Who is Leah Day?
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, teach online classes and workshops, and interact with quilters every day through Instagram and Facebook. It's a LOT of work to manage all of this at once, and thankfully I have a lot of helping hands with this business.
Learn about online quilting teacher Leah Day. My husband, Josh, packs orders and answers customer emails and questions. Josh also participated in our 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 only 8 years old, 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.
I wear a lot of hats with this business and do everything from writing books and patterns to filming and editing videos. I learned how to build websites from my Father-in-Law, Chet, and his rule of thumb was to try to do everything yourself if you want the job done right the first time.
While I still mostly hold to this idea, I have learned that having help is absolutely essential. I absolutely couldn't maintain my blog and this website without Josh and Dad's help. While it may seem like I do everything by myself in the videos, there is definitely a lot more "behind the scenes" that you don't see, and I'm extremely thankful to be able to work with the men in my family every day.
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, and many women have guessed my age between 12 and 19, which is really scary when you consider my son's age. This year (2017), I am 34 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 a very creative person from a young age. I taught myself to crochet and knit and throughout grade school I was known as that weirdo that loved to knit through class (it helped me stay awake through boring lectures). 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 put my foot down - I had to 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. I've also made a few modern quilts, which is always a very freeing, fun experience. I view modern quilts as a push to stitch with absolutely no pattern and no judgement and allow the quilt to emerge very randomly. I also love traditional quilt-making techniques and have lead multiple online Quilt-Alongs featuring very traditional sampler style quilts. 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.
Can you come teach a lecture or workshop for my guild or quilt shop? No, probably not. I occasionally teach classes in person (see my teaching schedule here) at We're Sew Creative in Concord, NC. My focus is completely centered on teaching quilters online. By creating a video workshop, I can teach anyone how to make a beautiful quilt, no matter where you live in the world. In a video workshop, 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 on 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 quilters around the world. So please don't hesitate to take one of my video workshops or Craftsy 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 say it because I spent so many years of my life hiding this truth. When I was 27 years old, I finally admitted that my mother had a problem, and was a problem to my well being. I haven't spoken to her since 2010, and every day I am thankful that I took this step to safe guard my family and myself from her toxicity. A large reason why I'm as talented and creative as I am came from her abuse. To avoid her, I would often hide behind a chair and sew, crochet, or knit for hours. The skill in my hands that makes me such a skilled quilter comes from those hours of work when I was a child. Yes, my mother does inspire me to make quilts, but probably not in the way you think.
Many of the quilts in my goddess series are inspired by my mother. Her most frequent excuse was "I had nothing left to give." which was certainly true. After popping some pain pills and drinking a beer for dinner, it's extremely hard to feel anything or give anything to the people you love. My series of goddess quilts have been about giving fully, of having not just energy, but explosions of love and creativity. 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 my abusive childhood. 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 be fully present to the world I create through my thoughts, words, and actions. After all, we actively create our world every single day. 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. And every day we have other choices - to drink too much, to let our dull senses dull our compassion, to isolate ourselves with excessive work, to let our anger and resentment consume all other thoughts. I have made the most healthy, positive choice for myself and my family. When I severed all ties with my mother, I felt like I'd been given the most amazing gift of peace and freedom, and I see no logical reason to ever reverse this decision. 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, Leah Day.