Classroom quilts are a fun kids’ community service project which combines art, fabric and imagination! Students do not need to know how to draw to participate in this easy kids art project to promote team building skills and creative cooperation.
No worries if making a quilt sounds intimidating; this is not the traditional “quilt’, but classroom art that anyone of any age can lend their talents.
Kids not not have to “artists” to lend their drawing and coloring skills to a classroom quilt. This is a great project to start off the school year as students enter new schools, new homerooms and meet new friends with the end result being a hand drawn quilt to enjoy, donate or auction as a school fundraiser.
How To Make A Classroom Quilt
Clip art for inspiration or tracing
Fabric or bond adhesive to make front of quilt
Fleece for backing
White cotton fabric for squares ( I use pre cut squares found on eBay) 6.5″ by 6.5″
Adult volunteer to assemble quilt
Choose A Theme
Choosing a theme for the quilt is not only fun, but helps lend organization to a project with many students. Theme classroom quilts are very popular as current trends can be incorporated into the quilt theme.
Choosing a theme is also a great way to have children collaborate, negotiate and compromise to collectively choose a theme. The process is also a nice way to introduce team building in the classroom.
The Superhero theme is always very popular and brings a smile to all ages.
Some artists like to draw freehand while other young artists like to color. I usually have plain squares available and also sketch out a few templates for those who like to color, but are not comfortable drawing.
For example in another very popular theme is a dog/puppy themed quilt. Woof! Everyone loves a cute doggie on a quilt. Public domain clipart was used for inspiration; clipart is ideal as the images can be easily traced for those artists who’d prefer not to draw freehand. Google cute free dog clipart and a huge selection of images were available.
2. Prepare The Fabric Squares
Preparation is critical prior to gathering students. The preparation does take time; however, this is a project that is similar to a make ahead dish!
- Choose the size of the white fabric square. I used a 6.5 ” by 6.5″ white cotton square. This size leaves a nice 5.5″ size drawing area – the selvedge area (edge which will be in the quilt seam needs to be figured in the square size).
- A quarter inch selvedge edge for each side of the square is standard. Four sides with 1.4″ selvedge edge equals a 5.5″ size drawable area.
- Prepare the freezer paper. Size to 70-80% of the fabric square. For a 6.5″ by 6.5″ fabric square each piece of freezer paper should be anywhere from a square measuring 5.5″ to 6.5″. The freezer paper is used to stabilize the square for drawing and prevents the fabric markers from possibly bleeding through to the surface below.
- Iron the glossy side of the freezer paper to the back of white fabric square.
- With a fabric marker draw a border 1/4″ in from each edge. This will create a square which indicates the drawable area. Don’t worry about the marker lines, the lines will disappear when the square is quilted.
Freezer Paper Tip!
One of the nice aspects of this community service project is the ability to use donated fabrics and reuse the freezer paper. The freezer paper can be used multiple times – don’t throw it away once its’ been used!
For this project I would highly recommend a brand name freezer paper as the experience with bargain freezer paper was less than adequate. I also recommend brand name fabric markers and the Crayola or Tulip brand fabric markers have proven consistently successful. Crayola has a classpack fabric marker which contains 80 fabric markers and is wonderful for classrooms or group events.
3. Draw Draw Draw!
Now the fun begins! Once a theme has been chosen and the squares have been prepped it is time to gather the kids and let the imagination and creativity roll! I have found bringing imagery is very helpful to inspire and it is also helpful if there a few squares with the outline image drawn in with a fabric marker to help those bashful artists or younger kids.
4. Remove the Freezer Paper
Once the squares have been drawn the freezer paper can be peeled off. Store the freezer squares flat.
5. Prepare the Squares To Be Quilted
The arrangement of the squares can be left for the quilter to decide or can be arranged ahead of giving the squares to the quilter. It is fun to lay out the squares on the floor like a puzzle to arrange and rearrange the prospective quilt.
4. Backing For the Quilt
A fleece backing works very well for the backing of the quilt. The traditional quilt with batting and backing can of course be utilized.
A no sew version of the quilt can also be made with heat bond adhesive. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a quilt with sewing!
The number of squares in a quilt is variable, but as the quilts are usually kids or lap blanket sized, figure 35-40 6.5″ squares per quilt. The quilt will be a rectangle.
Donated fabric and fleece can usually be obtained from a crafter or sewers stash. Put the word out before the project that fabric scraps are needed to make a classroom quilt and I guarantee donations will surface.
Plan on 1.5 yards of fleece for one quilt which makes a warm and comfy backing.
Community Service Projects For Kids
The classroom quilt is appropriate for all ages – if the children can draw – they can participate in a classroom quilt. There is no skill level required and some of the youngest artists are the most creative!
The handprint version of the classroom quilt is also an interactive project for very young children while introducing children how to contribute to a community service project or nonprofit organization.
Another fun and rewarding Community Service Project for kids is to help make sleep mats for the homeless. Plastic bags are recycled to make sleep mats by turning the plastic bags into plarn and then knitted or crocheted into the sleep mat. Plarn is plastic yarn made from plastic bags.
How can kids help? Each sleep mat takes 500-700 plastic bags. That is alot of bags! Collecting plastic bags (and a valuable recycling exercise) can be done individually or as a group effort.
The plastic bags can then be made into plarn! Making plarn is very easy and also very labor intensive due to the number of bags. I’ve included a resource How To Make Plarn and how to hold a Plarn Bag Drive.
I have found that children interested in Community Service Projects like the Classroom Quilt are also interested in making plarn.