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10. The Best Ways to Learn to Quilt

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Hi there. I’m Nicole Gilbert and you’ve joined the Stop Scrolling, Start Sewing podcast. Are you new to sewing and want to start quilting, but have no idea where to begin? Each Wednesday, join me as I share the ins and outs of that quilt life. If you don’t have a sewing machine, have no idea how much fabric you need, or you’re just trying to figure out where the heck to stick that bobbin. This is the podcast for you.

Hey folks, on this episode of the Stop Scrolling and Start Sewing podcast, I’m going over all the different ways that you can learn how to quilt and different types of quilting lessons that you can take. They are all fantastic options and I’m breaking it down so you can decide which ones are the best for you.

But before we dive on in a word from our sponsor.

Today’s episode is brought to you by my brand new course, The Modern Quilters Academy. In The Modern Quilters Academy you will receive a set of comprehensive quilting lessons for the beginner quilter, and y’all, it is amazing. This is the quilt lessons you’ve been looking for. It is a hybrid version of videos and PDFs in a step by step set up to get you from a bag of fabric, all the way to a finished quilt, mixed with live lessons in a group setting with yours truly, and your fellow students, and you will have access to me all of the time, pretty much in our private Facebook group.

If you’re interested in learning more head on over to

okay, guys, let’s get sewing.

So there are a bunch of different ways to learn how to quilt. So, first and foremost, I personally am. I would consider myself self-taught, I’ve taken all of the versions of quilting lessons that I’m going to break down for you today. Um, but I will say predominantly, like if you asked me, how did I learn to quilt? I’d say I taught myself. So, and the reason why I say that is because I would try out, um, excuse me. I would try out different methods of quilting. I would do different techniques. And then if I hit a stumbling block, I would go over to YouTube or Pinterest and find a blog post and kind of figure out that one little thing and then go back and continue doing what I was doing.

So I would definitely consider myself self-taught. Um, I also, you know, checked out a bunch of books from the library and, and bought books from Hobby Lobby and Joann’s and my local fabric shops. Um, anything I can do to kind of absorb information and then decide how I was going to apply it myself. Um, and I mean, it served me well, um, 10 years on, and I can definitely say that I am a very good quilter. Um, that being said, I do think it took way longer than it needed to simply because like, you don’t know what you don’t know. So often I would just get through it and be like, okay, cool. I called it a quilt. And now I think back through it and I’m like, Oh my gosh, I skipped this step. I skipped this step. I skipped this step. And so my final, um, the final product wasn’t necessarily at the caliber that I would expect of myself now.

Um, and it took many years of trial and error and like, Oh, I didn’t know that. And like adding it into my routine to get it right. And so I definitely, I do not knock being self-taught by any means, like I said, I did it myself. Um, but I do think that there are more expedient avenues to go. And honestly, there’s just, I think the biggest problem with being self-taught is like I previously said, you don’t know what you don’t know. And I know that’s like such a trite saying, but when there are so many different steps and so many little things that make a large impact on your quilting, when you skip one, you really degrade, um, the finish of your quilts. And unfortunately you don’t know that you did. And so you’re just like, okay, well maybe this is just what it’s supposed to look like.

Or maybe this is just as good as I am, and that’s not the case. It’s just that you don’t know what you’re missing. So that is my only real downside to being self-taught. But it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than most, um, options though. You could also argue that you will end up wasting more fabric and have more lackluster projects than you would like. So maybe that cost kinda comes out in the wash.

Another way that you can learn how to quilt is by choosing to take quilting lessons at your local fabric store or at a shop like Joann’s. And so those are excellent, especially if you are somebody who needs to have kind of hands on education, like you want somebody to show you exactly what to do, and then you also want them to watch you repeat the process. Like I think that that, that one-on-one or one to a few cause most of them are group classes.

