If You Can't Go Local, Go Virtual (and win a free Craftsy class!)

Some people are lucky enough to live in areas with various guilds, classes and even weekend getaways for quilters.  But what about those of us who don't live in such thriving quilting communities? This is where the internet comes into its own.

The first time I used the internet for quilting tips was when I looked up how to bind a quilt. I had been following basic instructions from a book, but wanted to "upgrade" to mitered corners. I found several blogs with fantastic, clear tutorials, each with a slightly different technique, and now my binding looks so much better. I have since become a regular user of blogs for tips and smaller sewing projects, for example, I found instructions for my fabric buckets on a blog.

Vanessa Wilson of Crafty Gemini Fame   

Vanessa Wilson of Crafty Gemini Fame  

I have also watched many a tutorial on youtube, in particular to learn more about techniques for which a video is easier to follow than a series of photos (e.g., foundation paper piecing). I find Vanessa Wilson's Crafty Gemini videos really helpful. (And for parents of young children, she also has great videos on teaching kids to sew. Unfortunately, despite my efforts, sewing machines don't currently have the power to supplant monster trucks and fire engines as the young children's entertainment of choice in our home.)

My absolute favourite online resource is Craftsy. This is a platform which provides users with access to online lessons on topics including sewing, knitting, cake decorating, and, of course, quilting. Prices for quilting classes range from around $15 to $40. You can take the class at your own pace with unlimited access, and you can use the platform to ask your class instructor questions. There are not that many local quilting classes on offer where I live, and those available tend to focus more on traditional quilting, so Craftsy has been an absolute blessing for me!

Jacquie Gering for Craftsy  

Jacquie Gering for Craftsy 

As a modern quilter, I loved Elizabeth Hartman and Jacquie Gering's tutorials. I am also a fan of Ann Petersen's classes on specific techniques, such as machine quilting and sewing curves. A few of the classes aimed purely at traditional quilters are not really my cup of tea, for example, one class focuses on Civil War quilt blocks and another on hand quilting (for me, modern quilting also means using modern technology. I would not want to impose my ropey hand-stitching on anyone!) Most of the quilt classes focus on the actual making of the quilts. I would also be interested in a class on how to turn quilt designs into patterns for others to use, including topics such as layout, structure and wording instructions. There are courses like this for knitters on Craftsy, but so far nothing for the quilters. I hope this is something they will add to their selection in the near future. 

Craftsy provides its users with a platform not only for learning, but also to exchange ideas, show their work and even offer their patterns for sale. And although it has grown into a huge business in a short space of time, I think Craftsy still manages to maintain the feel of a close-knit community.   

Even though I do not think that online learning can ever replace the joy of heading down to your local guild to stitch and chat with fellow quilters, using the internet can really help you improve your skills, connect with other quilters and find new inspiration. Whether you are an occasional blog reader or an online tutorial fanatic (like me!), all you need is a computer and an internet connection, and the virtual quilting world is your oyster.

Win a Craftsy Online Class! 

An exclusive Craftsy giveaway and discounts for mukiyo blog readers. 

Click here for a chance to win one of two Craftsy online classes. The winners will be selected at random by Craftsy on 12th September, 2013.

In addition to the giveaway, mukiyo blog readers can also take advantage of a 25% discount on the following Craftsy quilting classes:

Elizabeth Hartman for Craftsy  

Elizabeth Hartman for Craftsy 

And for those of you who would like to dip your toes in the Craftsy water before you commit to a paid class, check out Elizabeth Hartman's free mini-class, Creative Quilt Backs