Teaching children to quilt

When I was a young child my grandmother taught me how to embroider and to crochet. She was an avid stitcher for as long as I can remember. I was never a great crochetier, but I loved doing embroidery work.  I completed a few small projects learning how to make the back as neat as the front.  What I did not realise back then, some seeds had been planted within me – seeds of enjoyment and taking great delight in tiny stitches.

And then I stubbornly decided that needlework was not my forte.  I was much more interested in chemistry and maths.   Being a professional woman appealed to me. And it was much, much later that needlework surfaced  in my life again. I started my second life! I began to quilt and as they say: The rest is history!

For a while it has been one of my goals to teach children to quilt.  Sometimes life gets in the way and I have not quite gotten around creating a course till two young children crossed my path.

In my local quilt group babies and young children are allowed. The moms bring their young ones to our quilt meetings and they play in the hall under supervision while the moms do their quilting. And so young quilters are born!

I developed the Owl in the Forest class and while the members took the class one six-year-old lady, Clara Nel, was watching what we were doing. Needless to say the owls appealed to her and she was asking if she could also make owls.  She has just received a sewing machine as a present and was so eager to do the class.  And so my first student arrived! On her own and with the encouragement of her mom she made her first owl.  She was allowed to pick her own fabric from her mother’s stash and “build” her own owl.  Her mom took a video of her sewing.  Just have a look.


I was stunned.  Children have the ability to create.  You just need to guide them.  A new quilter was born!

And then I taught the same class at the National Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth. One day I received a call and they asked me if I would mind if a little girl enrolled for the class.  There were no children classes.  She would be using her mother’s sewing machine and they promised me that she would be able to sew.  I thought about Clara and said: Yes.  I was a bit worried because it was a full class and she was only six years old.

And so Elandri du Toit became one of my students.  Her mom owns a quilt shop and she was obviously familiar to quilting. She started with enthusiasm and was way in front.  She was literally running from her table to the ironing board and back.  Her mother was on constant duty to send embellishments and fabric.  She had chosen her own fabrics, listened to every word I said and built her own owl. It was a two-day class and I decided to buy her an owl hot water bottle. That was given to her on the start of the second day.  She was so pleased and it sent her onto day two. Halfway through the day the fatigue of taking a two day National class kicked in.  She fell silently asleep on her table.  We left her to take a power nap and boy when she woke up – it was running and working again. She completed two owls to everyone’s amazement and everybody agreed that she is an angel and that she should be allowed to do a class again.


I’ve learned so much through these two amazing girls and I would love to share it with you.

Children learn by imitating the adults in their lives.  Our future lies in the bright, inquisitive minds of our youth.  All we have to do is to light the spark in them, send them down the right path and watch them grow into successful artists in their own right.

Children are curious and keen to learn about everything and anything. Identify what is of interest to them and you will be able to grab and hold their attention.

Learning through play offers a meaningful way for children to have fun as they learn and develop.

Make sure you encourage children so they feel confident.

Praise their perseverance when they find something difficult so they don’t give up.

You can really build strong relationships with children by putting yourself in their shoes and entering their world.  Crouching down and being at their eye level will help you connect with them.

Allow the child to pick every aspect of the sewing project to be undertaken.  This may be an odd combination of fabric and colours, but that’s okay. Children are more likely to enjoy the project if they feel they were a part of all the decisions.

The sewing project should be about the child – making sewing fun and exciting.

We have a duty to pass our love for quilting on to our children and grandchildren

My grandma was the one who really inspired the love of working with fabric and thread – something that will always be a part of me. It just took me many years to recognise it.










The loss of a dear quilters’ friend

No one in life is immune from loss. Some people just manage better than others. There is no “right” way to mourn the loss of a dear quilters’ friend.

File 2017-05-24, 3 52 49 PM

Lolla Geyer

I lost a very close friend to breast cancer – a soul mate sharing my own chemo journey. We could talk about everything. She kept me strong when I was weak, helping out in my quilt shop and be my teacher’s pet on numerous occasions. We shared our dreams, fears, hopes, frustrations, pain, happiness, despair, beliefs and our love for quilting. Our love for our families and our strong belief in our Heavenly Father kept us safe and strong. Many a day we closed the door and opened our hearts. We talked about stuff not usually talked about and we cried sometimes using both ends of a scarf when we ran out of tissues. But always we hugged each other, drank a cup of coffee (with biscuits of course) and tackle life again knowing that two are much stronger than one!

And then the cancer re-appeared a second and a third time.  When I was in ICU you cried and asked me never to leave you alone. I have kept my promise. Life is just not fair – I survived and you lost the battle.

