Quilting quotes: there are no rules (+ free printable)

Quilting rules: yay or nay?

Author, blogger, and all-around creative quiltmaker Dana Bolyard has an opinion on the subject:

Imagine Quilts quilting quote

Just reading Dana’s words, I feel fired up to try something new. Don’t you?

Adhering to certain quilting rules can be helpful, of course. An accurate ¼" seam often comes in handy. Having a trick up your sleeve for matching points can be a sanity saver. And having a pat binding technique is a satisfying swirl of icing on any quilted cake.

But we understand the rules Dana is talking about: those creative ones. The kind of rules that can cloud your imagination. With a peek into her design process, Dana gives you the tools you need to clear the creative air and envision quilts that are distinctly you. In Imagine Quilts, Dana will help you:
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Find inspiration in the ordinary

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Ampersand quilt
“Ampersand” from
Imagine Quilts

For “Ampersand,” Dana became inspired by something that had been right in front of her for years. All she had to do was look down. And allow herself to dream.
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Let your stash lead the way
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Elephant Parade quilt
“Elephant Parade”
from Imagine Quilts

Dana didn’t even see this quilt coming! While sorting her stash one day, she realized she had an abundance of gray fabrics. As the stack of grays grew, she was struck by the thought of elephants. And “Elephant Parade” was born.spacer 10px deep

Scribble on your quilt (no, really!)
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Scribble quilt
“Scribble” from
Imagine Quilts

Dana dared to scribble. Now that’s one FUN idea for free-motion quilting.

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In Imagine Quilts you’ll discover even more ideas for developing your creative side. For example, these photos are inspiring Dana’s quilts-to-be:

Inspiration from Imagine Quilts

What’s inspired you lately?


You can DOWNLOAD AND PRINT a 5″ x 7″ image of Dana’s quote for your personal use (encouragement for your sewing space?). You can also COPY AND PASTE today’s quilting quote to Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.

It’s hip to be square over at Instagram, so here’s a square version for you to use:

Imagine Quilts quilting quote for Instagram


Quilting rules: obey, bend, or break? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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25 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I have bent a few and getting close to breaking a few more. I now realize that the quilts I make are mine and not under the judgement of others. I am really free to do what I want. I still tend to be a traditionalist but with my flair.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on July 2, 2015
  • I am still usually in the "obey" area, but am trying to "bend" more. Break??? I’m not sure, but maybe someday. I love the patterns shown in Dana’s book!

    —Patty on July 2, 2015
  • I believe if you can think it you can make it. I have seem beautiful quilts made with no identifiable pattern. If you think it go for it.

    Patricia on July 2, 2015
  • There is one ironclad rule–always close the rotary cutter when you set it down.

    —Diane on July 2, 2015
  • There are no rules. If you like it than go for it. Your opinion is what counts.

    —jill Ames on July 2, 2015
  • I think the rules started out being just good common sense but then became RULES never to be broken. I break many of the rules when I quilt, after all I bought the fabrics and, although not often, the pattern. If there is a part of the pattern that I don’t like I change it. In the end it’s my project and I have to live with the results.

    Jill of Apple Avenue Quilts on July 2, 2015
  • Sometimes I try to follow the ‘rules’ but mostly, I create what I want.

    —Karen on July 2, 2015
  • I think rules were made to help with accuracy in the piecing and construction of a quilt but after that, anything goes! I love the mindless sewing of just sitting and piecing but after doing a few quilts I have to get back to my art quilting. Art quilting takes so much energy in making decisions finding the right color etc and then the quilting, that a traditionally pieced quilt can often be a peaceful way to relax.

    —Barbara on July 2, 2015
  • … Oh My Gosh /// NOW you tell me there are RULES? thank goodness I never knew that to start with …… actually this book sounds delightful and I think it will be a real encouragement to many quilters.

    —Sandra McFerran on July 2, 2015
  • Wonderful! I agree with the 1/4″ rule for resulting needed measurements. But other than that this is very "FREEING" for our creative endeavors. I look forward to having this book in my "stash" of reading.

