Pieced Vegetables Class Plan

by Ruth B. McDowell

Notes to Instructors and Shop Owners
Pieced Vegetables is designed to provide the quilter with a variety of pieced vegetable blocks which are adaptable to a series of classes. Some blocks are very simple, with only a few templates; some are more complex. Some stand alone as a complete wallhanging. Techniques include straight seams, inset corner seams, curved seams, and puzzle seams.

I recommend that you thoroughly master these piecing techniques before beginning to teach. In addition to the instruction section in this book on pages 1-14, my earlier book, Piecing: Expanding the Basics, provides a series of exercises which explain these construction processes.

The instruction section of Pieced Vegetables also includes complete instructions for making freezer paper templates, for use when making a single block or a few repeats. The suggested enlargements for each block bring it to the minimum practical sewing size. Enlarging the block more than this makes it even easier to sew.

Kits could be prepared by the instructor, or students could bring supplies for each exercise. Each student should be required to purchase her/his own copy of Pieced Vegetables by Ruth B. McDowell.

Here is a brief outline of some of the classes you might organize. Within each class, have everyone work on the same design, or give them a choice. Have the students piece one block, or a few blocks, or continue until a wallhanging, quilt, or other project has been completed.

  • Class 1: Straight seams, easy - introduce the freezer paper template technique with these blocks: Beets, p. 33; Onion, p. 79; Pea, p. 84; Potato, p. 99
  • Class 2: Straight seams, medium - Cabbage, p. 41; Italian pepper, p. 90; Tomato slice, p. 118; Ristra, p. 92
  • Class 3: Straight seams, many templates - Corn, p. 58; Romaine lettuce, p. 74; Green beans, p. 24; Carrots, p. 44; Celery, p. 50; Bell pepper, p. 94; Asparagus, p. 19
  • Class 4: Faced flap - Corn, p. 54
  • Class 5: Inset corners - Pumpkin, p. 104 (directions for insets are on p. 106)
  • Class 6: Curved seams, easy - Beets, p. 35; Carrots, p. 47; Eggplant, p. 66; Leek, p. 71; Onion, p. 81; Bell pepper, p. 96; Potato, p. 102; Tomato, p. 119
  • Class 7: Curved seams, folded flaps - Tomato, p. 121 (directions on p. 122)
  • Class 8: Curved seams, many templates - Boston lettuce, p. 76; Artichoke, p. 16; Pea, p. 86; Corn, p. 60; Buttercup squash, p. 108
  • Class 9: Curved seams, undulating - Shell beans, p. 29
  • Class 10: Y seams - Broccoli, p. 38
  • Class 11: Puzzle pieces - Green beans, p. 24

Other Classes
Sets and Symmetry: The small quilt designs demonstrate some of the possibilities for overall graphic design using my book, Symmetry: A Design System for Quiltmakers (C&T Publishing, 1994, ISBN 0-914881-78-7, presently out of print). Look on the following pages for examples of these symmetries:

P1: Beets, p. 33 (top), Ristra, p. 92; P2: Beets, p. 35 (top); P4: Beans, pp 24, 29, Beets, p. 33 (bottom), Cabbage, p. 41, Corn, p. 54, Boston lettuce, p. 76, Leeks, p. 69 (rotating a pair of blocks), Pumpkin, p. 104 (includes a diagram of how to eliminate the small square puzzle piece in the center of a pinwheel of rectangular blocks); CM: Artichoke, p. 17, Corn, pp 55, 60; PG: Asparagus, p. 20, Eggplant, p. 66, Onions, p. 81; P2GG: Broccoli, p. 38, Celery, p. 50, Onions, p. 39; P2MG: Leek, p. 71; P4MG: Pea, p. 86, Potato, p. 99

Staggered Sets: Shifting or staggering rows of blocks is also an interesting way to vary designs. See Asparagus, p. 20 (top), Carrots, p. 47, Eggplant, p. 54, Italian pepper, p. 90.

Sampler: The sampler quilt on pages 124-126 uses one of each block in the book. Show your students how to plan their own sampler on graph paper using their collection of blocks, and adding squares and rectangles of fabric to fill out the surface.

Student Supply List
Select a block and enlarge the block pattern (not piecing diagram) from Pieced Vegetables to at least the size recommended and bring it to class prepared to sew a block (or blocks). Carefully study the material on pages 1-14.

  • paper scissors
  • masking tape
  • highlighters (2 colors)
  • freezer paper
  • UltraFineline permanent marker (Sharpie)
  • sewing kit including fine (skinny) pins<
  • clear ruler
  • sewing machine
  • sharp fabric scissors
  • zip-lock bag
  • soft colored pencils for marking fabric
  • notebook
  • eraser
  • rotary cutter and small pad
  • A selection of fabrics for your project (I recommend a variety of fabrics—large, medium and small prints, plaids, solids or hand-dyes, unusual fabrics. Scraps, fat quarters or half yards of many fabrics, rather than larger pieces of a few, although yardage will vary with the scale of the project you choose.)

Sheet or fleece or board to pin up work in progress
Template material (if making 8 or more of the same block)
1/8" paper punch if making plastic templates