If you’ve ever wanted to make your own quilt but felt intimidated by making those first stitches, then look no further. There’s no better way to learn to quilt than with the help of Road Scholar Instructor Carol Honderich on one of our favorite quilting adventures at the Amigo Centre in Sturgis, Michigan!
Road Scholar: Thank you for joining us today, Carol! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Carol Honderich: I was born into an Amish family — the second daughter of my parents. My parents left the Amish church when I was a child, and we became part of a Mennonite church. As far back as I can trace, my ancestors were Anabaptists – farmers and trades people living a simple and peaceful life with a strong work ethic and a strong faith.
RS: How long have you led Road Scholar quilting programs? What have you learned along the way?
CH: I have been leading Road Scholar quilt retreats at the Amigo Centre for six years. I’ve been teaching quilting for more than 20 years now. The Road Scholar experience has been great because we have a week together and during that time we do a lot of work and sharing; we are forming our own little women’s community. We have found that our participants enjoy the experiences we offer to make the week-long program more than just a quilt class.
RS: If someone is new to quilting, what should they know about taking a Road Scholar quilting program at the Amigo Centre?
CH: I believe our quilt programs have been very successful in welcoming and encouraging those who are less-experienced quilters, as well as those who have been quilting for a long time. While the most basic quilting skills are very simple and haven’t changed for 200 years, even the most experienced quilter can still learn new things. I have designed the programs to give basic skills to new quilters and at the same time offer challenges for the individual who has been quilting for a long time.
RS: Do people complete an entire quilt during a program?
CH: It is not unusual to have someone complete the quilt top or complete most of the blocks for their project. My hope for the participants is that they leave with enough enthusiasm for the quilt, enough new and improved skills and having invested time and energy that they are eager to finish what needs to be done to complete their quilt. Our goal is that each person has learned what they need to know and been given enough information to continue their work at home.
I also offer help by phone or email if questions arise!
RS: Should participants plan to bring supplies with them, or are supplies provided?
CH: We provide a supply list for each project with fabric yardage amounts and suggested tools and notions. We also have an opportunity to visit several quilt shops allowing people to add to their fabric collection or find a helpful tool. We also have cutting tools and rulers to share, and can provide loaners for most things, in case someone forgets something.
RS: On some of our quilting programs, participants are able to meet fabric and quilt merchants in the area. Can you tell us about them and what participants could look forward to seeing?
CH: Our off-campus activities include a visit to a nearby Mennonite/Amish community to shop at several large quilt and fabric stores including one Amish fabric store. We visit a local antique quilt shop and enjoy listening to shop owner share her insights about this community and how quilting has changed over the years. We spend an evening with an Amish couple who serves an amazing home-cooked meal and shares stories of their lives and their Amish community. And we spend an afternoon at a Mennonite church quilting bee, knotting comforters and hand-quilting quilts for charity, working side by side with the women of the church.
RS: What would you say to someone who has never quilted before and may be intimidated by the process?
CH: At its most basic level, quilting is simply sewing a straight line with a sewing machine or by hand with a needle and thread, just a simple straight up and down running stitch. You can make an entire beautiful quilt by sewing straight lines with a needle and thread – first piecing blocks into a quilt top, then layering it with a backing and batting in between, and stitching those layers together with a needle and thread. Working together in our sewing room, watching what others do, realizing “I can do that, too!” makes a huge difference to a beginning quilter.
We encourage people to ask for help and clarification, but we also are on the watch for that, to see who is struggling, who is frustrated and assess what we can do to ease the experience. We offer one-on-one help as much as possible when needed. We help with sewing machine problems and have even brought in a sewing machine repair person when needed, or we can offer a loaner machine if needed.
Try your hand at quilting with Carol on one of our quilting adventures at the Amigo Centre in Sturgis, Michigan!
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