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Thread: Help and advice needed from anyone who has been there

  1. #1
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    Help and advice needed from anyone who has been there

    I have a 9 yoa gd that wants to learn to make a quilt. She has never sewn. I am seeking advise from those of you who have taught a child to sew. Where should I start with her? I only see her one day every other week, when my son has her for the day. Can anyone give me some good ideas? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    My gd and I made a quilt when she was 8. She picked out a charm pack and laid the squares out on the floor in an arrangement that she liked. She was quite picky about it! Then she sewed the squares into rows. She was scared of her new machine (a Christmas gift) so she sat on my lap, but she operated it. Her seams varied from 1/8 to 1 inch in width on the same square. LOL When her rows were finished, she sewed the rows together. Of course the quilt top was wonky. We used flannel for a backing and I birthed it. Then she picked out buttons and we sewed a button onto the middle of each square instead of tying the quilt. She was very pleased with it and we had fun making it. In hind sight I would have purchased yardage of her choosing and used 12" blocks. the charm pack had too many pieces for her attention span. I think the idea of no batting is good and she really liked the button idea as she liked going thru my button stash.
    Last edited by TanyaL; 11-17-2012 at 10:31 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member QuiltingCrazie's Avatar
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    I taught both my daughters at that age. Sadly, they got bored with the pattern I picked..memories for me though I have a quilt the three of us has worked on. Now the good news is when i let them choose they loved it! My oldest loves batiks so she took a charm pack and did half squares and made a star illusion dresser topper. My other daughter picked to do charm squares, sewed them together into a nine patch, she loves to FMQ so she did her own and I bond both. I found that if I gave them the freedom to come up with their own they loved it!! They both use there dresser toppers in their rooms! Hope that helps!
    *Rachel*

  4. #4
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    when my granddaughter's started sewing i set them up a table that was just their size- with chairs that fit them- used a machine i could turn the speed down on-so if they were a little heavy footed it did not get out of control. they laid their fabrics out on the floor the way they wanted them then they sewed them together- they used scissors to cut- i ironed for them- and if they wanted anything cut they had trouble with they brought it to me for using the rotory cutter (no one under 18 gets to use the cutters)
    the youngest was 4 when she made her daddy a special quilt---some of her seams were narrow, some were an inch wide- few were very straight- but she made it her way- loved it- he loved it even more & now 8 years later- it is still one of his all time best/favorite quilts and i'm sure will be so all his life.
    her skills have improved, her interest and ability has grown over the years - as has the other 2 girls also...in our world the fact i give them (fairly free rein) with guidance has sparked their creativity and made them feel if they can ((envision) it they can create it
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  5. #5
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
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    One little tip to get a child used to a machine:

    Have them "sew" on a piece of paper (no thread and an old needle), lining up the edge of the paper with the foot until they feel comfortable with the 1/4" seam allowance.

  6. #6
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
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    I once taught a group of young homeschooled girls how to quilt using "Cool Stuff: Teach Me to Quilt" from Leisure Arts. It's a terrific little book with 7 projects, including a Trip Around the World throw and a Pinwheel quilt.

  7. #7
    Senior Member luana's Avatar
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    All five of my grandchildren have learned to sew on my Janome with the speed set on low. It took away the fear of going too fast and gave them control. As for patterns, I love the D9P. Making a nine patch block is not as daunting as sewing lots of squares together. I will never forget the look in my grandson's eyes when I cut up his nine patch, or the fun he had rearranging those squares. Set with bold sashings, it got bigger and went together quickly. I think doing it together is the most fun and helps the process move along so a child does not get bored.

  8. #8
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    Wonderful suggestions from all. Thank you so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by happyquiltmom View Post
    One little tip to get a child used to a machine:

    Have them "sew" on a piece of paper (no thread and an old needle), lining up the edge of the paper with the foot until they feel comfortable with the 1/4" seam allowance.

    A really good suggestion!

  10. #10
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    I taught my 11 year old GS to piece one summer and he continued to work on his quilt at Christmas with me. I've had kids as young as 8 in classes; often they are better students than the adults!

    All the suggestions you've received here are really on the nose. You will have the treasure of a lifetime when you spend this time with your grands! Just wish I had more of them to share the experience with myself.

