Tag Archives: teaching

Class Quilts

My medallion class began last week! In class I help lead participants through the process of designing their own medallion quilts. And while they create, I do, too.

In the few weeks we have together, while each of them is making one quilt, I design and construct two. I start with very different centers and color schemes in order to demonstrate a variety of strategies.

The first one I began has a center block that features flying geese circling a star. The block design came from the Big Book of Scrap Quilts, published by Oxmoor House in 2005. The quilt pattern is called “Dizzy Geese,” designed by Joan Streck. Dizzy Geese is a block quilt, with a 17″ block made with templates.

I re-drew the block to 16″ and paper-pieced it.

Though I’ve made quilts in reds and greens before, I haven’t made one I’ve thought of as a Christmas quilt. This one will have that intention, but I’d still like to keep it lighthearted. I’ll minimize the holiday-focused prints, but refer to the occasion through shaping. For instance, the circling flying geese give the impression of a wreath.

With the intricate center, I wanted a simple first border, but one that would extend the range of color. Because the star points are a forest green print, I chose a citrus green for the border. The corner blocks add to the gold, found in the center’s green print and in its background fabric.

The second border was fun and easy to make. Take a look. The corners are just half-square triangles. The side blocks are each made of three pieces and all the blocks are same. Their orientation gives the look of a twisting ribbon as they circle the top.

And the third border is a plaid with dark green, dusky gold, and burgundy, with bright gold corners. I don’t love the dark plaid, for various reasons. But I think it will serve its purpose as the design develops. It’s easy to get hung up on individual elements, such as the color or shapes or value of a particular border. Just as you don’t have to love a particular block to have it work well in a block quilt, you don’t have to love a particular border in a medallion quilt. Every border changes every border, and it’s the final effect that counts.

I have tentative plans for the next borders, but won’t work on this more until next week.

The second quilt begins with a bear’s paw block in the center. I’m less certain of the direction for this one. I really like the center block, with its beautiful Julie Paschkis print in the large sections. And I love the batik that surrounds the block. I am not absolutely sure they work together. However, some patience is in order as I let the process play out. (Trust the process.)

Though I rarely work on two quilts in the same stage at the same time, the chaos is kind of exciting, too. We’ll see if I still feel that way in a couple of weeks. 🙂

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Distracting Myself With Drawing Quilts

It was another rough news week, wasn’t it? Between threats of nuclear war with North Korea, the possibility of invading Venezuela (and WHY?? I keep up pretty well and haven’t been able to figure this one out,) and the disgusting display of American Naziism in Virginia over the weekend, I’ve practiced distraction a lot.

I’ve been quilting my big 6-pointed star quilt in pink and brown, too. I posted a handful of pix in Instagram, but nothing here. I have it about 75% done, but it is now off the frame, as I’ll turn it to do the last two sides. (Because I’m doing “custom” quilting, and treating each section differently, the borders are easier to do in one pass. If I turn the quilt 90°, I can do the sides that way, rather  than in pieces as the quilt rolls from one end to the other. If you didn’t understand what I just said, don’t worry… 🙂 )

Besides that, I’ve been thinking about my upcoming class. I will make one quilt to feature in the shop’s marketing. I’ll also make two quilts along with my students. But I also will draw several more, to show them examples of how they might use simple blocks and unpieced borders to create an intricate design.

Here are a few. All of them will create a quilt finishing 60″ square. The center block for each is the same size, and the border widths are the same sizes. They all use the same blueprint.

I’ll start with a re-do of the white and bright one from the other post. This preserves the flavor but simplifies it quite a bit.

Next are two that also use spacer blocks in the final border.

And two more that have more traditional block placement in the final border.

These were fun to create, and served well to keep my mind off some less happy topics.

Which Class Would You Take?

