Class, Workshop & Lecture Descriptions

These are the kinds of workshops and classes that I teach regularly. Just like you can order a sandwich and say hold the onions, all of these classes can be customized to fit your space, time or students. I’d rather make sure it’s a good fit than insist that you “order off the menu”.

I’ve labeled them by category:

  • Digital Fabric Design
  • Business of Art
  • Digital Photography
  • Dyes & Surface Design
  • Fiber Art
  • Teacher Training

I’ve done many more things than fit on this page. If you have an idea for a class or think “I wonder if she’d teach ___________”, please ask! I am happy to put together a custom class proposal for you.

Lectures • 75 or 90 minutes with Q&A

Why Does Your Brain Love Pattern?

As fabric artists, we work with patterns everyday. From polka dots and stripes to tropical florals and mid-century mod, we each have designs that we are drawn to. Whether you are interested in designing your own fabrics or creating repeating patterns from quilt blocks, there are ways to make your patterns sing and it’s based on a little bit of brain science. Join fabric designer Becka Rahn as she talks about why our brains love to find patterns and how you can design repeats that light up more of your creative neurons.

A Spoonful of Spoonflower

Designing fabric is more than just putting pencil to paper or generating pixels in Photoshop; it’s about connecting and sharing stories and ideas. Get a tour of what it’s like to design fabrics and print them using Spoonflower, a web-based service for printing your own fabric designs. Get the scoop on the technical details of uploading and proofing your files, see samples of different fabrics and walk through the process from start to finish. We’ll also talk cost-saving tips for getting the most out of your yard of fabric, ways to proof designs and more.

Selling your Fabric Designs is as Simple as Tacos

Have you dreamed of being a fabric designer? Spoonflower is a print-on-demand service with a Marketplace of thousands of designs that are created by designers all over the world and are available for anyone to purchase by the swatch or by the yard. Anyone can be a designer by uploading a design and getting a proof swatch. Once it’s available for sale, you get a commission on every purchase. The most important thing you need to know to get started? TACOS! Learn how Theme, Audience, Color, Object, Scale are the key to success when selling your designs and get answers to your questions about copyright, copycats and more.

Half Day Classes • One session

Designing Kaleidoscope Geometrics (Digital Fabric Design)

Get a taste of what it is like to digitally design and print your own fabric with Spoonflower. We’ll start with cut paper, transform it to pixels, and create a seamlessly repeating geometric pattern all in one session. No special software or computer skills are required; you can create amazing patterns using just your web browser and some simple design tools. You will see all of the steps to design a fabric from start to finish and you will take home a printed swatch of your design (mailed to you after class) and a swatch pack of sample fabrics.

No fabric design experience necessary, but you should be comfortable with basic computer skills like opening and saving a file, copy/paste, and using a thumb drive. You will need a laptop computer with a current web browser for this class; the instructor has laptops you can borrow with RSVP in advance. See supply list for details. You do not need Photoshop or any special software or equipment. Students will take home printed samples of their designs (mailed after class), sample fabric swatches and lots of ideas.

Tea Towel from a Recipe Card (Digital Fabric Design)

Do you have a favorite handwritten recipe card in your collection? Make your own keepsake tea towel by scanning your grandmother’s handwritten recipe card and learning how to scale it up to fill a fat quarter of fabric. See how to upload and digitally print it on to linen-cotton fabric with Spoonflower to make a one-of-a-kind tea towel. Bring a 5×3 inch recipe card with you to class; see supply list for details. Your printed fabric fat quarter will be mailed to you after class.

No fabric design experience necessary, but you should be comfortable with basic computer skills like opening and saving a file, copy/paste, and using a thumb drive. You will need a laptop computer with a current web browser for this class; the instructor has laptops you can borrow with RSVP in advance. See supply list for details. You do not need Photoshop or any special software or equipment. Students will take home printed samples of their designs (mailed after class), sample fabric swatches and lots of ideas.

Macro Photo to Digital Fashion (Digital Fabric Design)

Design fabrics using macro photos of everyday objects. First we’ll do a hands-on photoshoot with our smart phones to capture images of everyday objects like beads, feathers, pebbles and textures. Get ideas for lighting effects and adjusting focus as well as framing your images. Then we will edit our photos while learning about cropping, resizing, resolution and ratios to create a finished file that is ready to print at large scale on a yard of fabric. Your printed fabric will be mailed to you after class and can be simply finished into an infinity style scarf.

