Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Formula Quilts - They're Not Just For Beginners Anymore

The quilt I shared the tutorial for yesterday is what I call a "formula" quilt.

You start with a set of parameters and your quilt is never exactly the same as someone elses.

Over the years when I taught a lot of quilting classes and workshops I designed many formula quilts. It was always fun to see each one and how different they were.

Most of my classes were 2 hour lecture/demo classes where I taught the project and they selected their fabrics in that two hours. We also took a 10 - 15 minute break in the middle of each class.

Elegant Echoes is a formula quilt using my first way of teaching a formula quilt, something I'll share with you in a few moments.

In my opinion the choice of fabrics and color can make or break a successful project.
I handled this one of two ways.

There were times I made up kits for the quilts. Even with a kit, there was more than one way to make the quilt.

I enjoyed creating the kits and made sure that each was unique, not a carbon copy of another one I had made. It gave me a chance to choose the colors and fabrics for many quilts, yet not have to make each and every one!

Putting colors together is one of the things I do best and I know my students learned from what I combined.

This quilt "Elegant Echoes was also made with the same parameters as Enchanting Echoes.
(By the way, this was taught to a group of students who were sewers, but not necessarily quilters.)

You may wonder how the students learned about color - the primary focus in most of my classes - when they used a preselected group of fabrics.

I found that a student learned more about color by using a preselected well balanced group of fabrics than by working with a hodge podge of things they selected without knowing how to put them together. When you work with the correct materials something in your brain processes what you are doing and you can see the hows and whys that make these successful.

It also made better use of a students time. My students were very busy people and I respected that and wanted them to be able to maximize the time that they had to create.

Blue Streak was made from a preselected group of monochromatic fabrics. The students then made a choice of the background fabric to use. This is quite different from the next quilt and that is also made with the same parameters and type of kit.

Red Sky At Morning was also done with a similar monochromatic group of fabrics, this time in red. These are NOT hand dyed fabrics. Hand dyed fabrics could not have got the effect we got with commercial solids. There were so many ways to arrange the blocks and create a design for this quilt exercise. Many were quite spectacular.

The other way I handled this was to give students guidelines for choosing fabrics and then show them how to look at their fabrics to see if they met the criteria to create a successful quilt.

With this approach more than a 2 hour class was necessary, unless it was part of an ongoing class that continued for several weeks.

I'll talk more about this way to teaching in a future blog post.

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