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Wait – what? I signed up. Why was my class canceled?

Classes can be cancelled for any number of reasons – bad weather, double booking, shop emergency, instructor illness…but the main reason classes wind up being cancelled is because they don’t make – or meet the minimum enrollment.

Many quilt shops view classes as a marketing tool – not as a money making tool. It is designed to get customers in the door so they will buy something.  Class fees charged can vary widely.  Independent instructors, like me, are paid based on class enrollment.  The more students who take the class, the more money I make.  The local market has a lot to do with class fees charged.

For me, a minimum enrollment of 3 paid students is required to hold a class.  I have been burned more than once when we had a class meet the required minimum, but a sibling pair didn’t show up (nor had they paid).  The one kid who showed up basically got a 2-1/2 hour private sewing lesson for $15.00 (which I would ordinarily charge about $55.00).  Of course, I am not going to disappoint the kid who made it there on time and is eager to learn how to sew!  I merely chalked it up to a learning experience and the shop now requires prepayment to reserve spots in the the class.  If you miss, you forfeit the fee.

My sweet spot is 5-6 students who have some experience or bring grandma with them.  As much as I love to teach, it takes about 1 hour of prep time for a 2 hour kid’s class with a project I’ve taught previously.  Double that for a new project.  I want to at least make back my gas and expense money when I teach a class.  It’s not possible with a single student unless they are willing to pay private lesson rates.

My goal is to get to the equivalent of ASP special program rates per hour at the quilt shop.  Rates in my area currently range from $8-$13/hour (plus supply fees). I am able to do this teaching out of my home studio and parents pay the rate without any qualms. We renegotiated the rates for Kid’s Club at the quilt shop, so rates will be at the lower end of the ASP rates, but it’s still significantly higher for me.

There are some shops that can charge $250 to $350 for a series of sewing classes. Not in my area.  $25 per class, including supplies for kids, is about the max the local shoppers will pay. Adult classes frequently charge higher rates and are actually easier to teach!

 

 

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The Importance of Self-Care

What do you do to recharge when you’re running on fumes?  Your patience has worn to the point where if you have to “redirect” one more student, you’re going to scream. You don’t even want to step in your sewing room. Your normally pristine home looks well lived in. You literally want to hide from everyone.

Overwhelmed. Depleted. Empty.

When I get to this point, I generally need to take a day off – get in the car and road trip to a body of water.

 

That can’t happen right now. So, a mani-pedi and Starbucks chai tea latte were a good start once I got home this evening from a rather long day at school.

Here’s hoping an early bedtime and an hour spent reading for pleasure will refill enough to get me through tomorrow. That’s all I need. One day at a time.

Spring Break is coming!

 

 

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Made it to the halfway point in my class

The good news is, I’m halfway through my Reading Endorsement certification class.

The bad news is I’ve had to turn down several opportunities for quilt retreats, weekend get-a-ways, therapy dog visits and quilts for hire.

Sometimes you have to let go (albeit temporarily) of some things in your life to make way for others. It’s going to be June 1st in less than 90 days. Might as well have the reading endorsement to add to my teaching certificate. I had a secondary goal of losing a few pounds. That’s been a LOT harder, but hopefully still doable now that I have my healthy eating back on track.

Opening up my home studio up to private sewing lessons for kids has been very rewarding.  For next school year, I may look at adding Sunday afternoon and Thursday after school sewing classes to the roster.  We’ll see what kind of feedback I get.

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Reinventing the LQS to remain competitive

Atlanta is blessed with an abundance of quilt and fabric shops.  Even online retailers like fabric.com and sewingmachine.com call the ATL home.  The sewing/quilting landscape has certainly changed over the past 15 years we’ve lived here.

I’ve seen several shops open, close or reinvent themselves. Two of my favorites closed within the past two years. It is a little strange to run into former shop owners now turned customers at my LQS, but that’s the nature of business.  As a customer, it can sometimes be mildly annoying when a shop known for a certain type of fabric and vibe, decides to shift its focus.

