The Free Motion Quilting Project: WANTED: Ugly Stitches

Monday, January 9, 2012

WANTED: Ugly Stitches

Houston, we have a problem.

You see, many books are published every year on free motion quilting and they have wonderful pictures of gorgeous quilting that makes all quilters droll with excitement.

But rarely, if ever, is a book published with what a beginning quilter can REALISTICALLY EXPECT at the beginning of this process.

Essentially - Where are the ugly stitches?

They happen to everyone. Just like mismatched seams in piecing, it's a normal learning process to get through. Many books will show a picture of an imperfect seam or wobbly applique, but so far I've never, ever seen a free motion quilting book with samples of real beginner issues.

So I'd like to fix this problem. I'd like YOUR ugly stitches!

I plan to use your samples in two way:

1. I will photograph your sample and share it here on the blog with advice for improving your stitches. This will not just help you, but also everyone in the world learn more about free motion quilting.

2. I might also publish a photo of your sample in a book with the same purpose: helping quilters understand ugly stitches are normal and to keep working at it.

In both cases, your name will be listed as a contributor to the project or the book, and your blog or website can be included too if you desire it.

And because these requests can get sticky, let me just make it clear that I'm not offering any monetary reward or bounty or stipend or cash or prize for contributing.

If you send me your ugly stitches, you are also agreeing to the terms that this is a piece of fabric that would have ended up in the trash and you're not going to sue me for a million dollars for photographing it and sharing it!

I know that sounds a bit crazy, but weirder things have happened.

So if you'd like to contribute and give me your ugly stitches, please mail them to:

Leah Day
P.O Box 386
Earl , NC 28038

UPDATE: Super Thank You to Cathy who commented and shared a link to a release form that will allow you to contribute easier and also protect me at the same time.
When you contribute a sample or a photograph of a sample, please fill out this release form.

If you contribute a sample, simply include the release form in the package you send. If you send me a photograph of your sample, please shoot a photo of your release form and include it with your email.

Email any photograph submissions to: support(at)

(replace (at) with the correct symbol so your email will send.)

Thank you!

Leah Day


  1. I want to save my first stitching so I can remember how far I have come, but I do have photos I could email to you, if that works. Let me know.

  2. Leah ~ I, too threw away those ugly stitches, but I do have an idea. Lindsay Nixon (The Happy Herbivore) is asking people on her blog to send her their recipes for her new recipe book and she is asking for signed waiver for each recipe - giving her permission to use their recipe. That seems silly to have to do for "ugly stitches" that someone is just gonna throw away, but might protect you... Something to think about. Here's her blog entry w/copy of the signed waiver

  3. Hi Cathy - That sounds great! I'll definitely check it out. Yeah, it's always sticky with stuff like this, so it's best to be clear and upfront about all the issues.



  4. What a perfect idea Leah - honest, true and realistic, showing quilting for beginners in it's truest sense
    If I have any bloopers I'll keep them and send them over to you

  5. I can send you my absolute first FMQ stitches ever. I mean the very first time I ever put that foot on my machine and stitched, cuz it was today. :-) There are examples of inconsistent stitch length and either a tension issue or my hands and feet not being in sync. I haven't played again to figure it out. The pics are on my blog, if you'd like that sample just let me know.

  6. Hi Leah, I published the ugly stitches I made when I was trying out things for the transformation challenge. You have the links to those blog entries already (and thank you for all the traffic you direct my way). Unfortunately, in a rare fit of non-hoarding, I've thrown them out! You are welcome to have my photos, if that helps.

  7. OMG I opened my Quilters Newletter Mag and I hollered with JOY -- Leah is in QNM she has an essay - no wait a WHOLE article !!! Someone I "know" is featured!! Snoopy Dance.

    Sorry - this has nothing to do with ugly stitches but I couldn't contain myself. I am so proud of you! I hope this isn't too weird but it felt as if one of my own had been singled out for her excellence. Your blogging and open sharing has made me feel this close to you. You go girl!

  8. I have kept all mine!! It is wonderful to see how far one has come (and I have a long, long way to go!)

  9. This is a great idea Leah. I ordered the FMQ foot for my machine so hopefully, in one week, I'll start practicing and have something to you shortly thereafter. (release form included)

    Your guidance is appreciated.

  10. Leah, if your interested in my practice piece of the lets wiggle exercise of your Quilt Along Wednesday, I can send it to you.Check out my blog. I posted the problems I had on Saturday with a couple of pictures. There were a few other mistakes that I didn't post pics of. Also, you said in your introduction video we could link up to the quilt along. How do we do that???

  11. How many hundreds do you want? LOL Seriously, I love this idea! I think it will make those of us who still struggle with FMQ feel not so alone. Great, great idea ...

  12. Sorry Leah, I chose to just embrace the stitches because they were "good enough" for what I was making and they are sewn into my daughters sleep sack. I think she'd be pretty annoyed if I took it away.


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