For this quilt, I used a bookcase theme.
The idea is that each child creates a quilt block that
looks like the spine of a book, when put together,
and edged with wood grain fabric, the quilt looks
like a bookcase. The book could be real titles,
or imagined titles, but they had to represent the
personality of the student who created it.
I made two sample templates, but kept them very plain
so I wouldn't interfere with their creativity. Text could
go in either direction. Text was not a requirement,
though. If a child wanted to create a spine what was
just color and pattern, that was find. I did handout rulers
and instructed them to only use straight lines. No
curves or circles were allowed (this was a concession
on my part to make assembly easier). I also limited
them to 5 fabrics, but this was a loose rule that I was
happy to make exceptions for. Then, I let them go.
This is a sampling of what they created.
I precut the templates into varying widths and heights,
but let the students choose which slip they wanted.
I think it is key to the success of this quilt that the books
vary in dimension. You'll notice that there are no
seam allowances in the templates. I added all of the
seam allowances in the construction phase of the quilt.
Since these are 3rd graders, I had them make all of
the notes on their patterns. They wrote down
descriptions of the fabrics, and if they preferred they
could draw the patterns in. Each fabric swatch had to
be larger than the space it was to fill on their pattern.
I did double check the fabric size and the notes on the
templates when each child was done, so that I could
be sure that I understood what they'd written.
I left class that day with a pile of patterns with the
fabrics pinned to the back of each template. At home,
I had the help of another parent to trace the patterns
onto lightweight stabilizer. I used a foundation
piecing technique to assemble the quilt. With my
straight line only rule, the blocks came together
really quickly. I have a tutorial on foundation pieceing
Notes on doing this project with a classroom.
If I do this quilt again, I would be sure to tell the
students to hold on to their fabrics. There were a
few students that thought I could find their fabrics in
the bin (we're talking 20 pounds of fabric) based on
descriptions like "red flowers". I was flattered that
they had such faith in my deduction powers, but also
traumatized. I also recommend that you forbid
scissors. I did this, but still had to repeatedly tell them
not to cut the fabric no matter how large they thought
the piece was.
I used an hour of class time for this project and had
4 parent helpers. We were able to also tackle
a project for the back of the quilt, and everyone had
time to finish. It should be noted, however, that I
have worked with all of these students before, and
could skip some of the introduction to how things
work. If I were to do this project with a different
class, I would only do the front, not the back of the
quilt. (I'll cover the back in another post.)