Strips 'n Curves Class Plan

by Louisa L. Smith

Notes to Instructors & Shop Owners
This class can be taught over 4 weeks or as an all-day workshop. If a one-day workshop if desired, make sure to meet with students prior to class to help with color selection and to make sure they are aware of correct strata construction, because it is best to have them come to the one-day workshop with completed strata.

This innovative combination of straight lines and gentle curves creates zingy but easy-to-make quilts. Get ready to see basic strip piecing in a whole new light! Four 2-hour classes.

Required text: Strips 'n Curves by Louisa L. Smith
For a detailed class supply list, see page 11 of Strips 'n Curves. Sources for specialized tools are on page 86.


1st week: Cutting and color selection; playing with strips on design wall to create the best color flow. At the end of class, show how to correctly piece together the strata (see Step 1, below).

2nd week: Show how to draft templates or use acrylic cutting templates. Make sure strata are pressed correctly and mark the templates with seam lines from strata ready for use. Cut out the first shapes (see Step 2).

3rd week: Play on the design walls and make suggestions for correcting designs. Critique compositions; teach them how to correct or hide the trouble spots. Explain the piecing procedure at the end of class (see Step 3).

4th week: Check all the students' work one by one. Discuss the possibilities for borders and quilting, whether by hand or machine (see Step 4).


Step 1: Strata

  • Play with strips or fabrics to create the correct color flow. (Tip: Suggest that the last strip should look good next to the first strip in case we need to re-piece leftover strata.) Use a 1/4" piecing foot if available. Adjust stitch length to 1.5 and engage the needle-down feature if available. A small stitch is preferred because we are cutting these strips later and do not want them to come apart! If machine has the capability of a FIX feature for starting and finishing, have students use this it will save them thread and time!
  • Lay strips in correct color order on design wall. Sew strip #1 to strip #2, iron seam open and put back on design wall. Take strip #3 and sew to strip #4, iron seam open and put back on design wall. Continue to sew in pairs until all strips are complete. Go back and take first pair (#1 & #2) and sew to second pair (#3 & #4). Iron seam open. Put back on design wall.
  • Continue in this fashion until all the strips are sewn together and seams are ironed open. Use a little spray starch if you like. We now have our strata (set of sewn strips) completed.

    Step 2: Shapes

  • Lay strata wrong side up and place the templates on top. Line up center line with one of their seam lines and mark those seam lines with a permanent marker on the templates.
  • Suggest that they only cut from left to right, using only the top of their strata and only use the L-shape and quarter-circle first! This will give them an idea of what colors the strata has to offer, a good start before cutting specific shapes. Also cut one L-shape and one quarter-circle from their background fabric(s).
  • Now start placing these on the design wall. This is a good time to explain the design possibilities. Explain how 4 blocks create a full circle, 3 blocks a three-quarters circle, and 2 blocks a half-circle. It is important to explain right now about the fact that we do not want to create blocks, but rather create circles. Show the flow of color on your students' design walls.
  • After they have played a little, explain the function of the half-circle. It was created to make the design flow better and to make the blocks disappear! Also explain how you can hide or cover-up the trouble spots.

    Step 3: Sewing

  • Students are now ready to put the L-shapes and quarter-circles in place, and play with design possibilities until they find a pleasing composition. When they're ready, they can sew!
  • Pin L-Shapes to quarter-circles, making sure L-shapes are always on top. Pin where the strips line up and in between, every 1/2". Sew together. Also explain how they can mark the background fabric shapes to aid in the piecing process. Piece all blocks but do not press yet. Once all the blocks are sewn you can figure out the correct pressing direction.
  • Make sure students stay-stitch about 1/8" from the edge all around to keep the edges from stretching. This is very important before borders (if desired) are added.

    Step 4: Quilting

  • For quilting, use a dual feed foot and desired thread. You might suggest students use decorative quilting stitches in the middle of their strips. This is an easy and very effective way to quilt and show off those wonderful stitches! They can also change to an open toe stippling foot and stipple or free-motion in any design they desire.

    For more information about Strips 'n Curves by Louisa L. Smith, contact C&T Publishing at 1-800-284-1114 or

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