Discover the Best Quilting Classes in NYC
The term quilting may well conjure up visions of pioneer women sitting in a circle in a barn, tatting up bedding for a young bride in the community. While such quilting bees did once exist, quilting has evolved into a popular hobby, with its enthusiasts numbering somewhere between nine and 11 million people, 98% of whom happen to be women. While creating a handsome and often heirloom-worthy patchwork arrangement is perhaps what you think of as quilting, the actual quilting process is the sewing together of a “sandwich” of fabric comprised of a top (the patchwork part), batting (the insulation part) and backing (usually a solid piece of material.) Quilting today is usually done using a sewing machine, although a patient person can make an entire quilt by hand.
Why You Should Learn Quilting in NYC
Life in the greatest of the world’s metropolises can get very hectic indeed, and, to preserve your sanity, you need something to take your mind off the stresses and strains of squeezing into a subway train during rush hour and the other hassles that are part and parcel of the Gothamite’s daily routine. When it comes time to find an activity that will counteract some of this urban stress, there are many hobbies from which to choose: some people cook for fun, others do yoga, others build model airplanes and fly them in the Sheep Meadow, others knit, and others still perform karaoke. So why not take up quilting?
There is a veritable Zen of needlework: the repetitive motion of needle and thread going through the layers of fabric isn’t exactly the same thing as meditation, but the effect can be very similar. You’re focusing your attention on something non-verbal and simple that you can do well. Quilting calls for precision, but it also allows you to exercise your imagination as you choose the fabrics to employ for your quilt top and decide how to stitch the layers together (you can even do that freehand with your sewing machine.) In addition to this micro satisfaction, you’ll get macro satisfaction sooner than you think: you can complete a large quilt in a matter of weeks, and then you’ll have a handsome handcrafted article to enjoy during cold New York winter nights. You can also make a batting-less summer quilt that will provide you with just the right degree of covering when you try to sleep on a swelteringly humid summer night.
If that doesn’t sell you on quilting, also consider that there’s a substantial quilting community out there that seeks to bring quilters together, be it to sew socially or to discuss quilting topics and share work and inspiration. Quilters come together at quilt shops and fabric stores, as well as in specialized quilting guilds such as the NYC Metro Modern Quilters Guild or Empire Quilters. You’ll discover that you’re far from being the only quilter in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island and that you can connect with people—not something easily done in the big city—through a hobby that can be both meditative and social.
What, you may wonder, should you do with all these quilts you imagine yourself making? You only need so many in a city whose winters aren’t utterly sub-zero, and your friends and family probably aren’t in need of countless quilts, either. You might then consider selling your work on a site such as Etsy, where some quilters have built thriving side gigs by offering their hand-quilted work to the general public. Some of these professional quilters even take commissions from clients who want a particular design turned into bedding. If you’re interested in going this route, you’ll be surprised how quickly your sewing machine will pay for itself.
In-Person Quilting Classes & Schools in NYC
You can learn quilting in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and, if you don’t mind, a brief expedition across the Hudson, Hoboken. Perhaps the biggest selection of classes is to be found at Brooklyn Craft Company. Located a block from the Greenpoint Avenue stop on the temperamental G train, Brooklyn Craft Company is both a shop carrying all manner of DIY supplies and a workshop space that is devoted to classes that allow busy adults to tap into their crafty side. Subjects taught include (inter alia) sewing, knitting, crocheting, dyeing, embroidery, and, yes, quilting. They have been hosting workshops and classes since 2012 and gradually evolved into what is, at present, a thriving business.
Their quilting classes begin at the beginning with Beginner Quilting. In the course of a five-hour class, reasonably experienced sewers (that’s people who sew) will be guided through the creation of a 36” square quilt, which can be then used as a baby quilt or a lap quilt. Two solid pieces of fabric are used for top and backing, and students learn to create the quilt “sandwich” and then how to baste, quilt and bind it. You won’t get to work with patchwork at this stage in your quilting career, but you’ll otherwise have had the full quilting experience in miniature and be ready to proceed to the creation of a design for the top layer of your quilts.
The Beginner Patchwork Workshop would be the place to learn the rudiments of what can develop into an extremely elaborate technique. The workshop gets you started by teaching you how to make a quilt block in the log cabin pattern (and how not to cut yourself using a rotary cutter to produce even pieces of fabric to sew together.) Students emerge from the workshop with a completed small quilt top that they can go on to quilt at their leisure. Further quilting classes from Brooklyn Craft Company include an English Paper Piecing Workshop in which students learn the clever technique of creating geometric patterns for quilt tops using paper templates.
