Monday, April 14, 2014

Quilting With Kids...Hatching A Plan!

Zig Zag heisted from the Internet for illustration purposes only! (wink!)

For the past two years or sew, I've been thinking about ways to share quilting with my 4 year old Grandson.  I've taken him into Craft Warehouse with me, safely in a cart to keep little hands off the crafty décor & breakables as we rapidly proceed to the back of the store and the fabric department.  At that point the aisles of bolts are narrow and the fat quarters are right at shopping cart seat level.  His little hands happily snatch up fat quarters right and left!  When he was about 3 we made a special trip just to pick out fat quarters for a quilt top just for him, mostly from pieces that had made it to the clearance table. One that he could drag around.  He was involved in making the selections. Thomas the Tank Engine, Clifford, Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, Spot & The Little Engine That Could were combined with juvenile prints I already had at home, and polka dots, stripes, stars, a cool red diamond plate print that went great with the emergency vehicle design he liked.

As he started preschool I began thinking about my own kids at that age, playing with manipulatives in the classroom which introduced them to math and geometry.  What a great way to share quilting with the Grandkids and enhance their math skills and creativity.  We have some great plastic puzzles that my kids loved playing with and creating different designs within a hexagon tray, but they're not for small kids who tend to put things in their mouths or where chewing pups might ingest one that accidently, or not so accidently, hit the floor!  I've thought about taking scraps of fabric and laminating them or fusing them to wood blocks, but that's a lot of work and detracts from the discovery of how lovely it is to touch fabric and really be able to manipulate it into a block without it clunking around or slipping on a slick surface...

Last fall, Lynn Wilder produced her book, Patchwork Math Using Quilting Design Components, and I thought again, how can I incorporate this to put together something kids can play with while hanging with Gramma?

This morning, I was inspired by Melissa at Happy Quilting who recently shared her love of quilting with a class of High School girls.  She presented her quilts, shared some designs in new modern prints, and most importantly, put fabric in the girls hands in the form of precut triangles, 16 light ~ 16 med/dark and turned them lose to discover their own designs.  You can check out her post HERE.

Then came the lightning bolt!!!!  (I think I smelled a little smoke)

When Life Gives You Scraps, Cut Triangles!  (or squares or rectangles or even hexies and half hexies!) Put them in a bin or two...or least designating one for Lights/Solids and another for Med/ Darks.  When the kiddos come over, let them dig through the containers and pick 16 from each bin and create their own block. 

And then another little lightning strike! (Ouch!  That one hurt!) 

There's a tutorial by Lori Holt over at Bee In My Bonnet to make these lovely little design if made with flannel on one side to reduce slippage, sandwiched with batting and I left out the foamcore, added ties to the sides, they could be rolled up and tied to keep blocks in order if we don't get around to the sewing portion of that days visit with Gramma! 

Over time, kids can design their own blocks with their own fabric choices, pick a sashing print and before you know it, they have their own sampler quilt, pillow, doll quilt, even pillowcase, that they designed & Gramma sewed together, unless they're tall enough to reach the pedal to sew themselves with Grammas watchful guidance and seam ripper close at hand.

In my most Arthur Treacher-ish accent...By George, I think I've got it!  I've got to get to work!  Grandson #1 is almost 5, Step Sister just turned 4, the next new edition in our family story is due in September...and has two cute little cousins on the other side who are rapidly becoming part of our family too!  Oh what fun this could be!  And now my busy brain is coming up with baby shower/wedding gift/retirement gift ideas spun off this!  Oh imagination is going so fast I can't keep up!  Quilting Fairy Help Me!!!!!

How do You include your kids and grandkids and stray kids off the street into your world of quilting and pass your obsession, ~ love on to future generations?

Happy Monday!

~Nancie Anne


  1. That is a great idea. I have a 6 year old grandson who always wants to play with my toys (featherweight sewing machine).

  2. Good idea. My grandsons loved playing with the scraps and making "pictures" with them when they were young. Now, they'd only be interested if it could be done on a computer I reckon!