My first and foremost rule is Safety First. The rotary cutter is dangerous--not only is it sharp but can cause repetitive stress injury which I addressed in an earlier blog.
One of my first "teachers" was the great Eleanor Burns. I never met her but watched her show religiously and bought several of her books and made several of her patterns. After making several of her quilts I realized that she should have had as a rule: Measure your borders and make sure tops and bottoms are equal and the 2 sides are equal. If you look at her older books she just has you cut borders and sew them on without any measuring. I don't know about other people but I ended up with waffling borders and one side an inch longer than another. From an earlier blog I told how I "measure" with the actual borders, not a measuring tape, and now I end up with flat, even borders.
My only other hard and fast rule is to cut all loose threads as you go. I used to be less obsessive about this and I ended up having to go over the finished quilt to cut all threads that snuck out to the top and the worst was when I had pieced dark fabrics with dark thread (you have to or it shows) but they were attached to a white background. Those loose dark threads showed through the light fabric and I had to fish them out and cut them off. So please, cut as you go!
So lets address some of those "rules" that are floating around out there that I do not consider "rules" but I do put into the "myth" category. I actually knew a teacher who said it was a rule to never use yellow in a quilt! Really! Now it is true that yellow does pop out in a scrap quilt so it is important to balance it. Too much yellow in one area can be a "galloping horse" so it is important to step back and balance the bright colors but NO YELLOW=MYTH.
This same teacher also believed that all reds matched. Sorry, but I just can not put tomato red and burgundy red in the same red,white,and blue quilt. I can mix them all in together in a scrap quilt but in a red and white quilt they just clash to me so in my opinion ALL REDS MATCH=MYTH. (This one goes back 25 years and still bugs me!)
|This is my very first quilt wallhanging-all hand pieced|
and quilted. If you look closely you can see how one
side is badly faded from sunlight.
All right, now I have to address the biggest myth of all out there and I really don't want to have to spend a lot of time on this one because I am tired of arguing this point. That is the issue of prewashing fabrics. How many of you have spent hours washing and pressing fabrics before using them? Did you even question this "rule"? I never really had until I took a class from the master quilter Harriet Hargrave. She discussed the reasons to wash and not to wash and I am enclosing this link from her book. http://www.denverfabrics.com/pages/sewinginfo/dfsewinghints/fabric-care-quilts.htm
From my own experience I never achieved anything from prewashing unless the fabric was obviously dirty and needed washing. The quilts mentioned in the previous section were made with prewashed fabrics and prewashing sure didn't help there. It has been liberating to not have to wash everything and now that I have to use a laundromat to wash clothes it is very welcome! So in my opinion PREWASHING FABRIC=MYTH.
I am sure that before I finish quilting these large quilts I will come up with a few more myths to bust but for now "I reject your reality and substitute my own" (thanks Adam Savage for those words of wisdom).