Finished Patchwork + Teaching Kids to Sew


I mentioned in a post this past summer that I’d been helping my daughter get started on working on her own patchwork quilt. This has been a long work-in-progress. We picked out the fabric about 5 years ago (most of it was from Denyse Schmidt’s Sugar Creek collection at JoAnn’s). In fact, I even found the blog post where I shared it here . (Whoa. That was a while ago. But three cheers for actually using it, right?!)


We finally started cutting it into squares a couple summers later. Last summer we got as far as laying out the squares into rows.


This summer, I’m proud to say, we got ‘er done! Woo! And I’m even more proud to say, my daughter did most of the work herself. This was possibly her last summer at home and she was feeling motivated to do it. It helped that she could binge watch the Gilmore Girls and the Summer Olympics while she worked.


It also helped that she was focusing on finishing up a goal for a program at church. Here she is binding the quilt (I totally made her do it herself 😉 ) right before the Sunday evening program where the teenage girls were sharing their goals they’d accomplished. (Nothing like a hard deadline for motivation.)


Since sharing my daughter working on this quilt during the summer, I’ve had people ask me about when to teach kids to sew. I have to admit, I have not been super pro-active about teaching my kids to sew, so I don’t consider myself an expert by any means.  My first response would be: whenever they show an interest. Run with that.  Don’t force it on them. There are so many things that as a parent you have to get your kids to do (homework, housework, and basic hygeine come to mind) that I don’t think it’s a great idea to create a power struggle over something that should be fun.


Second, use age-appropriate projects. I personally wouldn’t start a kid sewing by themselves at a sewing machine younger than 8. (Even then, I’d heavily supervise, depending on the ability of the particular kid to focus and be careful.) Pre-8, they could sew with you, or it’s a great time to do handwork projects. Start with sewing cards or other big-stitch projects.

Keep it acheiveable for them and calibrate your (and their) expectations.  Find projects that are age/skill-level appropriate. (For example Barbie clothes are NOT an easy learn-to-sew project. Right?!)

Use this as an opportunity to build their self-esteem. I think we all know what it’s like to attempt a project that feels overwhelming and frustrating. As adults, it’s easier to tell ourselves “This was a hard project.” and not have it be a reflection of who we are. For kids, I think it’s so much easier to get frustrated and discouraged by an external project and suddenly hate the whole concept of sewing, or worse, make them feel bad about who they are as an individual.

With all of that caveat, here are some great posts on teaching kids to sew with good skill-building projects that are actually helpful:


This project was a good one for my daughter. She’s had some sewing experience so she felt comfortable with the sewing machine and I could just turn her loose. Patchwork squares are such a good beginning quilting project. Don’t worry about perfectly matched points, just enjoy the process  – especially on that first project.

We did have my friend Monica do the quilting for us (because even I don’t quilt my own big quilts) but I made her do the binding herself (even though it wasn’t her favorite part.) 😉


I am SOOoooo proud of this girl and all of the hard work and choices she’s making right now. Being a teenager is tough stuff. I think they all deserve a cheer. Or at least a hug.    aqua-and-green-patchwork-quilt

This weekend we finally got around to taking pictures. We have had the most crazy, mild November. I think that’ll change this week, but I sure have enjoyed it while it’s lasted.

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  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Beautiful fabric beautiful quilt beautiful girl!
    Looks like her mama;)

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Beautiful! Both your daughter and the quilt…

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Love the fabric and the quilt, and she is beautiful. Thanks to your tutorial, binding IS my favorite part!
    Thank you for the links. I’ve sewn since I was 14 (I’m 68), but I am not a teacher, and my daughter and granddaughters have mentioned me teaching them. I will study the links you provided and wait for the next expression of interest! 🙂

  • Reply
    Summer Daisy
    November 16, 2016 at 6:20 am

    She is so cute and that quilt is quite lovely too ♥

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Please tell your daughter how proud of her that I am. This just does my heart good. You are teaching her a love that she may wander from but will come back to and it will make her feel close to you, no matter how far apart you are…. Love the fabric choice to. I’m collecting Denyse Schmidt fabrics for a quilt myself!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Now I want to drop everything and make a quilt with just patchwork squares. Well done.

  • Reply
    Marrianna Dougherty
    November 16, 2016 at 8:19 am

    When I was in grammar school, we had home economics classes for the girls. I learned to sew there. Then I would go home and show Mom what I had learned and she would usually show me an easier method to do some of the work. Set in sleeves come to mind. But Mom didn’t quilt at all. I have no idea why not. And she is gone so I can’t ask her. She was a very good sewer and did teach me to do embroidery. I have sons, now grown, who have NEVER shown any interest in learning to sew.

    Great post and I’ve followed a couple of the links. Now I’m off to find your binding tutorial.

