Puzzle Quilts Class Plan

by Paula Nadelstern

NOTES TO INSTRUCTORS

  • This multi-session workshop can be formatted to fit shop and student needs. Making a pair of blocks each week will result in a shorter time frame while more focus on design possibilities might dictate creating a single block each week.
  • Although this book does not explain sewing and quiltmaking techniques, constructing a Puzzle Quilt is an opportunity to teach any skill needed to assemble a quilt.
  • Instructor should familiarize herself with idiosyncratic terms used in text to explain fabric categories and design concepts.

Class Description: PUZZLE QUILTS: Simple Blocks, Complex Fabrics
A Puzzle Quilt is a sampler with a secret: each block design is used twice. By using totally different fabric combinations, the quilter creates the illusion that each block is unique. The "puzzle" is to pick out which two blocks are the same. This multi-session workshop is for the adventurous beginner and intermediate quiltmaker who wants to embrace the potential offered by a wide range of fabric choices rather than be overwhelmed by it. In the process of making a twelve block quilt, students will learn to define and think about the attributes that fabric brings to the design table.

Student Supply List

  • Required: Puzzle Quilts: Simple Blocks, Complex Fabrics, by Paula Nadelstern
  • Graph paper, 4 or 8-to-the-inch grid with bold inch line, larger than 12" x 12"
  • See-through template plastic with 4 or 8-to-the-inch grid
  • Drafting supplies: a ruler, well-sharpened pencils, erasers
  • Black extra fine-point permanent marker.
  • A method for marking dark-colored fabric. Best choice: extra-fine, permanent, light-colored (silver, white) GEL pens. Second best: white chalk pencil that can be sharpened to a fine point.
  • Fabric scissor
  • Template/paper scissors
  • Set-up for rotary cutting, including a rotary cutter, ruler and mat
  • Sewing machine with well-defined quarter-inch seam allowance guide
  • General sewing supplies
  • See-thru ziplock baggies to hold templates and patches

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FABRIC
Consider an arrangement where students pay in advance for 10 yards of fabrics, but are allowed to select fabrics as needed. Their fabric choices will become more deliberate and artful as the class progresses and they become agile users of uncommon fabrics. Initially, some students may be uncomfortable with this loosey-goosey system that does not dictate "x" number of fabrics from the start. But this approach presents fabric more as an artist's palette and less as a craft supply. Remember, this time the goal is not to create a matched-to-a-focus-fabric quilt but to expand the student's viewpoint, the ability to identify and manipulate attributes in a fabric because you understand the roles they can play in the design.

Otherwise, they'll need:
1 yard each of at least 10 fabrics within a common palette, including both allovers and bilaterally symmetrical fabrics (with mirror images that can be fussy cut identically). Include prints with texture, gradations, stripes, painterly fabrics that read like solids. Think luminosity, translucence, iridescence.
For Lattice & Backing: Quantity to be determined

In the Classroom

WEEK 1: OVERVIEW and BLOCK 1A

  1. Discuss concept of a Puzzle Quilt. Use book or class samples to give concrete examples.
  2. Familiarize students with:
    Elements of Design, pages 10-11
    My So-Called Concepts, pages 15-19
    Fabric categories discussed on Pages 20-31 (Demonstrate with bolts of fabric available in shop)
  3. Have students draft BLOCK 1 its actual size in pencil on graph paper and make see-through templates with seam allowance from this full size blueprint as described on Page 36.
  4. Review and critique BLOCK 1 examples in Workbook, pages 52-57.
  5. Design assignment: Choose one allover and one prima donna fabric
  6. Have students pick fabrics for BLOCK 1A, and begin to piece it, finishing the block for homework. Let students know it is always permissible to alter fabric choices during the week, using fabrics from their own stash: real quilters always edit choices as they collaborate with their project. Ask students not to begin Block 1B.

WEEK 2: BLOCK 1B

  1. Review and analyze students' Block 1A samples.
  2. Design focus for critique: what is the path of the viewer's eye? How is this accomplished?
  3. Give each student 2 copies of Block Diagrams to Photocopy (page 94). Suggest they keep one copy clean to make at least 10 additional copies for brainstorming and sketching ideas in the coming weeks. Ask students to sketch in pencil an alternate lay-out for BLOCK 1B , focusing on how printed fabrics can be used to vary one and the same patchwork configuration.
  4. Use class time to choose fabric and begin constructing BLOCK 1B
  5. Design assignment: Decide the path you'd like the viewer's eye to take as it moves around the block and choose fabrics accordingly.

