Saturday, July 18, 2015

My Presentation at MAQ

It's been already a week since my speech at MAQ. Friday the 10th was a long day! I was scheduled to teach a full day class followed by the presentation in the evening in front of a large audience. There were 270 quilters that gathered at the seminar. It was a successful event for the organizers and teachers. I taught three classes during the weekend.

I don't consider myself as an expert at public speaking. Some people are just natural at it. When I was in grade school, I loved participating in dance programs, which also involved annual presentations at an auditorium. I remember those days very well. Participating in more than two or three numbers,  being on the stage wearing makeup and costumes, I would become someone else. I do not remember fear or anxiety from that time of my life. But when you are older and not in your costumes - things can be different.
In 2005, I was asked to teach at such an event in Seattle area for the first time. I was a beginning teacher but my store manager had faith in my abilities to offer me that option. I was not sure if I shared the same confidence at the time, I respectfully declined that offer.
I was also invited to a guild in Seattle by my good friends to give a presentation. Which I had reluctantly accepted. It was fun to see all the quilters admiring my quilts but did I deserve to be one the stage? Hmmm... Not sure about that.

But ten years is a long time for personal growth. As I wrote in previous post,  six months ago I accepted both speaking and teaching opportunities at MAQ.

Back to the long day -

I taught Windmills on Friday. Any teacher will tell you that the most gratifying thing about teaching is to see that sparkle in the eyes and faces of both, experienced and non experienced quilters in your classroom. I not only saw that but they made me forget about my anxiety for most of the day about my speech. My classroom was colorful no mater which direction I looked at.

It would be pretentious of me to say that I wasn't nervous. As soon as the class was over I started preparing for my speech - physically and mentally. Before this event, I had presented at only two guilds. This was a big deal! I did not want to fail myself or disappoint those who came to listen and see.

A really nice, young woman helped me set up the power point. I was introduced by the president of MAQ. I took the stage and introduced myself. I asked the lights to be turned off and there was completely dark! I could sense the eager eyes and ears but saw nothing.

From there on, everything happened as expected. By that, I mean nothing went as I had planned. I was nervous and I forgot my words. In that moment I decided to be true to who I am. In that moment I thought of nothing better than being honest and up front. I told my audience that I was nervous standing in front of them and I needed a moment or two to gather my thoughts. They were kinder than I can ever imagine. It took a sip or water and less than 10 seconds to recover. From that point on, I enjoyed speaking about my home country, my journey through colors and textiles of India.

Next two days of classes were spent in making connections with people at personal level. I made many friends and hope to continue being friends and see them again.

MAQ - An organization I knew nothing about up until six months ago!  It is a quilters' retreat for Mid Appalachian states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Each year in July, it is held at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland. It's spans to a three days' weekend where quilters and teachers gather to teach and learn. There is an open studio space with an instructor available to help those who need it. Classes can range anywhere from one to three days. Everyone boards in the dorm rooms. Having three kids through college I have seen plenty and these dorm rooms were better than any other dorm rooms I had seen in the past. 

I later found out, MAQ does not do any advertizing for their programs. It is a great volunteer based organization which attracts many regulars for years to teach and learn. Check out their blog and website here.

Now you are wondering about the photos.. right?

Well, that was also one of those planned thing that did not happen. I had planned to take the picture of my audience.. I forgot!

I had thought I would ask my friends to take a picture of me on the stage - I forgot. But that's why we call them friends - They remembered! Thank you!

Here I am during the presentation talking about unpredictability and negative and positive space of free-form blocks. 

I had planned to post the pictures of classes in session - I did not connect my phone Wi-Fi on time. So here I am almost a week later with few shots from the MAQ workshops and lecture.

Click below to see some pictures of my classes.

Saturday night was the general meeting where students got to show their work from past two days of classes and teachers had an opportunity to propose for their future classes.

Here are few pictures of students showing off their work. 

As you can see, there was something for every kind of quilter and designer. And there were total of 27 teachers. This was just a glimpse of what was being offered.

Thanks everyone for participating and making the time to see my presentation.

Ann Giglio and everyone at MAQ - Thank you for that nice email and invite. I had a great time!

I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses over the weekend. I had forgotten how much I enjoy teaching. It brought back many memories of my days in Seattle. When I published the book, I was unsure if I was willing to travel, speak and teach but this weekend was a true eye opener. My friends then kept reminding me that at some point I will have to decide if I was willing to do all that because the guild will start asking. Now I know. I do want to travel, speak and teach. 

I will be in St. Louis MO in August. They have requested to teach Rail Fence class. I can not wait!
14 August - Presentation - Thimble and Thread Quilt Guild of Greater St. Louis
15 August - Workshop - Thimble and Thread Quilt Guild of Greater St. Louis

If you are in the area, I would love to see you there! I believe there are some spots left for the workshop.

I will be visiting Seattle in early September and teaching Organized Chaos. You all know how much I love that place. It's going to be fun!

Have a great weekend you all!                     


  1. Oh Sujata I am so happy for you ! This is quite a wonderful new adventure you are starting - glad you had such a great experience! Good luck as you continue your journey! I hope your teaching brings you my direction! Best. Chris

  2. Great review of your weekend and how you feel about going forward. I know all who read it will want to catch up with you and check out MAQ.

  3. What a good, honest post, Sujata! I'm glad you found it was OK to be up there speaking about your quilts! I have similar issues, usually the excitement about the quilts helps take care of the fear!
    I really hope you will be able to come to our guild in the next couple of years!

    1. Thank you, Lila! Isn't it amazing to know once we are one with our passion nothing else matters?

  4. I'm happy for you as well, Sujata! Nerves or not, you are a natural teacher!

  5. Yea! Congratulations on crossing over this hurdle. I'm sure you will never be this nervous again. The first time is always the worst. The photos from your classes are very inspired. It's obvious that everyone was having a great time, and feeling very innovative.

  6. I loved your post and the sincerity with which you tell about your fears and insecurities. Speaking about them helps overcome them... Oh! How I'd love to be present at one of our classes! Plus I learnt about MAQ. Thank you.

  7. Where are you teaching in Seattle?

  8. Good for you! I'm glad you were able to conquer your nerves as I'm betting you are a very inspirational speaker.:)

  9. What a heartfelt and genuine post! And I'm excited that one of the spots in St. Louis is MINE!!!

  10. I'm glad you have decided to push through the nervousness and get out and share with us. I'm hoping that I see you in Mt Vernon in September. Not sure if I made the cut for the class, I sure hope so!

  11. Congratulations Sujata! Your students were obviously very inspired by you and learned a great deal as all the quilts are beautiful.

  12. Congrats my friend - you live your life authentically - I love the connections you make between the difference between expectations and planning and the piece that chaos fills to join the two together - and the honest peace I could feel from you confessing your nervousness, taking a sip of water and collecting your thoughts - not so much difference from collecting your fabric pieces and moving ahead confidently a second after you wonder, " why did I ever buy this color!"

  13. Three cheers for you conquering your anxiety and sharing your story and passion for quilting. I know the audience would have found your talk inspiring, and your students works look wonderful!! It all sounds like a very special event and I'm sure just the beginning of more like it.


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