Tuesday, August 23, 2022

How to sign up for a class or a sew along

I promised to provide you with a list of the classes/sew-alongs I'm teaching in the next couple of months and clubs for 2023, so you can find a happy medium in your schedule. ALL the classes and clubs will be on ZOOM. 

The signup process for Thimbles and Things has already started, and I've sent out an acknowledgment of your registration. If you sent me an e-mail and did not get a response - contact me. Please include the word Butterfly, Toes or Timely in the subject matter to speed along the sign-up process.

The classes/demos for The Hobby Horse will be in their newsletter, so be sure to get signed up directly with the store! I'll be sending those confirmations after October 4.  

The registration for the 2023 clubs will be directly with me, so watch for that in November.

I will NOT be answering e-mail for the entire month of September, so if you have questions, or send a registration request, I will not be able to respond until at least October 5. Patience is required, but unless something crazy happens, everyone who signs up should get a spot in the Zoom classes. 

I am NOT discouraging anyone from signing up for one of my classes or any other instructor's classes, be that on the internet, through one of the two stores (Thimbles and Things or The Hobby Horse Quilt Shop), or in person from someone else.

What I do want you to do is to sign up for classes MINDFULLY. We all got super excited about the ability to sign up for classes, especially on Zoom, and before we knew it, our schedules were so crammed that we barely had time to attend the class, never mind do any of the work. It's like being a kid in the candy store, and I want it ALL. 

To help you make your choices, I will list the classes I'll teach this fall, and the clubs that will happen in 2023. That way, you aren't sitting there wondering what's coming - at least from me. And hopefully that will help you figure out what you want to take. 

So how do you sign up for classes mindfully? Some classes are sew-alongs, some are project-based, some are techniques, and some are just for gathering information. 

Here's my take on the different classes/clubs/sew-alongs (at least how I teach them) to help you decide which format is best for you. 

Technique classes: 

Is this a technique you want to learn and have been waiting for a class to get you started? Perhaps you want to see if the technique will be of value to you. 

Keep in mind that techniques are taught ALL the time, so if you don't think you have time to do it justice at this moment, keep it in the back of your mind and wait until the technique class is offered again. 

You may have already taken a technique class on a particular topic and want to hear another person's perspective. This is often a great idea as everyone uses different tools and has a different slant on how things work. Remember that each person is teaching THEIR methods. Your goal in a technique class is to take what they do and make it work for YOU!! 

Here's something very important about technique classes. You can take a class on free-motion every day for years, but if you don't practice, then it doesn't matter how many classes you take; you will NOT learn. At some point, STOP taking the same technique class and PRACTICE!!!

Just because the instructor is well-known doesn't make them the best person to explain their technique. Take the information and make it work for you! And remember -- free-motion is free-motion - it doesn't really matter who teaches it -- it's the same techniques - it's the practice that counts! 

So sometimes, it makes sense to take the technique class, but if you really want to make the most of it -- you should be prepared to do some work. 


A project class is usually one or two sessions and focuses on a specific quilt or project. Sometimes, these are projects that you want to make, and they may seem daunting to you, or you need a push to get started. Sometimes, we join a project class for the social. Having an instructor provide tips and techniques can make a big difference. 

But what you don't want to happen is that the class becomes a UFO. So if you don't have time right now, is this the best choice of how to spend your time and money? 


This is where things get fun! The sew-along (this is mostly what I teach) will last between 9 - 12 months. Essentially, these involve taking a complex (or multi-technique) pattern and breaking it down into several assignments to make it easier to complete the quilt. Many people like the monthly deadline to help keep them on track, and let's face it, some pattern writers -- well, not every pattern is clearly written, so the sew-alongs help to clear up some mysteries.

We are lucky to have Zoom, which makes it easy to attend the sew-alongs and keep in touch without being in the same town.  Because we meet once a month over a year, we get to know each other, and many friendships have blossomed from the sew-alongs. There's a lot of camaraderie in these classes, which you don't get in the shorter project classes.

I always open the classes one-half hour before to encourage people to chat, ask questions and have the same fun as we would if we were in a real classroom. 


Teaching clubs usually involve some sort of lesson and a homework assignment. This is particularly true for software - Electric Quilt 8 and embroidery software are two good examples. The students can sit at home with their software open on a computer and watch the instructor's Zoom screen. 

