Visual Guide to Working in a Series Class Plan

by Elizabeth Barton

Working in Series - A Five Day Class

Class Description

Do you want to improve your work as an art quilter? The best way to develop a coherent body of work is to work in a series. This workshop focuses on the development of at least 6 related designs for quilts. This can be accomplished either by working sequentially from one design to another or by planning six ideas at once.

The work of well known artists and quiltmakers will be examined to help us come up with lots of good ideas. We will be exploring many ways of developing quilt designs based on a single theme or idea. The aim is to generate lots of designs and then critique them, discovering the basic principles of good design as we go. You will then choose a strong series. As you work on each piece, you will first plan the design, value and color. Then you can start constructing one or more pieces, according to your choice.

While you don't need any special skills, you will need to know the basics of making a quilt. If you have read my first book Inspired to Design, you will be adequately prepared.

You will learn how to come up with themes, how to research ways of working with them, how to develop a body of work, how to come up with workable designs and evaluate them for strength and attractiveness. You should take away many designs with you, plus this knowledge. If the class is five days, you will also have made a significant start on your first quilt of the series.

The most enjoyable thing about this workshop is that you will leave with a clear sense of direction, a path to follow to become the focused and productive artist of your dreams!!

Class Length 3-4 hour classes
This class works best as either a series of classes, or as a full week.

Class Supply List

Inspired to Design and Visual Guide to Working in a Series by Elizabeth Barton

Inspiration Notebook: a notebook, binder, old shoe box or folder on the computer. Into this inspiration notebook, put any pictures, paintings, photographs, doodles or writings you find inspiring. This will be the well to which you return time and again when your imagination needs replenishment. The first thing to do when thinking about designing your own quilts is to start collecting inspirational images.

This workshop is about developing a series of quilts. The fabric supplies are just suggestions and you will most likely have what you need at home. The non-fabric, non-sewing supplies will be used for the exercises in the first two lessons. I hope you have a large stash, but do not run out and buy things before knowing what you need. For simplicity's sake, I recommend that most of your stash be solid colored, or very low texture (soft nondescript designs) but the final choice will depend upon the subject you choose to focus on. It is important to have a good range of values, from very light to very dark in your favorite colors. If you have absolutely no idea what your favorite colors are, and definitely want to buy or dye something, I would recommend: white, black, and three grays: light, medium and dark.

(Tip to shop owner: students have a very hard time finding these basic neutrals and also in choosing fabric for a workshop - but in fact they could complete any workshop at all with these basics.)

If you choose specific colors, always try to have a wide range of value, saturation and temperature.

  • batting or flannel (sufficient for your quilt)
  • fabric for quilt back
  • basting thread or safety pins

Tools and other supplies

  • rotary cutter, board, rotary ruler guides, spare blade - or scissors
  • marking pencil (white charcoal or silver) for marking fabric for cutting
  • Quilter's Freezer Paper Sheets (if you prefer to make templates)
  • sewing machine in good working order
  • thread, needles, pins, scissors
  • design wall or vertical boards on which to pin the work
  • iron, ironing board
  • plain paper for sketches and notes
  • piles of old magazines to cut up for collage
  • tracing paper
  • ruler, pen, pencil
  • a few colored pencils or felt pens. Light, medium and dark grey pencils and a black felt tip pen are very helpful for value studies. A few watercolors or other paints, whatever you usually use for sketching
  • an old picture mat (mount) you can cut in two or a piece of black paper, cardstock or poster board
  • a camera (any kind)
  • glue stick for collage
  • computer with some simple photo/drawing graphic software: Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) - a free download comparable to the other two listed
  • access to a photocopier

Classroom Preparation
The class room should have ample space for a 4ft wide design wall, good light, photocopier, and light table. It's fabulous if there is a computer, overhead projector and screen so that the teacher can simply plug in a flash drive and show students examples.

Class Agenda

  • What it means to work in a series
  • Why you should do it
  • Ways of working in a series
  • How to develop a series
  • Choosing your theme
  • How long a series should be
  • Developing parameters
  • Design techniques
  • Critiquing and evaluating designs
  • Achieving the illusion of depth
  • Choosing strong color schemes and the use of simultaneous contrast
  • Developing dynamism and energy
  • value patterns
  • Pitfalls to avoid in working from photographs
  • Addressing specific designs issues such as focal points.