Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Daughter's First Quilt

{Proud mama alert!}

For tips on teaching a child to quilt, please scroll to the bottom of this blog post! 

'My almost-seven-year-old daughter completed her first quilt yesterday! She made a small patchwork quilt and intends to give it to her kitten
We used a charm pack (to limit the amount of cutting needed, since I do not feel she is ready to use a rotary cutter). She chose a cute set of prints in a rainbow of colors. I explained the basics and let her lay out the squares however she liked. She chose a (mostly) rainbow order, with a few wild cards thrown in, just because she liked them. The quilt ended up being about 24"x28".
The back is a blue and green piece from my vintage sheets collection. 
 She did SO well sewing the squares and rows together. It was a very s-l-o-w process, but she paid close attention to my instructions. When it came time to quilt the layers, she did AMAZING at staying on track with "stitch in the ditch." 
 
 I'm including this picture NOT to point out her flaws (because I truly believe that the flaws in homemade quilts make them human and unique!). But... this little spot in the purples makes me laugh. It was near the end of the line and she had done so well keeping right along the seam line. And then... she started singing to herself and just got distracted. We probably could have ripped out the seam and gone back to "fix" it, but I love the memory of my little girl in her own little world and sewing outside the lines. SO her. 
She chose a colorful polka dot fabric for the binding, which I love because it's actually leftover from this quilt I made for one of her closest friends. 
I am so so so so unbelievably proud of her for sticking with it and completing this quilt. She was a great listener and followed my instructions so well. And, even better, she seemed to enjoy the process and has said that (maybe) she'd like to make another quilt someday. 
how to teach a child to sew

Are you considering teaching a child to quilt? Here are a few lessons I learned:

1) Start small. A doll quilt is the perfect size to keep his/her attention and complete a project quickly without it taking too terribly long. 

2) Use a charm pack or pre-cut fabrics. This saves so much time and avoids having a small child use a rotary cutter. I think their hands (and attention spans!) are too small to accurately or safely cut fabric. If the cut is off or lopsided or too big or too small, the whole quilt is going to be difficult. Starting with precut fabrics is a real lifesaver here.

3) Start simple. My daughter sat on my lap and did the sewing, but I controlled the pedal. Too many moving parts would have overwhelmed her and wouldn't have been fun. She controlled the sewing, I controlled the "driving." She told me when to slow down or stop and I kept a close eye to make sure she wasn't making any huge mistakes (see #6). 

4) Go slow. My daughter and I talked a lot about what speed she wanted to sew at. What seemed painfully slow to me was just right for her. Remember that if you've been sewing a while, it seems easy to you but it's a lot of new moving parts to a small person. Slow down. Overall, this small quilt took us about 6½ months. Teaching a child to quilt is not a project to take on if you are in a hurry. 

5) Be patient. Kid's attention spans are short. Our goal was to sew one or two rows (5 squares) at a sitting. It was usually 5 minutes or less, which was enough for her. It drove me a little crazy, but I reminded myself it's about the process, not the speed. 

6) Forget trying to make anything perfect and don't point out sloppy work unless it's going to ruin the quilt. I had a hard time not doing certain steps for her to make it pretty. Accept that it doesn't have to be pretty to be loved. Her first quilt is very human with lots of spots that show her learning process. In particular, I LOVE the spot where she totally went wonky because she was singing and just being so her. This quilt will be a treasure to me forever. 

7) Take pictures. I'm sure it comes as a big surprise, but document the process. If she grows up to be a quilter (or if she doesn't!), these pictures will be amazing to have. If you're like me, the finished quilt will bring tears to your eyes and you'll appreciate the moments you took to document those tiny hands sewing at your machine. 

22 comments:

Jules said...

Wow she's done an amazing job, and I love those fabrics. I can't wait to see what makes next....great job :)

Megan said...

What a great little sewer you have on her hands, tell her to keep up the great work! I love her choice of fabric! Happy quilting :)

K Coake said...

What an adorable daughter and a beautiful quilt! She did a fantastic job! It reminds me of when I made a quilt as a kid. I made one for my doll. My mom had me do a bit more complex pattern. I think I might try to do this with my girls...only keep it simple like you did. Maybe make a quilt for their dolls. Great job! Thanks for the idea!
KC

Sharon said...

SEW perfect - What a great idea to help the next generation of quilters.

Karen said...

