Oh Sew Rewarding: Mimi Dietrich ’70 Teaches Quilting to 14,000

photo(1)Mimi Dietrich ‘70, American studies, made her first quilt in 1975 as a gift to her oldest son, Jon. Now, 40 years later, she has a great many accomplishments in her sewing kit. She has written 17 quilting books, helped stitch the American flag that was displayed at Camden Yards on Opening Day of April 2014, and was named International Association of Professional Quilters Teacher of the year for 2013.

Her dream-come-true moment was filming her first Craftsy — an online crafts education platform based in Colorado — class in 2013 called “Finishing School” that teaches quilters how to finish the quilts they’ve started.

Dietrich beams as she shares the joys of teaching the Craftsy class and ecstatically announces the production of yet another class to be filmed at the end of June 2014. This class will focus on applique — Dietrich’s favorite quilting technique involving the sewing of cutout designs onto larger pieces of fabric.

Dietrich’s diverse background has more than prepared her for teaching online classes: Two years teaching English at Old Court Middle School developed her aptitude and enthusiasm for teaching. Her time at UMBC in the American Studies Program increased her appreciation of quilts and their significance in American history.

Now, with more than 14,000 students, she’s putting those skills to use in a very big arena, with great success. Having graduated in 1970 when technologies such as online classes did not even exist, Dietrich finds it amazing that she has been a part of such an adventure. She particularly enjoys the interaction she has with her Craftsy students.

“Talk about a dream,” Dietrich says as she reminisces about her past and all that she’s experienced throughout her very rich life. In addition to quilting, she fills her days with family, baking, and watching UMBC basketball.

“I really feel I’ve had a really fun life,” says Dietrich with a beaming smile on her face and thoughtfulness in her gaze. She gets to do what she likes to do, and that, for Dietrich, is sew rewarding (pun very much intended). Her advice to other quilters — both a quilting lesson and a life lesson — is this: “Don’t try to make a perfect quilt. Just have fun.”

–Jessie Orsburn ’14

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