    Jan in VA
    Jan in VA
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    peacefully colors my world.
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/members...bums19552.html

  11. #11
    Senior Member mtngrl's Avatar
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    My grand daughter started with a favorite scrap from my bag of scraps with a needle and thread. Later she wanted a cat blanket so I helped her sew it on my machine, set at lowest speed. She kept making little bags with long handles to wear over her shoulder... hand sewn. When she came to visit and we had time she would try a few seams on my machine. She is now using her mom's machine and still sewing bags she can wear over her shoulder. The latest one had a zigzag stitch to hold the fold over on the strap, she is creative and learning on her own. Next year she will be in home ec and they will tell her the proper way to do things, meanwhile we are letting her find her own voice and enjoy herself. I have a cousin who was taught at home ec and hates to sew because they didn't let her do anything her way. It's ok to experiment and enjoy the learning process. It doesn't have to be perfect, it has to be fun so they have a love for sewing. Need for Perfection attacks us all eventually.
    "An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail." Edwin Land

    Blessings! Ruth

  12. #12
    Super Member joysewer's Avatar
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    A friend and I had a sewing camp one year at church for 2 weeks....3 days each week. We started with the basics of going over all the machine parts and patterns and had them sew on paper first to get the feel of the machine. Then we helped them make basic things like a bag for their sewing supplies. We helped the older group make pajama bottoms for themselves. When they had extra time, they made pillowcases to donate to Conker Cancer.
    Gloria 

  13. #13
    Super Member nhweaver's Avatar
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    I would have her pick colors from your stash, and cut them into 5-6" squares. Have her lay them out in a pattern about the size of a doll blanket (4 X 6 squares). I would use a foot with a 1/4" guide, and put the machine on the lowest speed possible, either you drive with her on your lap. Have her practice on 12" squares first.
    If life gives you lemons, make a margarita.

  14. #14
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    One thing I think might help, buy a 1/4 inch with guide presser foot for your machine. Thank way, your grandaughter won't have to be so concerned about a 1/4 inch seam. It will happen automatically when she puts the fabric up to the guide,all she will have to do is keep the fabric next to the guide and just sew. I have a 1/4 inch presser foot with guide for al my sewing machines. Just a thought!

  15. #15
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I did much the same as many above with granddaughter. She was about 7 with her first venture where she picked out fabric and I cut it, and she sat on my lap. This year, she is 9 1/2 and I showed her how to use the machine, what 1/4 inch seem looked like and set a guide and she did it mostly herself. Of course her seams were wonky and sometimes she forgot to put the presser foot down, but she was mighty pleased with herself. I glue basted it for her and she quilted it, next to the ditch. I put the binding on and she sat with me while we sewed it on the other side. I let her make her own mistakes and didn't want to discourage her with looking for "perfect". "Good enough" was good enough for us. I kept telling her she would get better with practice and there are no "quilt police", and just to have fun. She doesn't live near me so our efforts are few and far between.

  16. #16
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    This book, DVD and pattern is great for teaching a child to quilt.

    http://www.quiltinaday.com/shoponlin...play.asp?i=635

    I cut the fabric and then guide them with quilting. Besure to let her pick out the fabrics. Also I let the child sew but when they feel done I don't push them but let them. then the next time we work on it again.
    Anna Quilts

  17. #17
    Senior Member Lois-nounoe's Avatar
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    When my 10 yr old granddaughter came to visit for 2 1/2 weeks in July I taught her to quilt on my mother's 70+ yr old sewing machine with knee peddle! She had never seen a sewing machine before much less sewed on one. I didn't tell here what I had in mind for her to do while she was here. First day I had her do an easy Sudodu puzzle. Next day she picked out nine of her favorite fabrics. Next day I cut each of them into 6" blocks. Each day we did a row and you know where I'm going. I had it worked out that in the last three days I would help her sandwich and machine quilt her own quilt and the last day before she left I wanted to bind it and have it all finished for her to take home. Unfortunately I broke my arm a couple of days before she left but we did manage to get the top all done and I gave her enough 2 1/2" strips to have someone else help her finish it for her. I was so dissappointed that it couldn't be me but at least we did the project together. She lives in Florida and I in Maryland but we do keep in touch. Other grandkids are all boys and they have no interest but so be it. I have my memories and Lici has her quilt. LOL

  18. #18
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    I would never start with a quilt again. My GD is a high strung perfectionist and there were too many traumas. As seldom as you have your precious GD, I'd start with a pillow so she can have the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a finish, then progress to the quilt.

