If you want a gift that will be remembered, a personalized keepsake quilt is the answer. The one my daughter made for her fourth grade teacher still hangs in the classroom, six years later. Grandparents adore these quilts and children enjoy making them.
The idea may seem daunting at first, but it’s a very easy project. Your children are going to use fabric paint on quilting blocks and you are going to sew them together using thin strips of coordinating fabric. All you use is a simple straight stitch and the only ‘quilting’ you’re doing involves tacking with yarn.
The project is reasonably priced, and if you purchase the items I have suggested, you will be able to make two quilts with those materials.
You can purchase fabric at any store, but Walmart sells sets of precut fabric blocks, which makes the whole project much easier. Purchase assorted solid colors and cut into quilting blocks. The blocks can be square or rectangular. Make sure they are at least twelve by twelve, and all blocks must be equal in size. If you have purchased the Walmart sets of precut fabric blocks, all you need to do is quarter their blocks to have an appropriate size to work with.
Buy a set of fabric paint in assorted colors, three yards of printed fabric (fabric with some type of pattern or print on it), one inexpensive king size blanket, one king size flat sheet in a solid color and a handful of scrap yarn.
Divide the quilting blocks into sets of twenty, using assorted colors. This will make two oversized lap quilts, five by four blocks. You may choose to make two larger quilts by dividing the quilting blocks into sets of twenty-four, for a six by four quilt. If you have chosen to use the Walmart sets of precut fabric blocks, you can just divide those blocks in half to come up with two sets of quilting blocks for two quilts.
Using butcher paper, poster board or thin cardboard, create a work area upon which your children may paint. Children may apply enough paint to leak through the fabric and stick to newspaper, so make sure you use something heavier to work on. Have your children, or the individual’s grandchildren draw pictures on the quilting blocks with the fabric paint. Suggest themes for the drawings, such as grandma’s house, their school, family members and the family pets.
Allow the painted quilting blocks to dry overnight. Cut two to four inch strips out of the printed fabric. Measure the length of one fabric block (vertical measurement) and then cut fifteen of the strips into that length for a four by five quilt, or eighteen of the strips into that length for a four by six quilt.
Lay the quilting squares on the floor to arrange into the order of your choice. Sew a shortened strip onto the right vertical side of the first block from each row. Sew a shortened strip onto the right vertical side of the second and third blocks from each row. Lay each piece back into its place on the floor to keep your arrangement in order.
Sew the shortened strip that is now attached to the first block in the first row, to the left vertical side of the second block in the first row. Continue by attaching each block to the previous block of each row until all five or six rows have been completed.
Measure the width (horizontal measurement) of the first row. You now need six long strips of that width (seven long strips if you are making a 4×6 quilt). You may need to sew individual strips together to reach that measurement.
Take one long strip and sew it along the top of the first row. Take a second long strip and sew it along the bottom of the first row, then sew that strip along the top of the second row. Continue sewing the rows together, by use of the long strips. End with a long strip sewn along the bottom of the last row.
Measure the length (vertical measurement) of the quilt. Cut two long strips to that measurement, again sewing strips together if needed. Sew those strips to the right and left vertical sides of the quilt.
Lay the finished quilt on top of the king size blanket and cut out a piece of the blanket to size. A king size blanket should accommodate two of these quilts. Do the same with the king size flat sheet.
Layer the quilt with the sheet on the bottom, the quilt on the top and the blanket in the middle. Use the scrap yarn to tack all three pieces together. Use approximately four inches of yard per tack and double knot the yard to the quilt. Suggested places to tack are at the corners of the painted squares or every five inches along the printed fabric strips.
Use a four to five inch strip of the printed fabric to finish along the sides of the quilt, folding over to cover the edges.
The quilt looks best if it looks homemade, so there is no need to fuss over the finishing touches. If your children are older, you may even want to let them do the sewing.
Your child’s teachers and grandparents are sure to cherish this for years to come.