How Do I Plan a Workshop?

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A workshop is generally a one or two day event hosted by your guild in order for members to improve a skill set. This can be done through a specific pattern utilizing that skill or a process-oriented class. You may want to survey your membership to help decide what types of workshop your members would attend, what skills they may be interested in improving or who they might like to learn from.


What did your survey results indicate your members would be interested in learning? Is there a local member who is known for this technique? This is a great resource for your guild and can reduce travel expenses.


If your guild is looking to bring a speaker in from out of town, there are a number of ways to connect with teachers. If you have a teacher in mind, start with their website to see if they already have information available regarding teaching. If not, use their contact information to send an email inquiring if they are open to teaching. Make sure to include your location in your initial communication.


Don’t have a specific teacher in mind? You can use the MQG’s Teacher Directory to browse teachers in different regions. You can also go to the MQG Resources webpage and filter for a technique. This will give you a few possible teachers.


Before you reach out to a teacher, you might want to consider a few things:

  • Is it possible for your guild to support the travel expenses to bring this teacher to you?
  • Is this teacher already scheduled to teach near you, such that you might be able to piggy-back off a currently scheduled trip, reducing your costs?
  • If this teacher is international, what work permits or visas are required?
  • What time frame would you like to host your workshop? Popular teachers book anywhere from 6 months to 24 months in advance. Be ready to offer a range of dates for your teacher to choose from.


A workshop may be one of the initial larger activities that your guild takes on, so it’s important to set a budget to make sure your guild can accommodate the financial risk of booking a teacher. There are a variety of factors you should review when looking at a workshop budget.


Budgeting for revenue – Workshops are usually funded by charging each participant a fee. There are important considerations in determining how much to charge, including:

  • How much are members willing to pay for a 3-hour workshop? 6-hours? 8-hours?
  • How many people can your workshop space hold?
  • Does your teacher have class size limits?
  • Do members receive a discount as part of paying annual dues?
  • Does your workshop include lunch (or other refreshments) that you will need to provide?

When looking at your overall budget plans for the workshop, remember that not all workshops will sell out. Plan your budgets at less than full capacity to be conservative.


Budgeting for expenses – When looking at expenses for a workshop, think through all of the costs that you will need to provide to make the workshop happen. Some will come to mind initially (teacher fees, space rental fees, etc.) but also consider the cost of any food that you will provide and any supplies that will be used during the workshop, and of course the travel fees and per diems outlined in your instructor’s contract.



Your workshop location should meet a few requirements. The location needs to have enough space for students and the tools needed for the particular skill being taught. The space required for every participant to use a sewing machine is significantly larger than the space required for hand sewing. Understand the number of tables and chairs you will need and inquire whether the location provides them, otherwise you will need to rent tables and chairs. Your space may need room for design boards or cutting mats and irons. Are you allowed to stick tape on the walls? Can your space support the number of irons you will need for your students? Irons require a lot of electricity, and some locations will charge extra if you require more than one circuit for irons and sewing machines. Make sure to inquire whether your location requires liability or event insurance.


How much space does your teacher require? Do they need more than one table in order to have a display in addition to a work space? Do they require their own design board?


Do you plan to include lunch (or any other meal) with your workshop? Make sure your location allows outside food to be brought in or see if they will make catering arrangements with you.


Suggestions for workshop locations

  • Local colleges and universities may have ‘wired’ classrooms with tables, chairs, and reasonable rates for community members to use on weekends
  • Community centers or libraries
  • Craft or fabric stores with classroom space
  • Local churches
  • Businesses with employee connections
  • Swim or golf clubs with clubhouse space



You should establish a written agreement with the teacher, which outlines what you expect from them and what they expect from you. Some items to include:

  • Workshop fees – are there class fees (fees paid directly to the teacher by each student for a pattern or provided supplies) in addition to the total workshop fee? Usually in class description provided by teacher
  • Travel expenses – hotel, airfare, meals (arrange for a teacher or reimburse)
  • Travel to and from workshop – Generally the guild provides transportation to and from the event
  • Meals – meals during event, meals outside of event, meals during travel



When providing workshop details to participants, try to think about the things that you would like to know in taking the workshop. Having attendees in the class get what they think they are getting is important to having a happy and successful class. On your sign-up form, consider asking participants to confirm that they have read all of the details. Some items that you might like to include when providing workshop information to participants:

  • A full class description – information about teacher, skills taught, pattern required, supply or pattern fees payable to the instructor in addition to workshop fee.
  • Payment schedule, including any deposits. What is your refund policy?
  • What food are you providing? Are you providing a full lunch, or just drinks? What kind of food restrictions are you able to cater for, and are participants able to bring their own food if they cannot get food to meet their restrictions?
  • What materials and supplies will participants provide? What is a realistic estimate for the cost of supplies and materials, including any specific or specialty supplies?
  • How much prep work/cutting is required before the class?
  • How much work will be accomplished in class? Will most participants finish, or will there be a significant amount of work after class to finish?


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