The Free Motion Quilting Project: New Goal: 12 Goddess Quilts

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Goal: 12 Goddess Quilts

This year I've set a new goal for myself: 12 goddess quilts to be completed in 2012.

free motion quilting | Leah DayNow the first question you may ask is - Why?

In truth, I'm setting this goal for myself for several reasons. The biggest reason is simple: I want more quilts!

I've actually had ideas bouncing around in my head for more than 20 goddess quilts, but at the rate I'm going, they'll never get made!

I'm also wanting to force myself to quilt every single day. I'm already quilting much more than I did last year, but there are still days that I could be quilting that end up stuck on the computer instead.

And the most important reason: I want to release my goddesses series from the quagmire I've lock it into. Each quilt has been bigger and more ostentatious than the last. Most have been quilted so densely, they can practically stand up on their own.

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhile making the last two quilts, Hot Cast and Emergence, I caught myself several times asking "Why does this have to be so hard?"

Why does it have to be so time consuming?

Why does every piece have to be so perfect?

Why does the quilting have to be this dense?

So part of this goal is answering these questions truthfully: it doesn't have to be so hard.

A goddess quilt is just a quilt and there's no reason for it to be so time consuming, so perfect, or quilted so dense.

I was the one who was making it so difficult by placing too much importance on each quilt being capable of doing well at quilt shows, as though their only value to me was a ribbon or a cash reward.

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut here's the really weird thing - I haven't been entering! I've had hundreds of opportunities to get Shadow Self, My Cup Runneth Over, Hot Cast, and now Emergence in major quilt shows, but I haven't even TRIED.

Eventually I've had to get honest with myself: these quilts mean far more to me than a ribbon or a big show win. They mean so much to me, I don't like the idea of putting them in a box and shipping them somewhere. I like them to be here, hanging on my wall, making my house pretty, making me smile.

So I'm not serious about showing these quilts. I don't want to show these quilts, I don't care if they have the capacity to win or not, it totally doesn't matter to me anymore.

Which means I definitely CAN make 12 goddess quilts in one year because it DOESN'T have to be this hard anymore.

No longer will I struggle for the unattainable: Perfection. This illusive mistress is no longer the object of my desire. Let someone else struggle and fret and drive themselves crazy for her seductive promises.

As I've said many times this week, and will likely continue to yell at the top of my lungs every chance I get:

Perfection is not the point!

Maybe if I say it enough, write it enough, repeat it enough, even I will learn this lesson!

The point is to create the quilt:
to capture the feeling and idea
and colors you're wanting to connect

- and then finish the damn thing so you can enjoy it.

The point is not to have a stash of fabric that could fill the Taj Mahal, but to have a stack of quilts to use and share and give away, and hang on the walls to enjoy.

The point is to leave your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with QUILTS to use and enjoy, not a hundred quilt tops that will remain folded in a closet, wandering from family member to family member in some strange grief charade.

In this spirit of finishing quilts that can be used, I'd also like to take a leaf out of the Modern Quilting movement and try creating a utilitarian goddess bed quilt.

I just have a hankering to curl up under one of my giant, flaming girls, but obviously need to loosen up my quilting stitches in order for the quilt to be soft and cuddly enough to sleep with.

I'd also like to lighten up on the psychoanalysis that seems to go on with each of these quilts. Yes, they're personal, but that doesn't mean they have to be such mind blowing drudgery to create.

As always, each quilt will have a theme, but not all will have a deeply personal connection. I'd like to make a goddess about fear, sadness, peace of mind, strength, anger, love and passion.

So that is my personal goal for 2012: 12 new goddess quilts.
That's one quilt per month, and as luck would have it, I've already started on the first: Torrent of Fear. Check back tomorrow for a play by play of how this quilt top came together in just 3 days.

Time to shut up and quilt, I've got a goddess to create!



  1. Grief charade. Love it! I'm looking forward to your progress.

  2. I can wait to see the process speeding up! And even more on the edge of my quilting table to see the quilting you choose!

  3. You are driven and amazing. Love your blog. I am hoping to make myself learn to free motion quilt this year.. that is my goal for 2012.

  4. Leah... I have made the same choice as you. I once thought I would like to enter quilts in to shows and compete against the "greats" as we know them... but I too would HATE like heck! for one of my quilts "to go missing"! That would make me so mad I don't think I would get over being mad...

    This is my idea and I think (NO, I KNOW) it would be great for you too...

    Our work deserves to be seen by others...

    but on our own terms!!

    There are plenty of art galleries that need exhibits and your goddess series would certainly fit that bill!!

    Something to think about!

  5. Cada día disfruto leyendo tus pensamientos en el blog. Estoy practicando mi acolchado y tomo buena nota de tus consejos. Me gusta especialmente tu forma de expresión. Así lo piensas así lo dices. ¿Podríamos hacer un quilt de la diosa junto a tí? Me gustan esa mezcla de colores excitantes que haces y como los modificas con los acolchados. Gracias.

  6. that's awesome, Leah. Can't wait to see them.

  7. I'm reading a fabulous book "Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns" by Sheila Paine. She has a section in the book about goddess patterns and I thought of you when I saw this. I look forward to seeing your new works.

