Have you ever tried to quilt right to the edge of the quilt piece? For me, at least at this stage, that feels nearly impossible. The edges are that awkward place where I can't get a grip on the quilt, or find a nice direction to move in, so free motion quilting anything decently goes to the wayside.
Leah subscribes to the school of thought extra edge space is better, and allows one inch of empty fabric on the edges. She even designs her quilts this way, cutting borders 1 inch wider than they need to be so she doesn't have to quilt all the way to the edges.
Since I've only experienced quilting blocks individually (10 inch blocks, with 8 inches quilted in the middle), I immediately wished I had more than 1 inch to hang on to. Had I known the edge area would be so tricky, I would have pieced two inches of empty space on the edges of the block, and from now on, I'm definitely going to be adding a lot more fabric to the edges of everything.
|Here's my block of stippling, which felt much easier and more natural to quilt with 2 inches all around the edges. |
Leah prefers 1 inch open on her design blocks, but either way, this extra fabric really helps!
One, I can keep my stitching more even and accurate as the extra room gives me a lot of space for mistakes. Imagine a game of American football on a 100-yard platform and there's a cliff along the edges of the playing field--there is no out of bounds turf, just a steep fall. Same goes for the end-zone. You'd have to be able to stop on a dime when making a touchdown.
Let's just say the dynamics of the game would be fundamentally changed. You could never run at full speed as you'd always have to take the drop-off into consideration. (Plus football would suddenly be far more entertaining to watch!)
So in my experience, having plenty of "out of bounds" space is critical for a beginner.
Second, having more space yields a larger block, which is also easier to navigate and rotate around. You also have a lot more room to place your fingers.
When I brought this up to Leah, she warned me that many quilters would look at this as blasphemy, as fabric is a valued commodity and little is to be wasted. She apparently has had a hard time convincing quilters in class to add even 1 inch around blocks or quilts, and often gets huffy comments from the Quilt Police demanding why she wants them to waste so much fabric on the edges.
However, as a beginner, you need to learn the ropes and get comfortable with the process. I think it's easily worth sacrificing some fabric, and if your stash is anything like Leah's, I don't think you're going to run out of fabric anytime soon!
If you're also a beginner, I would be interested in hearing about your experience. Is it easier for you to free motion quilt on blocks or quilts with a lot of extra space on the edges, a little, or none at all?
Until next time, let's go quilt.