I mentioned last week that I was going to be teaching classes based on the new book, “Farmer’s Wife”. We got an e-mail asking how I would organize that class – and since my shop offered so many classes – I thought I would share my concepts with you.
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The Farmer’s Wife is a book of 111 – different six inch blocks. I love books like Dear Jane, Nearly Insane Just Plain Nuts, The Civil War Diary Quilt, The Civil War Love Letter Quilt, etc. All of these books have from 49 to 225 different blocks. That means, over the course of one to three years, my students can become Master Quilters!
I break these books down by technique into manageable portions. In all of these cases, we meet once a month to learn the new technique and to share the blocks that were made at home! That’s right – we don’t sew in class. Many times I will demo a technique but students prefer to sew at home where they can take their time and be as anal as they want! But, remember, they have to have time to do their homework so I try to group blocks in manageable time frames!
In the case of The Farmer’s Wife, I chose a Nancy Gere line by Windham. My students may choose to start with the same color pallette as me and buy a fat quarter of the entire line. Then, if they have a hard time choosing fabrics – and want to duplicate my original, they have the exact fabrics to do that.
In many cases, however, they will start out “copying” the original, but will branch out and do their own thing after they see what other students have done during show and tell.
You must decide the setting for the quilt at the beginning! Then, you will still be able to buy the coordinating fabrics to complete the quilt! Most of the time, I try to design something that fits a queen size bed and isn’t exactly like the book. In this case, the book has instructions for a “queen size” quilt but it is only 84″ wide. I am going to work with the setting so it will measure closer to 96″ square.
Dividing Up the Lessons
We will be doing five blocks a month for two years. Since the book does not have full size drawings, I am drawing them in Electric Quilt. Then I can write on the drawing to note which color of fabrics were used, the size to cut the pieces, etc.
The first two classes are based on nine-patches made out of 2″ finished squares; 2″ finished triangles; and 2″ finished four-patches. Aim for teachable moments in each class. If they don’t believe they are learning something, class attendance will suffer!
For instance, all of my students have made a nine-patch but in the first class, I will “chain” the block aka Eleanor Burns. Teach it as a Hints from Heloise type class. After you have chained the block, take it to the ironing board and press it from the wrong side. By pressing from the wrong side, you can ensure that the seams in each row will “butt” together when sewn.
Then teach them how to use Triangle Paper on a Roll. Break open a package and give them enough to make their blocks for that class. Include it in the class fee. Let them try products without having to buy a whole package at $10 a pop! They will love you for it – and buy the products they like the next time they are sewing triangles.
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In class two, we will learn how to make four-patches a quick and easy way. We will also learn how to fussy cut fabrics for their blocks. We will use the Fussy Cut rulers by Creative Grids – CGRSQ6 and the CGRST65 to fussy cut squares and triangles in their blocks.
Item #CGRSQ6 Retail $16.50
Item #CGRST65 Retail $20.50
In this case, we will use Thangles so they can compare the products and learn the advantages of each. This is a great way to get feedback from your customers. Next month, they can tell you which product they prefer – and why. You have your very own test marketing group!
In future classes, we will teach how to make half-square triangles the traditional way – by drawing a line across the diagonal and sewing a 1/4″ seam on each side. We will also show how to use Inklingo to print the half-square triangles – on paper and fabric. And, we will try all of the brands of triangle paper out there. Since the blocks chosen for each lesson all use the same size triangles, I can buy a package of the correct size for that class. Just visit our website and type in triangle paper. All of the brands – in all of the sizes available – will appear! It’s magic! Just remember, not all sizes come in all brands so choose accordingly!
Let them “Play before they Pay”! We all love to try new products but in many cases, aren’t willing to spend the money to try something unless we know it works. By opening a package for the class to share, you are allowing them to try it for about a $1.00 a class – and they will love you for it!
In future classes, we will be doing paper-piecing. Again, we will share all of the different foundation papers so they can try each one.
By the end of this class, your students will have their “Masters in Quilting” and be able to make anything they want! If the blocks in a certain lesson do not have a teachable moment, use those classes as an opportunity to teach them about battings, backings, marking pens, bias edges, bindings, proper ways to hang quilts, etc.
Remember, this book is not just a quilt – it is 111 block patterns! That means that your students can take any of their favorites and plug them into a pattern for a six inch block to make a gift. If you do that with some of your favorites, that gives you the teachable moment to show how to bind a quilt, etc.
Coincidentally, I just wrote a book of 12 projects that can be made using six inch blocks – blatant plug, I know – but it doesn’t make it any less true! And the methods I use to teach the different foundations are all in my first two books – Penny Haren’s Pieced Applique and Penny Haren’s More Pieced Applique. If I don’t believe in my own books and products, why would I even write or design them???
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Hope this helps turn that classroom space into a viable part of your business!