A new demographic…

We’ve all seen the surveys… the “average quilter” is a woman in her late 50s.  We may need to skew that number down a little bit.

This sweet young man is 3-1/2 years old and he stitched that pillow on a sewing machine.  He picked the fabrics too!  But more on him in a moment…

Kids are learning to sew at home, in school and in quilt shops.  They learn from family members who sew, and they’re interested because it’s fun – isn’t that why we do it? – and because of the satisfaction of being able to say “look what I made!”  Teachers are using quilting to teach fractions, geometry and other math skills.  (Think about it… calculating the required yardage for a quilt involves multiplying the number of strips of each size, adding up the various numbers, dividing it by 36, maybe adding 5% for straightening cuts and errors, then turning that number into a fraction.  Ack!)

These young men and women are quilters.

They submitted blocks for the National Quilt Museum‘s Annual School Block Challenge.

The School Block Challenge is a competition and exhibit for children grades K-12 nationwide.  Three challenge fabrics are provided to applicants and the fabrics must be included in the block entry.  Using math skills, creativity and whatever techniques they choose, they work to create a quilt block of their own design.  Students can make a block on their own, at school, in a home-school program, with a Girl or Boy Scout Troop, in a 4-H club or just about any youth organization or club.  The idea is to participate and have fun.

The exhibit hangs in the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky from early January to mid-April.  As a proud sponsor of the challenge, Moda Fabrics donates the three challenge fabrics.

Three quilters/artists from the local community are chosen to judge the blocks based on craftsmanship, creative use of the three challenge fabrics and overall composition.

Blocks can use glue, iron-on fusibles, embellishments and trims, and additional fabrics but they must have some form of stitching done by hand or by sewing machine.

This is Sunrise by Naarah White of Paducah, Kentucky – the First Place block for the Kindergarten-4th Grade division.

Over the River and Through The Woods by Cameron Tiefenthaler of Mechanicsburg, Ohio is the First Place block in the 9th-12th Grade division.

The Grand Prize block is Naughty Kitty in the City by Caity Kerlinger of Paducah, Kentucky.

Caity is in the K-4th Grade division.

To see ALL of the winning blocks in the 2017 School Block Challenge. 

Some of the block titles are Memories of Halloween, The Frog That Lost It’s True Love, The Universe, Lady Lady Legs, Potato Head and Here’s That Rainy Day.  Click the images to see the names of the super-creative kids who made each block.

There were 204 blocks submitted by 255 students from sixteen different states.  Participants are invited to a reception and Awards Ceremony that kicks-off the opening of the exhibit.  For more information on participating – 25th Annual School Block Challenge.

Now about that young man and his pillow… the Moda Bake Shop was an Exhibitor at the Asheville Quilt Guild Show a few weeks ago.  (September 29 – October 1.)

Our fearless leaders – Kim Polson and Debbi Duckworth!  They’re funny, friendly, knowledgeable and they were mixing Cakes at the show.

One of the features for the Asheville Quilt Guild Show is a Kids Sewing Station.  Children ages 5 to 16 are invited to participate in the free activity where Guild members will teach and guide them in the use of a sewing machine.  Kids chose eight pre-cut squares of Moda fabrics to make a pillow.  They joined squares for the front and back – four squares each – and then assembled the pillow.  It was stuffed and stitched closed.

This little cutie might be difficult but the pillow obviously isn’t – look at how well he matched those seams!  He’s got skillz.

So does this young man – he made a pillow and got his picture taken with Mr. Dunn.

I love that purple button.

Sewing for kids is so popular that there will be a seminar-presentation by Generation Q Magazine at Fall Quilt Market for “Kids Really Are Sewing.”

So do you sew with your kids or grandkids?  What kinds of projects do you make?

And how old were you when you learned to sew?  I was nine.  My Mom refused to teach me, she insisted I take a Singer Sewing Class so I could learn my own bad habits instead of hers.  My Mom was really smart that way.

Happy Friday!

