I'm teaching my 4 1/2 year old son to make a quilt. In the last update you saw that he had finished sewing the rows of his quilt. Sorry for the delay. It's been a busy/rough couple of weeks. I had taught him how to use the iron, but only let him iron some of my fat quarters. Then I completed the picky job of pressing all of his 1/4" seams open on his rows.
All of the sewing we've done has been together, with him guiding the fabric and me running the pedal as he sits on my lap. He's too short for any other option at my regular sewing table. So Wednesday evening I set him up to sew solo. The kids have a 21" tall art table in the same room that I sew in. It's a little too high (perhaps I can shorten it up a couple inches) to be ideal, but it did allow him to sew all by himself. I pulled out some scrap 5" squares of fabric and set him up to do some practice piecing. He was disappointed that the bobbin was already in, because he wanted to do that (maybe next time, kiddo). I reminded him how to turn the machine on and showed him the needle position switch, explaining that I like to have the needle stop in the down position when I am piecing or quilting. I helped him pair up his first two pieces of fabric right sides together and watched as he put the fabric in position and lowered the presser foot.
I wasn't sure how the actual "sewing on his own" part would go. It takes a fair amount of effort for a 4 1/2 year old to push down hard enough on the pedal to engage it. This was good in the sense that he definitely wasn't sewing too fast. I was ironing fabric about 5 feet away with him directly in front of me, so I was able to monitor him to remind him to look at the needle.
Keeping his fabric up against the guide on the quarter inch foot proved a bit of a struggle, but as he went he got better at repositioning the fabric by switching the needle switch to the up position, taking a half a stitch, and manually moving the fabric over to where it needed to be before continuing (you can really see that on the photo below on the far right). He pieced 5 pairs of blocks, then he switched to decorative stitches. Yeah, I remember loving those as a kid too! Then the bobbin ran out, Game over for the evening. ;-)
Yesterday we were able to it down together to sew. I showed him how I match up the seams on the rows and he handed me pins to pin the rows together, then he sat on my lap to do the stitching. Sewing these 36" seams proved very tiring. He had to hop down to take breaks and get water. :-) We did four of the five seams. So with just one seam left, next time we'll have a completed quilt top to show you! He's excited to make the quilt sandwich after that. :-)
I thought it might be fun to interview him about the process of learning to quilt. Please comment below with any questions for him. I'll post the interview in one of my future posts.
This week he pieced the last set of pairs together and then pieced the pairs all together into rows, so we ended the week with six pieced rows. The biggest problem we're having is getting him in a good position so he can see well and not lean his elbows on the edge of the table (which is stopping his hand from moving with the fabric).
Once he finished piecing the blacks into pairs, he used his planning picture (on the computer screen) to lay all the pieces out on the floor.
Then he pieced the three sections in each row together.
Here are the completed rows.
And we numbered some flowerhead pins so he could label the rows. (He loves pinmoors.)
I had planned to teach him to press the seams once he finished piecing the rows, but I decided I'm not sufficiently ready to do that. See, I press the seams open for ease of quilting so it's quite a picky job. Instead, I decided I'd let him help me iron my yardage and fat quarters that I needed to cut for one of my projects. He'll be able to help me finger press the seams open and watch me do that pressing job. In the end he did get his hands on the iron, and carefully pressed some of my purple fabric. (Now all the pieces for my Rainbow Mini Swap quilt are cut out! Yay!)
I realized since he is left-handed I needed to have him stand on the other side:
This week he also learned about the fancy stitches that the machine can do. (He was a little disappointed that he couldn't use these for piecing the blocks.) He can almost change the presser foot himself. I showed him how to thread the whole machine and he threaded the needle. He also did some measuring for fun.
For my related one-block project, I turned my pile of partially pieced blocks into a completed quilt top this week. My daughter's "pattern" is growing on me. From this:
If you're just joining us you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. :-)