The Free Motion Quilting Project: A Safe Space to Play

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Safe Space to Play

One of my personal challenges for this coming year is to take more time for art and self expression. I also find I work through difficult emotions or events much more easily when I take the time to draw, paint, or stitch out my feelings.

I also often feel stuck on big projects that are time consuming and easily become boring. I want to feel free to pop off the big projects to work on something small that won't eat up loads of time.

So I've decided to make a quilted journal. Each "page" measures 7 inches with an extra inch on the side so they can eventually be bound together to form a book. I even fed my inner nerd by designing the journal page, then digitizing it so I can easily stitch each page in the hoop of my embroidery machine:

Once I take it out of the machine and trim the fabric around, I just turn it right side out and the journal page is ready to quilt!

This is a personal journal and just a fun exercise in creativity and expression. I'm not going for perfection or even stellar design. I'm trying to give myself a safe space to play.

For the first page I drew a box inside and sketched a girl I've had in my head this week. She's pretty with big eyes and flowing hair - very much in the same style as many of my goddesses. I want to work on faces and expressions more and I'm learning loads by taking two drawing classes on Craftsy - Drawing Facial Features and Drawing Facial Expressions.

When I drew the girl, I had a lot of different things on my mind. I wanted her to look strong, peaceful, and happy because this was the exact opposite of how I was feeling.

The holidays really work on me and I was feeling tired and stressed. Instead of taking a break and relaxing, I began bouncing around other quilting blogs and quickly felt jealous. HOW do they DO IT? I saw beautiful table runners and placemats and cute aprons and felt totally overwhelmed by the amount other people could manage during this time. I would love to be making beautiful things too, but WHERE IS THE TIME?

My jealousy was ugly and it made me feel terrible. I rarely feel jealous because it's such a pointless emotion. When I do feel it, I read it as a sign that I need to stop looking at what other people are doing and go quilt myself. It's often a sign that my creativity is being stifled.

Picking up this little journal piece, I realized I had space to quilt text around the goddess face. She's so pretty, I wanted the words to be something nice. I first started with "Jealousy is ugly" but that didn't seem to fit. Instead I went with "Jealousy is not Pretty." I think this is the perfect little reminder about that particular emotion.
Of course in the process of making this little piece and flexing my creativity, I was able to let go of those ugly jealous feelings and feel good about myself again.

I believe in my heart that there is enough room for ALL of us to succeed, make gorgeous quilts, and design beautiful things. There is enough for EVERYONE.

Instead of focusing so hard on what everyone else is doing and comparing myself negatively, I want to feel happy, supportive, and kind. I don't have time or the space in my heart for an ugly emotion like jealousy. This little piece is a reminder of that.

I'm planning to add a bit more to this piece, to maybe paint her hair, and play with different thread colors over her face and background. This is an open space to play, but I admit I'm feeling a bit afraid of messing it up completely.

Hopefully this journal quilt project will accomplish two things - give me a vehicle for self expression, and force me out of my comfort zone to try new things. Even if I screw this piece up completely, I'll have learned something and isn't that the whole point?!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I love your honesty! I, too, have a difficult December due to a number of factors and never seem to finish the decorating, sewing, etc. This Christmas, I started making a list of everything I wish I had done, and have started to put a timeline in place for next year, so that I am ready to face December already having done everything I want to do! I look forward to seeing how your journal develops.

  2. I too find myself "hating" or being envious. Not of the productivity factor so much, because I'm pretty productive, but of the social aspect. Not only are some ladies super productive, but they also have time to blog about it and post on instagram constantly! It's so not fair! I struggle w/do I sew or do I blog (which includes blog hopping/commenting)? But I too don't like the ugliness that comes w/enviousness. Your journal sounds like a fabulous idea and I pray you good providence w/it.

  3. That's a wonderful start to your journal. I, too, find that I compare myself to all the wonderful things and the people who seem to be able to climb mountains when I barely keep up walking the flat terrain!! I've even thought about that when I've visited The Free Motion Quilting Blog!!! We all have the same amount of hours in the day...we just all use them differently. Can I just go sew/quilt when I need to make supper, clean the bathroom, grocery shop? Occasionally, but not usually. You and I need to stress less about our choices and ENJOY!! P.S. Christmas is all about sharing, enjoying, and loving; the heck with everything else.

  4. I hear you! I dislike the holiday season, except for the reason! I woyld be elated to just hide and let it pass me by. Be you - you know yourself better than anyone else. Your style and approach is captivating. I decided to challenge myself with new techniques...from the "I NEVER want to do that...such as stabilizing and fusing...yuck" Sooooo-Got your Butterfly under my needle now and another corner of quilting is in view. What a nice and enjoyable process this is! I've been quilting 25 years now and YOU sparked that interest in me, for which I am grateful-this is a blast. Which leads me to think-what else in life could I have brushed away and need to re-examine...again GRATEFUL!

  5. Way to go Leah! I agree - jealousy can totally suck out all of the joy of quilting. When I find myself feeling that way, I turn of the computer and go quilt!!


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