Garden-Inspired Quilts Class Plan

by Jean & Valori Wells

Watching people discover their creative potential and accomplish their goals is very satisfying. Garden-Inspired Quilts will help you share the discovery process and the quilting techniques we used to create one-of-a-kind quilts inspired by gardens. We've found that gardens hold a wealth of information for anyone interested in color and design.

Garden-Inspired Quilts offers projects suitable for a variety of classes. Each set of instructions is accompanied by a detailed journal that relates how the decisions were made in designing and creating the quilt. Read the journals carefully, as they will be useful to you in teaching.

Each of the quilts can be taught as a separate class following the instructions given in the book. We include a sample lesson plan here for one quilt in the book, Log Cabin City Garden, but you can apply the same principles to any of the rest. At the end of this lesson plan you'll find highlights of each quilt in terms of skills to be taught and lessons to be learned. This should help you in selecting projects to teach.

Class Description: Log Cabin City Garden
Take inspiration from nature as you design your own version of this classic but unique quilt. Explore the creative process and learn to choose colors inspired by what's in your garden. Finished quilt size is 75" square.

Note to teacher: Since this class focuses mainly on design rather than completion of the quilt, it can be taught in one 6-hour session. Alternatively, you can break it up into two 3-hour sessions. Devote one to planning and design, and the other to actually working with the chosen fabrics.

Supply List

  • Book: Garden-Inspired Quilts by Jean Wells & Valori Wells
  • Garden Photography: Bring color photos of garden settings that you love, the more the better. These can be photos of your own yard, other people's gardens, or photos from this book or other books, on postcards, or whatever catches your eye.
  • Fabric: Hand-dyed fabrics are recommended, but you can be more individual in your choices. Try batiks, texturals, or whatever makes you feel creative! Bring colors reminiscent of the colors in your garden photography. You should have available a wide variety of fabrics to choose from for the light and dark sides of the block. Plan to fill in your stash as needed during class. You will need 1/3 yard for center squares, 3-3/4 yards of assorted light fabrics, and 4 yards of assorted dark fabrics.
  • Other: Sewing machine, basic sewing supplies, design wall (optional)

In the Classroom
Be sure you are familiar and comfortable with Valori's design journal for this quilt in the book. During class, go over the inspiration and design process with your students. Help them narrow down their choices of garden colors and work with them individually to make sure they have enough variety in their fabric collection. Assist students in shopping for more fabric to fill out their needs. Work with them in auditioning the chosen fabrics to be sure they like the results. Be available to advise them during the cutting and piecing process, if needed. They will not be able to finish the top during class, but most will complete several blocks.

Highlights of Other Designs for Teaching from Garden-Inspired Quilts

Log Cabin City Garden: A traditional block pattern, but the colors are chosen using a photograph. It is a good learning experience for color decisions and precision piecing.

Garden Sweet Garden and Garden Friends: Both quilts incorporate machine buttonhole stitch applique for the images, but you could also demonstrate hand buttonhole stitch. These are cottage-style designs, which will appeal to a lot of beginners.

Angels and Vintage Angel: Both quilts incorporate simple applique and some piecing. The class focus should be on color and fabric choices. Needleturn applique was used but other methods could be taught. This is a very popular quilt.

Gerber Daisy: This is a great study in easy curved piecing and free-motion quilting. The quilting makes the simple design come alive. Offer this class for novices at curved piecing.

Kenmar Farm Baskets: The 18" baskets are pieced and then appliqued onto the background using a machine blind stitch. You could do a class with just one basket to teach the concept.

Solitude and Summer Celebration: Both quilts are pictorial and use simple garden shapes. Solitude is hand appliqued and Summer Celebration is appliqued using a satin stitch. Both quilts draw on actual shapes seen in the garden for interpretation. Students should bring ideas to class and you can help them develop the idea.

Zinnias: This quilt used an exact flower shape for its pattern. The flower was traced and enlarged to make the pattern. It is a fun idea that students find attainable.

Paradise in the Garden: I used Karen Stone's New York Beauty paper-piecing pattern to make the blocks for this quilt. Zinnias were my color source for the palette. I have had students come with other pictures for their color ideas.