead so that we could easily search through and find designs that were possible to master at any skill level.

This spawned Free Motion Quilting Basics for Beginners, the dvd focused, not on filler designs, but on all the little details on creating a quilt like setting up your machine, choosing thread, basting, etc.

But the request for books and DVDs of more filler designs continued to come in. I knew we really should come out with a new DVD to replace Volume 1 and 2 when I watched the DVDs in the spring and realized how much my writing and filming quality had improved over the last 8 months.

I also knew from listening to readers that we really needed a set focused just on beginner level filler designs. Thus, From Daisy to Paisley, the mini book of 50 beginner level designs, and Beginner Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs was created this past summer and launched in September.

I went to great lengths to ensure high quality for both the book and DVD and went to great lengths to ensure that they could be carried in regular bookstores. Not that they are being carried yet. As I have quickly found, publishing and printing is one thing, distributing is something entirely different.

But as you can tell, understanding how to share these designs in a format other than this blog has not been easy. The truth is:

I don't have some grand design or master plan!

I'm just making this up as I go along!

I planned to create a total of 4 more mini books and / or DVDs which would focus on Intermediate designs, Advanced Designs, Pivoting Designs, and Center Fill designs specifically.

I still like the idea of creating a collection of books, each featuring 50 designs exclusively, but here's the thing:

Everyone keeps asking for 1 book featuring ALL the designs.

And here's the other thing:

Creating the books and DVDs are an EXTREME amount work, they drive me completely insane, and I can't continue to do it this way.

I LOVE this project. I LOVE posting the designs for free. I LOVE designing. I LOVE sharing it with all of you.

But I really, really hate the hours of tedious computer work needed to create the books and DVDs. Whatever I decide to do from here on out will have to involve more help, maybe in the form of hired assistants, because this is just too much for one person to handle.

So what should I do?

Still produce 4 more sets books and DVDs featuring 50 designs?

This would probably be more economical since I can keep the book cost under $20 that way and still go into nice detail on each design.

But this would involve writing 5 books and creating 5 DVDs, something so time consuming and stressful, I would probably have to stop posting and stop quilting for 6 months in order to do it (something I really don't want to do).

Wait to publish the book of all 365 designs?

This makes more sense on a time and work scale, but the final book will be both big and expensive. I had planned to create a full sized book (8.5 x 11) with one to two whole pages devoted to each individual design, totally up to over 700 pages. This will probably end up costing between $79 - $99.

Such a book would be very expensive to print and thus, be very expensive to resell and ship. It would also end up looking a lot more like a college textbook, but it would cover absolutely EVERYTHING on free motion quilting I've learned over the last 2 years.

Even this creates issues and I start "what if-ing" myself to death. What if I just do one page per design? What if I put two designs per page? What if it wasn't that big?

What if I just do a book of photos, like From Daisy to Paisley, more as a reference guide?

This would be cheaper to publish and print, which means it could possibly retail for under $50.

Argh! The questions and options are positively ENDLESS!

And the problem is, I really can't make up my mind about what to do. Sorry, I know that sounds really wishy-washy and pathetic, but I honestly don't know what to do.

I know I would like to see a book of just pivoting designs and just center fill designs because they are my favorites. I love playing with them and I'd really enjoy designing and creating quilts that specifically highlight their coolness.

I also would like to see two versions of the Big book, as I call it. One that would serve as a desk reference and be small with just photos, and one that would be huge and thick and filled with absolutely every scrap of knowledge and inspiration I can cram into it.

But does anyone else feel this way? Should I ultimately write the books I want to write, or the books that will sell?

And should pure profit be the only consideration? Since it's my time, shouldn't I focus on the books I actually want to write, and the designs that truly want to play with!?

I think I just answered that question myself. I refuse to shackle myself to tasks I find intolerable just for the possibility of making a living with it. I'd rather be a bit broke and be doing something I really enjoy and love.

So please, if you have a minute to spare, take a bit of time to consider this problem, and offer your advice.

Scroll through the design pages and take a minute to try to visualize just how many 365 is. I know I didn't have a full perspective on it when I started.

If published in one single book, that book will have to be AT LEAST 365 pages, if not closer to 400. Keep in mind time and print costs.

But also consider alternatives. I'm extremely open to publishing the big book as an Ebook, where print costs will not effect the cost of the book, and shipping will not be a factor.

Looking at this list of different possibilities I know that there is no single path to take. More than anything else, I simply want to here your opinions, based on what you really want and need in your studio for free motion quilting.

Thank you!



  1. Leah,

    In my opinion, the small books make the most sense to me. They are easy to thumb through when looking for a design. The large book would be fine, but just not as handy to set next to the machine and follow, if you know what I mean.

    I purchased from Daisy to Paisley and think it is just the right size. But that is one old lady's opinion.

    Just thank you so much for this blog. It has been so much fun watching you grow over the last couple years.


  2. I, for one, am perfectly content with your online version. It has everything I need, including a video of the process! I say, why waste the paper and why drive Leah nuts :)

  3. Leah, I just want to say first - THANK YOU so much for coming up with so many fabulous FMQ patterns and for providing them (with highly detailed posts and videos too!) to us for free on your blog. I would be more than happy to plunk down some cash on a book by you.

    Since you asked for it, my opinion is this: I think if you did 1 or 2 designs per page, with some basic info (is it filler, allover, etc).

    What you could do is on the photo, just in one or two repeats of the pattern, you could mark the starting point and the order in which you create the lines, so we know how to do it without a zillion backtracks. That would be enough information for me.

