The Free Motion Quilting Project: December 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Retrospect

Every year I take a day right at the end to look back and reflect on what the year has been, what trials I have overcome or am still struggling with, and how my quilting has evolved.

Since I've now been posting for 3 years, I have two other posts at which I can look back at and reflect. Looking back and Letting Go was posted in 2009, only 3 exhilarating months after this project was launched. I was brimming with excitement, filled with positive energy about what was to come in 2010.

Last years post was mixed together in the mire that was Sinkhole Journey, and re-reading that post today I've cringed at the language in that post. I can only excuse my profanity with the explanation that I was angry and hurt, and often those angry, hurt words leaked over to this project.

And now it's time to do the same - look back and reflect - on this past year. A lot has happened that I would like to share aloud, but as always, this is a ride you might not want to take with me, so read on only if you're feeling up to it.

To begin, I think this year started out on a pretty difficult note.

Difficulty is a fact of life. Being an adult isn't the easy cakewalk I thought it would be, but looking back at this year, I believe I've made my life more difficult than it has to be at times. This is a pattern reaching back for many years, and only after this trying year have I been able to open my eyes and see it.

One of my mantras for the new year is "This does not have to be so hard." Because sometimes when things are VERY hard, they're only that way because I'm making them that way.

A major goal for me in 2012 is to not only make things easier for myself, but to also show myself true compassion.

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut last year at this time I was mired in a very hard quilt that I refused to let go of easily. Sinkhole pulled me literally inside and out. I can remember several times while making it feeling so very sad and so very helpless to control the waves of pain that quilt dragged out of my past.

All this pain and sadness also got wound up in the real fundamental problems with that quilt - the ripples and pleats over the surface that no amount of quilting would have fixed. Visual reminders to my lack of ability.

At the beginning of January, I finally folded that quilt up and stuck it under my sewing table, hoping to forget about it for a few years, or forever, whichever one came first.

In a way, I think this set the stage for the entire year. While I don't regret putting Sinkhole away, I do regret allowing that fear into my quilting room. But more on this later...

So after turning away from Sinkhole, I decided to pour my heart, literally, into Hot Cast. This was a quilt that was extremely fun to design. I pulled out books and drew and drew and drew for hours at the kitchen table, trying to find that combination of symbolism and beauty that would capture the moment I was in.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe design process was awesome, but during at this time, I can remember feeling the first twinges of frustration with my quilting style. I was starting to feel very frustrated by the hours and hours of time it requires to quilt so densely, and I was also starting to feel limited in my use of the filler designs I'd created.

Rather than experiment and branch out with new techniques, I stuck with what I'd been doing for the past 2 years, what I knew how to do well, and what I was honestly starting to feel bored with.

This is where fear really started to worm its way into my quilting room. Because I was unwilling to try new things, because I was so blinded by my need for another beautiful, show winning quilt, because I couldn't fathom creating a quilt that was different, I ended up with the first goddess quilt that disappointed me upon completion.

Don't get me wrong; I still think she's gorgeous! She's perfect in almost every regard, except when I look at her I do not feel the purpose of this quilt - love pouring into every vein and cell of my body.

Instead I see and feel only the cage I'd locked myself into.

At what point did this happen? I have asked myself this question many times, and I can't really find an answer.

At what point did quilting THIS way with THIS thread and THIS style become the only thing I knew how to do, the only thing I could do, the only thing I would ALLOW myself to do?

Several quilters commented in the "#1 Quilting Question" post that the thing stopping you from quilting is fear. You're afraid to start free motion quilting because you don't want to risk ruining your quilt tops. You're so afraid, it's locked you into a terrible place where you sincerely WANT to quilt and want to learn, but you can't because it's too scary to contemplate.

Trust me, I know this feeling very well.

Over the last year I've finally fiddled and worried over the feeling until I've finally found the root of this fear, which is:

What will people think if...

What will people think if my quilting isn't perfect? What will people think if my stitches don't look just right? What will people think if my quilts aren't as pretty as they usually are? What will people think if I stop entering shows, if I stop even being allowed INTO shows, if my quilts suddenly become the laughing stock of the entire industry?

Is this horribly silly? Yes.

But that doesn't stop the fear from being real.

For me I have watched hundreds of quilters look at my quilts. The dense, incomprehensible stitching and excessive thread combine to make quilts that are more stunning the closer you get to them.

Being 28 years old in this industry (and often being told I look 17) requires me to overcompensate with my quilting a bit too much. I deliberately overdo it simply because I feel a deep need to validate myself, to prove that I really am a good quilter.

So the idea of changing my style, of quilting bigger and with less focus on uber excessive thread texture,'s really scary.

But looking at Hot Cast, I can't help feeling that I'm just a silly girl who's trying way too hard to prove herself.

It all boils down to: who am I without this?

Am I still good enough even if I never win another ribbon in my life? Am I still worthy of my life and this blog and my business if I never even get INTO another show?

What will happen and who will I be if I learn how to define myself in a different way?

Again, these may seem like silly questions, but last spring they really stuck me into a rut.

So after finishing Hot Cast, I didn't start another major quilt for several months. I created several smaller quilts, even quilted a quilt for a future DVD, but I didn't start another goddess, despite the fact that I had a quilt fully designed and ready to go.

I just couldn't start another big quilt and risk being disappointed with it. I didn't even really know what was bothering me so much at the time, other than feeling excessively bored and frustrated every time I walked into the sewing room.

I stayed in this state until the middle of the summer when Winter Wonderland won Best Machine Quilting at the AQS Knoxville show.

When I received the news it was really interesting - here was an event I'd built up in my mind as a giant source of validation of my abilities, but when it actually happened, it really didn't bring the huge rush of wonderful feelings I'd been expecting. It was terrific, of course, but it didn't make me any different from who I already was.

And that knowledge finally started a slow process to undo the web of fear that had tightened around my desire for change.

I might as well start quilting the way that makes me happy and fulfills my creative spirit!

And when it comes down to it, why am I working so hard to quilt so densely when the people I want to teach and help with free motion are only going to be intimidated and overwhelmed by it?

It's time to change. Simple as that.

Turning this mental corner has been a slow process, but a necessary step along the way was pulling Sinkhole out from under my table, taking a hard look at that monster quilt, then promptly taking it outside and lighting it on fire.

free motion quilting | Leah DayYes, I burned that quilt in my back yard and I have no regrets about seeing the end of it.

