French Braid Transformation Class Plan

by Jane Hardy Miller


This scrappy project is from page 51 of the book. Students need some experience, but need not be expert quilters. It probably should not be a first quilt, but could be a third or fourth for a dedicated beginner. Students will learn to attach quarter-square triangles on the shorter sides to make a long column. Appliqué techniques could also be included, though not discussed in the book.

Class Length
These instructions are written as if taught as a 2-day class; students could possibly take home a borderless top. It would also work as a 2-week class with homework, or as a 1-day class with pre-cutting. If the latter, students might take home at least 1 finished column. Note that students will need space to lay out the columns.

Supply List

  • Required book: French Braid Transformation by Jane Hardy Miller
  • Sewing machine, accessories and basic sewing supplies
  • Good quality thread for piecing
  • Rotary cutter, mat and ruler—whatever you usually use
  • A square ruler at least 9" x 9" is very helpful for cutting, but not required
  • Design wall, if space allows
  • Fabric selection tips: Students should decide on the 2 background colors first, select fat quarters of each, then select scraps and/or fat eighths for the dots. Rather than 2 colors, they could select lights and darks of one color or even team colors.
  • Fabric requirements:
    Zigzag: 7 fat quarters in EACH of 2 colors, or 7 light and 7 dark of 1 color (14 total)
    Dots: several fat eighths or scraps (5/8 yard if using 1 fabric)
    Fusible web (if used for applique): 5/8 yard (18" wide or wider)
    Inner border: 3/8 yard
    Outer border: 2 yards cut lengthwise or1 1/4 yards cut crosswise
    Backing: 4 5/8 yards pieced lengthwise OR 3 3/4 yards pieced crosswise
    Binding: 5/8 yard

Advance Preparation
Students should prepare fabric using their usual method. For a 1-day class, have students cut as instructed on page 52.

Day 1

  1. Students cut triangles and lay out all 6 columns
  2. Teacher explains the method of sewing the triangles together, emphasizing the alignment shown in the illustrations on p. 53.
  3. Students construct columns.
  4. Teacher explains the method of sewing the columns together (p. 54).
  5. Students sew columns together.

Day 2

  1. Teacher points out the 2 types of dot orientation—overlapping the borders (photo, p. 51) or stopping at the borders (photo, p. 55)—and their methods of construction (pp. 54-55). Point out the possibility of using other shapes.
  2. If the teacher is an appliquér, discuss various appliqué methods, including hand or machine, fused or not, raw edge or finished edge. If the teacher hates appliqué, just pick 2 simple methods to give the students a choice. (These dots are large enough to use the method on pp. 7-8 of French Braid Obsession.) This could also be a good opportunity for an hour of team-teaching as a way to introduce a new teacher to the class and/or introduce some piecers to appliqué.
  3. Discuss border application, including the last half of the dots if the students have chosen to have them overlap the borders.
  4. If there's extra time, use it for show and tell.