Our goal is simple: we want to educate, inspire, and empower you to create beautiful quilts and to learn and grow as a quilter every day.
~ Leah Day
Welcome! I'm so happy you're here and interested in learning about the people behind this website and the Free Motion Quilting Project that inspired it.
So let's get started with the basics!
LeahDay.com is a family run business based in Shelby, NC. I'm Leah Day, and I started this online business in 2009 when I was only 25 years old. My official job title is Online Quilting Teacher - that's really the best way to describe it!
I make videos for YouTube, offer online sales of Grace longarm machines and frames and help people transition to their new longarm setups, and interact with quilters every day in our Quilt Friends Club. It's a LOT of work to manage all of this at once, and thankfully I have a lot of helping hands.
My husband, Josh, manages our online store and website. Josh also participated in our 2014 Building Blocks Quilt Along, shooting videos with me as he learned how to free motion quilt. It's not easy to learn how to quilt on camera, but Josh did a marvelous job sharing his experience weekly for an entire year.
My dad, Max, prepares fabric and pieces most of the quilts you see in videos and workshops. Dad helped us renovate the Crafty Cottage and has learned how to digitize my designs for embroidery. I'm so delighted to be able to work with my dad every day and I honestly couldn't create so many awesome videos without his help behind the scenes.
My son is growing up every day, but he loves to help pack orders and sort products on the shelves. He's also developing great talent as a photographer as I often have him shoot pictures of me with quilts. James occasionally wants to make a quilt, and we have a little charm quilt in progress that we pull out occasionally to piece together.
Now I bet you have a few more questions that you wish I'd answer! Here's the most common questions I'm asked at quilting events and via email:
How old are you?
I'm often told I look too young to be a quilter. This year (2020), I am 36 years old. It's good to keep in mind that I've been making quilting videos since I was 25 years old. If I look particularly young in a video, it might be because I was!
Why did you get into quilting? Did your family make quilts?
I'm not exaggerating when I say I've wanted to make quilts my whole life. I grew up with many family quilts that were all hand pieced and hand quilted by my great grandmothers. I loved the intricacy of patchwork and often wondered HOW those pieces came together to make such perfect shapes.
I've now inherited many of these quilts and even based some of my quilt patterns on them. The Dancing Butterfly Quilt was based on a beautiful butterfly quilt I grew up with.
While quilting was in my family, there really wasn't anyone who could teach me this craft as a child. My grandmother sewed, and even made me a pair of bell bottom pants in middle school, but she wanted to take the project and make it for me, not teach me how to do it.
I tried to learn quilting on my own through books I found at thrift stores, not knowing that these books were being discarded because rotary cutters had dramatically changed the way quilts could be constructed. I kept trying to cut shapes from templates (uggh!) and understandably would get frustrated and bored very quickly with this slow method.
Even though I couldn't master quilting, I was still very creative from a young age. I taught myself to crochet and knit and throughout grade school I was known as that girl who loved to knit through class.
It wasn't until college that I really began to focus on sewing and quilting. Josh and I met at UNC-Asheville and after getting engaged, I decided I had to finally learn how to make a quilt!
I wanted a Double Wedding Ring quilt to celebrate my wedding and I was determined to make it from leftover bridal satin. Of course, that project was a total failure of crazy seam allowance and mismatched seams and lots and lots of tears.
I can remember Josh looking at my disappointment and searching for a solution. He jumped online and within a few minutes he found a local guild that had a very active program bringing quilting teachers to lecture and hold workshops every month.
From this guild and the subsequent classes and workshops, I learned the basics of quiltmaking. From the very first quilt I created, I knew I'd finally found the right craft and the right methods of expressing myself.
Are you an art quilter or a modern quilter?
I'm a quilter. Plain, simple, unbiased and unfettered by pointless definitions and subcategories. I make quilts so I am a quilter.
Since 2007, I've been working on a series of goddess quilts which often express a time, emotion, or lesson that is very personal to my life and spiritual journey. In 2019 a goal I've had since I created my first Goddess quilt at long last came to fruition: I published Goddess Quilts: A Journey into Light and Love through Art Quilting.
In addition to art quilts, I also love traditional quilt-making techniques and have led multiple interactive quilt alongs featuring very traditional sampler style quilts.
