Monday, August 26, 2013

Let's Talk Quilting Classes, Workshops.....etc.

So how does a girl who rarely takes classes...has never been on a quilting retreat, actually teach??
Yup, that pretty much sums up the situation. 
Let the teaching prep begin....and yes, I thought I would begin, by talking to you. Many of you have taken several classes, been to numerous workshops and retreats etc. So, who better to ask than you. 
I've come up with a few questions.....and would be ever so grateful for your answers and any other comments or suggestions you might come up with. 
  1. What is your greatest annoyance? (May as well address the negatives right up front.)
  2. Do you prefer a looser, more concept based class or a more structured pattern based class?
  3. Do you want to be able to leave with a smaller finished project or are you quite happy to finish a larger project on your own later?
  4. Do you like room for discussion and interaction between fellow quilters?
  5. Do you prefer a group project or an individual project? Or perhaps both?
  6. Are handouts important to you?
  7. Are you wanting to hear about the instructor's personal quilting journey or would you rather they just stick to the technique at hand? Or perhaps you want both?
  8. Are you looking for inspiration or just technique or again perhaps both.
  9. What has been, in your experience, the most helpful or inspirational time when taking a quilting class?
 I'm more of an improvisational, concept type quilter but I'm also a bit of a technique junkie....driven by the desire to find the easiest and simplest way to do anything (that's my lazy gene kicking in). My desire in teaching is to share my quilting journey, inspire creativity in others and show you techniques to make the quilts you dream a reality.
Hopefully, I can teach the way I blog....your wonderfully, positive, encouragement every time I write a tutorial or design a new quilt means more than you can imagine. Thank you for that, so yes...I'm all about interaction as well.
 P.S......and, yes there must be crazy laughter!!!!

NOTE: This is a "Let's Talk" post and in order to promote discussion I will be responding directly on the blog rather than with individual email as I usually do.


  1. My pet peeve is coming to a class and spending most of the time doing prep work. I love when a teacher lets you do most of the prep work at home so that class time is more productive on learning actual techniques. I love handouts, especially when they offer lots of little tips. I like a class with structure. I also prefer everyone to be working on the same pattern with different fabrics. Love to look at how the same pattern can look with different fabric choices. This can lead to discussions in class so we can all learn from each other as to why we made the choices we did. I have often thought someone elses fabric choice to be weird until the finished product. Wish I lived closer, would love to take a class with you. If I were in your class, I would like to hear about your quilting journey. Good luck with the teaching. I'm sure you will do great.

    1. Thanks, Cindi, that is so helpful about doing some of that basic prep work at home. Thanks again for the rest of your comments....lots for me to think about.

  2. 1. When I don't learn anything new. I love the instructors that pepper the classes with tips and hints, even if they are not related to the project that we're working on. I also like it when they bring in their quilts, or show us their WIP's.
    2. Structured - but that's just me. I would think your class would have to be looser, that's your style.
    3. Smaller finished project.
    4. Yes
    5. Individual
    6. Yes! But, I don't expect everything to be on the handout.
    7. Yes! That makes it more fun! Also, encourage the students to talk. If I just wanted the technique and no personal stuff or interaction, I would watch an online class.
    8. Both
    9. This may not answer your question, but if I like the teacher's personality, I will go back and take another class, even if I'm not sure I'll be interested in the technique.

    Good luck with your teaching! If you ever teach in Calgary, I will be there!

  3. Personally, I like a class where a technique is demonstrated and then we all go ahead and do it. Most of the people I've been in classes with were very skilled already. Tips and shortcuts are welcome, those are the things we probably don't know. I always lose handouts, and I am only interested in larger projects. I'd love to have a short listen to how the instructor got to where she is, some hope for me, right? And like Cindi, I like to look at the project in other colour choices. Lots of times I would never have thought of them, and they look great! Pet peeves? Well, I hate not being able to capture the instructor's attention for ages, if I have a burning question. That's hard to manage though. There should be lots of coffee, and plenty of ironing boards. Nothing worse than not being able to press! Best of luck!

