Friday, May 11, 2018

L's Sewing Lesson

We spent last week at my daughter and son-in-law's home doing daycare for the Grands (mostly our grandson--our granddaughter was in school most of the day) while their usual provider was on vacation. So much fun!! Also, sew much fun!! I had recently made a quilt for my daughter and son-in-law to top their bed quilt (you can see it here), and there was a lot of fabric left over. So I decided that the week was a perfect opportunity to do some sewing with my granddaughter. I wanted a project that was low stress (after all, we'd be sewing after a busy school day) but still useful. I bought a small pillow form (12 by 16 inches) and packed up the Featherweight, a few sewing notions, and small pieces of batting and foundation fabric for our week. During our grandson's naptime on the first daycare day, I cut some strips and squares from some of the leftover quilt fabric.

Here's what we she made: 

I didn't take pictures of the steps--too busy with the project itself, but I'll tell you what we did.  When it was time to start sewing, I layered a piece of batting and a piece of white fabric a little larger than the pillow form and put the gray sloth print on top, smoothing them out (no pins). Then L chose strips one at a time to sew on stitch-and-flip and quilt-as-you-go style. Other than a quick tip about color contrasts and alternating prints with solid looking fabrics, the order of fabrics was up to L. While I pressed the power pedal (to control the speed of the machine), L guided the fabrics under the needle. We used a walking foot to help her feed the fabric smoothly and to put a little more machine between the needle and her fingers. 

We divided up that part of the pillow into two evening sessions. Seams were not always straight, but we agreed that doing our best and having fun was better than perfect. 

QAYG was fun for L, but I also wanted her to have an introduction to sewing patches together. So for the back, she made two nine-patches. During the third session, she laid squares out in the arrangement she wanted for the nine-patches. She had had gymnastics class that evening, so we opted to limit sewing that day. I told her that some of the side patches would end up smaller in the back, so she chose her favorite fabrics for the middle columns that would show the most. During the fourth session, we continued to use the walking foot to sew the blocks together, and L was really impressed by how quickly she was able to sew the seams with chaining. We did use pins to hold fabric in place while sewing double hems in the nine-patches for the envelope closure. L got a kick out of taking them out as she sewed. During the last session I layered the parts of the pillow case and sewed with a long stitch length to join them. After checking that the case was the right size (we didn't worry about perfection with the corners), L went over my stitching with a shorter stitch. 

Here she is with her completed pillow and a smiley face to protect her privacy. She was so proud of herself!

And the back:

Here's how the pillow looks with the bed quilt and Mom and Dad's new throw quilt:

And with the other decorative pillows on the bed. 
This project worked out so well. It was fun to be able to spend some special time with my granddaughter after doing daycare with her brother during the day. Here's what I learned:

--Doing the project in little bits (probably no more than twenty minutes at a time) was just right for a little girl who had been in kindergarten all day and had bits of homework or other activities in the evening. 
--I'm glad I cut the strips and squares before we started the project. L is deliberative, and making too many decisions about fabrics before sewing would have really bogged her down. She did have fun picking out each strip as we sewed and arranging the nine-patches. 
--Using a walking foot worked really well to hold fabric together and keep patches aligned and feeding smoothly without having to use pins.
--Doing more than one kind of sewing technique (QAYG and chain piecing) held L's interest without overwhelming her.
--L learned a beginning lesson about sewing/quilting to give. She was fine with putting the pillow on her parent's bed (although I think she really hopes they will let her borrow it sometime).

I do have to say, L was unimpressed with pillows as decor. She couldn't understand why Mom didn't sleep on the new pillow. Mom said that Dad definitely agrees with her that pillows for decor are pointless. Ha! I'm sure many of us have heard that opinion. 

It remains to be seen whether L will become a sewist or quilter. Doesn't matter. Just doing this project together was enough. And sew much fun. I left the leftover scraps with her. We'll see if they do their magic. I know she will at least use them in her art work. A maker she is!

What kinds of sewing have you done with Grands or other special kids? Do you have any tips to share or other project ideas?

Have a great weekend, no matter who you are sewing with!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I brought my featherweight along on one trip to the grands and helped my granddaughter who at the time was about 5 make a doll quilt - she did a lot of the work herself - she is now 15 and has no interest in sewing the sewing machine will stay home from now on!

Mari said...

Oh, how awesome! I'll have to remember this for when my grandkids are older. She may or may not sew later in her life, but she'll always remember sewing with you. That makes it all worth it. Have a very happy Mother's Day weekend!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Hooray for sewing with Little L!!! Her pillow may not be perfect, but it is PERFECT-ly adorable. Just like she is!! said...

This is something to look forward to doing with my granddaughter and I appreciate knowing your tips. I'm sure she's going to like making pillows since I don't make them for her now. L's pillow looks wonderful with the quilt.

Louise said...

Oh my goodness, how sweet!! I loved reading this post about your GD learning a bit of quilting. Together you made something MUCH more important than a pillow: you made memories. Thanks for sharing :)

Bernie Kringel said...

Janine, what a special project - I love how you really set L up for success. Some adults leave too much to the child (making it very frustrating) or basically do the project for the child (unrewarding and the kid knows they didn't truly make the project - I am thinking of the perfect 4th grade California Missions some kids turn in that look like a professional architect constructed them!!) This was the right combination for L and she is rightly proud of her project. A very special time with her grandma - so wonderful!!!

Linda said...

It turned out so pretty! I foresee a blog post by your granddaughter in her 20s when she talks about learning to quilt from her grandma. :)

Preeti said...

Looks like you both had a wonderful time - teaching and learning. And in the end she has a lovely pillow to show off and fond memories to cherish forever.