The Free Motion Quilting Project: August 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Meet Kitchen!

free motion quilting | Leah Day | Kitchen the Kitty

Meet the newest member of our family! We were leaving my in-laws house last night and this little girl ran out in the road in front of our car. With no houses nearby and no owner in sight we figured she was abandoned and most likely going to get hit by a car if she stayed near the road. Josh scooped her up and we brought her home.

free motion quilting | Leah Day | Kitchen the Kitty
The first thing she did was jump right out of my arms and onto the kitchen counter, which gave me the inspiration for her name: kitchen, which Josh later changed to Kitchenette when we realized she was a girl.

I'm not really sure how old she is, and she's definitely not litter box trained, so this is going to be an adventure. Despite the mess I had to clean up this morning, I'm totally in love with this little sweetie!

Update - After a more thorough test and many readers clued me in, I realized that she is in fact HE and is now renamed Kitchen! I'm guessing he's about 6 weeks old, and already proving to be a handy escape artist. Kitchen is going to keep me on my toes, that's for sure.

Off for another cuddle,


Friday, August 29, 2014

41. Piece a Basket Block

Earlier this week we finished up free motion quilting our last house block so I think it's time to jump ahead to piecing our basket blocks!
free motion quilting | Leah Day

I absolutely love this block and the combination of half square triangles and the cute curving handle of the basket. We're getting our feet wet with a bit of applique with this block, and I'm excited to be able to teach you my favorite turned edge applique method.

Learn how to piece this block in this video:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Find the template for the basket handle as well as detailed cutting and piecing instructions in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

This video ran a bit long, but there are a lot of steps to piecing this block. When turning the edges of your basket handles just remember that a wider amount of fabric is easier to turn. If you cut the fabric too close to the template it can feel really fiddly and once you add starch, the whole process can become a struggle.

One product I recently discovered is Floriani Stitch and Wash Fusible. This is a fusible stabilizer that is stable enough to turn against exactly as we learned in this technique, but it's water soluble, so you can leave it in the handle and the stiffness will wash out after you wash your quilt.

I played with this a bit and really liked the ability to turn my edges, but not have to remove the template, which always seems to wreck havoc with the fiddly places, like deep points and corners.

free motion quilting | Leah DayIt might also be a good idea to place a piece of tearaway stabilizer under your block as you zigzag stitch over the basket handle. The more I learn about machine embroidery, the more I realize how much stabilizer is needed for regular machine applique as well.

Speaking of machine applique, I'm headed to the machine to start working on the blocks for our NEXT quilt along! Here's a little sneak peak to get you excited:

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Amazing Aquarium in NC

Oh man! Yesterday James had a half day at school and we decided that was the perfect day to go to Sea Life, a new aquarium that opened this year in Concord, NC.

What an amazing place! This aquarium was small, but extremely organized and basically built for small children. There were multiple places for James to crawl inside the tanks and look out through the water like this:

I really loved this aquarium's focus on education for conservation. They breed multiple species of rays and seahorses and explain why these fish are in danger. Simply put - we eat them too much, or we're destroying their habitat. Sea Life clearly wants to educate children to make good food, transportation, and buying decisions.

Josh and I even learned a lot and we all had a great time because this aquarium was so creative and interesting. The largest shark tank was the coolest because you get to walk through a tunnel and see all the fish swim around you. On the opposite side is another viewing window with this big guy right in the middle:

Clearly this aquarium was built by some very creative people! We really had a great time and I love supporting places like this. So just in case you're in Concord, NC, make sure to swing around the back of Concord Mills (the massive mall that's impossible to miss on the side of I-85) to find SeaLife.

Even better, We're Sew Creative, a super cool quilt shop is nearby, so you can make it a quilting excursion as well!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Josh's Circles & Echoes in a House Block

Josh here for my turn to quilt circles and echoes in our last house block.

I really liked the design effect on this one with the smoke echoes coming from the chimney.

