This spring I did a variation on the Kindergarten Quilt Project with my daughter’s Pre-K class. This was a simpler version – fewer kids, no coordination of donated materials, and on-the-spot piecing. I brought my sewing machine in to the classroom so we could work on a crazy quilting border together. The kids were great and I enjoyed seeing the choices they made with color and shape. Two boys brought up matching honeycomb prints to be placed side by side “’cause we’re best friends,” a quiet girl was fascinated with text prints, and one eager child didn’t care all that much about the fabric but really wanted to know how fast the sewing machine could go.
Yes, I cranked the machine speed up for her.
The kids worked on fabric drawings when they weren’t at the sewing machine. As I did with the K-Quilt, I asked them to draw what makes them happy.
My own munchkin whipped out a drawing in her signature saturated style and then seated herself at my side, a petite assistant. She reminded friends to keep their hands in their pockets when the sewing machine was going. She answered questions about thread and what the buttons in the machine did and if it could stitch backwards. She kept order. She beamed.
Note to self: Take more time to do stuff in the classroom.
One challenge with working with drawings from small children is that they are often very loose. Abstract. Sometimes scribbly. Individually they are each lovely or funny or adorable but putting them all together can be visually chaotic. To balance out the drawings I did a few things: I broke the drawings up into two groups; I did a fairly heavy stipple pattern when quilting the crazy patchwork to give it a cohesive texture; I added two 1″ red frames to highlight the square quilt shape and provide a small amount of solid color to ground the drawings. (I picked red because it’s the school color.)
The result was a square throw quilt with 33 drawings and a 5″ wide section of crazy quilting. It’s bright and cheerful, and it is a sweet snapshot of this moment in time, as these little ones change rapidly and get ready to leave preschool. I think last fall the drawings on this quilt would have looked very different, and by this coming fall they will be in another dimension entirely.
The Pre-K Quilt was raffled off during a fundraising event for the school. I was a little sad to see the quilt go, but you know what? I’ll be back to do it again next year.
P.S. For those who think I’m nuts for bringing my machine into the classroom or want to try something similar: We set a few ground rules with the kids first. 1) Only I touch the buttons to make the machine start and stop. 2) All hands in pockets or on top of heads when the machine is sewing. 3) Only two or three kids at a time with me and the machine.