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Corvallis Quilter Susan Paceley teaches classes at Patchwork Quilts in Hamilton.

Paceley and her quilt, "Make Our Garden Grow," have been selected to compete in the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week this fall in Paducah, Ky.

She teaches for Tucker University.

“It is a yearlong curriculum,” Paceley said. “I had no idea it would be so well received. It is crazy popular. I feel like I’m giving back to the community. It has given me a lot of joy.”

In the Bitterroot's 100-mile-long valley of 40,000, she has taught the first class to nearly 85 different people. The Tucker University classes are taught in thousands of fabric shops in 42 states and four countries and are preset with detailed curriculum and schedule.

Montana has three participating quilt stores in Havre, Missoula and Hamilton.

The mission of the Tucker University curriculum is to make it simple for shop owners to implement a series of technique courses based on quilter Deb Tucker's Studio 180 Design tools. The Tucker University curriculum is set up like college with a series of classes that are prerequisites for more advanced classes.

The “Freshman Year” classes can be taken in the first six months or all 12 on a yearly schedule. The first class is “tucker trimmer & shaded four patch” and students progress with “v block & sidekick & high/low,” “wing clipper I & pickets & quickets,” “square-squared & little houses,” “corner beam & sliver” and continuing.

Students can take the year-long series to get a free bonus of “migrating geese.”

The following semester, sophomore year, quilting students learn to make Birds of Paradise, Stacked Squares, Rapid Fire Hunter Star, Eight at Once/Non-Mirror Combo Units, Four Patch Square Up and Geese on the Edge.

Semester two of sophomore year is the Tucker University School of Design where student are guided through their own individual planning, construction process, and through the finishing stage of quilting and binding. Students choose a project, decide the size up to a king size quilt and receive inspiration, direction and guidance.

Quilting students build their skills and accuracy. Shop owners and their instructors can concentrate their customers and generate income rather than spending time and energy on course planning and preparation.

Paceley said that the class fees are reasonable and each one requires an investment in a quality quilting tool.

“Over a dozen people have attended every one of the classes which shows a dedication to come even through the summer. Last winter when we had snow, they still showed up,” Paceley said. “They come from Darby, they come from Lolo, they come from all over. It is super exciting.”

Paceley practices teaching each class on the quilting staff at Patchwork Quilts before presenting to paying students. Classes are full with waiting lists.

Claudia Williamson, owner of Patchwork Quilts, said that it is good for her business.

“I had prayed that I could fill 12 spots as my average per class is six,” she said. “We started Tucker U, freshman year in January. As of this date I have signed up almost 84 for Tucker 101. This blew our socks off.”

Williamson said the courses “put the fun back into quilting.”

“As shop owner it makes it so easy for me,” she said. “I buy the curriculum, but Tucker has put together all the supply lists and details. Sue is excellent and really teaches her students so well that they can continue on sewing quilts on their own.”

Paceley agreed.

“It is good for Claudia as it brings people in,” she said. “It keeps students learning the blocks. I’m grateful, for sure.”

Student Sue Morlock said the biggest benefit is that Paceley, “teaches at your pace.”

Student Sue Sutherland agreed and proudly showed her completed first blocks.

“The Tucker thing has really helped me,” Sutherland said. “I’m learning the techniques, tools and basics. Sue calls it being a ‘quilt detective’ because you look at a quilt and can figure out the square and its size you can make the whole quilt.”

A lifetime sewer, Paceley started quilting seriously 10-years ago and has had four quilts juried in to national shows in the past five and a half years.

For more information visit online tuckeruniversity.net or to register for a contact Patchwork Quilts online at www.patchworksquiltshamilton.com, call 406-353-5754 or visit in person at 1782 N 1st St, Hamilton.

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