For my community service project this year I am working with 14 middle school students as “blanketeers.” We are making tied quilts for a local chapter of Project Linus the national organization that distributes new, handmade blankets to kids ages 0-18 who are in the hospital. We are going to make quilts that are three layers – cotton, batting, and flannel – tied with yarn and finished with satin blanket binding.
I have some busy boys and some interesting girls in my group, so I was not sure how things were going to start off. My parent facilitator didn’t contact me ahead of time to tell me that she wasn’t going to be there, so I set off with 14 students for the 36 Broadway bus and the Hancock Fabrics on Broadway. Many of my students had never been outside of their school neighborhood in anything except their parents’ car. This was a real adventure.
Usually when I’ve done a project like this I have visited the fabric store on my own and purchased the materials that we will need, but I really wanted the students to be invested in their blankets, so I wanted them to do the choosing. So many possibilities and combinations! Of you were to do a math lesson on combinations and permutations we’d still be there doing the figuring. They initially started out wanting MY approval, but slowly they started to trust themselves and each other.
“Mrs. T, do you think that this will make a good blanket?”
“Well, would you like it?”
“Then you’ve got your answer!”
The ladies at the fabric store could not have been any more patient and helpful, asking each child how much they wanted of each fabric and asking them what they were going to do with their choices. They made suggestions and offered praise.
When we got back to school I showed them how to straighten the grain of the fabric.
“Why do we have to do that?”
It’s exhausting but wonderful that they all need reasons and want to know what is really going on with the materials they are using. It was a great day, and I can hardly wait to get started assembling the quilts.
Image by “Vintage Fairytale”