Teaching software can be challenging as everyone is at a different level and often has different software versions. This is very challenging for the instructor! I haven't been too strict on the requirements in the past, but to make this type of club more useful to the students, I will be more diligent on skill levels and software versions going forward. 

I think participation in these clubs is a MUST. If not, you are not getting your money's worth from the sessions. I like to give a homework assignment, then if you have questions, you can ask them the following month, and you have learned something. If you don't do the homework, you listen to me babble on and have NO CLUE what's happening. Something to think about when signing up for a teaching club. 


These are clubs where we share our work. Depending on the club's goal, I provide an assignment, or we simply show the others what we're working on. Either way, the goal is to share our work. 

People send me pictures of their successes and failures, and I prepare a presentation. As you go through the presentation, I ask questions -- how did they do that? Where did the pattern come from? What issues did they have? How did they solve them? Etc. The more that people participate in this type of club, the more that everyone else learns, and I have learned a TON of stuff from the others. I'm just the moderator, but it's loads of fun! 

While it's fun to sit and watch what everyone else is doing, the more that everyone participates, the better it is for everyone in the club. 


This is a different kind of club where monetary penalties are involved. If you don't finish your homework, you lose money as you pay a "penalty deposit" upfront. The homework assignment is chosen by each participant monthly based on their time constraints. We have accomplished so MUCH in this club. It's now in the third year. The goal is go clean up the UFOs, NOT to keep you on track for current projects, although that has happened.  

Additional Thoughts

Have I scared you off yet? I hope not! Some people participate in a club or a sew-along strictly for social reasons. I find it strange that some people just want to be part of a group, but have no intention of making the project. Especially when during the show and tell, it's only those that have show and tell that get to talk about their work. I always have to laugh when people say they didn't have time, but yet, they try to show what they did with another project! Show and tell is for the show and tell of that class.  

In the future, I will ask who plans on making the project and who is auditing. I want to ensure that those making the project get the attention they need and that I don't keep asking those that are auditing where their project is. 

I prepare a slide presentation for all thesessions with loads of photos, and I provide a written copy of the presentation, and in some instances, I'll record the session and provide the link. But I do NOT want to make that a habit because people think it's OK to miss the class. I only record the session if I have had to move the date, and I think that's only fair if it's my fault. The class dates are published NOW and  reviewed at the end of each Zoom session. I also set up Facebook groups for most of my ongoing classes or clubs as it provides a forum for people to share their work with their peers and help each other if I can't get back to them immediately. 

I strongly encourage people to think outside the box during these sessions. How can you make this quilt your own? If you don't like a particular block or technique, can you change it, so it becomes doable for you? 

Some people want to make a particular quilt but don't want it to take ten months. They have the quilt done before the first class or are always ahead of schedule. I hate seeing pictures of the quilts done way before the due date. It is discouraging for the rest of the class, and people freak out, thinking they have missed some of the homework. 

If you can only work on one project and want to work that far ahead, then perhaps a sew-along with monthly assignments is not your thing. I try to teach a new technique, method, or whatever every month, and if you work so much ahead, what's the point of taking the class? 

OK --- so having said all that -- do you still want to sign up for a class/club/sew-along with me? We have fun, and here are some tips to help you decide what to sign up for. 

Questions to ask yourself as you review the class lists

  • What quilt do YOU want to make? Don't make a quilt just because your friend is making it! Or it's the latest thing on social media. Do you WANT to make that quilt?
  • Do you like the quilt?  
  • What will you learn from this club/class/sew-along? If you are more experienced - perhaps you can change the coloring to give yourself the challenge to work outside your comfort zone or the designers' color choices.
  • Do you like the camaraderie of the class? That includes the social aspect. 
  • Do you want to participate or just audit the class? Let the instructor know, so they can manage their resources better. 
  • If you want to participate, how much time do you have per week to sew? How much time is required to complete the homework for each class? Then do the math. Do you have time to participate in this particular class? Many people have busy lives; perhaps taking one class and staying up-to-date is better than falling behind or never starting many quilts. 
  • What are your goals for taking a class? Learning a new technique? The social aspect? The final project?
  • If your family says, "do you need another quilt?" a good response is to tell them that sewing is your therapy. If you are NOT sewing, you'll be hassling them all day long. And sewing is definitely cheaper than therapy and keeps us from getting old!

OK, those are my thoughts on classes, how we sign up for them, and why we take them. I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but I've seen so much guilt from people who signed up and then struggled with not getting the homework done. Also, people feel they can go back and look at my notes to help them or pick up the quilt later as a UFO. That is doing yourself a disservice! Will you have the same motivation when there's no deadline? Especially on some of those complicated quilts! 

