In January and February, I made several trips to Chestnut Hill Academy in Bellevue to quilt with the 5th Graders in collaboration with my daughter who is their science and math teacher. I loved the fresh enthusiasm of these kids who embraced both hand and machine sewing and were so excited to see the two quilts come together.
There are two classes of 15 kids and each class made a quilt. We cut out 45 hearts backed with fusible webbing, ensuring that every kid had a nice variety from which to pick. This is where having a good fabric stash comes in handy! I included some really funky fabrics and was surprised that the kids thought that they were cool, e.g. spoons and forks, clocks, and water melons. We fused the hearts and then taught the kids how to hand blanket stitch around them. For some this was really challenging, but they persevered and everyone finished.
We gave them a choice of fabrics for the corner triangles on the blocks and I took two sewing machines into the classroom working with two kids at a time for the sewing. They practiced on graph paper to get the feel for the stitching speed and sewing in a straight line before sewing the triangles.We made color photocopies of all the blocks and put them up on the bulletin board. The kids each received a copy of their block for their work portfolio too. After I had assembled the quilt tops and we had basted them, I went back into the classroom with my sewing machine and worked one-on-one as each child machine quilted around their heart. Then, I finished the quilts.
The quilts will were auctioned in early March at the annual school fundraiser. Here are some detailed shots. I have to smile every time I see the heart with a grinning dinosaur and the cartoon eyes in corners of the block.
The kids were very enthusiastic about the project and excited to see the finished quilts. It was a rewarding experience for me and I’m really proud of the job they did. I encourage you to quilt with kids, girls and boys, to keep this beloved tradition alive and to have the joy of completing projects together.