  4. Well, I am like you, not having been to too many classes, but here are my thoughts.

    I like to work through the technique in the class so I like it when the instructor shows a step then everyone does it and questions are asked and people share and then the instructor shows the next step, etc. I like the idea of having time to work through the technique and hear all the questions and learn from all the answers, I can make a finished project at home or finish my project at home, big or little. I love the stories from the instructor. I hate it when instructors don't let you talk with your neighbour students (yes I took a knitting class like that once) as I learn lots from them too and also make friends that way. I like hand outs but just point form basics of the stuff taught with a bit of room for me to write my notes.

    I think that if you are just you it will be a wonderful class.

  5. First, where is the class? I want to take it!!
    Second, be yourself. I can't imagine a real structured class using your techniques. If I was registering I would not expect to use a pattern, especially the same one everyone else is using. You are an improv quilter and that is what you should teach. Share your journey, maybe in little snippets as the class goes on. Share where you find your inspiration. My biggest pet peeve with an instructor is when they spend a ton of time with one needy student and there is not much one on one time with the other students. I like to take notes and don't care much about handouts.
    Have fun! ....and where is the class?

  6. Where are you located? I want to sign up!

  7. Make sure everyone gets to talk with you, and not just the "pushy, or needy" few. Just because someone is quiet does not mean they don't need help!
    I hate it when no notes are given,but I don't expect a book, just bullet points of important stuff.
    The worst thing I have seen in a class was the tutor showing a technique and then just doing her own unrelated sewing as the class tried the technique! You need to be going around the room and making sure no one if making any big mistakes, and offering suggestions.

  8. I was so eager to learn that I joined in about every class that was offered by my LQS.
    My biggest annoyance is when you receive a huge list of materials and large amounts of fabrics needed to take a class while you end up making only a small item and you didn’t need all the stuff. I really took classes in which students had to cut fabrics all morning to stitch only a small piece in the afternoon. It looked like my LQS had made a deal with the teacher to sell as much fabrics and notions as possible. I learned to take a small amount of fabric with me from my stash and to decide afterwards if I like a technique so much that I want to make a bigger piece. In 90% of the classes I didn’t.
    I love teachers that are well prepared by showing some examples of working with a technique and by showing pieces of the different steps of the process. When homework can be done as a preparation for the class, that’s great too, but don’t be surprised when students don’t prepare anything at home and therefore ask a lot of attention and time of the teacher during the class.
    I like it when all students can pin their work to some kind of designwall at the end of a class, so you can see what everyone has done and discuss about it.
    Some classes need a well structured base (techniques) and some can be more conceptual (classes in art quilt making).
    I prefer individual projects.
    Handouts are nice when you can’t do without them (pattern pieces or such), but I’m used to making notes as well.
    I love when the teacher tells a bit about her own quilting journey and shows some work.
    I sometimes only took a class because the teacher was really inspirational and fun to be with.
    The classes I enjoyed best were those about techniques, by hand or by machine and the more free classes in which you had to think outside the box.

    Wishing you a wonderful time teaching!

    1. I said art quilting, but I mean improv quilting!

  9. There is a lot of good content in the responses above so I wont say much. My one bugbear is teachers who say there is only one way - their way - of doing things and make you feel bad if you don't/can't/won't do it that way. The classes I like the most are where I have learnt something I know I can go home and do. Have fun teaching!

    1. I agree--I dislike the one-way attitude; however, it seems reasonable to ask students to try a new method, then give them freedom to do what is comfortable. Or be ready with a real reason for why one way is better. (Recently had such an experience, and instructor explained ergonomic movements her way. Made sense so I changed.)

  10. I have been on several classes and sometimes I just liked going along for some social stitching. Always glad to find out a new technique as it helps me at home to see different ways to tackle things.

    The best teachers I've had do seem to discuss their own journey - it is engaging! Examples in different fabrics are helpful. And yes you can learn from the other students - not just through their choice of fabrics. Notes are useful if there is lots of facts to remember - sometimes I am a slow worker and don't get back to something till months later so it is a useful reminder!
    Don't mind concept/technique or project based classes as long as it is clear that is what the course is about. Probably more interested now in the former though would have preferred the project based class as a beginner.