As I said, it's like being a kid in a candy store! Think about what you can do now; there will always be future dates to take another class. I'm not retiring any time soon!!!

Phew -- that was way more than I wanted to say, but I think it's important as our time is precious, and we need to think about this. It's all about being MINDFUL of our decisions and how we want to spend our time and money! 

Having said all that, here's the list of classes/clubs/sew-alongs I have planned. 

Thimbles and Things:  The information for signup is on their web page. 

Tula Pink -- The Butterfly Quilt  (88" by 94")

Dates: October 15, November 19, December 3, January 21, February 18, March 18, April 15, May 20, and June 17

Time: 11:00 AM - NOON


The pattern for The Butterfly Quilt was recently rereleased, and it's magnificent. Purchase a kit while they last, or go for a completely wild and crazy butterfly with your colors of choice. Either way, you'll have a beautiful version of this quilt. You may use either version of the pattern for the class.

We'll cover the accuracies of piecing, pressing, and cutting. There are some curved seams and applique to round out your skills.

Great for all levels. The homework for this quilt is not huge as long as you keep up. There is a Facebook group for this class. 

Toes in the Sand   (Size 64" by 84")

Dates: October 15, November 19, December 3, January 21, February 18, March 18, April 15, May 20, and June 17

Time: 9:30 – 10:30 AM


Toes in the Sand was first released in 2012 and recently rereleased using Tula Pink fabrics. You may use either pattern version, and you'll need the Hex n More ruler by Jaybird Quilts. The shape of the block is a triangle, so we have loads to learn for pressing, accuracy, and much more. It's going to be another fun-filled sew-along. Great for all levels. 

Homework commitment -- you'll be making THREE blocks per month. There will be a Facebook group for this class. 

Timely Techniques with Elaine Theriault

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

There are THREE lectures/demos, and while each one is an independent event, you will be signed up for all three simultaneously to save on logistics. There is NO handout for these lectures/demos, and they are NOT going to be recorded. 

PLEASE use the word TIMELY in the subject of the e-mail when registering for this lecture series. 



October 15 – Fabrics for quilting and how to care for them

How do I judge the quality of quilting cotton? Should I mix fiber content? How should I care for my quilts? What about care labels?


November 19 – Design boards

A design board is a critical tool for a quilter, and it helps you choose colors, lay out your blocks, and keep your sewing room a whole lot neater. We'll talk about different types and how to make your own.


December 3 – What to do with our excess!

That could be scraps you no longer want, quilts you don't need, patterns, books, etc. How do I get rid of this mess? Valuable resources to purge your excess!


The Hobby Horse Quilt Shoppe (these classes will be released in their newsletter SOON and you can call the store to sign up and pay for the course) 

Sewing with Pre-Cuts

Dates: October 29, November 26, December 10, January 28, February 25, March 25, April 29, May 27, June 24

Time: 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

We will use the book PreCut Strips and Squares by Annie's Quilting as a reference during the class. 

 You bought the pre-cuts, and they are sitting prettily on your shelf. What does one do with pre-cuts? This sew-along will provide you with PLENTY of ideas on what to make with pre-cuts. How to choose a background fabric for a pre-cut bundle, how to get coordinating fabrics if you need borders or binding. All sizes and shapes of pre-cuts are discussed in class. 

As for homework, that will depend on you. You might feel compelled to make a quilt or project from the pre-cut of the month. Or you might do a small project. Or you might wait to see what you can make from all the ideas. The minimal requirement would be to make ONE block per month. 


Dates: October 29, November 26, December 10, January 28, February 25, March 25, April 29, May 27, June 24

Time: 11:00 AM -- Noon


Yes --- the age-old questions of scraps! How to sort them? What size to keep? And finally -- what to do with them. We'll cover a vast number of techniques and tips in this sew-along. 

 The amount of work involved will be up to you, as you could go crazy and make a quilt every month. Or be reasonable and create some smaller projects. WARNING: This class will involve work for sorting/organizing your scraps.  

 We'll be using the book -- Scrappiness is Happiness by Lori Holt as a reference.  



Kidding Around -- Goats in Pajamas

 Dates: Friday, November 18 AND Friday, December 2

 Another session is scheduled on January 7 for show and tell. 