    While I totally appreciate all the hard work you've put into it (and are continuing to put into this project), in the interest of perhaps making the project more manageable and worthwhile (if it gets too big and expensive, you might have a smaller number of people to buy it), if you pared it down to the basic information and a photo and a series of arrows to show the order of events, I would be quite quite satisfied!

    Good luck to you! I look forward to seeing where you end up going with this!

  4. Me again - where I was going with my long rambling comment was this: There are plenty of how-tos out there, and not enough GOOD pattern reference books. What I would love is just the photos (honestly, I don't even need details on the order in which you formed the pattern because in almost all of them, it is pretty clear if you study the photo for a minute), a section of your truly fabulous FMQ tips, and, if you want, the inspiration behind the specific patterns. I would personally rather see them all in one single book, than have to buy 4-5 separate books. It's psychological, even if they work out to the same price in the end, I find it easier to justify one book than a stack of books! ;)


  5. What a nice problem to have, too many ideas and wonderful work to share!

    Some ideas that just popped into my mind:
    1) What about a well known quilt publishing company doing the grunt work with your designs, so you don't have to?
    2) perhaps asking some well-published quilt great, like Alex Anderson, what works best in books?
    3) I like the idea of an ebook. That way someone who just wants to look at the information can keep it as a .pdf, but if someone wants it printed, they can take the download to their local copy shop and have it bound, or use snapfish or some other company and have it more professionally bound
    4) if people were super industrious, it *is* currently possible to download videos from you tube to burn onto one's own DVD, but I appreciate the convenience that a volume you put together would bring, plus it allows you to make a living off of work you are currently providing free of charge.
    5) When I buy a quilt book, I expect to pay about $20. Knowing what your volume would provide, I would be willing to pay more than that. I understand that 700+ pages would be a huge book. Perhaps it could be in two volumes? Volume I would be beginning designs (easiest), Volume II could be advanced designs, with both having both center fill and border designs. Smaller books means that they would be easier to travel with, to retreats or classes. Maybe a Kindle/eReader version, too?
    6) Maybe a flash drive version that would include both videos and the "print" version? This would be excellent for portability!

    I love your work and really want to see you succeed at this. If I get more ideas, I will post them.

  6. You will NEVER please everyone, get over that idea Leah. You'll make yourself crazy and lay awake nights beating yourself up. Get over that idea Leah.

    Do what seems right for you and your t40 years you can join the oldie goldie review with Leah's Biggest Hits of the 10's, Leah's Biggest hits of the 20's, yadayada.

    Best wishes, Sharyn

  7. I completely understand your frustration. I love creating and sewing but when it comes down to the accounting and computer stuff. Yuck! Would it be possible to dictate your book and have someone else type it up? (At least you wouldn't have to sit at the computer) I think books are great. The smaller size is easier to carry and keep next to your sewing machine. Your followers will have to understand if they want them they are just going to have to wait. No point in making yourself crazy. It is YOUR business after all, run it your way! I know it may be foreign to you but in the end you still have to do what makes YOU happy.

  8. Hi Leah, I wanted to leave you my ideas. It feels strange that I'm the first to comment, but here it goes. I bought your set in September and I LOVE it. It's not too overwhelming. I really appreciated that it wasn't super complicated. I also know that I can reference back to the website for designs that I don't have on the video. While one book would be lovely, I do agree that the cost would prohibit a lot of beginner quilters. The 2 piece set is a good size for a gift too. Good luck in your decision.


  9. Leah, first, THANKS for all the time you DO spend on this project. It's been both fun and a pleasure to watch your progress both quilting wise and mentally.

    Now that you have so NICELY indexed all your designs, I personally would keep coming back here for a reference if i was looking for a design for a quilt. BUT, I'm not one to buy lots of books. I also agree that you should not kill yourself on something you won't have fun with. An e-book might be a nice alternative.

    Good luck! and congrats on being in the latest issue of Machine quilting unlimited! I felt like my close friend Leah was published!

  10. You asked, therefore I give. My advice is to create the mini books for now. I know that it may be more work, but considering the economy you might have more sales rather the cost for a printed big guy book. The complete volume should only be an ebook rather than printed due to the cost factor of printing and shipping. Good luck with your decision.
    In closing, I must give you a 'pat on the back' for all the work that goes into producing the blog, tutorials, videos, and keeping your family life together. I, for one, really appreciate it as I also continue to learn something with each posting.

  11. What you may wish to consider is to take a step back and take a deep breath. I had a boss who was fond of saying sometimes we are too close to the problem/issue. You will get some good advice some maybe not so great, but you need to do what is best for you and your family right now. You have also been going through some troubling times in your personal life, so this may not be the best time to look at publishing. You may wish to consult with other quilters who have published material to get some mentoring.

    You do not need to answer to everyone's demands/requests, it is what is best for you in regards to a time frame. Life is too short to let this be stressful. Best of luck to you.

  12. For sure only work on what you are most interested in, or it will be total drudgery. For what it's worth, my personal preference would be: One large book at the end of the project, something that pulls much of it together. I don't think it needs to have all 365 designs. I could see having a few pages in the front that give a very small photo of each of the 365, with instructions on how to find each of them on the web, and explaining your categorization system. In fact, you might even present the thumbnails organized a couple of different ways (by level of experience, by stitching type). (IMHO no need for chronological order.) Then the book itself could be comprised of a fairly large selection of those designs, with detailed instructions/advice--maybe 50? 75? 100? You could give us key designs in each of the categories. No need to have details on several designs that are variations on one main design. If someone wants that variation, you could go to the web. On the page of a selected design, you could even have thumbnails of "related designs available on the web."

