I’ve thought about this a lot, the no rules battle cry for quiltmaking. I’ve talked to lots of people about it. I’ve debated a blog post about it, but never wrote it (rather, I did write it, but didn’t want to publish it). Folks get really prickly when we talk rules.
Fortunately, quilter Tim Latimer has taken this very issue on in his blog here. Tim and I have talked about this and we agree on this: There are reasons for the rules. Can you choose to break them? Sure. Will it be disastrous if you do? Maybe, maybe not. Can you still make something wonderful and not follow rules? Sure, but the more you disregard them, the greater the risk of things not turning out quite like you’d planned. Rules exist because other people have experimented and found out what happens if you ignore them.
The trick, I believe, is knowing the rules, knowing why they exist, and knowing what will happen if you choose not to follow them. It’s that last part that’s the kicker. One of my all time favorite quotes is from Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” This is the whole point.
Do I follow all the rules all the time? Heh. No. Do I know what will happen if I don’t? Yes. To my mind, it’s a calculated risk, though. If I am seeking to achieve something in particular, or if that particular result doesn’t matter in what I’m doing, I will skip it. Every time I choose to do things my own way, though, I am aware that it could have unintended consequences.
So. Do I prewash? Yes. Because I’ve seen what happens when I don’t. It only takes once. Do I use 1/4″ seams? Yes, because I want things to come out the size I’m planning and I don’t have time to do the math and reconfigure the whole piece. Do I press seams to the side? Yes, because I’ve seen seams come apart when they were pressed open. You get the picture.
Willfully rebelling against the rules before knowing why they exist is, to my mind, like a child’s desire to run into the street before he understands why he shouldn’t. Okay, maybe that’s a drastic analogy, but those who preach rules are really only trying to help prevent disaster. I tell people to prewash because I’ve had bleeds in my own quilts, and I’ve seen entire quilts ruined that were washed the first time only after they were finished, and colors ran all over the place. (And just an fyi, bleeders are not only red, and Shout Color Catchers are not a miracle cure.) If you still want to risk it, it’s your choice, I’m just using the knowledge I’ve gained by experience, and trying to help you out.
Am I saying you have to follow the rules? Not at all. In spite of all this, I am still a pretty loud voice for doing as you choose. Know that there are consequences to every choice, though. Are you willing to take the risk?
You’re more than welcome to voice your opinion here. I’m aware there are plenty of those in the world! All I ask is this one thing: BE NICE.