The Free Motion Quilting Project: UFO Sunday #10 - Quilt Without Guilt

Sunday, October 28, 2012

UFO Sunday #10 - Quilt Without Guilt

Whoo Hoo! I'm doing a happy dance of joy because guess what I finished today:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

After last week's post, I decided to take my own advice and just focus on one thing. Unfortunately that's just not entirely possible when you have so many balls in the air. I just couldn't stand to drop all the balls!

Lol...that sounded weird. However I did manage to FOCUS and spend most of my time working on this quilt. All that's left now is binding and a quick wash to hopefully crinkle everything up and soften the surface. Not too bad for a week's work!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I have to admit though - focusing isn't always easy for me. My brain really enjoys distracting me with tons of ideas for finishing the quilt AND accomplishing something else at the same time. I kept thinking thinks like:

" could use this quilt to shoot the quilt along videos for January and February!  Let's do that!  Pick those fills and get the camera ready!"


"You know, this would make an awesome pattern! Let's shoot photos as you quilt it so you can turn it into a pattern later. It will be quick and easy!"

This might seem like innocent, helpful ideas my brain was throwing at me. Good ideas for killing 2 birds with 1 stone and accomplishing multiple things with one pattern.

But here's the deal: I wanted to quilt this quilt for James and get it done THIS WEEK. I also wanted to use thread colors that only slightly contrast, and in some places, they match.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

What I mean to say is, I already had a plan for this quilt and expectations for the difficulty of finishing it and the time it would take.  I had it all pretty much figured out.

At this stage, if I tried to shoot videos with this quilt, I'd have to totally change my ideas and expectations for this quilt. The thread would need to change, I'd need to spend a few hours planning which stitches to use and where, and then my quilting time would be limited to only the early morning when the house is quiet enough to film.

As for a pattern - they are NEVER "quick and easy." I'm seriously trying to delete those words out of my brain for anything to do with product creation. They take time, tons of energy, and a meticulous attention to detail. In truth if I never make a pattern again it will be too soon.

Rationally, I know all these things, but it seems like my brain forgets them in the quest to turn me into Wonder Woman.

While yes, I could definitely do both of these things, it wouldn't have been either fast or easy and I definitely wouldn't have finished it in the same amount of time. The Space Quilt would not be sitting on my table fully quilted making me feel awesome and productive.  It would still be unfinished.

So I choose to ignore my brain this week.  I focused on finishing the quilt and I did something I rarely do:

I gave myself permission to quilt it for me and no one else.

This might not seem like a radical thing, but it's feeling more and more like a major big shift in how I think about my projects.

Typically I create a project always with the intention of it being filmed and shared here online. This is the nature of what I do online. I shoot and share EVERYTHING.  For the last 2 years at least, I've pretty much filmed and shared everything I've quilted.

And this is starting to look like a bit of a liability.  At what point have I given up my choices on my quilts - the simple choice to do what I want to do, to make it for me - in the quest to be a better teacher and create a quilt that is more "filmable."

Looking through my stack of UFOs, the main reason these quilts are in this bin is because at some point my brain decided it would be a GREAT idea to turn them into more than just what I wanted them to be originally:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The Power of Now - This top is finished and needing to be quilted.  It hasn't been quilted because I knew my quilting design wouldn't show over the busy fabric. I need to give myself permission to quilt this for me and not need to film it because the quilting simply won't be very visible over those fabrics.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Hawaiian Quilt - These blocks need to be put together and quilted.  It hasn't been finished because at some point I thought it would make a nice pattern.  So here it sits because the truth is - I don't want to make the pattern, I just want to make the pretty quilt.

There are many more, but these two best illustrate this problem I'm having. At some point my brain hijacked these projects and decided it would be WRONG for me to just finish them as is. They have to be turned into something MORE.

Digging into this, I believe this is the reason I totally flaked out on my goddess quilt challenge this year.  How can I make 12 quilts just for me? What if they all turn out like The Power of Now and are unfilmable, even with super contrasting thread? 