After watching it turn into ash, I walked back inside and began a new design using the same rings combined with a goddess that I'd designed years before. This combination became Emergence, a quilt I've worked on throughout this past fall and winter.

Even starting this newest goddess, I had a lot of trouble letting go of my pattern of dense stitching so a good portion of this quilt had the snot stitched out of it. At least I did branch out of my comfort zone in some small way by creating a new area of heavy, messily pleated fabric which I call Textured Applique.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI also experimented with Trapplique, creating an entirely separate blazing sun that was attached to the top of the quilt only after all the quilting was complete.

Playing with these new techniques has been a thrilling adventure that I can't wait to continue with more quilts in the new year. While not every aspect of Emergence has been easy or fun, it's taught me loads about being true to myself and the direction I need to go in.

Looking back at this year, I see so much fear and sadness being played out in my thoughts and actions. I've been mired in a rut that's pretty embarrassing, truth be told, to share with you here because it seems so very silly in so many ways.

Silly because when it comes down to it - this is all just thread and fabric and batting.

What in the world is there to be afraid of?

It's all the extra "stuff" - the expectation, the seeking of approval, the need to belong and be accepted - it's all these things that have made the simple process of stitching a quilt terrifying.

So here I stand at the end of another year and all I can say is - Thank God this year is over!

I'm happy to be moving on. I'm happy to finally feel unstuck and free. I'm happy to have found a direction to move into and to feel excited about that direction.

Do I have it all figured out? Absolutely not!

I will likely stumble, get stuck in ruts, get mired in my issues or technical quilting problems and bogged down with fear, but this is the human experience. To not feel these things occasionally is to not be real.

It seems to me that I've actually managed to forget one of my earlier lessons. This is from 2009:
Sometimes you have to make the harder choice and give up peace of mind and sanity for awhile and just see where it will take you.
Let's hope this year I don't forget this lesson again and have to relearn it!

And finally here at the end of this long year, I have to say thank you. Thank you for reading this story and sharing this experience with me. Thank you for following this blog and enjoying and using the designs shared here.

Thank you for commenting and emailing and participating, even when I act like a jerk and my issues and anger come out in full force. Thank you for forgiving me for my occasional rants and long, emotional posts as I try to figure my stuff out.

You are most graciously appreciated.

And one last note before I close - I have struggled for an entire year over the idea of change, but finally come to find that it is a necessary, essential part of my life. Change happens, as I have found, and it is better to embrace it than run from it.

So hopefully you will understand the changes and various improvements I plan to make to this project this coming year. I'll be sharing more on this on Sunday, but rest assured, this will always be a place to learn and be inspired to make beautiful quilts.

Now let's go quilt!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 366 - Flaming Cocoons

Just so you know I'm not pulling your leg on the whole "the project will continue" thing, here's yet another design to finish out 2011 in style:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis design was designed to finish out the chapter on Stacking Designs in From Feathers to Flames. I took a hard look at Fiery Comet and decided there must be possible variations of that design that stack together in a similar way.

free motion quilting | Leah DayOne of the major things I want to focus on next year is the design families each design fits into. So far I've created 12 design families that are based on the way the designs are stitched. Some designs Interlock together, while others run from Edge to Edge or Edge to Center.

The point with all of this is simple - the way a design is stitched dictates where it will work best in your quilt.

It also has a secondary function - if you can stitch one design in a family, chances are you can stitch most of the designs in that family because they're all stitched in roughly the same way.

So if you can stitch Fiery Comet, it's highly likely that you can also stitch Flaming Cocoons.

Instructions for quilting Flaming Cocoons: First quilt a long oval shape on your quilt, then stitch inside this shape and fill the space with gently curving arches.

Return to the outside of the cocoon and stitch a long flame shape. Stitch inside this shape and fill it with internal echoes. Stack a new cocoon and flame shape nearby the first, filling in the space between with more echoes of the flame shapes.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. There's an excessive amount of travel stitching and echoing with this design so it's going to require some practice to master.

Design Family - Stacking. Each shape stacks together to fill the quilting space completely.

Directional Texture - All Directions.

Suggestions for Use - While Flaming Cocoons can certainly work on a small scale, personally I'd be interested to see what happens when it's quilted on a much bigger scale over a simple, modern lap quilt.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Free Motion Weaving

So I left you all on the edge of your seat yesterday with a post about my weirdest stash - all my stray and spent threads.

And now you can see how I've turned trash into treasure by stitching all those threads together to create this awesome cuff bracelet:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've had it in mind to make something like this for a long time, but I couldn't get past the fear of messing something up or wasting my time on a project that didn't work out, so I kept putting it off. It was only after seeing all the beautiful colors of that blazing sun all piled together that I decided enough was enough. I HAVE to make something pretty today!

So here's exactly what I did:

I layered all the threads in between two sheets of Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer and stitched the snot out of it. The quilting was really interesting because I could barely see what I was doing over all those threads!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI quilted it twice with two different colors of thread, then bound the edges by attaching a piece of red fabric to the top and stitching along the edge, leaving a hole to turn the piece right side out.

Then I edge stitched to keep the piece from distorting and quilted over the piece one more time with Snake Paisley in yellow thread. At this point, the bracelet was complete and I washed away all the water soluble stabilizer and curled it around a bottle of lotion for a few days to dry out.

All told it only took a few hours to turn all that trash thread into a beautiful bracelet that I can't wait to wear on my upper arm in the summer with a cute halter top!

I definitely want to experiment with this technique more. I'm going to call it free motion weaving because that's what it really feels like to me - weaving threads together, but with multiple free motion fillers which can add many interesting textures to the surface.

Now if that hasn't convinced you to start saving stray, spent threads then I don't know what will!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Weirdest Stash

No, it's not a collection of toenail clippings.

Or a stash of bellybutton lint.

But this has to be equally weird - I save thread.

Let me clarify - this is not thread on a spool. Yes, I certainly collect this, but we all kind of collect spools of thread in order to be able to feed something through our machines in order to make them work.

No, this is a collection of stray threads.

free motion quilting | Leah DayAll the cut little pieces ranging from 1 to 10 inches long typically, sometimes longer if I desperately need a bobbin and decide to sacrifice a color by unwinding the entire thing. I guess I should call it a collection of spent thread since it's usually thread who's usual purpose is shot.

So why in the world am I keeping all this stuff?

It's not even easy to keep! You try collecting threads for a day and let me know the best way to organize them so they don't make a furry mess over everything. It's impossible!

