What to Expect from a Class with Brenda
My classes are based on my designs. The emphasis is on results. Students can expect to leave the last class with all piecing finished, which can then be quilted either by hand or by machine (in the case of classes for bags or other smaller items, the end result is a finished project). There are certain expectations: one must have at the minimum a sewing machine in good working order, a rotary cutter and mat, and some quilting rulers. While it helps if you have some experience with your sewing machine - how to thread it, for instance - it is not absolutely necessary, as I have taught complete beginners. There will be some homework, but usually it is not overwhelming unless you have missed a class. We move quickly through the steps, so I don't advise missing a class. However, I realize that people are human, and things come up. I will do my best to provide make-up assistance.
Generally before we begin, fabric will have been chosen and purchased. This is an area where the student must take part and let her or his individuality shine through. If one has never selected colours or fabric before for a project, help from a quilting store fabric retailer is indispensable. This is one of the reasons why all 'Among Brenda's Quilts' Patterns emphasize close contact with your favourite local quilting shop. Their expertise will guide you - but the final fabric selection is yours alone. Stores may use my designs to make up 'kits' of fabric which they may bundle with the design: that's okay, as long as the fabric they select for you is right for you.
There are short-cuts in quilt-making. There are tricks that aren't really tricky but rather are tried and true methods and techniques that may not seem intuitive at first. The instructions (written, shown in picture, and demonstrated in class) are there to help you get to your finished project with no wasted effort. Following the instructions is important, and I often put warnings into the instructions at places where I have noticed that students tend to innovate to their later detriment. The instructions leave plenty of places for innovation too, but they are well-ordered for your protection.
Shops who have used my patterns for their own classes can provide the demonstrations as well as I can. Let me hear from you - both the instructors and the students who have taken a class based on my designs. Remember, the emphasis is on results: you have the right to end your class with a finished project. Stores should promote this, since they will thereafter have a happy return customer - as well as someone who can go on to teach the next generation of quilters.
How I Became a Quilting Teacher
Sometimes disappointments in life can be turned into wonderful and exciting success stories. That's the way its been for my 'career' as a guilting instructor!
When I was a Realtor fulltime, I was already consumed with quilting so I thought it would be fun to work for a couple of days a week in a quilting store in the nearby city of London Ontario. I prepared a terrific resume with pictures, packed up my best work and made an appointment for a job interview. At the interview the shop owner made it clear that she would never have me act as an instructor teaching students in the store; if hired, I would be 'just' a clerk.
God bless her, I wasn't hired. Instead I spent time dwelling on the question of teaching: why couldn't I teach? I certainly felt I had something to share with others. I believed I had an ability to share. That's how my teaching started, and I thank my lucky stars I never got an opportunity to work in that store but instead was challenged to be an instructor.
I approached Ted Brouwer of the local textile shop, Brouwer Textiles, and asked him if he had a room I might use to teach a quilting class. He allowed me to use his lunchroom upstairs for classes, and to advertise it by creating a quilt display in the front window. My classes have drawn people into his store to buy fabric and quilting supplies, and have created an interest in quilting in general.
Since that time, a friend opened a dedicated quilting store in nearby Coldstream. These days (except for summers) I teach between 2-3 classes a week at The Marsh Store using patterns of my own design. Teaching has proven to be very exciting and fulfilling for me. I especially enjoy seeing students finish their first projects. They are so surprised at their newfound artistic abilities. They discover what a tremendous feeling it is to create your own quilt. I have seen quilting inspire confidence and creative thinking in my students. I know the effect can be profound.
Quilting has traditionally been a social and creative outlet for women. Sadly, we don't often take advantage of the few opportunities we have for practical creative outlets in today's busy world. So many women have been conditioned to doubt their own creative ability. Quilting can unleash undreamed-of potential! And there is an added bonus: you get to meet wonderful people and make lots of great friends.