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Tiger Pillows and Camel Quilts
w/Class notes by Susan Foster

Pattern by Margaret Rolfe
Camel Quilt Proj.jpg (32985 bytes)
| Back to Gallery | More photos | Copyright notice | Tiger Pillows photo |

Seventh and Eighth grade students at the Dhahran Middle School in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia have been in a wild and crazy mood this year sewing paper pieced camel and tiger pillows and quilt projects! 

The Project and Pattern:

Being a Kentucky native, I grew up loving to sew, so I wanted to instill in my students a love for sewing as well! When I decided to teach the students to quilt I wanted to choose something they would enjoy doing so I chose two patterns from Margaret Rolfe’s foundation pattern piece quilt book entitled A Quilter’s Ark.   Seventh graders enjoyed making the tiger into a pillow (which only required one tiger) and eighth graders could choose to make camel pillows or a wall hanging (requiring four animals) or a quilt (six animals).

The original pattern for the camel was enlarged to make the total size 11 " tall and 14" wide. The tiger was enlarged to achieve a total size of 9" x 15".  Numbers on the three main pieces were changed so they would all begin with the number one.

Fabric Selection:

The students went to a local shop to choose their fabric. Al Zamil’s, is the only shop in all of Al Khobar to carry a complete supply of beautiful cotton fabrics as well as other quilting supplies!

The following yardage was used for the projects, see Margaret Rolfe's book for ideas on fabric selection:

Pillows: Wall hanging: Quilt:
1 meters of 45" fabric for front 1 meters of 45" fabric for front 2 meters of 45" fabric for front
1 meters of 45" fabric for back 1 meters of 45" fabric for back 2 meters of 45" fabric for back
4 Bags of Polyester Polyfill 1 meters of batting 2 meters of batting

Preparing the fabric:

After fabric was purchased, washed and ironed at home, I cut the fabric into strips as follows:

Pillows: Wall hanging: Quilt
4 strips  11 " x 6" 3 strips 42" x 6" 4 strips 60" x 6"
4 strips  24" x 6" 6 strips 14" x 6" 7 strips 14" x 6"

I pre-cut all fabric pieces using a template inch wider than the pattern piece. Each ‘stack’ of pieces was marked #1 Head, # 2 Head, # 1 Body, # 2 Body, # 1 Legs, etc. This was a good visual for the students as they could see how the pieces fit together – just like a puzzle.

For those of you who are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Learning, paper piecing is right at the top of his taxonomy, as students arrange, assemble, construct, create, design, forecast, hypothesize and predict how to put the pieces together!

The first day of class:

  1. The first step for the students was to take the paper pieces and stitch without thread on all of the lines of the paper pattern. This was a good way to start the class for students who had little or no experience on the sewing machines as they learned to stay on the line as they sewed.
  2. After the stitching the students could see the lines on both sides. I had already pre-cut the fabric to fit on the back of the paper, so I then had the students ‘flip’ the paper over and the students placed the corresponding numbers on the back of the paper.
  3. Then they glued all of the number one fabric pieces (right side up) onto all of the paper pieces with stick glue.
  4. Pieces were held up to the light and students looked to see that each piece of fabric overlapped each of the seam lines by ".

As the class progressed, the students:

  1. Used masking tape to tape the # 2 pieces onto the #1 pieces. This was done by first placing the # 2 piece onto the paper the way it should appear after sewing.
  2. Then, the students finger-pressed the # 1 piece on the seam line so they could see where the seam line would be. By ‘flipping’ the # 2 piece back over the seam line the student could tape the # 2 piece into position.
  3. Working carefully with this first piece we pressed it forward on the seam line before sewing to make sure it would cover all of the seam lines.
  4. Then, on to the sewing machines and all of the # 2 pieces were sewn onto the paper. It was important to stress proper pressing for paper piecing and some of the students were amazed at what happened when they didn’t press their pieces in place properly!! (We had to rip them out!! Yikes!!)
  5. By the time they had placed all of the # 3 pieces onto their paper they were off and running!!!
  6. A chart was kept so students could keep track of their progress:
    Completed all of # 1 Pieces,
    Completed all of # 2 Pieces,

Completing the Projects:


After the camels were complete the short strips were sewn to each side of the camel, then the long strips were sewn to the top and the bottom. A back piece for the pillow was then sewn onto the completed top (right sides together) leaving a space for turning and stuffing.

Wall hangings and Quilts:

After all of the camels were put together the short strips were sewn to the top of each piece and then a short strip was sewn to the bottom of two pieces. Two camels were sewn together in a strip for the wall hanging and three camels for the quilts. The long strips were sewn between the two strips of camels; the completed piece was placed on top of the batting and the batting was cut to match the quilt/wall-hanging top. This was then sandwiched on top of the backing material allowing about three-four inches of backing material all around the sides of the project. Large safety pins were used to secure the project; yarn was tied at intervals to hold the quilt together; the backing was then folded over the sides of the front and pinned to form a self-border. Students used a zigzag stitch to stitch around the sides of the backing forming a self-border.

Needless to say, students in Saudi Arabia want to make quilts!! It is fun and not only do they have something tangible to cherish for a lifetime, but they take with them the ability to make something with their own hands!! What could be better than that??

The Tiger Pillows

Tiger Pillows.jpg (24527 bytes)

See more photo's

I want to thank Susan (on the far right above, sitting on the fence) for her efforts in creating these notes and allowing us to have a peek into her class.  And I applaud the students for their hard work and newly acquired skills.  Thanks, as well, to the students for allowing us to see their work.

The Legal Stuff:  Copyright notice: The copyright for the class notes contained herein is held by Susan Foster.   The copyright for the pattern used in this project is held by Margaret Rolfe, whose book 'The Quilter's Ark', is  published by That Patchwork Place. Permission was requested and granted allowing to us to displaying the class notes and photo's.  Please do not use, for any reason, without their express permission.  Contact Susan Foster at:   Contact Margaret Rolfe through her website at: