3rd Grade Quilt Presentation

The third graders have been reading a story called The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy — perhaps you’ve heard of it?  It’s about a little girl and her grandmother, and the quilt that they make.  The quilt is made up of bits and pieces of their life — a grandson’s favorite corduroy pants, or a mother’s fancy gold dress.

The 3rd grade teachers asked me to come in and do some sort of presentation about quilting for the kids, and the first thing I thought of was the quilts that my mother and mother-in-law have made — that are memory quilts.

My mother-in-law actually came with me today, and brought her masterpiece — a cathedral windows quilt.  Each window fabric is a different plaid from the plaid shirts she made for herself and for her family.  The quilt took her somewhere in the vicinity of 10-12 years to make, because, of course, she made hers by hand.

I also took a quilt that my mother made — a Minnesota Hot Dish quilt, and I pointed out to the kids that patches that represent her grandchildren.

The other thing I did with them (because I wanted to include some MATH), was to talk a bit about the tools people use to make quilts.  I took in my rotary cutter and mat and ruler, some fabric, as well as a cardboard template and a pencil and a pair of scissors.  (In the story, Tanya and her family make their quilt all by hand, cutting with scissors and piecing by hand).

I had the kids time me to see how long it took me to trace a 4 inch square and then cut it out by hand (58 seconds!)  I also had them time me as I used my rotary cutter to cut a strip of fabric (and ended up with 8 – 4 inch squares — in only 28 seconds).  Then we did some math to see how long it would take to cut pieces for a quilt that was 80 by 96.   (They are just beginning to do multiplication, but there are enough in the room that already know some multiplication we were able to figure out the answers without too much trouble).  Rounding up to 1 minute per hand-cut square and 30 seconds for 8 rotary cut squares we came up with:   480 minutes (8 hours!!!) to cut by hand and only 40 minutes to rotary cut.  Phew.

The teachers took a few pictures and next week I’ll see if I can get some of them from them so that I can share.

In other quilting news, I actually spent some time at my sewing machine yesterday and today.


My Mom and I are making a wedding quilt for the cousin that got married this past October.  Our goal is to have it done by December 21st, I think.  We still have a long way to go.  Mom made all of the half-square triangles and the flying geese for the 25 blocks, and now we are each working on subsequent units of the blocks.  The block is the Corn and Beans block, we using a single green, and the neutrals are all scrappy.  I had forgotten that my plan for the quilt included sashing that has stars at the intersections.  Better get that rolling, too, I guess!



p.s.  I’m in a much happier place today regarding technology.  I’m going to be moving my websiet (and thus my e-mail account) to a new hosting provider tonight, and then maybe I’ll start getting the e-mails I’m missing, and then maybe I can fix the MQResource webring.  Maybe.  Not holding my breath, but also not cursing today.  Thanks for putting up with yesterday’s rant….


  1. Dawn says:

    Oh my gosh! All 4 of my kids read that story in 3rd grade! The oldest one is now 21! When they got to that story, I always brought in squares of fabric and tons of threaded needles. The kids first got to see a quilt from my childs great, great grandmother that we had framed and heard the story. Then I taught them all to sew a block (usually just a 4-patch). Then I took them home and made a quilt out of them. When the quilt was done it came back to the class and became the class quilt. The first teacher let it be the quilt on the special reading chair. Each student got to use it on their special day to read. One teacher made a book and each child in the class got to take the quilt home and show their family and then write their memory of it in the book. At the end of the year they had a raffle for the quilt and book.

    Oh thank you for the wonderful memories!

  2. Deb Levy says:

    The blocks look great! What a nice joint venture with your MOM. Mary and I have done family challenges in the past with our Mother and 2 other sisters. It was great fun.

  3. Angela says:

    What a great presentation for the kids and a wonderful way to incorporate math in a way that shows that, yes Virginia — you do need to learn this! Love the corn and beans blocks as well — beautiful!

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