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Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Entering Quilt Shows

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Barbara Dann/FSQ ShowAttending the Friendship Star Quilters show over the weekend reminded me of the variety of reasons quilters have for entering shows. For many,  it’s a chance to share what they’ve accomplished with others.  It’s a chance to support your guild’s efforts, and for many guilds this is what pays for lectures and workshops.  For teachers, it’s a wonderful opportunity to share what their students have accomplished. If you are a professional, it’s a chance to get your work seen by a larger and potential buying audience or to increase your exposure in the quilt or art world at large. For some entering a local show is a stepping stone to a larger show.

Do you remember the first time you entered a quilt in a quilt show? I do.

I was a member of the Charlotte Quilters Guild in 1977, and several of us decided to enter our work in the annual NQA show, which was held at Georgetown Visitation Prep in Washington, D.C. Of course, it wasn’t enough to just enter, we had to go to the show. It was very exciting stepping into this larger venue. I remember that my grandmother met me at the show. I was thrilled she could see my work, and she was quite impressed with all the variety of quilts. (Of course, she did cast her viewer’s choice for one of my quilts!)

Of all the reasons to enter a show, though, I think the best is the opportunity to grow as a quilter and an artist. Why do you enter shows and how does this stretch you?

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Meet “Manquilter” Matt Sparrow

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The Winter issue of The Professional Quilter includes a profile with Matt Sparrow by Mindy Caspersen. Mindy originally met Matt on Facebook and when her attempts to connect at MQX (Machine Quilters Exposition) didn’t work out, she took the opportunity to learn more about Matt. Here’s an excerpt from the profile.

How did you get involved with longarm quilting?
Shortly after I basted and quilted my first quilt on a domestic sewing machine (DSM), I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to be doing over and over again. I loved piecing but hated the quilting part of the process. After researching the price of longarms, the only way to justify the purchase was to take in customer quilts to recoup the investment. I had no idea it would explode into a full-time career in a short few months.

What is ManQuilter and how is it separate from the rest of your quilting business?
ManQuilter is the essence of my quilting business. I created to market myself as a longarm quilter. It is my “brand” that I continue to grow every day. I am very committed to building my brand to a point that it is familiar with a large portion of the quilting world. Read the rest of the article nd share your thoughts here.

Tell us about your studio and machine.
I converted my front living room into my studio and run my longarm quilting business out of my home. I am the proud owner of a 2009 APQS Millennium and am one of the newest sales reps for APQS. I have had my hands on every major brand of longarm quilting machine and can tell you without blinking an eye that nothing comes close to the feeling I get when I start stitching on my Millennium Falcon (my pet name for my machine). The horizontal wheels and electronic stitch regulator allow me the joy of precision quilting that my customers demand.

How did you get started teaching quilting in general and also longarm quilting?
I went to MQX in April to take several of Karen McTavish’s classes and was fascinated by her teaching style and the energy she brought to the class. I became certified to teach her quilting technique and came home and approached a local shop about teaching a class. Several months, seven classes and two open house presentations later, I am now officially a competent and confident teacher.

Do you have any business tips you can share with us?
The most important tip I can give is that the sooner you realize that this is your business you are running the better. You are not only a longarm quilter but a business owner as well. Quilting often requires loads of emotion. You need to remove that emotion from the business side of it and make decisions based on a profit model not an emotional response to how you (de)value yourself.

You can read more about Matt and how he and his wife, Bradie, support thier family of ten from quilting in the Winter 2010 issue of The Professional Quilter. The Professional Quilter is one of the benefits of membership in the International Association of Professional Quilters. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here

Meet Margie Engel

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

For 23 years The Professional Quilter has recognized outstanding quilt teachers with our Teacher of the Year award. This year’s recipient is Margie Engel from Satellite Beach, Fla. One of our goals as quilters is to see that young people are introduced to quilting, and Margie created a program just to do that. Here’s a portion of our interview with Margie:

What standards of workmanship do you require of your students and what do you do if they don’t attain them?
I believe standards of workmanship are to be encouraged rather than required; each individual needs to establish her own personal level of quality acceptance and expectations. Along this line, not all students see workmanship quality in the beginning so they also need to be taught to see the differences. To do this, at the outset of a class, I show them variations of quality and explain that I will show them how to accomplish their best, but they have to decide just how precise they want to be. Since we quilt for enjoyment, some students prefer not to worry about exactness; others definitely enjoy seeing just how fine their best is. When working one-on-one in the class, I point out places that need better work, but I “sandwich” this between compliments on what they are doing well. I also make suggestions with a “have you considered…?” comment to help the student look at her work and the possibilities for improvement. Improving one’s quality is part of the learning process.

How do you encourage creativity in your students?
Creativity is encouraged first by an atmosphere of freedom and relaxation; then it increases as students observe a variety of samples. I offer project options at the outset and encourage students to rely on their intuition and ideas. To get them thinking, I always show various ideas and uses of color, then suggest that they continually ask the “what if” question: What if I change this? Move that? Alter this shape, line or color, etc.? I take flannel-backed tablecloths with me and a small design board that I use on a tripod to encourage visual answers to our “what ifs.” I also use a projector to show variations of projects, especially color changes, as a springboard into classes. My class topics vary from appliqué to design to mixed technique quilts to quilting. All of those topics are conducive to having students add their own touches and experiment in any way they choose.

