Discover the Best Quilting Classes Online
Quilting is the procedure (and art) of stitching three layers of fabric together in order to make a weightier and insulated finished product that is most customarily used as a form of bedding. Over the centuries, there have also been quilted garments (we still have quilted bathrobes) and quilted cushions (indeed, the English word quilt derives from the Latin term for cushion), although, when you say quilt, you probably think of an elaborate patchwork design stretched over a bed. Born of thrift as a way of using up fabric remnants, patchwork quilting became a veritable art form in its own right, although, strictly speaking, quilting is the part of the process in which the three layers, top (often patchwork), batting (insulation) and bottom are stitched together. Quilting proper can be done either by hand or by machine and can be executed as simply or as elaborately as the quilter chooses.
Why You Should Learn Quilting Online
2020 figures show that there are between nine and 11 million quilters in North America (and that 98% of them are women.) That’s a lot of people fueling a $4.2 billion market, showing that the ancient craft is alive and well. There are lots of reasons to take up quilting: sewists (sewers) of all varieties find stitching extremely restful and de-stressing, and quilting employs stitching to produce works of art, which makes it one of the most creative ways of taking advantage of the almost Zen-like interaction of needle, thread, and fabric. You can make quilts for others as well as yourself, and, unlike many handmade goods people give as gifts, quilts are truly useful and are probably a great deal more appreciated than that piece of cross-stitch embroidery you have to remember to put out when the gifter comes to visit.
Although you can quilt by yourself, and many people do, sewing has traditionally been a social activity for women. Once you’ve attained a level of assurance with your needle, you can easily talk while you’re sewing, hence the old tradition of the quilting bee in which women gathered to stitch quilts for a new bride’s dowry. In addition to this social aspect of the act of quilting, taking up any new hobby opens up the doors to what is often a surprisingly large community of practitioners who share their enthusiasm, knowledge, and ideas, not only when coming together to quilt socially (there are online groups that make it possible to quilt in a group without leaving the comfort of your own home), but also in things like quilting guilds and quilting groups on social media.
Virtual Quilting Classes
The pandemic year of 2020 took many activities online, and quilting was no exception. Although in-person quilting classes most certainly still are to be had, you can just as easily attend a quilting class online and learn from the comfort of your own space. You’re looking for a relaxing hobby, and trudging around town with your sewing machine and an armful of fabric is emphatically not relaxing. An online class lets you don your pajamas (or anything else equally as comfortable) and sit down to learn in the most agreeable way possible.
Of course, to take an online quilting class, you’re going to have to outfit yourself with quilting supplies and a sewing machine, although, as even beginning quilting classes are geared to people who already know how to sew (you might look up an online beginning sewing class if you can’t handle a machine or sewed yourself to what you were working on the last time you tried), you’ll probably already have a lot of the necessary equipment. And note that you can always rent a sewing machine if you’re not sure about making that investment.
Online quilting classes are available from multiple providers. Two of the most prominent are Gotham Quilts in New York City and M Avery Designs of Hoboken, New Jersey. Gotham’s offerings begin, appropriately enough, with Intro to Quilting with a Walking Foot, which teaches students with no prior quilting knowledge how to use their sewing machines for quilting. (You’ll obviously need a sewing machine equipped with a walking foot to take the class from home.) Gotham offers further classes in quilting technique, including How Should I Quilt It and Intro to Free Motion Quilting (which is rather like drawing freehand only using a sewing machine) and, to finish things off, Quilt Binding by Machine.
Across the Hudson River (and available from anywhere the internet reaches, and you can plug in a sewing machine) at M Avery Designs of Hoboken, New Jersey, classes include how to make quilts like the Dresden Plate Quilt pattern (something akin to a sunburst), and more technical subjects such as Quilt Binding with Continuous Bias Tape, and their own introduction to free motion quilting.
If you want to quilt but don’t know how to sew (or use a sewing machine) as yet, you might want to consider the New York Sewing Center’s Sewing 101: Basics, which starts from scratch and, four sessions later, has students completing a skirt from a pattern. You don’t even need to purchase anything before the first meeting: instructions on how to assemble your sewing kit are part of the first class meeting, which means you’ll be a more informed shopper when you hit the fabric store for the first time (but, beware, that may very well not be your last trip to that oasis of sewers or sewists.)
Private Online Group Quilting Classes
Are you in the market for an out-of-the-usual group activity, either as a team-building event for your business or as a fun way for your organization to spend an afternoon? While it may seem a little far-fetched, quilting might be the answer. A three- or four-hour class is enough time to sew a simple lap quilt in a reasonably social setting that will allow for your team or group to interact while learning a skill and making something that’s more practical than the feng shui terraria or other clutter that these group exercises generally produce.
CourseHorse can arrange quilting classes for private groups online. All you need to do is reach out using the contact form on the CourseHorse website, and a dedicated CourseHorse group events agent will contact you and help you plan out exactly the event you want. Your events agent will remain to assist you up until the day of the event. Booking through CourseHorse has a number of very real advantages, not the least of which is the ability to change your headcount after the initial booking is made: CourseHorse appreciates that group sizes fluctuate. You can even cancel up to two weeks in advance at no charge. All necessary materials for the class—including fabric, batting, and the requisite notions—are shipped to each participant two weeks before the event (within the United States.)
If you’re looking for something fabric-oriented but aren’t sure that quilting is exactly right, and if the holidays are approaching, you might consider the off-beat Ugly Sweater Making Party that gives your group or team members a chance to assemble an ugly sweater complete with felt cutouts and googly eyes. Each participant receives a red sweater and a selection of bangles, baubles, and beads with which to embellish it. A bottle of fabric glue is included as well; no sewing is required for this activity. All the advantages of booking with CourseHorse described above apply to this event as well.
Online vs. In-Person Quilting Classes
Online classes are a proven way to learn just about anything. People have acquired whole college degrees online, and the virtual classroom has established itself as much more than a merely viable teaching modality. When it comes to learning something fun (rather than challenging yourself academically), the online classroom has even bigger advantages. You get to be absolutely comfortable when taking your class. (That can include pajamas, as long as the top makes you presentable to the camera.)
That said, there are differences between online and in-person classes, and while all the comforts of home weigh heavily in favor of the former, the latter, one must admit, have some advantages as well. The biggest is that the quilting teacher can intervene in your project when you go awry by a direct laying-on of hands. Demonstrating on a computer monitor and watching you attempt to grasp a certain technique is one thing; being able to say, “Here, let me have the needle, and I’ll guide you” is something else. With something as tactile as sewing, that has definite value, although you may be willing to forgo that convenience for that of being able to learn from your own space.
Ultimately the choice between the two types of class is going to be a matter of personal taste and style. Local availability will be a factor as well, of course: online classes give you a chance to choose from opportunities anywhere in the country (or, in point of fact, around the globe.) You can learn to be a successful quilter either way.
Can I Learn Quilting for Free Online?
If you’re interested in quilting, you may already have consulted YouTube to see the kinds of tutorials that are available. If you haven’t, you should take a look, if only to get an idea of what the quilting process looks like. You could, conceivably, learn everything there is to know about quilting from online videos, although they have a sizable defect in that they don’t allow for asking the teacher questions (let alone for the teacher to intercede manually and guide your needle through something you’re not getting.) Of course, the price is right when it comes to YouTube instructional videos, but you may soon find yourself longing for an expert teacher with whom you can interact before too many videos have gone by and you’ve got a pile of lopsided half-sewn quilting projects stuffed into your linen closet.