Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Teaching Beginning Quiltmaking

 At a local shop Sweet Home Quilting, I recently taught a 9 hour class for beginners. The project is fairly simple, and the 3 class sessions are about right for beginners to get the hang of making their first quilt. I call the class Learn to Quilt--the Basics, Fast and Fun:

39" x 48"

This time, I did session 1 and 2 in the same day--so the students had 6 hours of instruction the first day. For true beginners, just learning to cut fabric and the basics of piecing a block can take 3 hours--then it's time to pack up. This worked very well. Everyone got all the instruction they needed, as often as needed, and all went home the first day with at least 4 blocks complete. 

A week later they returned for the third session, 3 hours of instruction on how to finish their quilt--whether they will quilt it on their machine, will pay to have it longarm quilted, or will rent time on a longarm and quilt it that way. They also got detailed instruction on binding their quilt.

Four of the six students returned for the last class. The other two were unable to make it. Leila used luscious Cherrywood fabrics for her blocks. While not a true beginner, Leila knew she could benefit from learning tips and tricks and she was very pleased with her improvement in  piecing:

In the 3rd session we also discuss selecting borders that really add a great touch to the quilt. This Kaffe Fassett fabric is absolutely perfect for Leila's blocks and navy sashing:

Betsy chose a beautiful, soft palette and made several sets of blocks at home. She has just ordered a brand new Bernina 770 sewing machine and is eager to step up her quiltmaking a notch when it arrives: 

I have taught almost 2000 beginner students over the past 35 years. Many of them make beautiful first quilts in the classes, quilts that impress me with their workmanship or color choices, or a design element added.  I am not usually totally gobsmacked by a student's quilt but Ida did that. 

I love everything about this quilt. She chose a line of fabric, so everything blends nicely. But it is her choice of a small print for the sashing and the geometric outer border that just did it for me. Remember when we learned "you don't wear stripes with polka dots"?  It's kind of like that for me--my sashings tend to be solids. Ida used a lovely small vine-like print for her sashings. Then she knocked it out of the park with the terrific geometric print for the outer border. To cut that accurately, she had to cut one layer at a time--she figured that out on her own. Great job, Ida!:

A close-up: 

I love teaching beginners or those who are learning on their own and want to enjoy the process more by being more successful in their efforts. Now I look forward to seeing these lovely women again in future classes.

Let's quilt.



  1. That is quite an accomplishment -- teaching 2000+ new quilters! Congratulations and I'm sure you would say that you do it for your own enjoyment and the benefit of seeing the light bulb moments in the students. Each of the quilts you showed in this post is pretty in their own way. Good job to all!

  2. A nine-patch is a great place for a beginner to start out. It makes a lovely quilt without complicated shapes. Anyone who learns from you will learn well (if they pay attention). LOL
    Ida did make a lovely quilt.