How to Make Quilting Your Business #7 – Teaching Classes

Thanks for continuing to follow along with my Business of Quilting series, exploring ways that you can turn your quilting hobby into a career. Today I will share my experiences as a quilt teacher, probably one of my most favorite jobs in the industry!


Free-motion quilting is one of my favorite subjects to teach!

I began teaching at a little local quilt shop back in 1997, which sadly is now out of business. My mom, a fellow sewing enthusiast (whom I taught to quilt) was browsing the newly opened store when the owner asked her if she had any recommendations for teachers. She replied, “my daughter would be perfect for that!” and the rest is history.

20130927_studentsStudents working on their Charming Chevrons quilts in 2013. We had such fun!

From there, I went on to teach at a larger national chain store and then regularly for my quilting guild over the years. I took little breaks from time to time as I raised my family and dabbled in other things, but I always came back to teaching. I love the personal interactions with my students and the look of joy on their faces when they proudly proclaim, “I made that!”

30140315_kathy_modern_quiltI ran into Kathy, a longtime student of mine, at Road to California. I was excited to see that she was taking an improv log cabin class from the amazing Jacquie Gering!

When I decided to get serious about blogging, that became another avenue in which to share my love of quilting, reaching hundreds (possibly thousands) more through my online quilt alongs.

I’m happy to announce that I will be teaching a regular series of classes later this summer at Quiltique (my favorite LQS). I’ve also been invited to participate in a week-long teaching event on the east coast next year. (I’ll provide more details once contracts are finalized and dates are set.)

20110925_retreat_girlfriendTeaching with a friend is fun, too! This is Stacy, one of my BQF’s (Best Quilting Friend).

All of this background brings me to a few summary points to consider when you embark on your teaching career:

  • Teach what you know, and what you are passionate about. If you aren’t loving it, neither will your students!
  • Decide whether you would like to teach your own designs, or follow someone else’s patterns. Teaching your own ideas can be very liberating, but it’s also a lot more work. Many popular designers and quilting companies usually put together a teaching curriculum you can follow when you teach their patterns.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask! If you have never taught before – don’t be afraid to apply. Quilt shops, guilds, and event planners are always on the lookout for fresh new talent, and enthusiasm really goes a long way!
  • It’s helpful if you can build up a relationship with the company you are seeking to teach for. In fact, many local quilt shops regularly hire their students to teach – what better spokesperson for a shop than someone who is already a big fan?

2014_lauraw_christaAttending workshops with well-known instructors (like Laura Wasilowski) is a great way to polish your teaching skills. Don’t be afraid to work in a different style!

  • Understand your priorities. I have to give kudos to Cindy Needham, a fabulous machine quilter from whom I recently took a class. From the beginning she told us “you are my priority!” Throughout the day, she made each of us feel special and was willing to answer any and all questions. I think every person in that class walked away feeling proud of themselves and excited to take more classes!
  • Remember that this is supposed to be fun! The teacher goes a long way towards setting the mood for the class. If you are having fun, so will your students.
  • Continue your quilting education. Take as many classes as you can, both in person and online to stay up with the latest and greatest techniques. You can always pick up tips on presentation, and learn a wide variety of teaching styles from other instructors.
  • Teaching with a buddy can be very rewarding if you don’t want to go it alone. In 2011, I team-taught with my BQF at our guild’s annual retreat. I’m the more outspoken one, so I guided the direction of the class. She’s the quiet, organized one, so she put together all of the kits and kept us on track. Together, we made a great team!

jenna_1st_quiltFamily and friends make great practice teaching subjects.
My daughter was excited to win a ribbon on her very first quilt!

I hope these ideas and my experiences can inspire you to do what you love. Even if you aren’t interested in the business of quilting, hopefully you can better understand what goes on “behind-the scenes!” Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions below so we can all learn from each other. 🙂

Click here for the start of this series.

Click here for my Craftsy blog post: Make Machine Quilting Your Business

12 thoughts on “How to Make Quilting Your Business #7 – Teaching Classes

  1. Christal DeHart says:

    Thank you for sharing all your information. I am in the process of opening a quilt shop and will be teaching. I ‘ve read the first seven blogs and excited to read the others too.

  2. Carole HIll says:

    very good info, I will see how much your classes will be, and maybe I will take one, Quiltique is not far from where I live now, sometimes I stop in on the way to winco.. Excellant pic of you and Stacy, and your daughter looks just like you. Her quilt is really cute, did she do the quilting on it by herself?

  3. The Sassy Quilter says:

    Thanks for the tips! I have learned a lot teaching my fellow guild members…more work than I thought to teach, especially if you want to do it well:)

  4. Nancy says:

    The picture of your daughter and her quilt had me checking back to your blogs about her first quilt. I have been working with my granddaughter to teach her to sew, but was wondering when she would be capable of sewing a quilt such as your daughter? How old was she when she made her first quilt? Thanks, she comes to visit this summer and it would be a great time for us to quilt!

  5. treadlemusic says:

    All I can say is “Right on!!!” I love to share my passion for FMQ and totally agree that excitement is contagious! Team teaching is a great way to reach a larger group of gals that may contain some who are just beginning the journey. It allows for more personal time to encourage that wouldn’t be possible if only I was sharing. Great post!!!!!!! Hugs………………….

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