January 25, 2019

An Auction Quilt in the Making


Here is a project I'm working with for the annual art auction at my children's school. I'm working with the fourth graders and it's going SO WELL!!

When I signed up to lead the project for all of the over 100 (!!!) fourth graders I thought it would be fun to do something with fabric. I thought about it for a while and came up with a scrappy quilt (well, two scrappy quilts) based on value. Now unfortunately I would only have about 45 minutes with each class of 26 or so kids. I didn't think sewing machines or irons were going to be feasible or safe with so many students. I assumed hand sewing wouldn't fit in the time provided. So I settled on something verrrrrrrry similar to sew and flip foundation string piecing. I'll call it "glue and flip".



Since a lot of people are liking the look of this and asking me how I did it, let me share quickly how I approached it. I started by cutting a 30" strip for each student. The strips were 2" to 2.5" wide. I made them variable size so that when I inevitably had to cut some down due to mistakes it wouldn't be obvious. I cut up SO MANY of my scraps (if you decide to do this, you need more scraps than you think, or at least I did!). I bought a bunch of glue sticks, the purple ones so they could see where they had put the glue. We stapled each kid's name to the end of their strips to keep the classes straight and make sure we didn't misplace one.

Scraps were sorted into three different groups: light, medium and dark.

I showed them a quilt, I'd made, talked briefly about what a quilt is, told them we were going to make a quilt together and showed them a finished strip I'd made. I pointed out how it was dark at one end and light at the other. I pointed out how you couldn't see the fabric strip between the fabrics, or the raw edges. Then I demonstrated the technique three times.

The technique is:
First, put a dab of glue on the end of the strip and just place your first scrap over that. Show them that the scraps go beyond the side edges and they are supposed to do that. You'll trim them up at the end. For each piece of fabric after the first one, here is how they add it:

Using the glue stick, apply a strip of glue to the raw edge of the last scrap AND a strip of glue onto the foundation piece. 


 Lay the next piece face down aligning the edges. Some kids really do not get this face-down-edges-aligned thing. Clearly point out what you're doing during your demo. After it's in place, press it down to get the glue stuck.


Next flip it back, leaving a little bit of a "seam allowance" (I didn't use this term with them, I called it the folded underside). This was the hardest part for them. Some kids want to pull it back too far and expose all the glue and raw edges, some want to leave like an inch or more. Show them clearly during your demo how far you are folding it back. Double check as they start that everyone is getting this part.


Finally, have them roll the seam flat. I had a few seam rollers available and for the rest of the kids we gave them ink brayers, which the art teacher had plenty of. They worked great! It gives the folded edge a nice crease without needing to sew or iron.

Now, not everyone gets value. And that's why I sorted the scraps for them. Seriously I asked another mom to help me sort them and it was clear that it was stressful to her and based on where I found the fabrics I think seeing value is just hard for some people. If you had more time you could make this part of the project, maybe have some of that red film for people to look through, but we didn't have that. My solution was only putting one group of fabrics on the table at first (the darks) and not adding mediums until they'd gotten about 1/3 of the strip filled with the darks. Then once they were about 2/3 of the way done I distributed piles of lights. It was really fun doing this part, I felt like the fabric fairy and I loved hear audible gasps as I set down handfuls of fresh fabric for them to choose from. Having only a small pile on the table kept them from pawing endlessly through a bag. Only adults got to paw through the bag in the interest of time and crowd control.

A few students work slow, of course. As we were approaching our last 15 minutes the adults started doing 1-on-1 support with kids that weren't going to be able to finish without help. I would glue, they would choose the fabric, they would roll. We had an adult to child ratio of 1 to 8 in the morning. That was doable but 1 to 6 that we had in the afternoon was a world of difference. Some kids got almost to the edge but not quite. For those I just tucked under the final raw edge and glued it down (see the picture above of a finished strip from the back).

Once I got home I did a quick line of stitching up one side of each strip, about 1/8" from the edge, just to make sure no one's creation disintegrated. Then I pressed and trimmed them (I think you could press before the stay stitching if you prefer, I just really wanted all those fabrics locked down). Then I started sewing them together. There is a row of strips on the top and a row of strips on the bottom of the quilt, with the dark ends of the strips meeting in the middle of the quilt. Here's a closeup of the first strips on my design wall.


They sure look pretty and I'm having a great time putting them together! I'll update when there's progress to share. My first session with the kids was three weeks ago and when I was back at the school yesterday several of the students told me they had fun doing the project. I can't wait to bring the finished quilts back and show them what they created together! I hope this helps those of you that want to bring patchwork into the classroom! If you try doing this with kids in your life let me know how it goes!!


