The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting inside a Box of Limitations

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quilting inside a Box of Limitations

In March 2007 I attended a workshop that literally changed my life and my quilting forever. Of course, like all life changing experiences, I absolutely didn't realize it at the time!

The workshop was with Dottie Moore, an amazingly talented fiber artist that lives less than an hour from my home.

Dottie Moore opened my eyes to some of the limitations I was putting on myself as a quilter. Limitations like always using 3 layers in a quilt. Of course, we have to have at least 3 for it to be a quilt, but who says there can't be more?

I'm familiar with limitations because I lived an breathed in restricted air space for 8 years while I was into beadwork.

No! Stone beads CAN NEVER be placed next to glass!
NO! Purple MUST be put with BLACK!
NO NO NO! Stitching beads on fabric is CHEATING!

Get the idea?

My question is this: Are you doing this to yourself in your quilting time too?

While I was doing beadwork, I thought I loved it. Only after I got into quilting did I realized how much of a struggle it was. So many rules, so many limitations, and all I was doing was stringing beads!!!

But these kinds of limitations can happen just as easily for quilters:

A quilt is only a QUILT if it is made by HAND!
Your blocks MUST be put together with 2.5" sashing!
Machine quilting is NOT ART, it's LAZINESS stitched in SATANIC THREADS!!!

Okay, maybe I'm going overboard with that last one, but seriously, how often have you felt like you've been quilting inside a box of limitations?

I recently realized the growing number of limits I was putting on my quilting, even putting on these free motion filler designs.

The desire to finish a quilt quickly can sometimes overwhelm my desire to try something new. Because of this, I often choose the 2 easiest fillers for me to stitch: Microstippling and McTavishing.

It's not laziness so much as impatience and fear of trying something new, but I always end up with reasons to justify my choice:

The areas were too close together, I HAD to use Microstippling.
This quilt has so many open areas, I HAVE to McTavish.
I need to finish this TODAY, therefore I MUST use THESE stitches.

The point of designing a new filler every single day is to use them! So from this day forward, the gloves are off!

I HAVE to use at least 1 new filler design in EVERY project I start or have in progress, even if it looks WEIRD.

Worst thing that will happen? My quilts might look a little strange to me, but probably not to anyone else.

The BEST thing that could happen? I might actually release my fear, squelch my impatience, and realize the true art of quilting isn't in getting something done RIGHT NOW, but in getting it done right.


  1. I like the "getting it done right"! It isn't about time, it's about the love that you put into it :)

  2. I bet if you go back to beading you will do it differently .......... and forget all the rules!
    Judy B


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