Sunday, January 27, 2019

Quiltmaking 101

For thirty years I have been teaching the beginning quiltmaking 5 week class at my local shop, Patches & Stitches.  This has allowed me to work with well over a thousand local students who want to learn to quilt.

For the last 13 years the project has been this quilt, Mix n Match Stars by
Glad Creations patterns:

Class Sample, 48" x 60"
The 9" block is made with basic units: half square triangles, quarter square triangles and squares. The pieced border is optional, about 25% of the students tackle that. They can use "super simple borders" if they choose--I teach that too.

Students come from all age groups, the youngest being a very motivated 14 year old, to those much older, even older than me. Many are women but over the years there have been a few men. Some are young mothers eager to make a baby quilt for their child. Some are newly retired women who say "now is my time, I want to learn to quilt". As I live in Rocket City USA, Huntsville, AL, many of the students are engineers or are married to them. The engineers take to the precision of piecing a quilt pretty quickly. Some are more "laid back"--whatever their style, the desire to learn what I can teach them is all that matters to me.

I am not the quilt police. When asked how perfect something has to be, I give them the 3 tests:

1. How does it look from 6 feet away?
2. How does it look to a man going by on a galloping horse?

and the MOST IMPORTANT TEST of all:

3. Can YOU live with?

This is supposed to be fun, not stressful, and everyone gets to decide their level of perfection as they learn.

Some student work:



Sophie, on the right in the photo


I could post hundreds more photos--this just gives an idea of how the student can make the quilt her own. 

Currently, one of the students is really making this project her own. Catherine has taken several classes from me and is most definitely not a beginner. She showed me a quilt she found on Pinterest  that inspired her fabric selection. Her blocks take much longer to make than the other students since she cuts all the pieces separately, arranges the block, takes a photo--very smart!--then sews the block together--every piece in the block is a different fabric but a specific color:

I think she is right on target with the look she wants. She is not in a hurry, and is taking her time to enjoy these blocks. I am so eager each week to see what she has done so far.

Having taught beginners for 30 years, I usually change the project every few years but this one has proved to be such an excellent project for those who really want to learn as much as they can. AND I have kept it because in 2009 I was asked to work with a film crew to create a "class" for the website Monkey See. Over the course of 6.5 hours we recorded 7 three-minute videos that supposedly teach you How To Quilt.  I jokingly say "I can teach you how to make a quilt in 21 minutes."

The block I am making in the video is the block from this class, Students have found it so helpful to go home and have me continue to "teach" this block online. I still find it pretty hokey, BUT students tell me they really benefit from it. So, this is the project I'll stick with for now.

Many of the students have become friends, many have joined local guilds to continue to learn and find support. It is really my honor and privilege to teach all these students. My goal for every class is that I addict ONE of them, completely and totally to quiltmaking--so the industry will continue to grow and we all benefit from that. And I am always successful at that.

Let's quilt!



  1. All so pretty. Hopefully at least one student will become "addicted" to quilting because of your class. Quilting is definitely not a dead art form.

  2. You have definitely made an addict of me Barbara and I am loving every step of the journey.

    1. Yours is one that still gets lots of attention in the slideshow.

  3. As a Quilting 101 alumni and over achiever, I am one of the Barbara's students who became addicted, joined the local guild, and made many long time friends from that class. I recommend the class to everyone. How lucky we are to have Barbara in our community.

  4. Hands down the best money and time one can spend to enter the wonderful world of quilts:)

  5. I particularily like that each student has made "their own" quilt! IMO this is the how a truly good teacher passes along the craft. Lucky students!

  6. Students are lucky to have you to launch them into their quilting journey. You teach precisely, but don't enforce perfection. I love that.
    Peggy has a great eye for color. Her quilt is very eye-catching! They are all beautiful quilts!