 For the rocks at the base of the block, substituting the design "Underwater rocks" was a great help and also was good practice for circles.

I continue to mix things up by modifying and simplifying the designs. I particularly liked the necklace effect I made with the rocks at the bottom. I can get away with this due to the fact I'm using Spoonflower preprinted fabric, which is marked at the manufacturer and eliminates the entire piecing process.

And here is my completed block:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Until next time, let's go quilt!


Monday, August 25, 2014

New Hand Applique Class with Mimi!

I'm having a much better day, chilling on the couch with a creative project in my hands and a fun Craftsy class on my ipad. Today I'm enjoying Mimi Dietrich's newest Craftsy class Hand Applique Made Easy.

Mimi Dietrich is quickly becoming one of my favorite teachers. She's funny, extremely talented, and has a knack for making complicated things like needle turn applique very easy.

Sign up for this new Hand Applique Made Easy class and save 17%.

Mimi's other Craftsy class is Finishing School, a class all about finishing your quilts with binding. If you're looking for creative ways to bind your quilts, this is also a class you'll enjoy. Click here to save on Finishing School too!

Let's go learn!


40. Quilt Circles & Echoes in a House Block

Today we're quilting along on the Building Blocks Quilt and finishing up our last house block of the month. This is my all time favorite quilting design for this quilt and it's just a simple combination of circles and echoes:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

For this design, I marked every line except the Pebbling in the bottom of the block. That section was far easier to quilt free hand with no marking. Everything else needed to be marked in order to fit together properly. Check out this video to see what I mean:

I love this design so much, it's been turned into a quilting stencil! Click Here to find a 10 inch stencil for this house block design.

This stencil marks a 10 inch house block, which won't fit our 8 inch square for the Building Blocks Quilt. But if you wanted to play with more houses over plain fabric blocks, this would certainly be an easy way to mark it!

I've been playing with other stencils and created this funky wholecloth by combining one of the Cheater Drunkard Path designs four times. It's amazing what you can do with the stencils because it's so much easier to mark the fabric from the surface.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Feeling inspired? Click here to see all the stencils you can play with from Quilting Creations International.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Goddess Sketches

This year I haven't had a main goddess quilt to work on, unless you count Duchess Reigns who is folded up in the corner until I can find the thousand hours it will take to finish her. I made some major design mistakes on that quilt...but I will get back to it sometime.

Still, I even though I haven't started a new quilt, that doesn't mean I haven't been working on several designs. Here's a few sketches I'm playing with right now:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This quilt came to me after reading a story in a Workaholics Anonymous newsletter. The author wrote something like "I needed to find something more powerful than all my fears."  Those words - more powerful than all your fears - really resonated with me.

I've really struggled with fear and anxiety in the past, even made a quilt on what it looks like to be totally stuck in fear, and the idea of capturing that force of strength and compassion was really compelling. So this quilt is about seeking peace and feeling comforted and safe.

The next design is not really a goddess, but may be incorporated into one eventually. At the beginning of the summer I kept drawing empty spaces with lines running through them.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
What was coming to mind is the feeling of having your heart torn out - like a broken heart - and what it takes to mend. There are times I feel like the scars of my past are so faded and old they're hardly worth noticing.

Other times, and it seems especially in the summer, I find these scars raw and painful once again. I have a scar on my ankle from when I caught myself on fire in 1999. It might just be my imagination, but in the summer it seems to stand out much more clearly than other times of the year.

So that was the more depressing of the designs I've been working on, but I find it compelling because I want to play with Sharon Schamber's corded lattice techniques. It might showcase something painful, but if done beautifully, it will be an amazing quilt.

Later in the summer I began dreaming a lot more and came up with this design:
free motion quilting | Leah Day

I was thinking about the days before I had James when I was full of curiosity about this child I hadn't seen before. Also around that time I began actively pursing my dream of starting a business so I did a lot of day dreaming about what our lives would be like if everything worked out.

