Butterflies & Blooms Class Plan

by Carol Armstrong

Notes to Instructors and Shop Owners
Carol Armstrong's simple techniques will make applique addicts out of beginning students as well as experienced ones. With a few simple tools and a stack of solid-color fabrics, each student will succeed in creating a floral project and enjoy the process.

Tips for Success

  1. Make samples of the finished projects to promote the classes.
  2. Classes should reflect the skill level of the students.
  3. Be sure the following supplies are available in your shop:
    • Textbook: Butterflies & Blooms by Carol Armstrong
    • 1/8 to 1/4 yard of solid-color cotton fabrics in color groups - i.e., greens, yellows, blues, etc. If a student intends to do a piece with binding, be sure to have them purchase a larger amount in this color off the same bolt. At least 2 yards of any color is nice to have around for those that are applique addicts.
    • #10 milliners needles
    • Light boxes - a small, inexpensive plastic version is great for classes
    • A wide selection of threads to make stitches disappear!
    • Traditional needle-punched batting
    • A good pre-shrunk, permanent-press unbleached muslin for background fabric
  4. Lead your future applique lovers to nice sharp scissors and a comfortable thimble for quilting (Carol uses a leather one). Of course, a rotary-cutting set is great for borders and bindings, and good markers that can easily be removed from the fabrics are a necessity. Have irons available in class.


  • Textbook: Butterflies & Blooms by Carol Armstrong
  • Light box
  • Paper (for redrawing patterns)
  • Tracing paper for designing
  • Fabric markers for light and dark fabric. Do not use the air-disappearing type except for quilting at the moment or work that you will finish now.
  • Pre-shrunk, permanent-press unbleached muslin for the background
  • 1/8 to 1/4 yard of solid color 100% cotton fabrics in color groups - i.e., greens, yellows, blues, etc. For beginner class, specific colors can be listed according to the motif you have chosen.
  • Matching threads
  • #10 milliners needles
  • Pins and basic sewing supplies
  • Good scissors
  • Floss for embroidering details

    If the class is to include quilting:
    Basting thread
    Quilting thread
    Quilting needle

Begin with a small project such as a sachet. Select a section of a large design or enlarge a small one. The motif will need to fit the small space. Motif suggestions: a single flower or insect from any of the designs in the book, as long as it doesn't include pieces so tiny that it will scare off your beginners. You can have the students create their own or have an already selected motif on a sheet of paper ready for the light box.

Number of sessions: 3-4 sessions, each 2-3 hours long

Session One - 3 hours
Beginning with a simple design, the students will prepare everything for applique. Cut out the muslin for the sachet. Mark the background, and mark and cut out the applique pieces. Mark the applique order number in the seam allowance for easy reference later. Note: Do not use the air-disappearing markers as they will be gone before you finish.When the "kit" is ready for applique, set it aside and bring out some scrap fabrics to practice the applique stitch (page 11). The applique stitch is the most important thing to stress. Once it is easy to do, so is everything else. Have the students stitch some simple shapes and allow the stitches to improve. These are practice pieces so mistakes are fine. Allow the students to practice the stitch at home and also read the book (pages 8-16) to become familiar with the basics before the next class.

Session Two - 3 hours
In this session they will begin appliqueing the sachet. Take note of the specifics the chosen motif may have - for example, points or inside curves - and demonstrate these techniques. Don't overload beginners with techniques they will not use this day. Have them start appliqueing. Note: Turn and sew only the edges exposed (page 9). Walk around answering questions and appliqueing your own motif to show the right way when needed. The work goes slowly at first. This is normal. Finish the applique at home, if not in class.

Session Three - 2-3 hours
Have an iron and padded surface for ironing available. Embroider the details in this class. Demonstrate if the students are not familiar with the simple stitches (pages 15-16). Remove any marks that show and press the piece (page 9). Complete the sachet using a simple pillow or bag technique of your choice.

Session Four - 2-3 hours
This session is optional, but will increase the skill level of the students. Have them practice the other techniques that were not used for the sachet. Having completed a small project, they will not be as overwhelmed as they may have been at the start. Try samples of tiny bias stems (page 14-15) and pre-applique (page 10-11). This is a good time to answer any questions.

Quilting is probably not part of your sachet project, but a short discussion could be included, referring to the book. Or perhaps have another session for beginners covering quilting. A good size project is 12" x 12". Include basting, marking, and random quilting in different designs to create a sampler square.

Work in a less structured format for those students familiar with applique. Allow students to design their own quilts using the 24 wildflowers and 18 insects, frogs, and more presented in the book.

Number of Sessions: 3-4 sessions, each 2-3 hours long

Session One
Begin with an open-book review of light box applique (page 11). Review the applique techniques one at a time, and demonstrate the techniques that the students would like to see. You will have some students who have learned other methods. This will give them the chance to choose the best method for them. I find working without templates a wonderful freedom!

Suggest patterns from the book's 42 wonderful wildflowers, bugs, and beasties (pages 24-57) for students to use for designing a small project on paper. The 8" x 10" format works well. A larger format could be used, depending on the designs chosen. Refer to section on designing your own patterns and customizing the designs (pages 21-23). The paper design can be finished at home so it will be ready for the light box at the next session.

Session Two
Mark the fabric background, cut out the applique pieces, and begin appliqueing the pieces to the background. Answer any questions as the actual work begins. Students may finish the applique work at home.

Have a short discussion about adding borders and basting the layers (page 17-18). Students should have their projects ready for quilting at the next session.

Session Three
Let's go quilting! Possible designs can be drawn on paper. This class results in a good exchange of ideas and interaction among students. Use the book whenever needed (pages 19 and 94-95). Also, the photos and watercolor illustrations throughout the book are very helpful for inspiration. Go over the quilting directions of a couple of the projects while the students look at the photo of the project. Have students finish quilting their projects at home.

Session Four
If the students do not want to frame their projects, demonstrate the basics of binding (page 19-20). This is a good session to have a show-and-tell of the finished or near-finished projects. Be prepared to answer any questions that students may still have regarding applique and quilting design techniques. Encourage the students to try another project - the world is full of wonderful butterflies, blooms, and "friends"!