My friend is an accomplished quilter. On my walls hang several examples of her meticulously paper-pieced miniatures. As the seasons change her wool appliqué penny runners and candle mats are displayed throughout my home. Her perfectly pieced, full-sized quilts grace the beds of many who know her. But despite her years of experience, when I mailed her a pattern I knew she’d enjoy she asked me if we could work through it together. Why? That’s her learning style.
Do you ever turn the radio on (or off) so you can concentrate?
Are you prone to making practice squares before using the real fabric for your project? Do you read through the entire pattern first or dive right in? When you’re puzzled by the next step in your project do you reread the text or study the pictures? Do you ever ask for help and end up getting assistance that makes no sense? Welcome to the difference in learning styles.
After spending a quarter century in an elementary classroom, I can tell you that learning styles are a reality and not just an excuse to get out of completing assignments. Not everyone learns in the same way, and what is true for mathematics and science is also true for quilting.
Some people are blessed with a gift for words. Give them something to read, make sure it details every step, and leave them alone. They’ll be happier reading and comprehending on their own, so you might as well move on.Some patterns cater to this style. Take a look at some of the patterns on AllPeopleQuilt.com to see great written directions. Checkerboard Squares is a great example.
Other folks prefer to look at pictures. For them the words are distracting. Give them clear, precise illustrations and stand back. These learners live out the truth of a picture being worth a thousand words! Lots of patterns on the market now serve this style of learner with loads of graphics and very little written direction.
Then there are the talkers. They mutter to themselves. They mutter to their rotary cutters. They mutter to the ironing board. They mutter to their sewing machine. Don’t bother asking what they said—they’re not talking to you. Talking is how they process. Talking is how they make sense of their world. Talking is their learning style—just don’t bother them with talking to anyone else.
On the other hand, there are the social talkers. These are the social butterflies who revel in group projects. Invite them to a quilt retreat, and they are in hog heaven! For them working alone is torture. Give them a group setting and watch out!
These gregarious gals will stitch circles around you and barely stop to draw breath.
Have you found yourself yet? Can you tell which method brings you stitching bliss?
Then congratulations, you’re halfway there! What? There’s more? Absolutely! Knowing your own learning style is empowering, but knowing your pattern designer’s teaching style is the other half of success.
Don’t believe me? Think back to your last quilting frustration. Did it happen to have anything to do with the instructions? Could it have been because “this dumb pattern doesn’t even make sense?” Maybe, just maybe, the problem wasn’t the pattern itself, but the learning style it was written to. Were there pictures when you wanted words? Were there words when you wanted pictures? Could you move on from a dead stop once you read it out loud? Or were you stymied until you got help from a friend?
At Homestead Hearth we have been blessed with more and more opportunities to share our creations in magazines, books, and under our own pattern label. During this growth in exposure we’ve become acutely aware of the variance in learning styles. Humbling though it is, we have discovered that what makes perfect sense to us doesn’t always make things clear to anyone else. The challenge has become making our instructions clear enough for most.
Civil War Chronicles will include adjustments based on many of the lessons we’ve acquired about learning styles. Visual learners will be pleased to see improved layouts and graphics. Word smiths will appreciate the well-crafted text created under the guidance of Vivian Ritter. Finished size measurements for individual units will appeal to the perfectionists. And when you contact us, we’ll be assisting you based on what we’ve learned about our own strengths.
Dolores is the wizard with illustrations. Jane can explain written instructions and visualize where you’ve gotten off track. Sarah will whip out an email with mathematical precision, and Sue will cheer you on or sympathize.
To adapt a phrase—it takes a whole village to make a quilt—and a whole lot of learning styles. Celebrate your strengths as you enjoy simpler times.
Sue & the gang at Homestead Hearth