The Trouble with Teaching

The trouble with teaching is that it takes a lot of brain power to prepare for it. At least that’s how it is for me. I can’t really think about starting a NEW. IMPORTANT. PROJECT. when I am thinking about teaching. All I can think about is “oh, I could share this,” or “wouldn’t that be great to have a sample of that to share.” And you can see, those are not bad thoughts. I just won’t be starting one of the big projects I have in my mind until after this teaching gig is done.

In the meantime, I wanted to have as many examples as possible to share with the class. I had a LOT of unfinished samples…ahem…have I mentioned I don’t like binding quilts?

In fact, I had five small pieces that needed to be finished. So one by one, I set out to get that done. I also didn’t have any handwork for my evenings, so finishing these substituted for that for a few days.

This is the “header” for the “what they said” series. It has a facing instead of a binding. This is my favorite method to face quilts now. 


You’ve seen this before. Its not finished (I’m planning to bead it) but I wanted to take it to share with the class. So now it has a binding on it.


And a binding on this little wonky piece, just to keep it contained. Oh, you’ll notice that I hand-stitched the binding to the front. Usually I machine sew my binding down. But I always say I think its weird that quilters do all of that beautiful hand-work on a binding, and hide it on the back.


And this piece has been hanging around FOREVER, with unfinished edges. That was partly because I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was stitched almost to the very edge, and I didn’t want to cover up any stitching with a stupid old binding. I thought about zig-zagging the edge. And then it came to me–just do that by hand! It took quite a while. But I think it is the perfect edge for this little piece.


Close-up. Hint: if you do this, it goes a lot quicker with #5 perle cotton 🙂


And then I had this hexagon piece. I just didn’t know WHAT to do with it. I thought about mounting it on a board. I thought about putting it on top of another quilt (which is what I did.) But how to finish all those dang edges… I just didn’t want to fool with binding it. I was pretty sure it would not be my best work, trying to turn all those corners. So because I had “zig-zagged” the previous piece by hand, I thought, hey, that might work! I literally took 5 stitches, and said, no way am I going to go around this whole piece by hand. So then I decided to try zig-zagging by machine. I auditioned several green fabrics, and in the end, this beautiful piece won out. I placed the hexagon, which was already a complete quilt sandwich, on top of the piece, got it just where I wanted it, and pinned it carefully in place, on a flat surface. First, I straight stitched about 1/8″ from the edge, all around the piece. I thought zig zagging might distort it. Then I started zig-zagging. Three colors of thread, and three rounds of small zig zag later, it was firmly in place. Then I could cut out the back of the foundation fabric. Made a sandwich, and quilted it simply. It came out just the way I envisioned. Oh, and side-note. I thought I would just quilt it on my Janome, since I had a big quilt under the Juki. I had to stop three times in the first five minutes for stupid things, so I switched over to the Juki. Ahhhhh… much better 🙂




As I mentioned, I didn’t have any piece to work on in the evening. This was driving me nuts. I also have seen quite a few things lately that have little tiny pieces of fabric sewn together. I got this book. Her work fascinates me. So finally, after all these little quilts were finished, I decided one night to just make a sandwich out of some leftover muslin and batting that was laying around in the studio.I brought the sandwich, my bag of Cherrywood little scraps, and four or five “neutral” fabrics out to my comfy chair. I was somehow going to sew patches on top of this. As soon as I sat down, I knew I didn’t want to have muslin showing through on the front. So I set about hand piecing little bits of fabric together. Yesterday I got tired of hand-piecing, so I put the rest of it together by machine. And now I have a fun little piece to stitch on in the evening.


So you can see, there are more good than bad things about teaching! I am looking forward to this assignment.

17 thoughts on “The Trouble with Teaching

  1. So much inspiration packed into one post! I am always amazed at how prolific you are, not just in the amount of projects you finish, but in the amount of different ideas you have and execute!

    • Well, thank you. I think everybody can have lots of ideas. The hard thing is being still enough to let those ideas percolate and turn into projects that you can do.

      • Well, I guess that is what I was aiming at. It seems to me (from going to craft fairs) that the people who produce a lot of stuff tend to do one thing over and over. There’s not anything wrong with that, I have done that myself when an idea took hold of me. But usually I have lots of ideas but don’t manage to ever get any of them into production stage. So to me you are good in both of those areas and strike a very inspirational balance. PLUS you share the details of how you do things. 🙂

  2. I am dizzy from all the work you have done in a short period! I especially love the second one. And yes, you bet teaching does take a lot of your creative time and energy! In a perfect world I would find balance between teaching and personal creativity because I love both. Still searching for that balance….

  3. Congrats again! You have hit the issue with teaching on the head!! Even when the same things have been taught before to others, you always get new ideas from your experience. Everyone does not understand the first way things are explained, and as a thoughtful teacher you find additional ways to explain the same things. You are the perfect person to expand other quilter’s “bag of tricks” to use in their own work. Your examples published on your latest post show how many ways the same general type of stitching can make a mark on a quilt. I would like to save the images that you posted to share with people who are interested in hand stitching and how to use it on their quilts. Is that OK with you? What a good job you are doing!!! I am very happy to know you!



    • Of course you can use my images!

      I am looking forward to that aspect of teaching–the challenge of finding the right words to explain something to a student, and I also look forward to what I will learn from my students.

  4. Dead. You kill me with how amazing your work is. I love the perle cotton binding on that one piece SO MUCH. What a clever idea!!! And the edging on the hex quilt is fantastic…and the piece with the weaving done with the perle cotton – I am sitting here like a slackjawed yokel, just in dumbfounded awe at everything.

  5. Debby….WOW is all I need to say. Your quilts show such exuberance–just like their creator. The binding using perle cotton is so great. Your quilting ideas never cease to amaze me. Would LOVE to be in a class where you are teaching, Cannot believe how much you have gotten done in preparation for your class. Thanks for sharing your thought processes on these. mickie

    • Well thank you Mickie. These quilts were created over the last year or two–I just finally got their edges finished this week!

  6. I love your handwork, and the amazing variety of techniques! Thanks for linking to my facing tutorial, and I’m happy to hear it works well for you.

  7. Fabric question –
    Do you know of a fabric, thin enough for doll clothes, that could be used in place of wool? Pseudo wool?

    (I am very allergic to wool. Plus I do not want to worry about moths getting to it.)

    • I don’t. I usually only work with cotton and wool,and occasionally silk. I’m sure there are lots of synthetic wools out there– I see them in the thrift stores when I am looking for good wool jackets to use in my rug hooking!

      • I have had no luck in stores, and I can’t find anything online either. If you hear of any sources, please let me know.

  8. Ahh. Here they are.. It’s interesting to me the pieces that just jump out and grab me – sometimes I can’t even express why I love them. I’m am so taken with two of these: The “little wonky piece”, I think because of the swirls and the colors; and oh my, the one you bound with perle cotton. I have no idea why this one makes me so happy.

    You do such wonderful and varied work, you amaze me.

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