The Free Motion Quilting Project: Five Years of March 18th

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Five Years of March 18th

Hmm...what were we doing this time last year, or the year before, or the year before that? I've been blogging for more than 5 years and this blog has become my own personal time travel machine.

I can scroll back through the older posts and remember trips we've taken, when important quilts and projects were started, and see my little boy James transform from a chubby 2 year old to the super skinny 8 year old he is now.

So today I'd like to blast back to the past and see what was happening on March 18th for the last five years!
This time last year Josh was quilting in a Rail Fence Block for the Building Blocks Quilt Along. Working together on that project was sometimes challenging, but mostly fun, and it taught us both a lot about how to communicate and make good videos.

After we worked together on that project, we began filming all videos together, though Josh definitely prefers to be the man behind the camera, not in front of it! this day in 2013, I was sharing a new free motion quilting design called Zigzag Spiral for the Express Your Love Quilt Along.

That was design #382 and it just goes to show how easily new designs can be created by combining simple shapes together. In this case it was Zippling combined with Basic Spiral to create Zigzag Spiral. Around that time I remember making a list of every shape I could think of and extrapolated over 225 new designs!

Now what was happening three years ago? We were right at the beginning of the very first Free Motion Quilt Along, which was a much more open ended, random assortment of videos and link ups. In response to a lot of questions I'd received about building quilting skills I wrote the post Blueprint to Mastery.
In this post I directly addressed the two issues that seem to hold quilters back the most: lack of time and too much negativity. Reading back through this post, I'm reminded again of the struggles I went through and still see from quilters in my classes.

Free motion quilting is tough and in the beginning it's pretty ugly!

You HAVE to practice it every day and keep building your skills or it's just not going to happen. Why do you think I started this blog?

To challenge myself to create designs and dedicate myself to learning free motion quilting. I know for a fact that I wasn't a very good quilter when I started, but within 40 days, my abilities had changed exponentially, and yours can too!

Now for what I posted back in 2011 which oddly fits into this whole theme - it was an update to the Transformation Challenge. The challenge was to create a letter page sized quilt featuring at least 5 filler designs from the blog.

The challenge was a fun way to encourage quilters to start quilting and designing on a small scale. Transformation was the theme and it was interpreted in many unique and creative ways. You can find all the finalists and winners to this challenge right here.

While it was a fun challenge to host, I wasn't able to keep up with the logistics end of the project. I didn't end up making the quilt featuring all the challenge quilts (too many projects, not enough time!), but it was loads of fun to see all the beautiful, creative quilts that were created with designs from the project.
Now what was posted back in 2010 - the very first March 18th on this blog? That day I posted Knit Stitch, design #145. Looking back, I know this was one of my absolute least favorite designs, so it's kind of funny it ended up being posted today five years go!

I can honestly admit that I don't like all the designs I've shared. At that time I was posting 4-5 new designs per week and that level of production required me to post any design that popped into my head, no matter how ugly they were.

It's been a mixed bag, looking back at all the posts on March 18th. Some of these posts have made me smile, some have made me cringe, but isn't that life? Are there months or years of your life that you just don't want to remember? I personally wish I could just erase all of 2002!

Ultimately I'm so happy that I started blogging back in 2009 and extremely thankful for this record of my creative journey over the years. I will always have a better memory of these years and what I created and how I felt because of these posts.

So what about today? On this March 18th Dad and Josh have been packing orders downstairs with lots of help from James who is out for spring break.

I've been spending the day upstairs designing new quilts and writing articles. Right now I have a lot of "secret" projects in the works that might stop me from posting here as regularly as I like. Rather than fight it, I've learned to accept the ebb and flow of this business. Suffice it to say there will be a lot of really, really awesome new stuff coming out soon!

I hope you've enjoyed this little blast from the past as much as I have. Do you know what you were doing 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years ago today? Blogging is definitely a cool way to keep track of life as it happens and be able to quickly look back too.

Let's go quilt,



  1. Great blast from the past and an amazing 5 years. Thank you for all you have done to help teach and inspire quilters around the world.


  2. I write everyday but I don't blog regularly. SO I know what I have been up to. I like this thought and hope that it inspires me to post what I am up to. I do post on my FB page - I need to re-focus back to my blog - I had a lot of fun when I was doing that. Thank you for your posts and sharing all your knowledge. Very inspiring!

    1. I like the idea of following your joy. Sometimes it feels wonderful to post. Sometimes I'd rather hide under a rock, but I've kept steady because it's so important to keep a continual flow of creativity going.

  3. Great fun to go back and look at what you were doing five or so years ago I very often 'nip' back to my past to see how much my quilting has improved. I get a great kick from it. I agree with QuiltShopGal, you have done an awful lot for quilters around the world. Keep it up....please.

  4. I definitely remember this time last year...I was preparing to go thru one of the toughest years...dealing with breast cancer, surgeries and chemo. And if that wasn't enough to deal with I also had cataract surgery on both eyes. You are so right about keeping a journal or blogging. I wish I had started one last year. Would have been interesting to go back and read my thoughts about my journey...but I do have my phone calendar and at a glance I know where I was and what I was doing. It was during my recovery that I found your blog. Even tho I was not sewing or quilting at the time I did follow you...every day. Can't explain it but watching you quilt and listen to and read about your stories gave me comfort. I am greatfull for the time you share with us. I am on the road to wellness now and trying to get back into quilting but it has been a slow process, but one day at a time. Thank you for letting me share. You are an inspiration to me...every day. Maybe one day when you are bored or have nothing to do, hahaha, you could give us a some information on how and where to start a blog. I have thought about starting but really have no idea where to start. It would definitely be a good reminder of where we have been.

    1. It sounds like you've been through quite a year Pat! I'm so glad to hear you are healing well and working back to full heath. As for starting a blog, you can easily start a blogger or Wordpress blog for free just by following through the start tutorial on the main sites ( or It's very easy to set up, so the most time consuming part might be picking the name of your blog and the template! Good luck and take care.

    2. Thanks for the info. I will check them out. Hope it doesn't turn into just another project I don't finish. But I do love reading everyone's blog.

  5. What a great 5 years! Here's to another awesome 5+++
    When I made the switch from blogging everyday to just 2-3 times per week it was a huge relief and honestly I don't think it made much difference in my traffic :-)

    1. I agree completely Christa! Facebook and Instagram have also allowed me to feel connected and creative even when I don't have time to write a whole post.

  6. Great post, Leah! It IS interesting to look back, and I really appreciate the photo of your scraggly feather. I find it very encouraging! Everyone starts as a beginner, and I appreciate the reminder. :)

  7. Congrats on five years! You've come a long way, and it's fun, yet sometimes scary, to look back at our beginnings! But we all have to start somewhere

  8. What a timely post, I was working on a quilt top today trying to do feathers and perfect or even close they are not. Seeing the feather picture above reminded me that we all have to start at the beginning and to stop myself from being so negative that it wasn't better. After reading today's message I'm going to finish this ##%%$% thing and then jump right into something else and keep going. Thank you


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