With school about to start, many of us will reluctantly put down the crafting supplies, thinking we can’t fit projects into hectic school-day routines. I sat down with Bernadette Noll and Kathie Sever, authors of Make Stuff Together: 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family, to see how they inspire themselves and their families to keep the creativity flowing.
Q: The school year is about to start. How do you find time to create as a family during the hectic school months?
A: We start off with our big back-to-school clothes swap, which is pretty darn creative with sewing stations and screen printers. During the school year the crafting/creating comes in starts and stops, and we go for weeks without making. But we do try to integrate some creativity into the work assigned to them. We have found that MOST teachers (not all!) appreciate a little creative expression interjected into even the most mundane of assignments. It took a little convincing on our part to let our children see that, but now they mostly appreciate it.
Q: You’re both experienced crafters. Has including your families in your creative projects changed how you approach crafting?
A: It has really expanded our possibilities. We love to find old children’s craft books in the thrift store from the 60s and 70s and get ideas from there for new projects. I don’t think I would have found these at all if I didn’t have children. Also, my children come to the table with their own ideas, which then feed my own ideas, which then feed their ideas and so on and so on. We all learn so much from watching and crafting with each other.
Q: What has surprised you most about working with your children?
A: How hard it was in the beginning to let go of our own vision and let them have their own. Then, once we really learned the importance of that, just how many amazing ideas they have. Not all of our kids are into crafting, but when they are, they blow my mind.
Q: What are the top things to keep in mind when working with the whole family?
A: Let go of your vision to some degree. If you can’t let go, then make your own. Sit back and watch when you can. Don’t hover over your child’s process. Give them a leg up when they need it and mostly, remember that the process is the goal. Do you want to have a perfect finished project? Or do you want to be connected?
Q: I know this is like being asked to name a favorite child, but which project in the book ended up being your favorite?
A: I love the Appreciation Banner for what it brings to the household. Amping up the appreciation really can shift negative feelings and definitely amps up the joy factor!
Q: If a reader has not yet begun to include her or his family in their projects, do you have any words of encouragement?
A: Let go. Start small. Keep your work sessions age appropriate as far as time is concerned. Eat protein. Breathe deeply. If you have a hard time letting go of your vision of the finished piece, then make your own first or alongside your child’s project. Remember that the joy and connection is in the process not in the finished piece.
Ever wonder what you’re going to do with all those favorite fabric scraps that you’ve been saving? Sandi Henderson’s Sewing Bits and Pieces is full of ideas! Click on her free Butterfly Pin pattern below for a simple summer project.
New from the most trusted authorities on crafting, Better Homes and Gardens.
Here are a few free projects for you to try from Bags, Pillows, and Pincushions, Applique Class, and Scrappy Quilts.
First, the editors of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine share their top secrets for hand and machine applique. The book includes 20 favorite projects for quilters covering notive to advanced skill levels. Start out by trying this super cute needlekeeper.
Petal Pushers Free Pattern
In Bags, Pillows and Pincushions, enjoy 35 of our favorite purses and totes, adorable pillows, and sweet pincushions. Full size patterns and quilting basics provide all the how-to you need to make these adorable gifts. Try it out with a free pattern of this handy and adorable market bag. Market Bag Pattern
And last but not least, Scrappy Quilts includes 29 favorite patterns using fabric scraps. The book includes full sized patterns and quilting basics to ensure success for quilters of every skill level. Try it out today with a free pattern of the Sun Drenched Strips Pattern so you can see how much fun blasting through that pile of scraps can be. A colorful take on the traditional stacked coin quilt, it will add a burst of color to any room.
I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing authors who do amazing things. A great example is Sonja Hakala, the author of Teach Yourself VISUALLY Quilting. She steps in here to tell us about an incredible charity project she’s embarked on. Take it away, Sonja!
My mom loved quilts, so when I started down the fabric-covered highway, she immediately hinted that she would certainly be open to the idea of having some of my work for her own. My mom had Parkinson’s disease, an affliction that gave her hands such fierce tremors, she could no longer do any of her beloved crafts on her own.
So of course I made her a quilt. Two quilts, actually, and a variety of small wallhangings, table runners, and even a quilted Mother’s Day card one year.
But the one size I never made was a lap quilt. For those of you who don’t quilt, there are no firm dimensions for a lap quilt, though they’re generally about the same size as a large bath towel. To me, that was a quilt that was too small for a bed but too big to hang on an wall. I didn’t “get” lap quilts.
In that last two months of her life, my mom could not bear the weight of her bed-sized quilt any longer and asked me if I could make her something smaller. I was in a rush to get her what she wanted and remembered I had a number of blocks left from the log cabin quilts I made for Teach Yourself VISUALLY Quilting. But did I have enough?
I rushed to my orphaned blocks drawer and counted out 18 of them, just enough if I added some large squares in her favorite pink to each end.
I sewed like the wind and in three days, my son had a quilt to take with him when he went to see Grandma for what turned out to be the last time.
A week later, it was my turn to be at her bedside, and that is when I realized the true value of a lap quilt. It was just right to warm Mom’s shoulders or legs. Sometimes, for comfort, she curled it up in her hands and held it to to her face like a child with a beloved blanket.
While I was there, one of my brothers saw a small notice in a newsletter from the Alzheimer’s Foundation looking for people to make lap quilts for folks afflicted with that disease. “Hey, Sis,” he said with a brotherly elbow in my side. “You could do this for folks with Parkinson’s disease.”
I knew he was right the moment he said it.