This goddess is dreaming, planning, seeking, wishing, and creating a landscape out of her own head. I love this image because I believe it's such a powerful, positive message: what you wish for can come true.

Right in line with this goddess is one more about creativity and unleashed potential:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This one is really a recreation of Release Your Light, but this time I'm going to use the original name of that quilt - Light In Me.

This design jumped into my head after AQS Charlotte when I began asking What does I Am Enough look like? and What does Creativity look like?

My answer is this design - creativity is an open channel. Her heart is open to share, and her hands are open to receive. The sun isn't sketched in yet, but like Release Your Light, she will be exploding with light.

So maybe you can see why I haven't made a true start at any one of these designs - this is a lot to choose from! The one lesson I've learned over the years is not to rush it.

I've decided to work on all of them, solidifying the piecing / applique design first, then the quilting design, then the construction plan. You never know, one of these may even show up as a quilt along project for next year!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cheering up with Pie

Not every day is a great day...(today has been pretty rotten)...

free motion quilting | Leah Day

But most days are better with apple pie!

My dad has been blessing us with more than just awesome help cutting fabric and packing orders. He also bakes pies about every two weeks and brings one down for us to enjoy. How's that for a multi- talented employee?

Here's to bad days being made a bit better with good food.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Raising an Active Adult

James Day
This summer I had a brilliant "Ah HA!" moment with my son, James. I've been wanting James to get outside more, enjoy the sunshine, build a fort, run around and be active.

But mostly he just wanted to sit inside and play Gameboy or watch movies on my iPad. He didn't have much desire to go run around outside when an endless stream of Star Wars, My Little Pony, and Super Mario Brothers could be found inside on the couch.

And who can really blame the kid? I actually HATE to be outside in North Carolina in the summer. It's muggy, hot, and the mosquitoes are relentless. Seriously, seriously no fun.

Eventually I took a good look at my own behavior - am I being active? Do I get outside and play? Not much. The most exercise I was getting was walking downstairs to my sewing machine, then back upstairs to get lunch. I really dislike running or playing sports of any kind. Getting hot and sweaty just isn't my thing. Bah humbug!

My big "Ah HA!" moment was realizing it's pretty ridiculous to expect my kid to grow up to be an active, outdoor loving person when I'm not setting an example for it. I've gotta get outside, be active, play in the grass, and get chewed alive by mosquitoes myself if I expect my kid to want to have anything to do with it.

So we've started walk / running in the morning. During the summer we took a detour on the way to summer camp to walk around the town square. A few laps around the square was a nice way to start the day, and at least in the morning it's not so hot or muggy!

Now that school is back in session we're walking before the bus arrives to take James to school. He's actually a wonderful companion for a walk because he doesn't let me slack off. Now that we have a routine he EXPECTS to walk every morning. He's also funny because he can keep a constant stream of dialog going the whole time: "Check out that bird! Oh, look at that beautiful sunrise! The sprinklers are on!"

It's distracting and silly which is good because it keeps my mind off how much I dislike exercise. So in the end I think I've just gained my perfect exercise companion. I make sure we get up and leave the house early enough to walk and James makes sure we have fun along the way.

Let's go play,


We're EDITING! Finally!

free motion quilting | Leah Day |How to Piece Perfect Quilts
What am I doing this morning? Putting the finishing touches on my new book!

This is How to Piece Perfect Quilts - a revised and expanded version of a book I wrote way back in 2009. I have slugged away at this book all summer, shooting new photos, piecing new versions of the quilts, and organizing it all into this new 124 page ebook.

Josh ran through the edits of the final chapter yesterday and this morning I'm fixing all the errors and giving it one last polish before it goes to my final editor, Chet, my father-in-law.

I always ask my family to edit my books because Josh was an English major in college, and Chet taught high school English and has been a professional writer and novelist for his entire adult life. Between the two of them, we catch all the serious typos, but I'll need to run through the fabric calculations and cutting graphs one more time to double check them all.

