October 5th was designated by the United Nations to be “World Teachers Day”. We’re shining our spotlight on quilt teachers–from nationally-known teachers to first-time teachers, and even one quilter who wishes she had just a little more time to teach. Are you a teacher? Have you ever taught someone how to quilt? Did someone teach you? “World Teachers Day” might be a great day to say thank you to your favorite teacher!

Jean Wells Keenan: I started quilting when I was a young married mother and mother of two and I was teaching Home Economics and they decided that we should have boys in Home Ec. and so I was looking for projects that boys could do. I ran across some patchwork kind of things from England. What appealed to me was the accurate cutting and sewing and the geometric shapes. I thought they would appeal to the boys. They made floor cushions. At that time, quilting was not very popular–this was back in 1969 but I was real taken with putting fabrics together. I have been a fabric person since I was a little girl. I love to sew and so it just appealed to me. I kind of discovered quilting at that time and started teaching how to do it but didn’t have that background in my family or anything. It was just more or less something that I discovered on my own.

 [Q]uilting is–I have been very fortunate, it is like my life. I would do it as a hobby. I also do it as a business. I love to teach and see people learn because I have done the teaching and writing of the books. I am sharing ideas and that is really what I love the most about quilting–is what happens with the people and seeing people want to learn and seeing what they do with the fabric and the creativity that happens. That’s really what I love most about quilting.

Lisa EllisTeaching is something that I love to do. I’m finding it a little bit challenging with my schedule. I still have kids at home so teaching is harder to do. The occasional lecture is a little bit easier for me right now. I love teaching and I have taught several different classes. I’m hoping that eventually when I’m an empty-nester teaching is something that I can really get back to. A local quilt shop invited me to teach and I taught for a year and I loved it, but I’m just finding that I really can’t commit right now because I need to be available to my kids at this stage. They are all teenagers now and I need to be home in the afternoons and be available. Teaching is something that I love and I’m passionate about and I look forward to the day when I can make the commitment to teach on a regular basis and maybe even start traveling. As to what I teach. I have a couple of different things. Some technique oriented things and then also I do a Praise Quilt workshop. I’ve done the Praise Quilt Workshop class a few times where I have women that want to learn more about making quilts that are an expression of faith. So we do the anatomy of what makes a Praise Quilt and then I teach techniques. But it is also an opportunity for women to explore how they would like to incorporate what they do into making pieces for their places of worship. I look forward to the day when I can really pursue that and do a lot more teaching.

Kathyanne White: Understand what speaks to you and why, then learn how to express your own ideas in a way no other artist does. Learn to do original work. This comes up in my workshops a lot. I teach workshops and the workshops that I teach encourage all the participants to express their own voice. When you participate in one of my workshops, your work will look like your work, as you participate in the various exercises. I think that learning to develop your own work, learning to stretch your boundaries, all those types of things.

Sarah Luther: Our quilting group was trying to encourage more people to come out and join us so we offered a free beginner’s class and I did the teaching on the quick quilt methods. I enjoyed that because it taught me to prepare ahead and to think about how to discuss the patterns as I was presenting it; sort of like I learned from TV. And I enjoyed it, but I know that I wouldn’t be a professional teacher.

[W]e put it in the Trinity Valley newsletter and we announced it in different places, we put out flyers at different places that said ‘Free Beginning Quilting.’ And we had three or four that came a couple of times but couldn’t keep coming because it’s over about an eight to ten week period. We did about twenty blocks and tried to teach different things, aspects of quilting. The log cabin, it started out with the nine patch and worked up to doing one that was paper piecing and one that was crazy quilt block so I kind of went over a range and I had another lady who had done some appliqué in the group so she taught the class on appliqué. But we really enjoyed it and several of the ones that just came to quilt actually made blocks and put together their own sampler quilt. We all gained from it and enjoyed it… It made me feel important. I’ve never thought that I could. But I planned ahead.

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


Posted by Emma Parker

Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories