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Thread: Tips for a Quilt Class Instructor :-)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    I'm getting ready to teach a class, and having taken a class or two :-) I have on occasion wishing the instructor could read my mind and cover things I had questions about. Since the shoe is about to be on the other foot :twisted: and I haven't learned to read minds, I thought I'd just ask:

    What do you wish a class instructor would cover? What do they assume you know that you wish they'd go into more detail about? Was there anything you really appreciated?

    Our class will be on a wall hanging I designed, and will cover how to make the blocks and do the border treatments (folded border and prairie points.) We'll talk about quilting options for the final piece, but probably won't have time to go over how to do each one.


  2. #2
    Super Member Marcia's Avatar
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    Roben, is this a class for beginners, intermediate or professional quilters? Find out the level and experience of your class members and then teach to that level. Just keep asking "do you have any questions? are you with me so far? etc." If you make yourself accessible to the class then they are more likely to ask you any questions they have.

    Good luck---I know you are going to be a success!!

  3. #3
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    An instructor at my LQS was once a kindergarten teacher, she always tells us so, and that she is used to the simplest questions being asked over and over!!! :lol: She asks everyone to introduce themselves and to tell about their sewing/quilting experience. Be very encouraging and upbeat, and you've got it made :D

  4. #4
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    This helps a great deal - thanks so much!

    My instructions are geared to beginners; if the intermediate or advanced quilters are like me, they will skim over what they already know. I just always hated it when an instructor would mention a term or technique, assuming everyone knew all about it - except me :shock:

    If there are any other little annoyances that I can plan out of my class, then I'd like to do that.

  5. #5
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I've been teaching a community quilt class for several years. I have a mixture of beginners to advanced. I have a beginner block and a more difficult block pattern at each class. Everyone can choose which block they want to make or both. I show them the finished block and during class fabric is cut allowing the beginners to learn that. It's a fun time and very informal. We try out different methods and lot of different rulers and tools. The blocks can be sewn there or taken home an sewn. I have big box of scraps that I let everyone pick through for different colors and many bring more scraps to add to it. I learn a lot from everyone too. I encourage the class to bring show and tell, anything they want to share and of course bring the blocks from the previous classes to show. Before class everyone pins their blocks or items to a piece of felt along the wall. One thing that is a big hit is to have a drawing each class for a simple door prize! It's something I find a free pattern for and make. Everyone gets a copy of the pattern and the door prize winner gets the finished item.
    I have a big easel with every step of the block pattern made in advance. that really helps the members to go look at it and see exactly how it is done. I may have four to eight blocks of the same pattern in different stages of piecing. Teaching is a lot of prep work and be prepared for the smallest detail to throw you off! :shock:

  6. #6
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    define abbreviations - HST - for example

    talk about grain lines

    talk about prewashing - why or why not

    are the students to bring items with them - or to the next class?

    have spare items available to lend for the class members to use - chances are someone will forget something

    (or not- that way everyone may be more apt to remember everything???)

    is this a class that the students are "supposed" to buy their things from a certain source or can they bring their stuff from "wherever"?

  7. #7
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Woo Hoo Roben!! I bet your class is going to be so much fun!!! :D :D :D
    I think that as much thought as you have put into this class, you will have most of the bases covered! If you plan enough time for questions during each segment you should do great!!! I look forward to hearing more about your class! :D :D :D

  8. #8
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    I would want the instructor to be up to date on the best methods for making basic four patchs, HST etc.
    There are so many different ways and gadgets for doing this.
    By watching many experts on QNNTV and QuiltersTV I have learned so much and I would expect the teacher to be well informed on all the different ways to make quilting easier.
    Also have lists of everything you need to bring to class.
    Knowledge on all the different sewing machine feet would be nice to know also.
    Make the class a fun and memorable expierience.
    I think it is great that you are asking for our input, that shows me you really care and want to do the best class posible.

  9. #9
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    Is this to be a hand quilting or machine quilting class?

    I'm really glad I took a hand-piecing class first.

    I think I learned to "see" how to put things together better that way.

    Also might cover where "precision" matters and where/when it really is not important at all.

  10. #10
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    If you have beginners and advanced, the advanced students may want to assist the newbies.

    I would recommend using a MAIN method for a specific technique and cover it in detail. If there is time and interest, you can cover an alternative method once the main method is understood. I have been in classes as a newbie where the instructor tossed out 3 competing methods and the instruction became confusing.