What about longarm quilting?
I don't like to put labels or limitations on myself and what I create. I often see quilters identifying themselves too tightly with a specific label or brand, and what happens when you get bored making that style of quilt over and over?
The quilting world is vast and limitless and it encompasses a huge array of techniques, materials, and tools, but the second you start putting rules and definitions on it, that huge world begins to shrink. Pretty soon, that wide range of creative possibility has become a tiny box where only x, y, and z count as "real" quilts.
Rather than limit my world, I've left the doors flung wide open. I'm a quilter because I make quilts. That is all the definition I need.
Only a few years ago did I broaden my horizon to such a degree that I began making videos on longarms and longarm frames. As the author of a rather judgmental blog post entitled Seven Reasons Why I Do not Want nor Need a Longarm, I never thought I'd dive into the world of longarm quilting. Yet ultimately I realized my innate prejudices against longarming was holding back my quilting.
With prices coming down significantly for basic longarm machines, I really had no real excuse to give longarm and frame quilting a try.
Click Here to read about my adventures into longarm quilting. I've changed my tune considerably since that blog post so many years ago! I am now a longarm dealer for Grace Company and proudly use their frames and longarms in my Youtube videos.
And yes, I did ultimately write a rebuttal to that anti-longarm blog: Seven Reasons Why I Do Want and Need a Longarm!
Can you come teach a lecture or workshop for my guild or quilt shop?
I am sorry but I have to say No, probably not.
My focus is completely centered on teaching quilters online. By creating online classes, I can teach anyone how to make a beautiful quilt, no matter where you live in the world. In an online class, I'm able to go into much more detail, showing each step of a complicated process, than I'd ever have time to teach in a in-person workshop.
Best of all, I can create videos without leaving my home and my family. I love being home to see my son when he gets home from school and working with Josh in our business every day. When I leave, this wonderful balance and schedule gets completely thrown off.
I've discovered how to be a professional quilter without travel, and I find it to be the very best lifestyle, both for my family and for teaching quilters around the world.
So please check out my classes and see how much more you can learn online. The best part is you can attend class anytime, anywhere, and even in your pajamas!
What about your mom? Did she inspire you to make quilts?
My mom taught me to hand sew when I was a little girl so I could make clothes for my favorite doll, Miss Bunny. A great deal of my love for fabric comes from memories of pulling out the fabric basket - a huge, multicolored basket that was filled with beautiful fabrics.
However, my mother lost her creative spark to alcoholism and prescription drug abuse that began when I was in 5th grade. I share this here because it is liberating to speak the truth. I spent many years of my life hiding from this reality.
When I was 27 years old, I finally admitted that my mother had a problem. I stepped out of her life for many years to heal and grow as a woman, wife, and mother.
My series of goddess quilts came from this journey. The goal of this series has always been personal growth and transformation, and in the process of creating each quilt, I've found more space and freedom to recover from past experiences.
I've learned how to love myself, express my love more openly, overcome fears, challenge the negative voices in my head, and rejoice in the love and abundance I have created with Josh and James.
I've dug into the deepest darkness of my pain and crawled back out of that hole ready to put the past behind me. I've moved on by realizing that I cannot change the past, and the most challenging work is putting aside the pain and anger to finding the ability to forgive.
Every day we have another chance to make a difference, to share with energy and love with abundance. It is a choice to live with energy and enthusiasm, to work hard to overcome limitations and scars from the past.
In 2017, I realized alcohol had become a problem in my life as well and I stopped drinking. Video game addiction had also crept in and begun limiting how much time I spent creating.
Finally, in 2019, I realized I'd been putting off creating many things I'd been wanting to make for years. The most important being a book about my goddess quilts.
This is how my latest book, Leah Day's Goddess Quilts: Journey into Love and Light through Art Quilting was born.
While writing this book, I finally found the space and understanding I needed to forgive my mother. We are all doing the very best we can.
Creating each quilt in this series has been a pivotal, healing experience. Along the way of creating each quilt, I've always stumbled across just the right teachers, books, and experiences that have helped me along this path.
I share this here because I believe in the power of such happy accidents, and have found myself personally transformed many times by chance encounters. In short - if sharing this personal story helps even one person, then it was worth sharing.
Let's go quilt,