Beat the Summer "I'm Bored" Syndrome by Quilting with Your Kids
It's summertime. The kids are home more and you will inevitably hear the words "I'm bored." Instead of panicking, pull out your quilt scraps. Quilting can be a fun way to pass time. As an added benefit, the kids will learn a new skill they can take with them for life (Shhh. They don't have to know that!). Remember, quilting is not just for girls. Both boys and girls make excellent quilters!
A "trace" of fun
Make it "Charm"-ing
Why not start out with a charm quilt? Decide whether you will make a lap size quilt or a full quilt. Keep in mind the child's age, skill level, and degree of patience as you consider the quilt's size. The quicker it is to complete, the better if your child has a short attention span.
Show the kids how to cut fabric squares. If they are old enough, they will enjoy using the rotary cutter. Children who are not old enough to use a cutter or scissors may trace the template onto fabric for you.
When teaching children to sew, it is helpful to give them a line to follow. So when you place two blocks together, be sure to draw a straight line on one side to mark the seam allowance. Given a line to follow, most kids can maintain the seam allowance. If teaching a child how to use a sewing machine, be sure to point out how they can use the walking foot to help stitch a straight, even line.
Once you reach the quilt sandwich stage, pin all three layers together and allow the kids to mark their own original quilting design with a water soluble pen. You can quilt it for them or enlist their help too. If the kids will be hand sewing, keep in mind that operating a thimble may be hard for them. Show them how to make simple up and down stitches or running stitches (if you think their fingers are up to the challenge).
Of course there are tons of alternatives as far as quilt block patterns go. A charm quilt is simple and easy to assemble. If you think your child is up for a bigger challenge, select a different quilt block pattern. Try to pick one that has special meaning to you and the kids. For instance, if a favorite family story involves seeing a bear on a camping trip, make the Bear Paw quilt pattern. If you garden together, consider something like Corn and Beans. You get the idea.
Another way to involve kids in quilting is to pull out the die cutter machine. Let them cut dies to use in designing an applique quilt. They can trace these designs onto fabric to use for an applique project. If your die cutter works on fabric, they can eliminate the tracing step. Don't worry if you have more fabric shapes cut than needed. Use them to make a matching pillow case or wall hanging.
Kids that are still a little young for cutting or sewing can get in on the quilting action with fabric markers. There are a lot of these on the market and they are very affordable. Give the young children a light colored piece of fabric (white or a very light natural work best) cut to the quilt block size. Let their creativity do the rest! When you have enough blocks, heat set the designs according to the marker's instructions. Then, stitch the blocks together to make a very special quilt!
Label, label, label!
Do your kids a big favor and be sure to make quilt labels for the projects you make with them. Include the date and both your names. As they get older, they will always remember the day their special quilt was made!