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Minutes from ME

Meet ME

Shapes, Lines, Angles & Quilts

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A quilt can be a tool for learning.

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In Pennsylvania patchwork quilting is a special part of our heritage. While the practical and symbolic features of quilts are plain to see, their geometric qualities intrigue us too.

In first getting accustomed to the patchwork idea geoboards are useful, large scale graph paper and a pencil or a simple Painting computer program work well too. We practice by copying traditional quilt block designs from sources such as Quilts-a-Go-Go or the Quilt Blocks Page. We discuss the amazing geometric variety we can make from just straight lines inside a square and a bunch of different colors. We discuss the shapes all around us and their potential as quilt block basics. (One child's creation of a block from a centered STOP sign surrounded by triangles is a particularly memorable item.) We discuss the geography and derivation of the interesting names for quilt block designs. Lastly we discuss the good feelings of quilting which come from working together in friendship to make small blocks combine and from thinking of the people we will give it to.

The end of the school year is a good time for a "Hand It On" project. We make a patchwork quilt or banner which passes on welcomes and tips from the "leaving" class to the new students who will arrive in that class and find the quilt when school restarts after the summer break. Each quilt or banner is made up from individual patchwork "people" created by each ongoing student.

STEP ONE
We plan and design the way our characters will look, checking the angles on the grid and measuring the lines to make sure the designs are symmetrical and identical. Next comes the gathering of materials:

FOR SMALLER CHILDREN: Pieces of colored paper, posterboard for backing, and glue.
OR, FOR OLDER CHILDREN:
  • A variety of fabric pieces.
  • Large fabric piece for the base and one for the backing.
  • Fusible webbing to iron the pieces onto the base fabric.

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For Girls For Boys

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Click on either image to see a larger version.

STEP TWO
We make cardboard templates, one for each separate section of our design. Symmetry pays off at this stage - remember that a template for one pant leg can simply be flipped over to be used for the opposite leg - more mathematical magic. Do check the templates for accuracy and fit before the next step.

STEP THREE
Select the fabrics and cut out the pieces. Pin the pieces in place on the backing fabric and then use the fusible webbing or glue to attach those pieces to the backing. If you have chosen to make larger "people" leave an opening for a "pocket" in each skirt or pants, the reason for this shows later.

STEP FOUR
Connect the blocks to make that cheerful, multicolored masterpiece which must now be quilted. Add a layer of thin batting between the patchwork piece and the large backing piece and use the simplest quilting method - TIE IT. The yarn used to tie through the layers can even be included in the design if strategically placed to double as shoelaces, belts, hairbands, etc.

FINISHING TOUCH
Now for the reason why a pocket opening is left in each character. Into that pocket goes a note written by that blockmaker handing down welcomes and tips from the "leaving" class to the new students who will arrive in that class when school restarts after the summer break.

When we are finished we have a quilt which links our school community in friendship and learning - the best benefits of quilting.

While this exercise is light on sewing technique, it gets the job done. No stitching of seams, no mental gymnastics in remembering the right fabric side and seam allowances, no ambitious quilt stitching, but such a satisfying project.

Some of the books we read during our quilting bee are:
  • "The Patchwork Quilt" by Valerie Flournoy
  • "Tanya's Reunion" by Valerie Flournoy
  • "The Quilt Story" by Tony Johnson
  • "The Bedspread" by Sylvia Fair
  • "The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polacco
  • "The Quilt" by Ann Jonas

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A quilt can be a tool for learning.

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