30 comments:

Unknown said...

I am fascinated by this and would like to do it with my grandchildren! Is this an art piece, or will it be a finished quilt? How will you keep the pieces from coming unfolded? Thanks.

Ray and Jeanne said...

Love this! I helped the residents of my mom's Alzheimer home make quilts a few years ago. I love making quilts with my grandchildren. I've never used glue but have improvised on a number of occasions. I look forward to seeing your finished quilts.

Connie said...

I absolutely love it!

Gene Black said...

That is amazing. I don't think I would survive that many 4th graders at a time!

Deb Oldenburg said...

perfection doing this process!~! love the results. those kids will be really amazed when they see it. a new way of sewing a quilt.

RoseO said...

Beautiful! I love scrap quilts and will have to try this one. What a great idea!

Christine B. said...

What a fabulous project. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it next! Christine xx

Ann Simpson said...

What a wonderful idea! Will it be quilted or sewn along the glued edges? Such a beautiful project - well done!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this fantastic project! I admire the thoughtfulness and planning that went into setting the students up for a successful outcome. They are going to be thrilled when they see the finished product! I did several classroom quilting projects when my kids were in Elementary school, and this makes me want to adopt a class of fourth graders and try your glue-n-flip!!

JanetD said...

Thank you for sharing this in detail. I’m going to be working with my little 7 year old great niece who has already mastered working her little sewing machine. This will be a great way for her to make a quilt!

KaHolly said...

How nice to see you today! This project with the kiss in ingenious! It’s already gorgeous, and upon completion, will be stunning! I am looking forward to your next post with an update!

Gwen Koller said...

Beautiful. What a great idea. Looking forward to your next update.

Jen Strauser said...

This is totally fascinating. I love the idea of working with kids, but it is so hard! What a great technique.

Julie said...

Please post again when you finish up. I'm just enthralled at the thought of this activity with children. I think it was very creative. As an elementary secretary for 30 years, I can just imagine how excited those student were. They love creating!

Meloney said...

What a fun project for the kids. They did lots with only 45 minutes.

Quiltdivajulie said...

This is SO cool -- thank you for sharing your process!!!!!!

Farm Quilter said...

The kids did a great job and you did a fantastic job in preparation for the kids! Having the fabrics sorted was brilliant and the "glue, flip, roll" is great. Personally, I'm loving what is on your design wall right now - looks awesome!

Donna Swain said...

So interesting to read how you created and managed this project. I love the gasps of fabric delight from the kids!

Kathy said...

The kids did a great job!! Thanks to your patience and dedication of course. Looking forward to seeing the finish. You do have your work cut out for you there and I imagine your amazing quilting skills will nail down all those seams, no problem.

JoybyRobin said...

What a wonderful project!

FlourishingPalms said...

This is a genius idea, Christina! Just perfect for that age. A LOT of fabric scraps, a little glue, along with your piecing and quilting... the kids are gonna be SO proud of their project! I'm sure there will be lots of searching for the scraps that each of them added. What fun! And what a generous effort on your part. Super-mom, I'd say!

Robby H. said...

What a wonderful and well thought out project for these kids. They are going to be so proud when they see the finished project. I expect these will also be great fund-raisers when the time comes. I hope to see the finished pieces. Thank you for investing in these kids in this way.

Bambi Pearson said...

Awesome project! Since most schools have about cut Home Economics classes out of their curriculum you may have encouraged enev one or two of them to want to learn how to sew and quilt. Job well done!

C. Roper said...

Great idea! Do you plan to closely quilt over all the pieces to hold them down on the finished quilt?

Tiffany said...

Amazing. I love this idea.

Outback Crafter - Debra said...

Wow. That looks amazing.

Vicki said...

Dang! I want to go to YOUR school auction! This is so intensely gorgeous. We're all these scraps from your personal stash?

Elaine said...

Wonderfully designed lesson and experience for young students! You were guaranteed a successful and stunning result. Wish you would do an addendum! Will look forward to following your blog now!

Grandma3211 said...

Participated in a teach-in at my grandson’s elementary school and demo’d How quilts are made. Short time later his teacher had the kids color photocopies of different quilt blocks and they taped them all together like a real quilt. It was presented to me as a thank you for visiting their class 🤗🥰

Diane Warburton said...

This sort of project with children is marvellous, especially when you had the support of other adults too. They are fabulous and I see from your later poat that the two quilts raised alot of money. Fabulous; such a gorgeous, worthwhile project in so many ways.

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