Journal Entry: August 1, 2020.

The highlight of my summer was without a doubt quilting with kids at Gramma’s Quilt Retreat.

I cannot believe August is here. Grandsons Ben and Evan are anticipating new adventures starting at a new school in Arizona. Our granddaughters, Morgan and Lily, are telling me about connecting with friends at school again and soccer games starting for a season (And, Morgan is now collecting hours toward getting her driver’s license. Once again, I’m reminded of how time flies!). Of course, I’m way behind on my journaling. It’s because quilting called me.

4th Annual Quilting with Kids at Gramma’s Quilt Retreat

With concerns about Coronavirus and the need for social distancing the past 7 months have been a cautionary tale for all of us. Even though, we stayed hopeful for the girls’ to visit Colorado this summer. And, with the help of their parental unit we made it happen! Needless to say, I was thrilled we could have our 4th Annual Quilting with Kids at Gramma’s Quilt Retreat.

The girls decided they wanted to dye their own fabric again this year. In addition to trying some new tie-dyeing techniques, I introduced Shibori, sun-printing and marbling with fabric. Lily (now 11 years old) decided to make another throw-size quilt. Morgan surprised me in a BIG way when she told me she wanted to make a quilted jacket. Now, who would have guessed quilted clothing would be an option for a 15-year-old?!?!

Previous Retreats

I shared our first retreats in Quilting Daily posts (formally The Quilting Company): Retreat #1: Kids are Quilting: 5 Things are Learned Teaching Kids to Quilt and Retreat #2: 5 More Things Learned Teaching Kids to Quilt. Retreat #3: Quilting with Kids: Home Projects can be accessed from this website. Click on the titles to read about our annual quilty fun.

Deciding on Quilt Designs

The girls started the process by working on their quilt designs. I introduced Lily to Electric Quilt this year. Like her sister, with minimal direction, she was off and running in the application. I gave her a few requirements for her design. I asked her to incorporate at least two different blocks so she could work on her piecing skills and suggested including triangle-squares in her design. She enjoyed being able to place the blocks in a variety of layouts in EQ, without redrawing them.

Kids with Electric Quilt
Quilting with kids: Lily loved using the Electric Quilt application to design her quilt. I don’t think she wanted to stop.

Morgan already had an idea in mind for her quilted jacket. We took a trip to JoAnn’s for a jacket pattern to use as a template. And, of course, it also provided construction guidance. I suggested she keep the design of her quilt simple with smaller square patches. She also chose to include triangle-squares. Morgan likes to make them.

Fabric Designing

With designs selected and fabric requirements calculated, we hit my dye stash for colors. The girls suited up for protection (We had a few giggles, as they accused me of stashing a few masks for dyeing purposes—not many.) Then the real fun began!

There wasn’t any hesitation from either of the girls when I asked if they wanted to dye their own quilt fabric again this year. The answer was YES!

The girls really seemed to enjoy trying techniques to print on fabric with paint, sun printing and marbling. I enjoy reading anything that Morgan has authored so I asked her to be a guest writer. You can find her journal entry about the girls’ experience with these techniques by clicking here

The girls jumped right in to Sun Printing fabric. Morgan and Lily came up with the idea to make shapes with paper to lay on the fabric. That was a 1st for me.
Wow!, was this Marbling session messy, but fun to see the designs in the fabric.

Quilt Making

To my delight, I found I wasn’t “Teaching Kids to Quilt” as much as “Quilting with Kids”. My granddaughters have become old hands at quilt making. I was amazed at how self-sufficient they were this year. Real self-starters! 

I did help Lily with the rotary cutting of patches for her blocks. (Maybe next year I’ll be ready for her to command the cutter.) She used my design wall to finalize the layout, and then proceeded to sew the pieces together with very little assistance on my part. She did a great job making straight seams until she became tired and wanted to quilt faster. (Note to self: take more breaks.) My trust in her ability advanced so much I even let her use one of my sewing machines, instead of the ones I keep around for the kids! Now, that’s progress, huh?!

It was a great pleasure watching Lily’s quilting confidence grow.
The girls always have a celebration run through the house when the top is finished. This year was no different.

Morgan only needed guidance about garment construction. We also talked about the difference in steps to make a quilted jacket versus a quilt intended for the bed or a sofa cuddle. I introduced her to working with a commercial pattern, including resizing it to make the pattern shorter and to adjust it to accommodate the heavier quilted fabric. She used the design wall to layout the patches for the front and back design. After sewing the patches together, Morgan created a quilt sandwich with batting and backing, and quilted them together. Next, she cut out the jacket sections using the pattern and sewed them together to finish her jacket. Having studied clothing construction and textiles in college it was an unexpected pleasure to bring clothing into our retreats. (Ironically, I’d been thinking about how I could introduce clothing construction to the girls. Not a question when they ask for it!)

Oh my! What a joy it was to spend time with my girls sewing. It really was a retreat, everyone doing their sewing thing, exchanging ideas and lots of giggles. The bestest time!

Reflections From a Quilt Retreat

As usual, our time together seemed too short— even though we had much more time for home projects because we couldn’t go out to explore Colorado. (At least we had one night out, for a pizza at Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs.) Who knows what the girls will remember from our time together this year, or from our other retreats. My goal is the same as always, I truly hope the girls continue to enjoy taking time to design quilted projects, working with fabric and getting joy from seeing their quilts come together. We had an intense time sewing (with some baking and music-making with Poppa thrown in). Our time making memories together is invaluable to me. One more retreat has ended, sharing a heritage I carry forth from my grandmother to another generation.

Lily presenting her finished quilt top.
Morgan’s quilted jacket; wearable art.
(Morgan strolling through the garden Photography by Lily Harvey)