Quilting with Children

Patty Weiser's work with a first grade class

In 1997 Patty wrote:

My son's first grade teacher did a lot of paper quilts with the kids this year. She loved the look of the quilts and all the artwork the children did for the alternate blocks. Because she is a fantastic teacher and had 21 out 24 children for two years, another mom and I decided to make her a real quilt with the kids. We were able to get into the classroom when she wasn't there and had the kids draw on white blocks. We decided that simpler was better and had the kids draw their own faces in black fabric pen using a template drawn on the freezer paper backing. The template insured that all the faces were about the same size. We had one mom draw Mrs. Dowling and another mom did 6 apple applique blocks. We sewed that chain blocks in scraps of red and green using the pattern the kids were familar with and then bordered the quilt in some crazy polka dots and red and black checks. I machine quilted the chain squares and hand quilted around the faces and apples.

The children were thrilled to be making a "real" quilt as a surprise and I became so attached to the quilt that it was very hard to give to the teacher. Mrs. Dowling was shocked and surprised and claimed it was a "nursing home" item - something that she could never bear to part with.

I already have in mind a quilt for the second grade to do, and one for my youngests kindergarden class in a year or so. This quilting with children is addictive.

And in 1998, she wrote:

Last year, the children in my son's first grade classroom and I made a quilt for the teacher as a surprise year end gift and I was hooked. Today, the second grade class presented their gift to their teacher. I had them draw on a white block of fabric and they had to choose from one of their major themes this year (Australia, Polar lands, Animals, etc). I was able to spread out their interests to have every theme area represented. I took the 25 blocks and set them with sashes and cornerstones from the twelve color wheel colors in very saturated, bright solids. On one border I drew and wrote about everything they had covered this year and the special things in their classroom. The second border was the solids arranged in colorwheel order in narrow stripes.

It was a lot of work but it was worth it for the reactions. Some of the kids were in Matt's class last year and remembered the other quilt. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the other kids also felt that this was all very cool. It is also worth it for the five minutes of almost chaos when Mrs. Mick opened the quilt. The look in her eyes and the kids' overwhelming pride, "there's my block Mrs. Mick" more than make up for the needle that went through my finger nail this morning (luckily it glanced off). The capper is the kids showing off their blocks for their parents that attended a special program this afternoon.

So there I am, hooked even more and next year with two kids in school. John already wants to surprise his teacher with an alphabet quilt. And I have already figured out that the surprises will no longer be surprises as well as the fact that one quilt will have to be made in the first part of the year.

If you'd like to share your story on these pages, please email Heddi at qwc@thecraftstudio.com.

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