My daughter is showing a lot of interest in making a quilt. She is almost 7. Thank you for telling me how slow this process can be. That will help me to not rush her, or do parts of it for her to speed things along. I view this post as encouragement for the parent - so thank you!

Rhonda said...

My second youngest grand-daughter, 7, is up to the binding on her first. Her elder sister,15, has just finished her fourth (A Star Wars one she designed for her father) and this was really the first one I felt I could let her run with from beginning to end. Their brother, 12, has his second well on the way.
I, too used charm squares and strips to speed things up and reduce the use of the rotary cutter.
The two elder ones hit high school and can't believe other kids can't sew or even thread a needle. I glow with pride, too.
Skills for life.��

K Pfaff said...

Congratulations to your daughter on her first quilt! And at such a young age--she did a fabulous job. (And congrats to you, as well, for being a patient teacher.)

Stephanie Brushfield said...

Just found this on Pinterest. Lovely! Have shared with our Facebook followers who love it too!
Jo @ Elephant in my Handbag

Katarzyna S said...

Just found your post on Facebook via Elephant in my Handbag. Absolutely great job Mia! And it was 2 Years ago. I wonder how is she doing now :)

Karen Talamantez said...

My first (and only) quilt is much wonkier than hers, and I made it when I was 53! She did a fabulous job, and kudos for your patience and understanding.

Jillian Douglas said...

Three years since, and I wonder how your daughter is going on needle crafts. I am a teacher, and love that you shared this. Thank you! Now, if only I had a granddaughter....

Sarah Goer said...

Bravo! Great job to your daughter and your tips are spot on. I helped my son make his first quilt a year ago. He's recently finished his third and has gotten more and more independent. :-)

I'm Feelin' Crafty said...

My son has been working on a quilt for about 2 years now... I'm hoping to finish it soon!! there is a new sense of slow when working with him! :) Great job!

Brandy Pettit said...

Oh, I bet Phoebe was thrilled! Your daughter did an amazing job. I've thought a couple times that it could be fun to teach a sewing class through Parks and Recreation, and then I remember how much effort it took to teach 2 23-year olds to sew in a straight line... thank you for the tips though, if I ever get up the gumption to teach a younger crowd they will definitely be helpful.

~Brandy

Babs said...

What a wonderful job your daughter did, you will treasure that quilt forever. I look forward to the day my little granddaughters are about 6-7 years old and hope that i get the pleasure of teaching them to make a quilt. Already the 4 year old enjoys sitting on my lap at the machine and joining squares together. Thank you for the tips.

Babs said...

What a wonderful job your daughter did, you will treasure that quilt forever. I look forward to the day my little granddaughters are about 6-7 years old and hope that i get the pleasure of teaching them to make a quilt. Already the 4 year old enjoys sitting on my lap at the machine and joining squares together. Thank you for the tips.

KIM STAHL said...

That is precious! I am now inspired to start working with my granddaughters to make a quilt! I have four!

Donyna Johnson said...

I am teaching my granddaughter this week to make her 1st quilt top. I will then take it home to quilt & bind it for her. She lives 14hrs from us & when at our house then live in the pool. So I am at her house to visit with her newest baby brother now 1 month old & teach her to sew her quilt top. And teach her Momma to make the girls skirts.

Donyna Johnson said...

I am teaching my granddaughter this week to make her 1st quilt top. I will then take it home to quilt & bind it for her. She lives 14hrs from us & when at our house then live in the pool. So I am at her house to visit with her newest baby brother now 1 month old & teach her to sew her quilt top. And teach her Momma to make the girls skirts.

Tammy Long said...

We are trying Rag Quilts for our first quilting project...seems easier. Just a thought.

Shall_will said...

I love sewing with my daughter! She did a beautiful job on her first quilt.

carol8602 said...

My 16 year old granddaughter wanted to make a quilt for her baby sister. I had some flannel jelly rolls and she put them in the order she wanted. I showed her how to use the pedal. She practiced on a piece of fabric first to get the feel of the pedal and machine.(maybe 5 min) I taped a piece of tape to mark the 1/4in seam. The VERY first time at a sewing machine!!!!! She did a marvelous job. I was so excited!! We took pictures and posted them on fb. We did not do binding.The baby was due soon, so we cut out the binding part. Instead I showed her how to sew another piece of flannel for the backing and turn it right side out binding itself as she top-stitched it. It was completed that same night. The whole thing took about 2 hours.

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