The Quilter's Negative Space Handbook

Rainbow Sun


From The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook

By Sylvia Schaefer

Class Description:
A fun project for confident beginners and intermediate quilters looking to stretch their skills with new techniques. Students will learn to create improvisationally pieced fabric and then use this fabric in a paper-pieced project to create a striking modern mini quilt. 

Class Length:
This class works best as a series of two class sessions of about 3 hours each: on Day One, students learn improvisational piecing and are then responsible for finishing the improvisationally pieced sections at home. On Day Two, students learn foundation paper piecing and how to finish their quilt. 

Class Supply List:

  • Required text: The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook by Sylvia Schaefer
  • Cutting mat, rotary cutter, and ruler (6" x 12" is a good size)
  • Iron and ironing board/pressing mat
  • Sewing machine in good working order and basic sewing supplies
  • For Day One, students will need:
    • Plenty of scraps or small precuts (see materials on p. 39)
    • Neutral thread
  • For Day Two, students will need:
    • White fabric (as listed on p. 39)
    • Copies of the foundation patterns (found on p. 41; students can bring copies to class, or the shop can make copies for them, preferably on foundation piecing paper)
    • A small scrap of lightweight interfacing or water-soluble stabilizer
    • Neutral thread and thread to match the center sun fabric
    • Recommended: Add-A-Quarter Ruler 

Other Sales Opportunities:

  • Carol Doak’s Foundation Paper (newsprint paper)
  • Mini rotary-cutting mats and small rulers to keep next to students’ sewing machines to minimize movement between cutting and sewing stations
  • Add-A-Quarter Rulers for paper piecing
  • Since this is a scrappy project, shops may want to be prepared with a good selection of precuts (fat quarters and eighths, charm packs, and mini charm packs) in a variety of colors for students to add to their projects

Classroom Preparation:
Ideally, each student would have a small pressing and cutting station next to their sewing machine to minimize the need for movement between workstations. 

Class Agenda:

Instructions for Rainbow Sun are found on pp. 38–41.

Day One

  1. Demonstrate improvisational piecing (using relatively small scraps of fabric) for the background sections. Demonstrate how to join multiple improv-pieced sections together. (See instructions for improvisational piecing on p. 109.)
  2. Have students begin making improv-pieced sections in the colors and sizes listed in the project instructions.
  3. You may wish to encourage students to have fun swapping and sharing scraps.

Students should finish the improv piecing, including the border sections, at home.

Day Two

  1. Go over foundation paper piecing and the meaning of the numbering. (See instructions for paper piecing on p. 103.) Demonstrate how to align fabrics for proper coverage of the foundations.
  2. Demonstrate trimming of foundations.
  3. Demonstrate how best to join multiple paper-pieced sections together.
  4. Before adjourning, be sure to demonstrate how to make and attach the center circle appliqué piece.
  5. If desired, go over quilting (especially quilting options for negative space) and binding.