Welcome to Day 11 of How to Earn $ From Sewing and Quilting! Today we’re going to discuss what kind of classes to teach when you are just starting out.
I’d like to repeat the quote I finished with in the last post:
~ Teach What You Know ~
And then I’d like to add a caveat … within reason… why do I say this? Let me explain!
Don’t Teach a Beginner a Double Wedding Ring
When I had the shop, a young lady came to me wanting to learn how to quilt. I was just putting together a beginner’s class, so it was perfect timing. As the class progressed and I got to know her a bit better, it turned out that she had tried to learn how to quilt before. A kind neighbour had been teaching her to make a Double Wedding Ring quilt! She was teaching this because it was her favorite type of quilt to make…. And I have no doubt that she was very good at it.
This poor young lady, however, was having so much trouble with it. As far as I am concerned, it is not a beginner’s quilt. She was so thankful that we started with an easy Fence Rail in my beginner’s class, and she went on to become a very accomplished quilter! (Wait for the follow-up story on that wedding ring quilt next week!)
Beginners Should be Taught Beginner’s Quilts!
Some people may disagree with me on this, but I don’t think starting a beginner off with an intricate or complicated quilt design is good. Some might say that if a beginner can make a Double Wedding Ring quilt, then they can make anything! I would agree… but if that was me, I probably would have given up with quilting right at the start!
This is not to say that beginners shouldn’t be given a challenging project. My first paper pieced quilt was a challenge and a half! It was a lovely stained glass pattern, which might have been fine if it wasn’t for two things:
- Our teacher went away on vacation and left us with the project…
- There was a big mistake in the pattern…
I finished it and learned a lot from it. I still say that I can tackle any paper pieced quilt now… but I was not a complete beginner. If that was my first taste of quilting, I would have given up.
What to teach beginners
As I have already told you, my first project as a student was a Rail Fence Quilt. This was also what I taught my first beginner’s class.
For my second beginner’s class, we were waiting for a shipment of fabric to come in. I had just opened the shop and didn’t have much range, so we opted for a table runner made from a charm pack.
This was a great project to do and my students learned some basic techniques of sewing and quilting before tackling a quilt.
When we got the fabric in, I decided that they all coped with the runner well enough to skip the basic Fence Rail and try something else…. I chose this quilt pattern:
They all loved it and did a great job.
I also taught a group of beginners who were teenage girls, and we made a quilted bag together…. So in general I really tend to look at who I am teaching, and what they want or need, and then decide.
If ladies come to me and want to learn how to quilt, rather than sew bags or table runners, then my go to project is still always the Fence Rail. It teaches them how to:
- Use the rotary cutter and cutting board
- Strip piece
- Cross-cut the strips
- Add borders
- Quilt in the ditch
- Add binding…
These are some of the basic things a beginner needs to learn. From there they can go on to learning more techniques in a different class.
So any of the following would be quite appropriate for beginners:
- Fence Rail (of course!)
- Nine Patches
- Disappearing Nine Patches
- Log Cabin
What to teach more advanced students
The possibilities are endless for those who already know the basics of sewing and quilting. Our second project, after the Fence Rail, was the colorwash heart. It is one of Evelyn’s favorite quilts – I think she has probably lost track of how many she has made over the years!
When she suggested it, I thought, oh my! That looks hard! But it wasn’t. It was fiddly, but it wasn’t hard, and Evelyn had judged correctly that we had the skills to make it.
I made two…. Of course…. 😊
Oh, and by the way, this is the first class Alice joined in on… so the heart pictured above was her first quilt! She’s so clever 😊
Really this is more the stage you can teach anything you know. Teach a Double Wedding Ring if that is what you are great at (although I would still wait with this one a little longer, lol!). Teach needle turn applique if that is your forte.
If you want to teach more intermediate piecing, then the next step is to introduce your beginners to triangles…
- half square triangles,
- flying geese,
I personally prefer teaching intermediate and more advanced classes. When I had the shop, Evelyn and I agreed that she would take the beginners and then pass them on to me! She enjoys teaching beginners and she is very good at it. In turn I know that when they come to me for other classes, they know the basics and we can build on that together.
~ Tip: Work together with other teachers, you are not in competition with them! ~
And that’s it for today… tomorrow I’ll be back with Teaching Others How to Sew and Quilt – Where to Hold Your Classes
PS Please remember I am answering your comments in the comment section below and not via email like I usually do. Sorry for the hassle, but I am hoping this month we can share ideas!
PPS The main page of this series is here along with links to each post for this series.
Sign Up for My Newsletter!
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get this stitchery pattern free!