  11. Here goes:-
    1. I'd agree with Nicolette - re the extensive list of supplies and I'd also agree with Cindi and think it could help move the class on quicker if there could be pre class prep work done
    2. personally I prefer looser - I love exploring 'outside the box' - your class would be right up my street - yes, there are rules to follow (more guidelines) but you get a chance to explore, develope and create something individual as you go - it's not as 'confining' as the more traditional quilts
    3. small finished project
    4. yes
    5. individual
    6. they can be - but also personal jottings with a link back to a tutorial could work just as well
    7. Yes share a little background information with a talk about a sample of some of your finished and / or even WIP work.
    8. It can be helpful sharing where you've found inspiration from - some can't see beyond the quilting world for inspiration
    9. That's a hard one - personally I've yet to experience a class that's really lit a spark that's set me on fire - mainly I've seen something that inspires and just played around with ideas, fabric, dyes etc - ie: tried to have fun with a pleasing result at the end :o)

    Most importantly would be to be yourself and share just as you do on your blog - you'd be a star and everyone would enjoy themselves

  12. I live in Ireland so classes of any kind are rare and therefore anything I am going to learn in a class is precious. I believe that all classes should be structured in some way, even if it is for improv work. The personal journey of the teacher is interesting but not when it takes up too much of the precious time for learning something new. All teachers have blogs and biogs online. We are taking the class because we already know about the teacher and want to learn a technique he/she has to offer. Otherwise it becomes a seminar. My heart sinks when I see a huge list of materials needed, partly because it is expensive here, and partly because I know that there is no way in high heaven that we will be using all of them. Handouts are good if they are relevant to the technique being done but are not essential. I like to work on an individual project - I don't know how a group one would work - who would take home the finished/unfinished item? I think the good classes are a mixture of learning new skills and being inspired by a good teacher. Being able to see the teachers work is inspirational too. Good luck with the class, wish I could be there. Rita.

  13. 1. What is your greatest annoyance? (May as well address the negatives right up front.)
    I love it when we can get the stuff we need prior to the class. I really don't like when we wait for the first class and then get told to bring all this stuff and we do not use half of it...

    2. Do you prefer a looser, more concept based class or a more structured pattern based class?
    This is hard to say I like a loose class but I think there has to be some structure to see the direction we are going....

    3. Do you want to be able to leave with a smaller finished project or are you quite happy to finish a larger project on your own later?...I don't mind either it all depends on you as the teacher

    4. Do you like room for discussion and interaction between fellow quilters?...Yes I think there are things we can learn from both the teacher and the members of the class...

    5. Do you prefer a group project or an individual project? Or perhaps both?....individual....

    6. Are handouts important to you?...Yes

    7. Are you wanting to hear about the instructor's personal quilting journey or would you rather they just stick to the technique at hand? Or perhaps you want both? I think a little of both and if more detail is needed we can always refer back to the teachers blog or tutorial of ??

    8. Are you looking for inspiration or just technique or again perhaps both. I think the teacher in her self should be the inspiration and that is why we are there to learn the technique that inspired us to be there in the beginning...

    9. What has been, in your experience, the most helpful or inspirational time when taking a quilting class? Whether you complete the project during the class is really not a big thing to me...To me it is that aha moment when the technique being taught is like a light bulb going off....

    Hope this helps...

  14. What is your greatest annoyance? A. Product pushers - teachers who have a long list of items/tools
    for the class. B. Ill prepared instructors who are scatter brained and remember part way through the project what "should have been done before this step". C. Students who talk when the teacher is instructing.

    Looser or structured? Taking classes many times is a financial sacrifice for me so I want the most bang for my buck. No small talk, I want to absorb as many techniques and concepts as possible and run with it.

    Smaller finished project or two.
    Do you like room for discussion and interaction between fellow quilters? Definitely not. I'm paying for the teachers experience, knowledge and inspiration.

    Individual Project.
    Handouts - Yes, to help me remember what we did in class. I prefer classes on line that I can access anytime or DVD's that I can watch over and over to in person classes. Please consider an instructional DVD!
    Instructor's personal journey? Every instructor I've ever had on line or in person I research. I become familiar with their work and try to see students work if possible. As I said, I'm paying for a technique to add to my skill set. If a teacher speaks for 10 minutes or less of their personal journey that would be about all I could handle before getting antsy and wanting to start on a project. Students can be referred to websites and personal blogs for background info.

    Techniques are inspiring to me.

