A song from my childhood always pops into my head when I start my Zoom classes, bright and early, on Saturday morning. It’s something about “bright, smiling faces” that are “all in their places,” and when you see that class portrait where I cue them all to look at the camera and smile, it certainly resonates. (I like to do a class portrait, giving the students time to compose themselves, so as to avoid that strange deer-in-the-headlights-slightly-tipsy portrait that can happen when we try to freeze a video feed with a snapshot.)
The portrait above is the Coastal Quilters from Santa Barbara, one of those Guild engagements that morphed from in-person to Zoom. Again, I have to say I’m really loving teaching this way, with everyone in their own spaces with their own equipment and fabrics. (Do we have to go back to the other way?) I did teach one Zoom class once where they all gathered in the back room of a quilt shop, masks in place, but there wasn’t the interaction; I really missed the individual conversations that the traditional Zoom set-up allows.
And this is what a busy workshop looks like in reality. Everyone is on task (since I took this unannounced, I have blurred out any faces), working hard at creating their own versions of Triad Harmony. This is later in the afternoon and they had all made incredible progress.
Something I do — which I think is unusual — is a Follow-up Workshop Session, one week later. It’s one of the best parts of the class, in my opinion.
In this Follow-Up class, the students send me photos of their quilts the day before, and I put them up into a slide show. This is my view from my computer, and we all engage in discussing the quilts, the fabric choices, successes, and challenges. It’s a lovely time to hear from the quilt makers, the quilters involved at a granular level in creating these masterpieces. It’s not often that we get to talk like this, and it’s a treasured time.
I wish I could have had you all there. More than once, someone said, I was scared to work with this precision, but it went together really well. Or they’d say, they had a stack of triangles cut and changed out. At that point, several people picked up their stacks and flashed them at the camera. A couple of people had theirs already quilted, some were still finishing up borders, and one quilter had printed off onto paper an image of the fabric she was missing in order to show us how it should look. All in all, the follow-up class motivated them to work hard, and finish up as much as they could.
Enjoy the show!
I try to give something a little extra to each class, and for this class I included four different videos they could watch, with different tips and instructions for making the quilt, as well as a line drawing for use in coloring in preferences.
I also included pattern pieces that would make a larger size, shown here for comparison. I’ve updated the pattern in my PayHip shop, and the pattern now includes the larger size. The fabric line I chose for the larger size is Geo Stones, by Riley Blake.
Thank you all, Coastal Quilters, for a lovely experience!
This morning, we had part three of our Zoom experience: a Workshop Follow-Up, the final meeting together. I designed my Zoom structure from the point of view of a student, and something I would always like to see would be all my fellow students holding up what they’d made from our class. The date needs to be far enough in the distance to give me some time to get my quilt/blocks/project finished (or at least have a good start), but not so far that I can put off the making.
So, this morning, one week after our Zoom Workshop, we all got together again. Several of the students sent me photos to put into a slide show, but sadly, some were too small to see the detail, so we had the quilter hold up what they’d finished so we could see it in person. As the pictures were shown, each quilter narrated her process, and talked about her quilt. It was wonderful.
One quilter sent me a picture of her quilt after this, so here are three to share:
From the top: Betty Ann’s quilt, then Martha’s and the bottom quilt is Judy’s. I’m quite impressed with this group of quilters, happy that they were able to use the videos and the other materials I’d provided for them this week. I was glad they found them helpful.
The pattern for the workshop was Merrion Square, found here on my PayHip Shop. I have quite a few more ideas about what I want to try with this pattern, given the wealth of choices shown to me this morning.
My next Zoom Guild presentation will be in less than two weeks, for the Glendale Quilt Guild, where I’ll do another evening presentation, then a Workshop. The quilt for that workshop is Criss-Cross Quilt:
I’ve designed a couple more variations, which I’m madly sewing on now, trying to get the tops done in time for the workshop. Today I finished up my videos, and uploaded them to the Workshop Password-Protected Page, so I’m making progress in getting ready to meet the Glendale Guild!
Now I think we’d have to say almost five months ago. Yes, it’s been 144 days (a truly Biblical number) since we started living Covid quarantine. I think we all deserve a pat on the back!
First, I apologize for sending out two posts right after one another. This is the nuts and bolts side of setting up a Live-Online Class, one where you will be hosting the class, but also include some online extras for the students to watch during the week while they work. If you don’t plan to do this, or could care less about knowing what goes on behind the curtain, feel free to ignore.
Zoom Codes, Zoom Tips, and Zoomzoomzoom…
Guild Evening Meeting: I suggest you let the Guild set up their own Zoom codes for their evening meeting, as they can set up security any way they like, as they know their members if they choose the Waiting Room option. This way, the presenter just has to worry about their presentation. I recommend getting the Zoom codes from your Guild about a week ahead, just to alleviate worry.