Lately, the two shops in the greater metro area that are known to carry “modern” fabric have taken very different paths to reinvent themselves to remain competitive.  One shop still carries a well curated selection of “modern” fabrics, but has also added yarn and other needle crafts to the mix. The other shop has shifted to a more traditional focus and carries a lot more Moda products now. It has scaled back the amount of retail square footage and stopped being a Bernina dealer.  I totally understand the store size and machine dealership changes, but moving to a more traditional focus means this shop is no longer a destination quilt shop for me. I’ll still pop in if I’m in the area or for Shop Hop, but after today’s visit, there’s no need for me to make a special trip as the fabric lines carried no longer meet my needs.

Fortunately, a yarn shop about 45 minutes north decided to add a fabric store across the parking lot from the yarn shop. It carries modern fabric, plus dressmaker fabrics and a great selection of Liberty prints. The shop owner also has classroom space that can be had for $6.00 a day to sit and sew. If I need a sewing mini-retreat day to get away from it all, here’s an option. Inexpensive and I’m not likely to run into anyone I know. There’s also another really cute shop about 90 minutes away near the Alabama state line. When you play hooky, it’s just nice to be anonymous sometimes.

The takeaway is that you need to support your LQS and sewing machine dealers if you want them to stay open. 

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Singer Featherweight C240

I have an original black Singer Featherweight from 1951. Still have all of the original accessories (plus some Fashion Aids), but opted for a new case, foot controller and an LED bulb. Love to sew on this machine.

Several of the ladies who meet weekly to make quilts for QOV sew on Pfaff Passport 2.0/3.0 machines. This must be the the new trend in the group as everyone was sporting  Janome 3160QDCs some 5 years ago.

The modern Featherweight C240 is a Pfaff Passport 2.0 in disguise.

I am currently testing out a C240.

As a prior Pfaff owner, I do appreciate the built-in walking foot (IDT/IEF system), stitch quality/selection and overall feel of the Singer branded version. We use the modern curvy Fashionmate sewing machines in our weekly sewing club at school and they perform well.  It looks like the C240 might be built at the same factory.

What I do not like:
* Design is such that machine tilts at an odd angle when carrying it by the handle.
* Default stitch width and stitch length is not automatically displayed in LED window. You must press another button 1-2x to see all the info.
* Prefer a slider versus the touch pad to adjust sewing speed.
* 1/4″ foot and open toe feet do not come with the machine.

I also wonder how well the touch pad control is going hold up over the long term.  Our laminators at school have a similar control and it seems we replace sensors under the touch pad on an annual basis. Wonder how much this costs to repair?

I’m intrigued by the machine because it does have a built-in walking foot that comes in so handy with piecing and garment sewing. Pfaffs generally sew beautiful decorative stitches and this one is no exception. The work area is well lit – much better than my Janome M7200 WITH the Bendable Bright Lite.

Will it become a permanent member of my sewing machine collection?  Don’t know. I have until May 1st to figure that out.

 

 

 

 

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Perseverance

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What looks like an ordinary piece of crochet work to you represents something entirely different for me:

PERSEVERANCE

You see, I have tried for YEARS to learn how to crochet.  I took a Craftsy class, got books from the library, had private lessons at not one – but two – different yarn shops, even had a coworker try to show me the basics of crochet (and we’re still friends) – but I just couldn’t seem to get it.

So this week I have been home – as in knocked flat on my back sick – with the flu. I even had a flu shot which makes matters worse!  Until my fever broke, sleeping at night didn’t happen.  So, I started mindlessly watching YouTube videos on crochet of all things.  The second night, the light bulb went off – I’d been making things harder than I needed to.

I unearthed a large crochet hook and a some yarn in my craft room and started following along. The first few attempts were as normal – not worth keeping, but the more I began to get it, the stitches became more uniform and I found my rhythm. The way I hold yarn in my left hand wouldn’t pass muster with the crochet police (related to the quilt police), but I’m good with that.  I felt confident enough to tackle a small mug rug and am finishing up that project now.

So, this uneven, wavy piece of crochet work will be pinned to the inspiration board in my studio as a visual reminder that perseverance does pay off in the end.