I've taken to clearing off a spot on the floor and then every time I break a thread and hide the tails, the left over bits get thrown on the floor in that spot. Over time if I'm working on a big quilt the same color will get massed up in a pile, which can actually be quite pretty:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Still...this is strange. I can just see my future daughter-in-law cleaning out my sewing room after I'm dead, shaking her head at the boxes and boxes of spent thread I've stashed in between bolts of fabric. Quilter is a word that is almost - almost - synonymous with hoarder after all. I don't really save or use scrap fabric, but stray thread? Gimme Gimme Gimme!

But the worst thing about my shot thread addiction is I'm going to try to addict you!

Check back by tomorrow to see how to make something really pretty with the pile of trash above. It's all the leftover bits of orange, red, and yellow thread from the blazing sun on Emergence.

Just so you don't have to go searching - click here to find the post on what I did with all my threads.

Let's go quilt (mindfully keeping all stray threads in a neat pile as we go),


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Emergence - To Rainbow or Not to Rainbow

Yes, this really is the question - should I spend another week working on this quilt to create a giant rainbow to create a totally awesome back to this quilt or should I just slap on a hanging sleeve and call it done?

As you can see for yourself, the front is already awesome:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI've been mulling over just this question for more than a day and don't really have a good answer.

On the one hand, what does the back of a quilt matter? It's the back for god's sake, not the front, and for most purposes it will ALWAYS face towards a wall. Why in the world spend more time working on it when it might not ever see the light of day?

But on the other hand, why NOT take the extra step, go the extra mile, stitch the extra length to make this quilt as awesome as possible?

Hmmm...there really isn't an easy solution here....

Basically the decision is split between taking this design and creating another textured applique piece, this time a huge rainbow to cover a large space on the back of the quilt.

This diagram might be a bit hard to understand. The rainbow won't actually overlap the torn section, but instead stop right before it.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis piece will serve two purposes:

#1 - Over-the-top-aweseomness - It's not really required and it's absolutely the sugar and spice and whipped cream on top. Totally not required to show or to compete or to hang on my own wall. It's just fun! It will give the quilt the option of being hung either way - from the front with the sun or from the back with the rainbow depending on how I'm feeling that day.

#2 - Incorporating the Hanging Sleeve - Yes, I've actually started planning ahead with my hanging sleeves, and this is my solution - a separate, stitched-on-after-binding piece that covers a good deal of the top of the quilt, but also allows it to be hung without an ugly hanging sleeve marring the back.

...and really, it also serves a third purpose - I love rainbows. I see them as a freeing, childish sign from my youth that I'd like to reclaim.

When I was a little girl, all I drew was rainbows. Little stick figures of girls in triangle shaped dresses in square houses with chimneys and rainbows shining over the whole thing.

I drew these obsessively until I was around 10 when my sisters pronounced "That's gay." I don't mean to offend anyone, but that is really what my sisters said, and even though I didn't know what it meant at the time, I stopped drawing rainbows.

But I remember the joy and happiness I felt drawing those pretty girls playing under the rainbows and I'd really like to have that feeling back.

One major downside is it will cover a large section of quilting that took a lot of time to do, but the flip side is it will also hide the stitching from the front where the sun attaches. The quilt itself shrank more than 5 inches in both directions thanks to all the dense filler quilting, but the sun did not, which means it will stretch into these areas and must be quilted through all 3 layers to get it firmly attached.

Putting the rainbow on the back means these lines of stitches will be hidden completely, but I really want to bust my tail for another week on this quilt???

Another consideration is the fact that one of my major goals this year in 2012 is to make life easier for myself. I usually make things as hard as they possibly can be, and then pile on the guilt when I can't do everything I expect of myself.

Is adding this rainbow making life easier or making it harder? Is it worth going the extra mile so that when I look at the quilt, I know with all my heart it is absolutely 100% the best I can do?

I keep going back and forth, back and forth on this. Indecision seems to be my word for this December. I can't make up my mind about anything! Argh!

Let's go quilt,


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 365 - Infinity Tree

It’s official! Here we are at 365 designs!

This was the original goal I set out to hit way back on August 14th, 2009. The project ended up taking a full year and a half longer than I expected, but now that we’re here 365 designs just doesn’t seem like enough!

So just to clear up any confusion - THE PROJECT WILL NOT BE ENDING TODAY!

I plan to continue posting designs until they stop popping into my head. Whether that will be at 500, 750, or 1000, I have no idea, but I’m having too much fun to stop creating and sharing these designs!

Of course, now that this original goal is complete, I want to improve the project, making everything more accessible and less overwhelming. More details will be shared on the upcoming developments very soon, and we'll kick off several new free motion projects starting January 1st.

Now enough waiting - here is design #365 - Infinity Tree:

free motion quilting | Leah DayInfinity Tree is a combination of several of my favorite designs and captures one of my favorite types of quilts - landscapes. This design takes it up another notch by allowing you to quilt free form trees right into your quilts, filling the space with their branches on one side and tree roots on the other.

It’s hard to describe exactly how this design is quilted so let’s see it being quilted into a small quilt square:

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This design appears very complex, which can be misleading because it’s actually a combination of very simple textures put together in a logical way.

First start with a single wiggly line running through the middle of your quilting space. Expand this wiggly line with a row of Calm Sea to create hills in the background. Now stitch a tree growing up from the hills. Don’t worry about getting every branch perfect. Just allow them to flow organically up and out from the central trunk.

Stitch back down the other side of the tree and down into the ground. Fill in a row of Pebbles all along the bottom of the wiggly line to a rocky ground. Stitch below the tree and branch out with a network of Tree Roots. Twist and wiggle and interconnect these roots until they fill the bottom space completely.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. Technically this design is stitched from one edge of your quilting space to another, making it a great choice for the borders of your next quilt.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. Infinity Tree has such a complex texture, it’s really hard to put a single label on it. Technically it does have an obvious horizontal texture created by the initial curving line that will always catch your eye.

Suggestions for Use - If you have always wanted to create a landscape quilt, now is your chance! Stitch a large scale Infinity Tree onto plain fabric and allow your imagination to run wild with all the things you can do with thread!

If you’re looking for a really unique border design, this is a great choice. Imagine the effect of 50 trees sprouting from the edges of your next quilt!

Now we officially have 365 designs!
Thank you all so much for making this project such a fun, exciting challenge!

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 364 - Flowing Leaves

I guess I’m on a leaf kick this week! This particular Flowing Leaves design is definitely going to be one of my favorites!

