Paper Piece the Quick-Strip Way Class Plan

by Peggy Martin

Students and customers are delighted when they learn that there is a faster, easier way to paper piece: Quick-Strip Paper Piecing! This method uses strips and an assembly-line method, greatly speeding up the process, making it much less frustrating and a lot more fun!

I've given you class plans for each of the 12 projects in the book, plus another class on designing your own blocks for paper piecing. Some projects are geared for beginners: Star Dance, Looking Up, Christmas Cactus and Cactus Tree are the easiest projects to learn the technique. Snow Flurries and Summer in Provence are a bit more challenging, and might be offered later in the schedule after more introductory classes.

Supplies for all classes:

  • Text: Paper Piece the Quick-Strip Way by Peggy Martin
  • Rotary cutter, mat and ruler
  • Spray starch
  • Sewing machine, with extension worktable
  • Size 80 or 90 needles for piecing (size 75 for machine appliqué when needed)
  • Open-toed or satin-stitch foot for paper piecing
  • Quarter-inch foot for regular 1/4" seams
  • Fabric scissors and paper scissors
  • Basic sewing supplies such as pins, seam ripper, etc.
  • Iron and ironing board surface (these may be supplied by your shop)
  • Piece of muslin or other light-colored fabric to protect ironing surface from ink of foundation papers (again, your shop can supply these)
  • Invisible tape (Scotch green plaid tape) or other tape that tears easily, to mend paper when necessary

Before class, have the students:

  • Photocopy the number of patterns needed for the project they will be working on, and cut them out on the outer dotted lines before class, using their paper scissors or a rotary cutter with an old blade. These are stated in the instructions for each project.
  • Pre-wash (if desired), and spray starch fabrics before class.
  • Cut out strips before class, if they are sure of their fabric choices. You might want to offer some time to help people with their fabrics during class, if it is needed. You can specify that they cut the strips for the entire project prior to class, or just for the block or blocks they will be working on that day.
  • Have students bring all their extra fabric along to class in case they need an extra strip or two (fabric varies in width, and mistakes do happen so it is important to bring along that extra fabric!)

For each class, the teacher should bring:

  • Paper patterns cut out to sew a demonstration block, plus extra patterns in case a student makes mistakes and needs an extra pattern
  • Fabric strips for demonstrating the Quick-Strip Paper Piecing method
  • Completed paper-pieced units to demonstrate block construction
  • Finished block and/or project quilt
  • Spray starch and invisible tape, in case students need to borrow yours

During the class:
It is important to actually demonstrate the process of Quick-Strip Paper Piecing so students can see it step-by-step. First, demonstrate piecing the pattern units on strips, then give the students sewing time for their own paper piecing. Later, include options on when to remove the paper, demonstrate block construction, design and border options and any other information needed to complete the project.

Suggested class descriptions and outlines:
Each project in the book includes a fabric supply list for yardage, plus any extra equipment that might be needed to complete the project. Be sure to include all this information on the class supply list, plus the reference page numbers in the book for that information.