Time: 10 AM

 OK -- this is for FUN!! It's a project class and will provide easy techniques to perfect your accuracy, pressing and carefully following instructions! How fun it will be to personalize each goat with your treasured fabrics.


Topic: Needles and Threads

Saturday, November 26

Time: 1:00 PM


The right needle and thread combination can take you from failure to success! What needle should you use, and which size works for each thread type you typically use? This demo will take the mystery out of needles and threads! 


The following selection of clubs will start in January, and I am NOT taking signups for them at this point. Watch for that in November. There will likely be a small fee for the clubs -- I haven't worked it out yet, but it might be a one price and take any club you want or a fee per club. There will be NO dates for the clubs in July and August -- we're all going to take the summer off! 

Teaching Clubs:

EQ8 -- Electric Quilt 8 software is a design program to design your own quilts. We will be using version 8, and if you don't have 8 but would like to participate, this is an excellent time to update your software. The knowledge level will be the advanced beginner to intermediate - but that could change depending on who and how many signs up. If there are enough beginners, then we'll run a beginners class. 

mySewnet Embroidery Software - this is embroidery software (SVP Worldwide) for creating and modifying embroidery designs. The software is compatible will any brand of embroidery machine; there are three levels of the software (Silver, gold, and Platinum). The level I will use will depend on who signs up and what level they have. I will NOT be using previous software version- it's too complicated, although if you have a previous version, there are a lot of similiarities. MAC and PC will be covered if necessary. 

PLEASE NOTE there will be a shorter version of this in the fall at Brampton Sew and Serge. There will be three one-hour sessions starting in October. I'm working out the topics and you can get more information directly from them. 

Show and Share Clubs

Out of the box - This is a confidence booster to build creativity! I provide a topic each month, and it's your job to create something that relates to that topic or theme. The topic might be red and white, and you can make a quilt block, a sculpture, a machine embroidery -- the choice is yours. The projects are meant to be small and do not have to be finished, nor do they need to be made from fabric. The gist of this class is to learn to make mistakes and focus on the art of doing, not creating perfect results. 

Machine Embroidery - You need an embroidery machine for this club. We are currently full, but I can start a waitlist if you're interested. Essentially, we mess around with embroidery techniques on our own. Then we bring them to the meeting to discuss what worked and what didn't and try to answer all the questions, so each of us is learning. 

Digital Cutters - This is a new area to a lot of us and many people have recently acquired or are wanting to dust off their cutters. It doesn't matter which brand you have, we're going to test them out and offer support to each other. This is NOT a teaching club, but rather a sharing of best practices, so the more you do and share, the more we all teach each other. 

UFO Club - There are currently two sessions of this club, and both sessions are FULL. I have no plans to add a third class at this time unless there is a huge demand. If you want to be waitlisted, a spot or two may open up. 

Jen Kingwell make-up class - This is NOT a teaching class but is more of a motivation session with DEADLINES for those who have not finished their Jen Kingwell quilts I've taught in the last couple of years. We'll cover Long Time Gone, BOHO Heart, Wanderer's Wife, and Green Tea and Sweet Beans. If you have NOT been in one of my classes and want to follow along, I'll make my notes available to you, and you'll have the monthly deadlines to work towards! 

The MANY block project motivation session - I don't know what to call this. A few of us have started big quilts that have become UFOs. I'm talking about a quilt with MANY blocks -- like the 365 Day Quilt (from Australia), the Town and Country (from New Zealand), Dear Jane, Farmer's Wife, etc. This club will work similarly to the UFO Club but will focus ONLY on these very intense quilts. Note -- you have to prove that you are somewhere along your journey with your particular quilt -- you cannot start it during the class. The idea is to clear up a UFO, not create one! So you must be committed to actually working on it. We will each set a monthly goal and keep each other on track for this. Some of these quilts will take years to complete, and I have several in this situation. 

OK -- I think that rounds out the classes for the Fall of 2022, the first part of 2023, and the clubs for 2023. 

Remember to answer those questions about the why and how much time you have. It's not fun to be under the gun, and we must leave some free time for LIFE! 

I want to thank everyone who has been part of my sew-alongs, projects classes, or clubs. I always have so much fun! And I've learned so much from all of you!

So get on the newsletters for Thimbles and Things and The Hobby Horse, and then watch my blog for further updates. Remember, the club signup won't happen until November!!! 

Have a super day!


1 comment:

  1. Amazing summary Elaine! Looking forward to the Fall & Winter. Wendy