When Quilters Gather
by Ruth B. McDowell ©2004

Instructor’s Lesson Plan

Celebrate the quilters by offering a class from When Quilters Gather: 20 Patterns of Piecers at Play. Your students can make a self portrait, make a gift for a quiltmaking friend, or choose a block to illustrate their favorite part of the quilting process.

First, familiarize yourself with the material by making one or several blocks from the book. Begin by carefully studying the freezer paper template method on pages 7-14. Please note: THIS IS NOT PAPER (FOUNDATION) PIECING. I use traditional template piecing methods with iron-on freezer paper templates. You will find that this method has a number of advantages over paper (foundation ) piecing while loosing nothing in accuracy.

All of the blocks in When Quilters Gather are simple straight seam piecing. They vary in difficulty only in the number and size of the pieces. Making any block bigger (even bigger than the size suggested) will make it easier to sew. You can select one block for everyone to work on, or in an advanced class, let each student select their own.

33 pieces Whizzy Whacker p. 94
40-46 pieces Hand Sewing p. 37, Meandering p. 91, Spinning Featherweights p. 97
61-65 pieces Rotary Cutting p. 40, And a Yard p. 47, Fondling Fabric p. 53,
Folding Fabric p. 57, Hand Quilting on a Big Frame, p. 80
70-78 pieces Machine Piecing, p. 29, Ironing p. 44, Pinning on a Design Wall p. 64, Hand Quilting in a Hoop p. 83, Machine Quilting, p. 87
83-84 pieces Machine Piecing on a Featherwieght p. 33, Auditioning p. 68
Advanced This is an Interesting Fabric p. 50, Choosing a Palette, p. 60, Sharing the Process p. 72, Design Workshop p.76

Read carefully the enlarging directions for blocks on page 8. Many large copy centers can
enlarge up to 400% in one step and copy on 36” wide rolls of paper. These machine are usually
used to copy home building plans. The center may also have flat bed machines that can copy on
standard size paper 17” x 22” or 11” x 17”. A block may also be enlarges in sections and taped
together. Some copiers can also make a reversed (mirror) image copy useful in labeling
templates (page 10).

Fabric Selection is covered on pages 20-26. I recommend that you have your students choose skin fabrics first, then hair, then clothing. You will find that I have used patternedfabrics for “skin” in this book. Solid fabrics read too “flat” for my taste. In choosing naturalistic colors for “skin”, guide your students toward the colors they would find in the FOUNDATION section of a make-up collection rather than pink peaches, white or black. Remind them they are making quilts, not photographs, and that fabric choices give an impressionistic interpretation. In most blocks you will need 2 or 3 slightly different shades of “skin”.

Lead you students through the freezer paper template method on page 9, tracing the seam lines on the shiny side of the freezer paper with the Sharpie marker. Then have them put the marker away. They should not use it for any marking on the dull side of the paper. Carefully take them through the process on pages 9-14. When the freezer paper templates have been prepared have them pin the enlarged block diagram on a design wall or piece of fome-core. Each fabric piece (with the freezer paper template on the back) is pinned in place on the enlarged block diagram as it is cut to audition the fabrics. Glass headed pins are easier on the fingers for this part of the process, I recommend the use of thin (silk) pins when pinning fabric pieces together to sew. Have the students follow their copy of the list of sewing directions as they sew, crossing off each step as they proceed.

Other topics: Bordering, sashing, joining blocks, P. 101-110
Exploring slight design changes, i.e. hair styes
Designing your own figures p. 17-20.
See also Piecing: Expanding the Basics, especially the Grizzly Bear chapter

Student Suppy List

When Quilters Gather book (each student must purchase a copy)

A copy from the book of the selected block diagram, its piecing diagram and its sewing directions

If possible, a reversed (mirror) copy of the block diagram for labeling ease, p. 10

A copy of the block diagram enlarged to the working size

Ultra fine or extra fine black Sharpie or Identipen permanent marker
Freezer paper
Masking tape
Colored pencils (I suggest standard soft lead art pencils: Prismacolor, Crayola, etc,
but NOT the kind that run when water is applied)
Highlighter (optional)
Rotary cutter and mat
Clear ruler with 1/4”lines or add-a-quarter ruler
Pins (Silk pins with glass heads suggested)
Fome-core or pinable design wall
Sewing machine, needles, thread, etc.
Steam Iron and ironing board (can be shared)
Fuseable web (optional, used if you want to embellish the pieced block p.27)