The Free Motion Quilting Project: Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

Happy New Year's Eve! Today is the last day of 2013 and it's high time I sum up things up and get ready for what is to come. I generally do this every year, so if you're curious about previous years, you can click the links to find the posts for 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Typing and linking up that list makes me smile to know that it has now been 5 years since I started this project, which now in hindsight was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It is wonderful to be able to share and teach through videos and posts, and even more wonderful to know that this work is appreciated and enjoyed by thousands of quilters each week.

Even after this much time, it still gives me a little thrill to receive a kind email, or even better a letter in the mail, from quilters who love and appreciate the videos I've posted. I might have started the project to scratch my own itch and interest in free motion quilting, but I've kept posting long after achieving my initial goal simply because it's a thrill to see so many people following along.

Now to look back on the year...this has been a mixture year of both good and bad, smart and stupid decisions, mistakes and amazing successes.

I set the intention for this year with our quilt along project, the Express Your Love goddess quilt. Even now, I have no regrets about focusing on this quilt for a year, but I can clearly see how my lack of planning and organizing greatly limited this project's success.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Looking back, I know fear is what mostly kept this project in limbo. I was afraid of spending loads of time planning and organizing, because - what if no one likes it or appreciates the effort? - that is what the fearful voice in my head kept whispering.

By letting that fear win, I didn't give the project the proper planning and attention it deserved, and well...ended up with a rather chaotic jumbled mess of a quilt along. Yes, it still worked out okay in the end, and we all learned a lot of cool new techniques, but how much better could it have been if I had dismissed the fear and allowed myself to plan and organize each post logically?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The flip side of this mistake is the joy Express Your Love has been to work on, and the amazing changes it has created in my personal life. You can't set an intention to show more love to your family and NOT end up with a totally different perspective on life, love, work, and family.

In a way, I believe the planning of the quilt along was also hampered because halfway through the year I became sidetracked with an intensely personal quest to understand my ability to express and receive love.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe first step in the path was learning about guilt and finally acknowledging how much deep, black guilt I mucked around in on a daily basis. If I quilted all day, I felt guilty for not spending time with my son. If I spent time with my son, I felt guilty for abandoning a quilt project. It was a never winning vicious cycle.

The second step was realizing that all that guilt was really just a cover for shame.

I used to think it was normal to want to work constantly, to feel a steady compulsion to be working, reading, or stitching on something at all times. Now I see that these actions are the compulsions of a workaholic.

Hard as it may be to understand, or for me to admit, my need to constantly work has been the greatest source of pain and isolation in my family. Almost all of my struggles to express my love, or feel love from others, begins here.

Constantly working is actually a habit I picked up as a little kid. When the chaos of my dysfunctional household grew too great, I'd hide behind a chair and sew, crochet, knit, or play legos in complete isolation simply to escape the abusive people around me. Years later, this habit is still playing out, and it's high time I learn how to stop working and simply LIVE.

I found many books on shame helpful like Daring Greatly and Healing the Shame that Binds You, but really the best move I've made was finally realizing that I can't do this alone and finding a therapist that would help me move weekly towards a shame-free, balanced life.

Thanks to my therapist, I finally read the 5 Love Languages, and after completing the poll in the back of the book I've found the love languages for almost everyone in my family. Expressing love has never been easier because I know exactly what actions to take to make everyone feel most loved.

Therapy has also FINALLY allowed me to overcome deep rooted fears about planning and organizing for the future. In years past I've asked why does everything have to be so hard? I seem to naturally make my life difficult by my lack of logical planning and foresight.

This year I'm asking - How can I simplify? How can I actively make my life easier? 

This might sound simple, but this is a totally new way of thinking for me. I now see that most of the complication and chaos I created around myself was simply a cover for the shame I was always trying to hide.

Already these changes - the ability to logically simplify, the ability to plan and organize, the ability to think ahead without overwhelming fear, the ability to just hang out with my family and ignore the compulsion to work - are making a profound difference in all areas of my life.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
It was letting go of those deep fears that finally allowed me to plan, write, and launch the new Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

I had only 2 months to write this pattern and plan an entire year's worth of videos and posts for our 2014 quilt along. In years past, I would not have been able to even get past the sketching and designing stage. I would have become too mired in illogical fears and "what ifs" to complete the pattern in time.