Rather than face that possibility, I just didn't make the quilts. That goal, like many others, is another UFO waiting to be picked up and finished. And before you say it, yes, this is the path to burnout and I know it.  

A craft is worth pursuing ONLY if you can pursue what you want when you want to.

This is the freedom of creativity, and I've somehow lost this due to my own mental paralysis.

So this week I took one small step in the right direction. I finished James's quilt for me, the way I planned to finish it, and I got it done. I didn't shoot videos and I will NOT be making a pattern out of it.  
free motion quilting | Leah Day

Whew. That feels better. I can now go bind this quilt, wash it, and give it to James without ever needing to worry over it again. I can now look at it without feeling guilty and enjoy cuddling under it without the sense there's something still left undone.

Instructions for Linking Up Your Blog or online photo:

1. Write your blog post about your UFO project. Publish it on your blog.  If you're linking up a photo, first upload it to Flickr or Facebook.

2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post:

3. Click the blue link up button above and paste your link into the box.

If you have any questions about finishing your UFO, make sure to post them clearly within your post.  5 questions will be selected and answered on Monday or Tuesday's UFO Followup article.

By the way, if you'd like to share this program on your blog, grab a button below!

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project
Let's go quilt!



  1. Leah I love your UFO posts! I haven't been linking up but I have been thinking about your advice every week and have decided not to start some projects that I don't *really* love and have set aside others that aren't fun anymore in the hopes that I can give them another shot in the future. Your comments have really helped me have more fun quilting!

  2. I love, love,love the fact that you share your amazing skills and talent with us... but you come first and that is the way it should be. If no time for you there soon won't be time for anyone.

  3. Now wasn't that refreshing?! Very good timing for a quilt to be finished too, since the weather has turned cold.
    It will have taken alot of hard work to do that in one week but you did it. One very big pat on the back due :-)

  4. I uploaded two photos of a Maple Leaf top from Flicker. I finished piecing this circa 2005 top this afternoon. I would appreciate suggestions for quilting. My current thoughts: outline quilt the leaves with black thread, possibly add veins in the leaves with brown? various contrasting colors?, then use sparkly silver thread to quilt bubbles/circles here and there so they look like drops of rain. Is this doable? Too ambitious? Is boring, old stitch- in-the-ditch the way to go?
    Eager for your thoughts . . . Myra

  5. Congrats on the finish! If it makes you feel better, there are some of us who have problems finishing quilts who don't even know how to write a pattern, or film a video :-P

  6. I love James quilt. The quilting in the spaceship is just perfect and I love the little man you quilted. Just stunning. You just seem to pick the right pattern each and every time.

    Happy Dance on finishing and we are just happy to share your progress and enjoy the journey with you.

  7. Excellent. Glad you had a good time with it and took some time to enjoy what you do. I'm happy for ya. You already share so much with all of us... thank you.
    Sounds to me like you quilted 'joy' into James' quilt rather than 'stress'.

  8. love this post! I struggle with the same issues when doing my crochet designs and it is SO nice to allow yourself to enjoy something and do it just for you. bravo.

  9. Loving that rocket ship quilting! So you didn't make a video - not a problem as far as I'm concerned. I just love looking at other people's ideas of how they quilted a space for inspiration, doesn't have to be a video. Don't waste time on guilt, life is way too short for that! Perhaps you could set yourself a promise to work on one project a week which is just because you want to - not that you have to finish it in that week but just spend some time on it for you, sort of as a holiday from 'work' type quilts? Have to do the stuff that makes you happy as well as the work stuff you know! We don't want you to burn yourself out!

  10. Oh, my goodness - you hit the nail on the head with your phrase: "A craft is worth pursuing ONLY if you can pursue what you want when you want to."

    I can't tell you how many times people have tried to get me to do projects, interrupting me in the middle of my own project....also I have people telling me I should sell my quilts - I should "go into business" - well, I think that would spoil the fun of quilting for me. If I was under pressure to produce "x" number of projects for whatever deadlines....I'm sure I would not enjoy quilting as much as I do when I do what I want to do when I want to do it! I'm so glad you understand what I'm saying!


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