Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaching quilting

Yesterday I helped my friend Rumi-san put the binding on her coffee cup wall hanging. And a few days before I had helped another friend, Mrs. Nakazawa, put the binding on her tapestry too. It is interesting to work with new quilters and I wonder how strict I should be with them.

"The seams need to be more exact..."

"Don't let the backing pucker..."

"Let's do that part again..."

I don't want to squelch enthusiasm with little details like which direction to put in pins or doing a full backstitch when using the sewing machine but how else does one teach excellence? I don't remember how I was first taught quilting. My first attempts were from books and magazines, many of them in Japanese and I couldn't read them at all. Oh yes, there were some trials I went through!


In college I won a quilt raffle and came home with a wonderful bed size quilt that I still have and love. That sparked my interest in quilting and I think one summer I took a community class where the teacher was trying to teach us to applique teardrops in a quilt square. I didn't see the connection between that and my beautiful quilt and I don't think I ever finished that square.

After marriage and with time on my hands and my beautiful college quilt I tried to teach myself quilting from Japanese books (which I couldn't read!) Oh my! I don't know if you could say disasters but I hope people will think I've come a long way, Baby!

This is a "quilt" I made for my former college roommate's baby. Those popcorn puffs are stuffed so hard one could bounce on it! I'm surprised the baby didn't suffocate! (Or maybe my roommate used it as a mattress... That would make more sense.)

I made this baby quilt for a missionary friend. What are the colors in there?! Was I mad or what? I have a feeling some of those fabrics weren't even cotton!

I made another quilt when Takumi was born with the same book and at least figured out one should try to coordinate the fabrics a bit... I hadn't learned about batting yet though and so I bought cotton for cushions and pulled it apart and laid it as flat as I could...

Finally after Takumi was a few months old I took a quilting class at the local church and learned to hide knots, use 100% cotton, and make templates. From there on in my disasters haven't been all that obvious (only to my own eyes).

I don't recall that the one patchwork teacher I had for 6 months was particularly strict. I do remember her being upset about one student who had a very liberal style and was not exact with seams and puckers. The teacher wasn't too happy to have her name passed around as the "quilting teacher" what with the very haphazard way her student was going about making quilts. It made me think that my own work could reflect on my teacher and I think I've tried to be more exact in making seams and eliminating wrinkles since then... This is a sampler quilt I made under the instruction of the quilting teacher...

Is it more important to teach new quilters the joy of piecing and choosing colors, quilting and accomplishing finishes or is it more important to get them used to a few rules which can help them improve and expand their future horizons?

"Your seams need to match..."

"Try to learn how to use a quilting hoop. It will make your stitches more even."

I suppose if they are really future quilters then they will want to pay attention to details anyway...

I think I am a better quilter than quilt teacher... I'll be showing my two students' quilts later this week...

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