Photo of Wendy Butler Berns

Art Quilting 101

Design Basics

with Wendy Butler Berns
Art Quilting 101
Embrace the art quilter within and learn to see the world through the eyes of an artist, doodle with free-motion quilting and add texture.

Quilt without a pattern and explore the world of fiber art with author and teacher Wendy Butler Berns. You'll learn to see your world through the eyes of an artist, and communicate your vision through fiber. The author of Photo Album Quilts and a frequent exhibitor at shows around the country, Wendy Butler Berns has taught hundreds of quilters like you how to express feelings and ideas through the quilting process. You'll learn the essentials of design and bring them into your work, adding spontaneity and playfulness. You'll use free-motion quilting to doodle with an unbelievable variety of thread options, adding textural elements with techniques like yarn couching and bobbin drawing. And you'll learn dozens of practical techniques, creative ideas and troubleshooting tips you can use in any quilting project.

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Lesson plan


Lesson 1. Introduction

  • Meet your instructor, Wendy Butler Berns, as she introduces you to the fascinating world of creating art quilts with a combination of originality, spontaneity and inspiration.


Lesson 2. Getting Started

  • Art quilts are about playing, combining colors, shapes and textures. Wendy will walk you through what you need to create your masterpiece, from selecting the background materials to applying fusible webbing to your design pieces. Then arrange, re-arrange and learn to play again on your quilt.


Lesson 3. Thread Embellishments

  • It's time to doodle; not just on paper, but also with thread and yarn. You will be introduced to free-motion quilting, the process of moving around your quilt with colorful and unique thread to bring out your creativity.


Lesson 4. Thread Talk

  • Beware: This session will cause addiction to thread! Learn the best sewing thread to use to attach the design elements to your quilt. Then see the vast array of threads to add color, shine, design and texture to your artwork. Wendy also talks about bobbins, needles and general troubleshooting while quilting.


Lesson 5. Texturing Ideas

  • Now it is time to add texture and depth to your quilt pieces. Go beyond standard thread designs with yarn couching and bobbin drawing to make your pieces pop. Create a collage to add interest and definition to a section of the quilt.


Lesson 6. Principles of Design

  • Wendy reviews some of the principles of artistic design to help you incorporate drama and interest into your art quilts. She reviews the aspects of balance, unity and variety, and shows examples of how these are used in other artists' work.


Lesson 7. To Border or Not To Border

  • Wendy gives you guidelines on whether to add a border, binding or other finishing technique. Then follow her step-by-step methods for adding a border, such as auditioning materials and squaring up the quilt.


Lesson 8. Machine Quilting and Binding

  • After deciding on the batting and backing, learn techniques to machine quilt all the layers together. Learn how to prepare and attach the binding to your quilt and a rod pocket hanger for a wall quilt. Finalize your masterpiece by adding a quilt label.


Lesson 9. Postcards and Finishing Details

  • You are not limited to a fabric binding for your quilt. Learn some novelty finishing techniques, such as yarn bindings and zigzag edging, while creating quilted postcards. You can even mail them to your friends to show off your artistic talents.

"Wendy Butler Berns has a wealth of knowledge of different techniques, textiles and color. I've been quilting for 15 years and I learned something from each lesson of this class. Her samples and finished projects are inspirational and an expression of art from 'within Wendy.' She encouraged me to take what she's shown me and create an expression of art from 'within myself.' I have been given permission for self-expression, educated and set free to explore quilting in a new way."
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