Valerie Yeaton Shares Advice for Wannabe Quilting Teachers

Valerie Portrait

Occasionally, I am asked for advice on becoming a quilting teacher. Teaching can be such  a rewarding means of sharing your passion with a group of eager students. Let’s be honest: I think we all enjoy spending time working on projects, and working alongside friends makes the process even more enjoyable. I have been on both sides of the table and each has wonderful advantages. There always seems to be something to learn and wonderful people to meet.

It’s a win-win situation for both a quilt shop and teacher when classes are full and buzzing with the sounds of happy students. I started teaching before I had my own books and patterns to work from. At that time, I taught anything that was both interesting to me and requested by the customers, and I quickly found my love of the classroom.

Valerie Yeaton is a long-time local quilting teacher who shares my passion for teaching. I always enjoy seeing her beautiful samples on display at The Cotton Patch, a local shop where we both teach.

I asked Valerie if she would share some advice for anyone interested in stepping into the teacher’s role. Here’s what she had to say.

What do you look for when choosing a pattern or book for teaching?

I am looking for a new technique or tool.  Something I personally want to learn.

A design that is visually interesting, that will display well in the store, and that will attract potential students.

I think about what class participants will want to learn. Lately, I have been looking for “stash buster” patterns and patterns that use pre-cuts like “jelly rolls.” My friends purchase these and then want a project that will use them. I have a new class that uses pre-cut 2-1/2″ strips and I am amazed by the numbers of strips that the students bring to class.

My newest class is “Stack-n-Whackipedia.” It is based on the Stack-n-Whack books by Bethany Reynolds. It was one of the first books I ever taught from and I’m sure the store has sold dozens of copies of the book as a result.

Made by Valerie Yeaton. Based on designs in "Stack and Whack" books written by Bethany Reynolds.
Made by Valerie Yeaton. Based on designs in “Stack and Whack” books written by Bethany Reynolds.

 Do you follow the pattern exactly?

Normally, I follow the pattern exactly the first time I make it.  That way I can identify any potential problems with the pattern instructions.  For example, the cutting instructions may not take into consideration directional prints.  I need to adjust the pattern in the event someone wants to use a directional print.

When I like a pattern, I will make it several times, changing it slightly each time.  I might extend the block design into the border, change the block size, or color scheme.

But, if I change the pattern, I always require the student to purchase the original pattern or book.  Copyright is something I take seriously.

Here are three photos of the “Spring Blooms” quilt which was designed by you, Laura, and your co-author, Diana McClun.

Made by Cynthia Sanders. Spring Blooms pattern by From Me to You.
Made by Cynthia Sanders. Spring Blooms pattern by From Me to You.
Made by Valerie Yeaton. Spring Blooms pattern by From Me to You.
Made by Valerie Yeaton. Spring Blooms pattern by From Me to You.
Made by Debbie Johnston. Spring Blooms pattern by From Me to You.
Made by Debbie Johnston. Spring Blooms pattern by From Me to You.

How do you guide students with fabric and color selection?

Value (contrast) is what will make or break a quilt.  Choose the best quality fabric you can afford.  Support the local quilt stores.  They are the ones providing the classroom space, the teachers, the supplies needed, and the wonderful fabric selections.

Stay within a consistent palette or fabric style.  Choosing the fabric is one of the most difficult parts of making a quilt, but is also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of the process.

One of the more difficult situations for me is when a student’s color preferences are very different from mine.  I have learned to respect their vision and try to help them achieve it even when it would not be my choice.  Sometimes these are fantastic and exciting, and they open up my eyes to new options.

Made by Valerie Yeaton. Featured in the book "Kool Kaleidoscopes" by Ricky Tims.
Made by Valerie Yeaton. Featured in the book “Kool Kaleidoscopes” by Ricky Tims.

Any advice about teaching from patterns and books?

Read through the entire book or pattern before you start.  Try to get an understanding of the author’s point of view.  What techniques are being used?  Are there new tools that will be useful in completing the project?

Know your students.  What do they want to learn?  What is their skill level?  Can this pattern be used to teach new skills?

Allow sufficient classroom time to complete the project.  It is discouraging for the student to leave with a partially completed project and without the guidance to finish it.   How many “projects in a bag” do we all have?  Understand that some people will do homework and some will not be able to do that.  I try to provide “finish the project” classes for those that need extra time.

Understand how each student learns.  Most will prefer diagrams and demonstrations to text.  Be prepared to demonstrate any new techniques.

