Rectangle Pizzazz Class Plan

By Judy Sisneros

Beware! These quilts are as addictive as potato chips—you can’t make just one! (Just like 9-Patch Pizzazz.) I teach 4 different workshops from projects in the book. Each workshop is a full six hours, but could be broken up into two sessions of three hours each. The quilts are beginner-friendly, but fun for more advanced quilters too. In some workshops, at least one person in class will complete the whole top!

All four workshops covered here are for quilters of all skill levels. The fabric does the work. Rotary cutter skill is necessary. I hope you enjoy teaching these workshops as much as I do!

  1. Rectangle Pizzazz on Point (the book's front cover quilt.) It’s amazing how different a quilt looks when you put the blocks ‘on point’. This project uses large rectangles, smaller rectangles, squares, and setting triangles to make everything fit. Choose a large-scale print with contrasting companion fabrics. It looks harder than it is!
  2. To the Nines—very beginner friendly! Uses 9 fabrics, 9 blocks across and 9 blocks down (but isn’t square), and takes about 9 hours! Really! Start with a multi-color focus fabric and 8 different companion fabrics to bring out the colors in the focus fabric. Fun, fast, finished!
  3. Curves Around the Rectangle—A perfect way to use a fabric panel, scene or large print. Start with a rectangle, then add blocks with gradual curves to create a quilt with beauty and movement. The curves are not as hard as you think, and the result is beautiful!
  4. Rectangles Behind Bars—Fun with large-scale fabric. Start with a large-scale print (animal, floral, scenic, juvenile); create a peek-a-boo design by inserting bars; then add card trick blocks to make a creative and fun wall hanging.


  • Required textbook: Rectangle Pizzazz: Fast, Fun & Finished in a Day by Judy Sisneros
    It's very helpful to have your students read the book before the class date.
  • Fabric. For specific requirements, check the section of the book on the project you'll be teaching.
  • Sewing machine in good working order, with 1/4" quilting foot
  • Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, neutral thread, full bobbin
  • Rotary cutter with sharp blade
  • Cutting mat at least 24"
  • Rulers: check the individual project in the book to see which are needed for each class.
  • Irons and ironing boards
  • (Optional) June Tailor "Shape Cut." This is a great tool for cutting strips, but is kind of expensive, so I don't require it. If you have these in your shop, demo how to use them and you will probably sell them out!
  • Important: Design wall of white fleece, batting or flannel attached to foam core board at least 32" x 40" (available at office supply stores.) Required for all classes except To the Nines. Do not forget this item. Students need something to design on and a way to take the design home. If your shop has design walls, that’s okay, but it's better for students to take their blocks home already laid out on the design wall.It’s amazing how many don’t bring it, even though I remind them not to forget! Sometimes foam core is available as a folding presentation board that is easier for students to fit into their cars.
  • Post-it notes (for Rectangles on Point class only.)

Even though each student has a copy of the book, they still want a handout in class! (Remember that giving out handouts to students who have not purchased the book is a violation of copyright law.) On the handout, I show cutting instructions, broken down by fabric (i.e. focus fabric, contrasting, blending, etc). You can find these in the book under individual projects. Wait until after the instructor stops talking to give out the handout—the students will read the handout and not listen to you! A diagram of the design is also helpful.

I always have a sample or two to show, and several "in progress" parts sewn to demonstrate in class. Most quilters are visual learners and they like to see examples of parts of the quilts sewn.


  1. Start by explaining that this workshop will give students a chance to use those irresistible large-scale prints. Have students bring their chairs to the front of the class so they can see sample quilts up close. Remind them that a 12½" square is 12" square when finished (seam allowance), and the same is true for 6½" x 12½" and 6½" squares.
  2. Look at each person's fabrics to help each student decide which ones to use. If a fabric won’t work, in your opinion, tell them so and explain why. It’s a lot of fun to see how the many different fabrics used make the quilt look so different. Everybody uses the same design, but the quilts all look different. I recommend that everybody watch this process as a learning tool, but if they want to get started instead, that’s all right too. Keep in mind these fabric considerations for individual classes:
    • Rectangle Pizzazz on Point. The triangle fabric is high-contrast, but if a student insists on using a blender-type fabric,’s her quilt! If she wants to make all the "boxes" different, suggest she do this on her second quilt, not the first.
    • To the Nines. Multi-color focus fabric plus coordinating fabrics to go with it. Eight fabrics are recommended for the wall hanging size, but students can use more if they want to! Batiks will work too, if the focus batik includes more than one color.
    • Curves Around the Rectangle. If the focus fabric a large-scale print or scene and not a panel, 2 yards should be enough for both inside the ‘frame’ and in the blocks.
    • Rectangles Behind Bars. Steer the students away from small-scale prints. They look boring on this quilt.
  3. Using the instructions in Rectangle Pizzazz for the project you've chosen, demonstrate how to cut the fabric and assemble the quilt top.