Etsy Shop Behind the Scenes (Business of Art)

Tips, techniques and words of wisdom from a long-time Etsy Seller about what it takes to run an Etsy shop. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the technical side of running your shop, setting up items via the Shop Manager, and choosing shipping profiles; as well as marketing and search tips to help get you started on the right foot. Note, this is a lecture style class, you do not need to bring a computer.

10 Ways to Sell Your Work (Business of Art)

There are many ways to sell your work online, but how do you decide what will work best for you? Some platforms, like Etsy, are well known but there are new opportunities for getting your work out there that pop up every day. This session will be packed with information: compare and contrast selling options like Etsy, Pinterest, Amazon Handmade; making your work go further through RedBubble, Blurb, GotPrint, Moo; how to use payment options like Square and more. We will also take a look at what it takes to really get started: what is a realistic timeline for your first sales, how to build momentum and how to decide what works for you.

Marketing Yourself in the Online Age (Business of Art)

Making yourself “findable” in the vastness of the internet can be an overwhelming task.  This seminar will focus on easy and accessible ways to make your own web presence and to help draw your audience to you.  Whether your goal is selling your work, having an online portfolio, or creating your own website, we will talk about the technical aspects of popular platforms, how to get started, pros and cons, the costs and expertise needed, and much more.  Get the low down on getting started with Facebook, Ravelry, Pinterest and whatever else is the next big thing.

Photo Basics: Editing Digital Images (Digital Photography)

Don’t know your MB from your DPI? This session will help you out with the vocabulary of digital photographs and images. Every publication, show jury and call-for-entry has a different set of requirements for your images. Learn how to re-size, crop and rename your images to fit the requirements for submitting them and most especially to translate and unravel the requirements with confidence.  We will do a number of practice exercises and have time for questions and discussion.

Photos in a Snap (Digital Photography)

A quick crash course in photographing your work using your smartphone to capture and edit images. Learn tips for using everyday materials to light your work and basic edits that can help your photos shine.

Dyes & Fibers Sampler (Dyes & Surface Design)

Hand-dyeing your own fibers can be intimidating. How do you know which dye to use? Heat or no heat? Salt? Acid? This class will break it down into the chemistry you need to know. Using commercial dyes, we will dye small samples of yarn and fabrics in cotton, silk, nylon, wool and more. Get the specifics for which dye to use when, the process you need for each kind of fiber, how to get the colors and effects you want and most especially how to work with dyes in ways that are safe and earth-friendly. Finally, learn some troubleshooting techniques for when things don’t come out the way you envisioned and dispell some old dyers “wives tales”.

Handpainted Skeins – The Basics (Dyes & Surface Design)

Learn to dye your own custom yarns with three techniques: semi-solid, hand painted, and self-striping. We will dye mini-skeins using each technique during class as samples, then dye an additional skein (wool, alpaca, silk) for your own project. Learn the basics of using acid dyes on protein fibers, tips for making sure your dyes are colorfast, and how to plan and create the yarn you want.

Needle Tatted Snowflakes (Fiber Art)

Needle tatting is a contemporary twist on a classic lace making technique.  Learn the basic stitches, knots and picots to make a simple snowflake design.  We will use larger yarns in class so you can easily see your stitches and will talk about working at different scale, adding beads and more. Includes a tatting needle that you will take with you.

Beginning Cross Stitch: Make an ornament (Fiber Art)

Learn the basics of cross stitch. Choose a tiny motif: birds and bugs, 8-bit characters, dinosaurs, robots, dogs and more. Get tips for choosing the right needles and fabric, wrangling your threads. Finish off your sample into an ornament you can use to decorate for the holidays.

Full Day or Multi-Session Classes • 6 to 12 Hours

Designing Signature Fabric Prints (Digital Fabric Design)

You don’t need to be a Photoshop pro to be able to digitally design and print your own fabrics. This class is packed with projects you can design using simple and low-cost digital design tools, most that work just from your web browser. You will learn how to create a variety of projects, from repeating geometric patterns to a signature “batik” print, and gain the confidence you need to build on those basic instructions to make your own designs. Great designs don’t always just start with opening up a blank digital file, so we will learn techniques to transform cut paper art, drawings and paintings into pixels too. Then, we’ll take a tour of everything you need to know about printing with Spoonflower, including tips about color, resolution and scale.

No fabric design experience necessary, but you should be comfortable with basic computer skills like opening and saving a file, copy/paste, and using a thumb drive. You will need a laptop computer with a current web browser for this class. Surface Tablet is ok, iPad will not work. You do not need Photoshop or any special software or equipment. Students will take home printed samples of their designs (mailed after class), sample fabric swatches and lots of ideas.