I regularly teach a class on medallion quilt design. Here is the class description:

This Design-As-You-Go class will show you strategies and techniques to customize a medallion quilt. Whether you love modern style, traditional, or somewhere in between, your imagination and favorite fabrics will create a quilt unique to you! You’ll learn how to create a center block to serve as your focal point and inspiration; choose and size borders to enhance the center block and each other; and lots of tricks for dealing with color, shape, value, balance, and unity. This 5-session class is for the quilter who isn’t afraid to design her own quilts or change patterns to suit her own vision. Class size is limited due to extensive discussion time needed.

I provide students with a “blueprint” that gives sizes for the center block and borders. Though they each design their own quilt, having the sizes removes one decision from the process and allows them to focus on others. (They can ignore the blueprint altogether, too! It is their quilt, not mine.)

For my upcoming class, I’ve changed the blueprint. The change makes some of the block sizes easier, and also allows lessons on using even or odd numbers of blocks in a border.

However, because it’s a new blueprint, I don’t have any samples made! Now I need to make one pronto, so the quilt shop can market the class with a nice photo.

Which of the two quilts (drawn in EQ7) would entice you to take this class? Remember, the content of the class is the same, because the students design their own quilts.

Presentations in 2017

I still have openings for presentations and workshops in 2017. And it’s not too early to book for 2018! I’m located in east central Iowa and can travel.

Contact me at catbirdquilts @ gmail.com for more information or to schedule guild presentations or classes.

LECTURES OR PRESENTATIONS

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Medallion Quilts Design Basics

What challenges do medallion quilts present? Learn the basics of medallion quilt design principles, including unity, symmetry, balance, proportion, and movement. Find out how to achieve these with color, value, shape and size, line, and placement. Mixed presentation including PowerPoint slides and trunk show. Approximately 1 hour.

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code: History, Mystery, or Bunk?

Were quilts used to help slaves escape? What codes might have been used to convey information to fugitive slaves? What was the legal, economic, and political environment during the Underground Railroad years? This class looks at pre-Civil War history and existing evidence on the quilt code. Approximately 1 hour.

The Mill Girls, Revolutionaries in America

Who were the Mill Girls and where did they come from? What part did they play in changing America forever? How did the textile industry in which they worked propel slavery in the U.S.?  Learn the fascinating stories about how these girls and young women drove the industrial revolution in America,  led the labor and women’s rights movements, and helped bring quilters to where we are today. Approximately 1 hour.

Collaborative Quilting and Round Robins

Most of us collaborate in our quilting, using patterns designed by others or creating with partners. Round robins are group projects that pass through the hands of a number of quilters. Round robins are fun and challenging, stretching quilters’ creative powers. Learn about the joys and challenges of collaborative quilting, including sample rules for round robins. Approximately 1 hour.

CLASSES and WORKSHOPS

UntitledHaving Fun with Economy Blocks

Learn to make Economy blocks the size you want for a setting you love. Using them alone, you can create fun and stunning scrap quilts. Brainstorm other ways to use these versatile blocks and begin to see the possibilities. You’ll learn how alternate blocks can create a sparkling secondary design. You’ll see other settings such as in borders, medallion centers, or as the beginning of a great modern quilt. This one-day workshop is fun for quilters of all skill levels.

Medallions for Beginning Quilters

Can you measure and cut accurately and sew a pretty good 1/4″ seam? Have you noticed all the modern medallion quilts around and want to get in on the fun? Or maybe you love the history and beauty of traditional medallions. Join me to learn some basic medallion techniques. You’ll improve your 1/4″ seam, chain-piece, press, and construct five basic blocks. We’ll cover multiple methods to make half-square triangles and flying geese, so you can choose what works best for you. With blocks in hand you’ll assemble them into a medallion quilt top. This 5-session class is for confident beginners.

Medallion Improv!

