WIP Wednesday: I hate piecing edition

I have a confession to make: I don’t like piecing all that much. I enjoy the first few hours of piecing a new project. But if I could stop at that point and have the rest just appear by magic, that would be AWESOME.

Paper Piecing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about focusing on what I do well and what I enjoy. Stacey had a great post recently over at The Tilted Quilt in which she talked about sending some quilts out to be long-arm quilted, and getting over the idea that “legitimate quilters” don’t do that. It made me think about wanting to focus on the things I like best, which are choosing/creating the design, selecting the fabrics, and the quilting.

The thing is, you can’t send out your quilt to get pieced the way you can send it out to get quilted. However, as I was mulling this over, I had a mini-epiphany, which was: NEGATIVE SPACE. This is all the rage in modern quilting anyway, right? Why don’t I just leave some wide open spaces in my quilt and save myself some time?!?

So, here’s my first foray into this style of quilt.

Scrappy Diamonds Baby Quilt

I drafted some paper-piecing templates (fun), chose some fabrics from my scrap bin (fun), pieced the blocks (not too many, so still fun), and now I’m ready for some (fun) quilting!

I heard an interesting interview with this guy Gay Hendricks in which he talked about what he called the “Zone of Genius.” I know it sounds cheesy, but for some reason that idea stuck with me. Why waste time in your “Zone of Incompetence” (things other people could do better) or even your “Zone of Excellence” (things you’re good at but don’t love), when you could be doing things you both excel at and enjoy? Sometimes it makes sense, like if you’re learning a new skill, or you decide it’s easier just to do a thing rather than recruiting someone else to do it. But basing these choices on guilt or an idea of what a “real ____” (quilter, woman, whatever) does? I no longer see the virtue in that.

I do still see the virtue in quilts with lots of tiny pieces, though, so clearly my negative space epiphany is not the solution to all my piecing woes. Anyone else thinking about how to spend more time in their Zone of Quilting Genius?


  1. Seems like you’ve found a good solution, even if it’s a partial one. Negative space is always good for fun quilting. Could you save most of the tiny pieces for wall-hangings? I like the descriptions of those zones. I have to re-find my “Zone of Genius”, I feel like I’ve drifted away from it recently.

  2. Oh we should definitely collaborate. Piecing is the favorite part of quilt making for me.

  3. I like the idea of sticking to the things you most enjoy and are good at. This is supposed to be a hobby we do for fun, after all! :) Mini quilts for some of the small blocks containing many pieces could work well for you.

    I am trying to do the same as you–identify what is least enjoyable and reduce the amount of time I spend doing it.

  4. I kind of do something like this already. Somedays I want to do nothing more than cut. Other days mindless piecing calls me. Still others I want to quilt and quilt and quilt. So I give myself permission to do whatever is drawing me that day. As a result I have lots of active WIPs but it keeps me enjoying this hobby :)

  5. I love coming up with a design in my head and getting the measurements right. I find piecing frustrating, but I love seeing it come together. I really dislike ironing, yet I enjoy making my own binding and all of the ironing that involves. I find quilting kind of boring, but that is only because it is time consuming, and I don’t have the proper set up for it. In all I find quilt making rather boring and time consuming, yet extremely enjoyable and satisfying, if that makes any sense :)

    If you enjoy quilting, but not piecing, it makes perfect sense to use lots of negative space and go crazy with the quilting. I love lots of negative space. Looking at quilts with too much piecing makes my brain feel like its going to explode (I’m being only ever so slightly melodramatic).

    • PS I can’t think of anything where I have experienced a ‘zone of genius’ , it would make life a lot easier if I could :)

  6. Jacqueline Skarritt says:

    Amen to your post ….. I function much the same way. The design creation, the selecting fabrics , playing with placement ….. All great fun and very energizing….. And, after the first few blocks, onto new ideas! It’s the process, not the product that feeds the soul. I really like your idea of using just a few blocks within lots of negative space… I know many modern quilters function that way and that approach would help “clean the palate” and make room for even more play. Happy days with all your wonderful designing, Cari!

  7. I hear you for sure. This is why I spend far more time designing quilts than actually making them. Now if I liked pattern writing, I could just rely on other people to make them from my patterns, but I don’t particularly like that, either. Oof.
    I love your negative space idea, though!! So clever!