Our friendship was a patchwork of love and friendship that stands the test of time. It was also like a tapestry – woven through the years with threads of joy and laughter, happiness and tears. Your friendship was a warm quilt that wrapped around my heart. Your laughter echoing in my soul.

And seeing the quilting items that you have given me, I realised that quilters are big on giving. Quilters are making quilts most of the times for someone other than themselves. A relative, a friend and in some cases for someone they have never met, giving something of themselves to their loved ones.

Lolla, I am going to miss you so much! Never will I design a quilt that will rock your world, make you moan, put a smile on your face, keeping you on your toes again. Never again will I selvage one of your quilts that was beyond salvaging and having a good laugh about it.

When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. Heaven is so much richer with you around. Till we see each other again…..

“Grief is not something that ends. Grief is not something one gets over. It is something that changes over time and is eventually accepted.” (Unknown)

March and April in a nutshell

I looked at the calendar and thought…4 months of 2017 gone…poof! What the heck! There is always so much to do and so many things to talk about.  Where to start?  First I had to start teaching again!

Teaching and travelling has its moments…good ones and bad ones. Being back home the special moments of my travels float through my mind as routine resumes.  People, places and things leave an impression that reshapes our perception of the world. My focus is always quilt-related and one of the things I appreciate the most is how easy it is to move among quilters.

My teaching schedule started with the Moot Quilters’ Quilt Retreat in Pretoria.  For a weekend I was “adopted” by a group of women who enveloped me into their inner circle as if I had been there all along. From the moment I have been picked up by Anna and her husband at the airport I knew things were going to be exciting!  Although it was obvious that the retreat had been planned for a long time, there was no sign of last minute stress. This retreat is definitely one of my favourites. It took place at the Joy Unspeakable Wedding Venue in Pretoria. I taught a bag class on the Thursday night and the quilters went to sleep with a bag in hand – happy and thrilled at 23:00.

File 2017-05-24, 3 47 20 PM

On Friday and Saturday we made Wild Roosters and Chicks. One of my favourite parts of teaching is seeing the wide variety of fabric and colour combinations and each one turned out so great! And the creativity of these ladies…..what can I say? You nailed it girls!

File 2017-05-24, 3 51 31 PMFile 2017-05-24, 3 53 36 PM

Estie, and her sister, Vea, were responsible for our well-being and spoiled us rotten. Special gifts on our beds and at the dinner table add a personal touch. And who says quilters can’t enjoy French cuisine. Just like last year the tables were decorated with a quilting theme and the “volksvreemde” food superb! New friends were made and some are even travelling to Port Elizabeth to take a workshop with me at the National Quilters Festival. Thank you, girls,  for being an unique bunch of quilters.

File 2017-05-24, 3 55 30 PM2016-03-12 18.20.132016-03-12 18.20.24File 2017-05-24, 3 56 22 PM

Thank you, Linda and your helpers, on a task well done! The quilting part was as it should be…full of ideas and creativity.  But the real part was the quilters that make it happen.  I have such a cosy spot in my heart for the Moot quilters!  Thank you for having me and sharing your lives so generously.
And then of course…travel hiccups! I arrived at the airport well in time to fly  back home only to be informed that my flight had been cancelled.  And guess what… my travel agency was closed for the weekend!  The airline gave me the emergency number for the travel agency.  Since they are closed on weekends they could not help me without the necessary authorisation!!!  With the help of the airline we managed to get me on a much later flight.  I was stuck at the airport for the whole day.  Well, I did catch up on all my emails.  When it was time to depart the flight was delayed for another hour.  Eventually I arrived in Bloemfontein very late that night and still had to travel back home, alone on a very dangerous road at night, because I was teaching in Bultfontein the next day.  Thank you, Cemair, for treating me like a VIP and trying your utmost best to get me home.

The next day I was teaching a bag class in Bultfontein. My beginner class decided to make a quilt bag. Their enthusiasm is remarkable. I am sure any quilter seeing them quilting will be inspired.


Even the young ones took part and showcased their mum’s masterpieces.  Little quilters in the making!



And then they decided to tackle the Wild Rooster and Chicks workshop. We enjoyed 2 days of laughter, quilting and very unique roosters and chicks.  They have definitely been promoted to the quilters’ league.  These girls are not beginners anymore.  Well done, girls.  I am so proud of you.


I have put up a free pattern to go with the tutorial on how to choose colour and fabric for a quilt. I hope it will inspire you to make the handy little bag from fabric usually going to the bin.  A lot more is coming your way.  Enjoy the process of making it.

