So today is Anything Goes Thursday and since I'm in the middle of preparing for a workshop in Greensboro, I thought I'd take a day and talk about the way this works for me.
Of course, I've only been teaching for 6 months so I'm not the most super qualified quilting teacher in the world by any means, but I do really enjoy teaching and, so far, my students have seemed to enjoy learning from me.
Typically when planning workshops and lectures, I think about the quilting things I could talk about easily for hours. Free motion quilting? Yes! Design? Yes! Needle turn applique? Not really.
The next step is figuring out a small, feasibly finish-able project for students to work on.
This has been a big problem for me so far as free motion quilting is not something most students grasp in 3 or even 6 hours unless they're already are pretty comfortable with it.
So instead I've started teaching my classes to focus on the technique, not necessarily a finished quilt by the end of the day.
Let's face it, I know I sure couldn't sit down in class and quilt a whole quilt in free motion, so why put the pressure on students to do the same?
By focusing on the techniques instead, students gain a better grasp of an idea and then can take that idea and run with it at home, creating all sorts of creative projects.
For example, in my Fantastic Filler Stitches workshop, I teach filler designs. I've learned from experience that many of the quilters attending are still very stuck in the mindset of "Don't cross your lines!"
I bust that mindset bubble completely with some basic free motion designs like Tree Roots and Brain Coral, where it's necessary to not only cross, but travel stitch right on top of the quilting lines.
Giving students this knowledge, then showing them that filler stitched on a 1/8" scale (super tiny), a 1/4" scale (still ridiculous), 1/2" scale (more normal), and 1" scale (bed quiltable) shows all the different things you can do with the filler, depending on HOW you stitch it.
I can see this same idea being used with needle turn applique, even if it's not my most favorite thing in the world. Teach your needle turn technique on both small, itsy bitsy pieces, AND on huge pieces so students won't feel like the technique is only used for one certain type of quilts.
Now on actually teaching a workshop, I like a handout. When I'm a student I like to get a handout and as a teacher I always provide one.
I just think it makes the class flow a little better, gives students something to take notes on, and the refer back to after the class is over.
I've kept the handouts I've received from workshops in a binder where I can go back and look at the information sometimes years later.
Of course, not everyone will value the handout and that can be a bit frustrating. If you find students leaving them sitting around, not valuing them enough to really even care what happens to them, consider charging a $3 supply fee for the paper and time cost of printing them out.
It's surprising how much more people will value something even after paying only $1 - $3 for it!
For the workshop, I also type up an outline for myself to follow that runs along with the handout, but includes extra tips and reminders for myself.
I don't like to get too specific, but I do like to have a general idea for how the meeting will flow: What will we learn before lunch? Will we cover tools and materials before or after everyone starts quilting? What will the workshop finish with?
All those little questions need to be answered, and the clearer you are on it, the better the class will flow.
I also like to end with a nice finish to the day. Some teachers leave the end very open so some students start packing up 2 or 3 hours early because the end of the class just feels like "free time".
I prefer to pack in as much info into the time we have as possible, so the end of the class is always demo. I stitch through as many filler designs as I can in the last hour, showing how the design is created, some tips for using it, and where it will work best in a quilt.
I think that just about covers my workshop tips. If you have any tips from teaching or from being a student, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!
Let's go Quilt,