Workshops » Structured Fabrics

Structured Fabrics

Combine mixed materials in unusual ways to create Structured Fabrics checks, plaids and stripes, then use them to build original quilt designs for wall, table, cushion or other non-bedding use - amazing things are possible!

With: Dena Dale Crain
Skill Level: All Levels

Combine mixed materials in unusual ways to create Structured Fabrics checks, plaids and stripes, then use them to build original quilt designs for wall, table, cushion or other non-bedding use - amazing things are possible!

Structured Fabrics calendar image

4 Lessons
Type: Ebook Workshop
Price: $42.00
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Tags: quilt, quilting, patchwork quilt design, online quilt class, structured fabrics, stripes, checks, plaids, conversation piece, warp, weft


Structured Fabrics: Checks, Plaids and Stripes is one of my favorite courses. In it, you learn how to build fabrics that look like prints, but are instead highly textured combinations of cloth and embellishments. Anything goes! That's what makes this work a lot of fun. The way the materials come together is unpredictable, but it gives pleasing results every time. Previous students have used structured fabrics to make backpacks, handbags, table mats and other accessories or wearables, in addition to a wide variety of quilt designs. You may design and make any of these from your structured fabrics, or the check and plaid you have constructed can serve as the foundation for a wall quilt. The options for using Structured Fabrics are virtually unlimited!

Discover how to combine freehand rotary cutting techniques and machine appliqué with zigzag stitching to make stunning checks, plaids and stripes; then assemble them into simple but delightful original compositions to make Structured Fabrics as art quilts, soft furnishings or wearables.

Of course, the materials you choose influence the ways in which you may use them. Each piece of fabric you build reveals your personal signature style and reflects your mood, state of mind and priorities. Every attempt to produce a new structured fabric results in a fresh approach to its construction. You have the personal freedom to develop new ideas about fabric combinations and approaches to build the fabrics of your choice. 

W 01 Conversation Piece

Conversation Piece, a Structured Fabrics quilt
(check teacher's gallery for larger view) 

You will love the look and feel of these richly textured fabrics, assemblies of materials already on hand, and the opportunities for color combinations are as limitless as the ways in which you can use them. The finished piece of structured fabric is thick and stiff, with a three-dimensional quality that would be impossible to create by any other method. It is precisely the thickness of all the fabrics piled on top of each other that I believe makes the finished work so appealing.

W 02 Texture

Heavy texture in a structured fabrics quilt


The bumpy texture you see above is not a trick of the photograph, but one of the qualities of a structured fabrics quilt. Because of the way the quilt feels and behaves, as well as the amount of fabric and labor involved, structured fabrics are better suited for wall hangings than for bed cover quilts. They also make interesting and unique wearables and accessories, with or without quilting, although durability and laundering may prove problematic.

Structured Fabrics is not taught as a preconceived project but as a demonstration of many possibilities. Dena teaches an easy way to design an original artistic wall quilt. Alternatively, you may use one of the layouts provided.

In this class, you will be challenged as a patchwork quilt designer at every turn!

Supplies Required for Workshop

Choose fabrics from your stash without shopping for new materials. Because this first attempt is a learning effort, do not use your best fabrics. Instead, use some of the ugliest fabrics you have. The fabrics are so much broken up and reassembled as to become completely new materials. You will be glad to see fabrics you do not particularly like become something new and interesting.

You will need:

  • A fabric stash
  • 1-2 yards of lightweight, stiff non-woven fusible interfacing, such as: Pellon 911FF Fusible Featherweight Interfacing or Vilene H250; do not think to substitute fusible web‚Äîthe two products are very different
  • Rotary cutting equipment (mat, cutter, ruler)
  • Sewing machine and normal sewing kit
  • Walking or even-feed foot
  • Bias tape maker, size 1/4" (I love the way these tools work, and I recommend that you acquire one of each of the four sizes available - 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1")
  • Double needles, 2-4 mm apart, needle size 75-90 of your preference (for example, 4.0/90)
  • Regular sewing threads in a variety of colors, some matching and others contrasting with your fabrics
  • Variegated rayon embroidery or other decorative threads
  • 1/8-1" wide satin or grosgrain ribbons, decorative cords or yarns, narrow laces and trims; again, use what you already have on hand

Student's projects