Leaves are a perennial favorite for quilt blocks among quilters – autumnal leaves, Christmas holly, hosta leaves and many others all make great quilt blocks or small quilts. This 2 day leaf design class introduces Ruth McDowell’s approach to translating a photograph into a sewable quilt design. Your leaf block design will be ideal for a small wallhanging, a table runner or as a block design for a larger quilt.
We start this process with a good old fashioned leaf collection! I head out into my neighborhood and pick as many different kinds of leaves as I can. With leaf in hand, I now can then make photocopies copies of an actual leaf. Flatten each leaf by placing it between pieces of wax paper (the waxy side facing toward the leaf), then cover with a sheet of paper (a brown paper bag works well) and then press with a cool iron. I also put paper on my ironing board so I don’t’ melt any wax on it! Ironing a leaf this way will flatten and dry it out. You can then easily photocopy the leaf and enlarge it 200-400%.
You can also photograph a single leaf, just be sure to carefully flatten it first. Any leaf is fine. Make large prints of your digital photos (you can get inexpensive copies printed at Costco or other places.)
Bring to class enlarged photocopies or photo prints of several different leaves. These images should be 11 x17” or 12”x18” enlargements. This will allow you to make create a full sized design directly from the image. We will discuss the pros/cons of each leaf form and the various options for creating a block design. I will also have a variety of leaf photos to discuss in class.
A Word About Using Photographs
Your own photos are the best source of images for quilts. Your direct connections to the photos you’ve taken make them memorable. You may also find photos by friends or family a good source; use them only with the permission of the owner or photographer. Its important to remember that the endless images available on the internet were each taken by someone, and in nearly every instance the photographers do not intend or explicitly do not allow you to use them without their permission. The vast majority of photos, even on sites like Flickr, are copyright protected. The same is true for all forms of print media. These too are copyrighted images. It’s important to respect copyright rules. If you don’t see explicit permission (noted as copyright free, royalty-free) posted with a photo or on a website, assume you can’t use it. There are a few internet sites that post images in a “creative commons”. In these instances, the photographer has posted a photograph to allow others to use it for any purpose, copyright-free and royalty-free. If I am searching for inspiration or for a particular kind of image, I stick to “creative commons” websites or websites containing photographs that are in the public domain and check their rules carefully before downloading images. Respect the rules; you are required to seek written permission from the photographer if you are considering using an image. It is illegal to do otherwise.
Pattern: To design you own leaf pattern, bring to class your photocopy enlargements of several different kinds of leaves.
Fabrics: You will see that my patterns combine a wide selection of fabrics that enhance the look of the quilt. The image (such as a chicken, flower or bird) will use anywhere from 6-15 different fabrics, mostly in small pieces. Some fabrics will be repeated in the quilt, others may appear only once. The backgrounds will also typically feature 3-6 different fabrics that have a similar look. In some instances we will be looking for specific features in a patterned fabric — for example something that suggests the shape of an eye, or feathers, or fur or a stem. Patterned fabrics with multiple colors add texture and dimension to the quilt. We will be playing with different combinations to see how these fabrics look next to each other. Having lots of patterned fabric choices from which to choose is part of the creative process for these quilts and helps bring these designs to life. Its the seemingly odd combinations of fabrics that bring texture and depth to your quilts, and will work well.
BRING LOTS!! Lots and lots of patterned fabric. A fat quarter or less is probably as much as you will need of any one fabric. Bring you largish patterned fabric scraps (though the strips found in jelly rolls are often too narrow). I routinely pull 50 or more fabric choices from my stash for the main subject of my quilts and additional fabric choices for the background. Having a wide variety of fabric choices to key to this style. When choosing colors, keep in mind that a red poppy will also have bits of orange and yellow, and perhaps hints of purple and gold and green in it, so look for fabrics that have hints of other colors. BRING YOUR STASH!! However, note that we will NOT BE USING solid or tone-on-tone fabrics that “read” as solids.
Large prints, medium prints, small prints, batiks, plaids, stripes, prints with many colors, bold fabrics as well as pastels — I pull them all. Each different kind of print will add something different to the overall look of the quilt. Look for printed fabrics where the print clearly contrasts with the background.
Before class, visit my website and spend some time looking at the range of patterned fabrics used in my quilts to get an idea of what to bring. www.AnnShawQuilting.com Also look at Ruth McDowell’s website to look at the fabrics she uses in her gorgeous quilts. www.RuthBMcDowell.com
You will also need the following supplies:
For the Master Design:
Tracing Paper (11×17 or bigger)
Pencil/Pencil Sharpener (I prefer a mechanical pencil with 7 mm lead)
Good Quality Eraser (like a PaperMate Black Pearl)
Ruler (18” plastic ruler is ideal)
Blue Masking Tape
For Freezer Paper Template (the above supplies plus):
First Aid Cloth Tape (found near BandAids in your drugstore) to tape freezer paper
Sharpie brand Ultra Fine-line permanent marker (Black only!)
Highlighters (several colors)
Color Pencils (7 distinct colors for making tick marks)
(NOTE: Ink pens, Gel pens, Sharpie Markers or Crayons will not work)
Design Wall: Bring to class a foam design board (30”x40” or larger).
They are inexpensive and can be found at your local office supply store.
You will be pinning your Master Design and template pieces to this as you
audition individual fabric selections. Its then easy to carry your project home.
Paper and Pencil to take notes
Paper Scissors (to cut apart freezer paper templates)
Rotary Cutter, 12” (or longer) quilt ruler, and cutting mat
Pins (Pincushion overflowing with 200+ pins!! 1” ball head pins or longer are ideal)
Basic Sewing kit
Several Ziploc bags (quart and gallon size)
Sewing machine and supplies: (bobbins thread, needles etc).
Depending on your design, you may or may not reach the point of beginning to sew your design together. Most students will be completing fabric selections and begin sewing by the end of the workshop. Leave your machine in your car initially. You should be comfortable using your machine. Check to be sure that it is in good working order.
If you have a small digital pocket camera, bring it!
Using the camera on your phone or tablet will work as well.
Organizer Supply List:
Table space of at least 3’x4′ per student (a full 30×60 standard size folding table is preferable)
Whiteboard and marker
At least 2 irons and ironing boards
Adequate outlets and fuses
Individual 30″ x 40″ foam boards for each student’s work