Sew-In at Home with Nathan & Sayley: Memories in the Making
by Ashley Fritsche
Welcome back to the Sew-In with Nathan and Sayley. As these two talented and adventurous little children have made significant strides in their sewing skills, we have decided to tackle our first quilt together! Little do they know, this is going to be used for Christmas this year, as part of a very special keepsake. We try to make something each year that provides our family with more than just something to hold in our hands, but memories to reminisce on for years to come.
Since this is the first real pattern that the kids are working with, I decided to do a paper piecing pattern, showing the arrows for directions in which to sew, solid lines to cut, and four different ways to piece together. It is such a visually educational way to learn how to sew, as well as quilt. I decided to use the Cinnaberry by Moda Quilt Kit that contains 44 Cake Mix Recipe cards for the kids to use as patterns.
As we all know, there are good days when all the pieces seem to melt together like butter, and then there are those days that seem not to go the way we planned. Today was one of the latter, but it sure made for some laughs, and "O my!" moments! Nathan and Sayley were in summer mode to the extreme today. They rolled out of bed, messy hair, and sleep eyes. After making some breakfast of eggs and toast, they started to function! We turned on the music and started setting up Gemma.
Sayley is looking quite befuddled this morning!
I had already cut and sewed a few squares, to make sure I had it down before working on it with the kiddos. This way, they were ready to have an excellent full day of quilting fun, without getting overwhelmed. Little did I know, the day was going to have a plan of its own.
First up, we needed to spray the fabric with Mary Ellen's Best Press Spray starch, iron with the kiddo's new favorite little travel iron, and press those squares! Boy o boy did they love this step. After we wrapped up for the day and reflected on each part, both the kids said, this was their favorite. Sayley LOVED ironing with the "mini" iron! Probably because it fit her tiny hands so well. Nathan had a blast seeing all the wrinkles come out and see the fabric go smooth ~ "satisfying" as he put it!
The kid's new favorite tool ~ the travel size steam iron!
Nathan ironing away...
Admiring his very well pressed square!
Sayley is having quite a bit of fun with the starch spray!
She is concentration so hard on her ironing skills.
The next part was not as much fun for them, not in the least bit! Nathan and Sayley had to pin the fabric to the papers to move on to sewing the squares. They had to match the corners and align all three layers together before pinning. This took the right amount of patience from the kids, but we had so much fun singing to the radio and talking about whatever popped into their little heads. One topic that came up often was the trip they were going on the following week to see grandparents and cousins down in Reno, Nevada. They couldn't contain the excitement! Nathan had already packed his computer case, so we did not have the opportunity to continue working on it!
They are learning how to layer the fabric together to pin the layers in order to sew their first block!
Nathan pinning his first square, great job Nathan!
These two kiddos hard at work.
So many squares, so many pins!
Now on to the fun part, the sewing! Before they could sew the first stitches, the kids needed to prepare Gemma. Nathan is one of those people who can see something one time, and have it memorized! He was on bobbin winding duty. As I sat back and watched him go through the motions, explaining each step to Sayley, precisely and correctly (from watching Ruthie's videos months ago), I am blown away by this young man's mind. He winds our bobbins, and we can move on to placing a drop of sewing machine oil in the hook assembly.
Nathan's attention to detail on the Featherweight is astounding.
He is able to wind the bobbin, step-by-step, from memory, after seeing the tutorial once!
Sayley sure is paying attention!
Time to place in the bobbin case!
Nathan is up first to sew one of the blocks. He is so sweet and meticulous with these lines and corners; I admire him so. He wants to rush through the block so much but restrains himself to make sure he is making "straight" lines and keeping to the arrows and lines. It is pretty adorable. As he is sewing his square, Sayley is on "pin" duty, and joyfully using her gifted strawberries April sent to us to keep track of the blue glass-head pins!
Nathan is up first sewing his square.
He is following all the directions wonderfully!
Aren't these strawberries adorable?! Sayley wanted to make sure they were included!
Sayley waiting patiently for her turn sewing!
Sayley is next up for sewing her square that she expertly pinned. As she took her time following the arrows and turning her corners, you could tell how proud she was to be following a pattern! She could not wait to see what it was going to turn into. Since Nathan is on "pin" duty, he couldn't help but turn the strawberries into imaginary army men in a battle - so cute!
Sayely is up to sew!
She is going slowly but steadily!
Taking her time going around the turns!
She loves to sew barefoot! Adorable little toes!
O no! She stuck her finger on a pin!
Nathan is playing army men with the strawberries while on "pin duty!"
Since Nathan and Sayley have both completed a square - I wanted to show them what the squares look like after they are cut, and the paper is removed. The kids get up and walk around the table when we suddenly hear a "thunk!" and Nathan accidentally trips over the foot controller cord! O no! The LED bulb sparks and no longer turns on (we will need to troubleshoot this next), but everything else seems to be working fine! Accidents happen, and this means we can learn more about our sweet Gemma the Featherweight.
Time to start cutting! I have both the kids make their cuts, following the lines, and start peeling off the papers off the back. I don't let them open up their blocks until they have all the paper off, and they can reveal at the same time! They are so excited to see what they made, and to know they did it all on their own! Since these two now know how to use the starch spray and iron, they press their blocks.
The backside of Nathan's square!
Sayley cutting her square into little blocks!
Time to fold off the paper!
Keep on ripping...
Nathan is up to cut!
Doing great bud!
He is so excited to see how it turns out.
Sayley is opening up her block...
Nathan, it looks incredible!
Time to press those blocks!
And keep pressing...
As we stop for a water break, one of our glasses spill all over our pinned squares, drenching five squares in the water! All three of us had the "o no!" expression on our face again, worried that it would ruin all the work we had just put in. So we laid the squares our flat on the counter, took the dry ones, cranked up the music, and kept on sewing! There is something to be said to the saying, "just keep sewing." It sure worked for us today! After we sewed, cut, removed the paper, and pressed a few more blocks, the wet ones had dried out,and we were able to continue our work. Whew, that was a close one!
Well that was unexpected!
Now that we have completed our sewing, I set the kids on a counting and organizing task. We needed to have 224 little blocks and organize them in piles based on fabric. Nathan had one way he wanted to count, and Sayley had a different way she wanted to count. After a little back and forth, they came to a compromise and come to the final tally of 160 blocks! Back to Gemma, we go.
They were getting so tired by this point, but did not want to stop!
Luckily they were able to work through their disagreement to a solution.
And did a beautiful job organizing the blocks!
Nathan and Sayley layered the fabric, pinned, sewed, cut, and pressed their little hearts out to come up with the correct number of blocks. After we recounted to make sure we had 224, we were finally able to start laying out our blocks to see how we wanted them to look for our quilt!
Back to pinning!
Nathan & Sayley put in so much work today!
After laying out all four blocks, Nathan and Sayley each picked their favorites! (Nathan likes the bottom left and Sayley likes the top right!)
Nathan and Sayley each had their favorite layout, and are planning out which one they are going to sew, and with which fabric combinations. They are so surprised by how much work goes into making a quilt, and how much time it takes! Not to mention, when things go wrong, it is still ok to keep going. Although we ran into some hiccups today, we laughed, sang, danced, talked, and made memories.