It is a mark of my progress that I was able to create this pattern, even having to change some blocks that were too complicated (SIMPLIFY!) and complete all 94 pages with time to spare, and virtually no mistakes.

This accomplishment was huge, and the reaction so far has blown away all my initial expectations! I can now see clearly that by taking the time to plan, simplify, and organize a solid project, we will have an amazing quilt along next year.

But we still have one more day to go in 2013, and this week I've been getting lots of practice at NOT
working. We're on the last day of our vacation, and for the first time ever, I've actually taken a vacation and left all my quilting and crafting stuff at home.

This has quite possibly been the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken. No matter how much I love quilting and I love the work I do, I cannot escape the connection between constantly working and constantly stressing. It was high time I put everything down and simply enjoy the sweet company of my guys.

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo that has been my year! As with all years, it's a mix of good and bad, ups and downs, but at this point right now I feel happy, relaxed, and excited for what is to come.

Happy New Year!

Leah Day


  1. after my hubs & I had a long heart to heart about what makes us each feel loved it all became much easier. He is actually proud of everything I make and loves it when I finish a project.
    Hoping you have a great year in 2014 - and that you feel the love coming your way from all the quilters you have inspired over the years. You are so young to have accomplished so much! Congratulations!

  2. Leah Happy New Year! I am so excited for the New Year and doing the Quilt Along with you! You sound so healthy and Happy! Congratulations on everything. Look forward to spending the year with you and your family! Your posts are always so insightful adn fun! Happy 2014!

  3. Happy New Year Leah! Here's to a wonderful and prosperous 2014 to you and your family. Love all that you do for the quilting community!!!

  4. Happy New Year Leah. Love ALL that you do for the quilting community! Here's to a wonderful and prosperous 2014 to you and your family.

  5. WOW. As I've said before, to have had your insight at your age would have made my life soooooo much simpler. And I hate to admit it, but at age 61, it is apparent to me that even now you've passed me in personal realization/evolution. I'm working on it, though. Wish me luck. Happy new year to you and your wonderful guys!

  6. What a thoughtful post. It is difficult to be raised to be always working. In my family - growing up on a family farm meant working at a task all the time. More so for my mom who has been my great role model.
    You have given yourself and your family a great gift of going for counselling. Even though I am 51 I learn a lot about quilting and life from your blog. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Happy New Year to you and your family. It doesn't seem possible that I have been part of that life and that family for 5 years now. Thank you for inviting us all in and sharing your life and your talents with us.

  8. Happy New Year Leah! I look forward to quilting along with you in 2014. :-)

  9. Happy New Year. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I learned a lot from you throughout the year, both quilting and a bit about life and what we do with it. You are truly an inspiration and. I am looking forward to the coming year.

  10. Happy New Year Leah! I too am looking forward to the new year!

  11. Happy New Year! I am so happy you for you. Hope 2014 brings you lot of joy and peace! Enjoy your family!

  12. Wishing you a wonderful year with your project which I am so looking forward to and a very happy home life!

  13. Leah, I hope that 2014 is a successful one for you. Of course we all have our own definition of success, but I am so proud of you for what you have achieved. And your Goodbye 2013 post rings so very true for me. I delay, I procrastinate, and put off achieving what I could. I just wish I had an insight like yours to help me to make the progress I crave. I am now 66 years old, and have been saving your posts for about two years, but always have some excuse for putting off actually DOING anything with them! Your post certainly resonates with me. Lin. XX

  14. Congratulations on being brave enough to face your demons in a grown up way. If I may be so bold as to share what I find helps me. Firstly, I quilt what I like because I like it. Secondly, my husband taught me to start by asking myself, "what outcome do I want to achieve"? Then work backwards from there, so that each step has come from what you wanted in the first place.
    I have great admiration and respect for you. May the new year keep you growing with love and laughter, Catherine, Melbourne, Australia

  15. Good luck with the new year. You have set goals and determined what is most important in your life. It is really freeing. It is like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Congratulations! You will do just fine.


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