    I find the array of books/DVDs now available confusing. I've bought one book because I want to support your project. I would look forward to a summative kind of book at the end of the project.

    Good luck with your decisions!

  13. It is your project. What do you want to do?

    I love the passion and creativity you have shown. And I am so glad this has spawned your family business. BUT, you can get this kind of aggrivation and grief working for someone else. I know, the corporate jungle is not fun every day!

    Enough pep talk. There are always people who want more than you have offered. Look at it as job security. Do a book/DVD of what you want. Make some cash. Then move on to the next thing. I just love that you put it all out here for free on the internet.
    And again, it is your passion and creativity and expertise that keeps me a fan.

  14. What would appeal to me would be an Ebook, but with the ability to customize it, i.e., the ability to download all or download my choice of your designs and be able to organize them in any of the variety of ways you have on the blog. I would then print out my own book on 8 1/2 X 11 with two per page. All I would need is the basic identifying info on the picture side. I'd put them in a 3-ring binder with section tabs, or a photo album. Could put them back to back, or leave the back blank for notes to myself about where I have used that design.

    You could charge by the number of designs chosen (say in sets of 50, quilter's choice).
    I can get good quality copies for .06 per page (B&W), so all 365 designs would cost me around $22.00 to print one per page, or just $11.00 two per page.

  15. I'm a fairly new quilter myself, and going with your gut is how I do most of my crafting too (on my blog that is), Im really enjoying seeing various ideas to quilt via machine, and your blog is a wonderful resource! My mum in law recommended your blog to me. You could still keep going with the blog, but from the past year, do a book/dvd combo perhaps. Another option, do a book that goes from beginner to advanced designs that aren't included in the blog?

    I hope this helps

  16. Dear Leah,
    I think I understand your problem.
    For me, if I had to decide, what could be the right way for the future, I try to hear what my stomach says to me(so we describe in german if we want to hear what our heart say and not what the head says).
    For you it means:
    All you did since today was good and full of success, but now you seem to think oeconomic and then you get in difficulties.
    I would propose you to decide what could be the best way for you, which way would make you and your family glad and satisfied.
    Also it's important that you will have enough power and fun to fullfil what you're going to decide.
    I wish you to find the right decition for you , for us it will be the right either.

  17. Hi
    First I am looking at this pureley from a beginner quilters point of view.
    I think that 5 books and DVD's would be best. There are lots of tomes about quilting, and you don't need to put every bit of knowledge in one book.

    Do what you love and if the books are a hassle get some help with them, someone who loves the computer work and would be willing to share in the profits.
    This may be more expensive, but what price your sanity, and you will have something to be proud of.

    Don't let impatient people push you, they will still be there when the books are finished.
    Love your blog, it is so great because you love what you do.


  18. Leah -

    I love that you do what you do because you love to do it!! I also appreciate that you are offering all of your wonderful designs and all of your hard work - for FREE!!

    Just add a "downloadable pdf" feature to your blog - and we can print out the info on the designs we want. No need for books or DVDs (unless we want videos) or shipping.

    Or you could do what some other websites do - offer your patterns free to download for a limited time - and then archive them and put them on DVDs or in books for sale.

  19. Since you asked. I would like to suggest that you develop your free motion, education books and videos in to something similar to Patsy Thompson's Designs. I think Patsy does it right. Start with a beginners DVD and build from there. Patsy offers some free downloads of patterns on her site but also includes some that are password protected. The password is included with the more advanced DVDs. You are talented enough to make an impact in this highly competetive, crazy quilting world. Hiring help is an excellent idea and would free you up to do what you love.

  20. Leah you have another impossible decision time ahead of you - personally as I live in the UK the probability of purchasing one whole or any of the mini books is restricted by both the shipping costs (which you now know about personally) plus the probability of additional VAT and import tax costs applied before delivery.
    Having seen the start of you visual library and link system in Flickr that will work for me - over time when all the links and images are added, with a tag indicating skill level etc it should make things simple and direct for deciding on a design and being able to check it out online - I haven't tried it but isn't it possible to download the youtube video that way a personal video selection can be made by the quilter - all this would save you time and allow you to explore your designs, quilts and develop more how to tutorials as you want.
    In all honesty it's very very unlikely any one of us will use all 365 designs, we will have a selection of designs/styles which are our first preference, which we will use and master over time before branching out to try others that we didn't particularly fancy at first glance, but come to appreciate more with experience.
    I know I tend to jump in without thinking when doing something but I don't necessarily want to be swamped by all the designs in one go - too much could cripple the creative juices
    So for me please keep guiding and creating and thank you for all you've done so far.

  21. I think you should break it up into several volumes. The designs are free so if someone wanted to print them all out they could. Maybe do 1 book/dvd per year?

  22. All I have to go by is the book that you sent me and the emotions that you've put into this post.

    As a quilter with a little experience, I only seem to need the photo of the design, and I can go from there.

    As a person with lots I want to accomplish, and only so much time to do it in, I feel that you should follow your own agenda. The one hold-up in that would be, as you said, printing a book that few could afford or would be willing to invest in. The e-book makes lots of sense, since a person could store it themselves and print as needed.

    But personally, I always object to people charging, say, $12.00-$15.00 for a pdf pattern of a quilt or something, when I'm the one that will have to print it with my cost for ink (which never seems to last in the printer). I know that they had to invest a lot of time into the design and format, but still......maybe I'm just cheap......have had to be most of my life, so I don't always see things the same way as others.

