A few months ago, after attending a school program for our granddaughter, Belen, her teacher asked if I would be interested in telling the children about quilting. I thought that would be a fun opportunity and agreed to meet with her to further discuss. Over the holiday break, we met and brainstormed ideas and decided that first, I would come in to talk with the children at school and then, the next day, we would take a field trip to a local quilt store, Quilt Crossing, to learn even more.
On Thursday of this week, I went to Belen’s class and talked to the children about quilts and quilting.
I was so impressed at how attentive they were. We talked about the difference between a quilt and a blanket and I demonstrated how a quit is made of multiple layers of the quilt top, batting, and the backing. They were eager to share their experiences with quilts as well as the stories associated with them. One quilt they especially enjoyed was a quilt I made in memory of my mother, Hazel Johnson (Belen’s great grandmother). The fabric has several scenes that depict growing up on a farm.
I told them how I first became interested in sewing because of my Grandmother, Magdalena Sveen, who is Belen’s Great Great Grandmother. She was the first person to teach me how to sew, and later, taught me how to piece and tie quilts. The majority of her quilts were utilitarian quilts and were donated to the Lutheran church bazaars in North Dakota, where she lived.
However, I shared a very special quilt that my grandmother gave me many years ago. It is a wool crazy quilt she made in 1953 and is a very special keepsake of mine. ( I can only imagine the hours she spent embellishing each patch of the quilt with beautiful and varied embroidery stitches.)
I shared with the children the differences between a pieced quilt versus an appliquéd quilt and the children were asking very good questions.
It really was exciting to see their enthusiasm as we discussed a quilt project that we are going to make together as a class. They were anxious to choose the fabrics they wanted to represent them in the class quilt.
On Friday, the children arrived at Quilt Crossing. They were very excited to see all the beautiful quilts hanging in the store. The first demonstration for them was a computerized long-arm quilting machine. They were mesmerized and watched the needle position of the quilt pattern on the computer tablet. Even the parent volunteers were impressed by the technology behind these machines as well as the speed of quilting process.
Next we had the children do a scavenger hunt, which they enjoyed and were quite good at!
The morning passed quickly and before we knew it, it was time for the children to return to school. I gave each of them a little bookmark I made to serve as a reminder of their field trip and escorted them out to their bus.
It was a pleasure to spend time with the first graders on Thursday and Friday of this week and share with them my passion for quilting. There were 21 students in the class and they were so well behaved and genuinely interested. They were so much fun to be with and on Friday evening I received a text message from Belen’s teacher that read…
“Quick story… on Friday the kids have to select a book to spend the week practicing, until they can read it fluently. Today, Grady walked up to me with The Quiltmaker’s Gift and said, “This will be perfect!”
That really made my day!