The Free Motion Quilting Project: Looking Back at 2012, Moving Forward to 2013

Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back at 2012, Moving Forward to 2013

Every year I take a day at the end of December to look back at the entire year and sum it all up. You can find last years post and links to several others right here.

It's kind of fun to read back through these myself just to see where my brain was, what I was working through. I can read through my own lines and remember exactly what was going on and how I felt at the time, and it's an interesting benchmark I pause to take note of every year.

For 2012, my major goal was to get over fear. My fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. My fear of not being a good enough teacher, or worse, a terrible teacher that could make pretty things, but not pass that knowledge on to her students.

My doubts could fill a lake and I can remember this time last year being on the brink of a mental melt down, totally filled with fear that everyone would hate the changes I was making to this project. I remember crying a LOT this time last year and it's a mark of how far I've come that this is actually funny now!

What was I so worked up about? Basically I had built up the switch from teaching design videos to the quilt along videos as some major, drastic change, on par with shutting this blog down completely. Maybe it was silly, and maybe it's weird to admit it here, but fear was a serious problem for me a year ago. It had the ability to lock me in place and stall my progress completely.

So the first thing I did this year was start stitching it out. Torrent of Fear is a goddess showcasing the debilitating, locked position of fear:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This quilt hangs in my guest bedroom and I look at it often. When I'm feeling scared about a decision I have to make, I take a look at it and ask myself - do I want to wait on this decision and let the fear to THAT to me? Or do I just want to make the decision and get over it?

So often I've waited to make decisions for fear it won't be the "right" one. A full year later, I can confidently say that there are no "wrong" decisions - NONE - the only wrong decision is not being able to MAKE the decision and make up your mind how you want things to go, how you want to live your life, how you want to make that quilt, how you want to quilt it.

These days, I don't stop long enough for the fear to lace it's fingers around my throat. I'm finally out from under that Torrent of Fear.

As for what I had been so terribly afraid of - changing this project - that now seems incredibly silly after a wonderful year of quilting along together each week. I was finally able to share more than just new designs in 4 inch squares. We learned wholecloth quilting, worked together through a modern quilt project from piecing to tagging, and learned 15 new designs along the way. All of these posts will remain well organized right here so you can easily watch the videos over again whenever you need to.

My teaching muscles were further strengthened last summer when I traveled to Denver, CO to shoot my class for Craftsy. I never really added up all the time I'd spent in front of a camera, but it has certainly paid off because filming the class was both easy and fun. You can read about that trip right here.

Teaching for Craftsy has also taught me many lessons on preparing and outlining a project for teaching online. It is honestly the single best class I've ever taught because it was so well organized and planned from start to finish. I'm usually pretty critical of my work, but I can honestly say there's nothing I would change about my Craftsy class.

This experience has really been invaluable and will definitely shape the way I shoot new videos this year. The fact is, every experience is a chance to learn new things and grow!

This year has definitely been a time of learning, growing, and changing, and I hope to continue this focus for the rest of my life.

Of course, every year will have disappointments as well. There are 2 major things that bothered me this year.

The first was my goal to make more goddess quilts. For the second year in a row, I've technically finished 1.5 goddess quilts. Torrent of Fear was #1, and The Duchess Reigns is #2, but still less than half finished.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Last year I set the goal to create 12 new quilts, one per month, for the entire year. That goal lasted a total of 2 months before I realized just how unrealistic it was.

Quilting for the quilt along videos, teaching, and finishing up UFO projects long on the shelf has left very little time to design new goddess quilts, even though these quilts are my most favorite to create.

I have found myself several times looking back this year to 2008 when I worked on the original Duchess quilt. Back then the major thing stopping me from finishing my quilt was my 8 month old toddler needing to be changed or fed. Four years later, I'm struggling to find time to work on Duchess Reigns because I have so many other projects to work on and honestly this huge wholecloth just isn't on the top of the priority list.

As for the other major disappointment for the year, it actually had nothing to do with quilting, but with yoga. At the beginning of 2012, a new yoga studio opened up nearby and I began taking classes regularly for the first time since James was born.

It wasn't long before I began looking for ways to deepen my yoga practice. When retreats popped up in my area, I eagerly attended and found the experiences deeply fulfilling, and I soon began wanting even more.

It's taken me awhile to admit it, but I would like to become a yoga instructor.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Why? Why do I want this? Why do I need this? It's hard to answer these questions other than the word "calling" is really the best description. I feel called to do yoga, to learn more about it, and yes, if it is open to me, to teach it and pass my love for this ancient practice to other students.

Living in a rural area of NC, yoga classes are hard to find, and yoga teacher training is even harder, but crazily enough, right as I was getting obsessive about the idea of becoming a pro-yogi, a local class began forming for a 9 month teacher training intensive.

But here's where my disappointment comes in - the class didn't have enough students by only 1 person. The teacher training ultimately didn't happen.

This has been a lesson in acceptance and patience. It wasn't the right time for this training to happen, but ONE DAY it will happen.

So looking at these two disappointments, I've taken the month of December to reflect and consider how I want to address this in 2013. Continue designing random quilts for the Quilt Along or make a stab at designing a goddess to teach with? Continue to hide my love for yoga and the light this brings to my life, or start sharing it fearlessly?

And while I'm at it, what about looking within my own home and how I can show love to my son and husband more openly?

Ultimately I've decided that this will be my focus this year! We will start this year working on this quilt, Express Your Love, which is all about speaking, showing, sharing your love with yourself, your family, your world.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Along the way of creating this quilt, I'm going to share certain yoga titbits I've picked up over the years, stretches and breathing exercises I use right at my sewing machine to open my heart and relax while quilting.

