Sewing With Kids

My three boys all enjoy sewing with me at times.  I have a strict "one project per child" rule - I have enough of my own in-progress works laying around without having multiple stacks for each of them!

I started sewing right before my second child was born so they've all pretty much grown up watching me sew and helping in small ways.  I even called my first quilt the "Blues Clues Quilt" because I pretty much sewed the whole thing during the single episode of Blues Clues my boys watched each day!  For now, I do all the ironing and rotary cutting for them.  Mostly it's because I don't want them to injure themselves, but also it's because they have short attention spans and it goes faster and with less whining if I just do the "boring parts" myself.  They, however, are responsible for pulling all their own fabrics out (and that is their favorite part!).  They have free reign over my stash, with the exception of a few fabrics that are earmarked for specific projects (ok, ok, I do hide a few of my favorites from them).  I'm always pleasantly surprised at how well some of their craziest fabric pulls end up working!  All the sewing is done together, with both of us guiding the fabric at the same time. My middle son, at nine, is starting to want to use the foot pedal himself, though we do turn the speed down to "turtle" so it doesn't scare him!

The only other thing I can think of is "take it slow".  Work on one block at a time.  If they want to quit even though there's only one seam left to sew, let them take a break (or bribe them with candy if you just want to be able to put it away).  And, with multiple kids, it works best to set up an assembly line - prep everyone's blocks at the same time, let them all chain piece what they can, then send them off to play for a bit while you do all the ironing and trimming.  There's nothing that makes my kids want to sew more than seeing their brother do it!  They also love to take pictures of their finished blocks to post to Instagram and text to their grandma who is also a quilter!

Here are a few of our finished projects, from oldest to newest, with notes about how they came to be.

The quilt that started it all: Eli's Secret Code Quilt!
He sketched this out a month before he turned five - a rectangle, square, triangle, heart, 'X', and diamond with the code "13A6" next to it.  It took us about 8 months to complete.  My favorite part is the quilting in the blue section - it's his tiny handprint over and over again!  He put the template down where he wanted it and I quilted around it each time.  He still sleeps under this each night.

Hayden's Quilt Teddy
My youngest saw a picture of a similar bear on Pinterest when he was three and had to have one.  He picked all the fabrics and the layout, then sat on my lap and "helped" me sew all the pieces together.  He also stuffed the ears, limbs, and pillow insert.  Quilt Teddy got a lot of compliments on Teddy Bear Day at preschool!

Eli's Brown Bear Pillow
Eli's first grade class was the Green Frogs and we put this together in about two weeks as a Christmas present for his fantastic first grade teacher - it worked out well that the green frog is the fifth animal in the book!  Everything but the frog fabric came from my stash!

Julian's Rainbow Quilt
My oldest sketched out this quilt in October of 2015, when he was seven years old.  On one hand, it used up a lot of fabric that had been sitting around for a long time.  On the other hand, improv piecing with a child is tough.  Lots of measuring by me, lots of sadness when the pieces of fabric he liked didn't fit the size of the rectangle he wanted.  But, 18 months later, it is a beautiful crazy quilt of his own design and he happily sleeps under it every night.

Julian's Sleigh Bell Sampler
Immediately after finishing his rainbow quilt, Julian decided to try an easier quilt "with blocks" and he chose this Christmas quilt from one of my quilt books.  It took 2.5 years but we finished just in time for Christmas 2019!

Click here to see more of my kids' sewing!