Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kindergarten I-Spy Quilt meets the Berenstain Bears

We don't have a kindergartener this year, but I just can't pass up an excuse to make a quilt, especially if it involves getting kids excited about quilts too.

Our school has 6 kindergarten teachers.  One of them is new this year, so we offered to help her class make a quilt.  I figured she probably needed fun things for her classroom more since she's just starting out.

I talked to her ahead of time to find out what kind of quilt she and her kids would like the best.  We got to talking about some of the various children's book-themed fabrics out there.  She mentioned that she loves reading Berenstain Bears books to her class...

...and that one of her favorite authors is Jeff Foxworthy.  (He's got several funny kids' poetry books.  I blogged here about Dirt on My Shirt {affiliate link} a couple years ago.)  One of their favorites is Hide!  {affiliate link} She said her kids love finding all the hidden pictures in the book...things hidden in plain sight in the business of the pictures, which pretty well describes an I-Spy quilt.  If you're not familiar with I-Spy Quilts, each square has a different picture on them, and you generally get the squares as parts of I-Spy swaps.  I've hosted several swaps in the past, and will be doing one again soon.  If you'd like to be notified of the next one, you can go here and fill out the form at the bottom of the post.

So a quilt with I-Spy on one side and Berenstain Bears on the other side seemed like a perfect fit.  Plus the quilt can serve as a game when they have some extra time.

I didn't take pictures while we were in progress because dealing with kindergarteners takes focus to keep them on track.

I came in during their teacher's prep time and got my sewing machine set up and spread out as many I-Spy squares as could fit on the table.  My biggest concern was that kids might be overwhelmed by the number of choices and take too long to make their selections.  It turned out they did awesome and for the most part decided pretty quickly.

We started out letting them go through and choose 4 squares at a time.  I had 2 or 3 kids back at the table with me at a time while the rest of the kids were doing something with their teacher.  That way while I was sewing the squares for one child, the other 1 or 2 kids could be choosing their squares, so there wasn't really any down time for me.  I sewed their squares into pairs and just left them connected in one long chain.  I'd had their teacher give me a class list ahead of time with all the kids names on it.  That way I just went through the list in order and I was able to keep everything organized.

The kids did such an awesome job choosing quickly, that we were able to give them all a second chance to come through the line and choose 4 more squares.  I didn't try to sew the whole blocks while I was there, but I did get them all sewed into their pairs.  Then I took the squares home and sewed them into 2x4 rectangular blocks for each child.  We had the kindergarten teacher and their full time aide choose squares for a block as well, but that still left us a few blocks short, so Becca helped me choose squares for a few more blocks at home.

The next day I took the blocks back to the kindergarten class.  I'd finished the quilt back before our first visit, so each child got to choose their placement in the overall quilt by laying it on the quilt back.  (Two of the rectangular blocks were the same size as one of the blocks on the back of the quilt.)  So other than the kids' whims, I made no effort at trying to keep colors balanced or even.  That whole process only took about 5-10 minutes.  Then I showed the class that I was taking a picture, so that I'd remember how they had them laid out.  I picked them up in a regular way to also keep them organized, and I took the quilt home to get it finished up, quilted, and bound over the weekend.

On Monday we took the finished quilt into the class and they were SUPER excited to see it.  Some of the kids were excited to recognize their own squares in the overall quilt.

And I have to say that I was REALLY impressed with the Berenstain Bears prints when they came, especially the landscape ones.  The size of the repeat on them is really big, so they worked great for such big blocks.  The blocks on the back ended up 14 1/2 inches and there's something different going on in the whole square.
I ordered the fabric from You Keep Me in Stitches.  She has a lot more Berenstain Bears prints available.  I used the Camp Activities in Aqua, Signature Characters in Yellow, and Outdoor Dot Fabric in Red.  And I loved them so much, I picked up one more landscape print at my local quilt shop (sorry...they don't have it listed online, so I don't have a link).

Berenstain Bears Camp Activities in Aqua - You Keep Me in Stitches
Berenstain Bears Signature Characters - You Keep Me in Stitches

Berenstain Bears Outdoor Dots - You Keep Me in Stitches
Berenstain Bears Sports Equipment - You Keep Me in Stitches

The size of the prints would also make them ideal for whole cloth quilts, pillowcases, and much more.

This is the third quilt we've made with a kindergarten class, and each one has been different.  You can see the Kindergarten Book Quilt here and Hand Print Animals here.

And with Becca starting kindergarten next year, and Anson still to come too...I'm sure this won't be our last kindergarten quilt.

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  1. I love hearing your process of how you worked with all the kids. Something to keep in mind for the future :). The quilt turned out awesome! Love Berenstein Bears, some of my favorite books growing up.

  2. Lucky kindergarten class! Sounds like such a fun project. It's beautiful, as usual!


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