A beginner's guide to organising a workshop

As the summer holidays come to an end the workshop season resumes with sewers keen to get stuck into new projects, learn new skills and mix with fellow enthusiasts.

Looking to run a workshop for the first time? We put together a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
1. Decide where (if it is not in your shop) and when (start with the approximate time of year). This step could be taken as early as a year and a half before the actual workshop, depending on the teacher and her or his popularity and reputation. Usually one year is ample time. Local teachers are generally more flexible and could be contacted closer to the desired date of the workshop.
2. Find a teacher if you don’t already have one in mind or it is not you who will act as teacher. This can be done through the Quilters Guild Teachers’ list, quilt magazines etc.
3. A letter or email should go out to the teacher (or teachers) you have in mind stating the approximate dates you want, and asking for a complete CV with references and fee schedule from them. Once you have all the information, select the course(s) you want and notify the teacher of your choice(s). Usually the teacher will then send the supply lists. Most teachers will also send details of their transportation/mileage arrangements.
Contact with the teacher should continue up to a couple of days before the class, to give final numbers and reconfirm the arrangements
4. It is important now to find a location which will be suitable for the workshop. Attention should be paid to the following details.
- Make sure the lighting is suitable for close work etc.
- Make sure there are adequate plug sockets if sewing machines and irons are to be used.
- Make sure the room will accommodate the number specified by the teacher and that each person will have enough work and sewing room with a good work surface and comfortable chair.
If you need to find an external venue, possible locations may include village halls, hotels, school rooms at weekends, etc. Easy accessibility and parking for people carrying equipment and sewing machines is important. Some thought towards access for disabled and/or elderly quilters is advisable. The facility should have room for lunch or at least water for coffee. Remind students to bring food if this is not available on site.
5. Make a budget which should include the following:

- Teacher’s fee
- Refreshments
- Cost of location selected – room, lunch and coffee breaks
- Advertising if required e.g. posters, print media
- Photocopy costs, postage etc.

To arrive at a fee charge per student:

Add up all the expected costs and divide by the maximum number of attendees the teacher will have in the class. If you have any doubt about the class filling – use less than the maximum number for budgeting i.e. instead of the max. of 20 students use 15 for budgeting. This may result in extra funds if the class fills but it will help to prevent the workshop costing you money! Remember you do not want to have to pay any deficit out of your own pocket! It is best if you do not require a full class to pay the expenses just in case it does not fill.
This will give you an idea of how much the workshop will cost each person. Remember to round figures off a little to cover any incidentals that might come up after the workshop is advertised.
6. Advertising can be done through social media, local newspapers and noticeboards, in your shop and on your website. Encourage your friends and customers to spread the word.
7. Collect money and issue receipts - It is important to keep a class list and receipts of the money. Issue class requirements/supply lists after participants pay for the class.
Organising a workshop is an easy task as long as you think through all possibilities and keep yourself organised. This is a wonderful experience and should be fun for all!
Good Luck with your workshop!

Adapted from a guide by the Quilter's Guild
We are now offering video consultations - Find Out More