As I get closer to the end of this pregnancy, my body is just tired. I am having a hard time bending over (whaaat?! 🙂 and I am loving smaller projects I can start and finish in an afternoon, if I’m lucky. We’ve been spending a lot of time at the swimming pool and that means my boys are wiped out in the late afternoon, so I get some sewing time.
One of my favorite quilters is Meg from Monograms for Makers. She released a FREE pillow pattern for a fun gingham quilt on point and I knew I had to make one for a pillow refresh for my couch. I used two of my favorite, hoarded cotton + steel basics paired with another hoarded Rifle Paper Co. print to create a slightly less conventional gingham pattern.
Since I spend a lot of time sitting trying to not have this baby early, I also decided to do some big stitch hand quilting. I love the look of hand quilting. If you’re not someone who is confident or familiar with big stitch hand quilting with perle cotton, might I recommend a pillow cover as a great place to start? It’s small enough to work with and get enough practice without being a daunting project.
This blog post will go through my philosophy and some things I’ve learned on sewing WITH children and sewing with children AROUND. These are 2 very different things and in my experience have required different strategies. I love involving my children when it is a charity project. I want them to understand what it means to give of yourself to others and sewing is a great way to do that.
On Sewing WITH Children
I’m not going to lie, we do not do this often. It requires a level of patience I usually just don’t have to give. I don’t want them to be stressed or feel my stress when they are working on a project. Sewing should be fun, especially when kids are involved. When I do feel up to sewing with my children, here is what I try to do.
Expect that whatever you are working on will take about a million hours longer than expected. Literally. Break the project up into tiny parts. You do all of the cutting, and then maybe you have them help pin for the first day.
Speaking of pins, if it is possible at all, I cannot recommend using clover clips or some other kind of clip highly enough. This lets your kids be in charge and in a safe way.
Depending upon their age, have them sit on your lap for the actual sewing. Their hands can go on top of yours and they can help guide the fabric. This is exactly what I’d recommend for younger kids or for kids who are trying to sew for the first time.
Once your kids are a bit older, let them control the foot pedal. If your machine has speed control, turn it ALL the way down. Just have them be in charge of the pedal and you guide the fabric through. We did this recently and it worked so well with my almost 8 year old.
Eventually you can let your kids loose and they can control everything, but once again if you can turn the speed down, do it.
You should always be in charge of ironing/pressing. I haven’t reached an age with my kids where either I am comfortable with them being in charge or they are comfortable.
We recently made these pillowcases to donate to Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City. I’ve posted before about why I donate to Shriner’s. This is so important to me to have my children and husband be involved. It is an important part of my father’s life and I want them to know that there are such wonderful people in the world that we can help support.
On Sewing with Children AROUND
I used to get asked all the time how I got so much done with little kids around. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure and I know I have very good, mostly obedient boys. I have exposed them to me sewing ever since they were young. I really feel like that has been a huge help. They learn from an early age that the iron is hot, that pins can poke you, and that when mom says NO forcefully, it is because she’s trying to keep you from cutting your finger off. 🙂
When my second child was a baby rolling around and into things, I would get out a piece of scrap fabric for him. He loved sucking on it, pulling on it, etc and I found this gave me more time to spend sewing. He loved this.
Since both of my boys have gotten a bit older, I try to find age appropriate ways to involve them, if they are wanting to be involved. Sometimes that means letting them sit on my lap and “help” me sew. Sometimes that means letting them carry my cold iron to get water in it. Sometimes that means letting them get me a cup of water to put into my already hot iron.
The thing my 4 year old has loved doing most by far is handing me pins. It takes a lot of patience in the beginning, but he has learned that he hands me one pin at a time and only when I say I’m ready. He is also in charge of throwing away my trimming trash or scrap trash, but he knows to ask first before throwing things away.
I feel like we should absolutely involved our children and spouses and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and anybody that we’d like to in our sewing. I love passing on some skills and excitement with my children and I am excited to see what things continue to evolve into as they grow up!
Every time I post about my hand quilting on instagram, I get a lot of questions. I thought it would be easier to make a permanent place for those answers to be stored here on my blog. Nothing in this post is sponsored. It is just my opinions on things I want to share to hopefully make someone’s life a bit easier in the hand quilting sense.
Last year, my husband’s aunt asked if I would like her Grace Company EZ2 hand quilting frames. I immediately jumped at the offer. Thankfully we have an unfinished basement and an easy way to store the frames when they are not in use. Because the set up does take a few minutes, I usually wait until I have 2-3 quilts that I would like to hand quilt before we get the frames out again. Every 6 months, the church that I belong to (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has a general conference for the entire worldwide membership. It spans 2 days and many hours of listening to inspiring messages from our leaders. I find it extremely helpful to have a handwork project to do during those hours of listening to help me focus and stay awake. 🙂 This Saturday and Sunday happen to be general conference and I am so excited to get my hand quilting going while listening.
I find the hand quilting frames extremely helpful to my overall process. I have tried hoops, pin basting, spray and pin basting, basically every method I could try for hand quilting. I have even done it with a very different hand quilting frame set up that my mom has. This is by far the best set up. It takes about an hour for me to get my quilt loaded and ready to go. There are several helpful youtube videos that Grace Company has produced that I reference every time, just to make sure I am doing it correctly.
As far as supplies go, I do find that batting type matters quite a bit. If it’s a cheap batting, there is lots of bearding that happens as you pull the thread through. It just requires some trial and error before you can decide on a batting that works best.
I use #8 Perle Cotton as my thread. I LOVE the chunky look of this thread. I feel like hand quilting takes so much time and effort that I really like to see the stitches. This is probably an abomination to a lot of quilters, but I love the added character it gives. JoAnn’s does stock some Perle Cotton, but they do not have a huge range of colors. If you are looking for something specific, I recommend Herrschner’s online. They have sooooo many colors. I do find that their shipping is slow and expensive. If you sign up for their emails, you can wait until there is a shipping deal if you are not in a hurry. I also buy 2 skiens at a time of every color I choose. For most quilts I use 1-1.5 skiens and you just never know when you’ll need more than 1. It is such a pain to get most of the way done to have to wait on more Perle Cotton to arrive.
I never mark my lines. This is usually an adventure, but I just am not particular enough to care that things are perfect. If this is something that matters to you, I suggest you mark your lines before you load your quilt (or pin baste it or whatever your preferred method is if you don’t have hand quilting frames).
I use embroidery needles instead of a smaller needle. The heads are large enough to fit the Perle cotton easily without much fuss. I also could not do this without my Clover Leather Thimble. I use this for quilting and binding and it is LIFE CHANGING. If you do a lot of handwork and you don’t have one of these, I promise it is worth the expense. I do a lot of hand work and I find that I usually need to replace it once a year because it stretches quite a bit with use. I order a small and after I use it two or three times, it is the perfect size.
If hand quilting is something you are interested in trying, there are tons of tutorials and resources available from other bloggers. The best advice I can give is to go for it. Start with a mini or a pillow cover and go from there. If you enjoy hand work at all, hand quilting is something that is so fun to add to your repertoire!