Um, like hands on touch is very important. Um, I think that they are an excellent way to kind of get keyed into your local quilting community. Especially if you choose a shop, um, like a small local mom and pop fabric store, um, the classes there are going to be, uh, much, much better at creating kind of a community or at least allowing you to have a glimpse of what the quilting community in your area is like. Um, so I would definitely look into them. I think, no matter what Avenue you choose, you should try to at least take one quilting class at a local fabric store, because I think you will learn quite a bit. Um, now downsides to those, I think the biggest downside is the cost for what you get. Um, there’s so much that goes into quilting that you could never just sit down in an hour or two and learn all of the things it’s just, it’s not possible.

Um, and so what often happens is either you are forced to purchase a series of classes, which are usually between like 25 and $50 a class, and you might need to take five, 10, 15 classes. Um, so you can kind of factor that and be like, Oh, that’s way more money than I had originally anticipated. And also the ones that are only a series of four or five classes, you’re probably not getting all of the information you need. You’re kind of glossing over all the fundamentals and getting that, but you’re not getting all the information that you need. Um, the other thing is that you can always take ala cart classes. And like I said, um, I think you should absolutely invest in at least one or two, like a $25 class here or a $40 class there. Um, but what happens with ala cart classes as they will teach you a very specific topic, like binding the quilt or choosing the right batting or, you know, one type of stitch technique.

And so that’s excellent. But if you then think, Holy cow, I just spent 40 bucks on that and now I know how to do this one stitch it can snowball as far as the expense goes. So I definitely want you to keep that in mind. Um, again, I do believe that you should take some classes, a little caveat on the in person classes. I also want you to consider, especially if they’re usually free in this case, but if you decide to purchase a high end sewing machine from a sewing machine dealer, um, you may have noticed by now that like when you Google online, all the sewing machines are brothers, singers, lower end janome, um, and a few juki that’s because those brands do not require a dealer to sell them. They don’t require a dealer affiliation. All of the other brands do. So baby lock, Bernina, Pfaff, Husqvarna, um, I’m trying to, um, I’m drawing a blank, but those bigger, those bigger brands do require a dealership.

Now, when you purchase a machine from a dealership like that, you will usually get a series of user classes. And I highly suggest you take advantage of them. First of all, if your dealer does not offer user classes for free with the price of your sewing machine, go to a different dealer, I’m saying it set it go to a different dealer because they should come with it. Especially if you are at a point where you’re like either a. I’ve been around the block a while, and I know exactly what I want from my sewing machine or B I’m going all in. And I know that I’m going to be doing this for the long haul. So I might as well invest upfront. Some of these sewing machines are going to cost you a pretty penny, like a pretty penny. So they should include user courses.

Those user classes can be a game changer because while sewing machine techniques are all basically the same how your sewing machine does it, is not. So yeah, I can say, we’re going to learn how to free motion quilt, and we’re going to first drop your feed dogs. If one person has a Pfaff, another person has a singer. Another person has a Bernina. Those are three different ways to drop your feed dogs on your sewing machine. So especially if you choose to go to a class and bring your machine with you, it’s really important for you to know how to use your machine, because, um, if you go to a small fabric shop and either they don’t sell sewing machines, or they only sell like one brand and you don’t have that brand sewing machine, there’s going to be your hands are going to be a little bit tied of what you can and cannot do, because they may not be able to help you with those different functions.

So really, really take advantage of your user classes. Um, my, when I bought my Pfaff creative vision, um, not only did I receive a year of unlimited user classes that I took advantage of, I was at that dealership weekly with a group of other women who had bought machines around the same time as I did. I was there weekly, but also, um, I got discounts for other classes that they, that they did, and also discounts at fabric stores that they partnered with. So it’s really important to really have a good grasp of where you’re buying your sewing machine, especially if you’re buying a high end sewing machine. Um, I mean, I can go down the sewing machine rabbit hole all day. I know I’ve done it several times already on the podcast. Um, but if you have any questions, you can always contact me at, but I’m gonna keep it on moving.