    Most helpful or inspirational? Teachers who are organized, have a firm lesson plan, who walk around the room asking students how they are doing, teachers who have assistants to help beginner students and those teachers who suggest how to do the most with limited supplies or options (creative ideas) for less expensive tools. Having students gather around the table to see what you are doing - having chairs around the table so some students can sit so those behind them can see.

  15. I like classes where everything is already precut and ready for class so we can dig right in. Coffee is a must. I like when a technique is shown then we work on it ourselves, at our own pace. I had a teacher once that withheld lunch until everyone had their zippers in right,had a hunger migraine the rest of the day, not plenty of ironing boards/irons.I like handouts to, for reference later.

    That's all I can think of. Ohhh! Make sure everyone knows in advance that you will not have time to teach how to work a sewing machine lol. I've been in classes where someone was using a new machine or an old one and kept having problems with it and asking for help. Make sure you tell the students to have their machine ready to go!

    Wish I lived near you! Id be in your class!

    Hugs, Amie

  16. What a great discussion! I'm thinking about returning to teaching art quilt classes, and you've given me food for thought. I'm answering your questions from the perspective of 4-5 day workshops, since that's all I take now.
    1. Greatest annoyance -- the teacher gives a few instructions or a handout at the beginning, and then spends the rest of the week working on her own work using the techniques, and only interacting with her groupies.
    2. Loose or structured class -- I like a loose class, but I find that beginners need more structure, which can be provided one-on-one.
    3. Finished product -- I don't need to finish it in class, but I need to get far enough along to get something out of the class. A half-day class never did that. Multi-day classes, or classes spread out over several weeks, gave me time to absorb.
    4. Student interaction -- I learn a lot from other students, since for me it's all about learning to see things differently. But I think student conversation should not take up "group time" during instruction, since some students will want to get to work.
    5. Having everyone work on the same project, or a kit, is too structured for me, and doesn't inspire my creativity.
    6. Most students like handouts, and I did them when I taught techniques or a specific project. But beware of how you print them...When I taught in the quilt shop, we found that students would xerox my handouts for their church quilting groups, even though they were my intellectual property. One student even used my handouts to teach my class at a competing shop. The quilt shop I taught in started printing the handouts on colored paper, so that it became more difficult to re-copy them.
    7. I like to hear the instructor talk about their journey, but after we have been able to do some of the classwork. In a multi-day class, Wed. or Thurs. seems appropriate.
    8. Inspiration or technique -- both.
    9. Most helpful or inspirational time in class -- the critique time on the last day. It doesn't have to be a formal critique, but having the students display their classwork and the group go around and have the instructor discuss each work is helpful to everyone. Sometimes students are so buried in their own work they don't take the time to learn from the work of others.

  17. The first reponse by Cindi pretty much nailded it, but I'll throw in a couple more.
    1.Annoyance-there always seems to be one needy student who commands all the teachers time. And prep work, I want to do that at home.
    2. I like a structured class.
    3. An unfinished product is fine, I'd rather focus on learning the technique.
    4. Discussion between quilters is nice unless that needy student wants to shere their quilting journey with the class.
    5. individual project for sure.
    6. Love, love handouts.
    7. I want to hear all about your quilting journey.
    8. Inspiration vs. technique-that's 50/50, I have taken classes just to learn the technique not caring for the teaher's fabric choices and other times I've taken a class just to see the teacher's work already knowing the technique.
    9. When taking a class, I usually learn some random tip, from the teaher or sometimes a fellow student, that makes a difference.
    I know you will do great, wish I could take a class from you!

  18. I don't have super long attention span or patience so I like to dig right in - no wasting time - I am there to learn not gab. But that is just me. Folks are paying good money and taking time away from family and work to attend so make it worth the time. On a separate note your work is simply stunning!!! You have so much to offer I would love to attend.

  19. Like you I haven't been to a quilting class before, so I got a wee bit excited when I saw that Kaffe Fassett was holding a day's class in Cornwall (UK) near where I live. I absolutely love his work, but was soooo disappointed to discover the class would all be making the same quilt, just their own choice of his fabrics. I couldn't think of anything more dull, so didn't bother to sign up.

    I'm a very creative person and thought it would be interesting to learn how he goes from inspiration to quilt and that maybe students could go through some of the same process, BUT his class description, though disappointing, was accurate and I didn't waste what would have been a lot of money!!!!