WEEK 3: BLOCK 2A and 2B

  1. Review and analyze students' BLOCK 1B samples.
  2. Design focus for critique: Focusing on the choice of fabrics, are seamlines camouflaged or accentuated? Also, were students successful in leading the viewer's eye on their path of choice?
  3. Have students draft BLOCK 2 its actual size in pencil on graph paper and make see-through templates with seam allowance from this full size blueprint as described on Page 36.
  4. Review and critique BLOCK 2 examples in Workbook, pages 58-63.
  5. Design assignment: Use mirror imaging motifs in Block 2A or 2B. Discuss Templates for Mirror Image Motifs (Page 37)
  6. Ask students to sketch in pencil two alternate lay-outs for BLOCK 2.
  7. Have students pick fabrics for BLOCKS 2A and 2B. Begin to piece the blocks. Finish for homework.

WEEK 4: BLOCK 3A and 3B

  1. Review and analyze students' BLOCK 2A and 2B samples.
  2. Design focus for critique: Are symmetrical, mirror imaged motifs used effectively?
  3. Have students draft BLOCK 3 its actual size in pencil on graph paper and make see-through templates with seam allowance from this full size blueprint as described on Page 36.
  4. Review and critique BLOCK 3 examples in Workbook, pages 64-69
  5. Design assignment: In one of the blocks, students must use 6 different fabrics. In either block, use a novelty print so that it is initially unrecognizable.
  6. Ask students to sketch in pencil two alternate lay-outs for BLOCK 3.
  7. Have students pick fabrics for BLOCKS 3A and 3B. Begin to piece the blocks. Finish for homework.

WEEK 5: BLOCK 4A and 4B

  1. Review and analyze students' BLOCK 3A and 3B samples.
  2. Design foci for critique:
    Evaluate the established figure-ground relationship.
    Do any blocks depict the "Sea Foam" concept, defined on Page 17?
  3. Have students draft BLOCK 4 its actual size in pencil on graph paper and make see-through templates with seam allowance from this full size blueprint as described on Page 36.
  4. Review and critique BLOCK 4 examples in Workbook, pages 70-75
  5. Design assignment #1: In Block 4A, students must camouflage seams and encourage an uninterrupted flow of design from one patch to the next.
  6. Design assignment #2: In Block 4B, students must use a striped fabric. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other fabrics.
  7. Have students sketch in pencil alternate lay-outs for BLOCK 4.
  8. Have students pick fabrics for BLOCKS 4A and 4B. Begin to piece the blocks. Finish for homework.

WEEK 6: BLOCK 5A and 5B

  1. Review and analyze students' BLOCK 4A and 4B samples.
  2. Design focus for critique: Previous weeks design assignments 1 & 2
  3. Have students draft BLOCK 5 its actual size in pencil on graph paper and make see-through templates with seam allowance from this full size blueprint as described on Page 36.
  4. Review and critique BLOCK 5 examples in Workbook, pages 76-81.
  5. Design assignment: In Block 5A, students must use technique explained and illustrated in Bending the Template, page 42, creating an interrupted design from one patch to the next.
  6. Have students sketch in pencil alternate lay-outs for BLOCK 5.
  7. Have students pick fabrics for BLOCKS 5A and 5B. Begin to piece the blocks. Finish for homework.

WEEK 7: BLOCK 6A and 6B

  1. Review and analyze students' BLOCK 5A and 5B samples.
  2. Design foci for critique: Have students demo the templates needed to successfully bend the pattern's motif.
  3. Have students draft BLOCK 6 its actual size in pencil on graph paper and make see-through templates with seam allowance from this full size blueprint as described on Page 36.
  4. Review and critique BLOCK 6 examples in Workbook, pages 82-89
  5. Design assignment: Stretch yourself. Work out of your comfort zone.
  6. Have students sketch in pencil alternate lay-outs for BLOCK 4.
  7. Have students pick fabrics for BLOCKS 4A and 4B. Begin to piece the blocks. Finish for homework.

WEEK 8: LAY-OUT of QUILT TOP

      Chapter: Piece by Piece, Setting the Blocks, page 49

 

    Discuss lay-out options and how to determine yardage for sashing, etc

Shop owners could also sell:

  • FABRICS
    LUMINOSITY by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex
    HOLIDAY LUMINOSITY by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex
    OPULENCE by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex
  • Bilaterally symmetrical fabrics
  • Graph paper 12" x 12"
  • See-through template plastic (My favorite: Turquoise TGR8 from Quilters Rule)
  • Gel ink pens (silver, white)
  • Rich, dark colored, inky permanent pens visible on template plastic, that do not smear.
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