Teaching My Son to Quilt: Part 4

I'm teaching my 4 1/2 year old son to make a quilt. In the last update you saw that he had finished sewing the rows of his quilt. Sorry for the delay. It's been a busy/rough couple of weeks. I had taught him how to use the iron, but only let him iron some of my fat quarters. Then I completed the picky job of pressing all of his 1/4" seams open on his rows.

First time sewing solo.

All of the sewing we've done has been together, with him guiding the fabric and me running the pedal as he sits on my lap. He's too short for any other option at my regular sewing table. So Wednesday evening I set him up to sew solo. The kids have a 21" tall art table in the same room that I sew in. It's a little too high (perhaps I can shorten it up a couple inches) to be ideal, but it did allow him to sew all by himself. I pulled out some scrap 5" squares of fabric and set him up to do some practice piecing. He was disappointed that the bobbin was already in, because he wanted to do that (maybe next time, kiddo). I reminded him how to turn the machine on and showed him the needle position switch, explaining that I like to have the needle stop in the down position when I am piecing or quilting. I helped him pair up his first two pieces of fabric right sides together and watched as he put the fabric in position and lowered the presser foot.

I wasn't sure how the actual "sewing on his own" part would go. It takes a fair amount of effort for a 4 1/2 year old to push down hard enough on the pedal to engage it. This was good in the sense that he definitely wasn't sewing too fast. I was ironing fabric about 5 feet away with him directly in front of me, so I was able to monitor him to remind him to look at the needle.

Keeping his fabric up against the guide on the quarter inch foot proved a bit of a struggle, but as he went he got better at repositioning the fabric by switching the needle switch to the up position, taking a half a stitch, and manually moving the fabric over to where it needed to be before continuing (you can really see that on the photo below on the far right). He pieced 5 pairs of blocks, then he switched to decorative stitches. Yeah, I remember loving those as a kid too! Then the bobbin ran out, Game over for the evening. ;-)

solo chain piecing
fancy stitching

Yesterday we were able to it down together to sew. I showed him how I match up the seams on the rows and he handed me pins to pin the rows together, then he sat on my lap to do the stitching. Sewing these 36" seams proved very tiring. He had to hop down to take breaks and get water. :-) We did four of the five seams. So with just one seam left, next time we'll have a completed quilt top to show you! He's excited to make the quilt sandwich after that. :-)

almost done

I thought it might be fun to interview him about the process of learning to quilt. Please comment below with any questions for him. I'll post the interview in one of my future posts.

For previous posts on me teaching my son to quilt, view part 1, part 2 and part 3 in the series. Next up, part 5.

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8 thoughts on “Teaching My Son to Quilt: Part 4

    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thanks, and I will. I think I'll be setting him up with the walking foot to do some straight light quilting... he'll be ready for your class in no time! ;-)

  1. Bo

    Good job "boy". Ask him what his favorite part of the quilting process is. How was it for him to learn from his Mom? What are his plans for the quilt once it is done?

  2. The pressing on the pedal was also an issue for my three year-old. That's why she kept looking at her foot. Keeping it straight is hard, the quarter-foot with guide helps - a little. :) I love his art table. We have a similar one, so I should try that.

    1. sarah

      Post author

      I used a piece of grippy rubber (like a piece of shelf liner) under the pedal which helped it from sliding on the hardwood floor. It's definitely hard for my (now) 5-year-old to push it. I can't imagine my tiny little 3-year-old even trying. ;-)


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