    Watch the students. I think it becomes clear by their action if they "got it" or not. I remember a sample sewing session where I was the only one who had the button holes going the wrong direction. :oops: (Had I realized that I was making button holes, I might have realized that I was off.)

    Have fun.

  11. #11
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    I agree with MadQuilter -

    show ONE technique (maybe explain that there are other ways, but that you won't be going into them in this class) that works well

    probably whichever method works best for you

    and then tell them about the QuiltingBoard.com :-)



  12. #12
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    These are all great responses, and are giving me lots to think about - better now than the day of class, right? :lol:

    I designed the wall hanging to focus on 3 specific techniques - trying to keep it limited a bit. I'm thinking about half an hour to demo the techniques, and then on to working the actual pattern so I can get to everyone with some individual attention. The wall hanging may take longer than class time, so I'm putting together a companion 'free project' that I know can be finished in class - at least that way all the techniques have been practiced a bit. I played with the instructions as I did one sample today, and tomorrow I'll time it and see where I'm at.

    I agree that there are many, many ways to do the same thing and just about as many gadgets as well - I'm sticking to the best way I've found for a newbie like me to be as successful as possible, with tools that I've found work as advertised. I've seen a lot of different techniques, and they do get confusing - but I also know that what works for me may be greek to someone else and vise versa. I also want to encourage participants to help, chat & laugh with each other - those are always the classes that are the most fun!

    Thanks for letting me think this thru out loud and for all your input - it helps, it really helps!

  13. #13
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    thanks for letting me play

    you might also consider having them do an (optional) evaluation sheet at the end

  14. #14
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    thanks for letting me play

    you might also consider having them do an (optional) evaluation sheet at the end
    Egads! Ya mean I get evaluated too??!!!!

    I'd better bring chocolate, and lots of it..... :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

  15. #15
    BlueChicken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadQuilter
    Watch the students. I think it becomes clear by their action if they "got it" or not.
    Have fun.
    I think these are the two key points.... you can see on people's faces whether they "got it" or not, and whether they feel confident or not.
    And when people are having fun, they're relaxed, and more likely to say "sorry, what am I supposed to be doing again?"

    :-)

  16. #16
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roben
    Egads! Ya mean I get evaluated too??!!!! I'd better bring chocolate, and lots of it..... :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
    You can phrase the evaluation to find out the things you did RIGHT! Also, asking about classes they might want, techniques they are interested in, and such - could lead to more classes, should you feel inclined. The only suggestion that hasn't been mentioned yet is a handout, so six months from now, when a wip re-appears, they aren't left scratching their heads trying to remember what was covered. Foam-core boards from the dollar store would be easy to pin samples onto, and rigid enough to stand up where folks can refer back to.

    And if it's an all day class, definately a candy jar or something sweet at lunchtime to help anyone who gets stressed.

  17. #17
    quiltluvr's Avatar
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    There are no real right or wrong answers obviously. One thing that came to mind is to think about the classes you took. What did you like about them? What didn't you like about them?

    When it comes to being in front of everyone, assume nothing. Smile, be approachable and ask questions to your audience. Will your class time allow you to spend a few minutes with each student? That could be a time to specifically address any potential "roadblocks" and tactfully share with the class, so as not to embarrass the student.

    Do you have some friends that quilt? Even those that don't, you need a range. Have a girls night at your house and practice with your friends. This way you can see if you have any gaps or aren't comfortable with the flow as well as gain a feel for what you are about to embark on.

    Pace yourself comfortably. While each one will have a different learning curve, be mindful of those that aren't quite getting it then and there. Will you have the time outside of class to be available to answer questions?

    Even knowing in reality, you can't please everyone all the time, is your class content, style, delivery going to give your audience the feeling that it was money well spent? Any little "freebie" thing you can pass along---measuring guide lists, small glossary list, differences on needle sizes, batting, a few websites, just a little perk of something to involve them more after they leave and keep you in mind. Get their info so that you can invite them to another class you teach. Personal interest goes a long way.

    All that said, I'm so excited for you! Did I overlook when you'll be starting? Please keep us posted on how it turns out! Above and beyond all else-----have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Bluphrog's Avatar
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    I always like it when the instructor includes some of the history of quilting. Information on when and where the techniques were developed. I would imagine information on prairie points, when they were first used would be of interest to a lot of people.

