Quilters Reaching Kids of All Ages

The Fidalgo Island Quilters have created a Kids Quilting Program with their grants from the Anacortes Arts Festival.  The program has been successful well beyond their original hopes and the success has led to the creation of a national program modeled after their efforts.

Over the last two years, the FIQ have been able to reach all fifth graders in Anacortes and children of all ages through their presence at the Festival last August.

They began their education outreach with 2 one-hour classroom visits by four volunteers. During those visits, they engaged the students in learning about quilting: what makes a quilt a quilt, the stages of construction, art concepts (color and design), math concepts (geometry and fractional parts) and US history (Underground Railroad). Next, they bussed the 58 students to their group’s quilt show in April, where they provided docent-led tours of the show, using thinking skills based on Visual Thinking Systems, a technique employed in Museum of Northwest Art student tours. Students were able to identify specific quilt blocks, color relationships, and geometric forms in the quilts. At the conclusion of the tour, each child used a sewing machine to construct a traditional 9-patch quilt block under the direction of our members. Blocks were displayed at the show, and later, the 58 blocks became 3 quilts for American Hero Quilts and Quilts of Valor.

In August they brought the project to the Anacortes Arts Festival children’s activity area. Their open invitation for kids to make quilt blocks for more patriotic quilts and the Anacortes Family Shelter led to the creation of 100 more blocks! They estimate that they reached approximately 90 kids, age 4-14, most of whom had never used a sewing machine, at the Festival.

Positive feedback abounds! Some highlights of comments they’ve received from the parents and grandparents of participating kids:

  • one father thanked them, saying he rarely had a chance to see his daughter so proud of something she had accomplished
  • another father thanked them profusely, telling them his autistic son never gets to take part in these kinds of activities. (The FIQ member who helped him was a retired special ed teacher with 3 certifications.)
  • two FIQ members with early childhood training were able to help 2 four year-olds sew their blocks
  • several kids who were initially afraid to use a machine came to like it
  • one child returned to the festival booth 7 times to make more blocks
  • a member of Quilters’ Anonymous, a large Seattle area guild with 400 members, commented that they do many charitable projects, but nothing like this for kids!
  • many parents and grandparents thanked them for taking the time to give their children something so special, with comments like “I need to get that machine out of the closet” or ”His grandmother sews, but his mother doesn’t—so glad you are filling the gap.”

In September they accepted the invitation of the La Conner Regional Library to have the Kids’ Quilting Project be part of their special week of activities called “Outside the Lines”. 30 more blocks were completed on September 16, made by children and adults.

Overall Project Success:

  • Total blocks so far – 188
  • Students and adults participating: approx. 200
  • 3 quilts completed with 130 more blocks awaiting completion

FIQ is having so much fun sharing their love of quilting with the children in our community.  They have decided to make education a focus for this biennium, for kids and young adults.