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How to teach young people to quilt?

by Elaine DeFoor
(Stuart, Florida)

I have volunteered to teach 7-10 year olds to quilt. This is in a low-economic area community center and is strictly run as an after school program and solely with volunteers. There is no extra money for resources. Where do I begin?


Hand piecing and quilting or...

I plan to bring my most portable machine and rotary cutting tools and have them take turns. While they all may not have access to sewing machines, I feel learning how to thread a machine and fill a bobbin is important as well as learning to sew straight would benefit them.

Also fabric, I would have to provide it. I could take my "scrap stash" box or pick out some fabrics from my stash or ask friends for some. I doubt there is extra money in their homes for fabric.

What would be the most simple pattern to start them on? I feel strongly that this is an important art form to pass on and feel that it might help these young people to achieve some self-confidence and sense of self-worth.

Any suggestions my dear quilting internet buddies?

Comments for How to teach young people to quilt?

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Teaching Young Children to Sew
by: Elaine DeFoor

Thank you for the many suggestions. The idea for using old shirts was appealing to me. But I have since found out I can take a few girls at a time (so far no boys interested) to Walmart to pick out their own fabric and Walmart is donating the fabric.

I am excited because much of the fun of quilting is choosing the fabric. I am making sample blocks to teach them how to handquilt simple shapes. Then I am making some sample blocks. The first project will be a potholder. Then I hope to get them involved in making a quilt to give to an elderly, shut-in. Two lessons in one!!

Beginners for kids
by: Robyn G

I have done this in the outback in Australia, asked for a cotton shirt donation from friends/family/community... There is a lot of fabric in a mans shirt. Used these for background fabrics, sashings, borders and backing for small quilts. Started with 4 patch, then 9 patch then strip piecing... which the kids preferred... sunshine and shadow layout. All quick, minimum of fabric waste and great results

Having samples of each step available speeds up the learning and gave the children confidence.
The only rules were for safety...
The rest of the instructions were good tricks.
Skills
Cutting, straight is easier to sew, cut on paper first.... some of my children had never seen scissors
Sewing straight, practice was old unthreaded needle on blue lined paper
Have fun!

Teaching Young Children to Sew
by: Elaine DeFoor

Thanks for all the helpful comments. One more question. Do I start with hand sewing or machine sewing?

Teaching Young Children to Sew
by: Elaine DeFoor

Thank you for your help. Would you start with hand sewing skills and hand piecing and quilting skills first or go straight for the machine.

The director also suggested teaching them to sew buttons on - as on their school uniforms and maybe mending a seam. But the girls are excited about quilting.

I thought about making a simple 9 patch potholder and see how they do from there.

But I would like thoughts on hand sewing vs machine sewing.

Where would I be without this forum. Thank you, thank you

Four-patch?
by: Anonymous

I'd say a four-patch, but I'm no expert.

Teaching quilting with children
by: Sharon

I have been teaching children's sewing for several years now. I must say, the most exciting part of their project is selecting their fabric. This is where their creative talents shine, or develop. If this is a low income area, possibly some precut choices can be available for the girls, vs. just giving them the fabric they will use. I have found that working with small projects first is best. Start out with a small pillow, zipper pouch, apron, etc. When going into quilting, I would start with a small throw or doll quilt and work up to something larger. It is important to get sewing skills to these children at an early age. As they get older, so many other obstacles get in their way!

quilt block
by: Ida

I would say the most simple pattern would just be a checkerboard. If you have charm squares, simply put them together in a 4-patch or 9-patch fashion to make a pillow top or something similar.

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