Musing about Quilting

What makes a good beginning?

The selection of blue in my local quilt shop

One of the things I am working on at the moment is a beginners class. In some ways I am lucky, I am working to a framework provided to me as this is also a pathway to becoming an accredited teacher through my local guild, Canberra Quilters.

But me being me, I have also been having a long term conversation about what should be in and out and the general vibe of beginners classes. Back in the olden days when I did my first sampler quilt (I think it was 1997 or 1998), the range of fabrics available in Australia was reasonably limited and very country in approach. You could get them from department stores – I think I got some from Myer or David Jones, it was green – or there was Spotlight and the specialist quilt stores were beginning to pop up around the place.

But what makes it into a beginners class?

I have found the original notes from my first class, handwritten and photocopied – a long way from the computer driven approaches we take now. Techniques covered piecing by hand and machine, using a rotary cutter and ruler, 1/4 inch seam (and the reasons why), there are stars and flying geese, half square triangles, and squares. Then there was appliqué – needle-turn, reverse and using fusible iron on and blanket stitch – and English Paper Piecing, foundation piecing and piecing by hand (straight and curved). It had everything.

I finished the top, basted it and started to quilt it… but it remains unfinished because I couldn’t decide what I wanted out of the quilting, and then I decided I hated the colours. It lives in a suitcase in the garage, and perhaps someday it will be done.

In my discussions with quilting friends the challenge seems to be – How much detail is too much? My original course had everything in it, and I found it to be a really good approach to it all. Why? Because I worked out which bits I didn’t enjoy and never wanted to do again.

Spoiler alert: I have done all of them multiple times again. Because I also realised that sometimes you need to use a specific technique in order to get the result you want.

What about you? What would be in or out if you ran the quilting world?

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