From My Classroom to Your Classroom

Ursula Riegel is the heart and soul behind “Designs to Share with You”. In 1991 she took her first formal quilting class because she wanted to learn the art of quilt making before the “fad” was over. Little did she know that she would eventually play a part to keep the “fad” alive.

Although her first pattern appeared in 1994, her main focus for many years to come was teaching at quilt stores and guilds on Vancouver Island and, later on, at her own studio.

Ten years ago the founders of Quilt Craft Distributors – Pat and Mike Girling – took on her then-small pattern line for distribution across Canada. In 2004 she took the big leap across the border and since then has attended several International Quilt Markets, the wholesale trade shows for the quilting world. Her patterns can now be found all over the world but she is proud to call Canada her home base.


FROM MY CLASSROOM TO YOUR CLASSROOM

by Ursula Riegel of Designs To Share With You, May 2009

As a teenager I had high flying dreams of becoming a fashion or graphic designer – I had not even heard about quilting yet. But soon reality set in. My mother decided I would have to learn a “real” trade before going on to a design school. The thought of being an apprentice in a three year program wasn’t very enticing for a 16 year old girl. A major illness saved me. During the lengthy stay in the hospital I suddenly, out of the blue, decided to become a teacher.

What I learned at the teacher’s training college and during more than 10 years of working in the school system proved to be helpful when I finally did end up as a designer many years later. It all kind of “happened”. I loved teaching quilting classes and passing on to newcomers what I so passionately did in my free time. In some aspects this was way better than teaching school – I had enthusiastic students in the classroom who had signed up voluntarily. My classes were technique oriented. To teach the necessary skills I would design my own mostly smaller projects that could be taught in three- or six-hour classes. It was most important to me to pass on new information in manageable steps that made learning fun and successful.

I have to thank my students who kept commenting how much they cherished my clear and detailed handouts. Those comments encouraged me to make my designs available to a wider audience – to share my designs with you.

My goal is that with every pattern the quilter has the feeling her teacher is close by with explanations, helpful hints and suggestions. She should be able to sew a project without anyone else’s help.

At the same time I realize that many of my technique patterns lend themselves to classes in your stores. Did you know that I provide free lesson plans for your instructors for a number of patterns? You only have to ask for them. Check out my website at www.designstoshare.com and click on the individual patterns. This leads you to not only larger images but also to different variations if I have sewn a design in a variety of fabrics. An “L” indicates if there is a lesson plan available. On the same page you can study the back cover of every pattern for materials required for this project, often for different sizes of quilts. This should make planning for kits easy and is also helpful when a customer wants to buy fabrics but has forgotten to bring her pattern with her. (This even happened to me just yesterday.)

You can click further and see how students and customers have interpreted the design. Why not send us photos of your store models? Your business name will get mentioned under each image and we will provide a link to your website.

You may also notice that my website is my catalog. This is the only place where you can find all available patterns. Your customers can view what I have to offer but they have to come to you to purchase as I only very rarely do direct sales. The exception is when a retail customer has convinced me that her quilt store owner is not willing to make a special order. But why would you not go out of your way to make a customer happy by ordering what is basically sold already? You might find another treasure for your pattern rack.

I guess it’s time for me to get back to my studio and to work on my next design to share with you.

Happy quilting!