Personally I find writing fun, but obnoxious. That might sound funny from someone who has already published three books, but that's the truth! I find it obnoxious mostly because the grammar rules always seem to be changing.

With math, 2 + 2 will always equal 4. In writing, every teacher I had from middle school through college had a different set of rules for sequences and contractions. Josh still makes fun of me when I write "do not" instead of "don't." I'm not sure who beat that habit into my head, but it sure did stick!

How about you? Do you love math or writing? Did your teachers torture you with constantly changing rules, or did you have lovely teachers who didn't care about commas or apostrophes?

Off to write,


More Posts, More to Share

James and Leah DayI've realized something this week - I really have a lot more to say on any given day and I haven't been saying it. This blog is my place for expression, but I've let it become a little too narrowly focused.

So I'm changing it!

From now on, I'm going to post as many times a day as I feel like - which could be one time, or five. It just depends on how the mood strikes. I might post only a few photos, or I might post a letter to my future self, or a new design - the fact is (and really I'm just telling myself this to get it stuck in my brain) this blog doesn't always have to be all about quilting all the time.

There is just so much more to my life than quilting! Yes, I absolutely love making quilts, but I'm also a mom, a wife, a passionate cook, a Lego fanatic, a spinner / knitter / crocheter, a writer, a designer, and a business owner, and I have stuff to say about all of it nearly every day!

So from now on - I'm sharing it all. We might have to do more work organizing the sequential posts, but I feel better already just getting my voice cleared for the take off.

My lesson for myself today - don't fight your nature. I love to share and being open is important to me.

So SHARE and keep searching for what creativity looks like - it certainly doesn't look like a girl with her mouth taped shut.

Off to quilt,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Colorful Finish

I marked up this little wholecloth quilt a few weeks ago with this Drunkard's Path 10 inch stencil and today I finished up the quilting:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yes, it's high time I stopped quilting only with white thread!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I've been experimenting with a few things beyond my comfort zone, even if that is a little...uncomfortable.

One of the big changes I want to make this year is using to use a lot more color in my quilts.

Changing colors is not so much difficult as it is time consuming. I'm pretty lazy some days and the idea of changing bobbins for every thread color isn't always my favorite thing to do.

But I think my attitude is changing now that I see this bright, beautiful effect!  So what do you think? How often do you like to change colors in your quilts?

Let's go quilt,


Check out that Kid!

It's funny how things change. For the past several years when school started I would find myself feeling really sad at how quickly the years are speeding by and how fast my little guy is growing up.

But THIS year...things are different! I'm not sad at all, but excited and happy that James is so grown up!

James Day

He's just starting 1st grade and so happy to be back in school. On Tuesday he had an amazing day of first - first day of school in first grade, and he lost is first front tooth!

I'm hoping the other front tooth will fall out before the first one grows in so we can get a solid no-front-teeth-shot which I will frame beside this one:
A Classic Scrunch Smile

Yep, that's my grinning boy with only 4 or 5 teeth back in 2008 when he was 18 months old. It's all going by so fast, but I'm loving every minute of it!

Let's go quilt,


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Josh's All Sorts of Wiggles in a House Block

It's Leah here for Josh today! We've been bouncing on and offline all morning (PLEASE Time Warner Cable - FIX IT ALREADY!) and Josh is busy with loads of other things so I'm posting his block and video today:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
James Day

There was a lot of Stippling in the background of this block, which Josh found tricky to quilt perfectly on the lines, especially close to the edges of the block. He completely ignored the lines in a few sections and the effect is pretty cool!

Honestly we're both a bit distracted today because it's James's first day of first grade. He also nearly lost is first front tooth yesterday (it's hanging on my a single thread!), so he's experiencing a lot of firsts all at once. He might come home and be the first kid that's lost his tooth on the first day of school in first grade!
Back to quilting and here's the video:

Yep, you can still join in this project anytime by picking up a copy of the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

Or you can try the Spoonflower Cheater Cloth fabric like Josh is using. See all the colorways of this fabric here.