    My 9 yo GS is working on a pillow here. A 9 patch with a feature fabric in the center on each side. His is military - imagine that. The first side he used my 301 with its small handwheel as a handcrank. He wasn't comfortable with the electics. Friday night he switched to the motor. I do think handcranking it gave him a feel for the 1/4" without worrying about zooming around. My only machine I can slow down is not a good quilter - she eats edges.

    Uh, this one isn't sitting on my lap - he weighs more than I do.

    Enjoy your time together.
    Last edited by irishrose; 11-18-2012 at 02:47 PM.

  19. #19
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    I always start with tool safety and use. It is not a lecture as I get them to use the tool(s) to make a little sample. then we join the samples all together and thus form a quilt. They get to do bigger stuff later if they show interest - the skill part comes with practice. I don't get too critical of their efforts but encourage them to make something that will not fall apart. I was 7 when I was machine sewing and I have instructed sensible kids who were younger. They don't get to sew with me if they behave in a dangerous way to themselves or others. They like it better if you don't dominate or do the work for them.

  20. #20
    Super Member WMUTeach's Avatar
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    I started with my almost nine year old grand daughter this summer and believe it or not she loved to iron. While she ironed scraps and I cut standard cut squares we began to talk about colors and why it was important to have straight edges. We then went to my stash and picked out 9 fabrics that she liked and made 12 inch blocks for a simple nine patch. I used some scraps for her to practice sewing a straight (well, almost straight) seam and to lean how much pressure to put on the pedal. We do all of this so naturally because of our time invested in sewing. She needed some experience. For me the hardest part was allow her to sew without my hands guiding her. One rule that I have found with teaching anyone anything is....when they get tired let them stop. My GD would stop and I could see her losing tired slumped shoulders, so we stopped and I would sew on my project for a while. She would see me being persistent with my work and she would return and work on her quilt a little more. The end result was a joyful little girl who made the 9 patch, I quilted it and she and I worked on the binding together. A little hand sewing by her and I together. She is so proud of her project! I am looking forward to her coming back next summer for a new sewing project.

  21. #21
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    For first time sewers - pajama bottoms or elastic waist shorts are another good project.

    Or pillow cases.

    I have trouble making decent potholders - so i don't recommend them for a first project.

  22. #22
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    In 1948, I learned to sew a straight line in Home Ec class on a piece of paper with lines on it to follow. We had to sew down one side stop at the corner, turn and sew to the next corner, etc. I had been sewing for years before that, but that was how the teachers taught the girls (only girls) to sew a straight line.

    And by the way - boys do want to sew. You just have to give them a chance to see if they take to it or not.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  23. #23
    Super Member Mariah's Avatar
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    Ideas on teaching a child to sew...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA View Post
    I taught my 11 year old GS to piece one summer and he continued to work on his quilt at Christmas with me. I've had kids as young as 8 in classes; often they are better students than the adults!

    All the suggestions you've received here are really on the nose. You will have the treasure of a lifetime when you spend this time with your grands! Just wish I had more of them to share the experience with myself.

    Jan in VA
    Our 10 yr. old, when she was 8, wanted to make a block on the featherweight when they were here one time. I had some big Plaids which made it very easy for her to learn to sew a straight seam. She didn't get the blocks made, but had fun learning to follow the lines on the gingham!
    Mariah
    Have a wonderful Quilting Day, make it your way!
    Marta
    Martha Tompkins

  24. #24
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    I agree with Happyquiltmom - but I would go one step further. When letting them sew on paper, draw lines for them to follow, that will help their hand/eye coordination and how to position the needle. I helped a Girl Scout camp with sewing and saw that they needed a tutorial - most of them never used a machine before. I told the leader to have them learn the parts of the machine first and practice on paper - to me it is a safety issue. We had 5 machines and 12 girls, so we were stretched thin in helping those who never sewed before. Hopefully, the GS will listen to my idea and give the girls some instruction before they sew at the next camp. Maybe I should be there..........

  25. #25
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    Back in the 90's we lived in northern Illinois, and my husband and I both taught a group of homeschoolers from our church one day a week. He taught the boys aviation, cartooning, then anything they wanted to learn. I taught the girls and their mothers and grandmothers quilting. All by hand. I did not teach any of them machine work. My youngest wanted to quilt when she was a little past 4, and had a small quilt finished when she was 4-1/2. Her next oldest sister asked to start quilting for her 6th birthday. Incidentally, the 4 year old is graduating from college in May. Just to say young children can learn to quilt - one year they did piecing, the next year, applique, and then we reversed it each year.

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