Respect what the students may already know.  Sometimes they have learned to measure and cut differently than the way I do it.  As long as it works for them, I try not to retrain them.

Get feedback if it is comfortable for you to do that.

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I hope any of you who might be interested in teaching find Valerie’s advice helpful and encouraging. If any of you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or happen to be visiting, be sure to look for exciting new classes from Valerie. She can be found teaching at The Cotton Patch in Lafayette.

In my next post I will share more of photos of Valerie’s work so be sure to check back.

I am overwhelmed and grateful for the responses to my last post regarding the release of the third edition of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! I loved reading through all your reasons for “happy dancing.” I look forward to sending a copy to Lisa Jamieson sometime in October.

Until next time, happy creating . . . and dancing everyone!

L1-Signature

Infinity Edges in Quilts: The Delights of Faced Binding (Giveaway too!)

My freshly finished version of Kaffe Fasset's "My Fair Lady" quilt from xxx.
My freshly finished version of “My Fair Lady” from “Kaffe Fasset’s Quilt Road.”

1-Giveaway IconJust when you thought you had all the elements of quilt making nailed down, there’s another very cool, fun, and mod finishing detail to explore:  ooh, the delights of faced bindings! Sure, there’s nothing actually all that new “under the sun” in quilt making other than technology, but there are techniques that ebb and flow with fashion. Right now, faced binding is trendy even though it’s been a standard sewing technique forever.

My blogging sister Darra pointed me toward faced bindings several years ago for a stylish finish to an Asian-inspired quilt that I was making. She suggested Kitty Pippen’s Quilting With Japanese Fabrics, a quilting classic published by Martingale & Company, for the instructions. (Giveaway details below!) Of course, I still use a traditional binding, but the faced method has been very suitable to the style of quilts I’ve been making recently. Sometimes, a quilt design is incompatible with the “hard” edge of a traditional binding and requires something expansive. I’d describe a faced binding as akin to an infinity-edged pool–it’s visually limitless.

So, shall we look more closely at the application of the technique with a couple of quilts?

Faced Binding With Prairie Point Accents:

Background detail shot of faced binding with prairie points. My version of "The Seasons" from Doughty/Fielke's Material Obsession 2.
Detail shot of the back side of a quilt with faced binding and prairie points.
Detail view of quilt back with faced binding and prairie points.
Detail view of the front side of a quilt with faced binding and prairie points.

Here’s the completed quilt–you may remember my post about a group quilt that took a major effort to complete.

My version of "The Seasons" from Doughty/Fielke's Material Obsession 2--love, love, love the addition of the prairie points.
My version of “The Seasons” from Doughty/Fielke’s “Material Obsession 2.”
I love, love, love the addition of the prairie points!

Invisible Faced Binding:

Here’s a clever binding approach from my friend Kim Butterworth.  She had enough backing fabric left over from trimming her quilt to create “invisible” faced binding. Look closely: she matched her quilt backing and faced binding perfectly.

Invisible faced binding on Kim Butterworth's quilt.
Invisible faced binding on Kim Butterworth’s quilt.

Classic Faced Binding:

If you’ve been following my recent quilt-making adventures here and here, you’ll know I’ve been tackling a Kaffe Fassett quilt that’s been languishing in my UFO pile. I’m happy to tell you that I’m minutes away from finishing that quilt. It simply lacks a label, but I’m alternating working on that little detail and this blog post. Deb McPartland, one of my very fave long-armers, quilted the top in a classic “Orange Peel” design with variegated yellow thread. I don’t like high-contrast quilting on white fabric, and so the light, sunny colors of the thread were perfect for adding texture without diminishing the impact of the wildly colored hexagons. I wish my photos could capture Deb’s wonderful craftsmanship, but alas, I can only show you fragmented views for the details. Thank you Deb!

My quilt is destined for my dear Floridian friend from high school days (mentioned in a prior group post as needing a quilted hug), and thus my slightly eyeball-burning choices of backing and batting to suit sunshiny climes.

Backing fabric shown on left, faced binding is the umbrella fabric and the accent triangle in green/blue polka dot.
Backing fabric shown on left, faced binding is the umbrella fabric and the accent triangles in green/blue polka dot.

I’m not going to detail the faced binding technique in this post because, if you wait just a short time, the June issue of The Quilt Life will feature a excellent how-to from Ricky Tims along with an added embellishment of triangle corners, a technique I picked up from a friend who picked it up from another friend, etc. It’s a fabulous design twist, but I haven’t a clue where it started.