So another way to learn, and technically, yes, this is kind of considered under the self-taught realm, but I’m putting it on its own because you can kind of choose a mentor and ride the course is online video learning. And so there’s two methodologies in that. There’s either, you know, you can follow brother sews, which is by the brother sewing machine company, and they have a series of video tutorials that they do almost daily. There’s also, um, the same thing with most of the other major, uh, sewing machine retailers, as well as some of the major fabric and quilting retailers. So like June Taylor, um, Omnigrid, you, I mean, you can find a series devoted to whatever topic you’re looking for and just kind of go all in, watch all of the videos and get everything you possibly can from them. Um, and then you can also choose to, uh, invest in some of these companies have paid courses.

I will say that as time is going on, these paid courses are kind of becoming fewer and far between, and also they’re very dated. And when I say dated, I mean like their website functionality is kind of difficult to navigate or, um, they’re using dated machines. And so for some of you who have basic entry level machines, that won’t be an issue, but if you have decided to Uplevel to a higher end machine, you may have some difficulties. Cause you’re like, um, mine has a play button. What are we here? You know, mine automatically does that, do I need to do that separately? So there can be some kind of disconnects. Um, and also I’m going to go ahead and say it. I personally found a hard time finding a mentor that I kind of wanted to follow. I, um, and I feel like this is even more poignant given the state of the world right now, but I was having difficulty finding people that I wanted to hang out with, which is silly because these people had no idea that I was on the other end of the computer screen.

But when they’re sitting in your craft room with you and you’re listening to their voice and you know, they’ve got a little bit of chit chat going on, you kind of want to find somebody that you’re like, Oh, you know, you can kind of commiserate with or feel comfortable with. And I found that to be really lacking, um, which is part of the reason why I started this podcast. It’s part of the reason why I started the modern quilter circle. Um, I think that we all could use a little bit more community, um, and that starts with our hobbies. It doesn’t start with who we are, it starts with our hobbies. And then from there you find people that you like. So that was a little bit like, okay, I mean, I could do this. I can learn here. I can learn there, but I haven’t found like my person yet.

Uh, so that was a little bit of a bummer with that. So all of that to say those are kind of like your different methods. You could be totally self-taught where you just pick and choose stuff along the way. You can go to a craft store and get actual lessons, either one-on-one or in a group, more likely than not, they will be in a group, um, or you can, you know, find a person, follow them on the internet, you know, buy into their course if they’re selling one and go there. Um, and now all of that to say is that I do believe that they are all great options. I think that a lot of what will dictate, which you choose to do really falls into a, what kind of a learner you are, B what kind of commitment level you’re able to put in, whether it’s time financial or mental.

Um, and then it also goes with like, what are you trying to get out of it? Um, so if you’re not that serious about it, like don’t make a huge investment in it. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t invest in anything that I wasn’t that serious about or that I wasn’t like truly excited about, but if you’re really excited about it and you want to be doing this for the long haul, why wouldn’t you invest in yourself? I’m just gonna throw that out there. Like we all need to take better care of ourselves and it starts with stuff like this. So this is why I kind of decided, I mean, the sense of community is why I started this podcast and why I started the modern quilter circle. But this view, these varied, um, landscapes of quilting lessons is why I decided to start the modern quilters Academy.

So with the modern quilters Academy, it’s a comprehensive set of quilting lessons for the beginner. So Easter. Um, and what I love about the modern cultures Academy is that it is a hybrid of all of the above. So when I say that I have created a easily navigable, modern digital course full of lessons via PDF via video, um, that will take you from a bag of fabric to a finished quilt. But what I really love about it is that I’ve also added a community element. So with the community element, we have a private Facebook group for myself and all of the students that are currently enrolled. Um, and in that group, I’m doing weekly Q and a calls. So you ask a question and I’m answering like straight up, not skipping a question, you’ve got a question, I answer it. I’m in the group every single day, responding to posts, making my own posts like you have full access to me.