    I always love the names of the blocks and the variations (like churn dash and monkey wrench being so similar).

    Elizabeth

  19. #19
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    One of the things the teacher did in the last class I took was take a pad of sticky notes and write the person's name on one and stick it on the back of their machine. That way she could call everybody by name without having to try and learn 20 people's names in 10 minutes!

  20. #20
    Super Member omak's Avatar
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    My experiences at quilt classes to date have not been very good, and I hesitated to say anything, but here are some things I observed.
    Be prepared ... do NOT promise a technique and only manage to put out three of the five steps ...
    Have the pattern/technique you say you are going to teach MATCH the technique/pattern that you hand out in class ...
    Do NOT tell the class that you will get them some part of the information sometime when they come into the shop next time.
    Do NOT blame the students for not following instructions when the instructions you spoke or handed out were about as clear as mud because you were doing it all on the run, off the top of your head, while planning what you are going to do that quilt top coming up next week.
    And, if a student manages to do something backwards, take a good look at the block to see if it isn't exactly the same thing, just in a different direction ...
    Ask! I will tell you the whole sordid tale ...
    oh! And! do NOT tell students what they need to prepare before they come to class, figuring that you have told everyone ... have the instructions WRITTEN down BEFORE class time if you want your students to come prepared ...
    I am pretty sure you have never been to any of the quilt classes I have attended , I am looking forward to how your students did.

    I know that some of us students are not the brightest bulbs on the tree, but most of us aren't as inept as some instructors think we are. Nor, are we so naive that we can't figure out when an instructor is more impressed with itself than anyone else in the shop ... if you get my drift .
    I know that you have never taught a class I attended, but since you wanted to know what a student wants, I just HAD to vent a bit!
    If I thought it would make a difference, I would be doing it in person, but ... I just don't take classes there any more, so ... if I sound bitter, I apologize in advance! :roll:

  21. #21
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    All I know for sure is that I SURE wish I could take this class!!

  22. #22
    Super Member mimisharon's Avatar
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    Just one more suggestion.

    One of my classes, the instructor taught a technique for piecing with very tiny pieces. There were so many in the class that most of us could not see the way she was laying them out.

    my suggestion is, exaggerate the size your are demonstrating with, but show a finish that is the correct size.

    Use a background that has a dark shade for it if you are using a lot of white or light fabrics. Light color if you are using bright fabrics and set up the room with the planning board on a plain wall the windows won't interfere with the seeing the actual work and getting pictures.

    I'm a visual learner, if I can SEE it even when I'm working it, I can work it out properly so encourage them to bring camera to get shots of the work in progress, especially if they aren't doing them at the time.

  23. #23
    Super Member mimisharon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbsstrawberry
    All I know for sure is that I SURE wish I could take this class!!


    me, too!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. #24
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    make sure everyone can see and hear (assuming the students have normal vision and hearing)

    if the class will be very large, perhaps have an assistant?

    will this be a "do in class" or "lecture" type of class?

    If a "do in class", have the room set up so you can get to each participant and see what she/he is doing - if necessary

    will you be needing an ironing board?

    check out the space you'll be using ahead of time so you know what you will be working in

  25. #25
    Super Member sapdoggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    I've been teaching a community quilt class for several years. I have a mixture of beginners to advanced. I have a beginner block and a more difficult block pattern at each class. Everyone can choose which block they want to make or both. I show them the finished block and during class fabric is cut allowing the beginners to learn that. It's a fun time and very informal. We try out different methods and lot of different rulers and tools. The blocks can be sewn there or taken home an sewn. I have big box of scraps that I let everyone pick through for different colors and many bring more scraps to add to it. I learn a lot from everyone too. I encourage the class to bring show and tell, anything they want to share and of course bring the blocks from the previous classes to show. Before class everyone pins their blocks or items to a piece of felt along the wall. One thing that is a big hit is to have a drawing each class for a simple door prize! It's something I find a free pattern for and make. Everyone gets a copy of the pattern and the door prize winner gets the finished item.
    I have a big easel with every step of the block pattern made in advance. that really helps the members to go look at it and see exactly how it is done. I may have four to eight blocks of the same pattern in different stages of piecing. Teaching is a lot of prep work and be prepared for the smallest detail to throw you off! :shock:

    What a great idea for those of us who are visual learners.
    Love the quilt in your avatar!!!

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