A quilt isn’t necessarily the first sewing project you think of for kids, but my 5 year old and I had so much fun making this easy quilt for children! We sewed it after reading the new book Sewing School Quilts, a fun new release that focuses on easy quilt projects for kids. I’m sharing pictures of the quilt he made and 8 tips for quilting with kids that I think you can use alongside book’s instructions.
Didn’t it turn out cute! We took a trip to Goodwill Outlet (different than a regular Goodwill, see why here!) and he had fun picking tshirts out.
He is an average sized 5 year old and could snuggle under it pretty well. It was definitely way easier to sew this smaller size than a typical lap quilt.
He was so excited that we found a dinosaur shirt! It was so fun to watch him think about different designs and I love that we saved several of these shirts from eventual trash. The tie-dye ones were all personalized camp shirts and the lizard/dinosaur shirts had giant stains on the sleeves. Now it is a snuggly project instead of filling up a landfill!
Tips for quilting with kids
1- Double the amount of time you’re planning on it taking. Breaking up a project into multiple days, or weeks even, will let the skills sink in and keep patience levels at a maximum. The Sewing School book talked about this but I forged ahead and we worked on this in one day- which led to me doing more of the work than I had predicted (which was fine, he is 5!).
2- Freezer paper makes for easing tracing/cutting. You cut out the shape and iron it shiny-side down, it will stay on until you peel it off, with no residue! We used a 11″ freezer paper to cut out the blocks.
3- Remember the goal: to make sewing fun and to make a quilt for snuggling! Lecturing over accuracy or re-doing all of their work will undermine that goal.
4- Use economical fabric. I don’t know about you, but it is a lot easier to not cringe when kids are experimenting on thrift shop t-shirts and old bed sheets vs. designer quality quilter’s cotton.
5- Clips are easier than pins! No sharp points, and it is much more intuitive for how to use them.
6- A walking foot makes patchwork easier. They’re very inexpensive if you buy a generic version, and make it so there are “feed dogs” (aka little tiny conveyor belts) pulling the fabric on top as well as the permanent ones on bottom. It is easier for adults too, but especially little hands that are trying to balance things.
7- Make the seam guide longer. Simple washi tape stretched alongside the presser foot gave a great, big visual for guiding the fabric.
8. Slow down. My machine has a stop/start button instead of a foot pedal, which was great for him. I set the speed super slow and he just hit the button to stop and start, and didn’t have to coordinate using a foot pedal. The crazy popular Brother CS60001* has this feature as well!
9. Bonus tip – check out the Sewing School book, with more details about it below!
Easy Quilt Projects for Kids
I received a free copy of the book for reviewing, but you always know I keep my opinions honest and from the heart!
Sewing School Quilts* contains “15 Projects Kids Will Love to Make; Stitch Up a Patchwork Pet, Scrappy Journal, T-Shirt Quilt, and More”. It uses clear how-to photos and step-by-step instructions for the easy quilt projects for kids, which were written for ages 8 to 12 (grades 4-6). I think many of these projects are do-able with help and younger kids, my 5 year old worked with me on his quilt top!
You can see the book review I wrote of the first Sewing School book, geared at hand sewing with kids, in this post about teaching your kids to sew. The authors, Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle, blog at sewingschool.blogspot.com. I love following their classes and projects on Instagram – they used my free felt kitty pattern in the past with a few adaptations, isn’t it so cute!
I really enjoyed that they highlighted the storytelling & math skills that come with making quilts. One of their most important rules for young sewers is just as good applying to seasoned ones: “Nothing has to be perfect”. I think so often it’s easy to forget the actual purpose of a quilt. Will it keep us warm if the seams are wonky? Yes!
Book: Sewing School Quilts: 15 Projects Kids Will Love to Make; Stitch Up a Patchwork Pet, Scrappy Journal, T-Shirt Quilt, and More* by Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Focus: An instructional, inspirational book that focuses on teaching kids how to sew; easy quilt projects for kids with softies, art hangings, pillows, etc. that will engage their interest.
Lessons/ Skill Builder Overview:
- Anatomy of a Quilt
- In Your Sewing Kit
- Quilting Rules
- Finding out about fabric
- Get to know batting
- Math + quilts
- Pattern play
- Making a quilt top
- How to bind a quilt
- Time to quilt
- 10 uses for quilts
- Machine sewing skills
- Hand sewing swkills
- Oops (how to fix mistakes)
- Quilting Dictionary
- Embroidery 101
- Foundation Piecing 101
- Patchwork 101
- Applique 101
- Recycled Fabric 101
Easy Quilt Projects for Kids List Overview:
- Art Quilts: Personal Placemat / Cozy eCover / Selfie Quilt
- Foundation Piecing: Scrappy Journal / Tiny Treasures Pouch / I Spy Quilt
- Patchwork: Patches the Dog / Pet Mat / Waterfall Quilt
- Applique: Family Crest / Fabric Story / Say Anything Quilt
- Recycled: Pocket Tic-Tac-Toe / Stuff I Wore Mat / T-Shirt Quilt
- I think an adult with no prior sewing or quilting knowledge could read through this book and successfully guide their kid(s) in making one. I especially love the “anatomy of a quilt” diagram.
- I love that they give 3 different ways to bind a quilt, flip & turn is so accessible.
- There are big, clear pictures demonstrating different hand stitches.
- I love that the projects have clearly been made by kids! It sets more reasonable expectations for a kid looking through the book.
- My kids loved the projects! They are definitely a range of ideas that appeal to kids.
- There are boys & girls featured in the book.
- The little side tips for expanding upon a project or changing it are great, you could use the same book for years, trying different methods.
- The tutorials for learning how to machine and hand sew are clear, concise, and have helpful pictures.
- The pattern pieces are made of thick, sturdy paper instead of tissue – great for little hands!
- There aren’t any brand names mentioned anywhere, which makes shopping easier if you’re new to sewing. I really love the Brother CS60001* for a trustworthy, inexpensive first time machine and prefer the feel of Pellon 906F* for interfacing.
- Felt is mentioned in lesson 5 without any parameters – while it might be great for some of the smaller projects, trying to sew a full quilt in felt would have pretty bulky seams, I think. I also disagree that you need to prewash cotton – I love when you sew together unwashed cotton, quilt it, and wash the finished project so it crinkles up!
- The section about batting doesn’t talk at all about stitch distance. Some batting require quilting at different distances apart from the rest of the quilting, and if you don’t follow those rules it may fall apart in the wash (i.e. a type of batting that requires more dense quilting will say the quilting has to be closer together).