Um, and that is kind of where I have some of the disconnect when I was self-taught. I would watch these videos online and then maybe I commented on the video, but more often than not, I was like, okay, well, this person’s never going to hear what I have to say or, or answer my question. So I would just kind of keep on trying to figure it out on my own, but that’s not the case here, you watch the video and then you’re like, huh, I didn’t quite get that. Or I wish that she could kind of tailor that to what I’m specifically going through right now, you head on over to that Facebook group and I’m answering that question. I’m giving you that tailored information, um, which I think is so, so important. Um, I also believe that learning with other people who are kind of at the same stage as you is hugely important, I’ve taken so many quilting classes where, um, you know, we’re learning a specific technique, but we might not all be starting at the same point.

And so I’ve been like in almost intimidated out of the room to the point where I’m like, okay, I’m just going to sit here and do what I have to do. I don’t want to ask questions cause I don’t want to sound like an idiot in front of, you know, X, Y, Z at the next table over, um, which come on that’s. So I was investing in those courses. Why didn’t I, you know, speak up, but I get it. I mean, that’s why, I mean, that’s just who I was in the moment. And that’s why I created the modern quilters Academy. The way that it is also, when you join the modern quilters Academy, you get a 30 minute call with me where I kind of troubleshoot all of your beginner questions. I make sure your sewing machine is properly set up for quilting. I answer any of your questions about supplies, what you need to get, where to get them, where can you cut corners?

Where should you invest? Um, we’re talking about just overall what you’re expecting to get out of the course. So that, that way I can keep adding to the course. This course is not a static one and done, this is what you get enjoy. This is a living breathing thing. Just like if you were in school and you had a question or you are whole class, didn’t do well on a topic, your teacher would go back in and expand on that topic until everybody got it right. That’s what I’m doing in the modern quilters Academy. Like my goal is for you to succeed and we will take as long as we need to get there.

I know I’m just so excited and I get so fired up about it. Cause I just think it’s awesome. But I wanted to let you know that today, June 10th, 2020 is the last day to enroll in the modern quilters Academy. So if you want in, you want to be a part of this awesome group, please head on over to the modern quilter When you are a student, you have lifetime access. You’re a student for life. It’s going to be great. So please, please, please join me. I wish you could see me right now. Cause I’m like shaking my hands over my head. I’m so excited. Um, I have already done a bunch of these 30 minute calls with people they’ve gone so well. I can’t wait for you to meet these ladies because they’re awesome. You are going to have a blast in this course. So again, the modern quilter, and I will see you there.

All right, guys, you just finished another episode of the stop scrolling and start sewing podcast. Thanks for hanging out with me and listening to all of my ramblings. I cannot wait to see you inside the modern quilters Academy. Make sure you never miss an episode by hitting subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Now everybody stop scrolling and start sewing.

Quilt Love

Noelani T.

I worked with Nicole in a one on one environment on a large quilt. I have limited sewing experience and...

Noelani T.

The Modern Quilters Circle

Noelani T.

I worked with Nicole in a one on one environment on a large quilt. I have limited sewing experience and Nicole’s expertise was invaluable for this large project. Nicole is very patient and explained the different steps and their purposes clearly. She improved my original idea to better accomplish my overall goal. I highly recommend Nicole as an instructor and would personally have another session in a heartbeat!

Michelle L.

I seriously didn’t even know the names of parts of my sewing machine before I worked with Nicole. She walked...

Michelle L.

The Modern Quilters Circle

Michelle L.

I seriously didn’t even know the names of parts of my sewing machine before I worked with Nicole. She walked me through everything step by step. And it was amazing. She taught me the ins and outs of my machine and how to add each basic concept together. It was invaluable, because now I can figure things out and get creative without fearing the dreaded unravel!
The Modern Quilters Circle