  • Star Dance (pages 41-46): This simple block has a lot of movement and design potential and is ideal for learning the Quick-Strip Paper Piecing technique. An easy class for beginners and fun for all levels - no points to match! Half day or full day class: Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete the center block squares. Full day classes will begin sewing the surrounding squares. Discuss and demonstrate setting and borders. Two Session Class: Save setting and border discussion for this class. Have students bring in all completed squares, assemble their quilt and add borders during class.
  • Looking Up (pages 47-52): This lap quilt has blocks set in straight rows with narrow sashing around each block, and a folded accent border framing the quilt center. The Star Dance blocks are sewn quickly and easily - no points to match! Half day or full day class: Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete at least one block. Full day classes will begin sewing additional blocks. Discuss and demonstrate setting and borders. Two Session Class: Save setting and border discussion for this class. Demonstrate how to make the folded border. Have students bring in all completed blocks, assemble their quilt, select and add borders during class, time permitting.
  • Christmas Cactus (pages 53-58): This wall quilt is made from the traditional Palm-Leaf block. With red on the small triangles, it resembles a Christmas cactus plant. Be sure to play with your blocks before completing this quilt - there are many great design options! Half day or full day class: Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete at least one block (4 A and 4 B units). Full day classes will begin sewing the surrounding squares. Discuss and demonstrate basting to match points in block construction, setting options and borders. Two Session Class: Save setting and border discussion for this class. Have students bring in all completed squares, assemble their quilt, select and add borders during class, time permitting.
  • Cactus Tree (pages 59-61): This colorful lap quilt is a great way to play with different fabric combinations. The traditional Palm Leaf block is updated with bright colors paired in a positive/negative arrangement. Half day or full day class: Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete at least one block (4 A and 4 B units). Full day classes will begin sewing additional blocks. Discuss and demonstrate basting to match points in block construction, and adding sashing and borders. Two Session Class: Save sashing and border discussion for this class. Have students bring in all completed squares and sashing fabrics, assemble their quilt, select and add borders during class, time permitting.
  • Tequila Star Rise (pages 63-65): This lively lap quilt uses the Wishing Star block as the center focus blocks, and block portions as a stylish frame for the quilt. Half day or full day class: Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete 4 center squares (4 A and 4 B units). Full day classes will begin sewing additional squares as time permits. Discuss and demonstrate basting to match points in block construction, setting and borders. Two Session Class: Work on border squares. Save setting and border discussion for this class.
  • Starlight, Starbright (pages 67-69): Wishing Star blocks are set on point, and sewn together in straight rows when block portions are added as the corner triangles. A great alternative to the diagonal set! Half day or full day class: Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete one Wishing Star block (4 A and 4 B units). Discuss and demonstrate how to make the Wishing Star corners and quilt assembly. Full day classes will begin sewing Wishing Star corners after completing one block. Discuss and demonstrate basting to match points in block construction, setting and borders in both half and full day classes. Two Session Class: First session, work on Wishing Star block; second session on Wishing Star corners. Save setting and border discussion for this session.
  • Dusk to Dawn (pages 70-73): Using two simple block designs in a unique setting, the Wishing Star and Palm Leaf blocks combine to form a quilt design with movement and visual complexity. Two session class. First session: students piece 4 Palm Leaf A and 4 B units and assemble them into 4 Palm Leaf corner triangles. Discuss and demonstrate matching and basting points. Second session, piece one Wishing Star block (4 Wishing Star A and 4 B units). Bring Palm Leaf corner triangles from first session and show assembly of the completed block (page 72). Teacher discusses finishing remaining blocks and quilt assembly.
  • Night Fire(pages 74-78): This stunning medallion quilt has a Wishing Star block at its center, surrounded by borders made from Palm Leaf block triangles. Two or three session class. First session: students piece 4 Palm Leaf A and 4 Palm Leaf B units to make 4 Palm Leaf triangles. Second session: Students piece and assemble the Wishing Star block. Discuss and demonstrate matching and basting points in the block construction. Third session, students bring in all 16 completed Palm Leaf triangles and the Wishing Star block, plus all border fabric. Assist students in quilt assembly, including cutting and mitering borders and matching border print stripes if needed.
