The Free Motion Quilting Project: Designing the Dream Goddess

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Designing the Dream Goddess

Last week I decided it was time to pick a new goddess design and start working. I took a drawing with me to meditation and during one session, stared at the picture and studied the lines. A few were still irritating me, so I made some adjustments when I got home and ended up with this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I still don't have a solid name for this girl other than Dream Goddess. The basic idea she represents is this: dreams and desires can create reality - the landscape. For years in high school and college I dwelt on the idea of owning a creative business, of supporting myself and my family with what I could create. I also continually sought out a stable relationship with an emotionally mature man, but that took YEARS to find (high school is not a great place to be looking!)

I now believe that all that time thinking and dreaming and wanting was absolutely essential to my journey, even if it felt a bit frustrating at the time. There is a power in dreams and desire, if you're able to let yourself WANT without judgement.

This is hard to do because there are so many messages constantly shooting from every direction to Be thin! Be smart! Be successful! Be very blonde! Be very brunette! Get a college degree! Date lots of guys! Don't date lots of guys! Have a big circle of friends! Have only one BEST friend!

All these messages, often conflicting and confusing, are coming from all directions at all times. So often I felt pulled apart by what I wanted and what I was being told I SHOULD be wanting.

I wish I could say that I always returned to the peaceful mindset of this goddess and trusted myself and my goals. Unfortunately I set my wants on a questioning stand and berated them with doubts. Soon it was hard to really know what I wanted and was seeking because I was so filled with confusion and doubt I couldn't make a decision anymore.

Designing this goddess has been fun and easy because she's so simple and peaceful. The message is - Stop. Go within. Listen. Just be still.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

And I'm pulling this theme into how I make this quilt. Rather than rush off in a mad hurry to piece and quilt her, I've blown up the drawing to full size and taped her to my wall.

Now every day I take a little time to look closely at the quilt, to let my eyes travel over the entire piece. I find that often my eye snags on something - a line that doesn't look quite right, a hill that needs to be a slightly different shape and I'm able to fix it on the wall. This quilt is hanging in my dining room so I can stare at her as I eat any meal.

What I haven't preplanned is the quilting design, so as I'm looking at this paper drawing, I'm also searching for the quilting design. What designs go where? This can be simple like feathers in her hair, or more complex - what to quilt in her face?

This is how I designed Life and Fire, but I stopped hanging up the designs and staring at them so long because it felt too time consuming and I was always in a rush. I'm slowing down with this quilt and returning to what worked before.

Ultimately I know all this time, drawing and planning is going to pay off. With no questions left unanswered it will be a much faster process because I won't get snagged on essential questions like - what thread color to use in the sun?

So often I'm asked how do I plan a quilting design. The answer is pretty simple - stare at it long enough and eventually you will be able to see what it wants.

Let's go quilt,



  1. Sounds like you have this under control.
    How did you blow that pic up to full size?

    1. I design in a computer program called Draw Plus so I can group all the lines together and resize it to any size. So I could make her bigger or smaller if I wanted, but this size (55 inches wide) felt just right.

  2. I absolutely love the drawing and the message behind her. I know I need to do more stopping and listening within. I can't wait to see this project unfold.

  3. It will be a wonderful quilt! Thank you for sharing the process!, I learn a lot reading your post.

  4. I once fell in love with some cats eating sushi fabric. I knew I wanted to make ME a quilt with it. It sat on my coffee table for over 3 months. I just kept staring at it...nothing. One night watching TV...I looked at it as if it shouted at me to pay attention "what?...oh THATS what you want!" I tell people it's as if it spoke to me-ONLY a quilter understands!!! The creative process will only end in disaster when forced...when you LET it happen-creativity takes you on a wonderful journey and an even better destination! New goddess is coming to life very must be listening too.

  5. I've always let the messages of "You should do this, you should do that" overshadow what I wanted or needed to do. Finally, at 53, I'm learning how to listen to my own messages. I love this design a lot!! If you ever sell the pattern, I'll be first in line!! :)

    1. I'd be a close second. It's a fabulous design and I would love to piece and quilt it.

  6. I often have to employ that same strategy for creating or finishing a project. One such project comes to mind. I built a cat quilt and hung it on the wall to study it to figure out how to hand quilt it. This was pre-Janome. After about 10 years, I sent it to a long armer!! Love your new design. I cannot wait to see it grow.


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