The Free Motion Quilting Project: Why Are You Doing That That Way?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why Are You Doing That That Way?

Ever since I started quilting I heard this question at almost every guild meeting, asked it myself to every instructor, and today hear it nearly daily - Why are you doing it that way?!

The simplest answer: because I want to!

Because that's what feels right, right now. Because I have those materials or those steps don't seem too difficult. Whatever the reason, underlying it all is the simple desire to work THAT way.

But today I received a question from a student specifically about Foundation Piecing Diagonal Strips and Curves and I could easily see why she was confused:

I would like to get some clarification on your foundation piecing "red hair" video. My issue is that first
of all I'm a beginner and I've only seen piecing done when you stitch on the paper side. This way it ensures that I'm stitching a straight line but you stitch on top of the fabric so I was just wondering why you do it this way? What's the difference/purpose?  ~ Tanya

For this particular situation, there's probably 100 different ways to piece this section! It's very understandable that Tanya, or any other beginning quilter, is confused.

But the answer is the same as above - I pieced it that way because I felt like it!

To clarify further: deciding to foundation piece the hair sections mostly came from a desire to try a form of piecing I haven't used very much. I could have easily pieced this in a more traditional method, by cutting strips and carefully piecing them together to make a fabric big enough to fit that hair section.

But I also needed more stabilization to make those particular pieces and I needed them to be at least 2 layers because that dark log cabin background really shows through. So foundation piecing was an easy choice to make.

So why didn't I paper piece it with marked lines and very accurate diagrams? Because that wasn't what I was going for. I didn't want to mess with that kind of precision, and it's totally unnecessary for this particular project. I also didn't want to have to fiddle with tearing the paper out after piecing.

The trick to understand with this particular project is we are making the rules up as we go! While yes, there are many other more common methods to make this lock of hair, this just felt right at the time.

The key to this post is understanding that every technique you learn is just another tool in your toolbox. 

Tanya, you have learned ONE method for paper piecing and that is super cool, but think of it like a hammer. You can't build a house with just a hammer, can you? You really need more tools to play with.

And the decision to use one technique over another? Well, it's exactly the same as deciding to saw a board with a hand saw or a circular saw -  in the end, the board will be cut, the only difference is in the time and method it takes to get there.

I'm not saying that every technique will work for every quilt. Part of the fun of working through so many versions of Express Your Love has been to finally test and try out some techniques I've been too scared to use in a goddess quilt before.

Yes, I have actually been too afraid to try different piecing and applique techniques! Sometimes when you get good at a particular technique it becomes a routine to use it because you can easily predict the results and it feels easier each time.

But sometimes those techniques get boring and stale, but changing to something new...that can be scary!

My goal with this quilt is to break out, break free, learn new things, and hopefully share this freedom with everyone else. Is it kind of scary and overwhelming? YES! But is it also fun and exciting? YES!

Also one last point - if you absolutely don't agree with the way I do something - DO IT YOUR WAY! I'm not the Quilt Police and I will not arrest you for using methods you like better. It's YOUR QUILT after all!

Let's go quilt!


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