  • Snow Flurries(pages 79-90): Make a delightful snowflake quilt for the winter holidays with paper pieced and sun-printed snowflakes floating across the surface. Include cardboard or template plastic and freezer paper in the supply list. If you are having students paint and make sun-printed snowflakes in class, include the supplies for sun-printed snowflakes (page 81). Schedule multiple sessions as you choose. First session: Students work on block piecing and construction of Snowflake A block. You might wish to schedule Snowflake B and Snowflake C as two more sessions; or have the students assemble those blocks on their own time. Schedule a session to demonstrate sun-printing the snowflakes as a short 2-hour class (teacher demonstration and students cutting freezer paper snowflakes), or a longer class where students actually paint fabric and sun-print their own snowflakes. Teacher or shop can furnish the paint and charge a materials fee, or students can bring their own paint to class. Be sure to protect all surfaces from paint with plastic drop cloths. A sunny, non-windy day is needed for this process to be most successful, so if weather might be an issue, demonstration only is recommended. This session can include quilt assembly discussion and machine appliquéing the sun-printed snowflakes, or that can be scheduled at a later date when students return with all their completed snowflakes and have help arranging and appliquéing them on at the last session.
  • Snowflake placemat (pages 91-92): Paper-cut a variety of snowflakes from freezer paper and use fabric paint to sun-print them onto a placemat for your holiday table! This project works well as a demonstration to help sell fabric paint and the supplies needed to make the placemat. If scheduled as a class, paint can be supplied by the shop or teacher with a materials fee charged, or students can purchase paint at the shop and bring it to class as part of their supply list. Include sun-printing supplies (page 80) in supply list. Students spend the first hour or so of class cutting out freezer paper snowflakes (page 84). Remainder of class is spent painting the fabric and sun-printing the snowflakes. A sunny, non-windy day makes the process most successful.
  • Gypsy in My Soul (pages 93-96) The blocks in this quilt resemble the traditional Mariner's Compass but are sewn in a fraction of the time using Quick-Strip Paper Piecing. One-session class, 4-6 hours. Include lightweight cardboard, template plastic, or freezer paper in supply list for cutting out the setting pieces. Work on block piecing and block construction. Students will expect to complete or nearly complete one Evening Star block. Discuss and demonstrate basting to match points in block construction. Demonstrate cutting out and sewing setting squares to the pieced circle. Discuss quilt assembly and borders.
  • Summer in Provence (pages 97- 110). An Evening Star block with two added rings resembles a radiating sun in the center, and an undulating border with perfect sharp points adds the perfect frame for this elegant medallion wall quilt. Three or four session class; 3-4 hours minimum for each session. First session: students piece and construct center Evening Star block. Second session: students work on Quick-Strip Paper Piecing Ring 1. Ring 1 construction and sewing Ring 1 to Evening Star circle are demonstrated by teacher and completed by students, time permitting. Teacher discusses sewing Ring 2 and demonstrates adding the setting corners. Third session, students work on sewing the 4 border pieces at the same time on strips, learning how to add on paper patterns as the border is pieced (page 100). For three-session class, teacher will demonstrate adding border corners, and machine appliquéing setting pieces to the curved borders. Four-session classes will bring in all completed border paper pieced units and finish borders by machine appliquéing the setting pieces and adding the borders to the quilt.
  • Designing Blocks for Paper Piecing (pages 7-28). It's easy to design your own blocks for Quick-Strip Paper Piecing using these fun, streamlined methods! Even beginners will find it easy to design their own blocks by adding a few lines to units that are repeated to form stars, pinwheels, and many other types of blocks. All block division units are pre-drafted - students need only add design lines to the blank pattern units. A great opportunity to kick off a quilt design contest, with students designing and piecing their block designs, then judges or shop customers voting for their favorite block, with prizes awarded to the winners. Class sessions for block design can be scheduled in a variety of ways. One half-day or full-day class session, or multiple sessions can be scheduled. List drafting supplies (page 7) in supply list. Have students photocopy the design units on pages 22 -28. Teachers select one unit (I used the octagon kite unit in the chapter examples) to use as the demonstration. Have students follow along with design process. Half-day class would be design only. Full-day class can include instruction in Quick-Strip Paper Piecing the block they designed; or a second session could be added for that purpose. Multiple design sessions could be scheduled, with students working their way through the different block division units (squares, half-square triangle units, octagon triangles, octagon kites, hexagon triangles, hexagon kites, and circle units).
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