Is this really cheating? Of course not!! I believe that you need to do whatever will accomplish your vision. I am not a purist, but you need be sure it will work on your quilt without puckering either the top or backing. The only way to test this is to try it on your actual quilt. You might have to do a little ripping if it fails...so don't do too much for starters.
TIP: The best way to prevent puckering is to stitch all your piecing and appliqué in the ditch (SID) before you begin any fancy quilting. This way you have small areas secured. Every line of stitching takes up a little bit of fabric so there is just a little bit less to bubble up.
|Stitching straight guided by my favorite marking tool (Sewline Pencil).|
Even those curved leaves came out nicely and there were no puckers.
TIP: You can use your dual feed or walking foot, but the SID allows the use of a regular foot. I find it hard to maneuver my thick quilt under the dual feed foot. It depends on your machine and quilt.
Sew some happy seams this week. I wish you success in evading both the Quilt Police and puckers.