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My Cup Runnth Over - Gratitude Goddess Quilt by Leah Day

Learn more about My Cup Runneth Over, one of my most popular goddess art quilts in this quilting video:

Click the images below to find more quilting inspiration:

Gratitude Inspiration

This quilt began the way most of my goddesses begin: a sudden flash, the image fully formed in my mind, and an overwhelming need to create what I've just seen.

This image came to me when I was neck deep in several projects and feeling very stressed out by life in general, and suddenly I began thinking about how lucky I was to be able to quilt every day. Most 27 year olds are just not able to work from home with their husband and son and have the freedom my lifestyle allows.

As I was feeling this sense of overabundance and deep gratitude, I had a flash of this quilt: a small goddess holding a cup of water which was brimming with bright blue water. This is where the name, My Cup Runneth Over, comes from.

When I look at this quilt, I still feel this intense sense of gratitude and I'm reminded of the simple truth - we all have more than enough.

No matter where you are from, no matter what life has thrown at you, you are amazingly lucky and have so many things to be thankful for.

If you're feeling tired or stressed, resentful or angry, please try to tap into a new emotion. In my opinion, being grateful for all that you have is one of the major keys to a happy life.

Constructing My Cup Runneth Over

I finally got to work designing this quilt in the spring of 2010, and this quilt marked a turning point in my design process in many ways.

The first was a change from working on my designs in large scale. After attending an art exhibition and watching other quilters work from a small sketch, I realized it would be much easier to design a quilt completely from a small scale and then resize it to be any size for the finished quilt.

So the original drawing for My Cup Runneth Over was 5" x 7", or about the size of a greeting card!

Once the sketch was complete, I began rushing through the piecing process, which led to many mistakes. A quilt like this takes time, methodical attention to detail, and numerous steps. I just wanted to rush, rush, rush!

In my speed demon sprint to finish the quilt top, I decided to fuse the water section of the quilt. Unfortunately, I didn't bother clearly reading the directions from the book I was learning from. The book I was reading was Free Expression by Robbi Joy Eklow, but like I said, I honestly didn't know what I was doing!

You can see what I mean in this fusible applique video I shared in 2010:

Yep, You Can Quilt That Out

The major issue with the way I demonstrated the technique in the video was I wasn't leaving enough fabric to overlap with the other pieces. So when the fabrics started to fray, it formed gaps between the pieces and the background would show through.

These days I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of raw edge applique, but back in 2010, I had no idea and no opinion to draw from with fusible applique.

I began to feel dissatisfied with the project and My Cup Runneth Over became a Problem Child. I had also left many design areas open, like the background, with the assumption that I can fix it with quilting.

Make sure to listen to Cathy Miller's You Can Quilt That Out song. It's hilarious!

While this area didn't have ripples and pleats, it was an open canvas begging for multiple quilting designs. How in the world should I quilt it?!

Instead of slowing down and considering the matter, I rushed again, boldly selected filler designs and got started quilting my quilt like it was going to catch on fire if I didn't finish it that day!

After two weeks of intense, I had to admit defeat. The filler designs I'd selected, while pretty, didn't really fit with the theme of the quilt. I seriously considered chucking the quilt into my fireplace at this point, but fortunately I blogged about the mistakes and many quilters encouraged to put the quilt away and come back to it later.

So My Cup Runneth Over got sent to time out.

The break was great because it allowed me to shift to another goddess quilt, Shadow Self, and apply all the lessons I'd learned from My Cup Runneth Over.

I didn't rush. I took my time on the design and figured out what I was going to do over every inch of the quilt before I even bought fabric. I tested new applique construction techniques that would give me the look I was going for with no raw, fraying edges.

It was only after finishing Shadow Self that I could return to My Cup Runneth Over with a new perspective. Instead of looking at all the ways it sucked, I looked for all the amazing things that had worked out right.

I was able to calmly look at this quilt for the first time and make rational decisions about what to do with her. After 14 hours of seam ripping, I was ready to begin quilting again.

In the end, My Cup Runneth Over would become one of my favorite goddess quilts. There are so many lessons I've taken from this experience:

- Don't rush. Slow down and let the design evolve.

- Experiment and find the right technique and learn it solidly before starting a real quilt with it.

- Don't let your ego get involved. It always leads to bad things.

- Love and accept where you are right now and what your hands have the capability of doing.

- Perfection isn't the point and it is NOT a reflection of your self worth.

Quilting Design Symbolism

I love free motion quilting because you can often incorporate lots of symbolism with the quilting design and surface stitching that would be hard to add with piecing or applique. I selected many designs for this quilt based on their personal meaning to me:

Landscape Stitch - This was the first time I added a landscape to a goddess quilt. It filled in the background section that had been such a problem for me to finish. This design is a reminder that we build our lives with the choices we make. We have the ability to choose how we live, who we live with, what we think and believe, and how that affects others. Basically we make our own mental and physical landscape every day.

Swirling Water - This was an obvious choice for the water section of the quilt and because I quilted it so densely, it definitely helped limit the fraying of the raw edge applique in this section. This remains one of my favorite designs for adding movement, flow, and swirling texture to the quilt. I associate Swirling Water with feeling released, cleansed, and free of heavy burdens.

Swirling water quilting design

Tree Roots - I quilted this design over the goddess's body and stitched it over the water section in silver metallic thread. After quilting the thicker lines in the water with free motion quilting, I switched to walking foot quilting and covered that area with a satin stitch. The effect made the stitching stand out boldly on the surface and this turned out better than I could ever imagine. Tree roots symbolize being grounded, nourished, and firmly rooted in place.

Tree roots quilting design

Left Turn, Right Turn - I initially was going to quilt this design throughout the background and ended up ripping out a large part of this design to replace it with Landscape Stitch. I'm very happy I left a bit of this design in this quilt because it represents the randomness of life. You never really know how this design will line up and turn out and it's neither perfect nor evenly spaced. It perfectly illustrates the saying "You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit."

left turn right turn quilting design

Snake Paisley - This is the only quilting design that I regret using in this quilt, mostly because I know I made the decision to use it for the wrong reasons. I wish I'd quilted this section with my favorite design, McTavishing. Snake Paisley just doesn't have the same effect and I think it's better suited for a sun / flame section, not the sky.

Snake Paisley Quilting Design

Heart Paisley - This is the design I quilted over the goddess's face because you've got to have some hearts in here somewhere. Love is everything!

Heart Paisley quilting design

Gratitude Practice

Years after creating My Cup Runneth Over I learned a gratitude practice using a grappa mala - a chain of 109 beads. Holding the chain in my hand, I slide one bead over at a time and think of something I'm grateful for.

The key here is not to overthink it.

I often start with the tiniest things like the pillow under my head (I often do this practice before going to sleep at night). By being thankful for the small things, it makes being thankful for the big things even easier.

I truly believe this practice has made me happier and more satisfied with my life and I hope you will try it too.

My Cup Runneth Over was shown once in an art competition:

Southern Art Society "I Am Woman" show - May 2011 
Awarded second place

Click the photos below to learn more about my quilts or make a goddess quilt of your own!


Awesome vid/podcast, my first time with this format, I’ve only ever watched a couple of your instructional videos on youTube. What I love about this is how much more than quilting this was, and how much that resonated with my soul today. I am grateful to have found this today, thank you Leah. :-)

Paula ,

this was a VERY special podcast, thank you so much for sharing

shoshana vogel,

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