Now let me get this in very quickly, this is not my own work…..the young girl holding the quilt is the very proud maker of this beautiful quilt. Nikola is the daughter of a friend who is expecting her second child. Helping this charming 10 year old and extremely quick learner to make something so special for her new baby sister was a delight. As she was given pretty much free rein on choice of fabric and design it was interesting to see her design choices.
Nikola wanted it to be pink but not too pink. The start point was choosing the design. I pulled together on Pinterest a bunch of simple quilts, some with hsts, but all right angles etc. She flicked through those and chose a simple chequer board design. Then onto fabrics. Nikola wanted it patterned and scrappy as opposed to just a couple of colours/prints. As with any project I start we looked at my pink scraps first and she picked the ones she liked and the onto to my stash.
I did the cutting of the 6.5″ squares for obvious reasons but the rest was down to her. She decided the layout and really took her time and carefully played with placement.
I showed her how a digital picture would help our sanity when it came to piecing it together and the black and white version to check on values. Which incidentally she’d done so intuitively nothing needed moving. Then onto sewing.
This time round I did the pinning and Nikola the sewing. She did one practice seam and I could see straight away (bit of a pun there?) she was a natural and off she went needing very little assistance. Slow and steady was the motto. By the end of our first 4 hour session the top was in two halves. And by the end of our second 4 hour marathon we had a finished quilt. Nikola did all the sewing with the exception of the corners on the binding and the final stitch down of the binding. I think that was a remarkable achievement.
I’ve sewed before with children. When I took delivery of my Pfaff Quilt Expression the younger children were keen to have a go. They became quite proficient particularily my youngest son. They never had the stamina for making a quilt but a zipped pouch was made, a mug rug, a cushion ….
… and the crowning glory, a fabric ‘place of worship’. It was one of those school projects that cause parents to deeply sigh and wonder why schools inflict these sorts of things on time starved families. I accept theoretically they are the responsibility of the child but at 11 you are really not going to pull this off without some help. Having twins meant there were two to do and because I couldn’t bear the idea of two cardboard creations I suggested to my son he make a fabric church and with a couple of Pinterest designs to inspire and some help with the more tricky sewing he came up with this….
But I have to say in their early attempts they needed a lot of input and lots of fabric and stitching mishaps to sort out. Sadly they’ve no interest now but it may come back.
Here are a few tips and reminders for me to help with sewing with children…
1) Nikola found sewing on my sewing machine a dream compared to her child’s sewing machine. I’ve heard this before that children’s sewing machines while cheap are temperamental. Whilst for obvious reasons parents don’t want to splash out on an expensive bit of kit that never gets used but a cheap machine maybe a false economy. Personally I was relaxed about letting my children use my machine. There were a few ground rules aside from the obvious health and safety points, like no pulling on jammed fabric, using a slow speed and any problems to call me. But in reality I never feared for my machine.
2) A simple design is a must, perhaps embellished if necessary by all those pretty decorative stitches. Nikola had a remarkable span of attention and concentrated effort, not so my twins, so quick projects or broken down into manageable chunks helped.
3) Being as unprescriptive as possible by giving them a pretty free rein on design and fabrics seemed to work for me. I’d have gone with a pink binding but Nikola wanted one to match the grey polka backing. On reflection she made the right call.
4) Accepting that there will probably be fabric waste involved. There certainly wasn’t with Nikola but the twins’ efforts led to quite a lot of fabric going into the scrap bag to make cushions for the dogs home….
5) Suspending your perfectionist tendencies. Not difficult for me as I’m so not into perfection but if you are you are going to have to grin and bear it. Redoing seams time and time again is not likely to end happily!
5) and the most contentious tip. Teach and help someone else’s child. I have a good friend who firmly believes we should all swap children and bring up each other’s – not quite sure that would work in reality. But I’m quite sure I’m more patient with someone else’s child than my own!
Next up is Nikola’s own quilt. She’s very keen and chosen the pattern, a sort of hst star burst and the colours. I just need the time to get her started. I’ve warned her it’s marathon compared to a short sprint that was the baby quilt. Watch this space!!
This is a finish for FAL Q2 blogged here.