Earlier this year, I teamed up with the Parkinson’s Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, to make my brother’s idea a reality. And the response has been incredible. Quilters are a generous lot, and they above all others know how much comfort there is in a quilt.
For now, I am shepherding this program into being in Vermont and New Hampshire, connecting local quilt guilds with local Parkinson’s Disease support groups. But we hope that this effort grows nationwide because the need is so great and the effort so appreciated.
If you would like to learn more about the Parkinson’s Quilt Project and see some of the quilts that have been donated so far, please visit http://www.parkinsonsquiltproject.com/.
Decide how far up the seam from the bottom of the hem—and how wide at the bottom—you want the godet to be. There’s no rule about size here; experiment until you find the size you like. Try 6 inches high and 3 inches wide to start. Mark your jeans with the location of the godets.
Mark and cut two godets the size you want, plus seam allowance. Use the hem stitch of your choice to hem the godets. The bottom of the godet can be rounded or straight, or even have a point.
Family heirlooms are a stitch away with Cherished Quilts for Babies and Kids! From crib- and bed-sized quilts to nursery décor, keepsakes, and gifts, you’ll get ideas and inspiration for making 35 beautiful quilted pieces for babies, kids, and teens.
This book includes gorgeous photographs and full-size patterns for all projects including a quilt diagram, easy assembly instructions and schematic illustrations to ease completion.
Attached is a free pattern from the book, Around the Block, which is a beautiful Log Cabin block quilt shown here on the cover. (Click here for the Sample Pattern_Cherished Quilts). We hope you’ll get some inspiration from this pattern and happy quilting! Also, check out all of our free projects on the free projects tab on this page.
All of us love the book Better Homes & Gardens Cherished Quilts for Babies and Kids. I am already hoarding too-small but well-loved t-shirts from my kids to make each of them a Tee Time quilt! The book is full of fresh, contemporary quilted projects that are perfect for quilted gifts for everyone from a new baby to a recent graduate.
Jennifer Keltner is the Executive Editor with some of our favorite quilting publications like American Patchwork & Quilting and Quilts & More. She’s also an accomplished quilter and designer ; her adorable Around the Block quilt is featured on the cover of Cherished Quilts for Babies and Kids. Jennifer sat down with us recently to answer some questions about making quilted projects for little ones.
In your opinion, what elevates a quilt to cherished status?
JK: In my mind, what elevates a quilt to cherished status is the relationship between the quilter who makes it and the recipient. There is a special bond between people when one cares enough to create a handmade gift. It’s really like sharing a part of themselves or a piece of their heart.
What has changed in recent years when it comes to creating quilts for kids?
JK: I think we’ve gotten well past the idea that baby quilts can only be pink, blue, and yellow. More moms and grandmas are creating quilts that reflect the styles and colors they use to decorate their homes—some are modern, others traditional, and some are more whimsical. For older kids, the idea of interactive quilts, like the “I Spy” quilt, or quilts with favorite motifs such as dinosaurs or owls, are quite popular. And never underestimate the power of giving a handmade quilt to a teenager. It’s like wrapping up in a hug from the sender—even if they’re away from home at school.
How did you come up with the idea for the Around the Block quilt?
JK: First of all, I love polka dot fabrics. I try to put a little bit of polka dot in every quilt I make. But for this quilt, I wanted to make it all polka dots. I love them in every size, color, and scale, so I thought, why not mix them all together? They’re happy to me. So I thought putting them together in a quick and easy baby quilt would make a little one wrapping up in it happy, too.
Is there anything in particular that quilters need to keep in mind when making projects for babies or younger children?
JK: Washability and durability are two key things. Of course you don’t want to put any small objects such as buttons on the quilt, as they can present a choking hazard. But beyond that, think of how the quilt will be used. If the recipient will need to wash it often, consider prewashing the fabrics so it will be colorfast. And perhaps consider using a shorter stitch length when piecing and binding your quilt to add to its overall durability. Adding a medium to dense amount of quilting can also ensure that the quilt will stand up better to years of continued love and use.
Are the projects in Cherished Quilts accessible to new quilters?
JK: Absolutely! Cherished doesn’t have to mean “heirloom.” You can quilt as much love into a quick-and-easy quilt project as you can a more complicated one. And with our thorough, quilter-tested instructions, everyone can quilt successfully.
Have you ever found yourself with, well, a bit too much fabric hanging around? Or, have you stuck to your resolutions and busted through a large stash and now have mounds of scraps left over? Whichever side of the fence you’re on, you’ll find plenty of compelling projects to use up your scraps Scrappy Quilts: 29 Favorite Projects from the Editors of American Patchwork and Quilting.
To prove it, we’ll share the Sun Drenched Strips Pattern so you can see how much fun blasting through that pile of scraps can be. A colorful take on the traditional stacked coin quilt, it will add a burst of color to any room.
If you have oodles of scraps left over from previous sewing and quilting projects, check out our newly-released Scrappy Quilts: 29 Favorite Projects from the Editors of American Patchwork and Quilting. You’ll find nearly 30 projects designed to help you find just the right project to use up every last bit of your favorite fabrics.
To give you a taste-test of the fun projects you’ll find, here is a sampling of projects you’ll find within the collection.
Feeling the urge to spruce up your abode with a nice pop of fresh fabric? Need a quick gift for a fellow home sewer, or are you looking for a quick wardrobe boost? Check out Bags, Pillows & Pincushions, fresh off the presses.
To get a head start on some spring stash-busting, I’ll start with this Market Bag Pattern by Joanna Figueroa. The patchwork front and back make it a great project for using up scraps from a favorite collection.