Friday, December 31, 2010

Suggestions, Please

I'll be teaching a class on free-pieced letters in the next couple of months, and the shopowner asked a few questions, like "What will you call the class", "How many students," "... a brief description," "how many hours will the class be..." as well as a supply list, etc.

It's the "how many hours" bit that stumps me. I want the students to make basic letters, but I also want them to play with pushing the letters around... using different fabrics, angles, etc. If you make wonky letters you know what I mean. I think a one day class from 10 - 4 would be overkill, partly because making letters is a completely new thing, and free piecing really takes some time to wrap your head around, and nobody does that in one day.

I am thinking that for most students, NOT measuring and NOT cutting even width strips and NOT planning will be a bit of a mind-freak; particularly if they have traditionally made things from kits, patterns and books. Getting over that hurdle will be my biggest task.

My son, who is an associate teacher at his karate studio (remember his is 3rd degree Black Belt), and is one of the best teachers I have ever seen, made an extremely good observation the other night, as he free pieced his own name. He asked me what new skill set students would need to learn to make the letters.

I thought about it. Skills? None. They already have them.

"If you can convince your students the skill set they[already] have is the same skill set they need, they'll make the leap by themselves."


So quilters, this is your time to weigh in on opinions, thoughts and suggestions. If you've never made letters before, what would YOU like to learn about making them?

If you have made letters before, and you got to spend a few hours with ME, what would you want to learn from me?

Happy New Year!


IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

Your son had a great insight.

I've never made on word with fabric but I understand what students will want some instructions and guidelines.

I would want to know about scale, choosing fabrics that work best, how to fill in where I wanted no words to be. I would also want some basic alphabet practice...probably starting with a few vowels and some of the difficult consonents would be short enough for a class.

Hope this is all off the top of my head.


Vic H. said...

I've done letters...and I'm so OCD that I planned them out on graph paper and executed them exactly. I would want to learn to do it "freehand"...without the constraints of my own perfectionism. The mismatched letters look fantastic...getting a control freak to break out and "not plan" is what I would want to learn!! Be free!!!

Lynne (Lily's Quilts) said...

Lynne, I'm totally with ZQ - everything I do is pre-planned so I'd need to be pushed out of that and pushed into working more freely. If it were me, I'd want the class to be longer rather than shorter so I actually came away with something - a little mug rug top or small quilt top. I'd want to keep going til I mastered it and I'd want only about 5-10 people in the class so we'd get some one to one with you. Wish I could come along though! Happy New Year and thank you for all the food for thought, advice and encouragement you've given me this year. Lynne X

wordmama said...

I took a one day Liberated Quiltmaking class from Gwen Marston and it didn't seem too long. If some find the process intimidating, they will be able to see how others run with the idea.

I'm sorry to say I haven't got your book yet, but it's on my list. Are there subunits they can make to speed the process, or reuse leftovers from another letter?

I agree with Kelly about the use of color and scale. I "peeked inside" your book on Amazon and saw that you discussed contrast in value right away which is very important.

I think the class sounds fun. I also enjoy the great sayings you put in your quilts. They're short enough to use in a quilt and also inspire creative interpretations.

Nathalie said...

I love your son's comment about convincing your students, etc. It is also nice that you have someone to pre-teach so you can get some of the jitters out. A three hour class is too short so you may want to go for a full day. If they don't want/can't stay the entire time, then they can leave when they are ready. You will have some that will want to stay even after the class is over. good luck. Wish I was close enough to come to your class.

Sara said...

I have made some words, but still feel intimidated before I start.

My suggestion: Start with "straight" letters, L , E, V. Then have them start on curved letters with O. Right then they will have the word LOVE. That can be a mini quilt in itself.

After that they can ask you for whatever letters they want do their name, or another four letter word, or some SHORT proverb/saying.

I think with some of your quilts as examples they well have plenty of ideas!

Dolly said...

Now, see, I've been following your excitement over this new book coming out for months, and it was totally a detached observation.

But two days ago, I ran across a blog where she had learned to do this and was talking about how 'freeing' it was, and I finally realized that it was pattern-free !

NOW I'm interested. I'm looking into buying the book, but if I should be so blessed as to be able to attend a class on this, I would probably want it in 3 hour afternoon blocks......maybe 2 or 3 session.

Blessings to you in this ....... I hope you can work it out to yours and your students' satisfaction.

P.S. It was a great idea to have your son try this, I think. Very inspiring to all.

Vicky F said...

Hi Lynne,
I like Sara's suggestions.
I have not done free-pieced letters before, so I would like to be "walked through" one or two or three letters.
If it were me, I'd like to go home with a little piece.
I would not mind a 2-session class, the first one intro and getting some practice, the second one a week or two later with everyone showing what they did, and then getting some practice on more "difficult" letters the 2nd day.

I would like to know what to expect thru the process ... do beginners usually need to make a few letters before they get it? How do you work to keep letters within certain bounds if you have space constraints (a certain wall size)? Or is it better to make them "whatever" size then worry about fitting it together later?
Thanks for asking. Wish I lived closer to take your class.
Vicky F in West Mich (and no snow!!)

Joyce said...

I learned free pieced letters from Tonya's blog. I think starting with the easiest letters first might be the way to go. Making your name might be a bit intimidating if you have a long name. I often draw my letters on a blackboard in my studio to plan out how I will make them. Good luck with your class. BTW your son looks a bit like Orlando Bloom in the photo.

Millie said...

Joyce, The first time I saw LOTR, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Orlando Bloom came on screen, I turned to my son (who was sitting right next to me) and said, "Wow, he looks like you." I can't tell you how many times we have both heard that comment since.

Tine said...

I would prefer 2-3 sessions, so I could get some instructions on color and print choices, how to sew together blocks of odd sizes etc. And then go home, sleep on it, work a bit at home and then come back and have a chance to ask all the questions that are sure to come :)
Good luck!

Bethany said...

I have loved the idea of free pieced letters, since I saw Tonya's tutorials a couple of years ago. The first letter I ever made was a a capital A done just like that (with slanted sides). I was motivated to make my daughter's name for the back of a quilt for her. Since then all my letters have been partially planned. I measure and cut my strips to certain widths, but then I just put the strips together how I think best in order to make the letters I want.
If I got to take a class with you, I would want to learn how to step it up a bit. Like how to make letters like you did for Slither!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Re all day class v. multiple shorter sessions. When I did take classes at our LQS (long ago), my biggest gripe with the all day class format was the lunch issue (where should we order, who is in charge, who's gathering money, who's going to fetch/deliver, yadda yadda yadda).

If you do an all day (first session with overview to be followed by 2-3 shorter follow up classes),maybe you could suggest students bring finger foods or something that does not require heating for the 45 min. lunch break - stop at a set time, eat as a group so the conversation can flow, and then start back at a set time.

IMHO - For me, food is NOT why I devote time to taking a class . . . not sure what your shop's policy is (they may have this under control already).

Megan said...

Lynne - I'm going to vote for the class to be structured as two or three shorter sessions rather than one longer day.
Session 1: intro to concept and basic techniques; practise some easy letters; choosing prints; contrast/value
Session 2: perhaps tackle a mini-quilt with a whole word; discuss and practise the more difficult letters
Session 3: issues to be considered in creating a quilt with a sentence in it - spacing of words; filling in blank areas. Perhaps getting students to plan such a quilt on graph paper and starting work on it
Then, if you think they're really keen, Session 4 would be spent on bringing this bigger project to life.

Possible names for the class:
- A Play on Words
- A Way with Words
- Spread the Word


pwl said...

First of all, I wish I could actually *attend* a class taught by you. Having said that, I'd suggest a couple of options: learning how to free piece letters using a particular font, and alternatively just free piecing letters in a "free for all" manner. And then encouraging the students to play on their own and come back for a second class on making quilts of quotes.

Does that make any sense?

woolywoman said...

You know, I might start them out with strips that you cut ans handed them, maybe red and white LOVE? That way, they would deal with uneven strips and follow along.This could serve as a discussion of how the letters everyone makes are different, what is appealing, you know. Then I would be sure to discuss contrast, as it is a little harder with the letters, i think.

After they had followed along, they would be, as your son said, convinced that they had the skills and could branch out to something, their names, maybe? Lots of show and tell- I learn so much from looking at teachers quilts. I'm sure it will be so fun! Are you having them buy Tonya's book?

Kristin Shields said...

Woolywoman, you have some great tips. I'm also thinking about this because I'll be teaching from Tonya's book in April. I like the idea of handing out strips, so they don't have to mess with their carefully chosen fabric for the first few letters.

I am thinking about doing 2 3-hour classes with show and tell, discussion of contrast, and practice letters the first day. The second day they could work on other letters they might need help with or work on a specific project. I like the JOY quilts with the large piece of novelty fabric that Tonya has in the book.

I just made a sample top that took me 2.5 hours. It's like those JOY quilts with a cool novelty print and one word. I think LOVE or JOY would be great beginner words as they have very simple as well as more complicated letters.

laura said...

Back in the day I taught several different quilt classes. Only "watercolor" was an all day 2-day class and that was for a guild so lunch was already ordered etc. Like watercolor quilts, free-piecing letters is not difficult in technique but can be challenging in concept, therefore an all-day class can be good and bad. Some love to keep going when the "click" in their head happens, others get so frustrated they need a break and time alone to process. You may want to consider having a "project word" so you can effectively demo the technique to all instead of customizing everything to each persons word.
I would suggest that basic sewing skills and familiarity with your machine be noted... horrible for student and teacher to have someone not be able to thread their machine :)