Here’s the finished binding:

Completed faced binding with accent triangle.
Completed faced binding with accent triangle.

And here, a partial view of the front, back, and faced binding in one photo:

The many design elements of "My Fair Lady" in view:  finished quilt with completed faced binding and machine-quilting in "Orange Peel" by Deb McPartland.
The many design elements of “My Fair Lady” in view: finished quilt with completed faced binding and machine-quilting in “Orange Peel” by Deb McPartland.

Here’s the quilt in its entirety (sadly, not a great photo, but you get the idea):

Quilt-J:  "My Fair Lady" from Kaffe Fasset's Quilt Road

Time to add that last, critical detail, the label:

Quilt-J:  Quilt label

Giveaway Details Here!

Here’s something wonderful:  Martingale & Company is offering Kitty Pippen’s classic Quilting With Japanese Fabric as a giveaway. (Remember, she’s got a great technique for faced bindings described in the book.) The title is now being offered as an eBook so if you’ve got the technology, you’re in good shape. You know the giveaway drill:  comment by Thursday, April 18, for the drawing and I’ll announce a winner in my Friday post.  Here’s your question: Have you or will you finish a quilt with faced binding?

Later, gators! JenniferInspiration-J: Boston

 

 

Housing Projects, Part 2: A FREE Block Pattern…and More Wonderful Quilts!

It Takes a Village; 32 1/2" x 38 1/2", designed and pieced by Darra, machine quilted by Chris Porter
It Takes a Village; 32 1/2″ x 38 1/2″, designed and pieced by Darra, machine quilted by Chris Porter

If you read Part 1 of my post earlier this week, you know today’s post–Part 2–features instructions for the House block from my quilt, “It Takes a Village,” from Cuddle Me Quick. At the end of the instructions, you’ll find a few more examples of fun, funky, and fabulous house-themed quilts.

For one 4″ x 6″ finished block, you’ll need:

Door: One 2″ x 3 1/4″ piece

House: Two 1 3/4″ x 3 1/4″ pieces; one 1 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ piece

Background: Two 2 1/2″ squares

Roof: One 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ piece

From left: door, house, background, and roof pieces
From left: door, house, background, and roof pieces

To make the block:

1. Sew the 2″ x 3 1/4″ door piece between the two 1 3/4″ x 3 1/4″ house pieces; press away from the door piece.House_step 1

2. Sew the 1 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ house piece to the top edge; press toward the newly added piece.

House_step 2

3. Draw a line from corner to corner on the back of each 2 1/2″ background square. Pin one marked square right sides together with the 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ roof piece. Sew directly on the sewn line. Trim, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press open, toward the corner.

House_step 3

4. Pin and sew the remaining marked  square to the unit from step 3. Trim and press.

House_step 4

5. Sew the roof unit to the top edge of the house unit; press toward the house unit.

House_step 5_finished block

In their book, Fresh Perspectives, Carol Gilham Jones and Bobbi Finley reinterpret 18 classic quilts from the collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, NE.

Fresh Perspectives cover One of those quilts just happened to be a circa 1890 -1910 Schoolhouse quilt.

Schoolhouse, circa 1890 - 1910, probably Oklahoma, maker unknown, 78" x 72", International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1997.007.0314
Schoolhouse, circa 1890 – 1910, probably Oklahoma, maker unknown, 78″ x 72″, International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1997.007.0314

Look how Bobbi “reinvented” this old favorite:

Happy Houses, 70 1/2" x 70 1/2", pieced by Bobbi Finley, machine quilted by Holly Casey
Happy Houses, 70 1/2″ x 70 1/2″, pieced by Bobbi Finley, machine quilted by Holly Casey

Bobbi says: “For the record, Barbara (Brackman) provided me with the pattern for Happy Houses, which she designed on BlockBase as I recall.  It was a fun quilt to make, and she watched me make it at the Point Bonita (CA) retreat one year.”

Artist Adrienne Yorinks works in a variety of media, but specializes in fabric. Her unique, house-based quilt, Woman to Woman, appears in Episode 1: Quilts 101 – Antique & Contemporary Quilts of the documentary series Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics. Very different from the blue-and-white Schoolhouse quilt I showed from that series in Part 1 of this post!