    Excellent job by your daughter on her first quilt.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      My grandmother was an amazing seamstress- made lots of clothes, but only ever made one quilt in her lifetime and that was a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt before her wedding. I guess if you’re going to only ever make one quilt, a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt is an epic one to make. And may also possibly be the reason she never made another, haha.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 8:31 am

    What a great finish~no matter how long it took! I have one daughter who really took to quilting, and one who didn’t…you just never know! Congrats to her for getting it done, and to you to being “patient” (not my favorite word!)

  • Reply
    Toni Macomb
    November 16, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Lovely quilt and daughter! My grandson was interested in sewing at age 9 and made his first quilt that summer and put it in the county fair. My grand daughter thought she wanted to do one too at the same age but….it was started at age 9 and it is still unfinished at age 16! Oh well, just different interests I guess!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Yep! I relate to that! All of my kids have totally different interests when it comes to sewing! And my youngest son is the one who is the most interested. No way to predict, is there?!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 11:06 am

    BEAUTIFUL! The Quilt+The Model !

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    What a beautiful quilt. Good job!

  • Reply
    Ali Honey
    November 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    The result is beautiful. I love the colours she used together. Well done Indeed!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    What a lovely quilt, and a beautiful daughter. I can see why you are so proud of her. I would like quilters to keep in mind that their boys may enjoy sewing . . . my son took a sewing class when he was a youngster and loved it. Now I’m hoping his son will show an interest, too.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 18, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Agreed! Of all my kids, my youngest son is the most interested in sewing! I love it!

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    November 16, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Great job and I am inspired! I have those same fabrics mostly cut up for a quilt, and when I realized the pattern created a lot of waste per the cutting instructions, I stopped to figure out a better way. Then I moved on to other things. I need to pull that one out and finish it! And my backing fabric is the same too — haha!

    • Reply
      Karen Seitz
      November 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      BTW, your 2011 post is what had me scurrying to Joann’s to get all that fabric! 🙂

      • Reply
        Amy Smart
        November 18, 2016 at 11:26 am

        Haha! That’s so funny! Denyse Schmidt had us all scurrying to JoAnn’s for a while!

  • Reply
    Sandra B
    November 16, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Amy, your daughter’s quilt is beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 12:00 am

    So glad to be able to follow the progress 🙂

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 12:17 am

    She did a terrific job. Such an accomplishment! My oldest daughter started sewing at 9 .. made a little wrap dress. When she was 24, she made her wedding dress. She did not think she could quilt but she sure has and does beautifully. My youngest daughter, now 49, has never wanted to sew and doesn’t. She is creative in other ways .. she paints and draws beautifully. They need to go their own way. That’s what we teach them. I’m very proud of all 5 of my kids. All different and all great. Sew or not … should be their choice. I think anyway.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 18, 2016 at 11:25 am

      I totally agree! My mom has 4 daughters and I’m the only one that sews. My sisters paint, run, etc. – everybody needs to find their own thing!

  • Reply
    maggy, red ted art
    November 17, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Oh what a wonderful post! Love love love it! I am soon to tackle the sewing machine with my daughter too!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Hip hip hooray! I’m sure she will remember the experience for a lifetime and will have a sweet little quilt to cherish. Congrats to you both.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 5:01 am

    Your daughter and her quilt are beautiful! She looks like you. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Beauties…your girl and her quilt!! Awesome job!!

  • Reply
    Linda Cole
    November 17, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Love the fabric and tell her it was a great jogb done! Such a sweet looking girl.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    I too love the colors and layout. I love squares!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, what an accomplishment! Love the quilt and it’s simplicity. Colors are gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Anne S
    November 17, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    What a beautiful quilt and a beautiful girl! This is something she will treasure for years to come. Love the colors!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Kudos to you and your daughter for a great finish! I have sewn with three of my five grandchildren, and they took to the machine with great ease and confidence. Hand-sewing — not so much. I agree with your thoughts on age — each child is different and there can be no blanket rules about when is best, but starting too early is a mistake. The important thing is to introduce sewing at some point, when they are ready — then let them decide if they like it. LIKING it is key, isn’t it?

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 18, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Great advice! And sounds like you’re doing it well!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    What a beautiful quilt and the quilter!! Congrats to you and your daughter. After my daughter graduated from college and started to work, she came home and took her sewing machine back with her. I gladly sent a bag full of manual, extra needles and thread along with it. She made Halloween costumes for herself and her roommates one year. I couldn’t be happier to hear that. She said she would love to make stuffed animal and she borrowed one of my books. Maybe one day she would be interested in quilting, who knows? Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 3:29 am

    Your daughter looks so pleased with her first quilt and so she should be . And your right , making barbie clothes is disaster with for a would be sewer

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