Darned Quilts

“This has to be one of the best classes I have ever taken, both on and offline.”


Bubbles I
Bubbles I

Description:  Students work quickly and easily with gradated fabrics, freehand rotary cutting and piecing techniques, and a variety of trims to create a suitable embellished background that shifts gently from one value to another, or from one colour to another, or both!

Working with found objects, students carefully cut shapes out of the background fabric in sets. The shapes are repositioned to alter value, colour, and pattern. They are then reset into the background using decorative machine stitches for additional embellishment as well as secure construction.

Stacked layers will be quilted quickly and easily by machine, and the quilts will be bound with Fuss Free Binding, Dena’s easy machine binding technique.

Every student will turn a simple value study into a stunning art quilt of their own design. Anything is possible as the design and construction methods progress, and lucky coincidences are bound to occur.

Class may include “World of Color,” a digital presentation on color physics which explains what color and value are and how they work together.

Focus of Class: Construction, composition, embellishments

Number of Days: 1, 2 or 3

Level of Instruction: Intermediate/Advanced

Maximum Number of Students: Approx. 20

Supply List (subject to change nearer the scheduled workshop date):

1 Day Class (Bubbles quilt made from a single variation dyed fabric)

  • Adhesives:  1/2” cellotape or masking tape (optional)
  • Adhesives:  Fusing agents like WonderUnder, Steam-a-Seam, Vliesofix (optional)
  • Adhesives:  Glue stick (optional)
  • Cutting Tools:  Rotary cutter
  • Cutting Tools:  Rotary cutting mat – 24″ x 36″
  • Cutting Tools:  Sharp dressmaker shears
  • Cutting Tools:  Small, sharp-pointed scissors (optional)
  • Cutting Tools:  Thread snips (optional)
  • Cutting Tools:  X-acto knife, blade #11, or other seam ripper (optional)
  • Feet:  Applique foot (optional)
  • Feet:  Cording foot (optional)
  • Feet:  Darning or free motion foot
  • Feet:  Embroidery or decorative stitch foot (optional)
  • Feet:  Open toe foot (optional)
  • Feet:  Walking foot (optional but every quilter should have one!)
  • Machines:  Zigzag sewing machine with regular foot
  • Markers:  HB or softer lead pencil or mechanical pencil, eraser, sharpener
  • Materials:  2 yards or meters light/medium weight, stiff, non-woven fusible interfacing – Pellon 911 or Vilene H250 (not Pellon batting)
  • Paper:  Notebook (optional)
  • Pins and Needles:  Double needle, 4,0/80
  • Pins and Needles:  Extra sewing machine needles to replace any you break
  • Pins and Needles:  Machine embroidery or metallica needles (optional depending on your thread choices)
  • Pins and Needles:  Straight pins
  • Rulers:  Rotary ruler – 6″ x 24″
  • Templates:  Compass with sandpaper board, templates, or Olfa circular rotary cutter for drawing and cutting out circles of fabric, 2-1-” in diameter
  • Threads:  3-6 decorative threads, 1-2 spools of each
  • Threads:  3-6 regular sewing threads in different colors
  • Threads:  Contrasting threads
  • Threads:  Neutral color utility thread
  • Tools:  Bias tape maker, 1/4″ (not bars, the kind you pull a strip of fabric through and iron into tape)
  • Tools:  Design wall (flannel or batting, 1 square yard or meter or larger)
  • Tools:  Electric iron and board
  • Tools:  Small re-useable trash bag
  • Top Fabrics:  1 yard or meter Caryl Bryer Fallert Gradations Style 2046 (Rainbow, Red Rose, Marigold, Citrus, Sunset, Autumn, Forest, Lapis Turquoise, or Chocolate, available from www.bryerpatch.com) or other comparable dyed gradation fabric, possibly available from Lunn Studio or Makower or elsewhere; colors should be dyed onto one piece of fabric; do not purchase a gradation bundle
  • Trims:  3-4 color coordinated print fabrics, each piece at least as wide as the quilt and about 1/4 yard or meter long
  • Trims:  6-8 cords, ribbons, laces, trims or yarns, 3-8 yards or meters of each

