Block Party Lecture

Today, I’m getting ready for my Block Party Lecture at the Pioneer Quilt Show, Saturday, April 25, 2015, 1:00-2:00, at the Lane County Historical Museum on the Lane County Fairgrounds property in Eugene, Oregon. I’ll be showing slides and quilts.

Block Party Cover

The subtitle for the talk is Quilt Design 101 and is based on my 1998 book from Rodale, Marsha McCloskey’s Block Party. The book is out of print now, but can usually be found on Amazon. It contains the blocks and quilt plan that we recently used for the Emerald Valley Quilter’s 2015 Raffle Quilt, Rhapsody in Blue. We used prints from my Everything Blue line of Fabric from Clothworks ( The quilt is quilted now, but not bound. I’m going to try to bring it to the lecture on Saturday. This is a picture of the quilt on the design wall in my studio before the final borders.


(My design wall is made of two 4′ x 8′  insulation boards mounted to the wall and covered with the same thin, dense batting that I use for the PORTABLE DESIGN BOARDS. I used a staple gun to attach the batting. I LOVE this design wall! )



Portable Design Boards

I know this may seem like an odd post for a first lesson, but it’s about keeping your piecing organized. Any of you who have been in class with me, know that I have trouble keeping track of tools and samples, and spend a lot of time looking for items I put down and then cover up with something else. Everything on my table becomes a jumble, because my attention is on my teaching and not on my stuff. One thing that has helped me tremendously is to have all my sewing demos organized on PORTABLE DESIGN BOARDS. At home I use the boards to carry loose pieces from the design wall to the sewing machine and back again. The batting on the front keeps the pieces from flying about. Because the backside is completely smooth, the boards can be stacked without disturbing the arrangement of the patches on the board underneath. I’m making new boards today for some upcoming classes, so I thought you might as well see what I’m doing. (That, and I learned how to add photos to to a post.)

Portable design boards

I make my PORTABLE DESIGN BOARDS with foam board, batting and duct tape. You can cut the boards any size you want with a mat knife. I’ve determined the most useful size for me is 15″ x 20″. This size works really well with the 20″ x 30″ foam boards I found at Michael’s (a craft store) for 99¢ each. I simply cut them in half and I have my size.

Then, using the board as a template, I cut a piece of batting the same size as the board. I have a closet full of batting scraps. The kind I chose for this is thin and dense and pretty firm, not fluffy at all.

To tape the batting to the board and close in the edges, I am using 2″-wide white “Duck” tape that I bought at Michael’s. They had lots of neat colors and patterns, but I chose white so it would blend in with the batting and not be visually distracting. (Colored tape would have showed up a lot better in these photos, however.)

With the batting on top of the board, match the two layers at one short side. With a ruler and a Frixion pen, lightly draw a line 1/2″ in from the edge. This line will guide placement of the tape.

Tape marking

Cut a length of tape that is about 1″ longer on each side than the side of the board. Lay top edge of the tape along the drawn line. I let the end of the tape stick to my cutting mat. Notice the mat I’m using is old: I don’t mind if it gets sticky.


Carefully fold the tape over to the back of the board. Trim the excess tape at each end with scissors.

Tape cut

Repeat at the opposite side of the board. You might have to trim the batting again to match the edge of the foam board. Then tape the two long sides. I do a little fold with the tape at the last 4 corners to make them neat.

Making PORTABLE DESIGN BOARDS takes longer to think about than to do.



Wow! I can’t believe I’m doing this!

My name is Marsha McCloskey. I’m a quilt designer, author and teacher specializing in Feathered Star quilts.

I’m a fairly well-known author and teacher in the quilting world, and have written or co-authored thirty books on quiltmaking since 1981. Specializing in the Feathered Star and other traditional pieced designs, I have taught drafting, rotary cutting and machine piecing to quilters all over the United States and in ten foreign countries. My specialty rulers promote accurate cutting and piecing for intricate designs. For over 30 years, I traveled about once a month to teach and lecture.  I have my own small publishing company, Feathered Star Productions, Inc., a website, and have designed fabric for quilters since 1996 when my first Staples line was introduced by Clothworks Textiles.

I’m traveling less now, so I’ll have time to “teach” on a blog. Please have patience with me as I learn the WordPress program.

My website is: www.Marsha

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