Right brain, left brain, no brainer

July 9, 2013

You’ve heard people talking about being “left-brained” or “right-brained.” Sometimes, the discussion relates to whether you are more creative or analytic. Other times it refers to your dominant hand. When you quilt, you’ll discover that you need both sides of your brain to function. You need your mathematical side to help you piece quilts, and your inspirational side to help you choose colors, thread and quilting designs.

However, you may find it helpful to uncover what type of “thinker” you are when it comes to executing quilting shapes and designs. First try a little experiment with us:

  • Cross your arms
  • Unfold them, and cross them with the opposite arm on to top

Did you notice that one way felt more comfortable and natural than the other? The same is true for quilting. Imagine you are on the freehand side of your machine holding the handles with both hands. Start to draw circles with the handles of your machine in your imagination (or you can grab your machine handles and try for real!) Note whether you make your circles clockwise or counterclockwise.

Now try to make the circles in the opposite direction. Did you notice that it felt odd or unnatural? There is no right or wrong direction to quilt a circle; at some point around the path, everyone will quilt “backwards” around the shape. However, the secret to creating consistent block designs and even feathers is to discover which path feels the most natural to you. Then, make sure that you travel around any block design in the path that matches your way of thinking!

If you need a reminder, draw an arrow on your pattern from your starting point matching the direction your brain thinks. This will help sharpen your accuracy and also relieve mental and physical stress as you travel around your design.