  23. I think that you have put in an enormous amount of work already that you should profit from . I don't know which way that will take you ultimately but I know you should benefit! I'm sorry I don't have an answer. Rachelle

  24. I am not always great at taking my own advice but I love giving it.
    1. Life is to short. Do something you enjoy. If it is stressing you to churn it out - don't!
    2. Why give into the demands of people who want it free and or cheap? If they want it all for nothing then they can develop it themselves.
    3. I heard you on Pat Sloan. Why don't you give it a shot and write 10 big or 20 big quilt authors or quilt icons and ask them for a brief word of advice. Try Mark Lipinski or Interweaves Pokey Bolton.
    4. Send your blog idea to 5 different publishers.
    5. Personally I like the idea of set books and dvd's. Affordable and easy to use. (and carry).
    6. I am not a huge fan of e books yet because I can't read long on a computer or read in the bathtub with them and it costs me more in ink to print them out with lousy quality.
    Do not sell yourself short. You have done a huge accomplishment in just a short time.
    Take a breather. Refresh yourself. Allow yourself to dream a bit where you would like to take this.
    After you decide what you want then let the blog world know. And then ignore the demands of your following.
    Take care of you and your family. You only get one go around in this life.
    All the above comments are just my humble opinion and should not be used to change your life drastically... (lol)

  25. I think that you have put in an enormous amount of work already that you should profit from . I don't know which way that will take you ultimately but I know you should benefit! I'm sorry I don't have an answer. Rachelle

  26. I think you should stick with the smaller books. The large book would be expensive and who knows if you would ever recoup your investment for it. Don't succumb to pressure

  27. So here's my take. What I find most useful are the fabulous video clips. I need to see how you do what you do, not just the end result. So for me? Your blog and my laptop next to my sewing machine are what works for me.

    I think you should write what you want to, not necessarily what you know will sell. Ah, the old arguement: art for art's sake? or... art for the people.

    Best wishes with this decision!

  28. Go with producing what YOU want to see. This is YOUR project and you have only ONE life to live. Give what you can - I would dare say that your followers/readers like what they see so far.
    Don't burn out!
    I know that doesn't help you make a decision regarding your options, but my advice would be to LIMIT your options.

  29. Leah, I never cease to be amazed by your talent and your ability to multi-task! I've been following you from the very beginning, enjoying your growth and watching you expand into the quilting industry. You will go far!

    Just off the top of my head, I think you should do what you love first. As you continue this project, you will naturally bring additional quilting subjects into your blog and the project. I'm kind of thinking about the books I have by Jinny Beyer. Some of her early books dealt only with hand piecing and they weren't "thick" books. Later, she wrote a book on Tessellations - a hardback book and it reminds me of a college textbook because it goes into all of the details - like you wrote about in your post - a "textbook" on free motion machine quilting. Later Jinny wrote books on color, design, etc. and now you know she has her big book on quilt blocks that was recently published.

    I can see you following a similar path with books to write, DVD's and your great online presence with your blog and store website.

    One thing I know for sure is this - if you are doing what you love it will be easy and it will not produce a lot of stress. It's kind of funny how answers to some of our left-brain questions just bubble up as we are doing some of the right-brain activities we love - I think that will happen for you!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with all of us!

  30. You answered your own questions....concentrate on finishing up your main goal of the 365 designs. Don't let other's demand you change that focus. The small books are the best idea for me to use as reference. I have heard your program and took a class this spring from you, so I know your main interest is in the design---not the publishing. Besides you could find a publisher when you finish the whole year....?
    Deep breath, Leah, and listen to your inner thine own self be true.

  31. Leah,
    I so feel for you on this decision.
    First off , I know how I feel when it comes to doing things, if it takes the fun of doing it out of the equation then like you said is it really worth it? Maybe you could get a poll on what everyone is wanting to learn and like you said sell it as an ebook or downloadable lesson. It's a tough decision for sure, one that only you can answer.Just my opinion and it probably isn't a great one. lol

  32. What ever you decide to do is not going to be an instant fix to the demands for reference volumes of your fabulous designs.

    I think if you are in this for the long haul, it would be great to be able to round-up the project with a nice professional book of the whole collection... for your fans and for yourself.

    People will always have the choice of accessing your designs for free here on your blog. Personally, if I was going to spend money, I would opt for the whole collection rather than several smaller tomes...

    Most importantly, do what makes you happy!!!! Your video's and blog posts are such a joy to watch and read because you obviously love what you do. To be honest, the phenomenal interest YOUR project has generated means you can do what YOU want to do and we'll all still come back day after day (there's a pun there somewhere...) to support you...

    Go Leah!!!!! And a high five for young quilters everywhere!


  33. I have loved the encouragement I have received to reach out on my own regarding free motion quilting, so thanks in advance. Now on to the advice, doing what will pay the bills ie. make money should allow for more time in the near future to do the things that you enjoy doing whether another likes it or not. Also as you make a name for yourself it will draw people to the stuff you really want to do and then the natural conclusion would be more money. I hope this is an encouragement to you. If money is not an issue at all then just do what you love and leave the rest.....

  34. So what.....nobody has posted all day? Am I in a time warp?

    I definitely jumped at your most recent set of books and dvd. I love them. I am a fairly experienced piecer and quilter who has a little bit of inventive free motion experience so what you offer is so great for me.

    I would be interested in levels I guess. Maybe a pack of designs that are beginner, then intermediate and advanced together. And a second group for those who wanted more of either.

    That way, like you said, it would be affordable, easy to print and ship and benefit both you and your following.