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt has been such a weirdly warm year this December, so there's quite a few leaves still on the trees. Wouldn't it be cool to see how many different leaf shapes work with this particular design? Oak and maple leaves would certainly look cool, though they might be tricky to keep consistent on a quilt.

Difficulty Level - Advanced. Flowing Leaves is on the complex side, but if you take it slow, and concentrate first on stitching the initial leaf shape, then filling it with the simple vein design, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Design Family - Pivoting. This design sure looks a far sight away from Paisley, the design that inspired it! The basic composition of these two designs is still the same so Flowing Leaves should be able to go in most areas of your quilts with no problem.

Directional Texture - All Directions. Leaves flow in all different directions and stand out boldly on your quilt thanks to the large amount of travel stitching this design requires.

Suggestions for Use - This design really reminds me of the batik shirts my husband and son wear in the summer. Maybe bring back a little of that heat with a summer inspired quilt! Stitch Tropical Flower in the blocks, Swirling Petals in the sashing, and Flowing Leaves in the borders. Just make sure your fabrics are hot, bright, and beautiful and you’ll have a winning combination with this one.

Feel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 363 - Feather Leaves

Remember Tangled Snakes and Rattlesnake? What will happen if we take that basic design and fill it with feathers instead?

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis is a great way to practice stitching one half of the feather shape. If you struggle with getting one side to flow and bend just right, this design will help you practice the shapes without having to reverse the opposite side.

Click Here if the Video Does Not Appear

Difficulty Level - Advanced. This design does require a lot of careful travel stitching and space estimation to fill your quilt. Make sure to check back to the article on 5 tips for Travel Stitching and maybe try stitching a few simple feather designs before tackling this design.

Design Family - Branching. This design is formed by first branching out with a long flowing leave shape. You then stitch inside with a single row of feathers, bending them slightly so they fill the space with a soft texture. Once you finish filling the space, stitch outside and echo the feather leaf one time. This puts a bit of space between this shape and those around it so they don’t get all jumbled together.

Directional Texture - All Directions. I think a raccoon has gotten into the chicken coop - feathers are everywhere! Definitely place this design in a space that needs lots of movement and flowing texture.

Suggestions for Use - Do you want to learn how to quilt feathers? Why not create a quilt devoted entirely to this goal?

Pick a quilt top and start stitching the feather designs you like best. By the time you finish, you’ll have mastered these fun designs and finished a beautiful quilt at the same time!

Back of Feather Leavesfree motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts
and send in a picture to show it off!

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's Go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 362 - Brittle Starfish

Since the beginning of the project, one constant source of inspiration has been Josh's reef tanks. This particular design is inspired by a brittle starfish. He once had a colony of tiny brittle stars that came with a piece of live rock and literally took over a tank! Now that we can quilt them we can make them take over the whole quilt!

free motion quilting | Leah DaySometimes I wonder if I would have been able to create half the designs on this project if I didn’t have so many beautiful fish tanks to look into and gain inspiration from.

Since Josh and I got together, we've had no less than 5 fish tanks, even when we lived in a 500 square foot apartment. There was a fish tank even in the bathroom!

Difficulty Level - Advanced. The hardest part of this design is stitching the wiggly tentacles, then filling them with circles. For practice, try stitching Chain of Pearls first, then put it together with echo quilting and Brittle Starfish should be no trouble at all.

Design Family - Center Fill. Starting in the center of your quilting space is an interesting way to fill a block or appliqué. Try using this in some unexpected areas as well, like the corner of your border. Expand the design as far as you like, then use another design to fill in the rest of the border.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. You can’t miss this bulls-eye like texture! A fun variation that might change the effect would be to use one color thread for the starfish and a variegated thread for the echo quilting.

Suggestions for Use - There are many uses for center filled flower designs. You could use them in the place of flower shaped appliqués, or stitch them into the center of circles or blocks. The possibilities really are endless so don’t hesitate to experiment with one of these designs in your next quilt.

Back of Brittle Starfish
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 361 - Daisy Flow

Remember Poseidon’s Eye and Globes of Matrix? I started wondering about these designs the other day and if I could use any other designs in the center of those large circles.

Here’s what happens when you use Super Daisy in those areas instead:

free motion quilting | Leah Day4 more designs to go and I've saved some of the best textures for last! Make sure to check out this post and share you #1 most important quilting question. You'll find out why in a few days :-)

Difficulty Level - Advanced. Yes, this design does look kind of tricky, but it’s actually just a simple variation of Poseidon’s Eye! First try that design and once you get the hang of it, Daisy Flow should be no problem at all.

Design Family - Branching. This design is created by branching out with a long flowing line, then swirling into a large circle. Fill this circle with Super Daisy, then swirl out and around and echo this shape many times. The more times you echo around each circle, the more they will stand out on the surface of your quilts.

Directional Texture - All Directions. You really can’t beat this swirling, whirlwind of a texture! Try quilting this on a really big scale for a dramatic effect over your whole quilt.

Suggestions for Use - We’ve learned many daisy designs throughout this project. Why not make a quilt combining them all? Use Super Daisy to fill the blocks, Dresden Daisies to fill the sashing, and Daisy Flow to finish off the borders to make one gorgeous quilt.

Back of Daisy Flow
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#1 Quilting Question

Here's a crazy simple question:

What is your #1, most important, most pressing, most extreme free motion quilting question???

In essence, this question should be the core reason why you're NOT free motion quilting right NOW, and if it was answered properly, it would absolutely kick you into quilting all your quilt tops immediately.

So please share your question in the comments below!

You'll learn why later ;-)


Day 360 - Blackhole Matrix

Since we’re so close to the end of the first 365 designs, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking back to the early designs. Matrix was one of the first 20 designs created and is still one of my favorites.

Let’s try a new variation of Matrix, this time combining this classic design with a wiggly spiral shape to create Blackhole Matrix:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Truthfully I’m not a huge fan of the wiggly spiral, but instead prefer a regular spiral to go over the wiggly matrix web.

No matter which way you stitch it, this is a simple design that can produce amazing results. Have fun playing with many different shapes and see all the Matrix variations you can come up with.

Difficulty Level - Beginner. While this may look complex, it’s actually very easy! Start with a base of Wobbly Cosmos, or a series of wiggly lines branching out from the center of your quilt square.

Then stitch back into the middle and stitch over the whole thing with a spiral. Feel free to play with making your spiral wiggly or circular, it’s really up to you!

