Since a new school year starts in many areas of the northern hemisphere this month, I thought I’d show you a project that I did with my boys when they were in second grade. You know, just in case any of you young mothers are all distraught with so much extra time on your hands and you need a new project LOL!
I had seen quilts where each child in a class would make a block and then the quilts were hung in the classroom or school lobby or given to a teacher. But for some reason, I wanted my child and all the other children to each have their very own quilt, so when TheFirstChild was in second grade, I approached his teacher with a quilt plan.
Fortunately, she was an awesome teacher and she was all for it. During the school year, the second graders covered a lot of different units — things like whales, penguins, Alaska, syrup making, and for TheFirstChild’s year, the presidential election (it was 1992 and I could show you his block showing who he’d vote for, but then I’d have to terminate you.) The teacher incorporated this year-long project into those units.
We started by having each child pick the fabric that they wanted for their sashing and I prepared 12 blocks (with freezer paper on the back to stabilize them) and a little sewing kit for each child. At the end of each unit, the teacher would have the children draw something about that unit on their blocks. Up to this point, the teacher did all the classroom work herself. I think there were 17 or 18 children in the class.
Each time they completed three blocks, I would come into the classroom and we would have an hour or two of sewing. They hand-sewed two middle sashing strips between the three blocks to complete one row. Oh, how I loved watching those little hands work! As each row was completed, I would take the rows home and sew the horizontal sashing to connect two rows. This was done by machine so that all the horizontal rows (where the pressure would be if the quilt were to be hung) would be stable. I confess, while sewing those horizontal rows, I occasionally stitched over some of the hand stitching in the vertical rows. For the most part I left the hand stitching just as the child had completed it, but some of those little big stitches just weren’t going to be in it for the long haul.
By the end of the year, each child had enough completed blocks for a quilt. I put the borders on each quilt and we had an afternoon quilting bee. Each child brought in a parent or friend helper and we tied all the quilts. First, all the muslin backs were laid out on the tables and the kids rotated in a big circle so that everyone signed the back of everyone else’s quilt.
Then, we all sat down and went to work. If someone got done early, they helped someone else, until we were all done. Surprisingly, I think the boys enjoyed the project more than the girls and many of them were better sewers than the girls! I took all the quilts home and serged the edges. For my own boys, after the school year was over (and after the “quilt show” where the quilts were hung for a week) I put normal bindings on the quilts (I did, as a working mother, have my limits and there was no way I had the time to bind all those quilts!) In the picture below, you can see a few of the girls in one lucky class that had a grandma who put prairie points on all of the quilts for that class. I was thrilled when I saw that! Most classes aren’t that lucky though (a few have had a mother who was willing to bind them all) and the serged edge has worked out just fine. (I did send binding instructions home with the kids in case their own mothers wanted to bind them.)
The quilt project turned out to be a big hit and the following year, all three of the second grade teachers wanted to participate. Each class had a volunteer mother, so I wrote out explicit instructions (’cause they were non-quilters) and they were off — with no other help from me. The third year, TheSecondChild was in second grade, so I again participated. MyDadLovesMeBestSister was the volunteer for all three of her kids, too. The last time I checked, the project was in its 15th year and still going. Maybe someday I’ll have a grandchild in that school and I can be the grandma who does the prairie points!
This was a VERY fun project and it was really just an excuse for me to be at school more with my kids — I loved it there! So, if you feel the same way…here’s your excuse — they’ll never catch on! ;-)