    You provide a great service by being inquisitive where I am not, excitied when I am not always up, informative when I need to know and just plain interesting.

    Thanks for this project you have undertaken. We have grown with you in all this time too.


  35. Leah
    If you can, stick with what you love about the project--designs, blog, and videos. You are an amazing quilter and teacher whose classroom is the Internet. Don't try to become a hardcopy textbook author/publisher as well, which is what would happen if you did the "big book" now. Keep the flexibility to do "little books" as the material accumulates and you get inspired. In due course, you can hire or contract with a professional book designer. But that will require its own learning curve. For now, the project is so great and you are so special. Do not risk diluting the joy of the project by trying to do too many different things.

  36. Leah, you do have some difficult decisions to make but I trust that you will find the solution that is right for you. I do like the idea of a "picture" book that just shows the stitched out design but my mind sometimes needs a line drawing showing where you start and stop - how to actually execute that design... I also enjoy viewing quilting patterns online or an ebook format but much prefer having an actual book of good designs to browse through and compare. I applaud you for trying to do this and have heard similar stories about publishing and distribution. My 2cents say to go with your instincts about what you want to produce, the audience you ultimately want to reach or the designs that you most enjoy creating.

  37. Do what you love to do. That love shows through in the quality and creativity of your designs. Share all of them for free, with our thanks, and maybe do a book of selected designs but not all 365. Or do the 365 as an ebook. Don't try to do everything just because we ask you to!

  38. I think you should do YOUR project the way that YOU enjoy it. Otherwise, what is the point? To those demanding people.. well, there is a song just for them.. it goes something like this... You can't always get what you want... If you want to make separate books, then they can either buy the separate books, or visit your blog. I like visiting your blog, hate to see the designs disappear with the publishing of books though :(

  39. one book... a pic on each page with a diagram of how to start out the design...that's all we need.
    if we need more info, go to the website and watch the video.

    do what is best for you though.

  40. Dear Leah, Life is too short to spend your valyable time doing something that you do not really enjoy so go with your heat. I love the DVD 'Basics for Beginners' and the book 'From Daisy To Paisley'.If you do decide to make two more DVD's for intermediate and advanced patterns; each with or without books I will be buying them as they are a wonderful learning tool.
    Many thanks,
    Dorothy Minett

  41. Hi Leah, I feel your pain. All can tell from your narrative that you are very torn and your heart is really in continuing on with new designs and quilting on a frequent basis. While I think that a collection of smaller books would be more accessible to more buyers, free motion afficionado's would surely buy a large volume without flinching. You have compiled an amazing collection of work of which you should be very proud. Perhaps given your feelings an e-book is the answer. Self publishing is great but, as you touched upon briefly, marketing your book to a wide audience is hard to do on your own. Have you contacted any publishers yet? Perhaps that would make the task of writing and marketing more palatable. I would think that finding a publisher for your work would be quite easy. Lack of time to do all we want to do is the enemy here. Ultimately you need to follow your heart and your creative desires.
    I know that this is not much help - and not to be flip about it...but if all else fails, breathe deep and flip a coin. In the meantime stay calm and create!
    best wishes

  42. Interesting post. I can see the dilemma; doing what you know makes sense vs. doing what your being asked to do.

    You could consider descoping the "365" book into nothing except the images. The reader would have to figure out for herself how you made those shapes, and only the most advanced quilters could use it, although I suspect it would sell just fine. You could have one image per page (365 pages, or about 183 leaves.) The first page could explain that "the detailed instructions for pages 1-65 are found in..."

    All things considered, I agree that you should do what makes sense to you and that you will enjoy doing. I suspect we'll all come along for the ride just like we have been doing.

  43. Thank you, Leah, for committing to your vision. I do enjoy your posts and keep returning to your blog and videos for reference.
    My opinion: Stick with the original idea of separate books. I'd be lost in a chunky catalogue and would never buy a book this big as 400 pages. Publish one book a year with a DVD. Find a technically savvy business partner.
    Have you had a dialogue with quilters who are into the publishing stuff for input? I might be poking in the dark but one name that comes to mind is Gloria Hansen at

  44. Wow leah I'm really not sure. I did drop in to say that I was at a quilt show today and had a chat with a few lovely ladies and pointed them to your blog to learn about quilting on their domestic machines. They were surprised when I emphatically stated that quilting a large quilt on a domestic machine is possible!

  45. Hi Leah
    I think that you should write the books that you feel passionate about. Anything else will just be hard work and leave you drained and dissapointed. I enjoy going back through the posts to find patterns I want to try or when I'm looking for something new to use. A piece of paper and pencil allow me to copy the pattern as you demonstrate it and then I can take that to my machine and try it for works. It also means that sometimes I make a mistake and discover a new pattern, because I wasn't paying attention. Sometimes I think it's good to sew with a hint of danger and the unexpected, it's creative rather than safe.
    Thank you for all that you have put up on your blog, I've loved the journey and look forward to "meeting" up with you as you post.
    Margy UK

  46. Hello,
    I've just started my first free-motion quilting project, so I am not sure how relevant my comments will be. But anyway.

    As a librarian, I would say an ebook is definitely preferable to print for this kind of project, partly for cost reasons, but also because it is very difficult to replicate screen colours in print, so the intricacies of your designs could easily be lost when printed out. Also, ebooks allow you to link elsewhere on the web (e.g. to the instructions/blog post/ video), and zoom in on illustrations if you need to see more detail.

