I have long wanted to hold a multi-day seminar and last week it finally happened. I do feel that this is what I’d like to focus on in the future, it just felt so good, so right. I don’t know if there will be demand for such a thing, but if there is, I’m there!
I love the 3-day format. My students were fantastic and in many ways the experience exceeded my expectations. For one, no one’s machine malfunctioned – can you believe that? Out of 15 students, everyone not only knew their machine well, but they had excellent machines that were well maintained and performed beautifully in class. In fact the only machine to misbehave was mine, and it just needed some attentive cleaning.
As you can tell, we were masked the entire time – we really were. I had some concern about being masked, teaching for 3 days and having several students with hearing difficulties, but it worked well for all – whew!
The seminar format allowed everyone to learn from each other. Students could hear what I was saying to another student and could learn from that. I consulted with those who wanted help with a quilt plan for their work and everyone could gather round. Several students already had a plan in mind and we worked through that plan and usually found it to be the best choice. I think for some it was confirmation of what they had already planned.
As it turned out, half of the class was brand-new free motion quilters and the other half had varying levels of experience. And there was a wide age range also, from 85 to (guessing here) 20-something. I loved having that kind of mix of age and experience. The enthusiasm was through the roof – how fun that was!
Cali Quilt brought in See’s chocolate and cupcakes to sustain us, which was a nice treat. The classroom was ridiculously spacious, with excellent lighting and sturdy yet easy-to-move tables. I had 3 tables to myself which I greatly appreciated. I brought along everything but the kitchen sink and made good use of all that space. I also had a huge whiteboard and get this – a huge tv overhead, similar to what you would see in a smaller church or college classroom. It was a divine set up.
One small thing that was big for me: there were 3 spots for each student’s name: on their table, on their chair and personal name tags. Oh that is just what this name-challenged teacher needed!
All that together created synergy. I felt like all the students were supportive of each other and everyone was just so excited to be learning. It did challenge my teaching skills – the first day was very challenging because there were so many different needs to attend to. But once I got rolling, it all fell into place.
My students’ work:
One thing that was particularly successful was a quilt-from-the-back panel that Cali Quilt provided for each student. There were actually 2 panels for each student; each was layered, basted and backed so that no matter your skill level, it was a place to land or practice new designs. I think we covered around 15 free motion quilting designs in our 3 days together. We also covered or touched upon: ruler work, feathers, quilt design, combination fills and basic set up. Each AM and PM started with a lesson. Since Cali Quilt is only open 6 hours, we went from opening to close each day and students brought their lunch.
There was lots of feathering going on and almost all of my students were first time featherers!
The experience was generally a big high for me. How cool is it to have your students for 3 days? We were able to cover a lot of ground and answer a lot of questions. I felt like I could have easily done 5 days.
What was interesting was that I polled the students on 2 things: would you like a 5-day seminar and the resounding answer was no – 3 days was just enough! After all, who has 5 whole days to take away from family, work, other obligations? The other question I posed was, would you have liked the pace to have been a bit slower. We were moving fast, covering a lot of ground! They agreed that even though it was intense at times, that was what they wanted, so I think I will go forward with a similar structure.
I had a blast! It was definitely intense for me. Each day I would come home exhausted and prepare for the next day. But just getting ready for the next day re-energized me, so my energy did not flag and for that I am grateful. I had no trouble making my 10,000 steps!
I am on a high! I know there are things I can and will improve, just like any first-time through gig. I will be doing a 3-day retreat in beautiful Santa Barbara next year and if you want 3 fabulous days on the California mid-coast with lots of quilting time and fun, come join me. I’m really excited about being a part of the Santa Barbara Quilting Retreat; I wrote about it here. I can’t wait – let’s do this again!
P. s. – I’ll be heading out to Montana from Sept 23 – Oct 3 to Montana! I will have time between gigs and will meet my long-time friend to play in Glacier National Park – wahoo! Next week’s post may be a little sparse.
I’ll link up with: