Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Classes Anyone?

A quick reminder before I focus on the real purpose of this post. If you're participating in the potholder swap, this is the week to send out those potholders.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking to the Austin chapter of the American Sewing Guild. While I don't have any pictures of the actual talk, I did put together a flickr set exclusively for this talk. It seemed like the most streamlined way of organizing the images I wanted to use to illustrate my talk. If you're interested in viewing those image, you can check out that set here. Since the text is not included, you'll just have to imagine what I said and, if you do, make me funny, please.
One of the perks of speaking to this group was getting to meet a bunch of enthusiastic crafters. One of the women, Ann Randall, owns a local sewing establishment, The Stitching Studio. Here she teaches classes,organizes folks for various charity crafting projects, and runs a crafting thrift store where you can find fabric, patterns, yarn, and other supplies, all of which are donated to this non-profit organization. Ann suggested that if I was interested in teaching classes, she has a wonderful space for rent, complete with tables, cutting stations, design wall, and sewing machines for rent. I've been thinking about teaching lately, so I went out to see her space. People, it's terrific. She does indeed have large tables complete with power strips for plugging in machines, several ironing and cutting tables, measuring tools galore and plenty of space for 10-15 sewers to work comfortably. She even has a refrigerator stocked with beverages and sweets available to'm parched and sugar deficient sewers.

Having seen the space I'm very excited about teaching some summer classes. I'm thinking about a series of sewing classes where you can take one or all of the series. Each 3-hour class would teach a single project from start to finish. You probably won't walk out of the class with a completed project, but you'll have all the knowledge and a good head start. I've got a few ideas about how to structure the series. One of my ideas is a series that focuses on crafting various kitchen items. I've made potholders(to quote my teenage daughters, "Obvy!" Apparently, my girls can't be bothered to say the word "obviously" in its entirety), tablecloths, napkin rings, and placemats. Another possibility is a series that teaches some of the patterns I've designed for Stitch magazine like this and this and this. A third idea would focus on quilts. It's not as fully fleshed out as the other two.
Here's where I need your help. I need input. Tell me what you think and what you'd like to see offered. Obviously these classes are most readily available to folks who live nearby, but that doesn't mean that those who couldn't attend don't have valuable opinions to offer. So, I'm asking. What do you think?


Sarah said...

Definitely the stitch magazine projects! People like to made bags too.

I mailed my pot holders today and can't wait to get mine!


Stephie @ Narrative Self said...

Damn, Cornwall is so far away from Texas! If I was in your area though, a workshop I'd be interested in would definitely be dying and patterning your own fabric - I think that's what makes your work so individual and so special :)

Cheryl Arkison said...

I would so go (just picked up your book, by the way).

For me, I like to see classes where people teach concepts, not projects. But I know I'm not the norm. And concepts are harder to sell. But your series does actually do that to a certain extent, with a product at the end.

I can tell you that a general quilting class in 3 hours is probably unreasonable. That is, if it is hands on.

You may consider going with 1 or 2 class ideas first and seeing how it goes. Teaching is an evolution. Something tells me you won't have any trouble selling the classes, so you just need to be happy with what you stand up there and teach.

Carolyn said...

As Cheryl mentions, I like concepts vs. projects, but I think there are a lot of people who would rather emerge with a project.

Themes and projects I can imagine (of course, you already mentioned most of this, but this is how I'd organize them.

1. Kitchen -- pot holders, tea towels, cup cozies

2. Dining -- table cloth & napkins, placemats, table runner

3. Baby -- simple edged blanket (can teach binding techniques here), baby book (oh, so cute - what a fabulous idea!), stuffed toy and/or soft blocks

4. Home decor -- throw pillows, quilted wall-hanging, quilted coasters

5. Theory & Technique -- color, pattern, proportion; sewing techniques

I would love to see you teach a class --- but alas, I'm too far away. Maybe you could package your course and sell it to other blogger crafters who would love to teach a class in their own area. hint, hint.

Lasso the Moon said...

I think the kitchen theme is really a great idea.
Mailing my potholders tomorrow!
And ordered your book this week. I can't wait. My sister and I are going to work through it together. Thanks! Anna

folksmith said...

how lucky for the people who live in the Austin area. i would think anything you taught would be wonderful!

Sue said...

While I would probably never get into dying fabric at home, I think it would be fun to do it in a class. Would you ever teach a class on that? Sewing is fun too, and your projects are great.

The WoodLand School said...

Hooray! I just love The Stitching Studio -- it's super-close to my house, so I'll be sure to come to a class!

I think you should teach about fabric dying, patterning, etc. rather than generic sewing classes that students could get anywhere. Perhaps a class that shows a few techniques for dying fabric -- with some samples of projects you have made so we can see how to incorporate the designs?

Meghan said...

I would definitely take a class from you! I would love to learn about drafting patterns. I'm really interested right now in learning how to sew curves and piece more complex shapes. I really like your idea for a kitchen themed class.

JulieZuck said...

To me concepts and projects are not separate, although there must be a limit to how many concepts you can scram into one project or a set of related projects.

What about a set of related projects organized around a major thematic concept (eg, working with pieced solids to create kitchen and serving accessories such as the Stitches tablerunner). Each individual project could add on one additional concept such as wonky piecing or discharge dyeing.

Wish I lived nearby to take your classes. But surely classes can lead to articles and more!

The Calico Cat said...

You dye in a multitude of different ways - have classes on that.

Also your hex pincushion - some people need to be guided through non-square sewing. (Hand in the air.)

I am not one to take a project class - I have plenty of started & stalled projects already...

Kristin said...

Hi Malka,

I just started reading your blog. I bought the new issue of "Stitch" just so I could get your pattern for the table runner - I love it! I think the sewing classes are a good idea. I've heard about a similar venture, it was in a big city (maybe NYC?) but I don't recall the name, sorry. Maybe you could do some googling to find similar ventures and you could contact them for more information. You probably want a range of projects, i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced. I don't teach so I can't offer any advice there on how long it takes. I like the idea of a theme, e.g. fashions for the kitchen/dining room. And home dec, like pillows, would be good too. and then of course there's quilting. Fabric dyeing and batik would also be good. I also just bought your book!
I think it might be hard to research what the interest and demand might be in your area. I do think it's a good idea and wish you the best!

Kristin F. in SC

jglitter said...

All your ideas sound great - I ran out and bought Stitch Magazine just for your table runner. I'm in Austin and would love to take a class on sewing items for dining or dyeing! I took a beginner sewing class at Stitching Studio a few years ago, I loved it.

Anonymous said...

I would try my best to get to Austin to take a dying class from you. That would be wonderful!

Sue, Lynwoodcrafts said...

I am way too far away from you (North Wales) to be able to attend, but I agree with many of the other comments in that I am not a fan of project-based classes. Printing, dying and patterning -that would be really great. Your students would all achieve such uniquely different results in fabric and eventually completed items. If it happens please get your students' permission to post the results - I'd love to see them!

download videos said...

This is cool!I like this.This is great for school projects.

patsylou said...

I love your Stitch mag. projects--especially the table runner! However, my brain is about to explode trying to put it together! I think I have it figured out and then I look at the picture, and realize I'm totally lost. How about a tutorial? Do you have any quick tips for putting it together?

Malka Dubrawsky said...

Hi Patsylou,
I'd love it if you emailed me your questions and then I could address them along with images on my blog. I don't think the folks at Stitch would like it though if I put together an exact tutorial on how to make the table runner. That might discourage folks from buying the magazine.

My email is malka@stitchindye.com