    I would stick to what you love, and produce smaller books as you suggest, perhaps of a few designs with instructions each time - more like a part-work. People may be demanding comprehensive books from you, but the fact is that all the information is available online (I love the galleries of patterns) and they could get access to it if they tried. Don't feel pressured.

    As long as all the designs are eventually available in 'print' then I am sure you will be able to please most people - those who want the whole lot will buy it, those who just want a particular style, or cannot afford all the books will also be happy. If such a strategy is good enough for knitting stitch dictionary producers then it is good enough for machine quilting.

    It would be useful to have a guide to machine quilting with illustrated examples to support the text, but for example, one or two of the paisley based designs would be sufficient to illustrate the principle.

    Hope this helps in some small way. You have definitely inspired me to veer away from shadow quilting and straight lines ;-)


  47. Looks like everyone thinks this is TOO hard as I'm the first to comment. I think that a big book would be too big & expensive. Go with smaller & affordable. There's no point in writing a book you can't sell. And I thought the idea was to share information with as many as you can, so more affordable books would do this too. I also find books that are too big are very hard to use, as they want to 'close themselves'

  48. Leah, this industry is hard work. Somewhere you may find a middle point between what you enjoy and what will sell. I believe that ultimately it doesn't really matter how much of something you sell, if you didn't enjoy the process and it impacted negatively on your life, it wasn't worth it. If right now nothing seems quite right, let it go for a while, clarity will pop up in an unlikely place.
    Good luck!

  49. Hi Leah,
    I see your problem and know from experience about writing a book.

    The way I see it:
    What is easiest for you to take on?

    You want to enjoy what you do, so choose wisely. You don't want to be chained to a computer for months.
    When I first saw your videos, I said to myself, "this is wonderful, but good luck with that!" So much work - when do you have time to sleep?

    Make your books available as E-Books. This is what was suggested to me in the beginning, but I went with a national publisher instead. What about approaching Interweave Press?
    The good thing about a publisher is distribution and marketing. Lately the publishing companies want to have videos that go with the books as most people are on line, have a Kindle, etc.

    You could do beginner (with beginner info in it,) intermediate and advanced you can combine.
    Set aside pivoting and center fill designs as their own separate entities.

    There's my 2 cents. Best,

  50. I love the way you have organized the fillers by difficulty. I'll give your book publishing some thought. What if all 365 designs were just on one CD rather than a big book. If you publish the seperate books like you were saying, could you combine all on one CD for perhaps a reduced price for those that want all? Just thinking out loud.

  51. Leah -

    I've followed your blog for a while and am compelled to address your call for advice . . .

    I believe that you only have so many hours to spend doing "stuff" and that you should used those hours doing the "stuff" that gives you the most satisfaction.

    Very well-intentioned and loving followers will pull you in a hundred different directions.

    If you think a "big book" is too cumbersome, then it always will be.

    Along those lines, I agree with you on the big book. I think many quilters - especially beginning quilters - have a pretty low price point and are more willing to collect a series that they can pay for in small chunks.

    Also, if I'm trying to decide what I'm going to quilt, I don't want a 400 page text book - I want to search for all the sash-appropriate designs, or the ones that can be stretched out to fill an overall quilt. A big book would be cumbersome and overwhelming.

    But more importantly than what I think, please remember that you have great instincts. Do what your gut and your family and your schedule tells you to do. Fill your days with what makes you happy and satisfied. The rest will come.

    Best wishes.


  52. Dear Leah,Life is too short to spend it doing what you should do rather than what you would enjoy doing. Personally I would gather the designs and sort into beginner intermediate and advanced. You have done a mighty job of the first book and DVD. I would do the same for the other two levels;take your step at a time...enjoy the process. Don't get bogged down and forget to enjoy your life and family. If you put too much pressure on yourself you will soon find nothing you do is fun...and that fun is what life is. kind regards Dorothy

  53. Hi Leah. I can understand your frustration - to do what you love, or try to please everyone can be a real brain buster! I would love to see the whole thing (both versions of the "big book" as you called it) offered as an E-book. I find I really prefer E-books in a lot of ways, as they are portable and printable. Then you could minimize some of your costs, but still provide a detailed, high quality/resolution product. People could print pages or sections they want to work from, but still fit the whole shebang on their computer or phone - best of both worlds. :)

    Of course, E-books are not for everyone, but I would have to think it would appeal to a fair section of your audience, since we're following the blog online? Maybe you could consider a version for print - something smaller and more manageable, maybe the 4-5 individual books you originally planned, with the whole “big book” thing wrapped up in an E-book format?

    Have you considered having someone more computer crazy help you out with that part of the project? I know you then need to consider other things like paying them and working with someone and so on, but it might save you from the pieces you DON'T like, and let you do more of the creative stuff that you DO enjoy (and are so good at!)

    Whatever you decide, you will probably not please everyone, and that is OK too. Please yourself, and go forward from there!

    Can't wait to see how it goes - I'll be ordering something in whatever format you end up choosing!


  54. What choices to have to make!!! Glad I am not in your shoes. I love "From Daisey to Paisley" and the video, and would like to see Intermediate designs, Advanced designs, Pivoting, and Center fill as seperate books. The 365 designs are not done yet. So you do not have to make the decision about the "big book" yet. Why not make the center fill and pivoting books now because those are your favorites and so versatile. They are different skill levels that should appeal to everyone. And they do not have to be done immediately. Take your time. We can all view your designs and video clips on line as much as we want for inspiration and learning. The new organization makes it easy to look for a particular design type and skill level.I look at pictures and then need to review the videos because I can not remember how a design is created. Before investing a lot of time and money into new books and videos, see how the sale of the first set does. See is all those who requested books are buying them. I personally think that you did an excellent job. Also try quilting shops to carry your books to sell. May be better than book stores at first. When I go to a quilt store, I enjoy looking at the books as much as looking at fabric. In another year, you will have so many more visitors to your site, that you can re-visit the idea and $ matters of the "big book". Good luck with your decision, just do not stress about it. If you do not have fun "doing" a project, why do it. You have to allow yourself time to create your own quilts and projects or your inspiration will fizzle. And you want to have time for your family. Inspiration also suffers with guilt.

