The Free Motion Quilting Project: Be Careful What You Stitch For...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Be Careful What You Stitch For...

Yeah, that title might also read "Be careful what you wish for..." but when it comes to quilting, I have a feeling words written in thread are a bit more powerful than words wished into thin air.

So what am I getting at?

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Well, all I can share is my personal journey over the last month and how the last words I stitched - My Cup Runneth Over - ended up echoing through my life, my family, my quilts, in more ways than I can even fully wrap my head around right this second.

When I stitched out those words, I was meaning to remind myself of the full well-spring of love and energy I have for my family. It's also a way to express my gratitude, something I should do far more often, for the people that mean so much to me.

But what ended up happening is my cup literally overflowed...with work.

I believe I've quilted more in the month of January than in the entire year of 2012 put together. The 25 bobbins I wound at the end of December ran out by January 17th, were re-wound and ran out again on January 23rd. I have used up TWO 5000 meter spools of Isacord thread in ONE month!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining or griping about needing to quilt so much, but I can't deny that this month has been an overwhelming and difficult start to my year.

There are many times that I have felt pulled in one million directions by all the different projects for business, for this blog, and somewhere lost at the bottom, quilts for me.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
When I first stitched "My Cup Runneth Over," I didn't really understand the full repercussions of those words or the ripple they would send through my life. I will say that the other words - "I Am Enough" and "I have an open and willing heart." definitely helped me get through the month.

They helped remind me of my strength and WHY I do everything I do. I have an open heart. I want to share and teach. This very simple desire can easily get lost in stress and pressure and fatigue. When your horizon is only storm clouds, it's easy to forget the light and warmth of the sun.

Seeing these words kept my purpose clear, and now that I've stitched myself out from that tight period, I'm able to dust myself off and realize that everything is okay. It was difficult, but I got through it and I'm ready to move on.

So what words for this month?

Well, my experience this month definitely taught me to consider ALL the meanings behind my words. I think I'll be safe with this phrase:

I am here. I love you. I will never leave you.

If this looks familiar, it's probably because you've read Eat, Pray, Love, the amazing book by Elizabeth Gilbert (I've linked to the Audible version which is perfect listen to while quilting). Her words of comfort often play across my journals as well, and these feel particularly important right now.

I need these words right now to help ground me back into reality. I am here. My mind needs to be centered and balanced and focused on the task at hand. I do not need to be falling into the sinkholes of the past or jogging up the gravel roads of the future. I need to be RIGHT HERE in the present.

I love you. I will never leave you. - These words are of course a mantra to my family, but they are also a dedication to myself. In stressful times, I often become my own worst enemy. I stop eating well, I sleep terribly, I bully and punish myself for any sign of weakness. I can be a brutal task master to the slave that is my own soul. This MUST end.

Being kind starts from within - how I treat myself - before it can reflect outwards to anyone else. I must learn to cultivate compassion for myself.

I know from experience the power of quilting to mold, shape, and force change into my life, and I do not doubt that quilting these words today will be like throwing a large rock into a lake, where echoes and ripples flow long after the stone has hit the ground under the water.

So what words will you quilt this month? Have the words you've stitched began rippling through other areas of your life? 

We will be learning other ways to quilt words through the entire year, so if you don't like the thread painting / echo quilting method, don't worry, we'll have a new method coming up very soon!

Let's go quilt,



  1. I'm with you that a word stitched in a quilt is powerful. I was wondering how your back and neck and arms feel after so much stitching lately -- I think my shoulders would be up to my ears!

  2. I think you are right, the words quilted can ripple through life and mean more then something thought in silence. My words were "Be Yourself & Accepting of Others. Love is Free."
    I have issues with confidence sometimes, especially with other people. Everytime, I read my words I remind myself to accept who I am. It is letting me embrace others more and I know that it costs nothing to give love to myself and the people around me. I find myself branching out and trying to meet new people which is a breakthrough. I tend to turn into a hermit on my darker days.
    This journey is more then just learning quilting techniques. There's always a positive opposite of a negative. I hope you find that is true too. :)

  3. You are so wise and inspiring, Leah! I love you....keep on keeping on.,

  4. Thanks for your timely reminder. I am into words on quilts so far this year - one is about events that shaped my life, second one is about friendship as a garden. Once written, these words can have a permanency about them...bringing up feelings and directing our thoughts.

  5. That is the best post ever!!! Thank you! And may I add a thought: The sun is always shining (above the clouds)! Focus on the Son and the clouds will melt away......Blessings and quilty hugs, Doreen

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  7. Read your post with interest as this sounds all too familiar. My words for this year are ' be kind to yourself' which relates directly to what you've been talking about. So, I have put on the breaks for myself, however, like yourself loose myself often in yet another project or task. Unfortunately for myself I have got an inbuilt regulator ...if I am not careful, I get migraines which then forces me to slow down. Reading through your posts regularly, I cannot believe how much thread you've gone through. Maybe slow down...we'll still be here.

  8. What you said really resonated with me. At times in the last three years my cup also ran over, and not always in good ways. But I got through that, and it looks like you will too.

    Morning pages help. I know you do them too. They really do help you dump all the overwhelm in your life.

    When I was looking for words for this year I was very aware that even positive words can end up having negative resonances and repercussions. I backed away. So I ended up with Joy, Peace, and Bloom where you are. Right now I needed some safety.

  9. I can totally relate to how you feel. My word for 2013 is "Balance". I think this is a very hard concept for women, especially if you have children. You try to satisfy everyones outside needs while trying not to lose yourself and your inside needs. Trust in your intuition and the journey! You are an amazing person and thanks for all your quilting help!!!


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