Design Family - Center Fill. This design starts from the center and radiates out into your quilting space. This particular design could easily fill your whole quilt with a simple flowing texture.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. This design is a bit less attention grabbing than most center focused designs. The biggest reason is grids and grid-like texture has a flattening effect on the surface of your quilts.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have a baby quilt that needs a super quick finish? Still sitting on some Holiday projects that just need to be quilted in a day? Try Matrix or Blackhole Matrix for a speedy way to finish off these projects in a beautiful way.

Back of Blackhole Matrix
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Emergence: Part 6 - Blazing Sun

Last week I announced that Emergence was quilted, but not quite finished. I set a goal for myself to finish her by the new year, which probably won't quite happen (not by January 1st exactly), but she will be done in January at least.

So what is left on this quilt to finish? Once a quilt is quilted, isn't that the last step before binding? What in the world is left to do???

And the answer is - the sun!

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe sun on this quilt has always been a design problem. I tried to design rays to the sun in the original drawing and it never quite worked right. I was also impatient to get started and, as usual, my impatience caused me to race ahead without getting that area fixed to my satisfaction.

So when it came time to quilt it, this area is noticeably lack luster. Just a big red oval at the top of this quilt. BORING!

It also absolutely doesn't jive with the big torn section which is big, bold, bright, and cheerful. I realized while looking at this quilt on the wall that the torn section really needs a balancing element at the top of the quilt and the easiest thing to add would be a big, bold, bright, cheerful sun.

So how do you attach a sun that you didn't originally design into the quilt, and since the area is already quilted, how do you actually get it into the quilt without messing something up?

Well, the easy answer is that there isn't an easy answer!

It certainly helps to plan this stuff in advance, but if that isn't an option, it's a good idea to give the troublesome area a LOT of thought.

I've been brainstorming constantly as I finished quilting the last gray ring around the sinkhole section. I brain stormed even more as I tamed the torn section with a full spool of water soluble thread (more on why later). All this time to sit and stitch gave me loads of time to think about how I want this area to look and feel on the quilt.

In the end I decided to use Trapplique, a technique created by my animating friend Nina Paley, which basically involves quilting separate elements, then cutting them out, layering them, then satin stitching the snot out of the edges so they all stick together.

I'm also playing with decorative bobbin thread work, using Razzle Dazzle thread in the bobbin and stitching from the back of certain pieces to create rows of bright, metallic glitz on the surface.

It all sounds complicated, but it's really not. It's as simple as creating a puzzle, then cutting it apart, then putting it back together again.

So here's the step by step:

First I designed the sun. At the same time I've also designed a rainbow for the back - more on that later. I've started designing quilts first on paper, then loading them into my graphic design program Serif Draw Plus and tracing all the drawn lines to create a vector image.

This is SO helpful because I was able to go back to that drawing and fiddle with the design in order to make a sun that fit into the space around the goddess and torn section, without covering up too much of the area I quilted to death (I want to get credit for all that work!)

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe biggest issue with adding a design element this big so late in the game is that it might not fit into the design, I could make it too small, which would look weird, or I could make it too big, which could be fixed by trimming, but it might cover up something I like or look unwieldy on the surface of the quilt.

But as you can see above, this sun looks just right! I scaled the image to exactly the same size as the quilt, then printed it out on 60 sheets of paper, taped them all together, then taped that monster to my light box.

The first step was to create the rays. I knew I wanted these to be stiff, 3 dimensional rays that would only be attached to the sun. The tips of the rays will not be secured to the quilt top, but will instead be loose to flap around.

Why? Because it sounds cool! It might get me marks off by a quilt judge who decides it's an unsecured applique, but I don't really care. The side benefit of the flappy sun rays is you can then flip them up and see the pretty stitching underneath. Again, I worked hard stitching all that space! I don't want to cover it all up never to be seen again!

Now Step 2 - creating the flame within the ray. For each ray, which is triangular shaped, I drew a wiggly fame shape within. I just drew this free form on the printed paper. I have trouble drawing certain elements on my quilts in the design program simply because sometimes I need to see how big something will be, control the curve, etc. I doubled this line to create around a 1 inch wiggly flame shape.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt was this shape I transferred to black fabric and layered it with just one layer of batting. I drew these stacked next to one another because they were going to be cut out right on the line, so I didn't need a lot of space between them. I then proceeded to stitch the snot out of it with silver Yenmet metallic thread using a metallic needle.

free motion quilting | Leah DayOnce all 6 flames were stitched, I cut the shapes out. Here's a really cool thing I learned while doing this - if you cut out the outer section closely, but leave the inner section whole, you can use this as the base for the fabric in the inner section.

I knew I wanted a textured applique orange flame surrounded by the black fabric silver thread wiggly flame, then the whole thing placed on a yellow triangle. So instead of creating the orange section separately, I trimmed the black fabric away from inside each triangle, leaving the batting in place, then squished a lot of orange fabric on top and stitched it down with a ton more water soluble thread.

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhy all the water soluble? Because it's a terrific placeholder! I want this orange fabric to be all pleated and crazy in this section, but in order to get it that way in a controlled manner, I need to first secure it down to the area, then go back over with a real thread to hold it in place for good.

The water soluble holds everything securely, much better than a million pins, and it allows me to also plan the wrinkly nature of the fabric. There's simply no better thread to use!

Once the orange fabric was in place securely, I went back over the section first with a wide 5 pt satin stitch all along the edge to seal the raw edges of the orange and black fabrics, then went over the orange fabric with Mango Tango Razzle Dazzle thread. This thread has to go in your bobbin, so the whole thing was flipped over and stitched from the back to create this awesome double flame:

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt might not show in this photo, but this flame has got some bling!

Now this section was done and I could set them all aside while I worked on the outer, triangle shaped ray. This section was a bit trickier because I wanted it to be very stiff.

So I went through my studio and found some stiff Pellon double sided fusible stuff. This thick, it sticks, it's probably indestructible. It certain destroyed a ton of my needles this week!

Using my light boxes, I drew the triangles on the pellon, then cut them out with my rotary cutter to make sure the sides were perfectly straight. Then I fused yellow fabric to the rough, easy fuse side of the material, leaving more than 3 inches of extra fabric on the two sides.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe fused, flat section then became the back of the rays, and I flipped the triangles over and, using more water soluble thread, finished the tip of the triangle, then the edges so the yellow fabric was brought to the top of the triangle and secured.