This Design-As-You-Go class will show you strategies and techniques to customize a medallion quilt. Whether you love modern style, traditional, or somewhere in between, your imagination and favorite fabrics will create a quilt unique to you! You’ll learn how to create a center block to serve as your focal point and inspiration; choose and size borders to enhance the center block and each other; and lots of tricks for dealing with color, shape, value, balance, and unity. This 5-session class is for the experienced quilter who isn’t afraid to design her own quilts or change patterns to suit her own vision. Class size is limited due to extensive discussion time needed.

Contact me at catbirdquilts @ gmail.com for more information or to schedule guild presentations or classes.

May Review

My goodness, it’s hard to think we’ve just stepped into a new month. But frankly, I had enough of May. Good things happened, bad things happened, a lot changed, a lot stayed the same… At times the stress level was more than I cared to deal with. But deal with it we do, right? I am learning better ways to “deal” all the time. Is that maturity on the menu? I’ll take a double order, please!

In the monthly run-down, this time I’ll start with some good things that happened in the month.

Good Things We Celebrate
1) At the beginning of the month Jim and I traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our fabulous future daughter-in-law was awarded her master’s degree that weekend. Besides celebrating with her, her parents (who live about a mile from us), and her sister, we also enjoyed seeing our son.
2) Speaking of our son, he had good news, too. He’s now been in the Air Force for two years and was promoted to First Lieutenant. Much more exciting than that, he completed his C-17 training and now is qualified as a co-pilot on one of the largest airplanes in the military.

Quilting
1) Last month I started two quilts and finished two quilts. I started Marquetry in April and finished it in May. This was one of two projects I began for the Medallion Improv! class I taught recently.  Marquetry was fun and went together more easily than some.

Marquetry. 87″ square. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

2) My other class quilt was the fairy. I used the long-arm to quilt small posies over most of the surface. I am hand-quilting an outline around her. My stitching is bad. (Yes. Really.) But it will be a wall-hanging and anyone who sees the bad stitching on the back will deserve it, for having looked. She is not done. Hopefully I can finish the project in June.

3) I built two sets of borders for the fairy quilt that I didn’t use. One was a set of puss-in-the-corner blocks. I made 32 of them and pretty quickly knew they were wrong for it. But they were lovely little blocks! I matched them up with 31 unpieced alternate blocks to make a sweet baby quilt. No pictures of it yet. When I have pix, I’ll share.

4) My last big project for the month currently is unnamed. I have to build the final border of half-square triangles and finish assembly to complete the top. I hope to have a finished quilt within a week or so.

Readin’ and Writin’
1) I wrote and published 11 posts in Catbird Quilt Studios and 1 post in Our View From Iowa.
2) I celebrated my 300th post on this blog!
3) Much to my surprise, I’ve been able to keep on my goal of reading approximately two books per month. Last month I read Linchpin by Seth Godin.  I love Seth’s blog. He primarily writes about creating a more valuable product. That includes knowing who your customer is, how to raise support, giving without expectation of returns, and the importance of shipping — actually getting product to your customer. He discusses some of the issues that keep us from achieving these, including fear. Unfortunately, the book read much like a bunch of blog posts strung together, rather than as one cohesive whole. I probably won’t read other books by him, but I don’t think I wasted my time reading Linchpin.
4) The other book I finished in May was delightful. Odd and the Frost Giants is a fable of a boy from the far north, whose village cannot break free from winter. Neil Gaiman wrote this story full of beautiful imagery and suspense. Though it sounds like a children’s book, I wouldn’t recommend it for children younger than double-digits. Adults surely will enjoy it.

Experiments
1) I try to incorporate experiments in my quilts. The fairy quilt has several experimental elements, including the hand-quilting. My current project is full of them, too. Once it is done, I’ll tell you about a few of them.
2) A lot of my cooking is experimental. One meal I enjoyed in Ann Arbor was a black bean tortilla wrap. I tried to imitate it at home, and we enjoyed them enough to make them again. I will say, using stronger cheese and a little avocado really makes them better!

My life is full and I am very blessed.