So what's your favorite type of wiggle? The boxy teeth design or the wiggly Stippling? Try them all out on this block and have fun learning how to free motion quilt so many different types of wiggly lines!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Monday, August 18, 2014

39. Quilt a House Block with Wiggles

It's time to quilt another house block and this time we're covering it with all sorts of wiggles - teeth, wiggly u's, and Stippling!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

For this block I marked all the lines except the Stippling in the background because I can free hand quilt that design.

For a little reminder - free hand free motion quilting is quilting with no marks. You memorize the rules of the design and how it moves over your quilt. Think of this like learning how to write in cursive - you can visualize the letters to know what to write so you can easily fill up pages of writing. Free hand quilting Stippling works exactly the same way.

For the rest of the designs you've marked, you're still free motion quilting, but following the lines. It takes a bit more time to mark the lines for quilting, but it might make things easier to visualize when you're first getting started.

One FMQ method is not better or worse than the other - these are two separate skills that are great to build for free motion quilting and I use both in almost all my quilts.

See what I mean in this free motion quilting video:

Are you looking for instructions on piecing the house block or the diagram to mark it? Find both in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
Do you like the little window drapes I added to the window? That's one of the awesome things about free motion quilting - you can always wiggle in and add cool touches like that at any time!

So what would you add to this block? Are you comfortable free hand quilting Stippling or would you rather mark it? Share your experience or any questions you have in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Josh's Wiggles & Matrix in a House Block

Josh here for the Tuesday beginner post. Today I'm quilting wiggles and matrix designs in our house block.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

You can see I've continued with modifying these new designs. I left out the wiggly lines entirely within the interior of the house, and I also minimized the number of lines in the matrix at the bottom of the block. I elected not to do the front of the house because I wanted to keep the area puffy and loose for a nicer tactile effect.

Here's the video of me stitching out the block:

Curved and wavy lines always give me a problem. Leah's advice of slowing down the foot pedal definitely helped. I also think stitching matrix closer to the center of the block would have been more helpful for a beginner. In fact, looking at the finished block, I wish I had filled it with some very loose matrixing.

We also discussed hiding your threads with Leah's "cheater needles." They are actually called self-threading needles, but I prefer Leah's term. One thing I'd encourage you to do is practice hiding your threads in scrap blocks. Leah can hide a thread in ten seconds, where it took me almost three minutes the first time I tried.


Monday, August 11, 2014

38. Quilt a House Block with Wiggles and Matrix

Ready to tackle another fun house block? Today we're free motion quilting wiggles and Matrix over this block to create some really neat effects:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Unfortunately with this block I had the brilliant idea to "save time" by not marking sections of my block. As you'll see in the video, this decision ended up COSTING me time having to fiddle with my lines as I filled the house.

Lesson learned: just mark the darn block! There are no short cuts or ways to save time free motion quilting this design that won't end up taking more time to fiddle with later. See what I mean in this video:

Looking for instructions on piecing the house block or the diagram to mark it? Find both in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click Here to check out the PRINT version
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Click here to check out the DOWNLOAD version
 The only area that you can really get away with no marking is the bottom section of the block filled with Matrix. This design is basically a wiggly grid and no matter how you stitch it, the multiple lines crossing and overlapping hides just about any mistake.

After free motion quilting your block, make sure to come back by and share your experience or ask any questions that come up along the way to the comments section below.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fun Techniques with Fabric Paints

This week painting fabric and dyeing has been on my mind constantly. This is probably due to my new obsession with the Craftsy class Fun Techniques with Fabric Paints!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This class is taught by Cindy Walter and I absolutely love the way she demystified fabric painting completely. She breaks down the process into easy to follow steps, and even makes understanding the difference between paints as easy as shaking the bottle!

What I love the most about this class is feeling like I can paint on fabric even if I don't have an art degree.