Workshop: We bit the bullet and got our own Zoom Pro access this year. I like that I can set up the access codes for this myself. Our workshop schedule went like this: Class (live): 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Break: 11 -1 p.m. Class (live): 1-2:30 p.m.
I set up the Zoom to start at 8:30, but then got on early to put on some music and post this sign:
If you don’t know how to do this, I recommend taking the Zoom Training Course, level 2, found on their website.
I used the Advanced Share when I had to share screen (showing them how to get onto the Password Protected section of my website…read on for more details), but mostly, I kept the Zoom Gallery View up and going, except when I shared my iPad as a document camera on the cutting table.
Yes, I wear a headset. When I presented my program the night before, I didn’t use it, but by the end of the evening, my voice was hoarse. (Funny how we think we have to talk louder to reach them All The Way Over There.) One of the tips in the Zoom training I took was to wear a headset. I prefer a lightweight mono-headset, with the ear pad on only one side. I use an adapter to plug it into the side of my laptop in the audio port, as these are the headphones I use when on long calls on my telephone handset.
For some reason, the Apple Earpods don’t work for me. Whenever I use them, people can’t hear me, so it’s old school for me. I do know you can get a Bluetooth headset if you don’t like wires, or one that plugs into your USB port: do your research to find one that works for you.
Setting up the Video Station
I used my cutting table for the place where I recorded my videos. Equipment I would not want to be without:
Daylight Light. It covers the entire area with well-balanced light, and has dimmer settings. It can swing it out over the cutting mat if I need more light in some position. It was a birthday gift and I use it every day.
Device Holder (Document Camera workaround) Initially we used two smaller tripods and yardsticks stretched across them. Clearly we needed to upgrade. We went with this gooseneck device holder, also called “Lazy Supporter.” It’s made for people to lie in bed and have their video devices held for them, but hey! it worked great for me. One end of the long arm clamped to the side of my table. The flexible arm is really strong, so it stays put when I move it into position. I learned not to bump it, though, as it would jiggle.
Document Camera. I read that some people buy dedicated document cameras, but since I have a smart phone, why not use this? This holder, made for an iPad, was a little tricky to use on the smaller iPhone, but no worries. I just slid it out of the bracket a little more. I turned the iPhone sideways (landscape) to do my videos. When I hooked up the iPad sideways (landscape) to do an Advanced Screen Share on Zoom…no go. Apparently the software is not yet available to do that, so I just lifted the device up higher and kept it in Portrait mode.
(I just read over this, and boy, what a lot of jargon. Basically I’m writing this post for someone who wants to try this, and maybe for my own reference in the future. Again, if you aren’t interested, just slide on by.)
Recording a Video and Putting it Up on YouTube
I researched what else I should make available for my class and short, technique videos were mentioned over and over. TECHNIQUE VIDEOS?? I think this was the scariest part of getting ready. I have some friends in the movie business and I knew about storyboards and editing and splicing and I didn’t want to do any of that.
What I did have going for me was having taught this class multiple times. I knew what technique students wanted me to demo over and over. I knew where the tricky spots were. And I knew how to teach adults, given that I taught ten years at a community college. I have new classes coming up, and I will apply those same criteria to any new class: What will be the hard part? What is tricky? What might make the difference between a successful quilt construction experience and a total fail?
I made double my samples to work with in the videos as I had decided to do it all in one take. I recorded my demo twice, then picked the better one. On one of the four videos I made for this class, I don’t know what I did, but the video disappeared from off the phone (I was trying to edit it). So I re-did that video, but with already trimmed up samples. I hope they were sympathetic. Important: At the beginning, introduce what segment it is and what project it is (ask me how I know this).
Upload videos to YouTube and set them to Unlisted. You can set them to Private, but then you are about the only one to see them. You can research to find out the difference, if you are curious.
Setting up a Password Protected Section in WordPress
I use WordPress as my blogging platform, and they have a nifty feature: I can password-protect a Post or a Page. I opted for Page so a publication notice wouldn’t go out to my readers.
When properly set up, if an outsider wanders into the Secret Space, they will see this page. Unless they know the password, they can go no further, ensuring that your content for your class will remain protected and only your students can see it.
I’m leaving this Page available to my class for a week. At the end of the week, we’ll have a follow-up session to show off quilts, talk about our experiences. After that, I will change the password, set the YouTube videos back to Private, cleaning up after myself.
I’d explored the idea of using a commercial site to upload my content for the class. There is a monthly fee, if done properly, and since I was still in exploration mode, I went this direction. Having a commercial site would be helpful if you weren’t doing a Live-Online class, but instead one where the videos existed without a teacher needing to appear.
