I signed up for a distance class in silk shading with Jen Goodwin. Why did I sign up for this particular class? Well, the design sports a feather with quite irregular edges AND has water droplets. As I have no idea how to stitch droplets, I really like to learn from a fellow pro. It is also another great opportunity for me to see how I could possibly run an online class in the future. The class runs for eight weeks and is, at GBP 195/$ 284/€ 229, not cheap. The class should have started on the 20th of January, but due to Jen not being very organised, I actually received my kit on the 23rd and the first instruction email on Sunday morning the 28th. This can happen to the best of us.
My kit contained a colour photocopy/printout of the feather, an outline drawing of the pattern, a piece of tissue paper for the transfer, a piece of dark-navy cotton, 2 #10 sewing needles and 20 skeins of DMC stranded cotton in the most fabulous colours. However, due to the fact that it was shipped in a plastic seal bag, it arrived rather wrinkled and dishevelled. Oddly, there wasn't a note or compliment slip either.
The dropbox Jen uses for her teaching videos also contained a high-resolution original picture of the feather. So before any stitching commenced, I ordered a proper photo printout of the feather. The printout in the kit is, in my eyes, just not very defined and has a green tinge to it. But above all, it is wrinkled. And I don't find it very practical to work from a dropbox/computer screen.
Next thing I did was watching Jen's video's on binding a hoop and tissue transferring a design. I was hoping the videos would be of the same quality as Mary Corbet's 'How to' videos. Unfortunately, they are not. Important things and actions are frequently out of focus, text is sometimes blocking the action, important action is going on outside the video frame and action in the video contradicts the text in the video. I really hope that the actual stitching videos provide enough detail to be able to clearly see Jen's stitching.
Before starting the tissue transfer method, I ironed the piece of fabric and ran the edges under my Babylock machine. I hate disintegrated fabric edges whilst stitching.
I faithfully copied Jen's outline drawing onto the tissue paper and started tacking. About half-way through I came upon an uncertainty and wanted to check on the picture printout... SHIT!!! The outline drawing Jen provided in the kit is a mirror image of the picture we are supposed to stitch... I very carefully unstitched, flipped the tissue paper, traced the lines again and started tacking again. I also immediately warned Jen so she could warn the other students. I really hope they hadn't started. As there is no email-list, forum or group to 'meet' the other students. I have no means of getting into contact with them directly. This is my first ever online-class that does not provide for contact with my fellow students. It is a bit of a shame as I can't learn from their progress or get inspired by them either.
Finally, I was able to remove the tissue paper and to have my feather all set up for my next lesson. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Rather than week-by-week, it will probably be a summary of several weeks in one post. After all, it is not my intention to spill the beans on Jen's project and provide very detailed information so my readers could just stitch the project too from reading my blog. However, if you were thinking of doing an online class with Jen, you will be able to make an informed decision based on the testimonials on her website and my blog posts.
Well done! At last a really detailed report on an online class, not pulling your punches at several very real hiccups, which the tutor could (and should) have attended to in advance. The project looks beautiful, & I'm sure the skills will be worth learning -- if they are well enough presented to make that possible. You will, I hope, emerge with a breathtaking leaf in those lovely colours, with dewdrops to die for. I hope the tutor will also have learned about some of the pitfalls! Good luck with the next stage, when it arrives! Ros x
Thank you Rosalind! It isn't easy to find the right words for a negative review. The way this class is running is unworthy of Jen's excellent reputation and training. I just hope it is a one-off and things will improve in the future!
Thank you Catherine! I was very unsure of putting this blogpost out in the world. However, I hope I've managed to write as objectively as possible. I couldn't have imagined that this class would be of such poor quality.
I love the idea of this feather and cannot wait to see your finished piece. I cannnot imagine stitching water droplets. I hope the rest of the class is better organized. I have never taken an online class except a quilting class through Craftsy. It would be nice to connect with other students.
Yes, Karen, the image is captivating! I hope I'll be able to stitch a nice version of the feather. Another blog reader send me a close-up of a droplet, so I am confident that I can stitch one even if teaching remains so unorganised.
I think we are all still learning how to manage these things. I hope you are giving Jen all this feedback so that she can tweak what she's doing. I'm sure she wants it to be as good as possible.
Yes, Rachel, before I publish a negative review, I always make sure the other party has had feedback. And, if it doesn't fall on deaf ears, I would mention it in the blog post too. As Jen has been doing online classes for a while and with her background as a RSN apprentice and tutor, she can't really be classified as a beginner.
Ik had dezelfde ervaring met haar eerste kit. Dit heeft mij er ook van weerhouden om nogmaals een distance class bij haar te volgen. Heb geen feedback gegeven overigens en het werkstuk is nog niet af.......
Aha, ik had al zo'n vermoeden dat ik niet de enige was die dit onder de maat vond. Ze heeft aangegeven dat er eigenlijk nooit iemand klaagt :).
Thank you Dima! I always like the reviews you do of books, kits and instructions. It is so helpful when making the decision to purchase something.
it's great to read an honest review. So many reviews are very positive that it's hard to know if they are honest! I'm sure a lot of the time the product really is that good but there's no way of knowing so I appreciate your candour. That is a VERY expensive class! I would expect it to be top-notch for that price.
Thank you Wendy. I am glad you perceived my blog as honest and not as slamming. I am pretty disappointed about it all and don't feel that I am taken seriously as a student/costumer.
Jessica, a nephew of mine is out here in South Africa with his family on holiday. He & his wife, both LLDs from Yale, teach at Munster University in Germany. I couldn't resist asking him to calculate what the cost of your on-line leaf class would be if he converted Euros to South African Rands. The answer, which he told me today he had simply Googled, was well over R3000 SA. I was absolutely bouleversée! This represents 3 months' levy on my apartment, or a month's salary for a part-time, unskilled worker! It is just half of my month's income as a pensioner! Is this kind of fee acceptable for a class even by what my dear friend Mary Corbet refers to as the "stellar" tutors? Are the Crewelwork Company's on- line classes, for instance, this steep? I am still reeling in shock!
Good point Rosalind! I think it would be a fair price for really good teaching with an expert kit from a 'stellar tutor'. Based on her training and continued professional engagement with the RSN, Jen could be counted among them. And prices in this part of the world are a little different from those in SA :). But still, it isn't a cheap class and I mulled it over a long time before I entered. After all, I like to do a little CPD every now and then. I don't know if the Crewel Company does online classes. I do know that a current 4-day workshop (tuition only) with Phillipa will set you back at R15.576 SA... Not cheap either!
After reading your review of Jen and her class materials, where do I find the rest of your posts regarding the feather projects
From my blog post on the 5th of March 2018: "Before we dive into a new and adorable little embroidery project, I have an update on the silk shaded feather distance class by Jen Goodwin. After lengthy correspondence with Jen on the issues I had with her class, it became clear we would never see eye to eye on the project. I asked for a refund and, professional as Jen is, I became it. This wipes the slate clean. I, on my part, have learned that it is probably not wise to sign up for an online class when the end product is not shown."
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