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow again, I wanted to create textured applique by squishing all this excess yellow fabric into the space between the edge of the triangle and where the flame should overlap. I traced the flame shape over the pellon, then added 1/2 for wiggle room (better to stitch over an area and have an overlap than have a section left bare).

free motion quilting | Leah DayAgain I secured all the extra fabric with water soluble thread, but in the process broke around 9 needles. This pellon is super thick and extremely hard to stitch through. I usually do the securing stitches in free motion, but with this stuff I had to switch to the even feed foot and go very slow and make huge stitches.

It also gummed up my needle so had I had to change needles several times simply because the eye was so full of gunk the thread kept breaking.

I'm not so sure that I will use this particular material for this purpose again, but it was on hand, and I had enough to make this sun, and it certainly gave the area the added stiffness I wanted. It was just a real pain to work with!

Once the fabric securing was complete, again I went back over the area with Razzle Dazzle thread, this time in yellow. I it very difficult to turn the corner and stitch right to the tip of the ray without the threads gagging up on me. The next time around I used a little piece of Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer to hold the tip in place and it went straight through with no problem.

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow with all the yellow sections done, they could be connected with the orange and black flame sections to finish the rays completely.

First I layered the two sections together and held them in place with pins, then made them much more secure with more water soluble thread. Big pieces like this tend to shift while satin stitching, so the water soluble ensured everything stayed in place.

Next I satin stitched with red thread to connect the two sections together, and viola! finished sun rays!

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow reading back through all of this, you might run away with the idea that this process was fast. It wasn't.

It took 3 days to get the orange/black flames together, then another 3 days to get the yellow sections done, then it's taken another two days to get them together properly.

It's not a fast technique, but I wouldn't say it's horribly difficult. You just need to be patient and willing to spend a lot of time stitching water soluble thread to stabilize everything before moving on to the next step.

Overall I know I'll try this again, but without the stiff material and on a bigger scale. This technique really needs more experimenting, which I'm sure to get when I start this final sun section:

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow I'm off to start this sun section and squish more fabric in a place it doesn't fit, and regulate it all with another spool of water soluble thread. Yay! I couldn't be happier with this!

Let's go quilt,


Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 359 - Flame Turns

Moving on... would anyone like a new design today? Here's a cool variation of Left Turn, Right Turn, Curvy Turns, and Angle Turns that incorporates a thicker turn and line down the center to create Flame Turns:

free motion quilting | Leah DayI'm still amazed by the awesome texture that comes from just turning left and turning right, then connecting the rows together across your quilt. It fills a space beautifully and as you can see in Shadow Self, it creates a texture that is both predictable, but also free form. It can't get much better than that!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Although not a snap, this is a pretty easy design to stitch. First curve left, then curve right and work from one edge of your quilt to the other with this combination of stitches. As you stitch the next row, make sure to interconnect the two together so it forms a grid-like texture.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched in rows, but it could easily stretch across an entire quilt. I'd love to see a modern quilt filled with Flame Turns interconnecting, then the inside spaces filled with another design. Cool!

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This is a bit weird because it is forming a horizontal and vertical grid, but it's also's probably going to create a free form grid like design that will work just about anywhere.

Suggestions for Use - I'm looking forward to experimenting with this Turn family of designs to see what happens when they work across a quilt on a large scale. Better yet, what happens when the turns are used as a foundation for more designs? So many questions to answer! I'd better go quilt!

Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

You Are NOT My Mother

I was planning to share another cool design today, but I received a certain email this morning that requires me to vent a bit.

So if you don't want to endure my anger, frustration, or emotional "stuff" please go check out all the cool designs and emotion-free stuff available here.

The following vent is directed at certain people who email me to scold me over something they feel I've done wrong, or chastise me over a decision I've made about my own life.

Now for the vent - You Are NOT My Mother.

It seems silly to have to say this out loud, since I'm sure you, sitting there reading this are most assuredly NOT my mother because No. 1 my mother doesn't have internet access because she's an idiot and left my dad after 30 years of marriage and is now living in relative poverty, which really is most appropriate considering her terrible behavior and No. 2 she doesn't read my blog even when she does have access.

I ask because ever so often, or sometimes as often as every day, I receive a random email in which the sender seems quite confused. She seems to think that I am her daughter and I need "straightening out."

Or at least a solid talking to, which usually comes across as condescending, passive aggressive, and patronizing.

The theme is always "stupid little girl, you can't think this way because you're a stupid little girl and you don't know better and your mother loves you and you need to stop feeling and thinking this way because IT'S BAD. You need to keep a door open, keep the option around, ask for forgiveness, hug and make up, forgive and forget, allow bygones to be gone, and all other manner of get-over-it-right-now-and-be-fixed."

To which, my response is always the same - DELETE!

I call the women (and yes, it's always women that send such messages. I don't think men know how to be so condescending) who send these emails Crazy Mothers. I never respond to such emails simply because there is no response that will ever properly express what I'm feeling without being offensive:

"Thank you for your opinion, but please back off."

"Thank you for your opinion, but you're dead wrong and have serious boundary issues."

"No thank you for your opinion."

No matter what, I'm sure to get an email back that will be even more condescending and patronizing, even more of what I absolutely don't want.

But some emails just can't be ignored. Some are so hurtful, so condescending, so passive aggressive, that they make me want to punch the sender in the face. So to those specific Crazy Mothers, past, present, and future, here is my responding letter:
Dear Crazy Mother,

You are NOT my mother. You never gave birth to me and you did not raise me. You have read my words and applied yourself to my emotional venting and decided you actually have a say and are involved in my life.

Guess what? YOU'RE NOT!

You, my dear reader, are just a reader, not an active participant.

I'm sorry to have to remind you of this, but I DON'T KNOW YOU.

You know me, which makes for an extremely one sided relationship in which you assume we're best friends and have a great relationship, but we don't. I've never met you, I don't know you, and I definitely don't need your stuff applied to me.

Please don't email me again. ~ Leah Day
Yes, this is harsh, but it will be reserved only for the craziest of the Crazy Mothers. It will also allow me to place a boundary line between me and the people who seek to change and manipulate me.

As I said, this is a vent, nothing more. Read it and laugh that you're not this screwed up, that you have children you love, who love you back.

Trust me, you don't want to be my mother because my mother wasn't a good person. She's an alcoholic, a prescription drug addict, a junkie who views the world in an extremely narcissistic way. You don't want to be her, and you seriously don't want to try to step into her shoes.