Creativity is the underlying topic in one semi-regular class titled “Quilters’ Workshop.” (The title grew out of the desire to foster experimentation.) Recently, I tossed in a “secret” workshop, telling the students only to bring scissors and pins as tools. They learned to create landscapes, realistic or abstract, looking first at pictures, then turning to pencil and blank sheet of paper. The creativity sprang from seeing the samples and waking up the images in our brains – had I handed them a blank sheet of paper at the outset, the response would have been less positive.

What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the field of quilting?
Oh my goodness, my greatest contribution to the field of quilting? A sharing attitude. Enthusiasm and passion are meant be shared, both in professional, paid teaching venues and in volunteer efforts. I think that EduQuilters and the kids’ program is the best example. In 2000, I began The Kids Quilt Project in the local schools and enlisted and taught volunteers to teach kids. We provide everything needed from fabrics to sewing machines, so I secure grant funding and sponsor support for this. The school quilts are group projects, and the quilts are given to local children’s charities, thereby teaching the children to look beyond themselves. Hundreds of students are involved in KQP. We also hold summer camps in which each camper makes a personal quilt. Because many campers return each year, I have to keep increasing the numbers of groups (set by level of a student’s experience) and the number of options. Student interaction is greater now that we have the new student guild.

Teaching the next generation of quilters not only gives the students new interests and increased self-esteem; it also highlights quilting in the community and supports and contributes to the continuity of our quilting world.

The Professional Quilter includes articles to help you grow your quilt business. If your subscription is not current and you need to renew, or you want to start a new subscription, here’s a link to our order page.     

Book Review: Stack-N-Whack®apedia

Friday, March 27th, 2009










Bethany Reynolds
American Quilter’s Society; $26.95
Ten years ago Bethany Reynolds began a new journey with the creation of her Stack-n-Whack® method of creating blocks with a kaleidoscopic effect. To celebrate that milestone, Bethany has put together 12 projects along with 13 mini workshops that offer timesaving tricks. This book also includes her Amazing Repeat Finder, a trick using a trimmed edge, and instructions on using a fabric-tacking tool in lieu of pins. If you are interested in creating your own design in lieu of those in the book, Bethany includes master charts for yardage and cutting. Additionally, teachers and shop owners will find lesson plans for half-day, full-day and multi-day classes.

Meet Susan Shie, our 2008 Teacher of the Year

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

For 22 years The Professional Quilter has recognized outstanding quilt teachers with our Teacher of the Year award. This year’s recipient is Susan Shie, a self-described outsider artist from Wooster, Ohio. Susan suspends the rules, while encouraging her students to find the joy of self-awareness and self-expression. Much of Susan’s work is personal diary work with themes focusing around the kitchen and family, St. Quilta the Comforter (a character based on her mother), astrology, tarot, peace and the environment, with a whole lot of emphasis on peace and compassion-centered politics. Here is a portion of our interview with Susan about her teaching:

How do you encourage creativity in your students?
I mainly work as an example of being creative, in front of them. I don’t pre-plan my narrative themes any more than they can pre-plan for the class projects. I work as an example of being creative by doing each process as a demo. I also bring lots of examples of my work or if the class is in my home and studio, I show them plenty of examples. The students get to know each other by name and I learn their names as fast as I can so that we can become a very close group in the time we have. We have a lot of show-and-tell, of their work and mine, so we all excite each other with our ideas and solutions to the group-invented theme. I also go around the room and have each student tell me about her work (as long as she’s willing to talk about it), and I give her one-on-one feedback. Most important, I ask them to come get me if they get stuck. When their creativity gets blocked, it’s important to get it flowing again as soon as we can.

How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?
As I mentioned, I explain that their best bet is to take what they learn from me and add it to the mix of where they already were with their artmaking. Copying a teacher’s style is, of course, acceptable and fine, if all you want to do is to make stuff. But if you want to get a career going in our field, or in any art field, you need to be unique. So copying a teacher’s style is like shooting yourself in the foot, unless you want to be called a clone. No one wants that! So you work the new style and ideas into the big ball of dough, of artness, that you already were cooking up in your studio. Yours is a totally different mixture of influences from any other given student’s mix. So you go along till you realize that you don’t need classes anymore, that what you need is time to work in your studio. So you conceptually graduate from that school of searching, and you become a mature artist. Voila!

What makes you a good teacher?
I treat my students like they’re just like me (because they are). We’ve all got the hunger to create, and to the degree in which you’ve been working toward your career, that’s how much evolved you are. I believe we can all be brilliant artists — but we must feel inspired. So my job is to inspire, by example, so that every one of us can be constantly tapping into our intuitive nature, our souls. I teach in order to free souls to the joy of their self-awareness and expression. I help my students find their way back to their innocent, primal selves, and I give them some tools for being able to find that space on their own, when they’re back home.

What has quilting contributed to the quality of your life and to women and men in general?
The act of quilting, when practiced without worry or judgment, is one of those wonderful processes that cause us to center our energy in our bodies. We relax, we enjoy, we are happy. Therefore we let go of stress, and therefore we heal. Few activities in our lives allow us to be happy. When we find the time to sit down and do these purely creative things, we give our bodies and our souls great gifts toward being whole and healthy, and quilting is legal.

Congratulations to Susan and the other teachers who were nominated for this award, including Pamela Allen, Laura Blanchard, Susan Cleveland, Rosalie Dace, Ellen Anne Eddy, Beth Ferrier, Cathy Franks, Linda Hahn, Carol Lewis, Merry May, Pam Mostek, Sue Nickels, Linda Poole, Jane Sassaman, Anne Smith, Cyndi Souder and Deb Tucker.

To read more of this interview in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter, you can purchase Issue 103 or can start a subscription here.

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