Cindy is easy to follow, clearly describes and demonstrates the techniques, and is very friendly and comforting with all her advice. She's especially good about emphasizing that the fabric you paint on doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive. Her favorite thing to do is get discount bin fabric and transform it with paint.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThrough the class you will learn many interesting techniques including salting, stamping, sun printing, and color washing. Cindy also teaches cool mixed media techniques like using 3D paint, oil sticks, and even couching decorative yarns over the surface of your quilt.

So if you've been looking for an inspiring class to get your creative juices flowing, definitely give Fun Techniques with Fabric Paints a try. Click Here to get 25% off this class!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Friday, August 8, 2014

#435 - Free Motion Quilt Trapped Ripples

Whoa! I just recently searched through our lists of designs and realized we haven't learned a new design since May. Let's learn a fun new free motion quilting design and stitch a bit out of the box today with Trapped Ripples:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Check out those triangles! I love this combination of sharp angled shapes and curvy textures, and the best thing about this design is it works on any quilting scale. Above I quilted Trapped Ripples on a small scale, but here I stitched it on a larger scale for the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Volume 1:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So no matter if you free motion quilt it big or small, this design looks super cool! Let's learn how to quilt it together:

Today when I sat down to write this post I had a sudden urge to see what this design would look like if only every other triangle was filled. Lately I've been working to follow my nudges, so I zipped downstairs to give it a try:

I think I like this version just as much if not more! It's kind of like a checkerboard, only it's triangles...kind of a splintered Alice & Wonderland checkerboard, and certainly going to lead to other interesting designs.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
One note about the Craftsy class Free Motion Fillers Volume 1 - this class features 50 free motion quilting designs all demonstrated on a large scale on a throw sized quilt. If you've been wanting to learn how to quilt loads of filler designs on a larger scale, this is definitely a great class for you! Click here to get 50% off this fun class!

So what do you think of trapped ripples? Where do you want to use this in a quilt?

Remember, the best way to get to know any design is to free motion quilt it on a small scale on a small square. You'll get plenty of practice and not waste much fabric. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Craftsy's BIG Summer Sale is celebrating the dog days of summer with a HUGE sale on classes! In this sale, ALL classes are up to 50% off!

Craftsy is a terrific craft educational website filled with over 80 awesome quilting classes covering everything from foundation paper piecing to dyeing fabric to free motion quilting.

When you purchase a Craftsy class, you are purchasing lifetime access to that class so you can watch the lessons today, next week, next year - no matter when you have time you can jump in and start watching and follow the directions at your own pace. This is a great time to stock up on classes to inspire you through the fall and winter. Here's a few that I've been enjoying this month:
Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot - Yes, you can be very creative with your walking foot! The teacher Jacquie Gering has studied machine quilting with a walking foot for years and is able to push the boundaries of what you might think this foot can do. She also goes into wonderful detail on putting a walking foot on your machine, using guides, and picking your stitch length.

After watching a few lessons of this class I really felt like kicking myself. I've been so focused on free motion quilting, that I haven't touched a walking foot in years. Jacquie's class has definitely inspired me to pull it out again and give these new ideas a try!
Dot to Dot Quilting with Angela Walters - Here's another cool machine quilting class taught by the wonderfully talented Angela Walters that focuses on a concept called Dot to Dot quilting. This method of quilting is easy to do on a home sewing machine and requires minimal marking, but produces amazing results!

I was struck immediately by how quick and easy these techniques can be and how quickly you could quilt quilts of any style or shape. Definitely check out this class if you're needing some quick quilting inspiration.
Fun Techniques with Fabric Paints - This super inspiring class covers everything you need to know about painting on fabric. Cindy Walter leads the class by teaching about the different paints available, what works for certain techniques, and then jumps right in teaching you how to paint beautiful color washes and neat techniques like salting and sun printing.
Cindy really breaks down the process in a simple, fun way, so if you've been intimidated by fabric painting, this will definitely be the class for you!

