Some of Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures specially for you!
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Time to Teach

I've been enjoying teaching my small classes here at our shop, Sew Simple of Lynchburg, to people in my community around Lynchburg, Virginia, USA. I'm a Janome dealer now, so I teach a variety of classes from beginner sewing to machine embroidery and beyond. It shouldn't be a surprise that my free motion quilting and quilting with rulers classes are the most popular classes I offer.

The shop is tiny, with an occupancy of a mere 9 people, so it can get a bit cozy. I dream of the day when I can have a bigger shop with a separate classroom. But I'm taking it one step at a time. More on those babysteps in the next section of this email.

I taught a wonderfully enthusiastic group on new sewists for my local department of parks and recreation last week. I had decided it was a hassle to teach away from my shop in the same city and wasn't open to doing more classes for them. Then, I actually taught the class and we had so much fun that I agreed to continue teaching for them.

I keep thinking that I'm too much of an introvert to be a good teacher, but it seems that if it has to do with quilting, I can do it. I certainly get nervous, my face turns red, and I get hot (maybe it's just that I'm in my mid 40's?), but I have fun and my students seem to enjoy it and ask for more, so I must be doing something right.

I'll be going to Roanoke Virginia to speak to the Roanoke Modern Quilt Guild on December 15th about choosing quilt designs, whether free motion, ruler work, or even walking foot quilting.

Next summer, I have tentatively agreed to present/teach at the Quilter's Unlimited show in Chantilly, Virginia. That's just outside of Washington DC. We still are working out details, but maybe some of you are close enough to attend?

I've had a few large shows ask if I was interested in teaching for them, but it's just not the season for me to be a real travelling teacher, though I'd love to meet more of you.

That's what I love about the internet and Craftsy. I can put myself "out there" in a way that I can control (No crowds. Yay!) and farther than I could ever imagine without leaving my family or squeezing into a crowded plane. (See a theme?) Though if you're planning an intimate quiters' retreat in an exotic location, send me a ticket. (Just kidding....mostly)

Time to Learn

Owning my own shop is teaching me a ton. I love helping others learn to be creative in a stitching way. I've learned that many sewists and quilters aren't getting enough training on some of their feature rich machines. That's really motivating me to teach my Janome customers.

I've known that I'm not a fan of math, but as a small business owner, I'm learning to know my numbers, as Marcus Lemonis says on The Profit. (Anybody else addicted to this show?) Building my computer, typing (Sorry, I guess it's keyboarding these days.), graphic design, and paper shuffling skills. I could go on, but I want to write on something I think you'll find more valuable.

Being a Good Student

I'm not always a good student. I don't follow directions well. Sometimes I whine, "It's too hard. I'm not smart enough." This usually is when accounting or computers are involved.

Are you being a good student? I'm not talking about arriving on time (or early) with all your supplies and machine ready to go. That certainly helps though.

The things that a student needs to have a good learning experience is an open mind, a can-do attitude, right expectations, and determination to learn after the class is over.

First of all, let me say that not all people can teach. Don't take that as licence to critique all your teachers, but sometime the most talented practitioners of a skill aren't in tune to teaching that skill. But you can learn something from anybody. Sometimes it's just not what you expected to learn. Keep an open mind.

Have a can-do attitude. I've met a number of students who are too afraid to mess up that they don't try something new. The fear of failure is the number one factor keeping many people from trying something new. I've also met students who put themselves down as they learn something new or make a mistake. "Everything is figure-out-able." That's a quote from a smart cookie in another field; Marie Forleo. In all honesty as I learn how to run my business, I'm not always succeeding in having that can-do attitude, but I'm trying. You should too.

The biggest example of having right expectations I can think of is to allow yourself to be a beginner at something new. It's new, it's different, it can be hard. It can take time to build proficiency at a new skill. Free motion quilting is certainly an area where a beginner can struggle. Don't give up. Put in the practice. Draw and doodle. Expect to botch it up now and then. Even one of my most recent video projects didn't turn out as I had planned. It didn't mean that I stunk, but it did mean I needed to practice a bit more. (The design? Yeah, it stunk. But I didn't.)

Finally, have the determination to keep learning after that class is over. Repeat some of the exercises, practice, check your notes to see if you missed something. If possible, you might want to contact the teacher if something doesn't make sense. This is especially true if the class got bogged down for a bit and then the teacher had to scramble to get through the rest of the class. Sometimes the very format of the class makes it hard to teach a particular segment of the skill. (This happens with Craftsy classes sometimes. If the camera can't see it, you can't see it. So something may be moved in an odd way so it can be seen.)

Sometimes that determination may mean having another class on the topic. It might even be with a different teacher. People have different styles of learning and teachers have different styles of learning.

Speaking of Craftsy, as I wrote in my previous email about their new website design, there's learning going on there. All classes should be working now. If you are having trouble, make sure that your computer isn't using old links or using some saved content from the old site as it tried to load the site. Some aspects of the site have changed permanently. If you need help, contact It's new, it's different, it's figure-out-able.

Thanks for reading my ramblings if you've made this far! Quilt on!

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