    If you were offering a class in my area I'd want to learn about your creative process and experience some of that, along with some of the techniques you use to achieve it, but I'd want to do it my own way, using my own choice of fabrics and inspiration. If I wanted to make lost nine patch quilts I'd get a book or look online, but you're an artist and I'd hope to come away inspired and with a bit more confidence to do my own thing :)

  20. Some excellent points have been made here. I also like to do prep work at home to be ready to start in the class. But I don't want to cut out a whole quilt until I have made a block or two to see if I like it. I like a structured, or at least organized class. I like handouts, but I have seen some terrific computer presentations. Given how many tutorials and pictures you have on your blog, you could easily use those in your classes, with students taking notes and referring to your blog/tutorials later, as needed. That will prevent the wholesale copying of handouts, as discussed above. I want to have enough finished in the class (a block or two) so that I can finish it at home and make it larger using the techniques learned, if I so desire. I think teachers naturally reveal personal information about their quilt journeys as they expose their work and demonstrate their techniques. That is the right amount for me. I had one internationally known teacher who spent at least 20 minutes showing pictures of her home and family. That was not what I paid the big bucks for! A realistic list of supplies needed for the class is also appreciated.

    Wish I could take your class! FYI, your blog was referenced in a QAYG demonstration at the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild last week!

  21. I had a great teacher who taught from her pattern, but she emphasized that we should not feel an obligation to finish the entire quilt. She said the most important thing to learn were the techniques. That was very freeing. It also speaks to previous commenters who don't want to buy supplies for a large quilt until they have learned the technique.

    A pet peeve is (like others) having the instructors time monopolized by either the needy person, or the "favorite." I once took a class where the instructor helped one lady for ages with her layout, and barely gave me two seconds. I didn't need much help, but would have liked some feedback. I worked mainly from her handouts, which were quite good.

    I think you will be a great teacher. Only time and experience will tell what teaching style works best for you. You will never please everyone, so focus on what feels right for you. That has worked in your quilting, and will be a key to your success as a teacher.

  22. Pet peeve - having to bring supplies to a class that are never used. I don't mind an extensive supply list, as long as we use the items.

    Organized classes are good. They can be structured or not, but good organization creates a good flow to the class.

    A project does not have to be completed.

    Discussion with fellow class members can be during lunch or breaks. I prefer most of the discussion to be with the teacher and the entire class.

    Type of project depends on type of class. An improv class pretty much well determines that each piece will be different. A techinque class could be all the same, but I hardly ever sign up for a class where everyone is making the same design.

    Handouts - yes, yes, yes. I love referring to them, and it's a good place to add handwritten notes from the class.

    Quilting journey - interesting if you have time for it. Best for a multi day workshop.

    I like seeing quilt projects in various stages of completion. This way you see how the choices made along each constuction step, has affected the finished piece.

    If a class is good, I like the whole experience from beginning to end.

    I've taught plenty and attended plenty. As a teacher and as a student, I like filling out an evaluation form at the end of the workshop. A teacher gets kudos and helpful suggestions what will improve her teaching, and a student feels valued by asking for feedback. It's a win-win situation.

    Best wishes to you starting this new stage in your quilting life. Hugs, Diane

  23. Have students do as much prep work at home as possible. I took a machine quilting class where the first 1/2 hour of the class was spent pin basting top, back and batting together. There were only 2 tables in the room so most of the students had to leave the room to find a table to use or get down on the floor. Those of us who left the room missed the teacher's comments during that time.
    We all love to see quilts. But please don't spend so much time showing us projects for your next applique book that we use up valuable class time we could be using to finish our projects. One instructor spent almost the exact amount of time we needed to finish our projects showing us projects for her next book.

  24. Thanks to everyone so far.....your comments are very insightful and will be extremely helpful to me as I prepare for my first retreat. Your are very definitely bringing up things I would not have thought are making my prep work much easier.