And if you are a blogger with WordPress above the free version, you probably already know how helpful the “Happiness Engineers” are in the online chat. They’ve saved me, more than once.
Writing a Pattern
I use the Affinity Suite to write my patterns. I purchased them outright; there are no subscription fees (as in the Adobe products). I began writing patterns using a basic word processing program, but always drooled after those patterns that had nifty illustrations and pages that looked WOW. I’m not a graphic artist, but as a quilter, I do know what I want out of a pattern, and I want it easy to read and easy to find. I’m quite happy with these three pieces of software:
Affinity Photo — does what it indicates…it works with images, mostly photos.
Affinity Designer–you can make illustrations with this, moving around shapes, adding text, and about a billion other things. I barely scratch the surface with this, but I can make a decent patchwork illustration.
Affinity Publisher–It sets up a document where you can load in your text, your illustrations. I can also set up a Master Page where everything I place on there will be distributed throughout the pattern (helpful for page numbers, identifying logos, etc.).
Okay, That’s It!
I’m tired, you’re tired, so let’s stop here. I’ve tried to be specific in what I’ve used, and how I did things. If you found this helpful, pay it forward and help someone else Get the Hang of Things.
Overall, I think I may really come to love teaching this way, so I’m kind of glad the Covid-19 Pandemic forced me to learn how to do this. It’s a hybrid, for sure, but there are many positives I can see to this way of conducting a workshop. I may make comments going forward, changing how I do things, but for now, this is a record of what I’ve discovered and how I proceeded.
Having run through the vocabalary of descriptors for what happened this week, I think calling this a Live-Online Class is the best term. This wasn’t an Online Class, where you pay your money to a website and download a video. This wasn’t a live class, where you haul your machine and the contents of your stash closet to a class, where you might get something done. This was a hybrid, the best of both worlds!
Truth be told, all these lovely women of the North Cities Quilt Guild (above) could be called pioneers, for when I sent a survey afterwards, the majority response was that this was the first Zoom Quilting Live-Online class they’d taken. They were so fun to spend the day with in this new form of a quilting class. We’d also shared a Zoom Guild Evening Program the night before, and that, too, went very well, as they had two moderators manning the technical side of things.
Note: I’m putting up another post after this one, describing in more clinical/technical details the things I did to make my Live-Online Class run smoothly, having done gobs of research. I will update this post to link to that one, when completed.
Our day together began at 9:00 a.m. In truth, my day began a bit earlier, when waking out of a dead sleep at 6:30 a.m. I realized I hadn’t written down my lesson plan. I bolted from bed and wrote it on a giant sticky note and slapped it up on the calendar next to my cutting table.
I also realized that when we had painted, we’d taken down the curtain hiding all the mess in my sewing room closet. A quick fix with a tensioner closet rod and a quilt quickly fixed that. I spent the next couple of hours doing last minute prep, printing off the Secret Code to admit them into the Secret Room of my blog, getting ready (including mascara, ahem). Then I settled into my chair at 8:45 to welcome them to class.
We started pretty much on time, and I had a Moderator, who helped people get started and ran things smoothly. There was some awkwardness at first, as we worked through some technology hiccups (but nothing serious–Zoom does make it easy to click-and-go).
After I introduced them to their Secret Site, and we squared away the password entries, they were able to access the videos and other materials I’d put there for their class. Pretty soon, they had all settled into sewing. One quilter had her computer in one room and her sewing in another; we solved that by having her log onto her phone, so she could have it next to her for comradery while she stitched. I saw her walk back and forth between the two rooms when she needed to watch a video.
A few were able to use their computers to “show” me what they were working on, and we chatted about color and value choices and ways to make it all come together.
The class followed the outlined schedule, and when I returned from lunch break, I noticed a distinct shift. They had ceased being a bunch of screens, and now were a happy classroom of busy quilters. The change was welcome, as there is always this place where technology can get in the way of the humans. And these wonderful pioneers figured out how to get the humanity back into this distancing situation.
The afternoon was a series of lovely moments, as they held up their successes to the camera, showing off what they’d accomplished, bit by bit, section by section. I told the class that if they sent me decent photographs of what they’d been working on, I’d put them into a slide show for them to see when we all got back together a week later, in our planned Wrap Up Class.
Before we parted, we talked about the pros and cons of this situation (and they agreed to fill out a survey after the fact). One comment was that they didn’t have to lug their sewing machine down the stairs to their car. Another quilter mentioned that she had been able to pivot quickly when it was apparent that the choice of fabrics she’d laid out weren’t working: all her fabric was right there around her. I also love what this anonymous quilter from our class wrote in her survey: “Learn Zoom–it’s a wonderful tool.”
I was about to sign off, but a couple of women asked if the class could go longer, so I set extended it so they could keep sewing, which made me feel like this had been a great experience for them.