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Crafting Comrades: Getting Kids Involved in Your Quilting Projects

I'm all for carving out more time to quilt, but being amidst the school holidays here in New Zealand sometimes it can be difficult to juggle the responsibilities of entertaining the kiddos whilst also getting the time I want to spend sewing up a storm or a quilt. But what if I told you that this enchanting journey we call quilting doesn't have to be a solo adventure? Yes, you read that right!

Over this school holidays I have been trying to turn my quilting sessions into a way to have a bit of family fun, and with a bit of cunning, it has meant I have had more time to make quilts! Say goodbye to solitary stitching and hello to crafting comrades! If you are keen to follow my lead here are some ingenious ways to get the young ones involved in your quilting projects.

1. Ripping Out Paper

If like me, you have an undying love of paper piecing, then you probably also find one of the most annoying tasks is ripping out the paper at the end. As it turns out kids find this part of the process fun! You can turn this mundane task into a game by challenging your little helpers to see who can remove the most paper from the back of quilt blocks in record time. With their nimble fingers and boundless energy, they'll have those paper scraps flying in no time and you will have paper-less quilt blocks ready to mix and match into your quilt.

My six year old loves to help take the paper out of the back of paper pieced quilt blocks. Here he is ripping the paper out of a Star Quilt Block that I have sewn.

2. Bin Duty:

Let's face it, every quilting station needs a cleanup crew. Task your pint-sized assistants with the important job of taking rubbish to the bin. Not only does this teach them about the importance of tidying up after themselves, but it also keeps your workspace clutter-free so you can focus on the stitching magic.

3. Fabric Selection:

Get ready to witness their eyes light up as they dive into your fabric stash like treasure hunters on a quest for gold. Let them unleash their creativity by allowing them to pick out fabrics for your next project.

Sometimes i let my six-year-old child help pick out fabric for a quilt.

Who knows, their unconventional choices might just add a touch of whimsy to your masterpiece! If you aren't comfortable in letting them go wild on your entire stash, then even asking them to pick out a couple of fabrics that you can match to and guiding them through the process of color-matching might help to expand your own palette and curate a fabric selection that's a tad out of your comfort zone.

4. Design Input:

Don't underestimate the power of a child's imagination. Invite them to share their ideas and suggestions for quilt designs. Whether it's arranging blocks in unique patterns or dreaming up wild color combinations, their fresh perspective will breathe new life into your quilting projects.

5. Quality Assurance:

If letting them loose on design and re-arranging your fabric stash hasn't kept your fledgling quilter occupied for long enough, then there's always the very important job of quality assurance and safety. I recently finished a quilt using this tactic. Essentially it involved testing the structural integrity of the quilt by driving Duplo Cars on it while I was binding it and occasionally yelling at me to "Be Careful Mum - Sharp!"

My son likes to drive his cars on quilts while I’m sewing. It helps to make him feel involved in my quilting and I get more time behind the sewing machine.

While it may seem like this isn't particularly helpful, it did keep him occupied long enough to finish binding, and as a bonus I know that he has a healthy respect for the sewing machine and while it may only last the next day or two, he probably won't go touching it and pierce his little finger on the needle.

6. Quilt Holders:

Don't forget to enlist your little ones as members of the quilt-holding squad. You need the photos and they have small hands that are perfect for holding up quilts. Let's train them early about the importance of supporting the quilters in their life by getting them to help out in getting that perfect photo to record your efforts. Then shower them with praise and admiration for their invaluable contributions to your quilting endeavors. Plus if your children are anything like my two, they love having their photo taken, even if they are hidden behind (or underneath) a quilt. After all, there's nothing quite like a glamour-shoot and round of applause to make them feel like the quilting superstars they truly are!

I'm training my boys early to be quilt holders. They love being in photos, so they think they are the star of the show.Bonus Tip: Give them a project of their own:

If you happen to have kids who are too smart for their own good and you can't craftily trick them into being your quilting assistants, it might be time to task them with their own sewing project. You might be surprised at how young you can start them. I was as young as six when my teacher handed out a needle and thread to every student in my classroom and had us sewing up pin cushions and felt stuffed toy frogs for the Tapawera BGAC Show (That stands for 'Boys and Girls Agricultural Show' for those who didn't grow up in rural NZ). While this is more of a sewing project and may not help with your rubbish removal, it may still provide some quiet time for you to get your own project done, while they are busy concentrating on stitching together some pieces of fabric.

As a busy parent, you probably don’t need me to point out that getting the kids involved isn't just about fostering their creativity and teaching them valuable skills; it's also a clever way to carve out more time for quilting. By delegating tasks like paper ripping, rubbish duty, and fabric selection, or giving them their own hand-sewing project you'll find yourself with extra hands on deck, which means more time for you to focus on the stitching magic. Plus, seeing their excitement and enthusiasm for the quilting process is guaranteed to reignite your own passion for the craft. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved!

So why not invite your pint-sized assistants to join you on your next quilting adventure?

Happy Quilting, Rachel