Jump to Leave us a Comment

26 thoughts on “A new demographic…

  1. It’s a heartwarming privilege to teach and coach the next generation of quilters. My 8 year old next door neighbor wanted to make a basketball and baseball quilt for her big brother’s bed like the one I made her last year. We picked the fabrics, I cut squares, and we sewed them together. Since she wanted it done pronto, we each sewed 50% (quilt math!) of the quilt. I quilted it for them, and he is happily using it, and she is very proud that he does. Next one she’s doing all by herself.

  2. Two of my granddaughters love sewing and have purchased a sewing machine for one and the next is getting one for Christmas. Started with pillow cases. Grandson likes to spend time at the sewing machine too. Hard for me as they all live a great distance from me.

  3. Sew cute! I learned sewing from my mum don’t know how old I was but still in elemantary school. And when I was a teen she teached me how to quilt. Didn’t teach a kid yet how to sew since I have none yet but perhaps one day.

  4. I was 8 or 9 when i learned to sew by watching my mother. By the time i graduated high school, most of my wardrobe was made by me on her Singer. It’s so encouraging to see this next generation embracing quilting. It really helps take the “old lady” stigma away. I wish I didn’t live so far from the grandkids – I’d love to let them shop my stash and then teach them how to assemble their choices into something special. It’s magical watching kids discover new things and master new tasks. Good job all!

  5. I started teaching my Grandaughter to sew when she was 5. She made lap quilts, I bought here a featherweight, she hated it, “nana, it does not sew fast enough like yours”. Every year she would enter her quilt into the local guild show, now that she is a teenager she has gotten away from it, but it is in her blood and she will start a again. Great story, thanks for sharing.

  6. I tried to sewing when I was in 8th grade, some success. I took sewing classes on clothing and tailoring as a young adult. I had 2 son’s so sewing was not anything they every wanted to try. I now have 4 granddaughter’s ages 14-6. I am teaching them all to sew and they love it. I now cannot go an visit without projects for them to make. It is almost he first thing they ask when I arrive for a visit “what are we going to sew”. Warms my heart!

  7. this is especially good to see because quite often people don’t even know what a quilter is – they think “do people really do that anymore” so many just buy what they need and don’t think to make – must teach the kids!

  8. I’m thrilled when I see these posts of getting the next generation involved in sewing because we are all getting older. Maybe if it was possible to sew from an iPhone App we would get more kids interested!!! Yikes.

  9. I just clicked through, and they’ve run out of fabric… 🙁 Any idea of what the fabric lines are? I’d love to get my local 4-H group involved, and am more than willing to buy the fabrics myself…

  10. There is nothing I love more than having my granddaughter rifle through my scraps and choose what to put together to make a dolly quilt. She has been sorting through my scrap box since she was four, learned to use the sewing machine at six and can sew a lovely 1/4 inch seam at seven. She sews by herself, or she designs on the floor, and then we both sew her amazing creations. She has some very happy dollies and I have some wonderful memories of time with my granddaughter!

    1. April, your comment really warmed my heart! Thanks for sharing what is so personal : ). Boy, I think there’s a very special “type” (?) of fulfillment in connecting generations by sharing & caring about the same thing! I need to find a notch — or choose one! — and share sewing with a child! I have none, and know it’ll never be the same as the “thread” connecting myyslf with my mom, and then my grandma, too! Precious memories(!), and ‘am glad you shared your (special : ) comment. Happy stitching!

  11. I remember my grandmother teaching me to “sew” on her Singer treadle by having me follow lines drawn on a sheet of paper. I was about 8. Not long after that, I was sewing for real on my mother’s machine. Mom helped me make a Raggedy Ann doll. Then in junior high Home Ec, I made an apron and a skirt. From there, I continued to make garments and Halloween costumes for myself and my daughter. I started quilting in 2011 with the (persistent) encouragement from my mom. So happy I found quilting! I love the quilting community! Everyone I have met at shops, shows and guilds is really nice.