  55. Leah, You are doing an amazing job! My suggestion is talk with someone who has worked through some of this path. I suggest you contact Jinny Beyer. I do not know her personally but she is an amazing teacher. She has a huge book of block designs. And she started doing it all herself in the days before computers.
    Take care, Patty

  56. I am a casual reader of your site. I have a sewing room that sits idle for weeks at a time as I work full-time and have two small girls. I enjoy your site for the inspiration, so my viewpoint might be different from active quilters. That said, I recommend you find a graphic designer on etsy. Someone who can take your writing (even rough draft form), your concept and pictures and create something for you. That something, I think, should focus on your process. I like how your approach to quilting technically as well as your perspective of quilting as art and as therapy. Then, if you could do individual sheets/pages for each design that we could buy separately and download, that would be great. Perhaps you could even sell them in "packs" by technique or skill level. Or, you could even allow customers to select from a full list of your designs. Let us then put each print out in our own binder or you could offer to provide a binder with minimum design purchase.

    Regardless of what you do, please keep one thing in mind: Be flexible. When reality hits your vision, it is extremely dizzying and disheartening. I've been there and my inability to compromise caused me to crash and burn. You will have to have days, maybe weeks, where you are doing what you dislike, perhaps hate. But, it is doable if you can keep your focus on the the end objective, not the end product mind you, but the objective.

  57. Leah - I think you are on the right track. You've done a couple of books for beginners who would be overwhelmed by a full volumen. Now, do a book with all of the designs for the more advanced person--a desk reference-type book. You have a done a great job and have a wide following on the net. Keep up the good work!

    I recently had someone tell me that I needed to make art quilts that will "sell" rather than what I am inspired to do. I thought about that and decided that what will sell is what I have put my heart energy into as it will be my best work. I agree with you that its not so much the production but the marketing and distribution that can way a person down. Perhaps but out the energy into the world for someone to come into your life that LOVES doing that aspect and team up with them--both of you doing what you are best at doing. Good Luck!!

  58. Hi Leah!
    I would like to see one giant, all-encompassing book to use as a reference when I'm looking for quilting design/advice. I already have several small books, and I dislike having to pull them all out and look through them. I would love to have one place to get the help I need and be willing to pay the cost of such a book! Thanks

  59. Wow, Leah! That was quite a lesson on how passionate you are about this whole project. Please don't let it stress you so much. All things in time and good things come to those who wait, lol.

    I have many thougts on your project, but often have trouble gathering my thoughts into words but I'll give it a try.

    The idea of one book may be great, but in my opinion I think many people would be left out of the purchacing of that one book due to cost. $80 for a book is a lot, and I don't think I have ever spent that much money on one book. $20 to $25 for a quilt book is common these days. I think that option would open sales up to more people, and therefore accomplish what I think you are trying to accomplish, teaching us to machine quilt. I would be more likely to purchase 4 or 5 books at $20 each over a period of for my birthday in June, one for Christmas, one because I've been a very good girl in Sept and it's almost time to prepare for the cold, rainy, late fall weather by staying inside. Over a period of time I could own all of them, anticipating each new publication, whether its once a year or what ever.

    Another consideration is the size. One volume would be quite large, and may not be as user friendly. It may be bulky and unweildy. not something one would keep handy, but may spend lots of time on a shelf.

    The idea of a version with just photographs of the designs sounds more like an "Art" or Coffee table book, and although I love them, spending money on them is very low on my budget priority, and usually only at yardsales, library sales, or clearance sales where they are pennies on the dollar. If the pictures are large enough I guess it could be used to "train the brain", to help memorize the path the design will take, making it easier to do the design while at the machine.

    It may actually be helpful to publish the smaller books first, giving more experience in the process, and learning what the final format and design should be. I do like the idea of a large book, as I'm just a tad obsessive and want it all, lol. An e-book would most likely appeal to many. I would like to see an option to download small groups of design packets, such as the groups you have broken your designs into...but I have wandered off subject.

    Maybe setting up a timeline for the different options would be helpful. Large corporations spend huge amounts of money to research projects before they jump in and do them. Take your time on this decision. Remember to make reasonable goals and time for each of your projects. I think dividing your blog into different types of posts is an example of that type of process. Allow yourself a reasonable amout of time for each of your processes, such as quilting, designing, publishing, family and down time. In this busy world that spins soooooo fast, we feel pressured to do it all and at record speed. I personally ued to have a tendency to make huge, unattainable lists and torment myself when I did not achieve those unrealistic ends. Or my schedule falls apart when something unexpected and unignorable (illness or something broken) inserts it's self into the mix. Be realistic, be focused, be diverse. Don't get hung up on one goal. Don't immerse yourself into one thing until you have drowned and it is no longer enjoyable. A certain amount of stress is to be expected, but don't let the project overwhelm you.

    I know I have not narrowed your choices at all, but just stated my opinion on most of your options. IF I had only one printed option it would be 4-5 smaller books. I hope this has been helpful. And I do not believe you are wishywashy or indecisive. It just takes time to make wise decissions.