Woman to Woman, designed and made by Adrienne Yorinks, 2009, 80" x 60", photo by D. James Dee, appears in the documentary Why Quilts Matter
Woman to Woman, designed and made by Adrienne Yorinks, 2009, 80″ x 60″, photo by D. James Dee, appears in the documentary Why Quilts Matter

In speaking about this quilt, Adrienne says, “I was commissioned to do the piece by the UJA (United Jewish Appeal)…(it) was presented to a woman’s shelter in Jerusalem and hangs there permanently. The photographs of the women on the quilt support the UJA and wanted to share a part of themselves with the women in the shelter that they help fund. I created a house image to encompass the photographs, anchoring the work as well as to hopefully bring comfort to the women and children who are living in the shelter.”

Ricky Tims is another versatile quilter who has put a unique spin on the traditional House block. He designed his quilt, Sunset Strip, for the August 2010 issue of The Quilt Life magazine (which includes instructions), and made it using his own hand-dyed fabric.

Sunset Strip, 42" x 36", designed and made by Ricky Tims
Sunset Strip, 42″ x 36″, designed and made by Ricky Tims

Ricky says about this quilt: “I love seeing what happens to one multi-colored fabric when it is cut up and slightly shifted. The technique used in the sky is one of my Convergence variations–Blended Convergence–which is one of the projects in my book, Convergence Quilts. By adding the paper-pieced houses, I was able to have a focal point. I really like making easy quilts that look sort of complicated. This one is a piece of cake!”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part post. It was fun to write, and more than fun to track down so many wonderful quilts.

‘Til next time, happy stitching!

Darra-signatureP.S. For those of you who’d like a full view of Mary Stori’s quilt from my previous post, here goes. Don’t you just love the pieced sashing and cornerstones? (Thank you, Mary!)

Little Red Schoolhouses, made and quilted by Mary Stori, 56 1/2" x 71 1/4"
Little Red Schoolhouses, made and quilted by Mary Stori, 56 1/2″ x 71 1/4″

A Holiday Quilt with “History”…and a Wonderful Seasonal Concert!

Back in 1993, I designed a Sunflower-themed wall hanging for my series “Tradition with a Twist” in Quilting Today magazine. (If you’re a longtime quilter, you may remember both the series and the now-defunct magazine.) The design was a blend of two classic patterns: North Carolina Lily and Dresden Plate. I called the quilt Kansas Garden and it appeared in the June 1994 issue.

Quilting Today spread

As I worked on that quilt, I thought about how a few simple modifications and a totally different color scheme could transform the design into an ideal Christmas piece.

Shortly after I finished Kansas Garden, I received an invitation from Missouri quilter Bettina Havig to participate in the 8th Annual Wall Hanging Challenge at Silver Dollar City, which at that time hosted a large national quilt show. The theme for the challenge that year was “holidays,” and my choice–no-brainer here!–was Christmas. Not only did my family celebrate the season in a big way, but I’m also a Christmas Eve baby, born on December 24 (in a year we shall not mention).

My birthday angel, a treasured childhood memento
My birthday angel, a treasured childhood memento

The specifics of the challenge were pretty simple. Fabrics were provided by Springs Industries/Springmaid Fabrics and batting by Fairfield Processing Corporation/Poly-Fil. The specified size was 36″ square, just an inch smaller than–you guessed it!–Kansas Garden. The result, with a different palette, and just a few minor modifications in applique motifs and border width, was December Fantasy.

December Fantasy, 36" x 36", made by Darra Williamson for the 1994 - 1995 Silver Dollar City Wall Hanging Challenge
December Fantasy, 36″ x 36″, made by Darra Williamson for the 1994 – 1995 Silver Dollar City Wall Hanging Challenge

Once completed, the quilt was dispatched to Missouri for the SDC’s annual show, and then traveled for a year with the other eight challenge quilts to various venues around the country. It also appeared in a souvenir pocket calendar.

But the story doesn’t quite end there. In 2007, my husband and I were enjoying the debut webcast of a wonderful holiday concert, Christmas in a Small Town, produced by and featuring quilting buddy, Ricky Tims. Lo and behold, as Ricky began playing “I Saw Three Ships,” what should pop on the screen as part of a photo montage of holiday quilts but December Fantasy! What a lovely surprise!

Christmas in a Small TownIf you’ve never seen Christmas in a Small Town, you’re in luck. It’s currently being shown courtesy of The Quilt Show website, and you can watch it by clicking here. If you like what you see and hear (and I know you will), you can check out the companion CD by clicking here.

Enjoy the final countdown to the 25th, and do check back on Friday, when my post will feature a simple last-minute gift idea that you can whip up in an hour or less. ‘Til then, happy stitching!Darra-signature