Because I'm a girl who no longer needs her mother. I'm a girl who has stepped out of that conventional role and who doesn't want or need to hear that what I'm doing is wrong or bad or something I'll regret.

I may well regret this decision when I'm 60 years old an have the time and capability of foresight and hindsight, but here's one last fact - It is my choice to make, not yours.

I'm comfortable with the idea of regret. I have many regrets in my life already, but the biggest one so far is allowing terrible people to hurt me for 27 years. Allowing them to control and manipulate me. Allowing others ideas, wishes, or actions to change the course of my life for so very long.

And that now includes the Crazy Mothers, who have had the power, up until today, to make me feel like a bad little girl making stupid decisions. You cannot hurt me anymore because I will not allow you to.

That is my stand, this is my road, and I will walk it to where ever it leads.

Now I don't know about you, but I need to go quilt!

Leah Day

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 358 - Lollipop Echo

Here's a design that fits right into this season along with sugar plums and candy canes. This is Lollipop Echo:

free motion quilting | Leah DayYou'll likely recognize this design from last week's Cyber Echo. The major difference here is the lollipop shape you start with which actually makes this version of the design easier to quilt in some ways.

The trade off is that there's a ton of travel stitching involved, which can be challenging. Just take it slow and don't worry if your lollipops aren't perfect. They'll taste just fine either way!

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. The challenge with this design is forming the lollipop and stitching right along your stitching to get out of the shape and start the echoes. A great way to practice this design is to stitch Lollipop Chain.

Design Family - Echoing. Rows and rows of quilting echo out from the starting lollipop shape. The more rows of echoing you do, the more interesting the texture will become.

Directional Texture - All Directions. This design creates a really interesting texture because the center lollipops will always stand out a bit more than the rings of echo quilting. For that reason, make sure to place this design somewhere it can get lots of attention.

Suggestions for Use - I'd love to see this design stitched over the surface of a large bed quilt. Lollipop Echo is sure to not only look terrific, but also bring super sweet dreams!

Back of Lollipop Echo
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion quilting design in your quilts

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Losing Weight During the Holidays

Reading the title of this post, you're probably thinking "Is this spam? Get REAL! Who wants to lose weight during the holidays??? Isn't eating delicious, carbolicious, fatty food what this season is all about?"

To which I have to respond with an adamant YES! This time of year is all about eating delicious food and entertaining family and friends, but that doesn't mean that you can't maintain some control over your weight during this month as well.

Now I know this is a contentious, sensitive subject for many people. I certainly don't want to fill you with feelings of remorse at the turkey feast you just ate or feelings of guild at the meals soon to come.

What instead I want to share with you is the story of how Josh and I have not only gained control over our weight, we've actively worked to regain our ideal body weight together.

Back in October we traveled to Pensacola, FL to see Josh's grandmother. During that eight hour car trip, Josh and I talked a lot about things we'd like to work on in the remainder of 2011 and in 2012. One of the biggest issues we both mentioned was our weight.

Keep in mind that Josh and I are not overweight, but we are both short people with metabolisms that will slow drastically over the next few years as we get into our 30s, and we live a very sedentary lifestyle.

Our typical day revolves around the computer for Josh or the sewing machine for me. Unless we make a point of it, I doubt we walk more than 1000 steps on the days we don't leave the house, which can be more than 4 days out of the week.

If you log your daily exercise for a month, it can be surprising just how little we move around physically every day. It's easy to ignore this fact until you actually write it down, journal it, and then take notice. It's very easy to forget or simply ignore how important movement is to our daily life.

Now let's talk about diet. I'm a naturally skinny person, and I always have been, but this summer I felt overwhelmingly dissatisfied with my body. I was about 15 pounds over my "sexy" weight where I feel like I look pretty good, so I wasn't very comfortable in my swim suit this year. But I was also totally incapable of doing anything about my figure.

For one thing, I hate dieting. Every time I diet, I find one set of foods for each meal like this: I'm going to eat THIS cereal for breakfast, THIS set of foods for lunch, and THIS set of foods for dinner. Period.

And by the third day of the same food, I'm so sick of eating those same flavors that I'd rather go munch on a rock. Simply put: I need more variety. I end up dropping the diet simply because I collapse to the craving of a bag of chips and a Jack and coke by the pool.

I also stop eating well when I'm working hard, and this past summer I was busy writing From Feathers to Flames, so I didn't have much time to care what was going into my mouth. I just wanted it to be FOOD that would stop me from feeling HUNGRY for at least the next few hours.

Healthy? No. Sustainable? Absolutely not.

Josh admits his great vice is beer, so five excess pounds shows up a lot more on his belly than on mine. Since Josh is over 30, he's already noticed a dramatic drop in his metabolism since college, and like me, he was extremely unsatisfied with his body this summer.

Also like me, Josh hates to diet. Spending some of his childhood and teenage years as a vegan, any idea of food limitation now is anathema to him. Exercise is also a contentious subject we might as well just not go into.

But the fact is we both want to lose weight. How best to go about this?

Based on our previous history with dieting and exercise, I had to finally come to terms with a few facts:

1. We simply don't exercise - it's wonderful when we can fit a two or three mile walk into our day, but most of the time we can't. We work in our own home which means we walk up and down stairs a few times a day and that's about it. And we live in an area with no leash laws and some very mean dogs, so walking in our neighborhood is out of the question.

2. We eat what we want - If you put me on a limited diet, you'll find yourself missing a few fingers by the end of the week. If you put Josh on a limited diet, well, I'd feel sorry for whoever tries it.

3. We drink what we want - Yes, we drink alcohol. Moderately, and it's something neither of us is ready to give up for the sake of losing a few pounds.

So how do two people with this impossible seeming list of requirements figure out a way to lose over 20 pounds together in 1 1/2 months?

The simple answer is we've finally learned HOW MUCH food we should be eating.

Using a program called Diet Power, Josh and I learned how to eat the correct amount of food depending on how fast we wanted to lose weight and how much we exercised.

Put it this way - if we sit on our butt all day, working on the computer or on the sewing machine, it's unlikely that we're burning even 2000 calories a day.

Before I started this program, I was typically eating well over 2500 calories a day, blasting my sodium and sugar amounts off the scale, and usually feeling run down and exhausted by the end of the day.

When we started the program the first week I limited myself to around 1600 calories a day. I could eat anything I wanted, so long as it all added up to less than 1600 calories.

