Tuesday, February 24, 2015
My First Time Teaching!
I taught my first Free-Motion Quilting Basics class last Saturday. It was so much fun, and quite the learning experience for me. My biggest lesson? Three hours goes by very fast! We weren't able to get nearly as much done as I would have liked.
There were six women who took my class. (A perfect size.) Only one of them had ever tried free-motion quilting before. So we went over the background information: batting, needles, thread, marking, basting...
The students said they loved my handouts. All of the information I covered was included in the handout. I reminded them to remember that it was "Battings (or whatever) according to Jasmine."
I even included some simple designs I drew from different types of lines. But recommended these excellent books. (I borrowed a couple from my mom.)
Once we went through the background information we spent a while working to get a good tension. That took a little longer than expected, but I was able to help them all individually. I used Christina Cameli's method for checking tension.
After they had good tension, we went into the designs. My new magnetic dry erase board sure came in handy. Plus, I had made myself a new FMQ design sketch book, and it helped explain things quickly without me having to draw everything during the class.
I showed them how simple shapes could become more complex to form the traditional stipple. This approach came from one of Leah Day's quilt alongs.
That seemed overwhelming, so I was able to show that it is okay to quilt in spirals and rows.
And that the quilting can be changed a little and even simplified. (These wiggle designs came from Christina Cameli's books.)
After demonstrating for them, I had them sketch the designs before stitching them.
We didn't have time to quilt on the actual quilts some of them brought already basted, so I strongly encouraged them to jump in and continue quilting at home. That is what I did when I took my first FMQ class years ago. I even brought my first machine quilted quilt (or quillow) in to show them (finished in 1999).
In addition to that first quilt, I also brought seven other big quilts and ten mini quilts/table runners. I think it helped to have examples for a lot of the things I was explaining. Like density and matching bobbin/needle threads.
It was also nice showing them you can quilt big quilts on little machines. One quilt I brought in was this queen size one quilted on my littlest machine in 2003.
(I like the back better than the front.)
I demonstrated on one of their smaller machines how I stuffed it in the small space. Although I must add that having my machine flat in a cabinet really helped!
I told them that learning to free-motion quilt is like learning to ride a two-wheeler. (Something Panda has been working on diligently.)
You have to learn to use the pedals, watch your speed, watch where you are going, and balance everything. Good tools (like the helmet) and a working machine (bicycle) are so important.
It takes effort (and sometimes a little help) to find the balance and enjoyment.
But you have got to put your foot on the pedal and get going!
When Panda was ready to give up, we kept telling him that it would take at least a month to really get it. Quilters need to give themselves time to learn new skills as well.
At the end of the class I asked them if I talked too much, and they said they appreciated what I had to say. That made me feel better. However, I loved it when a couple of them said, "This was exactly what I needed."
I will be teaching the class two more times, so I finished up the second class example. I hope it will give my future students some ideas.
I used two different styles each of stippling, loopy lines, and jagged lines. It is neat how changing something like the main direction can alter the entire aspect of a quilting design. There will be more on this quilt, which Cheetah named "Fruity Flavors," in another post.
Edited to add: After all of your sweet comments and suggestions, I talked to the manager to see what we could do. We have decided to start a second class in April. The focus in the first class will be the very basics and background information. The focus in the second class will be putting the skills to use on a baby quilt. The funny thing is that just after we discussed this one of the students in my class last week suggested part 2. Great minds think alike, right? ;)
I also want to thank everyone who has cheered me on in this new endeavor. I really enjoyed teaching this beginning class at my local quilt shop.