  25. I have been blessed to take classes from some of the best (Elly Sienkiewicz, Sue Nickels, Mary Sorenson, Robert Callahan, Sally Collins, etc.). I always learn something new. If not from the instructor, from someone else in the class. Love just being there! I love the new overhead camera things so you can see the instructors hands no matter where you are sitting--very helpful. Of course, good lighting and comfortable accommodations are helpful, too. I like the teacher to demo and then walk around the class helping students that need help. Yes, I do like time to ask questions. I never go to a class expecting to go home with a finished product. I am there to learn a technique. I have been quilting for 30+ years and am learning all the time and my taste is also changing. Hand applique is probably my favorite thing, but the modern quilts (LOVE your work!) really intrigue me. I do like an fairly casual class environment. I like the class to start with a bit about the teacher and then going around the room to hear everyone's name, where they are from, how long they've been quilting, etc. Glad you're starting to teach and hope it will be a wonderful journey for you! Your color sense is amazing. I'd love to take a class with you! I learned QAYG from Georgia Bonesteel in the late 70s on TV. Yours is way prettier. We've come a long way!

  26. I'm answering before reading other answers...don'e want to be influenced.

    1. Can't think of pet peeves. Didn't happen to me but to a friend: an instructor gave so many steps that when they went to work, no one remembered what they were to do first. So be aware of reasonable amount for students to remember. If something is an overview, make it clear that they do not need to remember steps. Then return to what they are to do.

    Re: questions 2 and 3. I prefer looser, technique focused classes. I don't like buying a lot of fabric for a large quilt and technique that I may end up not liking. And 3. I had an instructor once say that she took a Sharpie and wrote the date on the project fron the class; that way it didn't become a UFO; it was finished. I don't go that far, but I don't feel obligated to finish a class project.

    I've gotten out of order, but I think you can tell which I am answering.

    I'm usually looking for technique. I like it when instructors share their quilting design process. Quilting journey seems more a presentation topic than a workshop topic.

    Definitely prefer individual project.

    I like comfortable chatter while sewing; recently had an instructor state that eye-contact was not essential to talking with each other; we were to keep working. It was kind of nice to be given permission to be impolite (at least it feels impolite to me to not look up and attend).

    I appreciate an instructor's going around to each student, observing, and making suggestions or compliments.

  27. Thanks for these questions Marianne! As a teacher it was great to hear what people had to say.

  28. Good points in all the responses. I'm not looking at the question list, so will just respond to those that I'm recalling: Annoyance- students who want to be the teacher, telling "another way" to do things. We came to learn the teacher's methods, and that needs to be the focus. Maybe good to address this in the intro and then remind those who just feel they have to impart info that for this class, we are focusing on the methods the teacher uses. Handouts- helpful. Student interaction- not esp. interested as the class is teacher-led. There is usually time for chatting while working at the machines for those who like to. Quilting journey- a nice intro to the class is to spend a little time on this. Technique- the ideas come, but need the skill set to bring them to completion. Size of project- big enough to feel satisfied with progress, but I don't need a finished piece at end of class. Structure- I like it. Helpful to know an overall framework of how the class will progress. Times when students work on their project can be less structured. I like when a teacher says something like "now we'll work on our projects until 10:15 at which time I'll demo (fill in the blank) needed for our next step." Most helpful time- this varies based on the topic, but just being there is inspiring to me, and mastering a new technique is very satisfying. Good luck with your classes!

  29. I am so enjoying all of these comments....again, thanks so helpful.

  30. I Haven't commented very much....I'm really taking all of your comments to heart and letting them simmer, so to speak. I am planning a follow-up post. You're making me think.....I love that.

  31. Hi Mari,

    I would like to give you a teacher's perspective. I teach classes in "free-piecing" which is patchwork without using templates, patterns or paper-piecing. It's definitely a process and can really be something students have trouble wrapping their heads around.

    First, be prepared. Be VERY prepared. Have samples and pieces in various stages of construction. I bring as many quilts about the subject as I can stuff in the car, and hang them around the room. Students tend not to get out of their chairs much once they get going, and it's good to have examples for them close by.

    I always have a timeline, and tell the students what it is right up front... "Ladies we'll work on this until X time, and then we'll break for a 45 minute lunch. After lunch, at X time, we'll have a slide show and then we will work on project..." I also give them time checks during the day.

    I agree with others about the prepwork - much of the "busy work" can be done at home, and is a waste of time to do at the class.

    And I also agree about supplies. It's tough to define, but I also don't like to ask students to purchase supplies they might not use. State what they NEED, and you can list some things that are "optional, but helpful."

