My oldest son, Skyler, joined a local 4-H club this school year, and as their service project the kids chose to make a quilt to donate to a family at The Ronald McDonald House. Being the resident crafty parent of the group, I was volunteered to lead the project (whoa Nelly!), although I did have quite a lot of help along the way.
To start, another awesome mama cut up 100+ squares which we took to our booth at the Stock Show and Rodeo on World Youth Day. We provided the blank squares and fabric markers for visitors to decorate or write a positive message for the quilt. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the idea and it was exciting to see what everyone wrote on theirs.
The next step was teaching the kids how to use the sewing machine to sew the squares together in strips. Skyler has already had some practice at home, but the other kids did a pretty good job also.
Another mama and I worked to sew all the strips together, and then we taught the kids how to pin and tie the quilt together (this was much simpler than actually quilting--I don't imagine that would've gone well). This part was more tedious for the kids, it wasn't as easy for them to get the needles through all three layers.
And at our last meeting I attempted to teach them how to bind the quilt. I had it prepped with the binding sewn down to the front already, they were just hand stitching the back.
Between the six of them (and my five-year-old) they finished almost all the binding. And although it's by no means perfect, it's definitely made with love!
Here are some things I learned from this experience:
1. Break it down into steps. We did each step at a different one-hour session. I found the kids only had so much motivation and attention to give before they gave up (especially if it wasn't turning out the way they hoped).
2. Don't aim for perfection. Most of the kids didn't have much experience with sewing, so I knew it was important to encourage their efforts rather than make them correct their mistakes a hundred times (if there was anything glaring we went back and fixed it later).
3. Give up control. The entire project (including decorating the squares) took place over the span of four months. Our quilt-making sessions were limited and we were never able to complete an entire step during any of them, and it didn't end up the original dimensions I'd planned for, but the important thing was that the kids were learning some important skills.
Have you ever worked with teaching kids how to craft? Any funny stories about teaching your own kids to sew? I'll be sure to share more photos once all the finishing touches are added--can't wait!