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iPads put a new stitch in quilting process

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Quilting students sit on the window ledge in the senior hallway at Perham High School during their quilt show. Students were able to capture some of their quilt-making experiences on film this year, to be used as tutorials by future classes.1 / 3
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Kateri Dornbusch stands by her first quilt. She experi-mented during the quilting process, writing "live, laugh, love," with the long arm quilting machine.2 / 3
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Brandon Keil operates a long arm quilting machine. The new video library available to future quilters will offer tips on operating this machine, as well as many other quilting techniques.3 / 3

Even with the recent iPad immersion, Perham High School's quilting class offers the same hands-on experience students expect.

Throughout the 12-week course, students choose a pattern, pick out material and learn the traditional steps of cutting, piecing and quilting as they each make their own quilt.

Thanks to video recording abilities on the student's new iPads, the 21st century quilting process has an additional step - recording the experience.

Last week, Mary Karkela's quilting class held its annual quilt show, displaying completed quilts and, for the first time, completed videos. While the quilts are made for students to take home, the videos will be left behind to be part of a video library for future Perham student quilters.

The idea for the videos goes back to the historical tradition that teaching the quilting process is done by showing, not telling. This sometimes causes problems when 20-plus students all need help at the same time. Karkela said with twenty students all working at their own pace, the kids often have to wait their turns for help.

Karkela is hoping a quilting video library will cut down on her running back and forth, and will shorten the wait time when students should be working on their quilts - a traditionally time-consuming project.

The library will offer short video clips on various quilting steps, answering the most common problems. Threading the sewing machine, for example. Or the steps of the cutting process. Or tips for choosing coordinating material.

The video library will be a constant resource, always at student's fingertips.

"They will have iPads telling them what to do, so they won't have to wait for me," Karkela said.

The student videos vary, with a wide array of topics. Some students show cutting techniques, others describe the wide range of quilting costs, while others explain their choice of material. Still other students talk of problems they ran into during the quilting process and the solutions that helped pull them through.

This first trimester was a good start for Karkela's library, as she plans on expanding with videos of her own and slightly adjusting the student video requirements for next trimester.

Even in the beginning stages, the collection of recorded quilting tips is an asset to the quilting program, said Karkela. It's a step that will assist the learning of the longtime traditional process of quilting. And future student quilters at PHS will not only contribute to the library, but utilize it, too.