    —Sheila Wagner on July 2, 2015
  • I rather tend to like to do my own thing. This may cause me to do some unsewing, sometimes with the help of friends. But the creative process is such fun! Yes, I buy fun patterns. However I tend to make variations to suit my purpose. I do not make traditional quilts. I don’t like to make the same block over and over. I like variety.

    —Rose-Marie on July 2, 2015
  • It helps to know what some of the "rules" are, so you know when you are "breaking" them. My first quilting teacher, Shirley Wolf, Bennington, KS, taught us basic principles of design, suggested best practices, then turned us loose to design and create our own quilts. I’m still doing my own thing 20 years later.

    —Mary Douglass on July 2, 2015
  • When I first came to quilting 25+ years ago, someone said to me: "It’s your quilt. Make it any way you want." I thought, hmmmm…. have I found my spot, my calling, my passion? Yes, I did.

    Were there lessons to be learned? yes. Were there less than the best results? yes. Are there horizons to explore? yes. Have I pulled my hair out over and over to achieve what I wanted to accomplish? yes. But, I come back every day and do it all over again…. and love it!

    Yes, I agree. Close your rotary cover and a good 1/4″ seam allowance is a good idea. But, it is your quilt!

    —Whiskers on July 2, 2015
  • When you learn to quilt by trial and error, you develop some unique techniques that still work best for you. I love to try new methods though; sometimes I find a new favorite. I know 6 methods for preparing appliques and it’s great to just choose the best ones for a project without hiding from the quilting police.

    —Janet Pietzold on July 2, 2015
  • I can think of only two rules. Consistent seams. Measure twice, cut once. After than anything goes.

    —Berenice on July 2, 2015
  • The only rule is that there are no rules.

    —mary on July 2, 2015
  • I believe it would depend on how my mind was working as to whether or not I’d obey, bend or break the rules of quilting. There have been times when I’ve wanted to mix fabrics or patterns, but wasn’t sure if it was "allowed". It seems to me that what ever idea comes to you…should be how to go.

    —debra lee on July 2, 2015
  • For me rules are like patterns and recipes: learning, guidelines, direction, and inspiration. Safety rules are the only "always" for me: close the rotary cutter between fabric cuts (reduces "me" cuts), use straight pins above a hard-surface floor (easier to find pins when dropped), do not drink then sew (finger-tip scars remind me why). The only color rule I follow is from my favorite quilt teacher: all colors appear somewhere in nature, and nature doesn’t clash. Piecing and construction rules are good for learning basic techniques but once you know the techniques you know what can be "broken" … and the creative fun begins!

    —Jane on July 2, 2015
  • Now you tell me there are rules! I thought you could add your own creations. If I get a pattern i really like, I will try and follow the rules, especially seams, otherwise…I do my own thing…

    —Jeanette S. on July 2, 2015
  • I think it is good to KNOW the rules to begin with, especially for a newbie quilter. However, I believe we all make changes along the way when we discover a better way to do something. For example, I always use the 1/4″ seam allowance or a scant one, but I do not close my rotary cutter until I am done for the day. I do turn the blade away from me though….and I haven’t cut myself yet.

    —Ruth Bradford on July 2, 2015
  • I have my own rules. I will never iron a seam open. I will never again prewash my fabrics (too much time ironing and cutting off all of those strings). I will only do what makes me happy when it comes to my quilts. 🙂

    —Jill Ellis on July 2, 2015
  • I am not very good at following other people’s rules anyway. I mostly make my own patterns so following my own rules…LOL. Quilting is about enjoying and relaxing not frustration with doing everything just right. I don’t like to rip very much so mostly live with my mistakes…sometimes my mistakes turn into wonderful changes in my quilt.

    —Pat Lloyd on July 3, 2015
  • My main personal quilting rule: Finished is better than perfect!

    —JLouise on July 5, 2015
  • I only have two rules….grainline is important (and in crazy quilting…only for the base), and "don’t quilt yourself into a corner". Other than that…if it makes me happy it is RIGHT!

    —Frecia on July 12, 2015
  • Re: There are No Rules in Quilting…
    Well, there is one – No copying an original design without purchasing the pattern or book! 🙂

    Benita Skinner on July 5, 2016

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