That first week was really tough. I was in a transition period and just for lunch I was used to eating a full sandwich (2 slices of bread, 4 slices of bacon, tomato, mayo, lettuce, etc) plus chips and a cola. That meal right there was well over 600 calories all on its own!

But by the second week, this new portion size not only felt right, I felt right eating it! No longer would I have that heavy, overly full feeling after eating a meal. I was finally comfortable eating the right portion for my size and my exercise amount.

Keep in mind - I'm not going hungry. I never stop myself from eating a snack if I'm hungry between meals. Instead I've looked for healthier snacks that don't pack on the pounds.

One of my favorite snacks is 16 wheat thin crackers with 1 oz of smoked salmon and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese. It's enough to make me feel full and satisfied for several hours, but at only around 200 calories, it also not nearly as calorie costly as other snack foods I was used to eating.

This insight has spread into eating at restaurants as well. What I've found after eating at many places is that the entree size portions are actually 4 to 5 times bigger than they should be.

Recently I went to Olive Garden and had to request a Nutrition Menu in order to know what I was ordering. I almost choked on my 150 calorie breadstick! Turns out, not only are the entrees over the top with calories, they also contain on average more than 3 times your daily allowance of salt!

This means after eating at one of these chain style restaurants, you're definitely going to see the numbers on the scale rise simply because all that salt forces your body to retain more water, and thus more weight.

All told, had I finished my entire bowl of soup, 3 bread sticks served to me, and entire entree, I would have been topping 2000 calories in that single meal. That's ridiculous. What's even more excessive is I would have also consumed over 5000 mg of salt. Would you like kidney failure as a side dish or dessert?

Many people would respond to this statement that you're not meant to eat the entire meal at a restaurant like this. You're not intended to clean your plate, otherwise the portions wouldn't be so big or so expensive.

My response is simply this: why would a restaurant serve food to you if they didn't intend for you to eat it? Are chain restaurants so rich they can actually afford to waste food in such massive quantities that it doesn't matter if more than half of every portion gets thrown away?

I don't have an easy answer for this other than to say there really needs to be a total overhaul in the chain food industry, specifically regulations on the amount of salt allowed in food. My kidneys hurt for two days after that dinner and I don't want to think how I would have felt if I'd cleaned my plate.

And this brings up another lesson I've learned while on this diet: leaving food on your plate is not a sin.

Oh, but it hurts to leave a plate more than half full!

Growing up, I was never really taught to clean my plate, but I was taught to not be wasteful. We rarely ate out, so I actually got more experience eating out with my friend's parents than my own. Over time I began to see a general pattern in the women that pressured me to eat more or to finish what was set in front of me: they were all, universally, overweight.

In my teenage years, my various boyfriend's mothers were the worse. I began getting used to veiled insults like "Oh, she eats like a bird." or "No idea why we bring her, she never finishes anything." and "Are you going to finish that? I don't want to get a box."

I knew I had a winner when I met Josh's mom, a teensy tiny woman who encouraged me to order the most expensive thing on the menu the first time we went to dinner (it really was the best thing at that restaurant), then told me it was perfectly fine if I didn't finish half of it - she never did!

But leaving a plate half full literally hurts. It hits all those guilt buttons about wasting and excess that make us feel really bad.

Even asking for a box can feel awkward if it's too early in the meal. Servers can misinterpret that as a meal gone wrong, which is extremely unfortunate. Personally I'd rather divide my portion early and get the remainder in a box so that way I'm not tempted to keep eating, just because the food is in front of me.

I'm also occasionally tempted by the disgusting depravity that is fast food. It's fast, it's easy, it's cheap. All reasons why it ends up in our house a lot more than it should.

But after we started using Diet Power, Josh and I suddenly realized just WHAT we were eating when we chowed down on a Big Mac, large fry, and medium coke. More than 1000 calories for one thing, which is more than half of what we're now eating ALL DAY. We quickly realized there are a lot better ways to eat cheaply and easily without that kind of calorie (or sodium or sugar) cost.

But even if wanted to eat fast food, we still can using this program! Diet Power has thousands of foods logged into its library which you can easily search through and add to your log of foods eaten for the day. It's no longer a question of what you can or can't eat or restrictions on a million foods, but simply what your daily log looks like and what you have budgeted for.

Case in point was Thanksgiving dinner. You'd expect to blow your whole day in this mega blast meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, etc. The truth is, it's very easy to blast your whole day, but by controlling the portions of each item (1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup) you could easily eat that meal without destroying your diet, or missing dessert.

This program also forces you out of any healthy eating delusions you might have. You get literally graded on your vitamin intake for the day based on the foods you log which means if you're drastically low on any particular vitamin you need, you could easily score a D or F, and no one likes to make a bad grade!

It's actually hard to describe what I've learned in a logical way that makes sense because I'm still trying to fully understand just HOW MUCH learning caloric information has helped us.
  • I've learned to eat less overall, but more often throughout the day.
  • I've learned to take vitamins regularly.
  • I've learned to drink more water daily.
  • I've learned that I really don't have to exercise to lose weight, but that walking 2 miles a day is not only possible, it also makes me feel great.
  • I've learned to cut my portions in restaurants in half or in quarters, and I've learned how to say "no" to eating the rest without feeling guilty.
And the most important thing is I've lost 10 pounds. Most of my back pudge has naturally melted away and my thighs and stomach have noticeably shrunk.

I still have 10 pounds to go, then I plan to maintain my body weight for the rest of my life between 115 - 120 pounds.

Many people that have seen me in person might say I don't have 10 pounds to lose. I respond with "You haven't seen me in a swim suit." and regardless, it's my body and it's my emotional health. If I'm not happy, who is the one that should do something about it? Me.

Just as if you're not happy with your body, the only person who has any potential of changing the situation is...YOU.

So here's the deal: you can try Diet Power yourself for 15 day for free. It's an unlimited download which means the program is fully functional when you download it, it's just limited to only 15 days.

If you're anything like me, the first 7 days will be getting used to using the program, and getting used to your calorie budget. By the second week, you should be getting comfortable with the program and already losing weight.

If you decide that you like the program and want to use it forever, you can get $5 off by mentioning you heard it from me. Yep, I do make money from this, and I'm not sorry to admit it. Here's why:

I've found something that works, that I can use daily to feel empowered and in control over my weight, something that previously only felt mysterious and out of my control. I know this program works and that I've seen real results from using it, plus I've learned loads about food, my diet, and my health from using it.

Why not share this with everyone I know?

Now enough about food, let's go quilt!

Leah Day

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