Beginning Embroidery (Fiber Art)

Learn all you need to know about beginning hand embroidery. We will cover the basics of tools, threads, needles, and to hoop or not hoop. Each session we will focus on a group of related stitches, like variations on a theme, with time to practice between sessions and come back with questions. Stitches will include 6 variations on chain stitch, satin stitch, French and Chinese knots, running stitch, variations on blanket stitch, couching and more. No embroidery experience needed.

Advanced and Master Classes • 2.5 to 5 days

Spoonflower Master Class: Photoshop for Fabric Design (Fabric Design)

The focus of this workshop will be an introduction to working with Adobe Photoshop as a fabric design tool. We will spend 3 intense days getting to know the tools in the software to make seamless repeats, layers and more. Several of our class exercises will build on concepts presented in The Spoonflower Handbook, taking these projects “beyond the book” with more advanced tools and skills, as well as one-on-one instruction.

This session will focus on working with Adobe Photoshop to design fabric. Becka will teach you how to use the basic tools in Photoshop to edit, add layers and design seamless textures using Photoshop. The goal is to help you understand how the Photoshop tools and techniques work so that you can make the designs you have in your head. Class time will be focused on practice with tools and techniques like creating seamless textures, learning how to work with layers, and understanding the settings for tools to accomplish specific effects. Becka will have samples of all of the Spoonflower fabrics and talk about optimizing your design for printing on different surfaces, troubleshooting your designs and choosing the right fabric for your project. We will discuss color and resolution, so you have the skills to make prints that turn out just the way you want them to.

Why would you choose Photoshop vs Illustrator to create your fabric designs? Photoshop is great at rich textures and gradients of color, art effects like watercolor or paint-look designs, photographic elements, blended colors, soft edges, and layers. Illustrator is great at geometrics and precise edges, modern clean designs, graphic elements and icons, solid colors. If you are trying to choose which app to learn, think about the kinds of designs you most want to make. Both programs can really do far more than I have listed, but my list is to give you an idea of what things are easier to do in one vs the other.

For this class, you do not need drawing or painting skills; no experience with Photoshop, Illustrator or fabric design is necessary, although you should be familiar with the Spoonflower site and comfortable with basic computer functions.

Spoonflower Master Class: Illustrator for Fabric Design (Fabric Design)

The focus of this workshop will be an introduction to working with vectors and Adobe Illustrator as a fabric design tool. Why vectors? Designing with vectors gives you a lot of flexibility with size and scale, options to easily create colorways and edit your designs, and the ability to create smooth lines and simple repeating patterns in just a few steps. The goal for this class is for you to learn to use the basic vector drawing tools and techniques and have time to practice with them while you have expert help to troubleshoot. Unlike painting with brushes in Photoshop, Illustrator uses a very different kind of tool to create and join shapes together to build up your design with points, corners and curves. Becka will have samples of all of the Spoonflower fabrics and talk about optimizing your design for printing on different surfaces, troubleshooting your designs and choosing the right fabric for your project. We will discuss color and resolution, so you have the skills to make prints that turn out just the way you want them to.

Why would you choose Photoshop vs Illustrator to create your fabric designs? Photoshop is great at rich textures and gradients of color, art effects like watercolor or paint-look designs, photographic elements, blended colors, soft edges, and layers. Illustrator is great at geometrics and precise edges, modern clean designs, graphic elements and icons, solid colors, multiple scales and colorways. If you are trying to choose which app to learn, think about the kinds of designs you most want to make. Both programs can really do far more than I have listed, but my list is to give you an idea of what things are easier to do in one vs the other.

For this class, you do not need drawing or painting skills; no experience with Photoshop, Illustrator or fabric design is necessary, although you should be familiar with the Spoonflower site and comfortable with basic computer functions.

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Private Lessons & Mentoring

If you are interested in hiring me for a private lesson, either in person or online, email me and let’s talk. Private lessons are generally $25-$40 per hour. We can meet at a coffee shop, have a Google Hangout or talk on the phone. I am happy to work with you to figure out what works best.

I am happy to work with you to

  • help you create a special fabric design with your artwork or to commemorate a special occasion
  • set up your Etsy shop and work with you on descriptions and tags and settings
  • troubleshoot something you are struggling with in Photoshop or Illustrator or on Spoonflower

I rarely take on commissions to design fabrics for someone or using someone else’s art or logo. I do not do sewing-for-hire or photography for other people.