The Free Motion Quilting Project: FMQ Friday - Balancing Intensity and Sanity

Friday, June 28, 2013

FMQ Friday - Balancing Intensity and Sanity

It's Friday and the very last weekend of June. This is significant because I promised myself I would jump back into Duchess Reigns on July 1st.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

All that's left to do is quilt the lion heads, the swirling, interlocking feathers, and the extremely dense background of Boomerangs and Sharp Stippling. Just thinking about all that is left to quilt and how many endless hours of patient stitching is in front of me makes my hands start to sweat and my heart to race.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So I think I'm going to have to break this baby down further over the next 4 months. I'm thinking 1 corner per month. Knock out the background first, then the feathers, then the lion, then take her back upstairs and hang her up until the turn of another month.

While this might sound slow, tedious, needlessly complicated, and time consuming, I've just realized that my old method of grinding a quilt out super quickly isn't feasible anymore. I want to enjoy it!

And I think I have enjoyed this project far more simply because I've stretched it out into more than a year of steady work. Hanging her on the wall for the last 2 months in between periods of quilting has created almost a long-distance-relationship sort of feel. We have a great time when she's down on my sewing machine, but then she's gone and I admire her from afar...okay...maybe that's a weird way to talk about a quilt! Lol.

Working this way has finally allowed me to find a natural balance though, a balance I have sought for many years between a huge, intensely designed show quilt and smaller, quicker projects for shooting videos and learning new things.

When bogged down in one one big show quilt, I feel trapped and stiffled. What about all those cool techniques I keep wanting to try? Nope, you can't play with that! Ooo...look at that pretty fabrics! No! You can't get that!

But when I don't have a big quilt like this in progress, I find myself craving the rush that comes from intense design and steady, focused work. Especially during this time of the year, I want to sit and STITCH and let the world turn around me while I empty spool after spool of thread.

When I look back at the happiest summers of my life, the summer creating Release Your Light and Shadow Self are my top two, and I was going through some seriously tough times then! I was happy BECAUSE I was fully occupied and passionately expressing myself in thread.

Big quilts like Duchess Reigns give me this platform for intense focus, and, well, notice how many times I've used the word "intense" in this post! I might not dance in frozen crystal castle with a violin like Lindsay Stirling, but I still crave that same hit. I just happen to do my performing on a sewing machine.

But to do this ALL the time? No, that would drive me insane. I need to occasionally step away from that intensity and pick up lighter, easier, quicker projects. These days I find this creates a wonderful push/pull effect where I push myself to stitch my best on Duchess Reigns, then I pull myself back to reality and fun simplicity with Express Your Love.

So what about you? Do you ever feel like you're trying to balance two different pursuits or focuses in quilting? What makes you happiest to quilt?

Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:

1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Like you Leah, I find I do best when I am working on the next exhibition quilt AND doing practice pieces. That is why I so much appreciate your assignments over the past 18 months. They give me the excuse to play with zero pressure. Then there is the added bonus that my skills improve, making the pressure cooker feel of an exhibition quilt less stressful.

  2. She's beautiful Leah, Thanks so much for sharing her with us!

  3. I can't figure out how to link a page. Any help would be appreciated.


    Leah's quilt is beautiful. I have been making projects for friends and I need to get back to my own fmq. It has been so long since I have done it I am afraid to start again

  4. I totally understand having a quilt in process on the wall while you admire and contemplate future work with it.

    I try to have many projects at various stages of completion going at once so I can choose the project that best fits my time, energy or focus at any given time. It also allows that stepping back and savoring the process on some while doing quick projects for a sense of completion.

  5. I dared to start free motion quilting thanks to your numerous videos... and the fabulous supreme slider!
    Thank you Leah!
    Amitiés de France,

  6. i want to know how many miles of thread you've put into the goddess when she's finished!


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