Sunday, November 2, 2014

Quilt Shop Etiquette

I rarely post anything more than a picture and comments about how or what I made with a link to the pattern.  Once in a blue moon, something needs saying.  Oh look a blue moon :)

I want to publicly thank Linda Hahn, a professional quilting teacher, author, quilter and designer.
Hind sight being 20/20, the best thing I ever did was take Linda's class for professional quilters. Her information on how to be a professional quilting instructor and insight into the professional standards and ethical issues encountered in the teaching field are invaluable.  I highly recommend the book she co-wrote with Merry May---- "Insider's Guide to Quilting Careers".   No matter how long I've been quilting or teaching, I still take classes because I can always learn from someone else. Thank you Linda!! 

I have taught quilting classes for many years in various forums (quilt guilds, quilt shops, military community centers, etc.).  I'm still waiting for that invitation to teach at more exotic locations like Ireland, Scotland or some tropical island paradise preferably in February but until that invitation arrives in the mail, I happily teach at my local quilt shop.

For the most part I really enjoy teaching.  I love to see the mystery removed from a new quilter's eyes as she starts to figure out "hey I can do this".  It's not rocket science people! It's quilting!  I love knowing at the end of the class that I helped create another quilter. A quilter is born!  Score one for us!! :)  Hearing a simple "thank you" at the end of a class makes my day.  A student saying she intends to go on and make bigger and better quilts means I did my job well. 

That being said, I will now list how you can become the LEAST favorite student in a quilting class in very little time.

1)  The first thing to do when you sign up for a quilting class at your local independently owned quilt shop is to announce (and insult) the shop owner by telling her you do not intend to buy any of the class supplies in her shop.  Tell her you intend to purchase all your class supplies at Joann's Fabrics and Walmart.  Ignore the discount the shop owner gives her students.  Go one step further and tell her you intend to drive two states away to Maine to make your purchases at Marden's.         

For those of you who do not live in New England, Marden's is a liquidation store that gets its merchandise from (in the words of their own website) "unlikely sources such as closeouts, bankruptcies, insurance losses and more." Basically their merchandise is obtained through someone else's misfortune.  Marden's buyers swoop in to pick over the remains of failing quilt shops.  This is how they can occasionally manage to sell quilt shop brand fabrics (along with other lesser quality fabrics) at rock bottom prices.  While this is good business from Marden's point of view, do not expect your local independent quilt shop owner to do a cartwheel when you announce your road trip to Marden's.  In fact, you should be grateful she doesn't kick you out of her shop and cancel the class. 

If you intend to buy your quilting supplies at Marden's and Walmart, plan on getting your quilting lessons there too. Best of luck!! 

2)  Arrive at your 10 a.m. class a little after 10 a.m..  Students wishing to get the most out of their classes set up and ready to sew at the class starting time. Your money.  Your call.

3) Don't take notes especially if you already know it all.  Instead make the teacher repeat herself three or four times.  Teachers really enjoy that.   If a teacher says something like "hey everybody come over here and watch me demonstrate the next step on Mary's quilt," ignore her.  Just keep doing what you're doing because you are just that special and deserving of your own private demonstration.

4)  If you really want to score bonus points, argue with your teacher.  Even if your teacher tells you in the beginning of the class that there are always more than one way to do something, argue with her. This will endear you to her forever.  Repeatedly tell her how somebody you know who has never taken a quilt class does something differently than her.   

5)  Get visibly pissed off if you make a mistake. Vent your anger at your teacher.  All quilters make mistakes.  We all have to unstitch at times.  If unstitching upsets you, quilting is probably not the hobby for you.  The teacher's purpose is to offer you as much guidance and expertise as she possibly can in the allotted amount of time.  If you wish to continue to do something the same half-assed way you always have, it's your time and money.  Have at it.

6) If the instructor is helping another student with a problem, interrupt.  Your problem is much more important and should come first. 

7)  Ask the quilting instructor teaching in a quilt shop if she plans on opening her own quilt shop.  Unless you are being taught your quilting lessons in a subway station, a rest stop or a pub, this question is entirely inappropriate.  At the very least, a quilting teacher respects the shop owner and has a professional relationship with her. At the most, they are friends. It is also tacky to discuss other shops when you are taking a class in another shop.  Have some class and refrain from discussing other shops, other quilt teachers or chain stores.

8)  Ask the instructor if she is willing to teach classes out of her home instead of the quilt shop.  I mean why not.  It's not as if you bought anything at the shop you're sitting in.  Let's just remove the quilt shop owner from the picture entirely.  Treat the local quilt shop as merely an "idea factory" or "quilt museum".  A quilting instructor with a fat quarter's worth of integrity is not going to screw over the shop owner, her employer or her friend.

8)  Ask the quilting instructor if she's willing to teach a crazy quilt class because you'd really like to buy those old ties you saw at the Good Will store.  The quilting instructor teaching at quilt shop is there to promote and support THAT QUILT SHOP not Good Will. Refer to page 23 of Linda's book.

9) And finally at the end of your class, after your personality has totally tested and drained the life out of your instructor, leave without saying a word.  As far as you will ever know, it was your instructor's pleasure just to be around you because she is a professional.

And now I'll go back to my regular programming/posting of just patterns, projects, yarn info, recipes and quilts.....until the next blue moon. :)

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