    While I think I owe my students a reason why I am the teacher and they are not: "I've been making quilts for X years, etc.," but I'm not sure they are all that interested in my personal journey, at least during the class. In my classes we eat lunch together, and if they ask, and if I've eaten, I can elaborate then.

    Demo, demo, demo. If you have ten students, you need to be able to describe something ten different ways. It's your job to connect with them. Somehow.

    My quilt shop emphasizes the need to bring a working sewing machine to class, as the teacher won't help the student figure it out.

    The needy students are the hardest, as are the chattiest. If you have a big class (and anything over 12 is BIG), the noisy ones get attention, the ones who are stuck get attention and the quiet ones get lost. It's very hard to notice, but you must try to work your way around the room and speak to each student one-on-one several times during the day.

  32. Hi again,

    Apparently there is a size limit to these comments. Here is the rest of what I wrote...

    I always provide handouts, and many students forget them. So now I have business cards printed, with my blog URL and my email address, and I hand them out. Everything is on the blog I tell them.

    I want the students to talk to each other, to share suggestions. I had one particularly large energetic class (13 students) where the students really got excited, and called suggestions and encouragement to each other across the room. It was nothing short of manic, but it was also magical. The students had a ball, and so did I.

    If the class is smaller, I can tell them about my own journey and answer their questions about stuff not directly related to the class. For some reason all my students are interested in the size and layout of my sewing studio, and the size and organization of my stash.

    I always bring my laptop to class, and show example of other free-pieced quilts (the shop has a projector so all students can see) because I'm a big believer of taking what I teach and showing the students all the other ways this technique can be used, and how other quilters solve the same problems.

    When the class has about an hour left, I ask them if I've missed anything, what do they want to know that I might have skipped or forgotten (classes just WHIZ by when you teach). And I also ask if there is anything I could have done better.

    One final note. It's a good idea to tell the students "the lay of the land" before you start. Where's the rest room? Where can they hang their coats? Is there a water cooler / coffee maker nearby? Is there a fridge for their lunch? At the quilt shop where I teach, the students not only get a discount the day of the class, but they can run a tab, so if they need something quick, they can run out and get it without missing a big chunk of time.

    The last thing is YOU must be 100% clear about how you do whatever technique you teach. And be prepared to explain WHY. I have always hated the "I said so," or "this is the ONLY way to do it" explanations, so be specific. But be brief. Think about the language you use, and try to make it as specific and unambiguous as possible.

    You'll spend a lot more time planning the class than teaching it, but if you've done it right, all that work will pay off for you when you teach the class again later.

    One final note: Teaching is EXHAUSTING! Make sure you have dinner planned ahead of time, and that it's easy to cook. I often put something in the slow-cooker so when I get home I can just lift the lid and eat. I'm usually sacked out on the couch after dinner, and in bed early. Make sure you get enough rest BEFORE the class, and don't over-schedule yourself afterwards.

    Teaching is a thrill. Good luck!

  33. Great subject!!! As a student, one of my pet peeves has to be when I ask a question of the teacher, fellow students answer the question!!! (If I wanted to know how they go about getting from A to B: I'd ask them.) (Why do these people go to classes, when apparently they know everything???) It's very frustrating!! I go to classes to find out the technique a teacher uses, and I'm probably a little bit more anal. (in that I like to know WHY it's best to do A.B.C). What has worked for me (as a student), is a teacher who asks students to stop what they are doing, gather around her to watch the technique, then go back and put into practice what she has just shown us. There is nothing worse than a student who just races ahead of the class, and monopolises the teachers time. I'd rather go for quality, ensuring my technique is accurate. I've started to do on line classes for these reasons............ at least I know that the teacher is not going to be interrupted by that "high maintenance" student. If I need clarification of any matter....... a simple email sorts things out nicely.

  34. Hello, great questions, great answers!

    I'd just say a lot of the issues raised depend on the length of the class/workshop. Is it a 3 hour class? Or a 3 day workshop? Not much room for sharing your personal journey in a 3 hour class, for example.
    I recently went to a 3 hour needlework class where the teacher started with a timeline (as mentioned in a few replies above) and found that very "reassuring"!

