Friday, March 6, 2009

Beginning Quilting

Once a person starts to teach--anything, really, not just quilting--the word gets around. So and so takes a class, shows her friends what she's learned and all of a sudden, everyone wants to have something pretty to be proud of too!

I was recently contacted through email by a potential quilter who also had friends who were potential quilters who, with kids and carpools and life, never seemed to connect with the quilt shops on the rare occasions a BEGINNING QUILTING class was offered. "Would you", she asked, "be willing to give private quilting lessons to my friends and I?"

Hmmmmm. . . . the classes would be held at the hostess's large home, less than 2 miles from where I live, on a weekday morning that suited me perfectly. Hard to resist!

I've taught many quilts and techniques in the past 5 years or so but have always shied away from the dreaded 'beginner' for fear of untrained fingers getting maimed by rotary cutters, old sewing habits which would be tough to break and the worst, there's so much to learn about quilting, where do I start!!? 

"OK", I said to myself, "I can DO this"! I drew up a 6-week course starting with the ever-important, accurate quarter inch seam and thinking I would have them make 4 different blocks; 9-patch, Churn Dash, Ohio Star and Sawtooth Star covering the basic square, half-square and quarter-square triangle and flying geese segments. With these basics, probably 90% of all traditional blocks could be made. Then we'd make a table runner out of these blocks and I could have them add borders that would be shorter than quilt-sized, and finally, bindings. Sounded like a plan!

On the first meeting, these 5 delightful women had as much enthusiasm as a 6-year old who hears the ice cream truck coming! We went over many important points before we ever got the mats and rotary cutters out and what was supposed to be 1 1/2 hours, turned into 2 1/2 with ease.

Today, we had our third of 6 lessons. These ladies have not only turned out 3 different wonderful blocks with nice points and precise pressing, (I taught them to press their seams open as I do, rather than to one side) they have practiced when not in 'class' by making duplicates in various colorways. The hostess' young daughter has caught the bug and has put together some wonderful squares and triangles herself--SO cool!!

When I arrive next week, they may even have their 4th block finished and we'll start on the placemat (rather than the more ambitious tablerunner) we've decided will be our first project. I have no doubt each of them will succeed in not only turning out a lovely piece but will have a fully rampant case of the ever-contagious 'quilting fever'.

I've encouraged this new group to continue meeting on Friday mornings after the lessons are over for, as most quilters (dieters, athletes, etc.) know, the peer pressure and mild competitiveness of a friendly group encourages the loyalty and creativity that's only one of the many reasons this hobby is so enjoyable.