The Free Motion Quilting Project: Look Good to Feel Good

Monday, November 30, 2015

Look Good to Feel Good

Lately I've been rolling out of bed, pulling my hair up in a messy ponytail, and getting to work looking like a total mess. After a few days, I start feeling a bit down and I catch myself questioning my decisions and comparing myself to others. It's easy to start down a slippery slope of negative thinking, and as you can see in this video, it ain't pretty!

I really believe that how you look has a direct reflection on how you feel. For years I didn't care much about my appearance. It seemed superfluous and silly to worry about combing my hair when I had videos to shoot, a toddler to keep track of, and a book to write all at the same time.

Part of the problem is I had never learned how to wear make up or do my hair. This is one of those things most girls learn in high school, which is nice because if you show up to class looking like a clown someone will clue you in.

In high school, I just didn't like the feel of makeup or see the benefit of wearing it. My self esteem was so incredibly low at that time that wearing makeup would probably have made me feel worse, not better. I just felt freakishly ugly and no amount of blush or lipstick would change that.

What really changed my perspective, and my attitude towards makeup and my appearance was shooting for Craftsy in 2012. I was quite nervous on set and anxious about how I looked and the clothes I'd brought to wear. My make up artist was so sweet and comforting and over and over she told me, "You are SO pretty!"

Leah Day | Quilting teacher
It was such a radical change to see myself made up and the best features of my face accented so nicely. I'd never seen this before and it made such a difference for filming that first class.

Since then, I've made much more effort when filming videos to look good or at least have combed my hair before turning the camera on. I don't film every day so it's very easy to fall back into my old, sloppy habits as you saw in this video.

I know for sure that taking a bit more time to look good makes me feel much better about myself. I question myself less, I value myself more, and every time I catch my appearance in the mirror, I have something to smile about.

So how about you? Do you feel better about yourself when you put energy into your appearance? When did you learn how to use make up and who taught you how? Has there ever been a time of your life that you felt particularly ugly and how did you move past that period?

This can be a sensitive topic and when writing this post I found myself revisiting a depressing time in high school and postpartum depression after James was born. Both are still hard times to look back on, but I can see now how both periods were made much worse because I didn't know how to make myself look better or feel better.

I've read recently that how you look is a reflection if your interior dialog. What are you reflecting today?

Let's get moving, let's try something new,

Leah Day


  1. Many years ago, I took a workshop from a quilter (don't remember who), and she said she treated working a home like working in an office. She got up and dressed like going to work, at that time heels and all. She said she accomplished more treating her quilting as a "real job". As you can tell, her story has remained with me.

  2. Wow, we can really be our own 'best bully' sometimes. I know exactly what you're saying. Been there, visit there quite often. Ive found that when Im exhausted from work that its too easy to fall back to being 'bitchy' with myself. Then I have to make myself stand in front of the bathroom mirror and say out loud as many great things I see and great things Ive done and accomplished against all odds and the naysayers.
    Make up still doesnt help me that much.
    You hang in there. Remind yourself - you're friggin' Leah Day! yeah!!!

    1. Lol! Yes, that negative self talk gets me a lot too. I find it runs in habitual patterns - I start feeling down, I stop caring what I look like, I feel worse, and pretty soon my brain is doing a hula dance to the beat of "You're so stupid. You're so ugly." It's awful. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face - you're absolutely right! I'm friggin' Leah Day! LOL!

    2. Yes, you are! I thought the promo for your appearance on "The Quilt Show" was cute: Alex said that they like to say "It's a new day" and now It's a new Day!

  3. My mother always made an importance on my outward appearance and often rebuked me when I didn't and said, "You can't go out looking like that!!" Being a mom at home, (homeschooled children) and lived in the country can discouraged our need for looking pretty. Who will see us anyway!!! Fashion and make-up aren't my forte and never thought I look beautiful. .Now that my daughter is older, we like to compliment and encourage each other on our clothing. My clothing rules for everything are they need to be comfortable, casual, whatever it's for home or going out. I keep make-up for days I got out with my husband or friends. I'm definitely not a diva, but I love looking beautiful, because it does helped to keep your energy.
    Leah you're a wonderful mom, wife, and business women. I personally always enjoyed watching the Leah Day you are. Continued looking yourself please and if you must brush your hair once a day and put make-up to look pretty, do it for yourselves, not for me:) Your quilt reflects who you're too:) They are beautiful!
    Take care.