  12. I love this! This spring my 3-yr-old grandson sat on my lap and we sewed (interfaced backed) elephants onto 14-in-sqs that would be made into either pillows or into pillowcases. He has been playing ‘stitchin’ on my machine since he was 10 months old. He was so happy! Announced that he was Stitchin to his Mom and Dad. Dad was really surprised and happy.
    Grandma has been sewing since age 9 on her mother’s Singer. Made clothes for self and 5 kids. Started with clothes for self and sister in teens. Started quilting 1978. Sewing is relaxing and you always feel real accomplishment. Have taught daughters – daughters-in-law – some taking quilting classes. Pay it forward everyone! Thanks Carrie for a fun column and all my quilting books.

  13. My mom taught me to sew at a young age. She and I made all my clothes through my 20’s! I continued and sew for my 5 children. My children, even the 2 boys know how to sew, but as adults they sew occasionally. Some of my 17 grandchildren have sewn quilts, pjs, pillows, pillowcases, and bears with some help. It’s so fun passing the craft on! One granddaughter who is 9, has her own sewing machine and has been able to thread it since she was 8! She is loves to sew and has an amazing straight seam!
    Love your posts!

  14. I taught my son how to sew when he was a teen, he wanted a certain fashion, and I told him we could not afford it, but I’d teach him how to make it. He was a big hit with the girls.

  15. My mother didn’t learn to sew until she was in her 60s, so I used to do all the hemming, stitchery for pillowcases. We didn’t have a sewing machine so when I was able to take my first sewing class in Junior High, I became hooked. I had my own sewing machine when I married and have never been without one since – that was over 56 years ago. Neither of my girls sew but 2 granddaughters do, guess it skips a generation.

  16. My son is sewing with his 16 year old daughter I have loaned them each a Bernina 1130 when my granddaughter graduates from high school she gets her sewing machine for keeps…after I have it serviced for her.
    I have 4 other grandchildren each gets sewing time with grandma and each gets a sewing machine after they graduate from high school, use vintage sewing machines so I already have their sewing machines waiting for each to pick upon high school graduation.

  17. Joyce I respectfully disagree. For me this is telling me that our children are being taught about slavery in school which is a good thing. It is part of our history and should not be swept under the rug or be banned from being taught like so many other historical events. This block is a child’s perception of a slave breaking the chains of slavery. Instead of asking that it be taken down it gives us the opportunity to discuss this with our children and grandchildren. Please just think about the fact that it is going to be displayed in a public venue and the conversations and lessons that will be taught when this blocked is looked upon.

  18. I do not have any grandchildren to teach. My mother taught me to sew in 4-H when I was 8, I learned on my great grandmother’s treadle machine. Making that pot holder was not pleasant at the time because the machine was not sewing correctly and my mother was getting upset with me, she did not know it at the time but my father had repaired his jeep cover on the machine and broken the needle and replaced it with the wrong size. Funny now but not then! I have my great grandmother”s sewing machine proudly in my quilting room.

  19. Love these stories! I taught my grandson to sew beginning at age 5. We made a potholder and he was so proud he nearly popped! This year (he’s almost 6 now) he wanted to “sew an army truck”, so he made placemats for himself and his little brother with the truck appliqued in the middle. Unlike one of the stories related, he doesn’t want the machine to “sew fast”, and I’m very glad my Janome has a good speed regulator. Sewing is such a wonderful, creative and flexible activity for boys and girls alike. A young man I knew in college made a cover for his motorcycle!

  20. When my grandson, Joseph, was four, he made a sweet nine patch flannel quilt for his new baby brother. I cut the blocks, drew the 1/4″ sewing line on them, and quilted the quilt. He caught on to the sewing machine immediately, and loved it. (He’s a mechanic now, and still loves electronic and mechanical things!) At seven, he picked out his own fabrics, and made a beautiful, red, white and blue flannel quilt for himself. He’s hooked on quilting and sewing! He eventually sewed the baby items for his son’s nursery, and layette! (And, he does all the mending for his family!) His younger brother was not at all interested, ever, but appreciates his big brother’s talent! And I’m a VERY proud Grandma!

Comments are closed.