Why Do We Take Workshops and Classes?

by Sandra Bruce

Recently I spoke at my local guild, Pine Tree Quilt Guild in Grass Valley, CA and taught my workshop the next day. It is very gratifying for me to teach my technique and watch ladies grab the concept and say things like, “I know I’ll use this again sometime in another application”, or, “I have a newfound appreciation for what you do, and I love this technique. I learned something new today!” Here’s Gabby, happy with her success!:


Granted, we may not be interested in every class that comes along. But it’s funny how even in a class we think won’t be the most gratifying we do sometimes learn, even if it’s not immediately applicable, and it can pop up in our brains at a later time when the knowledge can benefit us in some way. The world of quilting is rich with knowledge, and how will we know our potential and find what “rings our bell” unless we try new things? Even ones that seem scary, daunting, or not necessarily the most interesting at the moment?

To give you an example, for a very long time I shied away from anything that involved curved piecing. Without even knowing anything about it I avoided any project that would require it. It just had to be hard, right? One day an opportunity came up to take a class from one of my favorite local teachers, Cathy Stone, in curved piecing, so I took it, gritting my teeth for the worst. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had made a mountain out of a molehill and in truth, there really wasn’t much to it. It opened a whole world to me, and in hindsight if I hadn’t learned how to do that I wouldn’t’ve been able to develop my Material Matrix technique which depends heavily at times on curved piecing.


Another example, also a class with Cathy Stone, involved taking a photograph and adapting it to fabric, using fusing as many quilt artists are doing today. I very much enjoyed the class. What did I learn? That while I enjoyed it, and learned how to reproduce a photograph with accuracy, that it wasn’t something that “rang my bell”. However, I knew that someday the technique involved would come in handy. And it has! Also, it showed me that reproducing a photograph precisely with perfect edges is actually the opposite of what I want to do. And that’s OK too. This is how we learn. This is how we find out what we want to do as quilters and artists.

In classes we sometimes learn something that isn’t what we thought we’d learn. It’s even possible that we can learn something about ourselves that we didn’t know before. Something as simple as making a new quilting friend in class can ultimately guide us in a direction that pushes the envelope for us (I’ve heard this more than once). There are so many benefits to taking a class or workshop. Every time we learn, we add to the sum of what we know, what we can do, and who we are as quilt artists. Lucky are ladies who have quilting sisters, actual or not. Happy sisters Cathy and Bobi!


In a nutshell, I say:  LEARN SOMETHING NEW!

I believe Artistic Alchemy, consisting of myself, Christine Barnes, Heidi Emmett and Sharon Alves, fosters this belief, and we as a group hope you will learn something new about yourself by taking one of our workshops. We learn from you, too. Actually, we 4 learn also from each other, and that makes us tighter as a group, and as a result, I believe, better teachers.  I myself vow to take more classes and keep my “little grey cells” working!


In closing, please leave a comment if you wish, we love hearing from you. It helps us know what you, our readers, are interested in, and how we can better teach what you want to learn. Suggestions always welcome.

Happy Easter and Spring, everyone!




5 thoughts on “Why Do We Take Workshops and Classes?

  1. Workshops with all of you would be fun, but I live on the East coast and with work and family I cannot afford the time and expense. However, I enjoy reading the blogs and look forward to them. Thank you for sharing your ideas. You are all so talented and your willingness to share is “a good thing”! Wish I could join you at your Lake Tahoe workshop. I will be a lot of fun for you and participants. Maybe next year! Maria Welter

    • Thanks for your feedback, Maria. I have family on the East Coast and would love to teach there sometime (born and raised in Virginia).
      You never know! In the meantime I hope you’ll continue with our blog!

      • Sandra, what a wonderful blog post! It looks like your class went very well and students had fun doing the project. Learning something new is so important to our growth as artists and as humans. I really enjoy your writing; you have such an easy going and personal way of expressing your ideas and getting your point across. You are truly a gift!

  2. So far I have taken three classes in the18 months that I have been quilting Each of them pushed me to a new level of confidence. Each of them taught me a whole new set of skills. Loved your class Sandra. Funny because I have been avoiding curved piecing but thru your class I also found that it isn’t as big a deal as I had thought it would be!

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