Friday, May 4, 2012

Civil War Quilt

     Last year I taught a rotation class for our 5th grade. It was after testing and we like to prepare the 5th graders for rotating before they get to middle school and have to change classes. Each teacher taught something different the last few weeks of school and it gave the kids (and teachers) something new and exciting to do. Anyways, my class was a Civil War/Quilting class. I learned to quilt a few years ago and decided that the kids would love making a class quilt! If you decide to do a class quilt, you just need to start gathering fabric, scissors, batting and thread. You will need a sewing machine also. I had a retired teacher from my school come and help me do the majority of the sewing and cutting! It was awesome.

We started by discussing the Civil War. I showed them a quick Powerpoint I put together. We talked a lot about women's roles in the Civil War. Most women stayed home and kept things in order while the men were away fighting. Many women would meet together and quilt or sew to visit with one another. 

Another possibility is that quilts were used as part of the underground railroad! It is rumored that log-cabin-type quilts with a black center hanging out on a clothes line signified that was a safe place for runaway slaves to stay. How cool is that? No one knows for sure if this is true, but I sure hope so! That is really neat. I read my class a book called "Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt." It goes right along with this idea.

The next thing we did was choose a quilting design to create on paper. I let students draw it out on graph paper first. Then, in small groups, use construction paper to create a large quilt to hang up. Students need to measure out the dimensions as well as make the quilt accurately to scale. This is great practice for when they actually use fabric.

Then, begin discussion of making a real quilt with fabric. Describe the steps involved. Decide as a group on the design that we will create. Each student can color and design it on graph paper to scale first. Discuss materials and what will be needed to create the quilt. If you do not know how to make a quilt, ask parents or teachers at your school for help. You would probably be surprised at the number of people who know how to quilt. Really all you need to be able to do is sew a straight line and cut with a rotary cutter!

Gather materials and show the students the safe and proper way to cut fabric. We used a rotary cutter. You could also use a stencil and scissors. Student can then help to cut and formulate the pieces. If they decide on a quilt that involves drawing on the blocks, now is the time to complete that. Each child in my class did a log-cabin block and then decorated a solid white block with a picture.

Then begin the sewing process. Students can help with pinning and trimming the strings. Sew blocks together to create strips. Iron all of the seams. Continue with sewing the strips together in order to complete the quilt top.Sandwich the backing, batting and quilt top. Tape to the floor to keep it straight and tight. Let students help to tie the quilt together with embroidery floss. You will need some very large needles for this part.

Take the finished quilt and sew on the binding to finish. Have a time of sharing about what they learned during the process. Let the students show the quilt to the other 5th grade classes. They can then explain the process that they went through as well as the significance of each quilt block.

I have the finished quilt hanging in the hallway outside my classroom for the whole school to look at.  So do you do any special sewing projects for the end of the year?


Miss Sara said...

hey I just gave you the One Lovely Blog Award! Come by to check it out!
I am your newest follower!

Miss Elementary

Kelley Dolling said...

Although you teach 5th and I am in 1st, I have found so many wonderful ideas that I can morph to fit my needs. I am so glad I found you :)

Kelley "Following You" Dolling
Teacher Idea Factory

Vanna, The Crafty Teacher said...

Thank you Miss Sara and Kelley! I hope you found something of help to you! I will come follow you!

Heather's Heart said...

Your blog is such an inspiration!

I agree that I can take so many of your wonderful ideas and use them with my littles!

I am a new follower to your blog and LOVE it!

I would be so blessed if you would stop by and visit me.

Heather's Heart