  4. I learned many, many years ago from a wonderful man (my 1st hubby) that a woman should always look her best. I was quite young (18 1/2) when I met him and married at 19 (he was 7 years older). He did teach me so much and to this day I always make sure that I am dressed and have makeup on 1st thing in the morning. You do feel SO much better about everything you do! I'm no beauty but for the most part, I feel like I am a classy old lady, at least! And my current hubby (of 24 yrs) appreciates me taking care of myself as well. It defintely makes you feel so much better AND you are very pretty!!! With or without makeup! just sayin!

  5. Such timing! I've not had a good year (break up) and must admit that new clothes and my appearance haven't been a top priority. Easy to let that go when you don't feel good about yourself to start. But I was spurned on by a What Not To Wear marathon over thanksgiving (in particular the episode with Mayim Bialik because she is so candid about this very subject). Out I went to the mall shopping. Came back with new bras (seriously-this website is amazing: ) 6 new tops, a new pair of jeans and a better attitude about myself in general. I'm taking this into December-new clothes, better attitude and feelings about myself (OMG, I put on make up today). I think you get into that downward spiral when not taking care of yourself in this way is just another symptom.

    Well, ok, enough blah blah blahing. Just that your post today really touched me and yes, I totally feel better about myself when I'm taking the time to make my appearance look better.

    Now to get over this nasty cold!!

  6. You are a beautiful woman and I'm sure you've always had an inner beauty. While I too spend many days w/o makeup, or care what I look like, it is amazing how we can feel on the inside when we take time to put a bit of make up on, plan our wardrobe and think about our appearance. After all, our daily appearance can be as much fun planning and creating, as a quilt....and put a smile on others, just the same. So, it can be good for all of us to step back and think about our appearance, just as we plan out a quilt project. Both radiate happiness to others, as well as creativity.

    And, you, definitely deserve time for pampering. You are so gosh darn talented and so absolutely beautiful, inside and out.

    This topic can be touchy for many, but I'm so proud of you for sharing this post. And I hope it resonates with many. We are creative people and it is ok to pamper ourselves, as well as take time to put on a little makeup, as well as ensure our clothing represents the person we are on the inside. And, most of all, as I think your post implies, to encourage others that they are beautiful, inside and out, and that they are worthy of taking time to look beautiful, not just create beautiful quilts.


    1. What a sweet message! Yes, I do find I'm more productive and creative when I feel good about myself. I hadn't thought of my makeup time as pampering though - more a time consuming task to get through before the day starts. This morning I turned on music and sprayed peppermint in the air and really enjoyed my time instead of rushing through it. I'm going to turn this time into a fun, chill time with myself and I think it will be much easier to make it a daily habit from here on out!

  7. I love that last comment! You're LEAH DAY! It can't get much better than that!

  8. you are one pretty lady and an inspiration to us all. I have never bothered with makeup and now at 68 feel I have no need to! The first thing I do in the morning is make a coffee turn the computer on to catch up on blogs and if lucky might pick up the hair brush! The bath and getting dressed comes later

  9. I do believe you touched on a very sensitive important topic. Again, definitely putting vanity aside, feeling good about our appearance and that (as much as possible) our "worlds" are in order, gives us the freedom to let energy and creativity flow in a very positive way........which is most certainly transmitted in the pieces we work on. For myself......such activities, such as making sure the kitchen is in order and the bed is made for the day, allow me to go to my sewing studio and shift into "art/creativity" mode w/o any tethers holding me back. These may be so subtle as not to even be realized but, just as you point out, they lurk as a darkening veil over our waking hours and give shadows rather than sunlight. BUT we can change that.......first step: realizing that the situation even exists!!! Life is never all "rainbows" but having the little things in proper place does wonders. Thanks so much for your very transparent post!!!!!!

    1. Absolutely! I find if there are bills to be paid or emails to answer, I can't focus on my work. A lot of time I also have trouble designing when my hair is pulled up because I don't really like how it feels (though it does get it out of my way). I'm not sure I'll ever get around to making the bed every day though!

  10. So glad to read this. I recently viewed your Craftsy class, Free motion Effect (loved the class BTW) and noticed how confident you have become as a teacher. And I noticed the great hairstyle and subtle make-up. WOW! This is so true. If we take the time to feel good about ourselves it makes things work better, although sometimes I like to just stay in my pajamas and get busy quilting!

  11. You've reminded me of this:

  12. Thanks for the reminder! Sometimes I feel silly taking time to work on my appearance when there's so much else going on (result: I haven't showered this week. It's been that kind of a week....) BUT, like you, I just feel so much better and more confident when I like the way I look. Thanks for making it "ok" to spend time on myself.

    By the way, I'm taking one of your FMQ Craftsy classes, and I am so in love (and now I'm subscribed to your blog). Thank you for making it accessible to beginners!

    As my best friend says, you keep doing you!


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