  8. Are these all going to be big quilts or some wall hanging size which would be more manageable for me? Good luck no matter what size they turn out to be.

  9. I just found your website, and I am looking forward to reading the previous posts and following you in the next days. I am learning to free motion embroidery, which all the books say is simple, but all I can say, after snapping a couple of needles, "it isn't simple for me!" LOL.
    Your comments on perfection: I battled with this for years, and the drive to create was hammering at me, but because I didn't have the "perfect" project, design, or technique in mind, I always put it off, or started and got discouraged, therefore creating nothing! Once I decided it was the creating that is important, and quit worrying about "perfect", the creativity started flowing again, and I am much happier in all things!

  10. I still want to see you NOT creating the perfect quilt......

  11. Fantastic goal! You can do it! One of my goals is 12 quilts this year too.

  12. Thanks for so much encouragement, Leah. I have to say, I found MQ'ing to be so much easier than I had been led to believe, and now do all my own quilts. Friends want me to teach them, but say, "What if I mess up?". My response now is, "What if you don't mess up?" I helped a friend learn and 4 hours of practice she had a good start with very passable results. Thanks for YOUR help, blogs, and lessons for all of those sewists who are fearful - THERE IS NO NEED TO BE AFRAID!!!

  13. My goal is to make my three children a quilt, and my hubby. I don't have a theme, just something they will love. But I do secretly want to enter in a show one day:] But for now , I'm with you, I just want to make something warm, snuggly, and with LOVE!

  14. I think it is great to have a goal. Some of the ladies in our guild went to a quilting museum in San Antonio Texas and they were impressed by a group called the twelve by 12 movement. There were 12 ladies that each month did a 12x12 quilt...each last would have a month to pick a theme, but everyone can interpret the theme any way they wanted. You would be suprised how people come up with such different things for the same theme. We started one in our guild and I by the end if the year we each will have 12 quilts but they will only by 12x12....which is interesting what you can get in such a small space. Our first theme is wine. Lord help

    I can't wait to see more of your goddess quilts they are gorgeous.

  15. What a great idea! Without a deadline, I do almost nothing. Plus, it feels wonderful to work in a series. It makes your neurons really start firing. I was so glad to see your write-up in Quilter's Newsletter. You've come a long way, baby!

  16. Amen, sister!

    By the way, I did get a chance to see Winter Wonderland at the Road to California Show and it was amazing! While I would have loved to see some of your goddess quilts there too, I think it is perfectly acceptable to keep those most treasured quilts close to you.

    Not that you needed it, but I approve.

  17. Okay, I should be commenting on the profound ideas coming out of this post and how it feels like you've found the key. However my terrible sense of humour has kicked in. . . the first thing that came to mind was: "I wonder what goddess she'll end up making to sleep under? I hope it isn't a fertility goddess unless she wants A LOT of kids."

  18. Again--such good food for thought, Leah. So much of the quilting experience comes from your attitude about it. Thanks again!

  19. Thank you for your simply brilliant inspiration. I've had several quilts pictured in my brain, but I just couldn't imagine them as complete and finished. I think I just need to get started, and then they will work out their designs on their own. It seems to work with your last design. I don't think you knew that the sun and its 3d shapes would be in your quilt when you started.
    I really REALLY like your slogan, "Let's go quilt" as that totally summarizes your approach. I'm very grateful.

  20. YES. YES, YES~~~ Thumbs up to you~ I love your thinking. I just crocheted an "Angry Bird" hat and people asked me what I was going to do with it. I'm going to be 60 soon and I'm sure they were wondering why I made one. I've worn it and what happens when I do? I get lots of LAUGHS and comments from people. Why do I wear it? It makes people laugh and maybe, for a short time, it will make them forget about what makes them want to cry. The hat makes me smile when I look at it also. This hat was my first crochet at also, so the accomplishment makes me feel good. I've been known to wear a chicken hat also. So, you go girl~ I love your thinking and I know you will accomplish what you set out to do.

  21. How are you? Doing great I see. I am catching up on reading your blog. I mentioned you on my facebook. I really was moved be your comments on the 12 Goddess quilts. This is the motivation I need. I have so many quilts in progress. No they won't win awards but, I will enjoy them when the are finished. This is the goal to finish and be inspired to create again. Your story about finding the right machine at the right time, place and price is like karma. Especially, since your other machine recently broke. I waited all year to purchase an additional machine, but I love it because yes, it has the bells and whistles, as many as I could afford. I don't mention names because, every brand has something to offer. But making the right choice at the right time at the right price is inspiring. You really can't create when you are worried about the Visa bill. So thanks for that story. I am happy I kept my shopping for a better machine in the budget. Now back to sewing and creating. I will send you pics one day. I found out I have been buying crappy cameras. For quilting pics a flash is essential. So if you don't have excellent lighting you got to have a flash. I have a better camera on the way. I have to have pics of my quilts cause you can't keep them all.

  22. Loved your goddess quilts Leah! As a pagan woman, I'm often saddened by the lack of these types of beautiful imagery in quilts. Beautiful work, and blessed be ❤️


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