2 Day Class Additional Supplies (Bubbles quilt made from a constructed gradation background material)

  • Adhesives:  Fabric glue for embellishments (optional)
  • Backing fabric:  Enough of one fabric to back a quilt of approximately 1300-1500 sq. in. in area
  • Binding Fabrics:  Binding fabric, 1/2-1 yard or meter
  • Feet:  1/4″ foot
  • Feet:  Zipper foot
  • Markers:  Tailor’s chalk, soap sliver or other temporary marker
  • Materials:  Craft size batting, 1/4″ thick, preferably cotton
  • Pins and Needles:  Tacking gun and tacks, bent safety pins, or straight pins for securing quilt layers for quilting
  • Threads:  Decorative threads (optional)
  • Threads:  Invisible thread – good polyester, not cheap nylon (optional)
  • Threads:  Matching threads
  • Top Fabrics:  6-8 fat quarters, solid or near-solid colored fabrics, gradation dyed like those I have bundled for you at WebFabrics.net
Value Gradation - one color, light to dark

Value Gradation - one color, light to dark

Color Gradation - color to color

Color Gradation - color to color

Color/Value Gradation - color to color, light to dark

Color/Value Gradation - color to color, light to dark

The gradation fabric sets shown above are only a few of many available for purchase as fat quarter, half yard and full yard bundles from WebFabrics.  For more gradation ideas, or to make life easier, simply visit WebFabrics.

3 Day Advanced Class Additional Supplies (students make one Bubbles quilt, then a second, more advanced Darned Quilt by exploring themes, templates and construction methods)

  • Paper:  Lightweight stiff cardboard, acetate or other plastic material suitable for making templates, 5-6 sheets
  • Trims:  Double the amounts shown above, and in different colors and styles



A display of Darned Quilts produced by

Dena’s Quilt University students

Don’t miss it!!!



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8 Responses to Darned Quilts

  1. Jan Maness

    Dear Dena, first, I just wanted to let you know that I love ‘Redefinitions III. I took an interesting class about the history if Africa about a year ago and this quilt in a magical way ‘described’ to me the impression of Africa I felt upon finishing the class and textbook. Your quilt amazes me. As I hope you may remember I took your class Goodbye To The Grid but as I mentioned due to family health issues my time was suddenly very limited. I knew of no other way to contact you after the class finished. I was just beginning Lesson 2 when I realized I missed in printing all the tutorials in Lessons 2-4. Is is too late, or is there anyway I can still access those. I am so sorry for any inconvienence . Very Sincerely, Jan

    • Thank you, Jan, for the lovely compliment. I assume you managed to print the Lesson materials in full, even though you missed some tutorials. If you let me know exactly which ones you missed, I will email those to you, no problem.

  2. Ludmila Morgan

    Hello Dena,
    I took your classes at Quilt University and belong to the Yahoo Darned Quilts group, I changed my e-mail provider so now it is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
    I don’t want to miss the photos and discussions from your group.
    Ludmila Morgan

    • Thanks, Ludmila. I posted your comment on my blog, but stripped out the new email address to protect you from spammers. Then, I issued you a new invitation. When you accept it, your new email address will become effective on the Group. Thanks for your continued interest in Darned Quilts!

  3. I will saty in Cape Town from 21st -30th of June 2011,
    As you have many interesting classes/workshops going on, but I wonder if I could attend some of them. I consider myself as an experienced sewer but little more than a beginner quilter.

    Best regards
    Bergljot Oladottir

    • Bergljot, thanks for your inquiry. Unfortunately, I will not be teaching while I’m in Stellenbosch, but rather will enjoy being a student once again. You can find out more about the South African National Quilt Festival which runs from July 1-7. Perhaps you could extend your stay to take some classes, but you need to hurry, as classes have filled up quickly! Good luck! And if you’re there, be sure to look me up and say hello!

  4. Dear Dena,

    We met briefly at the SAQA conference in Athens (Columbus), Ohio in 2007, where I found your quilted portraits beautiful and haunting; and of course I have continued to admire your work.

    Here is my chance to learn from you. This (the basic “Darned Quilts”) sounds like exactly what I need! When are courses offered, and how can I sign up?

    Yours sincerely,
    Lesley Comassar

Please--speak up!! Your comments are most welcome!