Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taking My Show On the Road

Tine to travel to teach. Since we drove, this was possible:

It is so nice to sleep under one of my quilts away from home.

The plans for me to teach at Panama City, FL for the St. Andrew Bay Quilters Guild began to come together almost a year ago. Originally, it was scheduled for March 2017 but a conflict in their schedule caused it to be pushed back to now. When I realized March is at the height of "Spring Break" I was happy with this change. The weather was lovely and crowds were non-existent.

First up was my Trunk show, kind of a history of my 35 years of  quiltmaking. I included the first quilt I ever made, a baby size Double Irish Chain from a mail-order house, all pre-cut. In those days, pre-rotary cutter, this was an amazing thing. I hand quilted it and finished it in December 1986. SO glad I put labels on all my quilts, starting back then. The most recent finish, Long Time Gone, was included as well. I took about 2 dozen quilts--as many as I could squeeze into two big suitcases:

About 60 people came to see the "show", including an old friend who used to live in Huntsville--I hadn't seen her in 12 years. A few others came because a student of mine here at home told them to be sure and come--they were warmly welcomed by the guild as guests.

Some on the left:
Some on the right:
What you don't see yet is all the fans that were waving during the show--the AC wasn't working and it was a warm, humid Florida night. I began by telling the crowd perspiration was good for our skin and we would lose a few pounds that evening. Let's just say my lovely linen tunic was drenched when I returned to the hotel.

The following day 16 students came armed with sewing machines, irons, and electric FANS! The room had cooled off a bit overnight but warmed back up as we all got going.

If you are making a quilt from "strata"--strips of fabrics sewn into panels, it is often important to have light/dark placement correct. This was on of those projects. Here is a tip I shared: take a photo then view it in black and white--you will be able to see which fabric reads "darker" than it's neighbor:

We had a great time and the first day flew by. I began with instructions to the entire group, then those who had pre-cut strips were ready to sew and those who wanted fabric selection assistance, got that. At regular intervals, I gathered everyone together to give instruction on the next step so those who were ready could move along. My favorite Elly-ism from Elly Sienkiewicz is "We advance for the swift and repeat for the deliberate." I watch each student to see who needs more assistance and who is ready to move on. And I keep the pace pretty fast--there is a lot to accomplish before I leave town. At the end of that first day most students are tired but impressed with what they got done.

First thing the morning of the second day, I got a photo of the class showing off what they had done the day before. We only had 3 hours that day and I know someone always leaves early so photos get forgotten at the end of class:

A few of my closest quilt friends recently asked me "Why are you working this hard, traveling to teach? Aren't you retired?" Yes, this second "career" has become much more involved than I expected  three years ago but I've been teaching for 30 years. Here is why:

1. Before class started day 2, the Workshop Chair and Treasurer both said to me, separately "We want you to come back, how does your schedule look for next year?" Thank you, Sarah and Betty.

2.Three students said to me, separately, "I almost didn't take this class, I thought it would be too hard for me, you made it easy. I'm so glad I came." Thank you, ladies.

3. One student told me the first day she was a stroke survivor and had difficulty with spatial instructions: up/down/left/right--there is a lot of that in this quilt. At the end of the workshop she proudly showed me her two blocks, light and dark, completely finished and said "It's a MIRACLE!" Thank you, Lee, and thanks for the gift of Cranberry Red Pepper Jelly--it is yummy!

4. One student said "You are the best teacher I've ever had. You don't just teach the project, you teach us to quilt.". Yes, it is my goal, wish and desire in each class that each student will learn more than expected and will pick up tips and tricks to improve their quiltmaking going forward. Thank you, Loretta.

5. Students often want to work "outside the box", in this case using 2.5" strips instead of 2" strips. These two friends made that decision the night before class, after my lecture, when they realized they had signed up for class the next day but had not yet prepared.  Jelly rolls at the ready, they were good to go:

They also decided to combine their blocks, which are 7" larger than the standard size, into one small quilt which they will now border and donate to the guild boutique at their next show. I love when the whole class can see an alternative option that students have come up with:  Thank you, Carol and Bonnie.

6. Every good teacher will tell you we learn from our students too. I always ask for constructive criticism on my handout or verbal instruction. One student showed me privately how she found it helpful to pin each pair each time, rather than just stack them and then pin only once. I introduced the "Loretta method" to those who were getting confused and they found it very helpful. An update to my handout is in order. Thank you, Loretta.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea--I teach because I can't live forever and being able to share my knowledge and inspire others to keep creating the work of their heart and hands makes me feel good. I tell all my students: "Making a quilt is an expensive way to get bedding. We are making gifts for generations yet unborn." That is why you really must add a label to all your quilts--see more on that here. When I'm gone, I want to be remembered.

One more big Thank You! My husband did all the driving, we both prefer it that way and he didn't even complain about having to fill his day and a half alone. After class ended at noon the second day we headed 4.5 hours west to Ocean Springs, MS to visit his sister and her kids and grandson. All in all, we drove 1100 miles and both thought it was a good trip. Perhaps we'll be going back in the next year or two.

I am teaching this class at Road to California January 2018. I don't know how a two-day, all day class will be received at a big show like this, but as long as some show up, we'll have a great time. Did I mention we laugh a lot in my classes?

Oh, one more thing, if I had taken food photos, it would have been seafood on Thursday, seafood on Friday, seafood on Saturday, etc. But we did stop here for lunch headed out of town:

And I got a brief stop at Quilting by the Bay, a legendary quilt shop I've always wanted to visit:

You should stop in if you get to that area--easy to find and full of fabulous stuff!

Now it's time to focus on Houston preparation--all is ready at the George R. Brown Convention Center so all we have to do is show up. It's the highlight of my year.

Let's Quilt!



  1. That's awesome Barbara! I'm sure your classes are a big hit. We can all learn from your years of quilting and teaching.,it really is fun, isn't it?

  2. What a wonderful adventure! It would be so nice to be able to attend some of your teaching workshops.

    1. Sorry you missed Iuka, that's pretty close to you.

  3. You're one of the best teachers I've ever had. You even make the mistakes we all make fun.