  60. Good morning Leah. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are doing a GREAT job and have developed a wonderful following in such a short time.
    You cannot be all things to all people so you need to follow your heart.
    That being said, you do have to eat and have a roof over your head and now that your husband is also in the 'business', profitability of your time IS important.
    Not being a business consultant, here is my humble opinion.
    I love that you keep affordability in mind in publishing your books.
    I also think the books are appealing because each design gives the quilter another arrow in their quiver for their own designing.
    I'm sure the books get placed right beside the machine when in use. So, a giant textbook is probably not the best.
    Even if you do have to publish your designs in a "boxed set", I would prefer that. Buying them one at a time would work better for me as my quilting budget comes in small pieces instead of a lump sum.
    I also would drop $20 for a book A LOT quicker than $100. For $100, I would reconsider and probable think about it. In the retail world, that is a quick way to a non-sale. It involves the buyer making a second effort to go back and buy the book. A lot of sales are lost that way, because , let's face it, people forget, people spend the money on other things, and we are basically lazy beings and don't put forth the effort.
    So, my vote is to hire the assistant if you need to. Assume the role of executive editor, and keep quilting. You have done the hardest part - designing the first book. Follow the same recipe and bring out volumes 2-5. I'll look forward to seeing them - one at a time. (please feel free to edit this post)

  61. Hi Leah,

    I've only just started following your blog this week, and I'm a beginner to quilting and even more of a beginner with free motion.

    I guess you need to think about who your audience is with these books. You can't produce a book for everyone, so are you aiming these books at beginners as a guide, at experienced quilters as a reference book, or at all levels as an all-encompassing quilters bible? (I generally think starting off simple is better)

    If I was thinking of buying these books (and of course I can only think of the ideal for myself as a beginner) I would absolutely LOVE a small boxset (like A5 size) of about 4 books - one book a guide to getting started with free motion and quilting, and the rest books of designs categorised by difficulty level with a brief guide to making the designs. Of course, that's just MY ideal!...but maybe helpful to you :)

    Also, have you thought of approaching publishers rather than undertaking to publish this yourself? Based on your success as a quilter and the success of this blog, you might have some luck and not have to foot a massive bill yourself.

  62. Sorry Leah, not sure if that last comment of mine was helpful at all because it basically repeated what you'd said already!

    In an attempt to be even slightly helpful, I'll say: Start off small and simple. You have plenty of time to publish all these books at a later stage. It's not all or nothing.


  63. I think you should do whatever you feel will work with not only your quilting needs but more important, what will be feasible with raising your little one. As young Mom's, we have a tendency to run around like chickens with our heads cut off to make everyone around us happy. In the end, we're the ones that are unhappy. Plus, our babies will grow up and be on their own sooner than we realize. You're doing a great job on the blog and maybe your quilt book writing career (And you do have the talent to do it) can be something that is waiting for when Mom gets to become Leah again. =-)

  64. I am so sorry you are overwhelmed and completely stressed. Take a deep breath. I totally love your project here and my advice to you is to go with what you love. If your heart is not in it, it will be very difficult to finish. Best of luck to you and thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!!!

  65. Leah, I'm amazed at what you've already accomplished - the blog, books, DVDs, and an online store, not to mention actually creating the designs and doing a bit of quilting!
    I echo others in urging you to take your time deciding on how to approach publishing your designs. I think an eBook/Kindle/iPad version is a great idea, especially for the "big" book. Lots of quilters already have a computer in or near their sewing area, and integrate internet info with printed books.
    Do what makes you feel fulfilled and happy, not the things that make you crazy. Hire a person or firm, if necessary. You chose quilting as a career, not book publishing, right?
    Thanks for all your creativity, and keep on enjoying it.

  66. I have to say that if creating the designs for us all is to be a pleasure to you, then it really must be pleasure, not enforced, hard slog.
    Actually it might be worth holding back a while to see what else develops in sharing information, as of late things seem to have advanced at quite a pace.
    The larger publishers I think are being more selective in what they print, and I know cos a well known creative bod has written about it, that these publishers are requesting a lot LESS words for a book than they used to. I've been disappointed in a few books of late, perhaps 100 pages hardback. 30 contain basic techniques, heck I even saw one with a whole page photospread on how to tie a knot!!! 30 more gallery pages, very nice, and few others pages occupied with other stuff, and the meaty bit you bought the book for is actually only about 20 pages long.
    I've seen self publsihed books with a cd inc as well, but those authors have now moved to mini web tutorials, available for a limited time, plus you need to purchase/subscribe to view.
    And.... I hate to say it, but you are not the only person producing how to stitch quilt patterns, in a self published book. From another country, but out there too, and I think similar timelines to yourself. And as with many textile things, similar ideas crop up simultaneously all the time.
    The priority is to keep yourself sane, share the knowledge as you want to do it, not to your own detriment.

  67. I'm relative new to your blob. All because I was looking for info on the Janome Horizon. I would prefer it broken down in smaller more managable size. I've owned a quilt shop and taught quilting. It's very easy to become too overwhelmed, or to start on what you like and way above ones skill level. OOPS! Poor finished product and a discouraged quilter not to mention thoughts that your book is too complicated. Love your blog.

  68. Leah, I love your blog and love to look at videos. I would NOT use the book. Your success is based on the action video. I need ACTION!
    As a librarian in charge of selecting quilting and needlework books for a large system, I have seen many many books, many of which sit on the shelf. DVD's circulate better.
    Stop worrying about what we all want and do what you want to do. Thanks so much for your blog.


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