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Valerie Maser-Flanagan
Using Lines as a Design Focus in a Sewn Composition

Session Three - June 16-22, 2019


Course Description

Line is an important visual element in artistic compositions. During the week, we will shake it up and explore how one or more lines can change the balance and movement of a composition.

Early in the week participants will create a number of small compositions (8-12 inches) in black and white. These initial studies will explore lines in a variety of ways. Lines can be strong, playful, gestural, sensual, or peaceful. We will learn how various angles and curves can change the expression and mood of a composition. We will progress to more complexity as the number of lines in a composition is increased. Spacing and proportions become important at this stage. While the primary focus is on line, there will be opportunities to integrate shape into these more complex compositions.

Demonstration will be provided to learn how to use a rotary cutter as a drawing tool to freely cut lines and construct a composition. Instruction will be provided to create strip-pieced fabric compositions using colored fabric that may be used as lines in the final composition.

Our focus during the last part of the week will be to use the ideas we generated in the small compositions to create a larger composition in color. While my thought is to make a piece 36 x 36 inches or larger, the participant can elect to continue to make smaller compositions in color.

Artist's Biography
Valerie began as a traditional quilt maker before becoming interested in creating original contemporary designs. To facilitate this transition she began to study with Nancy Crow in 2008. This experience drastically changed Valerie's approach to design. She recognized the excitement and freedom of using an improvisational style. Valerie also shifted from using commercial fabric and studied with Carol Suderlund to create her own hand-dyed fabric. The artist currently creates bold graphic designs influenced by nature, architecture and ethnic design.

Valerie’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and she has won numerous awards. It has been published in Quilting with a Modern Slant by Rachel May, Dyeing Alchemy by Diane Franklin and Art Quilts International: Abstract and Geometric by Martha Sielman.

Valerie was born in the Midwest and currently resides with her husband in a rural town west of Boston.

Artist's Statement
My fabric compositions use improvisational piecing and hand dyed fabric to create bold, abstract designs with strong figure ground components. They are inspired and influenced by lines and shapes observed in nature, architecture and ethnic designs.

I hand dye the cloth in my compositions using three primary hues that are mixed in various proportions to create colors ranging from subtle neutrals to vibrant hues.

The process of improvisational piecing begins with a general concept regarding the format of the composition. Decisions are made to determine if the shape will be vertical, curvilinear, constructed in columns or be an all over design. Line and shape, critical elements in the design process, are used to create movement and tension in my compositions. They are hand cut without a ruler, using a rotary cutter as a drawing tool. I use the final quilting lines as drawing lines to further define and enhance the composition.

Website: Valerie Maser-Flanagan

Supply List:

Shakerag will provide irons, ironing boards and a 4’ x 8’ Styrofoam sheet to each student to use as a wall board.

  • Solid black and solid white fabric: at least 2 yards each. Kona fabric is a good choice.
  • A range of solid colors. Kona fabric works fine, but you can bring your own hand dyed fabric if you choose. I would recommend a minimum of 20 colors. Select colors that you would like to work with in a composition, but make sure you do not just select medium value colors. You want a range of light, medium and dark values to add depth to your composition. You will want to consider a few neutrals in this mix such as grays or browns. You also will want a few brighter colors. ½ yard cuts of each color should be sufficient, but if you really love some colors buy more than ½ yard. If you have some in your stash that are less than a yard, bring them anyway. Sometimes you will only need a small amount either in your strip-pieced fabric composition or in your final design. It is optimal if the fabric is cut straight off the bolt, rather than a fat quarter.
  • Sewing Machine in good working order
  • Thread, needles, scissors. A ruler for squaring up your composition.
  • Straight pins for piecing and to use on the design wall.
  • Rotary Cutter” I strongly recommend the larger size rotary cutter as it will allow you to “draw” your lines as you cut into your fabric. If you only have the smaller 45 mm rotary cutter, you can certainly use it, but the larger size is a delight to work with. Whatever size you bring, make sure you have a NEW BLADE!! It is misery trying to cut a beautiful line with a dull blade.
  • Cutting mat. I recommend the 24 x 36-inch size. If you are flying and have to bring a smaller size, try to bring two. We will often be cutting strips down the width of the fabric and a large mat makes this much easier.
  • Camera, IPAD or cell phone to take pictures of your design process.
  • Notebook, sketchbook or paper to take notes or sketch ideas.
  • Pens and or pencils for notes, sketches
  • Flannel or batting to cover the Styrofoam sheet. This is optional but it is so very helpful to have one because your fabric will stick to it temporarily while you design your composition.
  • Lamp: this is also optional but may be useful while you are sewing.
  • Power strip
  • Bring ideas from photos, art, books, pinterest, nature, etc. that inspire you.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have questions.

2019 - Session 3 Faculty Work

Michael Brennand-Wood


Christel Dillbohner


Keiko Hara


Sandra Johnson


Sylvia Plachy


Valerie Maser-Flanagan


Ron Roy + Liz Willoughby


Jason Schneider

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