I am teaching at the National Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth at the beginning of July.  I am teaching two workshops – Owls in the Forest and Unlock your creativity (an art quilt). Remember to book your workshop.  All bookings are done through Computicket.

  • Go to Facebook and then go to Quiltwithmari OR
  • Click on the Facebook tab at the bottom of the page OR
  • Contact me for more info

Please enrol for the newsletter to be informed about updates at the bottom of the page. You can also leave a comment or ask for help by logging in. (Just use your name and a password and voila!)  Also go to the Facebook page (also at the bottom of the page by clicking on the icon) to see all the quilts made by quilters attending my classes.

Sharing other people’s creative experiences is a very special part of my life and I am extremely grateful to be surrounded by people who make and share and live life. Till next time, keep well and enjoy your quilting.


12 things to do in 2017

My family and home often get neglected when I’m preoccupied with quilting and planning new classes. I took a little break, slowed down, recharged, took it easy and enjoyed a well deserved holiday.  I’ve been on holiday for 17 days and have spent it doing pretty much whatever I wanted.  Usually I am trying to pack 48 hours of stuff into a 24 hour day – so being able to move at a snail’s pace has been seriously refreshing.  This being a lady of leisure has worked out pretty well!  I can get use to it…just missed my fabric and sewing machine.

On route to our holiday destination we made an overnight stop at Graaff-Reinette in the Karoo. Greg, our host, welcomed us to experience the history, nature and beauty of this town.  We stayed at Kambro Cottage – a single-storey, flat-roofed dwelling built in 1840.  It is a National Monument and is an intrinsic part of the town’s history. What a pleasant surprise!  Quilts on the bed and throughout the room!  If ever you are in Graaf-Reinette, this is the place for any quilter to stay. You just need to put the fabric shutter onto the front door as was done way back when.

St Francis

I also met up with my quilting buddy, Antoinette, for a 2 day visit in the picturesque village of St Francis bay.


Montagu pass

And then just to show you how beautiful South Africa really is – The old Montagu pass where the ferns are much taller than I am.




And of course…I have a deadline to enter a quilt for the National Quilt Festival coming up later this year to haunt me and getting me started right away after I arrived home.  Wish I could show you a sneak preview of it! I don’t know if it will be completed in time, but I am enjoying every minute of it. Girls this is the festival to attend.  Book your classes early to avoid disappointment. See my teaching schedule and links provided for more information.

It’s been 6 months since I had major surgery. After not allowed to quilt for 3 months I am my own self again.  And after six months I can start teaching again and my diary is filling up. I am off to Pretoria tomorrow for the Moot Quilters’ Retreat and then 3 more festivals await me.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for having something to pour my thoughts and focus into.  Quilting is that for me without a doubt!

The illusion of time never ceases to amaze me. We might feel like we have a lot or maybe only a little.  Last year has flown by and although it was an adventure I am not sure where it has gone.  What I do know is that some exciting things are still to come during the next few months.

While on holiday I dotted down a few things to keep in mind for this year. Maybe this will help you as well…if we can stick to it:

  1. Do one thing at a time.

According to Tula Pink “multi tasking makes you do stupid things.”  For tried and true multi-taskers like me this is going to be a big task!  I am so guilty of it!

  1. Go slow.

 This will be a challenge. How am I going to do that…always spinning around the corners?

  1. Complete a project.

Again I am so guilty doing on average 5 quilts at a time.

  1. Do less.

Maybe just say no a few times instead of yes.  That will give me more me-time.

  1. Put space between things.

Don’t go from one teaching session directly onto another or immediately starting a new quilt project after just completing one.

  1. Develop rituals.

Let’s call it discipline.  Set aside quilt time and stick to it.  You’ll avoid dead lines.

  1. Designate certain time for certain things.

It is important to focus on the things that really matter.  Family is important.  They need your time as well.

  1. Devote time to sitting down.

Sit down, meditate or relax.  It is needed for creativity and any way sitting is better than standing!

  1. Smile and serve others.

The simple act of smiling eases the pain of life.  Smiling at someone makes them feel good too.

  1. Think about what is necessary.

 Move forward and don’t waste time thinking about the unsuccessful project. It is easy to fall into bad habits.  I am going to try hard to focus on what is before me.

  1. Live simply.

De-clutter the mind, the space, the routine and be happy.

  1. Do a no-brainer between show quilts.

Don’t we all need a time off?

Obviously I am writing this to myself. For some reason it feels like more of a commitment when it is shared.

“It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.” (Wisdom of Confucius)

This has become a metaphor for my life. Don’t give up, keep going to the end.  What is the point of life if we don’t challenge ourselves from time to time?

I hope you have a wonderful year filled with grand adventures.