Also in Brooklyn, just where the Battery Tunnel disgorges you, is Craftsman Avenue, a school that teaches such unusual activities as welding, woodworking, and knife forging. They also have a Modern Improv Quilting class which, in the course of three sessions, will have students taking several dress shirts that have served out their purpose in life and turning them into a finished crib quilt. Deeper into the heart of Brooklyn is Classeteria, which offers its own Quilting class that covers such skills as rotary cutting, piecing, and hand-quilting to produce a finished patchwork project.
In Manhattan, the 92nd Street Y[MHA], world-famous for its arts and cultural programs, has a six-session Intro to Quilting class. Here, students create a small patchwork quilt using fabrics of their choosing. (No supplies are provided.) Basic sewing (hand and machine) skills are required. Note also that proof of COVID-19 vaccination is mandatory for all participants. (An online version of the class exists as well.) The 92nd Street Y also has a class for grandparents (only) in creating a family quilt.
Finally, if you’re up for a short trek, M Avery Designs of Hoboken has quite an assortment of quilting classes from which to choose. These include something as simple as a Mini Patchwork Quilt Workshop that produces a quilt of modest proportions in two hours and something as elaborate as an Easy Modern Quilting Boot Camp that delves into contemporary quilting design and has students creating a fully quilted square at each session of the class. Put them all together, and you’ll have a handsome finished quilt to show for your efforts. You can also take an Intro to Free Motion Quilting class that, by demonstrating the technique on a pot holder, will show you the quilting equivalent of freehand drawing, a fun and inventive means of assembling your quilting sandwich without being fettered by the laws of geometry.
Virtual Quilting Classes & Schools
If you don’t want to deal with trying to get yourself and a half-sewn king-size quilt to Hoboken to take a class, or if you’d rather put your feet up and quilt in the privacy of your own room, you might wish to consider an online quilting class. Those generally provide you with a greater selection of classes (and class times) than those that can be found in your immediate vicinity and a degree of convenience that eliminates commuting time and makes a two-hour quilting class into two hours of fun rather than a drawn-out four-hour undertaking. You can even sit at home with a cup of hot cocoa under a quilt in your pajamas while you quilt on a cold winter night, which is far preferable to trudging through the snow with your sewing kit.
Some people, of course, learn better in a live classroom setting, so online learning isn’t for everyone. The other factor to bear in mind is that to learn quilting from home, you’re going to need a sewing room, or, since most New York apartments don’t allow for the wild luxury of an entire sewing room, you’ll at least need the equipment you’d find in a sewing room. In addition to the fabric that you’d need even in an in-person class, you’re going to need a full complement of notions and a sewing machine. Of course, as quilting classes are pretty much all geared toward people who can sew, you probably already have most of what you need. (If not, remember that sewing machines can be rented if you’re not sure you want to buy one just as yet.)
Online quilting classes are available from a number of providers throughout the country. M Avery Designs in Hoboken is one such provider, with a whole online catalog of classes not available at their brick-and-mortar location. On the second Wednesday of every month, they offer a Quilt Club that brings quilters together to work on a given quilt block. The club meetings are a great example of how the internet can make it possible for those who share an enthusiasm to share it with fellow enthusiasts. Other online options focus on specific projects, such as the Dresden Plate Quilt or a Hovea Quilted Jacket (yes, you can quilt more things than just quilts), or on specific techniques, such as Quilt Binding with Continuous Bias Tape.
Private Group Quilting Classes in NYC
Team-building events are an increasingly popular way of gently coaxing people who work together to form more cohesive units. While quilting may not be the first idea that springs to mind for such an activity, a small quilt can actually be made in a couple of hours, and the history of quilting bees and sewing circles shows that such activities can be a very effective means of bringing people together. You may not end up with a bunch of heirloom-worthy quilts, but you will have achieved your team-building goals with private group quilting classes in New York City. You have but to avail yourself of the contact form on the CourseHorse website to be contacted by a member of the event fulfillment team who will be able to make your quilting event a reality.
If you want something textile-oriented but that requires no sewing ability on the part of the participants, you might consider taking your team (of 60 members or fewer) down (or up) to Chelsea for a Wearable Art Workshop in Sneaker Painting. The event provides each participant with a pair of blank sneakers and a range of media with which to decorate them. There is a (cash) bar to help the inhibited get their creative juices flowing. You can also BYOB; a corkage fee applies. At the end of the event, at least some of those involved will emerge with a pair of sneakers they might actually wear in public.