    I once took a 3 hour class where we spent at least 60 minutes cutting up bits of paper for a mock up and then the one crucial sewing instruction was "lost" among the noise of machines whirring as we'd started piecing. Note: we could take the mock up home after the class but we didn't get much time to practice - and get feedback on - that crucial sewing step. So a bit of a disappointment for me there. And no time for prep work at home as it was a class I had signed for on the day.

    Mistakes are interesting, a way of learning too.If someone makes a mistake in a class/workshop, it's interesting to take time to discuss it because if, as a student, you get it right during the workshop you may not get it right again two months later at home (even with a handout).
    It could be awkward for a teacher to point out a mistake in an actual student's work but you, as a teacher, could bring a "faulty" item/piece (even perhaps one you've made yourself, on purpose!) and start a disucssion on how/why the mistake occured and what to do to fix it.

    Finally, the sample used to advertise the class: if it's displayed in a shop, for example, where people can see it "in the flesh", no problem but if it's shown online, putting an everyday object next to it in the picture can give a better idea of scale than just printing the measurements, I feel.

    Keep up the good work! Beatrice.

  35. What a timely post. I will be doing a presentation next month on improve piecing to a guild. I have done it with a small group of less than 10, but they are expecting at least 25 people. This time I will have a power point plus I will do a demonstration - the group will not be making anything. I plan on having a printout so they can refer back to what I showed and they will have someplace to take any notes. I have only taken one class/workshop in my life so I don't have anything to say about what I like or don't like. My plan is prepare as best I can then wing it! I am not getting paid, I wouldn't know what to charge and for me that is too much pressure to perform. They are letting me sell my dyed fabrics so that will cover my time, gas and help me reduce the size of my stash!

  36. Hi. My first visit to your blog and not the last. I would just say, in reference to teaching, you will NEVER please everyone. We all come from a difference starting point and you just can't do it all! Teach the way you are most comfortable with, and that comfort will reach your students. I've been a teacher for many years, teach in my quilt guild and just try to do it the way I would do it if I were wanting to learn this technique. Good luck!

  37. I've been waiting for a class by you!!! Can't wait! I also have not been to many classes & never a retreat. Most of my quilting I have done thru on-line inspiration, not know exactly how to meet other quilters locally (Red Deer), so I'm crossing my fingers you will hold you class close to home!!! and thank YOU for your inspiration!!!


  38. Annoyance: Going too fast (what I mean is it takes some talent to watch the group and find the median speed. Can't set the class to the pace of the best in the group nor the slowest of the group)
    structured pattern based class? This is obviously just a personal preference. The key for me is to have it clearly stated in the advert or notice of the seminar or retreat. A conceptual class is fine, too. Just would like to know ahead of time.
    leave with a smaller finished project: I'm a real fan of something tangible to take home. For example, a class on binding means taking home the sample 10 x 10 quilt sample that I did. It's not that the project is a completed usable product so much as something tangible to remind me of what I've learned.
    room for interaction between fellow quilters: This would be so cool. Can't say it's built in so much as it occurs based on seating and snack breaks/lunch. But to actually say, "Okay ladies let's meet over here (away from the machines) and talk about what we're learning...that I've never seen or done.
    a group project or an individual project? Either, just as long as I know when I sign up.
    Are handouts important to you? The better question is what is a great takeaway. If I'm learning something complicated then good instructions, good samples, good pictures or a link to a you-tube how-to as a reminder of what I've done (and supposedly learned...example, I had to watch and or read information on paper piecing until I got the technique down pat).
    hear about the instructor's personal quilting journey: Who doesn't love a great story! By all means share the journey.
    inspiration or just technique: I truly believe that mastering a technique creates its own inspiration.
    the most helpful or inspirational time when taking a quilting class: I also walk away happy when the instructor has managed to give me my 5 minutes of attention. And by attention I do mean either helping me to "get it" or even if I get it spending time to confirm my knowledge.

  39. Wow! What great feedback you have here. Thanks for asking the questions and letting us read all the answers. It was very helpful! (and maybe a little nerve wracking as well...) I like the point that someone said about not being able to please everyone. That's a good thing to remember! That being said, I have no doubt you will do GREAT! I'd absolutely LOVE to take your class. Sigh.

  40. Wow, I would LOVE to be able to take a class from you!!! I have no doubt that you would do a fantastic job. I love the idea of you offering a Craftsy class so that you could reach a huge audience... including me!


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