Little Feet, Pins and Needles (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of the Little Feet, Pins and Needles series. Last time we talked about setting up your space and bringing a relaxed attitude to quilting when you've got young kids around. This week I want to talk about some ways to encourage creativity and an interest in quilting with your little ones.

This is about more than encouraging the with needle and thread or getting them literally involved in your quilting. (That's next week in the series!) Getting your kids thinking about colour, about the motions of quilting, and the aspects of design is a great way to foster an interest in your hobby/work without ramming it down their throat.

Here are a series of activities, games, or toys you can bring out to get your kids playing. You can always have these set up beside you as you sew. You could also get down on the floor and play with them. That's a great way to play yourself and find some inspiration along the way. Its always a welcome break for everybody.

1. Lego
As a kid, my favourite way to play with lego was to build houses. House after house, one day blue beds, another day red. Space lego was really out there for me. Now that my girls are getting into Lego I am struggling with do more than that. If they aren't asking me to make something specific I find myself defaulting to shapes and lines. My youngest took over my thought process and now she makes Lego quilts, working fastidiously to cover the entire green slate with colour.

2. Paper Quilts
We have a bit of a scissor issue in this house. To direct that habit I put coloured paper and recycling in her path. That leaves us with bits of paper everywhere. Everywhere. Now we take those bits and I hand them a glue stick. Voila! Paper quilts.

3. Sewing Cards
A kind reader of my blog sent my girls sewing cards. (Thank-you Nanci!) When they asked me to teach them how to sew this is the first thing I pulled out. We patiently work on front-to-back and back-to-front concepts with these cards. I let them explore the where to sew next question rather than guide them. This way they learn the rhythm. Or they don't, but then they love the end result more.

4. Embroidery Hoop
This was actually the first thing we did together. Thread, some linen, and a hoop. Go to town! They weren't getting the concept entirely, but they loved the feel of needle pulling thread. I believe the important part is them enjoying that feel and loving what they created. As they get older we can work on stitches. This will be an age/development aspect that you can adapt to your own kids.

(Put together by Abby, Amanda Jean's little one, while I was visiting.)

5. Their Own Design Wall
If you've got a big design wall, or even a small one, letting the kids go wild with their own designs is great. I'll admit, it can be stressful when they want to "help" you lay out a quilt. By giving them a space with some fabric or blocks of their own they can explore on their own. And who knows? It may end up inspiring you! When I was visiting Amanda Jean her little girl was always making creations in a corner of the design wall. It was great to see her determination at times, an her abandon at conventions we might hold close.

6. Mess Up the Scraps
Because I sew in a very shared space there is fabric everywhere. If I kept it all precious and off-limits then I would spend more time being stressed. So the girls have free reign of my scraps. Actually, they have free reign with my fabric stash too, so long as I'm with them for that. My youngest, in particular, loves to organize, stack, fold, and play. She makes sculptures, presents, and generally, a mess. And she loves it. It will keep her occupied for quite a while for a 3 year old. Her pride in her creations is immeasurable.

My goal isn't to create future quilters - although, that would be nice. Rather, my goal is to foster a playful energy towards colour and creating. My medium happens to be quilts and so I can encourage development through my medium.