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.



  1. I think it's a great idea that you took in early work to show everyone! Sometimes I find it daunting that all you see when learning (from watching professionals or following someone's tutorial etc) is their good work! Because then that's all you've got to compare yourself too and it's kind of nice when you're learning that even though it looks wobbly and not perfect that it's still fine because that other person's work was wobbly and not perfect too! It's easy to say "practice makes perfect" etc but sometimes you just need to see the results over being told (similar to how you never take your own advice lol!). With FMQ, I think as well, that it gets hard to separate "this is what you can do on a DSM" and "this is what you can do on a long arm". I see lots of nice quilting that I compare my wobbles to, but at the end of the day, wobbly or not, my quilting on my DSM will look different to what someone did on a long arm.

  2. Congratulations on a successful first class, Jasmine! I really enjoyed reading about what you covered in your class. And your analogy of learning to ride a bike and how it is related to learning free motion quilting.

  3. I am sure you did a fine job and they all learned something. I just thought of something too for when you are teaching, tell them to get page protectors or a piece of vinyl(and tape the edges with blue painters tape) so they can lay it over your paper copies so they can trace your path. I think they then use vis a vis markers-but not sure on that. I haven't done it for a long time and can't remember what works so they can wash it off.

  4. Congratulations on a teaching job well done! Loved how you laid out your class for your students. Your new sample quilt is pretty cool! I have a few sample squares instead of a quilt sitting in my closet. I really should make some more now that I have learned a few more things. There always seems to be lots of things on my plate to do!

  5. Congratulations on starting to teach, that is really awesome! It sounds like a really successful class, Jasmine! 3 hours is a really short period of time to get started on such a big topic, and from what you report, it sounds like you gave them all an excellent foundation to start. It also sounds like you need to have Part II of the class where you can get them all sewing and be there to answer any questions! I also agree with Jo, bringing in some of your early quilting work was a brilliant idea; having them see that progression and practice will help them is a great idea.

  6. Great analogy Jasmine. It looks like you were well prepared and I'm certain you made the most of those 3 hours! I used to teach computer classes once a month when I was working and I can still remember how completely exhausted I was after a few days. And each class had it's own personality as well - I really enjoyed it. When I took my Beginning Quilting classes I think we had 4 short sessions (90 minutes maybe?) and did our actual cutting/sewing in between with the option of bringing in your machine or cutting tools for one on one help for a "free" afternoon in between the weekly classes. Kind of different but it worked out well. Just a thought.

  7. Fantastic, I love your handouts they look great! i have 2 of the books you recommended and will look out for the other 2! I love your learning to ride a bike analogy too - I'll be thinking of that the next time I am muttering learning a new motif!

  8. Congratulations Jasmine! you were incredibly well prepared - I would have loved to take this class form you! I see you like Christina's book too! Love the photos of Panda learning to ride his bike - I will remember that analogy when i get frustrated.

  9. I know that you are a fabulous teacher! Congratulations!

  10. As I said to you (a few times, methinks) your handouts and your approach are stellar, Jasmine, and so well thought out. I like the progression of wavy to jagged too; for a few years all I knew was a wavy stipple, maybe adding in a loop or a flower, woo hoo! I agree that it sounds like this class needs 2 parts: what you did on Saturday, and then bring your quilt and let's tackle that. Quilting on practice sandwiches is all well and good, but the first actual quilt is a huge hill to climb. Thinking I'm going to investigate this Christina Cameli person...that's twice in a few days that a blogger (Lara) has sung her praises. Which book would you recommend for someone who has been quilting (FMQ) for a long time? And...hate to be argumentative, but I strongly disagree with Joanna's opinion that quilting on a DSM and a longarm look different. I do both. I do not see a difference (except for right now, probably my longarm is not as proficient, because it's pretty new to me), especially when I've done different FMQ designs, be they Leah's or Angela's. e.g. I did a purses quilt with a different design of Leah's in each purse. You cannot tell it is longarm. I could have (and did) reproduce those designs in the exact same way on my Bernina. Just sayin

  11. Congratulations, Jasmine! I have been waiting for an update! I am sure you did awesome! And quilters are so lovely! They are almost always so appreciative of your teaching. Your posts have been fantastic and you are such an inspiration! Go girl!

  12. This post makes me smile on so many levels :) Your handouts look fabulous and the learning to ride a bike analogy is so perfect! And the pictures of Panda learning to ride a bike being given a helping hand by his dad and brother, just so precious!

  13. Well done and congratulations on your first class, it sounds very successful and your teaching aids look so professional. I'm not surprised the quilt shop want you back to teach again. I love the fruity quilt demo piece and the way you have shown it can be done on a domestic machine too,
    Happy quilting


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