a collections of Ruth Blanchet's online quilting workshops

Celebrating 23 Years of Online Quilting

Tags: applique, bargello, online workshops, quilting tutorials, Ruth Blanchet

This year marks my 23rd anniversary of online teaching. It is amazing how many wonderful quilters I meet from all over the world through my teaching. Today I decided to give you an outline of where it all began and some of the unique things I've done throughout my journey.

In 2000, I discovered Quilt University after talking to a teaching colleague. She mentioned she was teaching online and I was fascinated. After giving me the details, I contacted Carol Miller (the owner) and asked her if she would be interested in any of my designs by directing her to my website. At roughly the same time, I was publishing my first few quilt patterns. Wow, that seems so long ago now.

Carol looked at my designs and was very interested in several as they were different to anything she already had. At this time, Quilt University was relatively new itself. It had only started a few months earlier and Carol was looking to expand with unique techniques. Carol worked with me to get started and I submitted my first online workshop "Poppin Poppies" in early 2001. 

Poppy Day original

"Poppin Poppies" original design (left) - new quilt made for workshop (right)

The workshop was 4 lessons long and included several options for colorful backgrounds and quilting. I was very nervous wondering how well it would be accepted. At $27 per student I thought if I had 10 students I'd be very happy. As it happened I ended up with over 20 so I was ecstatic. The workshop went very well and I promptly began writing my next quilting workshop.

As I wrote more and more, each workshop improved as I included more detail and comprehensive instructions. One of the best classes I wrote was Bargello Seasons (a beginners Bargello workshop) which is still extremely popular today. I began writing it in 2003 (a lot of writing goes into these classes and I could only describe them as to writing a book) and this workshop had 4 quilts included all with their own specific instructions.

Bargello for Beginners an online workshop learning all the techniques for Bargello

"Bargello Seasons"

It was first scheduled to begin on 10th March 2004. Two weeks prior to start date, Carol emailed me to say enrollment had reached the 80 student limit.... as teachers we had the option to continue gaining signups or closing registration and schedule a new session directly afterward. Because of my dedication, and financial strain at the time, I told her I can handle any amount of students.

Registration for that one session reached 103 students. It took a good part of each day, 7 days a week for the next 10 weeks to keep up with the demand of my students introducing themselves, making comments, asking questions, and sharing photos of their work.

After 12 years of teaching for Quilt University, Carol suddenly passed away and Quilt University closed down. Fortunately for me being a certified web developer, I'd recently opened my own online facility so many of the teachers came to me and asked if they could continue running their classes on my website. At that time I personally had over 20 online classes and combined with my colleagues we offered over 100 unique workshops.

Around that time I wrote "Free Software for Quilters" and that turned out to be another popular workshop. With technology at a peak, quilters were looking at various options to design their own quilts however software was expensive so I helped students learn to use Open Resource software from downloading it, to creating original quilts within it, and drawing templates. 

learn open-source software for quilters in Ruth Blanchet's online workshop

Writing my own web programs to accommodate this sort of workshop gave me the flexibility to offer these unique classes.

Speaking of unique classes, I also designed a mystery workshop with options.... very unlike the standard mystery where every quilter makes the same design, my mystery has different results depending on which option is chosen during the course. As the students work their way through the course, they pick an option by entering a door. Each door has a different set of instructions however I do include hints to make the decision easier. Definitely a fun, yet complicated way to write a workshop but I loved the challenge.

Mystery online workshop with options to create a unique result

I have since transferred some of my older workshops into downloadable eBooks so they can be enjoyed offline too. They are all registered with a ISBN number and these can be found on my website with a good number of other eBooks that some of my teachers have also transferred.

To date, I still have 23 workshops ranging from applique to patchwork, Bargello to art quilts, foundation piecing and stained glass applique. I love teaching them all and trying new techniques too. Today as my journey continues into 2024, I hope I might meet you in one of my online classes.

Happy Quilting!

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