These are just three classes that I've been enjoying, but remember ALL classes are on sale now through Monday. Click Here to jump in and check out all that's available right now!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What does Creativity Look Like?

free motion quilting | Leah DayToday I feel like sharing some personal thoughts and what I've been working through lately.  I've finally come to accept that I go through a low period in the summer, and it generally makes me more pensive than usual. I've found myself asking two questions:

What does "I am Enough" look like?

What does creativity look like?

The first question might sound odd, but if you've read my personal posts before, or watched these early videos from our Express Your Love quilt along, you'll know I Am Enough is a phrase I've been trying to wrap my head around for awhile.

Lately I've stopped trying to find the magical thing, tool, quilt, book, phrase, or gizmo and accepted that nothing I do, create, build, or achieve will ever make me suddenly feel that sense of wholeness and completion I've been seeking for so long.

So if you can't make it, and you can't buy it, how do you get it?

I've been trying to visualize it. What does a woman look like who embodies I Am Enough? Does she look powerfully strong, or does she look just like herself, mighty in her own skin?

I'm finding this hard to visualize, but I feel like I'm on the right track. I've often found that digging into something, fully immersed and entangled is the only way to really understand it. Asking this question leads to other questions, sketching one shape leads to sketching three others, and so on.

The second question - What does creativity look like? - popped into my head this past weekend.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Is this how you define creativity?
Fairly recently, I was in a class with several women who seemed to define creativity as a glass that was so nearly empty, they needed to fight over the last drops. You might have taken a class like this too where the teacher seemed threatened by her students, and the students threatened by one another. It was uncomfortable and unsettling to say the least.

That idea of a glass mostly empty made me ask - how do I see creativity? Why does this "empty glass" point of view feel so foreign to me?

It made me realize that I see creativity as far more than just a glass totally full. I see it as a never-ending torrent of pure energy. There is enough for EVERYONE. It will NEVER run out. One person's expression does not dim another person because there is ENOUGH for everyone.

Two images fully embody this powerful vision of creativity - a massive waterfall and the sun.

I like the image of a mighty waterfall, but there's a negative connotation because if you stand in a waterfall, you will be crushed by the weight of the water pounding down on you. This might be how a self-destructive artist (see Jackson Pollock) visualizes his creativity - basically their art is created at the expense of their life. That's pretty negative and obviously not sustainable.

I like visualizing the sun as the source of all creativity because it's powerful and nourishing, and there is ENOUGH for everyone. The sun inspires the natural creativity of plants to grow and flowers to bloom. Its pure creative power is responsible for life on Earth and our success as a species. What is more creative than the sun?

What I also love about this sun metaphor is we can all be warmed by it - there is enough for everyone. It will never run out, it can never be patented, trade marked, copy written, or monopolized, and it's the most dependable thing in our world.

But what about standing in someone's shadow? If someone else stands in front of you and is creative "first," does that not somehow diminish the amount of creative light you can absorb?

This is getting back to that idea of fighting for space, fighting for the last drops of creativity. If you are standing in someone else's shadow, you are choosing to put yourself there. You are choosing that darkness and place of limited creativity because of some limiting beliefs about yourself, your ability, or your perspective of that other person.

This also made me suddenly understand all those women who visualize creativity as such a scarce resource - they have turned their faces from the sun. They live in darkness and fear where nothing thrives and they have to hunt and strive for the scraps of inspiration that occasionally trickle their way.

After thinking on all of this, I realized that I finally had a solid visual for both questions: creativity looks like a blazing sun, and a woman that fully embodies the words "I Am Enough" is fully embracing her creativity and power of expression. Turns out, I've already made a quilt that pulls both elements together:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

So that's my answer! It feels so nice to have a powerful, positive visual on these two concepts and to be moving in a direction towards "I Am Enough." I'm feeling inspired to make a new version of the Release Your Light goddess above, to design and play with these ideas even more.

How about you? How do you think or define creativity? Are you able to say the words "I Am Enough," or do they stick in your throat? Do you believe your creativity has limits or will one day run out if you're not careful?

All things to ponder...while we go quilt!

Leah Day

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