Already this quilt is changing how I speak to my family. Already I can see my focus changing from starting that new project to just curling up on the couch to play a video game. Already I can feel my face soften and the tension in my shoulders relax. Why have I been carrying around all this stress and fear for so long? It's time to put that down for good.

Of course all this chilling out has resulted in an total lack of videos being made in December. Between James being sick, me being sick, and the winter break, I never found time to make videos for January. We will literally be getting started tomorrow with nothing ready. Whatever I film in the morning will be going up in the afternoon!

Last year this would have filled me with a blind terror. Today, I'm okay with this because I understand one, very important thing: So long as you share freely, openly, and honestly from your heart, the world will accept, love, and thank you for whatever you have to offer.

That might sound hokey and a little "out there" but I have tested this idea many times this year and never found it to fail me.

And now it is time for me to thank YOU for being here, for reading and enjoying and sharing and participating in this blog project. It is an amazing experience to be able to share with you every single week and I am so very thankful that you are here.

Now - the nitty gritty of Express Your Love, the pattern, and other details will be posted TOMORROW so make sure to swing by and download so you can get started!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I'm excited to continue with you. I also started a small piecing project today because I recognized I needed something new to get me going. UFOs are great, but some of the time you need something new. I'll be working on both projects together.

  2. Oh I am so excited to see what you will be posting for us tomorrow. Happy New Year Leah, and thank you.

  3. I am so excited to see what you will be posting tomorrow. Happy New Year Leah, and thank you.

  4. Namaste, Leah. Your Warrior Two looks serene and strong. I can't say enough about what help Yoga has given me with both my running and my posture at the sewing machine. I'll think of you as I greet the year with breathing and in tailor's pose, moving my way up to mountain pose and various spinal twists and lunges and then back down through various salutations and ultimately savasana. Nothing like stretching followed by deep relaxation to start your day.

  5. I love to quilt, would also love to learn more about yoga! I tried yoga in the past but as with most things without proper motivation I lose interest...your blog has motivated me to try new techniques in quilting and hopefully it will in yoga as well! :)

  6. Leah I don't often comment on your blog but I want to take the time here at the end of the year to say thank you for the wonderful information you share with us all. I've not gotten to see all your videos because, like most of us, time doesn't permit...but I do watch all that I can and have learned so much. I've watched your Janome Horizon machine quilting video several times and ended up buying the Janome 8900, which is very similar. I had the 11000 but since I do so little embroidery and so much quilting I knew this would be a better machine for me and your video helped me make that decision. I love this machine! That wider throat is just amazing because it makes quilting so much easier for my arthritic hands. Thanks for all that you've done to inspire us and to teach us. We all appreciate you so much. blessings, marlene

  7. Leah
    You are such and inspiration....I can not wait to see what the new year brings.

  8. Hi Leah

    'So long as you share freely, openly, and honestly from your heart, the world will accept, love, and thank you for whatever you have to offer'.... not hokie or too far out there at all! :)
    As a teacher of 10-13 year olds I totally agree with you!

    Keep up your wonderful, inspirational work - and know that you truly make a difference in the lives of others! What more could you ask for? :)

    PS Just a thought - you might like to consider doing a yoga instructor course by correspondence - a friend of mine is doing that and loves it as it.

  9. Happy New Year and it will be exciting to see where 2013 takes you!

  10. Hello Leah:

    I want to thank you for all you gave in 2012! I set up an inexpensive sewing table arrangement as you explained in one of your videos, am taking your Crafty class and now starting on your FMQ videos. I finally learned to stipple because of you. Thanks for all you do - and thanks for doing it with all of your heart!

  11. Leah, I just wanted to say thanks for all you have taught me this year! I owe all of my FMQ skills to you. Actually, I owe that fact that I am even making quilts to you. I could totally see you as a yoga instructor. if you get to that point, maybe you could do yoga videos??? I'd be a test dummy for you;) I gotta do something! 2012 left me with a few extra pounds:/

  12. Leah, you are a wonderful, strong, brave, and beautiful young woman. I totally understand you. I have had many of the same experiences in my life as you. I was about 30 when I had an epiphany in my life that let me see that so much that had be put in my life by others was not true. I learned to quilt from my grandmother when I was 8 years old. She put beauty into my life, and I will always bless her for that. She also told me to value myself even when others did not. It took me many years to fully understand what she gave me. Others in my family were negative about so much that it was hard to get past it all. You have so much of value and are so gracious to share it with total strangers. I bless you for it. Also, I was so lucky to see your wonderful work first hand in Knoxville 2 years ago. Keep learning, creating, and sharing.

  13. Thank you so much Leah for all your guidance, support, encouragement and sharing of thoughts in 2012. Looking forward to sharing 2013 with you.

  14. Oh Leah! (I'm behind in my blog reading, but i'm glad i've finally caught up to your posts!) This is so good! =-)
    Doubt you remember me, but i'm the one who sent you the Free Pass to Simply Yoga in Gastonia... I want to let you know about Gotta Yoga, which is owned by the lady who's half-owner of Simply Yoga. They're having a Yoga Teacher Training starting the weekend of Jan 25th, one weekend a month 'til June.
    Please email me if you're AT ALL interested. I have a Guest room that you're welcome to stay in for the weekends for the trainings. It's where i took *my* YTT, and i absolutely LOVE the place!
    Here's the info:
    http(colon slash slash)www(dot)gottayogastudio(dot)com(slash)ytt(underscore)200hr6month(underscore)2013(dot)html

  15. Oh!
    Or, if Lexington is closer to you, so you wouldn't have to spend the nights away from home, my two teachers are also offering YTT at Pink Lotus in Lexington SC.
    The link:
    http(colon slash slash)www(dot)gottayogastudio(dot)com(slash)ytt(underscore)PL200hr6month(underscore)2013(dot)html

    Seriously? Email me. Please? =-)


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