Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kindergarten Quilting

Thank you Hannah and Sarah for being my first commenters. Now I really feel official.

If you haven't seen or read this book, you should, even if you're not a quilter. The story teaches a great lesson and the illustrations are a feast for the eyes.

My daughter Kelly teaches Kindergarten at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, N.J. Last year I visited her school to do a quilting activity with her children. It was really fun for me because it took me back to my days as a preschool teacher at Christ Church Nursery School in Short Hills. The book I read to the children that day was The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail De Marcken. I was so taken with the story and the amazing illustrations that I designed and made a quilt based on the blocks in the story. The order of the blocks follows the story and I brought it with me this year for the class to see.

One of the things that really intrigued me in the book were the blue waltzing Siamese cats so I made an applique block to include in the quilt. I also did something different with the quilting this time. I tried to let each block sort of speak to me and determine how it should be quilted. I really tried to get away from just outlining or stitch in the ditch so I tried curved motifs in angular spaces. The other thing I used for ideas was to relate the quilting to what the block was about such as the quilted threads on the spools block.

Each year I make a class quilt with them. First, the kids color on muslin blocks ironed onto freezer paper. Then they chose their favorite material block from a big selection of novelty prints. I had the kids take turns placing each of their blocks in the layout and finally we talked about design, not having the same blocks too close to each other. The kids suggested changes in layout and we made them. Then I took it home and quilted it for them. Last year we tied the quilt instead but I didn't want to have to use a second personal day. Here is this year's quilt. I think they did a great job!

Their artwork was really amazing for kindergarteners and the fabrics were all bright colors. It lifted my spirits every day that I quilted it.

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