Among Brenda's Quilts

Today we welcome Marie-Claire Charette as a guest blogger. Marie-Claire is known as La Quilting Coach. Among her other offerings, she teaches classes using my patterns. I met her at a weekend presentation and bag sewing class in Orleans, Ontario this past January and it was such a pleasure that I invited her to share a little of her hard won wisdom with my readers. Enjoy!

- Brenda

Five key life lessons l've learned while teaching quilting


By Marie-Claire Charette, La Quilting Coach


I call myself La Quilting Coach. I have been teaching quilting/sewing for over four years and this hobby has become a passion. Even though you are passionate about something, this doesn't necessarily mean that you are a good teacher. I soon realized that my role in the classroom was not only to transfer knowledge on a new technique but to coach my fellow quilters in order for them to discover their talent, skills and to unleash their creativity. Little did I know that my students would also become my teachers, not only to be a better teacher/quilter but to live a better life. So my thanks go to the hundreds of quilters that I have met over the years. Here are 5 key life lessons that I have learned that have helped me become a better quilting coach and, I hope, a better person!


Lesson 1: "It always seems impossible until it is done" - Nelson Mandela.

This quote is so relevant as when undertaking a great project such as one of Brenda's beautiful bags. I noticed that if I presented the project in several manageable steps and ONE step at a time, the stress level in the classroom goes down tremendously. As a matter of fact, the brain cannot process/remember more than 3 steps at a time.


So that may be why we sometimes cannot read and understand a pattern from beginning to end!!! A lot of us seem so overwhelmed by the project (that’s why we take classes!!) that we can't even understand the project.  It is true also in everyday life. Sometimes, we see projects as so scary that we don't even dare undertake it, but if we want something we never had, we have to do something we have never step at a time!


Lesson 2: 6+4=10 and 5+5=10.

When getting ready for a class, I often over prepare and always have a game plan on how the workshop should run. But of course, it never goes as planned!!! I have learned to go with the flow and create space so that I am not the only teacher in the room. We can always learn from each other.


I always try to teach the easiest way I found to accomplish a certain technique but I am so glad to learn from my participants other ways to get the same results. The same applies to my life. If I listen to others and open my mind to possibilities, my life is so much richer.



Lesson 3: Never let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

More and more research shows that doing crafts like knitting or quilting has several health benefits. It can lower your stress level, enhance your dexterity and even improve your memory. However, when we take a quilting class, we are often really stressed. There are many reasons for being stressed based on fear such as not being good enough to accomplish the project or lagging behind others.


I've learned that the quilting journey is as important as the destination (or in this case the final project!). If the space I create as a quilting teacher is stressful, I am missing the point and everybody loses. Even the sewing machines start acting up for no good reason. As in life, l have learned that if l am rushed and don't take a pause, I accomplish things but miss out on great learning experiences.



Lesson 4: She heard a soft voice that whispered "you can do this"

As quilters, we often lack confidence in our abilities. We fear that we will not succeed or that our craft will not be perfect and that fear often stops us from trying new things. Our lack of confidence can stop us at so many levels in our life. How sad because life begins at the end of our comfort zone. As a teacher, I have seen the power of giving confidence to fellow quilters so that they can experience the sweet feeling of proving to themselves that they can do it. Just remember the great feeling of satisfaction when you installed your first zipper and you thought that you could never do it! It reminds me to face my own fears so that I don't get paralyzed by them.



Lesson 5: Girls just want to have fun.

Yes quilters take classes to learn new techniques but it is much more than that. If we just want to learn, we can read a pattern, watch videos on YouTube or take a webinar. But what people want as well is to have an enjoyable experience. They look for the human contact, for camaraderie, to learn from each other, to laugh. I have learned that if people have fun in my class, they will come back for more, whatever the class is because the experience was fun. My motto in life is to do more of what makes me happy. It nourishes my soul so that I can be more present for others.


My learning curve as a quilting teacher still has a long way to go. Like Winnie the pooh once said: “I knew when I met you, an adventure was going to happen”. My learning adventure as a quilting teacher is tremendous and I can't wait to meet more of my fellow quilter’s friends in my classroom to learn more about quilting but also about life!


Written by Brenda Miller — February 29, 2016


I'm Brenda, and I love designing patterns that help you create beautiful, functional bags and quilts.

These patterns are unique, well-illustrated, simple to follow, and fun to sew.

We also carry my own line of bag zippers, finished designer bags, bag hardware kits, specialty fabrics, and notions, so you're able to easily find what you need to do a superb job on all of your ABQ projects.

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